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2021 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - Four Keys To Avoiding Relation Shipwreck

Levi Lusko - Four Keys To Avoiding Relation Shipwreck


Levi Lusko - Four Keys To Avoiding Relation Shipwreck
TOPICS: Relationship, Marriage, Lucky In Love

If you have a Bible, Genesis Chapter 24 is where we're going to be for this weekend and the next four weekends as well. The six weeks from, that kicked off, really, Valentine's Day week. It's going to end the Sunday after St. Patrick's Day. And so if you're going to do a series that goes from St. Patrick's to Valentine's Day, what better could you call it than "Lucky in Love"? So that's what we did. Thank you, while you were sleeping, for a great sermon series. He said, you've never been very, very lucky when it comes to cards, but you have been lucky in love. And I want to challenge you to believe that there is something much better than luck when it comes to your romantic relationships and to all of your relationships, and that is Providence, Providence, God's Providence, God's leading in your love life and in your relationships. If you have a Bible, like I said, Genesis 24. The title of this message is "Four Keys to Avoiding Relation Shipwreck", "Four Keys to Avoiding Relation Shipwreck".

When I got my first Bible, I mean, I had an illustrated Bible that was an adventure Bible that I read till both covers were gone, and pages were falling out. But when I got my first Bible that was like imitation leather, and I remember I got to choose to emblazon something on it, to engrave something on it, at the bookstore. And they said, what do you want to put on it? And I picked my name, but then I also picked a Bible verse, because they said you could, there's two lines. You could put something under it. And I knew exactly what I wanted to put on it. I put Proverbs 3, 5, and 6 on it. These have been some of my favorite verses in scripture that have marked my whole Christian life following Jesus, have marked for sure my relationship life and marriage and ministry and have been one of the two or three, I guess you could say, verses that have just really, out of all the verses in the Bible, really meant a lot to and marked my spiritual journey.

If you've ever gotten a book signed by me, chances are I've written one of these three references. And the one that I probably go to second most often is Proverbs 3, 5, and 6, which says, "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all of your ways. And He will direct your paths". And alongside Genesis 24 through 26, for the next several weeks I want to challenge you to believe that you don't need to be lucky or think you're unlucky when it comes to love, that you really can trust in God with your whole heart and watch on the back end Him direct your steps. That is what Providence is all about, believing that there is a good God who has good things in mind for you, who is working behind the scenes to orchestrate wonderful things that are going to bring Him glory and bring you amazing fullness of life.

Let's read the text together, starting in verse 1 of Genesis 24, and we'll explain and give context. And we don't have to be in a hurry and feel the need to articulate all that is contained here because we will have weeks and weeks to unpack these scriptures that we're going to begin today. And you will want to be here and make the commitment to be here week after week, whether that's to be here with your headphones on after the fact, but to not miss out on these moments together. Verse 1, Genesis 24, it says, "Now, Abraham was old". And in case that wasn't clear enough, he doubles down and says, "well advanced in age," as though to say, Moses, by the way. He wrote this, as though to say, man, this dude wasn't just a little bit old. He was old. And we're like, well, how old was he? Homie was advanced in age, all right? So superlatives here. But notice, "And the Lord had blessed Abraham", in how many things? In all things. Put it in the chat, in all things. That's what we want, right?

"So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house", so everybody's old that we've met so far. Abraham's super old. The servant that's picked here is the oldest of all the servants, "who ruled over all that he had". "He said to him, 'Please, put your hand under my thigh'", we'll explain that, "'and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the Earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I dwell. But you shall go to my country and to my family and take a wife for my son Isaac.' And the servant said to him, 'Perhaps the woman will not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I take your son back to the land from which you came?' But Abraham said to him, 'Beware that you do not take my son back there. The Lord God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and from the land of my family, and who spoke to me and swore to me, saying, to your descendants, I will give this land, He will send His angel before you. And you shall take a wife for my son from there. And if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be released from this oath. Only do not take my son back there.' So the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham, his master, and swore to him concerning this matter".

I've only been in one shipwreck in my whole life. And it's very generous to call the story that I'm about to tell you a "shipwreck," but it was as close to it as I ever really want to be. But we were a few of us in a boat, a little ski boat. And I was driving. And there was a couple other people in the boat, including someone who was a professional athlete, who at the time was generating a lot of publicity and changing contracts with sponsors, and so as a result was in the news pretty regularly. And had just met him. And anyhow, he was in the boat, too. And I said, trying to be kind, like, hey, you should drive this boat. You know? You drive. And he's like, I don't really want to. And I was like, oh, you for sure should. Just here, take it. And so he reluctantly got behind the wheel and kind of got into it. And it wasn't too long into the boat ride that we hit a submerged rock in the lake that none of us knew was there. And in this ski boat, I mean, it's an absolute miracle no one got hurt, because when, of course, you hit a rock, you're moving, I don't need to be Isaac Newton to understand that things in motion stay in motion unless acted upon by a rock under the boat. You know? That's, I think, what Isaac Newton said.

And so, of course, everybody flies forward. And luckily, where we ended up, where everybody lurched out and shot across the boat, nobody got injured. I don't know how. There must have been. I'm sure when we get to Heaven and watch the DVR on the playback, we're going to see massive supernatural involvement here. But now we've got another problem, because once you get all disoriented or reoriented, we have to get back. And this propeller, which has just hit this rock, is all bent up and not working anymore. And the engine's sort of sputtering. And I'm just thinking to myself, do we have enough life jackets? What's going to happen here? Are we going to make it back to safety? And then I'm just thinking, I'm going to go down in history as the person who took this NBA player out. And I'm just going to, I'm never going to recover. Is going to be an asterisk on my ministry for my entire life?

