2 HAVE AND 2 HOLD SERMON SERIES
HOW TO MAKE A GREAT MARRIAGE
APRIL 16, 1995
The most powerful event in the history of the world is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. During that event our Lord said and did what He said and did throughout His ministry. He said, “You know what? One day I am going to die on the cross and I am going to come back from the grave.” And this one event split history into two parts, BC and AD. Every time you write a check, what is the reference point? Easter. Nineteen hundred and ninety-five years since the resurrection of our Lord. And I believe most of you who are here in this service, you would say, “Ed, I agree with you, man. The resurrection is the most important event in the history of the world but so what? So what? How is the resurrection relevant for my life today? What does it have to do with me?” The Bible says it has a lot to do with you, and a lot to do with me. If you will look at the first scripture verse on your outline, Ephesians 1:19-20. It says, “How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God, the same power demonstrated when Christ was raised from the dead.” Is that a powerful verse or what? The Bible says the same power that brought Jesus Christ back from the grave is available for you and for me.
Today, Easter Sunday, I’m beginning a brand new series called 2 Have and 2 Hold – How To Make A Great Marriage. I think it is appropriate to begin a series on marriage on Easter Sunday because a lot of marriages here need to be resurrected. You need the power that is available and that is the same power that brought Jesus Christ back from the grave. 2 HAVE AND 2 HOLD. Most marriages here fall into different categories. Some people have great marriages. And if you have a great marriage, that is a rarity. Others of us here have decent marriages. Maybe it is kind of in a rut, same old, same old, and you need some spark in the relationship. Still others here, you have some problems in your marriage that need to be dealt with right now. And these problems can be messing up your marriage. And still others, your marriage is hanging by a thread. If you don’t get help soon, then you can chalk your marriage up as just another divorce statistic.
Yesterday morning I did something I normally don’t do. I went outside and I washed my wife’s car. My wife drives a big, old suburban. We have four children, an eight year old, a three year old and twins who are nine months of age so we need a suburban. I decided to wash the exterior of the car. I washed it and it looked so nice, we are talking about showroom quality. Then my wife walked out and she says, “Honey, did you clean the inside?” And I thought, well I can leave and work on my sermon because I have to speak six times this weekend. We had one service last night and five today. But I decided I really should clean the interior of her car. So I got the Armor-all and got the vacuum cleaner. When we moved the twin infant seats from the back seat of the car, we discovered we had more Nabisco crackers than the entire Nabisco corporation. Finally, we cleaned up the vehicle and it felt so nice to have the suburban cleaned on the inside and on the outside.
If the truth were known, a lot of our marriages look great externally. We have our Easter best on today. We are sitting here in this beautiful theater, our arm might be around our mate and we are smiling and people look at us and think, “Oh, look at that marriage, showroom quality, they are so cleaned up, they are so nice, they are so pristine and perfect.” But in reality, there is a lot of hidden dirt, a lot of hidden grime. There are some internal issues internally that need to be dealt with. I promise you if you stay here for this series, one hour a week for the next month, you’re marriage and your life will never, ever be the same. Not only will it be clean on the outside, it will also be clean on the inside and you can have that resurrection power operating in your relationship with your mate.
We have some people here who are single adults. If you are a single adult, lift your hand. If you are single, that means you are not married. Hands are going up everywhere. Now you singles, I know what you are thinking. You are saying, “Ed, this series is not for me, it is irrelevant. I’m not going to get married, I don’t even have a prospect out there. Give me a break. That means I can skip church for the next month. All right. Skiing. Golf. Tennis. Rollerblading.” No. No. Don’t speak too soon. Statistics show that most of you who are not married right now will be married within the next three to five years. And most of the problems in marriage occur because no information, no study, no teaching was received before you bonded in a church and said, I do. So, single adults, this series is as much for you as it is for us who have been married for a large chunk of time.
A friend of mine told me this about marriage. And I love this tongue-in-cheek description. He said, “You know, Ed, most marriages start off as an ideal, then they become an ordeal and pretty soon the partners are looking for a new deal.” And that is the truth, isn’t it? This year, in our country, we will have 2.3 million divorces. And let’s face the facts. Marriage is a stressful situation. Because you have one self-centered sinner married to another self-centered sinner and you have a lot of self-centered sinning going on in the self-centered marriage. You have got some problems. The number one complaint I hear from husbands and wives kind of goes along these lines. “You know, I know I should change and I know I should improve our marriage but I just don’t feel like I have the power to make it happen.” I want to tell you something good. You do have the power to make it happen. It is Ephesians 1: 19-20 power. You have the resurrection power if you know Christ personally. So I am going to give you a brief overview of the entire series today as I discuss how to make a great marriage.
