"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, April 12, 2013

* WHAT'S THE STATE OF YOUR UNION?


Ephesians 5:31  "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."




Each year our President addresses the nation with an annual, "State of the Union Address."  How the USA is doing, is the question its citizens want answered.  The President cites areas of growth, issues needing attention, political and fiscal matters.  Military, education and health care are other top contenders.  This annual evaluation is also intended to encourage the people and offer hope.

This got me thinking about the state of another union, ordained by God, known as marriage.  Marriages also need assessed.  A regular check-up to see how things are going, such as, communication, finances, health decisions, spiritual oneness, intimacy, parenting, prayer, family calendar, vacation, ministry endeavors, work etc.

There is no doubt, marriages are under attack.  The marriage covenant is no longer esteemed, honored or viewed sacred, as it should be.  Sadly, the state of many unions represent two individuals operating independently of the other without any regard to physical, emotional or spiritual oneness.  Couples function as two people rather than a united whole, resembling room mates instead of partners.

My heart grieves over the hurt brought on by disintegrating relationships between husbands and wives.  In recent months, I have become aware of several marriages on the fringe.  A wife of 30 years walked out.  A husband battles pornography.  A middle-age couple struggles with stubborn hearts.  A newlywed wife struggles under an authoritarian husband.  A young couple with three little ones wrestles over who is to be the spiritual leader of their home.  Another husband pursues personal hobbies while withdrawing from his family.  Sadly, I could go on.  All of these couples are Christian.  All are struggling.  All are ready to split the sheets.

Deeply rooted struggles in marriage are often a symptom of a much bigger problem.  When our heart is not right with God all other relationships will feel the impact: family, co-workers, friends, and especially our spouse.  If we are walking in close communion with the Lord, even outside factors can contribute to marital rivalry.

My husband and I experienced significant challenges early in marriage.  Deep wounds existed from my past.  While I loved my husband, my actions certainly didn't show it.  I lashed out at him, disrespected and withdrew from him.  I needed help because everything was not "just fine."  Healing came, praise God!

This is just one example of a big moment in our marriage, but there have been plenty of smaller incidents, and there will be more.  We each have a decision to make when we face irritation -  deal with it biblically or sit and stew until we explode.  No matter how selfish or 'right' we both may feel, we are determined to work through our struggles.  The more we submit to Christ the more He increases our desire to reflect His love to one another, our children and to others.  

Sometimes, though, it's the smaller issues that add up into big ones.  You know, one little annoyance is brushed off because life is so hectic.  Then, when the next one comes, you recall the old offense, (because it wasn't handled) and now you're even more upset because you've been accumulating more ammunition.  Maintaining constant awareness and open communication helps to prevent issues from expanding to epic proportions.  When obstacles present themselves, we need to handle them, before they mishandle us.

Paul uses marriage to illustrate Christ's love for the church.  In Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy."  Christ loved the church by laying His life down for her so that the best could be brought out of her.  As a part of Christ's bride, we understand the significance of this sacrificial act.  He was willing to empty Himself for the good of the church, His bride.  In the same way, the husband is to seek to sacrificially love his wife by emptying himself and becoming a servant.  Christ didn't lead by domineering, but by caring and cherishing and so it should be for the husband.

Verse 33 exhorts wives by saying, "The wife must respect her husband."  Love and respect are two foundational principles for any marriage to thrive.  Just as a wife expects unconditional love, the husband needs and expects unconditional respect.  Unfortunately, most wives don't understand or refuse to accept this fact to the detriment of their marriage.

Remember, it gives Satan great pleasure to see marriages fail.  This reality is not to be taken lightly.  The master deceiver wants to destroy all unions.  We live in a battlefield, not a playground.  The less effective our marriages are, the less we influence the world for Christ, the less radiant we are for His kingdom, and the less glory we bring to His Name.

The destruction of marriage starts with the individual.  When two people are completely submitted to Christ, wounded marriages can be restored.  The power of the Gospel can resurrect any dead marriage.  If we don't believe this, we cannot fully believe the Gospel either.  The power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power available to His followers.  And, if this power can exhume a dead body, put breath and a beating heart back into a lifeless carcass, this same power can bring hope, vitality, healing and forgiveness to any marriage.

What's the state of your union?



Heart Work:
Evaluate how your relationship with God contributes to your marriage.

Ask God to remove the tactics of the enemy to persuade and speak lies to you.

Consider the strength of your foundation.  Which building blocks can you better implement for a healthy and godly marriage?

Heart Exam:
Do I understand how important my relationship with God or lack of relationship with Him impacts my marriage?

How healthy is my marriage?  How can I extend forgiveness and unconditional love to my spouse?  How is the enemy deceiving me?

Am I committed to do whatever it takes to love my spouse and have a godly marriage whether or not my spouse reciprocates?

Am I willing to be responsible for my contributions, good or bad, to my marriage?

Does forgiveness, unconditional love, respect, humility and prayer characterize my marriage?

Heart Transforming Word:
Matthew 7:25  (NIV)  "The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."

2 Corinthians 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Romans 8:12 "Brothers we have an obligation - but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live."

Hebrews 13:4  "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure."

Ephesians 5:31 "The wife must respect her husband."

Ephesians 5:21 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."







Copyright 2010 by Hester Christensen.  Edited 2013.  All rights reserved.