And so the moral of a story, a day can just go from absolutely wonderful, and it's sunny, and how great is this? And it's all smiles, to completely the opposite, so, so, so quickly. And so it is in life when it comes to our relationships, especially the forces of love, sex, and dating and marriage. These things can at the same time bring such pleasure, such blessing. When relationships are going well, it causes all of life, even in difficult times, to be going well. And similarly, when relationships are off, and when you're not in good relationships, and when you're not in a good space, and when you get broken up with, and when this person that you like doesn't like you back, it is amazing how the same day can all of a sudden look gray. And the Bible says that "As it goes in the heart, so it's going to go in the life. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it flows the issues of life".

And the point is that verse is saying is that as it goes in your relationships, as it goes in your love life, as it's going in your heart, so it's going to be going in all of your life. And so I think it's so important for us to examine what are the things that can help us get to where God wants us to go in our relationships? Because it's clear from this passage and so many others, and I want you to hear this so clearly. And this is really going to be an emphasis throughout the series. God cares about your love story. I want you to believe that. I want you to believe it in a way that's not just me talking about your neighbor, not just talking about the other person in the chat, not just talking about the other people in your life. God doesn't just care about the love life of the people that are in your Fresh Life group or your Zoom group that you get on with once a week and encourage each other or pray with each other. God cares about your love story. God cares about your heart. God cares about your marriage. God cares about your family. And I can prove it to you.

This passage, which is a part of the Book of Genesis, is a significant passage for a lot of reasons. But let me first set it up by telling you that the Book of Genesis is a book about beginnings. It literally just means "beginning". It's the start of something. The "genesis" of something would be a synonym for how something starts out. What's the origin story? How did this begin? We listen to podcasts like How I Built This by Guy Raz to hear how Peloton, which is a billion-dollar company, started out as this idea which was so small at one point. We love genesis stories or origin stories. We love hearing that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates both started out in a garage. It inspires us as entrepreneurs. That's why we love shows like Shark Tank. It's the genesis of something that could be big, that could get huge.

And we love hearing, man, it started out small. It's inspiring to our faith. I love always thinking back to, as Fresh Life Church, it's amazing what we've gotten to see God do in all these years. We're in this now going on our 15th year of ministry. It's like, man, God's done huge things. But especially when I'm talking to church planners or couples who are praying about planning a church, it's, hey, it starts small. It starts with little things. It starts with little faith. And almost every week, Jennie or I are in some interview or podcast. And it almost always comes up. Well, how did this whole thing start? What were those early days like? And going back there in your mind, going back there in your heart, it just inspires faith. And honestly, what I think back to the beginning of Fresh Life and what all along the way has been the secret sauce, so to speak, it's been this power of an invitation. It's been the power of, hey, we invite people. Hey, come and see what God's done. Come and see what God's done. Love to have you come.

Pulling through drive-throughs, meeting people, inviting friends, talking to family, saying, hey, would you log on? That's a great point to say. Click the share button right there on YouTube. Click the Share button on Facebook. Next week, invite someone in your life who's in a jacked-up relationship, in a tough spot, has gone through a breakup, or is in a relationship where they're considering getting married. Hey, come with me. This is what has caused it to grow. It's not just random. It's not just elves. It's not just God blew on it or something. I mean, all of that is, except for elves. There's factors at play, of course, that we can't take credit for. But what God has blessed in our efforts has been the constant willingness to invite people. And we've always said the invitation starts now, and that is at the heart of this gospel, that it's too good to keep to ourselves.

And so as I think about our origins or our genesis as a church, I'm inspired when I see the genesis of everything in this world in the Book of Genesis. And it's God speaking. It was just a small gesture of Him opening up his mouth. "Let there be light". We find the beginnings of everything. But that's not the only thing in the Book of Genesis, because after the event of Creation or God making the world, there are three other events and then four people. So that's the really simple outline to understand in the Book of Genesis. It's about four events, and then it's about for people, the events being the Creation, the Fall, the Flood, and then the Tower of Babel, where God confused the languages. And we find different ethnic groups of people showing up around the world after that and different languages as well. And then you find four people. And those four people are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

And the book of the Bible Genesis ends with Joseph showing up in Egypt, living there, and inviting his family to come down. And then it sets the stage for Exodus to begin, which is the people being led, "exodus" means exit. And so they exit Egypt to go back to the promised land, where Abraham was established as a people. Now, I tell you all of that simply to have you note there's some important stuff going down in the Book of Genesis, right? Like significant stuff. Like you've got to know how we began. What are our origins? That's what Genesis tells us. And why is there sin, brokenness, pain, death, and evil? Well, that's in the book of Genesis, too. If you take out Genesis 3, there's a bunch of stuff that we see in our own hearts and in the world that we live in that we have no answer for, we have no account for. Why is there such evil? Why is there such wickedness? Why do we read these stories in the news that break our hearts? Oh, hey, Genesis 3, FYI. There's this thing called sin, and it's brought death. There's this thing called sin, and, hey, it's brought war.

Hey, there's this thing called sin. And that's why there's cancer and crime and division and hatred and jealousy and all of this brokenness. It goes back to Genesis, Chapter 3. But you also have the promise in that same moment, in the Fall, of God promising to bring forth a Savior, promising to bring forth a son. And that's what the four people are all about. The four people, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, is God keeping his promise he made to Eve in the Garden of Eden, that through her seed, meaning when it eventually happened, it would be a unique situation, where there's only a woman involved. There would be God bringing a Savior to this world. And so the nation of Israel is what that is. But before it was a nation, it was a family. And the family began with a man. And the man was named Abraham. And he not only was going to be the progenitor of the people of Israel that would be the vehicle by which God would bring forth the Savior into the world, the ultimate avenger, who's going to be like Captain America, Thor, and Hulk, and all of them all rolled up into one, more powerful than any of them, the ultimate Messiah figure. But He would save us by dying for us and dying as us.

