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Jack Graham - Model Family


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    Jack Graham - Model Family
TOPICS: Life Together, Marriage, Relationship

We're beginning a new series today called LIFE TOGETHER. As I, along with our preaching team have gotten together over the last several weeks and months, we've talked about the need right now to work on our relationships, particularly the relationships between a man and a woman in marriage, parents and children, and how to live life together. I see so many people who are living together in marriage but they're just surviving; they're not enjoying their life and enjoying their relationship. Marriages for many people are functional but not fulfilling. So what we want to see in this series on home and family is how you can take your marriage... If it's a bad marriage how you can love again and live again and find hope again in your relationship. And if you have a good marriage, to take your good marriage from good to great, and from great to greater! That's my prayer in this series.

And so in Genesis 2, verses 21-25, this is marriage by the Book: "So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed it up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.' Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed".

First thing to note: Marriage is God's invention! Family from the beginning is God's intent. And a lifelong relationship between a man and woman is the foundation upon which the family and the future of the world is built! Life together. Now when you read the creation account in the opening chapters of the Bible in the book of Genesis, God created the heavens and the earth, and each day as He created more and more of the earth and all that is in it, the day would conclude with these words: "And it was good, it was good, it was good". And then God created the man and placed him in this perfect paradise, a garden to enjoy! Imagine the most wonderful and beautiful place you have ever seen, and God placed man, Adam in this garden and said enjoy all of it. And he was enjoying the wonders of Creation. But when God looked and saw Adam, He saw that he was alone and then said, "Not good". It was good, it was good, it was good, it was good, it was good, it was good... Not good that the man should live alone. And so God created the woman.

Verse 9 of Genesis 2 tells us this: "Out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. And the tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil". At this point Creation is in full throttle, and yet, God, seeing the need of man, created the first woman. Verse 20 of Genesis 2 says: "So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds, the sky, and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found". The word "suitable" there in the Hebrew, which is the language of the Old Testament, the word "suitable" means one corresponding to him, one compatible to him. It means one who fulfills and one who completes. So God created out of the side of man from the rib of the man, the woman. And he could have created her, as he created Adam, from the dust of the ground. God could have spoken the woman into existence as He did the heavens and the earth. But instead He took the woman from the side of the man.

We often quote at weddings the words of Bible commentator Matthew Henry who says: "Eve was not taken out of Adam's head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near to his heart to be loved by him". And when Adam sees this beautiful new creation, he says, "At last"! (There's a great old fifties song like that, "At last". You know that one?) "At last"! And then he says something peculiar. He says, "This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh". And when I used to read that I'd think, "Adam, could you not do better than that"? I mean, is this just really a poor attempt at poetry? Adam, come on! Bone of my bone? Flesh of my flesh? And yet, God is teaching us this essential lesson about this relationship between a man and a woman established by God, that we are linked together and therefore, life is shared together. We become as one. Verse 24 of Genesis 2 says: "And they shall become one flesh".

This is God's mathematics, this is Mathematics 101 in the University of God: One plus one equals one! The miracle of marriage! And it is a miracle. God established marriage and family as the very foundation of life, and the Father in heaven gave the bride away in the beautiful celestial home that He had prepared for them. Now lest you think all of this is about allegory and that it really didn't happen, let me remind you of what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 19. In fact, turn in your Bibles to Matthew 19, because Jesus not only confirmed the true identity, the reality that Adam and Eve existed from the beginning, but these words regarding marriage. Jesus confirms God's original plan. And here's what our Lord said in Matthew 19 in response to a question from the Pharisees. "And the Pharisees came up to him", this is verse 3, "the Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, 'Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?' And he answered, 'Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female', and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife (same words), and the two shall become one flesh'"?

One flesh: body, soul and spirit! Physically, psychologically, spiritually! God created marriage and constructed the home so that we could experience this delightful relationship. the deepest, most delightful human relationship God ordained and God ordered at the very beginning of time, and God has never rescinded that order! God ordained permanent monogamous marriage between a man and a woman. Now it is not surprising that Satan attacks the foundation of the family, the home, and uses lies in order to destroy the family! Not surprising because in Genesis 3, following up the passage that we're reading, Satan slithers into the Garden and he tempts the man and the woman with these words, "Has God actually said? Can you believe God? Really? Is this what God said"?

Satan still attacks with lies regarding the family today, and propaganda and political correctness; that we would believe his lies, rather than enjoy the life that God has promised. There's several lies! There's the lie of cohabitation. If cohabitation is too big a word for some of you guys that means shacking-up! The lie of shacking-up! The lie that says, "Hadn't you better try things out before you commit in marriage"? Then there's the lie that Satan spreads, "You'll be happier with someone else! You're unhappy? Has God said? Don't you deserve something better? Somebody better"? Then there's the lie of homosexuality. "God made you this way. You can't change". And so on.

The best counter to the lies of Satan is not to curse the darkness, but to turn on the light. And in this case the light is men and women who know and love Christ living together in a godly home and family; to be a model family! Not a perfect family because there are no perfect families! There are no perfect parents, no perfect children, no perfect husband, wives. We're not talking about a perfect family but a pattern family, a model family. A loving, godly family where husbands love their wives, and wives respond to that love by loving their husbands and together with their children. That's God's intent and God's plan for you and your marriage.

God's desire is that we share life together and love together and intimacy at the deepest level! That we would discover strength and satisfaction and security in our life together, that this companionship that we have shared together as husbands and wives would be for life! And the way that happens... Here's the application: the number one factor for keeping a marriage together is friendship. Truly to be friends. Now lest you think that that sounds cheesy and sentimental, let me explain what I mean. The very core of marriage is about this friendship. Life together begins with a fondness and kindness towards one another which is unbreakable. I tell every young couple in preparation for marriage: I ask them "Do you love one another"? And of course, "Oh, we love one another! We love one another"! And then I say, "Do you like each other"? Because you better make sure that you like someone before you love someone. And by that I mean, you know I say, it is veritably impossible to divorce your best friend!