We need, first of all, the resurrection power of the Lord Jesus Christ to relate to our spouses differences. You see the blank there on your outline? We need the resurrection power to relate to our spouses differences. I am going to prepare you for something. This will be a profound statement. Are you ready? Men are different than women. One more time. I know I went fast. Men are different than women. We are different. We are different. We are different biologically. Every cell in a man’s body is different from every cell in a woman’s body. A woman has a thin layer of insulating cells right beneath her skin that causes her skin to be prettier and smoother than a man. Women catch fewer diseases than men. They do better in concentration camps than men. They live longer than men. However, men, our skeletal structure weighs more than a woman’s skeletal structure. And biologists also tell us that the skull of a man is thicker than the skull of a woman. Hold your applause please, ladies. We are different biologically. We are also different behaviorally. Think about that. Behaviorally. A woman is more connected with her feelings and emotions. Men, we are into the facts. We want competition. We want to conquer.
The average man speaks about 12,000 words a day. The average woman speaks 25,000 words a day. And men, we go to the office, we come home and our wives greet us with this two-word zinger. “Let’s talk.” And we say, “About what?” Because we have already used up our 12,000 words at the office and our wives are just getting warmed up, men, they are revving the engine. “Let’s talk.” A recent study said that women have to have one hour of intimate conversation a day with their husbands. This same study also revealed that husbands need twenty minutes of intimate conversation with their spouse ……. a week. I love the study that Harvard University conducted about four years ago. Harvard wired a pre-school playground because they wanted to see and notice the difference of little girl’s communicative skills versus little boy’s communicative skills. They found that 100% of the noises emitted from little girl’s voice boxes were understandable, recognizable words. Pre-school age girls. Conversely, men, only 60% of little boy’s noises were understandable, recognizable words. The remaining 40% were sounds like this. Bruuuuuum, bruuuuuum, bruuuuum. Eeeeeah, eeeeah, eeeeah. Women will not naturally sit down and watch a football game. That conquering thing, that competitive nature. We will say, “Kill it, stick it, knock his head off.” Guys, I will give you a hint. If you want your wife to get involved in football begin to introduce her to the relationships of the players. “Hey, see that wide receiver right there? He and his wife just got married and they love each other so much, He bought her a little cabin in Montana because she loves Montana. And they have four cats.” And your wives will go, “Ah.” And they will sit down and watch the game because they can connect now relationally. We are different.
Now I saw this in my own marriage Wednesday. This past week I was speaking twice over on the east coast. I spoke Monday and I spoke Wednesday. Tuesday I had a free day. And I decided to lock myself in my hotel room and crank out this Easter message. So for ten straight hours I didn’t eat breakfast, I didn’t eat lunch, I wrote the message. And I thought, isn’t this incredible, I can finish two days early and then I can have some free time to do some things around the church and with the family and everything. And I finished the sermon. Tuesday night I was so happy, I called Lisa. “Lisa, I am through with the sermon. Incredible. Unbelievable.”
I am getting off the plane and I carry this black satchel with me, well I used to carry it with me. I had my Bible in the black satchel, I had my sermon in there. I greet my family. Lisa is there, the twins, the other two children and we walk to our suburban. I put the luggage in the car but I inadvertently put the satchel on top of the suburban. And we leave DFW airport, of course going 55 mph. We have been going for awhile and suddenly I hear something on the top of the car that sounded like this. Bump. Bump. I said, “What was that?” and look in my rear view mirror and there is the satchel rolling down the freeway. I look back and make a U-turn. And to show you the difference between Lisa and I, I am Mr. Spur of the Moment, I can do it. I don’t want to ask directions or for help. And Lisa says, “Let’s stop and ask that officer there, he could help us.” “Lisa, no, I know what I am doing. I’ll find it.” And I made the U-turn. I get lost. “No, I am not asking directions. And I know where I lost it.” And when I pull up, I see a taxi cab stop, the driver pick up the satchel and drive off. I have called every taxi cab association, agency, lost and found in the Western Hemisphere. No satchel, no Bible, no sermon. Prayerfully, the taxi cab driver will read the sermon and it will change his marriage too. So here is a small, recent example regarding the difference is between men and women.
We also need the resurrection power, secondly, to release the past. We have got to have it to release the past. Here is what the Bible says. Philippians 3: 13-14. “But one thing I do (this is Paul talking, he didn’t say a bunch of things, one thing I do) forgetting what is behind and striving toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal for which God has called me.” The Apostle Paul said this. Forgetting what lies behind, reaching for what lies ahead. Too many marriages are messed up because people are so immersed in the past that they miss the present. Genesis 2:24. You might want to put a check by this verse because this verse is mentioned five times in the Bible. Any time a verse is mentioned five times in the Bible you had better understand it. This verse is jam packed with twenty-four power packed words. It is God’s blueprint for marriage. “For this cause a man shall (let’s say this word together – shall) leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” In other words when you get married there is some leaving that should take place and also some cleaving that should take place.