So that's what the four people were all about, this covenant that God made to Abraham, that he was going to by faith obtain these promises. And then by extension, anybody in the entire world who puts their faith in God, believing that in the person of Jesus, He did exactly what he said he would do to remedy the situation caused by sin that started out in Genesis 3, that we would then become descendants of Abraham, thus fulfilling the promise that Abraham would have more kids than stars in the sky. And every person from that moment till this moment and on until Jesus's return who trusts that Jesus died on the cross for their sins, that Jesus rose from the dead, is saved and is then, in God's eyes, a child of Abraham, who is the father of faith. So a lot of big stuff is in the book of Genesis.

All right, now I want you to understand that the passage that we've started with, Genesis 24, and we're going to be studying along with 25 and 26. And so please, on your own, be reading through these things. Come in white-hot, ready to go, having read them ahead of time. This chapter in particular, Genesis 24, is the longest chapter in the entirety of the Book of Genesis, a chapter given over completely to the love story of Isaac and Rebecca. It's the longest chapter in a book that has some pretty important stuff that Moses needed to get out. He spent more time addressing this love story, by the way. It's the second-longest narrative in the entire book. After the Flood, no story gets more ink than the love story of Isaac and Rebecca. And in the Pentateuch, which is the first five books of the Bible that Moses wrote, in the whole Pentateuch, it's literally one of the longest in the entirety of those five chapters. More attention is given to Isaac and Rebecca's romance than is given to the Exodus itself, when the nation of Israel leaves Egypt and heads out to the promised land.

So what does that tell you? That tells you God cares about human love. God cares about love story, about your love story. He cares about Isaac and Rebecca's love story. And it also tells us just how significant it is when a promise has been given, and someone's received it, for it to not end with that person, but to go on to the next generation, that what started with Abraham and Sarah, how vital, how essential it was that that did not end with them, but that it continued on. And that this covenant promise, this promise that you would get to be a part of, this great plan of the Gospel, this plan of redemption, that what you've received, that it doesn't stop with you. Otherwise, it would never have led to the stars of the sky being fulfilled, that it had to cross over generational lines.

So mom and dad, hear that, that your faith, it's vital that you pray for nothing more and work harder at nothing than seeing the love for Jesus on to the next generation, on to your sons and daughters and your sons and daughters. And that we then as a church then wouldn't keep this Gospel to ourselves, but we would desire that we would be a part of it, going from Abraham to Isaac, that one generation would tell another. That we would not be content being saved alone or saved by ourselves, but want other people to know this Jesus who's touched us as well. And I love that such detail is given about Isaac and Rebecca and their love story, because out of all the four people that we said that the Book kind of shifts its attention to, and there are other people that come up, but it's really following the story of Abraham, Isaac, Isaac to Jacob, Jacob to Joseph. It's their love story that, to me, is the most helpful in us making decisions when it comes to love, sex, dating, and marriage in our lives.

Their love story is precious and tender and powerful and perhaps one of the most positive examples of marriage, certainly in the Book of Genesis. Just simply the fact that Isaac and Rebecca, that their marriage is the only marriage of the four that, in the flow that we follow, this is the only one that's, well, just to put it delicately, not polygamist. I mean, so that's a great start. You know? It's like Abraham and Jacob and, I mean, there's so many, right? It's like Isaac, like, I just want one wife. It's like, well, we can cheer for that. You know what I'm saying? And so a lot of amazing things that we're going to learn from it. But we're given permission. Of course, when we read stuff from the Old Testament, one of the things that we want to do is, and we'll do this at some point in this message and every message, is see what it's telling us about Jesus. And that's always an amazing exercise because Jesus said that everything written in the Old Testament ultimately has to do with Him.

And so no matter what passage of scripture, we want to find Jesus in it and believe that it shows us something about Him. But we're also told in the Book of Romans that whatever has been written before is also written for our learning. And so we, through learning what they did and what they did wrong, that we can learn something to apply to our lives. And I think it's a really important point to make, that when we read stories, for example, of Abraham's polygamist mistake that he made with Hagar and/or we read about Jacob having multiple wives, the Bible's telling these details isn't prescriptive. It's descriptive. It's not condoning. It's simply recording the facts for us to understand. And so we can learn both through things that go right and things that go wrong. And one thing I would challenge you to do is take a look at Jacob with his two wives.

And we look at that and go, oh, how terrible. It's like, well, in our culture, in our day, it's not at all abnormal for someone to have two wives. They just usually spread it out over a lifetime. At that time, they just did it at the same time, right? But when you look at Jacob's life, and then you compare it to Isaac and Rebecca, I would just ask you, which of the two have a more complicated situation on their hands? One marriage, hard enough, right? You have multiple marriages, multiple Christmases, multiple situations. God can work in all of these things. But just which is more complicated? And the Bible, oh, God's saying it's OK. You know, God's just telling you what this person did and leaving it to you to learn from what they did with what they were given. And so Isaac and Rebecca's marriage is powerful.

And so for us to avoid Relation Shipwreck, that's not the ship we want to be in. We don't want to be in the ship that's going down. So what ship do we want to be in? Here's four for you. Jot them down as we get to them. The first is we want to make sure we're under leadership. Leadership, we got to have that knowledge. We don't want to be in a shipwreck. We want to have good leadership in our lives. Abraham is the one who the story starts out by talking about, which is interesting, because this is a chapter, like I said, all about Isaac and Rebecca getting married, falling in love. It's the beginning of this beautiful love story that's to be celebrated. And yet interestingly enough, the story starts out telling us, here's what Abraham did. Here's what Abraham was doing here.

