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Summary: Wedding Ceremony

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Umpire!

I recently heard a female radio announcer speaking about a football match she had been to between Hawthorn and Melbourne that by all accounts was a cliffhanger. As is often the case in these reports, the umpiring came under close scrutiny as it appeared, (to her at least), that the application of the rules varied from quarter to quarter. Melbourne apparently won the game but her comments made me think about marriage and the application of the rules! At a recent court case I attended, the judge claimed that everybody knows that disagreements between partners in a relationship were certain to happen. In this case the judge had concerns about what future response the person before him would take to such conflict.

The trouble with most umpires or judges is that they are human and therefore they are biased! They don’t mean to be, but because they know people and they know their temperaments they will make judgments that are clouded by their opinions. Very rarely does everybody see the full picture. At best this can lead to misunderstanding and at worst to rivalry, bitterness and hatred. If only the umpires or the judges saw it all, the hearts and the actions.

When things go wrong the justice system relies on the testimony of witnesses in order to determine the truth. Whenever there is a dispute, the credibility of the witnesses often determines the outcome of the case, as the judge has to weigh the evidence before him. Andrew and Kelly are here today to make certain promises to each other that they hope to able to keep forever. They make those promises in front of all of us who are witnesses to the vows they are about to make.

There is One other present today in front of whom their vows are to be made. That One is the Umpire of Life. He is the One from whom nothing is hidden; He is the one who searches hearts, who knows our motives and who remains unbiased. In all He does, He does right. There are two scriptures that I would like to share with Andrew and Kelly about the Umpire of Life that I hope will encourage them, strengthen them and keep them. Paul tells us in the Book of Romans that,

“I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,

neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us

from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The first thing to remember is that if you have a relationship with God, nothing can separate you from His love. Nothing you do will stop Him from loving you. Regardless of fault, cause, action or inaction, whatever you do or do not do, God will always love you. He is impartial and He sees beyond the circumstances of the moment. He loves you both completely and equally. He has no favorites. He will not take sides; He will view every situation in accordance to what the bible says. The great thing is that because He loves you equally, you can both rely on Him to help you to accomplish His plans for you as you build your lives together. He guards you jealously as His children.

Secondly we learn from 2 Chronicles 19:7 how we should respond to conflict.

“Now let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully,

for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery."

Unlike the judge or umpire we looked at before, God is not swayed by public opinion, emotional outbursts or how He is feeling on the day. He will not favour one from the other. God is just. He may not seem fair at times but He is just.

Just as God is impartial in His love, His justice is also impartial. To the same degree that we can rely on God’s love, we can be sure of His impartiality. He deals with us all in the same manner, neither more severely nor more leniently than He should. The purpose of His justice is to ensure that we treat each other as we should. Love without justice would be like a yes without a no.

God cannot be bribed. Emotional blackmail, promises of things you will do “if”, and payment in any other form does not sway God. A pure heart will surrender much to God without the expectation of reward.

The Umpire of Life has given us just two rules to live by, “Love Him with all your heart, soul and mind and strength and love each other. As you learn to live by these two simple rules you will find that so many other things will simply fall into place. You will treat each other justly, doing what is right, you will make your decisions together impartially without thinking of how you can benefit only yourself and you will not resort to blackmail when things don’t suit you.

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