Craig Groeschel - Hope for Hurting Marriages
Chris Hodges: Who's glad to be in church today? Anybody? Come on, give Jesus a praise together. Oh, yeah, it's awesome. And a big hello to all of our campuses. Let me just take just a second and say that I love you. I pray for you every day. We are one church that meets in 23 locations all across our region, and every single one of you are very important to God and to us, today. Thanks for joining us. I want to say a big hello to the men and women in the Alabama Department of Corrections. We're still able to bring this message to you. We're not able to go in, yet, but we can't wait to get back into those facilities. But we're so glad that you're joining us, as well.
And, of course, a lot of you are still taking care of yourselves at home, and we honor that in every way. The way I like to say it is, "If you're at home because of health, stay healthy; but if you're at home because of habit, we're inviting you to come back". There's nothing like being in the room, really, serious. Amen, everybody? So, so God bless you. Always, of course, do what the Lord is showing you to do to take care of yourselves. If you are at home, be sure that you, if you have kids in your home, to download our children's church service, that you can have right there in your own home. So, be sure that you're accessing the content that we have for your kids, so they can continue to be fed by God's Word in every way.
Well, this past weekend, we had our marriage conference. Wasn't it amazing, everybody, for those of you who participated? And it was our largest ever by a lot, and we brought in to our conference probably, I really believe, one of the best leaders in the world. He's a dear friend of mine, has been for more than, I think, 17 years now we've known each other. He's the pastor, founding pastor of Life Church, which is America's largest and clearly the most influential church in America. In fact, they're the largest. Some say we're the second. I don't know if that's true, but some say we're the second largest. We're not even close. These guys have hundreds of thousands of people they impact every weekend at 37 locations all across, based out of Oklahoma City.
Pastor Craig Groeschel has a leadership podcast. If you're into podcasts, I highly recommend you check out his podcast. I think it's the best out there right now. But they're such an amazing church. They literally resource for free (watch this now) more than 880,000 churches are using and downloading their content. And a lot of you guys would know they're influenced by the YouVersion Bible app. It will go down in history as being the resource that got the Scriptures to more people than any other in the world. You ready for this? Half a billion downloads of the app across the world. And they gave it to them for free. Come on, I think we ought to celebrate that, today. That's pretty awesome. But listen to me. We don't promote things we don't believe in, seriously.
And Pastor Craig did not ask me to do this. He just released a book called, "Winning the War in Your Mind". But listen to me. I'm your pastor, okay? I know, for a lot of us, this past year, that's where the battle has been. It's been in our minds. And for some of you, you're at a bad place. This is a great resource. He didn't bring copies, because it literally just came out, but I'm encouraging you to go online and order a copy of his newest book, and I think it'll bless you in a way, a great way. In fact, I need you to read it, right, so that you can make sure that part of your life is healthy.
But if I could just make a personal comment, this is absolutely true, guys. He's not only one of my closest ministry friends, but there's no one that has taught me more about building church. We weren't even going to do multi-site or multi-service. We were going to build one large auditorium and call it a day. And when we were three years old, I spent several days with Pastor Craig. And no one has, literally, no one has opened my mind to dream all that God could do and would do in our church in this man. And for that reason, you guys ought to stand on your feet and show some honor and love to our guest speaker, today. Come on, Pastor Craig Groeschel.
Pastor Craig Groeschel: Well, thank you, Church of the Highlands! My home away from home, I love you guys. It's an honor to be with you. Why don't you have a seat? Pastor Chris, that was ridiculously generous. I wish my mom could've heard that. She'd be so proud. I love you all. It's great to be back. This honestly does feel like my church home away from home. And I want to take a moment and just brag on you. I hope you recognize that the impact that you're making, as a church, it is unparalleled. In fact, I'm honored to know and get to see up close a lot of what churches do around the world. And it's my opinion, and I am right, there is no local church that does more for the local community than what you all do. You set the standard, you set the pace, and we all learn from you, how to be involved in the community and make a difference.
