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Greg Laurie — Home Sweet Home

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We are starting a brand new series today on the family, marriage, and parenting. Just the home in general and we are calling it Home Sweet Home. So I would like to take a quick poll. Everybody respond. You guys watching on screens as well. How many of you here today are married? Raise up your hand. You are married. That is quite a few of you. All right. How many of you are happily married. Raise up your hand. Not quite as many hands. That concerns me. Maybe it is good you are here for this series.

How many of you are single? Raise up your hand. Ok. How many of you are happily single. You like being single. Ok. How about this. You never want to be married. Raise your hand up. Ok. How many of you are unhappily single. You want to be married one day. It is ok. Don't be embarrassed. All right. Would all of you stand up please? No seriously. Just stand. I think I know why you are still single. Do it a little more slowly next time. Ok. All of you who are single stand up. I am serious. I am not joking. Stand up. Go ahead. Now look around. Best place to meet someone is in church. All right. You can be seated. God bless you guys. Let's grab our Bibles now and turn to Ephesians 5. That is where we are going to anchor ourselves in this five part series on the subject of family and marriage and even a bit about singleness that I am calling home sweet home. Ephesians 5. Let's pray together.

Now Father I pray for every person here. Every person watching and listening. First I want to pray for married people because I know there are some marriages that are unraveling. Some are literally on the way to divorce court. We are praying Lord you will save those marriages. You will snatch them out of that defeat and get them established on a firm foundation. Maybe for the first time. I am praying now Lord also for marriages that are just struggling. It is hard. A lot of difficulties right now. Would you bolster that marriage? Would you strengthen it? If necessary would you restore it.

Now Lord I want to pray for strong marriages. Would you make them even stronger and even better? Finally Lord I pray for anyone who is single. I pray that they will wait upon you to bring the right person into their life. That they will not rush ahead of you. That they will not lag behind you and that they will remain pure until that day when they are joined together. So we commit this series to you Lord because we need help. We know the family is under attack today. We know the home is under attack. So we want to look to your word for answers. Speak to us as we open scripture we pray. In Jesus' name. Amen.

I heard a story about a husband and wife that were celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary. The husband got in front of friends and family said, "I love this woman so much". He said to her, "Dear because you have given me 25 years of wedded bliss I am taking you to China". She was so excited. She says, "China. I have always wanted to go to China". Then she said, "If you are doing that for our 25th wedding anniversary I can't wait to see what you will do for our 50th wedding anniversary". The husband said, "That is when I will pick you up". These are the jokes people. Maybe that is why one person said, "Marriage is like a three ring circus. Engagement ring, wedding ring, and suffering". Does it really have to be that way?

Oscar Wilde was quoted to say, "The world has grown suspicious of anything that looks like a happily married life". How about this statement from one of the wealthiest men who ever lived. J. Paul Getty who was married many times. He said, "I would give my entire fortune for one happy marriage". One happy marriage. That was all he wanted. Is it even possible? Can a woman and a man fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after? That is what the Fairytales tell us. Life doesn't back that up now does it? We look at the divorce rate in our country today. It is roughly at 50%. Then if you get married for a second time the divorce rate jumps up to 60%. Then if you go for a third marriage it rises even higher to 73%. Fairytales usually end with the words happily ever after but maybe we should change it to say happily even after. Let's be realistic. It can be a happy marriage. It can be a strong marriage.

The reason I have called this series home sweet home is I just love the word home. When you are on a long trip you say I just want to go home. There is something about the very word home that resonates with us. Think of all of the songs at Christmastime that we will sing about the home. I will be home for Christmas. There is no place like home for the holidays. It is really not about what your house looks like. It may actually be an apartment. It may be big. It may be small. That is not the point. It is home. It is an important place. It represents a place of security, safety, and dependability. One person wrote, "Home is heaven for beginners".

When it comes to home the most important time if you are building a house is when you lay the foundation. First you want to get the blueprints right. You turn them into the city and they are approved. They come back. But you have to make sure your electrical is right and your plumbing is right. Your foundation is poured properly because if you get all of that down and then it is not done as it should have been done you are going to have to tear it up later. I know it is fun to decorate and choose paint colors and landscaping. The most important part of a house is the foundation. The same is true of marriage. The most important part of it is our foundation. We want to build our marriage on our relationship with God. Here is what you need to do.

This culture, this world, Hollywood as an example, is not going to tell you how to have a successful marriage. We have seen all of these films. They call them romcoms. Romantic comedies. All of these songs that have been written. We look to these celebrities thinking that I wish I could have a life like theirs. Really? I don't know if you would really want that. I was reading over the lifespan of some of the Hollywood marriages. I don't know if you even know this. This is kind of history now. Kid rock married Pamela Anderson. Their marriage lasted four months. Renee Zellweger married country star Kenny Chesney. Their marriage lasted four months. Check this out. Eddie Murphy married Tracy Edmonds. Their marriage lasted two weeks. How does a marriage last two weeks? That is mind blowing. Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman. Their marriage lasted six days. I may understand that a little. I don't know. Pop star Sinead O'Connor ended her fourth marriage after 16 days.