Today I am going to talk to you about leaving. Next week we are going to talk about sex, that is the cleaving part. We have got to release the past. We have got to release past relationships. You’re talking about something that will jam a marriage. Past relationships. We can’t do what Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesies tell us to do. We have to forget “all the girls I’ve loved before.” You can’t bring those back, guys. No. What is done is done. You are in this relationship, in this marriage and we don’t want to drag in “well, if I would have married him I would be much more successful today, because he turned out to be this and that” or “she was so sensitive, you know I really kind of messed up”. And we compare and contrast because we can’t leave the past relationships. It is like the girl I heard about. She got married four different times. He first husband was a millionaire. Her second husband was a film maker. Her third husband was a butler and the fourth husband was a funeral home director. And a friend of her’s said, “Why did you marry all those four guys?” And she said, “Well I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready and four to go.”
We also have to release our parents. For this cause a man shall leave his what? His father and mother. We have got to release our parents. When an infant is born, if you don’t cut the cord, the infant will die. When a marriage is born, if you don’t cut the cord the marriage will die. The Bible is not talking about geographical leaving, it is talking about psychological leaving. You can be right next door to your parents and the cord is cut psychologically. Or you can be 3,000 miles away from your parents and you are still dependant upon them. You can’t make a decision without saying, “Mom, Dad, what should I do?” Make decisions based on your bond together, one man, one woman. You can ask your parent’s advice, but don’t let them rule your world. That will mess you up. Have your released your parents?
Also we have got to release past places. I am talking about geographical locations. There was a couple who used to go to this church about four years ago and they were a nice couple. But the wife never enjoyed her marriage, nor the metroplex because she was so immersed in Virginia. “Oh, when we get back to Virginia. The good old days were in Virginia. Virginia is for lovers. My parents are there. My brother is there. And I love Virginia.” And the poor guy, she was just dragging him by the earlobe, and she missed enjoying this lovely place. Happiness is not geographical. It is relational. You have got to know Christ first of all, if you know Christ you will be right with your fellowman or your fellow-woman.
We also have to release the past problems. You know those problems from the past. We all bring in luggage from relationships, from our parents, from maybe past marriages. And it is so tempting when we have this unresolved anger and this animosity in our spirit that when we get married we will take relational grenades and lob them at our spouse. And our spouse is saying, “Whoa, why are you doing this? Why are you throwing these grenades at me.?” And we have this hostility built up. We have got to release past problems.
We also need the resurrection power to respond to our mates needs. To respond to our mates needs. Here is what the Bible says. I Corinthians 7:3. “A man should fulfill his duty as a husband and a woman should fulfill her duty as a wife and each should satisfy the other’s needs.” We have got to meet their needs. We have got to say, what’s her need, what’s his need? I can’t wait to meet it. I am going to meet the need. I am going to meet the need. You have got to study your spouse and know how to respond. The second verse of scripture on your outline is Proverbs 24:3. “Homes are built on the foundation of wisdom and understanding.” Wisdom and understanding. Now skip down to Philippians 2:4. If we obey this verse, husbands and wives, 80% of the problems in marriage would be dissolved. Are you ready for this? The Bible says, “Look out for each other’s interests not just your own.” The root problem in marriage is simply this, selfishness. And this verse flies in the face of our culture because it contradicts culture. Have you heard this before? “I’ve got to do what’s best for me.” That is not maturity, that is immaturity. If I did what is best for me right now, I’d be at home in bed. I wouldn’t be preaching six times. If you only did what was best for you, you would have a horrible marriage. You have got to do a bunch of stuff in your life that is best for the other person. It also shows us how basically selfish and sinful we are. Because we all have that gravitational southward pull. You know what I am talking about? No one teaches you how to be selfish. I will describe it to you. What if I came up here with a panoramic lens and snapped a picture right now. And what if we had the technology to develop all of the pictures in a nanosecond and to give those pictures out to all of us. Who is the first person you would look for in the picture. I know who I would look for first. Me. I would say, “Hey, yea, I look good. My hair is still straight. I was up at five today. And the tie is looking OK. Well, I see Gary and Leslie, they have their eyes closed and Gary is yawning. But, hey, I look good. So it doesn’t matter.” It is the same attitude that will hurt your marriage. “Well, I have got to do what is best for me. For me. For me.”
We have got to have the resurrection power to remember to forgive. To remember to forgive. I want to remember a verse that is powerful on a resurrection Sunday. Listen to this. Colossians 3:13. “Be gentle and ready to forgive.” Ready to forgive. Ready to forgive.