And there is no pastor... your pastor said really nice things about me, but there's no pastor influencing more pastors first-hand than your pastor. He's the friend I call when I'm hurting. He's the friend I call when I want to learn. He's the friend I call when I need prayer. And so I love and honor your family. I love and honor your church. Would you guys give God some praise and glory? You get to be a part of a church impacting people, communities, and pastors around the world. I'm so thankful for you. My assignment to you is to talk on marriages. We are in part two of a message series called, "Family Values". Next two weeks, PC is in the house bringing the Word, starting next week.
And today, I want to just ask just for a show of hands, how many of you are married? Right now, how many of you are married? Excellent, excellent. Got some woo-hoos over here. I like that. How many of you are not married, not married? Raise your hands. Got some, yeah. Leave your hands up, if you would. Just leave them up, let's leave them up. You might just kind of like scan the crowd right now. You just might look around the room. You never know. You might have another reason for raising your hand. Glory to God. Somebody is in the house. I pray, today, this message would not only build marriages; but if you're not married, this would be a foundational message, there would be some seeds planted that may create a harvest of righteousness in a marriage in the future, or this would just build some relationships in a way it could be applied to your children, to your friendships and such.
But we're going to speak directly and specifically to marriages, and I want to start with the Word of God, today, in Genesis chapter 2. The context, in the beginning God had created the world. He created man. He said, "It's not good that man be alone". If you've ever been around a man who's alone for too long, you know we get in trouble. We need some help. So, God brought him a suitable helper. And Scripture says this, "The Lord God made a woman from the rib of the man, he had taken out of the man". He brought her to the man. "And the man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, and she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man. This is why a man leaves his father and mother and is," what?
Everybody say that word aloud, "and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh". This is why "a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh". The title for today's message is, "Hope for Hurting Marriages". At all of our 23 locations, our correctional facilities, online, would you mind joining me in prayer? Father, we ask that your Holy Spirit, by the power of your living Word, would bring hope for hurting marriages, plant seeds that would impact all of our relationships, that we could glorify you in all we do. We pray this in Jesus's name. And everybody said amen, amen. I'm curious. How many of you have ever made a fool out of yourself for love? Anybody ever done that? Like, I hope so. It's really fun, when you're so in love, you do some stupid stuff.
When I met Amy, even before I met her, I just heard about her. I'd never seen her, never seen a picture of her. I just heard how amazing she was. I was so excited about our first date. I made a mix tape before I ever met her. Anybody remember a mix tape? Some of you go, "What's a mix tape? What's a tape"? I don't know. Google it. You'll find it. But I made my own mix tape that had a rhythm to it, a very intentional rhythm. It had a Christian song, followed by a Christian song, followed by a love song, followed by a Christian song, followed by a Christian song, followed by a love song, love song, love song. I had a rhythm to this. And when I met her, she was so off the charts special, that I just started doing really crazy stuff.
Perhaps the funniest is that we, while we were dating, we named our future children. That's just weird. We just, we named, we were going to have a boy and a girl, two kids. We named them Josh and Joy, which is funny, because we did not have two kids. We had six kids, and I had no idea our love was gonna be like six kids love, okay? That was a lot of love. And people always say, like, "Do you guys know what causes that"? Which is funny to me. And so we always respond, "Yes, we do, and we're unwilling to give that up, okay"? In Jesus' name, and all God's people said, "Amen".
Okay, so we named our first two kids in our little dating relationship, Josh and Joy. We ended up with our six kids. We never had a Josh, but we did round it up with a Joy. Our sixth child is named Joy. And I was so in love with Amy. I was in a store one day, and I saw this "Joy" pillow-looking thing. It had J-O-Y on it, and it was 50% off. And so I thought, "Well, the Lord hath provided unto me". And so I bought this thing. Well, I didn't realize it wasn't really a pillow. It was actually a latch-hook rug that had to be assembled into a pillow. So, God is my witness. I took four million little threads, all different colors, and one-by-one made a latch-hook rug. That's how much I was in love. That's just... I can even show you how to do it, today.
You take the thread, you fold it over, you put it in like this, wrap it over, pull it out, turn it. Guys, I'd do that. If you don't believe me, I've actually got a photo of the latch-hook rug and her big hair, which this was the '80s. What's funny is that wasn't just a rug, but that was a Christmas rug. And in February, that's why it was 50% off, and I had no idea whatsoever. Well, what I know about all of you is, if you are married, there was probably some time you had your own version of that. You spent too much money on something stupid. You stayed out way too late and drove all the way across town in the snow to see him or her. You'd sit on the phone back... remember land lines? How many of you remember land lines? Right? You'd sit on the phone and you'd say, "I'm not gonna hang up. You hang up". "I'm not gonna hang up. You hang up".