I am not going to look to culture for cues on how to have a successful marriage. I am going to look to a reliable source. The Word of God that tells us everything we need to know about how to have a strong and lasting marriage. The Bible tells us everything we need to know about marriage. Everything we need to know about singleness. Everything we need to know about life in general. I feel somewhat qualified to address this topic for a few reasons.

1. My mom was married and divorced seven times. I think you know that. You think that actually unqualifies you doesn't it? No. Disqualifies you I should say. I don't think unqualfies is a word. No. In a way it doesn't because I have seen what divorce looks like. When people say the kids are resilient. They will bounce back. Let me just tell you from a kid's perspective divorce is devastating. If there is any way you can avoid that, you do not want to do that to a child. It is even devastating when they are older. I have seen it up close and personal. I know what it is like to go through divorce after divorce.

2. Cathe and I have been married for 42 years. God has been good to us. We are very thankful for that. When we got married we were determined to have a strong and lasting marriage. We have had that by God's blessing.

3. I have been a pastor for over 41 years and I have counseled a lot of couples. Let me say this at the outset. Most marriages that I have seen dissolve did not have to. Let me say it again. Most marriages that I have seen dissolve did not have to. But they were unwilling to do what the Bible says. The one thing that people often cite as to why their marriage is failing is irreconcilable differences. If I hear that one more time I am going to pull what little hair I have left out of my head. Irreconcilable differences. Give me a break. Cathe and I have had irreconcilable differences for 42 years. Seriously, she is very neat and I am messy. She is sometimes late. I am often early. She likes to watch anything on television as long as the people have a British accent. I like shoot 'em ups and mysteries and things like that. She is cute and I am fat. It is irreconcilable. That will always be there.

How is it that the very thing that drew us together now is supposedly driving us apart? Why were you drawn to your husband or your wife? They were probably different than you. It is like that old expression says. Opposites attract. Maybe there was something in them that you did not have in your life and you liked that. Now that very thing that attracted you to them initially has turned into this wide chasm. It has turned into a problem that cannot be resolved. I disagree. I say you recognize there is going to be irreconcilable differences. Embrace it. Say viva la difference. It is ok. That is life. That is the way it works. Understand that you can always improve in your marriage. The best husband will always be aware of the fact that he can do a much better job. If in your smugness you lay the blame at the feet of your mate that tells me the main problem is you not them.

If you want a successful marriage, shine the light of God's word on it. Verse 13. "All things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light". When you lose something you turn on the light. I don't know why but I am always losing things in my car. My wallet drops between the seats. I misplaced a burrito from a year ago. Where is it? Sometimes I have to get a flashlight out and search under all of the seats until I find it. Light exposes things.

I heard a story of a drunk man who was down on his hands and knees under a streetlight looking for something. Someone came up to him and said, "Sir what did you lose". He said, "I lost my wallet". I told you it was a drunk man. That is drunk man there. They said, "Did you lose your wallet here"? He said, "No. I lost it two blocks back but there is no light there". That is a problem. It is not a very good idea to search for something if you look in the wrong place. I have a little device now I keep in my wallet called a tile. Have you seen those things? It is a little electronic chip. When you press the button on your phone it will let a little sound out. It will help you find your wallet. I think I need to put tiles on everything now because I am misplacing things all of the time. You need to look for something in the right place. The right place to go is to look at what the scripture says.

Sometimes when marriages are having troubles they get counseling. I am for that. As long as it is biblical counseling. Counseling is not enough. Listen to this. Just because a person says they are a Christian counselor doesn't necessarily mean they are giving biblical counsel. It is all that matters when it is said and done. Are you getting counsel from the Word of God? I have heard counsel that comes from people who are supposedly giving Christian counseling that frankly is contradictory to what the Bible says. We need the counsel of God's word. That is why when I set a couple down who are having troubles I will ask them a couple of questions. First of all I will start with are you Christians? They will always say yes. Two. I will ask do you believe Bible is the Word of God. Again they will say yes. Thirdly I will ask are you willing to obey the Word of God if you agree with or not or find it difficult or not.

That is where some people choke. Everybody thinks their marital problems are unique. But you know they really aren't. After a while you see these are similar patterns that happen in people's lives because they disregard what the scripture says. You might say, "Wait a second Greg. What if you don't agree with what the Bible says"? Simple answer. Change your opinion because the Bible is right and if you don't agree with it, you are wrong. Sorry to tell you that but it is the truth. We want to look to the Word of God because it gives us the answers we need and tells us what to do.

Principle two. We need to wake up. Verse 14. "Awake, you who sleep". Awake from spiritual lethargy. Listen. You can't sleepwalk through a marriage. You show me a marriage that is strong and vibrant and thriving and I will show you a marriage that people are giving attention to. Sort of like starting a fire. We don't know a lot about that here in Southern California. We have duraflame logs and gas fireplaces. In other places in our nation you will start a fire that will last. You may start with some kindling or some newspapers and smaller twigs and get some logs on it. Once the fire is going you put another log on the fire. In the same way if a marriage is strong especially over a period of time it is because they keep putting logs on the fire. They cultivate their romance. They strengthen the marriage. The moment you let go is the moment it is going to start weakening. You have to constantly be giving attention. You have to be proactive not merely reactive.
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