This past Friday I went to the zoo and I looked at some bears in this bear pit. I was drinking one of those lemon ice things and this bear from twenty feet away saw this lemon ice and he goes, “Uhhh, uhhh, uhhh” and he rises up on his hind legs, extending his paws to me. And I kind of felt bad, a little teary, so I just dropped some lemon ice down to him and the bear loved it, he was into it. Then about ten of them came over, they were ready. So husbands, wives, you have got to do the bear thing. Uhhh, uhhh, uhhh. Be ready to forgive. And this next line, I know I have been kind of hard on the men, I am going to be hard on the women here. This next line is especially relevant for women. “Never hold grudges.” Men, don’t ever try to argue with a woman. They are smarter than we are. You need to learn it now. Let me tell you why they are smarter. They have more connective tissue from the left side of the brain to the right side of the brain. No only do they see a situation and understand it analytically, they also feel it. They have more of a sense of what is happening and they don’t forget. They will say, “Honey, you remember eight years ago when you had those khaki pants on and that polo shirt and you said so and so” and we are going “Duh, I don’t know. Yesterday I did play golf with the guys.” And women it is tempting, I know, to hold grudges, to hold those grudges. Let me say this to you. What if Jesus did this? What if Jesus said, “OK, Ed, you mean you are coming to Me with the same sin again? You are asking Me to forgive you? Ed, you committed that sin back in Florida State University twelve years ago. I’m sorry, Ed, I’m not going to forgive you. I am going to hold a grudge against you. I will keep this cosmic chasm between myself and you. Too bad, Ed.” Now what if Jesus did that? What kind of deal would Christianity be? It would be horrible. He doesn’t. Never, the Bible says, never hold a grudge. And we like to keep score. Well he hurt me five years ago and he will never, ever come into my good graces again, I don’t care what he does, or what she does. Remember, remember, the Lord forgave you so you must forgive others. In other words, I am in a conflict with my spouse and I remember, whoa, I’m forgiven, my sins are forgiven and forgotten, Jesus reconciled me to God so I must be involved in the ministry of reconciliation and get my relationship with my spouse right.
But we have talked about four important points of marriage. You can read them on your outline. The power to relate. The power to release. The power to respond. The power to forgive. And all those are fine and dandy but if you don’t know and if you have not experienced the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, then this marriage thing is not going to work. You have to feel forgiven. You have got to be born again. The moment you receive Christ, your sins are done away with, you have a clean slate and you can’t beat that. And there is not a better day to make that choice than on Easter Sunday. Because on Easter we celebrate Jesus living a perfect life, dying on the cross for our sins, rising again, and He offers salvation, He offers forgiveness, He offers power and strength, He offers a clear conscience, He offers a home in heaven, He offers a purpose-driven marriage. You can’t beat that deal. You really can’t. A lot of you have come here today for different reasons. Some of you got a mailing from the church, others of you were invited by a friend, maybe some of you want to kind of get back into Christianity. I have got good news for you. God loves you just the way you are but He loves you too much to allow you to remain just the way you are. He really does. You matter to God. You are one of a kind. God loves you. And as your pastor here, I want to affirm that this church is committed to building great marriages. We want you to bond for life. And we would love to invite you to be a part of this church. There is one requirement to join this church. You can’t be perfect. If you are not perfect, this church is for you. And this church is for people on the grow. People who understand they have been forgiven and this ministry is trying to be lived out in our daily lives.
This past week I had the privilege and pleasure of having lunch with super model, Kim Alexis and her husband, former NHL all star, Ron Duquay. And both Kim and Ron had been married before and both were married to successful goal-oriented, handsome, wealthy individuals. They both said about the same thing. “Ed, the marriage after a couple of years was horrible. It didn’t work out. After our divorces we came to know Christ. We have build our family and our relationship on Jesus. Now we can’t describe to you how different this marriage is.” And the Lord showed me again, through two celebrity-type individuals, it doesn’t matter where you are, how much you have, how handsome you are, etc. etc. if you don’t have Christ, if you are not involved in His church, it is not going to work. Do you realize that one out of three marriages that occur outside the church ends in divorce. If you get married inside the church, one out of fifty marriages ends in divorce. If you get married in the church and you are involved in the church weekly and you pray regularly, one out of one thousand one hundred and fifteen marriages ends in divorce. And that is just statistical data. God’s way works. You see, I don’t care what religion you are. I don’t care if you are Baptist, Assembly of God, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Jewish, Buddhist; those are just labels, man. What I am talking about is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Religion will not save you. A personal relationship with Christ will. And maybe today is that day that you can know Christ, because once you know Christ, He will give you the power to have and to hold.