And then you'd just sit there, and no one would hang up, and you wouldn't say anything, and you would just breathe for hours, just breath... not heavy breathing, not sinful heavy breathing... God-honoring, the appropriate Jesus-centered breathing, just breathing. You know what I'm saying? You had your own version of this. And then one day, years later, you wake up and you wonder, "Where'd the romance go? Where's the passion? Where's the intimacy? Where's the fire? What happened along the way"? What I can promise you is somewhere along the way, you stopped pursuing one another. There was a time when you pursued, and you made effort, and you were intentional. And somewhere along the way, you got relationally lazy.
Question: Is there any other area of your life that you can be consistently lazy and see improvement? The answer is no. In your physical body, if you don't take care of it, and eat anything you want, the four basic food groups, Taco Bell, McDonald's, you know, whatever. No, after a while, your body will not be what it could be. In your business, if you don't crunch the numbers, if you don't guard the culture, if you don't cast vision, will your business or your ministry be what it could be over time? The answer is no. If you get lazy, it will struggle. The same with your yard. If you don't take care of your yard, if you don't fertilize it, and if you don't water it, you will not win the yard of the month club, and your neighbors eventually will whisper behind your back, because you did not care for your yard.
What's funny in marriage is a lot of times you'll look at somebody else's marital yard, and their grass looks greener. We always say this: "If the grass looks greener somewhere else, guess what? It's time to water your own yard". Some of you in your marriage, right now, it's time to water your own yard. "But we don't just love each other anymore. We just don't know if we can go on. We're just gonna give up and get divorced". I always tell our team that to get divorced, because you ran out of love, is like selling your car because you ran out of gas. Okay? If your car runs out of gas, what do you do? You refill the tank. If your marriage is running out of love, what do you do? You refill the love tank.
And I want to talk about doing that, today, and I want to go back to an unusual verse to do it, from Genesis 2:24, our opening text. It said, "This is why a man leaves his father and mother," and here's our key word. I pointed it out earlier, but I want to hit on it again. This is why, "a man leaves his father and mother and is," what? "...and is united to his wife, and the two become one flesh". A lot of times, we look at that, and we think, "united," that means like a one-time event. And it actually can be a one-time event, but the Hebrew language is really interesting. Hebrew words are often like little stories. There's so much more meaning. It's hard to translate a Hebrew word into one or two words.
The Hebrew word that's translated as united comes from the root word dabaq, D-A-B-A-Q, and this word, it means to cling or adhere, like united. It also means to catch by pursuit and to pursue hard with affection or devotion. It means to pursue hard. Let me show you two different ways dabaq is translated. From today's Living Bible, in Psalm 63:8, dabaq is translated, "follow close". It says, "I follow close behind you". That's a stalkers favorite memory verse. You know, that's like, "I follow close behind you". The King James Version translates dabaq as "pursued hard," where it says, "They pursued hard after them". Why is it that you had something special for years, you pursued each other, why do you not have something special today? Maybe you've gotten lazy, taken each other for granted, and stopped pursuing the one that God gave you.
One of my favorite stories from the Bible on pursuit is found in the Old Testament. It's when Jacob met a woman that he fell in love with named Rachel, and went to her father, Laban, and said, "Hey, could I marry your daughter"? And he said, "Well, you're going to have to work for me. I need you to work seven years". And Jacob's like, going, "That's worth it, no problem. I'm in". And for seven years, he worked for her, and he loved her so much, Scripture says time passed like it was a day. What Jacob didn't realize is that Rachel had an older sister named Leah. And what's interesting is, in the Bible, there's a verse that says, "Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful, and Leah," or Leah, "had weak eyes".