Now this is noteworthy because Isaac at this point, most people agree, is about 40 years old, which is a beautiful thing by the way that he wasn't in a hurry. We'll meet him later on. And when we meet him, I want you to notice and pay attention to, we'll get there in a while. This is not a guy who's worried. This is not a guy who's in a hurry. This is not a guy who is stressed out. This is not a guy who's like, oh, my God. I'm 40. I'm over the hill. I don't have a wife yet. Ah! Right? You'll see. I mean, it's absolutely remarkable. And yet, he's not the one even here doing these things. It's Abraham, which goes to show you, of course, two things, and one is that there was a different culture in that day than we're in. Of course, it was normal in that day for there to be arranged marriages and for dads and moms to make negotiations.

All right, you give me a go and that whole deal of promising their child in marriage, different culture, of course, than we're in now. But again, this is not something that Abraham's old and advanced-in-years state, he could push on Isaac without Isaac being willing to concede in that regard. Isaac clearly had a say. In fact, Abraham is not long for the Earth. The last of Chapter 23 is his mom dying. So you have an old dad, and a mom who has now gone to be with the Lord in Heaven. And Isaac, who has a father doing this, is very clearly honoring the wishes of his father here. And I would even take it a step further, trusting his dad's wisdom in this whole situation. So what am I trying to get you to see? I'm trying to get you to see that where Jacob and his trainwreck of decisions did not involve Isaac's wishes. In fact, Jacob spent most of his time deceiving his dad. And even Abraham's other son, Isaac's half-brother, Ishmael, his decisions not involving Abraham's wisdom.

And then you look at Esau, who's Isaac's other son, because he had twins. He actually married to spite his parents' wishes and to cause his parents, you see him marrying out of almost like rage, like rage marriage. Like, I'll get you back, and I'll do this. I'm going to marry the exact opposite person that you would want me to marry. And that's just Esau, though, impulsive to a T. And you see Isaac here, who's of an age where he doesn't have to do anything that Abraham wants. And yet he clearly, a different culture, but is leaning into the wisdom of a wise voice in his life. And I told you a few weeks ago, how can we ever expect to get to the right places if we're not listening to the right voices? In fact, the Book of Proverbs puts it this way. "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes. But he who heeds counsel is wise". And the very fact that this chapter begins with Abraham speaking and doing these things shows that Isaac valued Abraham's wisdom. He could go out and get married tomorrow, and what could dad do to stop him? In fact, he could have done it 10 times over, and yet he's choosing to listen to Abraham's voice. Why would he do that?

Well, I think the answer is clearly in Verse 1, that Abraham was a person, look at it one more time with me, not only old and advanced in age. That's great. But look, "The Lord had blessed Abraham in all things". In my opinion, that should be the grounds for which we listen to wise voices, that we see people who are blessed and walking in God's blessing. I would challenge you, before you listen to someone's advice, before you allow someone to speak into your life, I would ask you this question. Are they walking a life that I want to emulate? Because if I listen to what they're saying, I'm going to end up doing what they're doing and receiving what they're receiving. So the big question is, are they receiving and walking in God's blessing? What does it look like to have God's blessing on your life? I'm not being so naive as to think that it means you're immune from hardships. There's going to be plenty of that along the way. But are they walking in God's blessing? Do they have His peace? Do they have His presence? Are they exhibiting His character? Are they like Christ? Are they kind? Are they loving? Are they Kingdom-minded, right?

Hebrews 13, Verse 7, this has been a key verse for me when it comes and pertains to who I put into my life that I want to lead me. "Whose faith you follow, considering", notice, "the outcome of their faith". Before I listen to you, I want to watch what God's doing through you. And so to be very careful that not every person who criticizes you, not everyone who has an opinion on how you should be living their life, if you actually look at their life, it's like, there's someone who doesn't like how I lead the church. Tell me how you're leading your church? I don't want that, right? How are you living? What's your marriage like? What's the outcome? Are you walking in God's blessing? So let me ask you, what is the criteria by which you allow someone to speak into your life? Well, this person is my cousin. That's not enough. There's plenty of blood-connected idiots out there, right?

Well, this person is my friend from work. This person is whatever. This person, I don't even know, but they're an influencer, and they have a bunch of, they have a blue checkmark. Oh, that is a wonderful not important thing in life at all. But people who love Jesus, are following Jesus, people who are under authority, people who are a walking planet in the house, that's the criteria. You want people around you, people who you're allowing to encourage you, who believe the same things you do, walking in God's blessing. Isaac clearly had put himself under Abraham's leadership, had put himself in a place to listen to a wise voice. So when it comes to the person you like, who are you speaking, letting speak into that? Are you texting a friend from your Fresh Life group? Are you are you asking someone who is over the team that you're in? Are you even connected ahead of time to have those relationships in place? That is so, so, so, so, so, important.

One of the very first things that I did when I began to have feelings for Jennie was to ask someone whose faith I respected, to ask someone who, we were part of the same church, under the same authority. And this was the person heading where I'm heading. I'm watching their faith lead them somewhere that I want to go. And so I said, could I take you to lunch? And I bought, by the way, right? You don't want free advice. And it was random, though, because we went to a Middle Eastern place. And just when I got the courage to tell him that I liked Jennie and was about to tell him, a belly dancer came out and started belly dancing all around us. And it was so distracting and horrible. And I was like, oh, no. And this is, there was like this belly in my, side of my, and I was like, stop it! No, no, we don't want that. And so she went away. And I don't think I ever told you that. And it was a respectable restaurant. It was just Middle Eastern food. And whatever reason, that Tuesday it was like belly dancing at the business lunch day. Right? We weren't in a Hooters, all right?