Deb and I have been married 43 years in May, and we have a lot in common and we have shared life together. But the best part of my marriage in our view is the friendship, the pleasure of enjoying one another's company. And through the years our strongest link has been our faith together in Christ and just the sheer fun and friendship that we have enjoyed. Life is fun. It's not always happy, happy, happy, happy! But life is fun when you determine to share it together. Now in a very public ministry such as ours, our best times are just being together, hanging out and holding hands. I've actually, after all these years, the last five or six years converted Deb into being a great Ranger fan! I love that! I even turned in my man-card recently and watched Downton Abbey just because she wanted to.

Friends! Did you know the Bible says a great deal about friendship? And friendship in marriage! In the Song of Solomon, you know, the Song of Solomon, right? Pretty salty! I mean it's adult rated... Song of Solomon. It's about the husband-wife relationship. And in the Song of Solomon and all this talk about intimacy in marriage, here's where it starts. Song of Solomon 5:16: "This is my beloved and this is my friend". Interesting, isn't it? We have many friendships in life but only a few true friends. We have acquaintances. But if you have a few friends, you are blessed indeed. It was true in the life of Jesus. Jesus had many fans; He had followers, but a few intimate friends, disciples. And then among the disciples there were three, Peter, James and John, who were in the closest friendship with Christ, and then at the cross, just John, hanging in there all the way at the cross. True friendships are built on what? Time, trust, transparency, truthfulness, and tests, trials.

But here's the problem. As I said, so many don't have fun anymore. We're exhausted, we're dragging ourselves through lives with all the stuff we're doing. We're not paying attention to each other. We fall into bed exhausted; wake up, pass each other as strangers in the morning, and do the same thing every day! We're not having fun anymore! Unless your fun is the fun in dysfunctional! Jesus said John 10:10, "I've come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly". A flowing life, a fulfilling life! Life that is full! And our lives should flow out, not of our daily external circumstances but an internal relationship with Christ! Not external situations that drain us but an internal relationship that fills us, so that no matter what happens you can live a joyful abundant life to give to someone else. Is there genuine happiness in your home? In your marriage?

I'm not talking about a façade that I've seen as a pastor through the years, people who put on a smile, wear a mask, come to church, and hope everyone thinks it's okay, but you know it's not okay. I'm not talking about acting. I'm talking about experiencing a real marriage. And you know you can't change a problem until you confront a problem. And so it is in confronting a problem that you begin to find ways to heal. And my prayer is that you will enjoy the life and family God has given you and take pleasure in your wife, and take pleasure in your husband, and take pleasure in your children. So, men and women, your closest friend in life needs to be your spouse. It's good to have friends and acquaintances and buddies in golf, got friends and people you text with and all that. That's fine. But only one friend should share your life and that is your soul mate, your husband, your wife!

Therefore do not make close friends with a member of the opposite sex other than your wife or your husband! This is very damaging, potentially disastrous for your marriage. Over the years I've seen men and women commit emotional adultery which is simply becoming a close friend with somebody who is not your husband or not your wife! Husbands, make your wife your best friend! Wives, make your husband your closest companion in life. Oneness, "the two shall become one" is an exclusive relationship. There's only one person in your life who should share your hopes and your dreams and your fears and your frustration and your pain and your problems and your love. God gave clear instructions! Jesus said it again in Matthew 19:5: "A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast (leave and cleave), hold fast to his wife. Two shall become one".

Leave all other relationships and commit to one another exclusively. You have one priority commitment: that is your marriage! Yes, there's a time and a place for social interaction and involvement and children and grandchildren and parents and playing golf or enjoying entertainment. There's a place for all of that! But not at the expense of spending time with your husband and your wife and growing stronger and deeper in your love for each other! Jesus gives us a great love for one another. It's a godly love. "The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) is love". And if you're a believer, you say, "well, I've heard this from time to time... Well, I just don't love her anymore. I don't love him anymore". Really? The Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of love lives in you and you can't love your wife? You can't love your husband?

According to Romans 5, God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Sure, you can love again! Sure, you can renew and restore your marriage. In spite of circumstances we can choose to love. Why? Because love is not a feeling; love is a verb. We act in love! We choose to love! The Christian marriage lives and gives to love one another. Love is not selfish and self-serving, but it is kind and it is caring. And sharing life together means good friends together, caring, conversing, completing and celebrating. Proverbs 17, verse 17: "A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity". That's the kind of love that I'm talking about. I like the definition of a friend which says, "A friend is someone who walks in when everybody else walks out". That's what a man does for a woman, his wife and a wife for her husband because when you're in trouble we ought to be there for the one that we love. In marriage we are there for one another even in the darkest moments and hours.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, "Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their toil, for if they fall one will lift up his fellow, but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up". The goal of marriage above all else is to glorify God. That's the goal of life, and therefore the goal of life and relationship is to glorify God. That means to honor God. To glorify God means to worship Him and walk with Him together. And this is why God has given us families. Not just for our happiness, but for our holiness. And isn't it interesting that when we begin to walk in Christ, when Christ is centered in our lives, then we learn how to love somebody else the way God intended. So if you pursue Christ, if you pursue God and His grace and His love in your life, when He fills you with His presence you will, like Him, love for His love is an everlasting love. And as husbands and wives we glorify God when our marriage and our family is a testimony of what He has done in our lives.
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