This is very, very funny. This is in your Bible. You should read your Bible. It's living, it's active, it's powerful, sharper than any double-edged sword. It'll change your life, and it's funny, okay? I mean, it's funny because it says, "Rachel was lovely and had a beautiful figure, and Leah had weak eyes". In the Hebrew, what that means is Rachel was hot and Leah had a great personality. That's what it means in the Hebrew language, right? That's what it means. And so it's interesting that Jacob worked for seven years, and then he was ready to marry Rachel. But the father came to him and said, "In our culture, you have to marry the oldest daughter first". He said, "No, no, no, no, no, I wanted to marry this one". And so the dad said, "Okay".
I thought for years, when I was growing up, I always thought that Jacob had to work another seven years; and at the end of another seven years, 14 years total, he got Rachel. But that's not what happened. What happened is the dad said, "I'll give her to you now, but you have to work for me another seven years," which is beautiful to recognize that Jacob continued to work for his bride after he already had her, a great illustration for so many of us; because a lot of us will do our own version of the Joy latch-hook rug to get the person, but then once we get the person, a lot of times we get relaxed, and we stop pursuing and stop working... pursuit, to follow close, to pursue hard, to bring our best.
And what I know about you is that you want something good. Nobody says, "My goal is to be married for five years and then get an ugly divorce". Nobody says that. Nobody says, "My goal is to betray her trust, to get addicted to porn, to fight about money". Nobody says that. You've got good intentions. But a lot of times, our good intentions aren't converted to the right actions. And so if it's okay with you, what I want to do is get really, really practical, and I want to give you some scriptural suggestions to apply to your marriage or to any relationship that might add value, and I'm going to give you three specific thoughts to close the gap between intentions and actions. Are you ready? If you're ready, say, "I'm ready". Are you ready?
Thought number one is this, rule number one we're going to apply to our marriages and our relationships: "When you think something good, say it". Let's all say that aloud in all of our churches. When you think something good, what are you going to do? You're going to say it. Every time you think something good, something positive, something affirmative, something loving, something special about your spouse, about your children, about some friends, about the people that you work with, we're going to give life to it and say it. Why would you ever, in your marriage, think something good about your spouse and rob them of the blessing of knowing that thought by keeping it to yourself. When you think something good, set it free, say it, text it, write it, spray it. Let them know the blessing.
Scripture says... the author to the Hebrews said in Hebrews 3:13, "But encourage one another," how often? Every single day, as long as it's called today. The verse goes on to say, "so that your heart is not hardened by sin's deceitfulness". How different do you think your marriage relationship would be, if every single day, without fail, there was some form of encouragement, building each other up along the way? I want to talk to those of you who are men and women in a slightly different way, because, generally speaking, we receive and give love in different ways. These rules are not absolute by any means. But generally speaking, there are some ways to our approach that we can work on that can make a big difference.
Let me start with the men. Men, when you pursue her with your words... what I want to do is encourage you to pursue her with words of affection, of affection. And when I'm talking about words of affection, I'm talking about non-sexual affection. You just need to know that, non-sexual affection. Some of you are saying, "What is non-sexual affection"? Non-sexual affection is affection that's non-sexual. You may have never heard of this before, but what it is... some of you still look confused, so I'm going to say it real slowly. It's non-sexual affection, it's affection that's not sexual. There's a sexual goal on the other side of your affection. Because men do that quite well.
Men cannot honestly, we all have this supernatural gift. It's like it's second nature. You don't have to teach a man. A man can make anything sexual, anything sexual. The woman can say, "Hey, I think we need to rotate the tires on the car," and the man will be like, "I'll rotate your tires". It's just, you know. Just, you don't have to teach it. It's just, it's just, it's just there. Okay? "Would you mind unloading the dishwasher"? "I'll unload your dishwasher"! It's just, it's just, and men, they just typically only have that gear. And the thing about women is you've got different gears. You know, you're unpredictable, which is fine. The only thing consistent about women is you're unpredictable. And Amy's this way, I know. I can walk up to Amy on just a regular day, and I can kind of be frisky, you know, like a little honka, honka.
Just, you know, and what's so funny is, like, on one day, I'm cute and playful and adorable, and the very next day, same time of the day, same circumstances, same mood, same climate, and I can walk up and a little honka, honka. I'm not cute. I'm not playful. I'm a pervert. I'm a jerk. I can go to where the worm never dies and there's weeping and gnashing of teeth. I don't understand this. It's always a gamble, right, men? It's always a gamble, but you always take that gamble. Why? Because you're a man, and you don't know another way. And so that's why I want to teach you another way, and that is non-sexual affection. Pursue her with words of affection. And gentlemen, I'm going to give you the simplest tool. And when I tell you it's simple, it's simple, and it's a game changer for your relationship.