So I told him I liked Jennie. And I thought it was going to be a big surprise. And he said, Levi, a deaf, dumb, blind monkey who's only been around you for five minutes would know you like Jennie. I was like, that obvious? He goes, for sure. I said, what do you think? He goes, I think it's amazing. I think, and he encouraged and spoke life over her character and my character, gave me some cautions, gave me some advice, was able to pray for me about it. The point is, I wanted that. I cared about that relationship and whatever it would become, whether she would end up as my wife or someone else's wife, too much to not have it under that leadership, to have it under that wisdom and to have him tell me what he thought about that. All right, secondly, citizenship. It's all over this passage. If you don't want to end up in a shipwreck, make sure that you're getting in the right boat. What boat? The boat of citizenship, where the first point tells us, enlist wise voices to be accountable to. This one tells us, remember that you are just passing through. Remember, you're just passing through.

And so make sure that your relationships, your friendships, your romance here on this Earth is indicative of the fact that you're headed somewhere else, that Heaven is your home. Now, Heaven's eventually going to come back to this Earth. But this Earth, this life, currently, as it presently now is, is something that you're just passing through on the way to Eternal Life. It's so important. Philippians 3: 20 says, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ". The day you gave your life to Jesus, praying that prayer, whether it was a Fresh Life broadcast or some other moment, or praying with your mom or dad as a child, the day you asked Jesus to come into your heart, He made you a citizen of Heaven. And this life, this temporary life, which if it's 70 years or 80 years, or if you have five more years to live or somewhere in between, is not forever. You're going to live forever with God.

And so this life should not be where you store all your eggs. It should not be the sum total of your affections and your passion. To do so would be foolish. To do so would be like moving into a hotel room for a weekend and upgrading the art and buying a bigger TV for the hotel room. Why would you care so much about something you're only going to live temporarily in? I don't like this couch. I'm going to go down to IKEA and get a new couch. Like, yeah, but you know you're checking out on Sunday afternoon if you get a late check-out? Otherwise, they force you out of those suckers at like 11:00 AM, right? That's an early check-out. You can't check in sometimes till like 2, 3, or even 4 o'clock. But you've got to get out of there at 11, right? So why would you put all of this attention and focus into something that you should be enjoying? And it's a cool hotel room. I mean, this is amazing. Oh, look. They upgraded me, and I got a good view this not looking into the back alley of this other building. That's great. Enjoy it. That's a fantastic place to be for a little while.

But just remind yourself, this isn't my true home. I'm just here for a little bit. Yo, this life is not your home. It's a hotel room. This life is a temporary pilgrimage. You're just passing through. And you're not going to be well-suited for the relationship God wants you to be in if you live like this Earth is your home or if you marry someone who does, which is key here, because Abraham says to this servant, the oldest servant of his house, what does he tell him? He says, don't get my son a wife from around here because I live somewhere else. And I had to come out. I had to come out by faith from, and it's a big part of Abraham and Sarah's story. They lived in the Ur of the Chaldees. They lived in this place. And God randomly one day spoke to them and said, I'm the God who made the world and the stars. And I've got a plan for you, Abraham. But I want you to go out to a country.

And he said, where am I going to go? He said, I'll show you when you get there. He didn't get a plan, didn't get a map. He didn't get anything, not even a Google map pin. He just had to go. And him and Sarah did. And that began this family of faith. That began this people. That began what would ultimately eventually become salvation for anybody who believes in Jesus Christ. But it started with his willingness to come out. And so as that was passed on to the next generation, it was important for that DNA to be in the makeup, for both Isaac had to choose, and since he's 40 and didn't need to stay there, he had to choose to stay in this land of promise, to stay in this place that eventually would be known as Israel. But it was important that he had a bride who had a spiritual similar makeup and that she then was a person, a kind of person, willing to step out in faith, willing to do the exact same thing, to repeat the steps of Abraham and of Sarah, that she was someone who had come out by faith to live in a place not her, and to live there in this place.

So citizenship was huge. Where was she a citizen of? Don't get my son a wife from around here. I need someone who's got the spiritual DNA of faith, that she's willing to come out. And don't bring Isaac there. She needs to be willing to come here. Don't have him go backwards. She needs to be willing to go forwards in order for her to be the right person. And so what are we to make of this? We're to make of this that as we make, not friendship decisions because we're willing to be friends with anybody. Jesus's, one of his most special titles was the Friend of Sinners and that He was friends with anybody. But as we make relationships that are going to deeply impact the course of our life, people who we're letting speak into our life, people who essentially we're allowing to put a hand on the steering wheel of our life, and none so critical as the person that you choose to marry, this needs to be a person that you don't go backwards in your faith journey in order to be with, but someone who similarly to your story has come forward from the land that represented idolatry and living like there is no God, willing to come out and to follow, moving forward to Jesus. That you both are on the same page spiritually when it comes to your citizenship.

Are you both citizens of Heaven? Or are you living for Heaven, but there's someone focused only on this Earth, only on here and now, only on money in the bank? How frustrating would it be to want to live for the Kingdom and to live to fill Heaven and to live to walk in the destiny and the promise of God and to live that uncharted life in the wild blue yonder, spiritually speaking, believing God's got a plan every day, but then to do that connected in the most deep way to someone who has blinders on and can only see the hotel room? Who only really ultimately cares about how big the boat is and what vacations that we're going to get and how much is in the 401k, that only has their sights set on this life, what would that be like? It would be like two oxen who are connected together with a wooden yoke. And one's super fit and strong, and one's tiny and skinny and scrawny. How can they pull equally at the same pace if one of them doesn't have the muscles to pull?

