Sunday, June 7, 2009

I Do!

I Do!

We are created to crave our Creator - anything less will not satisfy.

Growing spiritually is the purpose of our lives

Relationships are the context where growth in character, obedience, and service occur.

Throughout scripture we see our relationship with God compared to many things: (-)
- master/servant relationship
- friend/friend relationship
- father/child relationship
- husband/wife relationship

Throughout Scripture, God compares His relationship to His people to the relationship a man and woman experience in marriage.
- This picture helps us understand how God wants us to relate to Him.
- God’s primary message to the world is one of reconciliation
n Bringing us back into relationship with our Maker.
n He loves us,
n Desires us
n Wants to be close to us.
n Longs for our obedience (result of intimacy&love-not fear)
- God’s faithful & sacrificial love to us demonstrates how we are to then love one another.
- Our relationships can be small pictures of what God’s love is.
n Like~signposts of the divine love God wants to share with the world.

The Bible has a Lot to say about this…
*Eph 5:25-32 – “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
“I DO”

It is important to understand this dynamic of relationship with God because we are looked at as The “Bride of Christ” many times in scripture. (From Israel to the New Testament Church) Why is it like a marriage?
- Deep Intimacy we are called to
- God has sought us as lovers
- He loved us with a perfect, patient, unconditional love
- God desires faithfulness and exclusiveness
*Also keep in mind, we tend to interpret this topic and these scriptures Individually only, but the way they were written and originally interpreted was Communally.

(*They can be interpreted and applied to your life and personal relationship with Christ, but you should also be seeking to understand them in the context of what they mean for us as a group (Anchor Gaslamp) and to the Church as a whole, presently and historically)

There are many great examples in the Bible to pull from…
- We could talk about almost any marriage,
- Song of Solomon - picture of God pursuing His people,
- For the purposes of the message today I want to point out 2 examples:
What makes a good marriage and what doesn’t, specifically as a wife/bride? (because this is what we are referred to)

I gotta admit it’s a bit weird for me.
Guys, you know what I mean.
I never considered myself the “bride” type…
But in my years of studying this out, and being married to a wonderful woman, I have learned to appreciate this metaphor.

What does it take to have a successful marriage/ relationship?
(Exp. Relationship Pyramid: Passion, Intimacy, and Commitment.
Commitment + Intimacy = Boring people who sit across table w/books
Passion + Commitment = Bi-polar Relationships/
Passion + Intimacy = Swingers)

We all say we “love” God, but what is love for us?
- Is your love just a love of commitment?
- Are you passionate for God, but not committed to Him?
- Are you engaging with God on an Intellectual level, but not Emotionally?
- Do you have a Hot & Cold relationship with God…on again, off again?
- Is your relationship with God Boring?
- Is God there just for what you get from Him?
What do you mean when you tell God you love Him?

The 1st Example:
(-) Hosea 1-2:1-20
a. There lived a prophet in northern Israel named Hosea / was living at the time of Uzziah, Hezekiah, Jeroboam
b. God told Hosea to marry a prostitute as a living metaphor of God’s marriage to Israel…which was rocky to say the least (He chooses a harlot to represent her)
i. He found this girl named Gomer, married her and had 3 kids
ii. She was a prostitute and found it difficult to stay faithful, she kept going back to her old ways of sleeping around until she had nothing left and decided to come home
c. God used the lives of prophets many times to prophecy what God felt or wanted to do to His people
i. In this case how God feels is found in 2:5-7 –
(-) “(Israel) has been unfaithful and has her children in disgrace. She said, 'I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.' Therefore I will block her path with thorn-bushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, 'I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.'
ii. God talks about how His lover’s put on her lingerie and laid on her back for the false gods
iii. His decision about how to treat her is found in 2:14-17 –
(-) “Therefore I am now going to allure her. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. "In that day," declares the LORD, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master. ' I will remove the names of the Baals (false gods) from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked.”
d. God causes the circumstances of the wayward wife’s life to become so bad, that she wants to return home
e. When she has come to a place of repentance and wants to return to her husband God’s response is…
i. Forgiveness, a new covenant of marriage, intimacy, a fresh start, freedom from her former life, and being bound to her husband in new marriage

This picture of marriage is so powerful because…
a. It shows a husband willing entering into a marriage with someone that He knows won’t be faithful
b. However the husband, knowing she won’t be faithful, also knows that she will ultimately return to love
c. Her husband is patient and willing to cause the circumstances of other people and His wife to become uncomfortable and sometimes deadly for the sake of love
d. Everything is done so that love can grow stronger and deeper between a husband and wife and it doesn’t matter who or what gets in the way

• The Husband Chooses Love.
• God chooses us, when we don’t choose Him. That love overcomes anything.
• Where Sin abounds, grace much more abounds –Rom. 5:20
• The more I walk from God, the more He reaches for me
• …even if that means tough love
• Leading me into the deserts of life
• Allowing the pain of my decisions & other’s to affect me till I realize how empty all other pursuits are
• He just keeps reaching
• Compared to his love, proven by the cross (the ultimate expression of Love) all the calls of other lovers are like cheap pick-up lines
“But I’ve given my life to Christ and I’m trying to walk in Communion with Him and live for His Purposes and Open my eyes to see reality more…I’m Committed and Passionate and Intimate with Christ (Which let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that one of us can actually claim)…what can I do?”

Well there are some ideas the Bible recommends for wives.
- Eph 5:22 - Wives, Submit yourselves to your husbands, as unto the Lord
- I Tim 3:11 - …Wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but self-controlled and trustworthy in everything.

But the best example, usually applied to women (if you’ve ever heard teaching on being a “Woman of Virtue”) is from Proverbs 31, written from the wise king Solomon to his son, telling him what to look for in a wife.
Proverbs 31:10-31
10 A good wife is hard to find? She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
13 She shops for the best they can afford and works with eager hands.
14 She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises.
15 She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day.
16 She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she's put aside, plants a garden.
17 First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started
18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
19 She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in making her home comfortable.
20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
21 In bad weather, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are pre-clothed in the finest clothing.
22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
26 When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.
27 She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive.
28 Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise:
29 "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty fades away; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised and admired.
31 Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise among the finest of the city.

Me & Nancy:

If there is one thing I’ve learned about love, it’s that IT GROWS!
- I thought I loved Nancy after a couple of months
- I had no Idea how much I would love her today
- Several kisses later, I love her more
- A couple visits from the stork Later, I love her more
- Several arguments/fights later, I love her more

*Through Trials, Pain, Joy, Tears, our love has grown deeper & wider & More Profound

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