And what I do with Amy, and she can tell you that I do this with her, and it's sincere, born out of my love, because I have good intentions. I'm closing the gap between my intentions and actions. When I think something good, I'm going to say it. And a real simple tool is just to tell your bride, "I love you," but not just, "I love you," but add the word "because," and then fill in the blank with something genuine and different, as often as you can. Not just, "I love you," but "I love you because," and then tell her why, and do that consistently. And I do that with Amy all the time. And I can tell you, right now, sincerely, with all my heart, I love you because you are my best friend. I love you because I'd rather spend time with you than anybody else, because you're funny, and you're godly, and you're ridiculously encouraging to me, and I'd rather be around you.
I love you because you've been faithful to me for 30 years. I love you because you've given up your personal desires and laid them down for your family. I love you because you home schooled all six of our kids before you had to, like, you chose to do that. I love you because you lead strong. I love you because God made you in the most special way. I love you because, because, because, because, because, because, because. Sounds like a Wizard of Oz song. I don't know. A very simple tool. I love you because. Pursue her with words of affection. And then, ladies, what I would encourage you is to pursue him with words of affirmation, affirmation, because guys are wired a little differently. We act all cool and confident, you know. "Hey. Hey, bro". You know. But the truth is, a lot of times we're really insecure.
And what I've found about men, and I know this is true of me, is I'm often becoming what Amy sees in me. And when she might pick apart something in me or tell me what's wrong, it weakens my confidence, increases my insecurity; but when she builds me up, I tend to become more of what she wants. One of the biggest complaints I've heard, just as a pastor, for 30 years, is a lot of women will say, like, "My husband is not a spiritual leader. Like, I want a spiritual leader". And what I just want to say is what you see as a spiritual leader may be really different than what he's ever going to bring as a spiritual leader, meaning, chances are pretty good he's not going to lead a Beth Moore Bible study with your three-year-old daughter. He's probably not going to do that. But there are a lot of ways he can be a spiritual leader. And if he does anything that's spiritual, what you don't do is tell him, "You're not a spiritual leader".
When he does anything that's remotely spiritual, you celebrate it. You applaud it, you embrace it. If he just says, "Let's go to church," that's spiritual leading. And you just say, "I love it when you say, 'Let's go to church.'" And you build him up. If you're like, "I wish he'd pray with me," and he doesn't pray ever, but then he prays once a year over the Thanksgiving meal, and he prays over the meal, and it may not even be a good prayer. It may be a bad prayer, kind of embarrassing, but he prayed. You know, like, "God, thank you for the turkey and thank you for our three little turkeys. Amen". You know, what you don't do is say, "That was a bad prayer".
What you do is you just go take him aside, when nobody is looking, and lean in and say, "When you prayed like that, I felt so close to God, and I felt so close to you, and that kind of made me want to be closer to you". And then you just get close to him and whisper that, and then just put your tongue in his ear, okay? What I promise you is that man, he'll pray in tongues over the next Thanksgiving meal, okay? What you're doing is you're pursuing him with words of affirmation, because we need it. When I get through preaching, I don't care what any of you think. You can not like me all day long.
If my bride believes in me, that's all I need. I'll lean over to her and I just, like, "Give me something, just tell me something. Tell me I did good. Tell me I looked good. Tell me I was funny. Tell me. Lie if you have to. Make something up. I just need to know. I just need to know that the person who knows me best believes in me the most". And some of you may say, "My husband is real hard to believe in right now". And I just want to acknowledge that, that some of you are, in both ways, you're in a tough relationship. But what I've found is, if you'll encourage what you like, rather than pointing out what you don't like, and pursue with words of affirmation and with words of affection, we can make a lot of progress in our relationships. The first thing we're going to do... let's say it aloud, all of our churches. When you think something good, what are we going to do? When you think something good, you're going to say it. The second thing that we're going to do is this.