It's going to go around and around and around and around in circles, which is why Paul gave the famous wisdom in 1, in 2 Corinthians 6, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness"? It's like Tim and Debbie, Demi last week, so powerful. I almost always call her "Debbie" because Tim Tebow married Demi Tebow. And I always want to call her Debbie. But Tim and Demi so powerfully last week communicated this idea that having things in common is not enough, but having a purpose deep down in your soul. And that's what this verse is talking about. Having things in common is great in a hotel room, right? But you want to have a purpose bigger, a homeland, citizenship, forever, eternal, Christ and His kingdom, that you have a bigger picture. Otherwise, it's light trying to be chained to darkness. And what's going to happen? You're going to go around and around and around and around and around and around in circles.

And so that frustration and that difficulty and that despondency that eventually will sink in will cause you ultimately to either be constantly frustrated or to quench your zeal and to allow their luke, that influence to have a lukewarm impact on your faith to cause you to tone down and tame down the vivaciousness of what Jesus has called you to. So you don't need to make, of course, God can work if you're in that situation. Of course, we don't give up, and we believe with you for the Salvation of your husband and Salvation of your wife if you're in that decision. This isn't about making you feel bad for that. But is about, listen to me, young people, hearing the most important thing that can be said of the person that you date, that you get engaged to, that you marry this person, that you're going to hopefully blazed a trail for the Kingdom of God to do all the things that He's called you to do in business and in ministry and in every regard, to raise kids with, is that you both have this in common, that you're both citizens of Heaven with your heart set on eternity wanting to do all that Jesus has called you both to do. And then that will become multiplied exponentially more powerful as you do it together.

Third thing, what ship do we not want to be in? The shipwreck. What ship do we want to be in? The stewardship, the stewardship. Stewardship comes in because we're told here that, verse 2, the oldest servant, who may be Eliezer of Damascus, who, Abraham despaired when he said, I don't have a son. You said I was going to have a son. Because God gave him the promise, and then 25 years went by without a kid. Crazy, right? Imagine that, 75 years old. You're going to have a kid one day. All right, two and a half decades, my SpongeBob voice, two and a half decades later, right? Some of you are like, well, where's the promise? I thought I had it. It's coming. It's coming. Are you going to get offended? Jesus said, "Blessed are those who are not offended on behalf of me". He loves to give promises and then just, the tracking number just says "pending," you know? What the heck, right? Pending, pending. Are you going to trust me? You going to follow me?

When God gives a dream, He oftentimes makes it look like it's not going to happen to see whether you're following Him or the dream. And that's what he did to Abraham. And the Bible says in the Book of Romans, "God waited until Abraham's body was as good as dead". Angels were like, what the heck, God? Are you going to send the baby? He's like, he's not shriveled enough yet. God, he looks half-dead. Perfect, now is the time. Right? His body is as good as dead. Amazing. Egg timer goes off in Heaven. Alexa's like, you told me to remind you when Abraham's body was as good as dead. I don't think he's got much left in the tank. All right, let's send a baby now. Barry Manilow just starts playing in their tent. Stewardship. All right, so Eliezer was the one that Abraham said when God wasn't keeping His promise as he thought He would, I don't have a child. And Eliezer, my oldest servant, is the one who's going to end up with all my stuff after I die.

So it's possible it's him that he talks about in verse 2. And he says, "the oldest servant, who ruled over all that he had". That is to say, Eliezer got to make all the financial decisions for Abraham's estate and run all the things as though they were his, but they weren't his. Everything that he managed he managed on behalf of Abraham. He had unlimited authority when it comes to how these things are going and what investments to make and what cows to buy and what cows to sell. But he did so for Abraham, as proxy for Abraham. He was a steward, managing over something that was not his. Which the Bible says, you and I, as Jesus' people, are to see our entire lives and everything in them as a stewardship, something we manage on behalf of the owner. And that we're one day going to give an account for what we did with what was His while it was in our hand.

And so we find in 1 Corinthians 6 this exact truth and the impact it should have on our sexual, romantic, dating, marriage decisions. "Flee sexual immorality". Run away from the cultural opportunity to do whatever you want with your sexual appetites because "every sin a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body". We'll talk about that more in coming weeks. "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God? And you are not your own". So what should we do in our love lives? You were bought at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. What a wonderful thought. Like this oldest servant, who managed all this money, managed all these things, and even now, was going to be trusted with this ultimate opportunity of selecting a bride for his master's son, Isaac. But he was doing so knowing that none of it was his. He was doing so with the light touch of someone who knew that everything he was dealing with belonged to someone else. And he was going to stand accountable for what he did with what was his.

And so you and I, when it comes to our love lives and every part of our lives, we should have a light touch about it. And the best way to have a light touch about it is to remember it's not ours. That our lives are not ours, our breath is not ours, and that the moment we die and stand before God, we're going to get the chance to give an account for what we did with what is His. And if He gave us this life, it's our opportunity and job to glorify Him in how we do it, translation, that the way we live our lives out, He's going to be proud about that. That the way we handle our sexual desires and our romantic lives and the way we date, the way we date and treat young girls and young men who are dating, what we choose to do with the unlimited authority that we have, we're stewards. We can do anything we want. We have proxy. We get the choice. And He's not going to stand in the way. He's going to allow us. And then we're going to get to give an account to Him of what we did while we had an opportunity.

So if we're clear on the whole stewardship thing, then what we need to do is get real clear on what we're not willing to do. And for this servant, that meant understanding with his stewardship, what does Abraham not want me to do? So he clearly said, well, if I go and do all this for you, and she's not willing to go, should I bring Isaac there? And he goes, under no circumstances are you to bring him there. You can trust, and we'll talk about in a moment, that God's going to take care of your fear, this whole idea of, if she's not willing to come, but under no circumstances are you to bring him there. If she's not willing, then you're released. And just don't bring him there. So he was clear, in Abraham's mind, what to do and what not to do. And so we should do the same.