Number two, whenever you think something special, we're going to do it. Whenever you think something special, we're going to do it. James was really clear in James 4:17. It said, "If anyone, then, who knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it's sin for them". What if I could just get in your business and say, "Why don't you stop sinning? Which is good intentions, and close the gap and do what's in your heart to be a blessing to your spouse"? What have you thought about? When you think about it, do it. You think about coming home early from work to surprise him. Come home early and surprise him.
If you think about picking up a picnic lunch and going out in the middle of a Saturday, just go ahead and do it. If you think about, while you're playing video games, getting up and taking care of the kids, that may be the most romantic thing you've done since 1994. Okay? When you think about something good, do it. And I would even say, this is kind of embarrassing to say in front of Amy. She knows it. I don't really care. But she loves flowers so much. And in the early years of our marriage, we couldn't afford flowers. And I told her, "One day when we could afford flowers, you're going to get a lot of flowers". That's in my heart. Sometimes I forget to send her flowers. So, Stephanie is here from my office. Stephanie has it on her calendar to remind me rather frequently, "Would you like to send Amy flowers, today"? It's calendaring. It's just a very practical way to remember to close the gap between an intention and actually do it.
And so we send flowers, flowers, flowers. And then what I've learned is whenever you send flowers to places where Amy is, and other women are there, the points double when that happens. So, like, if you send it to her women's small group, it's double the points, which is really fun. But you need to know, gentlemen, that at midnight all the points evaporate and they start over the next day. So, they don't keep building. But you just, you think something good, and you do it. And so that might mean that you watch the wedding show because she loves the wedding show, or you go and ride in the golf cart because he loves the golf cart, or, you know, I mean, there may be times when you prioritize your intimacy. Because one of the questions at the marriage conference we got was, "When you have so many little kids, and you're so exhausted, how do you make time for that"?
And the answer is that you have to make time for it. We know people who make dates. You know, there's Sunday Fun Day, and there's Monday Madness, and Two for Tuesday, whatever. They make dates, you know, on their calendar, and that's not a bad thing. Wild Thing Wednesday, Throwdown Thursday. I don't know. Freaky Friday. It could be anything, but you put it on your calendar, and you say, "We're getting a babysitter, tonight". And you know, you can even put on a little Luther Vandross, or light a candle. And if you've got little kids, and you can't afford a babysitter, just put on little Dora the Explorer and say, "You've got 30 minutes. Go Diego, go". You know, whatever it is. Come on, somebody. Work with me. If you think something good, we're going to say it. If you think something special, we're going to do it.
And number three, if you want something different, we're going to be it. If you want something different, we're going to be it. So often, we work with couples who are pointing at the other person, who's always the problem. "I wish he was this". "I wish she was this". "I wish he was more adventurous". "I wish she was more fun". "I wish he was more attentive". "I wish she was less distracted". "I wish he was more romantic". "I wish she was less critical". Whatever it would be, and they point the finger. What I would encourage you to do, as best you can, is to stop griping about what your spouse is not, and continue to let the Holy Spirit grow you into what you're supposed to be. You become something different. You become something different.
Let God work on him, let God work on her, but you become something different. Because I found every time I'm looking at Amy, saying, "I wish something was different," there's three things in me that God needs to work on to transform my heart. And so, gentlemen, I want to talk to you for a moment, because I feel like I have the right to get up into your business. What I want to say to the men is get up off your butt and lead, lead. Lead your family toward Jesus. And that doesn't mean you have to do the three-hour Bible study. That could simply mean we're people of church, and we go to church, meaning we go to church. We don't go to church whenever we're not busy on the weekend, when there's not a big game on. No, we are people of God. That's what we do. In our family, it's not an option.
I can tell you this. In my home, my kids have never one time said, "Are we going to church this weekend"? And it's not because we're pastors. Listen, when we're off and when we're on vacation, we go to church, because that's who we are, that's who we are. You might say, gentlemen, we're going to be in a small group. Because I don't know how in the world marriages thrive spiritually with the Satanic forces of darkness pushing against families, today. We need each other. We need each other. Small group is not a program from the church. It's a necessity for spiritual vibrancy in our families. We lead them to serve. We might serve together as families. We're a part of the Dream Team. I mean, do you know how many people say, "I wish there was a Church of the Highlands near me"?