When it comes to, listen, single people. Listen, those of you who are not dating right now. Take some time and think about, with this life I have, with this heart that I have, with these desires to have a boyfriend, have a girlfriend, to have a husband, to have a wife, to have a family one day, what am I not willing to do to get there? What am I not willing to concede? What am I not willing to give up? What am I not willing to do in this dating relationship so that this person, who if they end up not being my wife, that I'm proud to bump into them around town some day with my wife, with their future husband, and say, hi? And feel like I took nothing from you that didn't belong to me. I was a steward of this opportunity. Would I do things with this person that I would probably go to prison for if you did to my daughter? Would I do this to someone that I would probably, that any one of you would get into a fight for if someone did to your little sister? What are we doing with the stewardship that is our love lives?

And are we clear in our heart ahead of time on what the Master or what the Owner or the One who filled us with His Spirit gave us this life, gave us these bodies, has it in His heart for us to do to glorify Him with what is His that we've been given the opportunity to manage? Proverbs 7, "Don't let your heart stray toward her. Don't wander down her wayward path," the author of the Book of Proverbs says his dad told him when it comes to love life. Well, if you're not going to date that girl, don't even the walk down the path where she lives, the point is. Make some decisions. I'm not going to go down that road. I'm not going to have that, I'm not going to be on that side. I'm making some decisions ahead of time. Not only am I not being with that person, I'm not going to even walk down the street where they live.

Daniel, Chapter 1, Verse 8, Daniel purposed in his heart he would not defile himself in the future. He had made a commitment ahead of time. You don't wait till you're dating to decide what you're going to do sexually. You make those decisions ahead of time. You remember, I'm a steward, not the owner. I want to honor God. I'm choosing right here, right now, in my heart. I want to honor and glorify God in my body and in my spirit, which are His. Fourth and final ship, we're almost done. Not really, we got weeks to go. This isn't like a big, dramatic ending. It's just a to-be-continued. It's going to be a great journey. Make sure you're in the ownership. Don't want to be in the shipwreck, but, man, I do want to be in the ownership. What do I want to own and take ownership of? God's promises to me. We see God's promises being held tight, light touch on life for Abraham, but hard grip on God's promises. Eliezer or whoever the servant is has this big fear.

And of course, it's the same fear that many of us have. What if that person out there isn't willing to marry me? What if no one's willing to marry me? What if they'll never love me? Does she love me? Does she love me not, right? He goes, well, what if I find this girl, but she's not willing to come back? I love Abraham's answer. It's just to point to something he had a firm grip on, he had to learn to have a firm grip on, God's promises. Whatever objection is raised, the answer is always to have a firm grip on what God's given to us to own, and that is the promises that He's given. I see it in Verse 7. What if she's not willing? He says, "The Lord God of Heaven, who spoke to me, saying, to your descendants, I give this land". So he's appealing to the promise that God originally gave him when he called him out. Go to the land I will show you when you get there. He will send His Angel before you.

Don't you love the idea that God has already sent His Angel ahead of the servant? He will send His Angel ahead of you. When you get there, God's already going to be there. He's already working. He promised me a land, so you don't have to worry whether she's willing. You don't have to worry whether he'll be willing. God has already sent His Angel into your future, so you don't need to worry in your present. An Angel will figure mightily in the events of the Exodus. The Angel will figure mightily in the events playing out in the Book of Joshua, crossing the river, taking on, the Angel will be also called "the Hornet" that will go into battles ahead of God's people. They never had to worry about what they were going to get, they were always worried about whether the person would be willing, or they would be up for the challenge.

And God was always reminding, I'm going to send My Angel ahead of you. I'm going to send the Hornet ahead of you. I'm going to send my powerful Right Arm out ahead of you. When you get there, you will watch what I have already done. So just hold on to my promises. I said I'm going to give you the land. I said I'm for you, not against you. I said you could trust in Me with all your heart and lean not on your understanding. And in all your ways, acknowledge Me, and I would direct your paths.

Church, I dare you to believe that when it comes to your love life, it's never a mistake to trust your future to God because He's already sent His Angel out ahead of you. And I don't know if you caught it, but I told you that what we're studying, the longest chapter in the book of Genesis, is all about the love relationship of Isaac and Rebecca. But not one time have we seen Isaac and Rebecca in the passage that we've considered. They're nowhere to be seen here. All we have is Abraham and his servant and a conversation. But this is, in fact, the beginning of their love story. And they're nowhere to be mentioned. What is the takeaway from that? God is working behind the scenes to set things up, so when they do meet, this whole interaction, this whole conversation that they don't really even know anything about, other than the fact that it's clear Isaac gave his dad the go-ahead, and then went back to work doing what he was doing in his normal day. God was working, and they weren't aware of it. But when they walked in the promises and discovered these things, it would be because of these things that were happening behind the scenes that they were happening.

So what am I trying to get you to see? I'm not trying to get you to see you should delegate the choice of who you're going to get married to your dad. What I am saying is that you should trust your Heavenly Father. And in the meantime, instead of worrying about the other person, trying to find the other person, instead, focus on the one thing that you can do today that's constructive, that will bless you in the future. Focus on becoming the right person. And believe that God, outside of time, has already worked together exactly what He wants for you to experience. And you're going to see it come to pass. So in the meantime, just take ownership of His promises. And then be about what He's called you to do, focusing on His Kingdom, as He works behind the scenes.