I mean, people move across the country to be a part of a movement of God like this. We serve in this place. And so what you do is you lead, you lead. And the beautiful thing about the way God wired women, biologically, emotionally, is women are multipliers, meaning they give life, they multiply. What you give them, they multiply. You give them love, and they multiply. They give you babies. Okay? If you give them tenderness, you give them affection, if you give them loyalty, they multiply. They give you love back in a way no man deserves. They multiply. You give them good love, honor, they multiply. You give them a hard time, ha, ha, they multiply. She'll give you, you know what, right? They multiply. And so what I would always say to everybody is this. Since we all, in one way or another, tend to multiply... you smile at someone, they smile back.
You know, if someone flips you the bird, you don't smile back. We tend to multiply what's been given to us. If you don't like what you're getting, look at what you've been giving. Look at what you've been giving. You look at it, you look at it. At the beginning of the message, we joked around about the things that we did for love, okay? What I promise you is that if your marriage is struggling at this point, there was some time you had something special, didn't you? There was some reason why you bought the ring, and said yes, and planned the wedding. There was something going on. And what I can promise you is there was something you were doing then that I guarantee you, you're not doing now. Okay?
If you think something good, tell him, tell her. If you think something special, just do it. Don't hesitate, just do it. If you want something different, be it. And one simple thought to remember is this. If you had something special before, and you want it again, to get what you once had, just continue to do what you once did. Just go do that same stuff you used to do. Say it. "I love you because..". Do it, get involved. Stop thinking about it and act on it. And if you want something different, rather than pointing all the time, be it. Jesus said to the church in Ephesus, in a different context, admittedly, but he said this. He said to them, "Remember the height from which you've fallen"! And he told them to "Repent and do the things you did at first".
Some of you, you can hear that from a spiritual standpoint. You were close to God at some point, and you're not now. Just remember where you were with God before. And what do you do? Repent. It means turn the other direction and do what you once did. In your marriage, if we can apply that verse loosely. If you had something special before, I promise you, with the help of God, the grace of God, there is no marriage too far gone that the power of Jesus cannot heal it. To get what you once had, do what you once did.
Remember what you had. Repent and do the things you did at first. There are those of you, you could be here at this moment, you could be watching online, because God is going to do a miracle in your heart, and years from now you can look back and say, "Because of the work of God through my church home, because of the Spirit of God, we have a spiritual legacy that is different," and the two will become united. Pursuing hard, clinging to one another, the two will become one flesh. What God joins together, let no one else separate, for the glory of God.
Father, we ask, today, for hope and healing for hurting marriages. For any, God, that are struggling, may your grace, your power, your Spirit renew us. God, help us to pursue our spouse in the same way Jesus always pursues us.
I'm so thankful for the parable. If there's a hundred sheep, and one gets away, the Good Shepherd pursues the one. And there may be one, today, who recognizes the Spirit of God is pursuing you. He's coming after you. At all of our churches and online, some of you know you're not in a relationship with God right now, but you're being drawn to God. What is that? That's the Holy Spirit of God loving you toward him. What do you need to know? We've all sinned. We feel guilty. We've all fallen short. And because of the grace of Jesus, he is perfect, shed his blood, died and rose again, so that anyone who calls on his name would be forgiven.
There are those of you, right now, you're the one, you're the one. God is pursuing you. He wants you to say yes to him. You feel far from him. You don't know where you stand with him. You feel guilty for your sin. When you call on the name of Jesus, God hears your prayers and forgives your sins. And you're here, today, because you are about to become brand-new. At all of our churches, those who say, "Yes, I need his grace. I'm not in a relationship, today. I'm turning away from my old life. I'm turning toward Jesus. Jesus, my prayer today is, 'I give my life to you.'"
If that's your prayer, would you lift your hands high now in all of our churches and say yes? Lift them high, right now, here in this section, right back over here, right over here, just lift them high and say, "Yes, Jesus, I'm giving you my life". Right back over here, online, just type it in the chat, "I'm giving my life to Jesus". And I would love it if just all of you would pray aloud in all of our churches. Pray:
Heavenly Father, forgive my sins. Jesus, save me. Make me brand-new. Fill me with your Spirit, so I could know you and follow you for the rest of my life. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. Thank you for new life. You have mine. In Jesus's name I pray.