Let me close by saying that Jennie and I have lived this out. This isn't me just telling you this from Scripture. This is what we lived out and walked out. Because when I met Jennie in church, serving in church, we met. And I knew almost the moment I saw her that there was something special about her. And what I loved about her wasn't just how beautiful she was or how kind she was. I loved how Kingdom-focused she was, how much she wanted to see Heaven, touch Earth, and touch people, and her love for God and love for people. That, to me, was what drew me to her. And I think she would, I don't want to speak for her, but drew her to me. And so I didn't have to try. I mean, I remember where I was standing when I first had a conversation with her, next to the light switch in the youth ministry. We were setting up chairs and just serving, both of us serving. Someone else was going to be preaching. She was serving. I was serving. And we had this little conversation. And we weren't looking for each other or trying to get into a relationship. I had just gotten out of a relationship. And she had made the decision not to get in a relationship.

So neither of us were working or trying. But this beautiful love story, that this April, we'll celebrate 17 years of God working through our marriage and through our family and through our ministry. It came to us when we weren't looking for it. But God ahead of time is, and then now, as we deconstructed the story and looked at it, God had done so many things to bring us to that light switch, standing there in that room. God did so many things and so many amazing things that we celebrate. God sent out the servant on the mission. As many people will agree, in this story, the oldest servant represents a picture of what the Holy Spirit does in the world. The Holy Spirit sent out, what has the Spirit been sent out to do? He's been sent out to get a bride for God's Son. God the Father has sent the Spirit into the world to get a bride for the Son. Now, that's true in the ultimate marriage of Jesus and the church. But it's also true when it comes to your marriage. You can trust that the Spirit is working behind the scenes to bring that person.

So today, focus on hearing his voice. Today, focus on your nearness with the Son, which the Spirit wants to do, today, listen. The best thing you can do for your future marriage or your present marriage is get better at listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. So at some point this week, whether it's with a friend or with a small group, I want to ask you to ponder this question and certainly to do so in your time with Jesus alone. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you right now? And Father, we thank you for this time. And we thank you that there's always a tension when we preach on relationships. And that tension is that I always want to preach like I wish someone had preached to me when I was 13. But I also always want to preach understanding I'm preaching to some people who are 43 and who wish someone had told them this when they were 13. Or perhaps someone did, and they just didn't listen.

And so my heart is heavy, God, both for the teenager, who has all of their sexual and romantic decisions still in front of them to be made. But I'm also aware there's some heartbroken people, who have been through some stuff and given up some stuff along the way. And I thank you, Jesus, that You never shame us for our past. You always work to redeem our future, to heal us from the wounds of the past, to bandage us in the present, and to prepare us for what we don't need to be worried about.


So regardless of which state you're in, whichever camp you're in, your life's wet cement, or you on your worst day feel like damaged goods. If you today from this day forward will want to honor God and believe that His Angel has gone before you in your love life, and you want to get off that relation shipwreck of just doing things based on how you feel. You want to walk in the promises of citizenship and stewardship and ownership, walking in the power and the promises of God and leaning into the amazing leadership that come from wise voices in your life. If that's that you I'm describing, and you would just respond to what God's speaking to you in this sermon, both in redemption and in consecration. Because I just ask that right now, you would just put a hand in the air. I just believe there's power in nailing down a commitment like that.

You're saying, God, I want you to work in my marriage. I want you to work in my dating life, in my friendships. Just raise the hand up. Just raise the hand up. God sees your hands. God sees every single one of you. Thank you for your love. You can put your hands down. Thank you for your kindness, God. And thank you that it's that kindness that leads us to repentance. I believe in this moment there's the precious, fleeting opportunity for people to trust Christ. The Bible says that today is the day of salvation, so call on Him before night comes. In this moment, as we're gathered together in faith, in the name of Jesus, salvation is here, as He stands at your heart and knocks. And if you open the door, He will come in. There might be a lot of work that needs to happen in your relationship or in your life, but the most important decision, the decision that begins the change in all the other ways is the one where you bow your knee to Christ, where you allow Him to come in and forgive you and save you and heal you.

I believe for some of you, it's precisely for this moment that you've come here today, logged on today, clicked this link today. And God's speaking to you. Yes, there's tens of thousands of others who are going to listen. But God uniquely is speaking to you. I know the day I gave my life to Christ, there were other people around, but I thought that whole thing was for me. And what unique, beautiful, special love, that God does love you uniquely enough to speak to you through His Spirit. The technology is just a vessel. God's talking to you. So if you're ready to trust Jesus or to rededicate your life to Him, I want you to pray this prayer with me out loud, believing in your heart that Jesus died for you and rose from the dead, confessing with your mouth that you're a sinner, but turning your heart over to Him, thus becoming a citizen of Heaven. Say this. Church, pray it with us.

Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. I can't fix myself. I can't even come to You on my own. But You've been knocking. You've been calling. So I open my heart to You. Please come in, Jesus. Forgive me and change me. Thank you for new life. I give you mine. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.


Come on, let's celebrate with those making that decision all across the church, all across the country and world, even. And we would be so honored and thrilled to get to talk to you and walk with you through this. And what are the next steps? And how can we pray for you? And what does water baptism look like? And all of the things. And so would you please grab your phone and send a text message to 97000. Put the word "Fresh Life" in the text, the word "Fresh Life" in the text, so we could dialogue with you and talk to you about that. Do that right now, even if you're watching this or listening to it on a podcast days later or weeks later, years later, and you're saying, this happened. There's probably someone on the other end of that line. If it's 2,500 years in the future, and you came across this, I can't promise it. Send it in faith. Who knows? God bless it anyway. So do that. Come on, let's celebrate with those making that decision today.
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