Daily Devotional for Monday February 21, 2005
Building a Spiritual Foundation to your Relationship
(Matthew 7:24-27; 2 Corinthians 6:14)
Everyday, over 1/4 of the 40,000 prayer requests that come into Liveprayer are regarding relationship issues, the vast majority of those by people who are married and having problems in their marriage. The Devotionals these past two weeks on men and women leaving their marriages solidified in my mind that the biggest problem there is in marriage is people NOT taking the time and effort to build a strong spiritual foundation to their relationship prior to getting married.
A happy, Christ-centered, blessed marriage starts before your wedding day. Sadly, almost 100% of the books and tapes and other resources on marriage are geared to people AFTER they get married, not before. You will never hear this message by the false-hope merchants like Oprah, Dr. Phil, and the rest since these "entertainers" get their ratings by showing you the sad, train-wrecked lives of people. Saddest of all, you will probably never hear this message coming from a pulpit on Sunday, regardless of the name of the church, to a congregation that desperately needs to hear this important and life-changing word. Even those churches and pastors that do offer pre-marital counseling, normally just gloss over what I am going to share with you today instead of forcing the man and woman to deal with the hard questions and issues they will face in marriage.
MY FRIEND, MARRIAGE IS A LIFETIME COMMITMENT TO YOUR SPOUSE AND TO GOD. OTHER THAN YOUR SALVATION, IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION THAT YOU WILL MAKE IN THIS LIFETIME. LISTEN TO ME CAREFULLY. THE TIME TO BUILD A STRONG, SUCCESSFUL, CHRIST-CENTERED MARRIAGE IS NOT AFTER YOU SAY "I DO," IT IS BEFORE!!!
The key to a Godly marriage is to build a spiritual foundation to your relationship before you even consider marriage. It is during this time of "dating" or "courting," that the hard work of laying the foundation for a successful marriage is done. In my vast experience in dealing with literally hundreds of thousands of marriages, the biggest mistake I see is men and women who did NOTHING to build a real spiritual foundation to their relationship prior to getting married. Even Christians fall for the lies of this world in regard to what happens prior to getting married. This is the exact reason why such a high percentage of people look at marriage as nothing more than a legal date.
When you first meet someone that you are attracted to, there is that "magical time" when your emotions are controlling you. This is the most critical time in a relationship. However, instead of using this time productively, it usually ends up being a period where very little real work towards the relationship takes place, and in too many people's lives, actually becomes a destructive time. This is the critical time when the foundation of a relationship is being laid. The foundation ends up being built on pure "feelings," shared interests, having someone so you are not alone, and so many other things, including the number one foundation most relationships are built on, SEX. Just like the Bible teaches we have to build our home on a rock and not sand, the foundation of most relationships, even amongst Christians, is built on sand instead of the ROCK, Jesus Christ!
So how do you build a spiritual foundation to your relationship? You do it by praying together. You do it by reading God's Word together. You do it by going to church and worshipping together. You do it by finding ways to serve the Lord together. You do it by sitting down and discussing spiritual things and how they apply to your day to day lives. You do ALL of these things over a period of TIME! How long? Every relationship is different but I counsel couples on taking a minimum of a year to work DAILY on building a spiritual foundation to their relationship.
I am always amazed at the number of people I deal with who have slept together, engaged in every kind of sex act imaginable, but have NEVER, EVER, prayed together. They have no problem engaging in the most intimate acts a man and woman can engage in physically, yet have never even once spent even a minute praying together. The sad reality is, this includes many people who are MARRIED!
Let me help you understand what all of this accomplishes. First, we all know that God's Word warns us about being unequally yoked with a nonbeliever in 2 Corinthians 6:14. Someone who is not saved is not going to want to pray with you, or read God's Word with you, or go to church with you, or find ways to serve the Lord with you. You are going to know IMMEDIATELY if this is a person you should even be trying to get involved with. Please, listen to God on this issue. If you could read the emails of horror I get daily from men and women who ignored this warning in God's Word you would never even consider getting involved with someone who is not saved. God said this to save you from incredible heartache and pain. Listen to Him!
One of the biggest problems I hear each day is men and women who tell me that the one they married said they were a Christian, they went to church with them a few times, but 5 minutes after they left the altar they found out they were into porn, they drank too much, were on drugs, were having affairs, would beat them, and all other kinds of sinful behavior. Listen, 95% of these types of situations are avoidable by building a spiritual foundation to your relationship, over time, prior to getting married. It is virtually impossible for you to pray with a person day after day, read God's Word with a person day after day, go to church with a person and worship together week after week, find ways to serve the Lord together, talk about spiritual things and how they apply to your life, do all of this over a year or more and wake up the day after you get married with a person who is into any of this type of sinful behavior.
One of the things that happens over this year plus that you are building a spiritual foundation to your relationship is that God begins to speak to your heart about the person you are with. Over that year plus, God will clearly confirm to you both, over and over in many ways that this truly is the person HE wants you to spend the rest of your life with. If a person is involved in any type of sinful behavior, it is virtually impossible to mask it or hide it over a long period of time, especially when you are spending that time in prayer, God's Word, and in church. If they have these issues in their life, God will show you, IF YOU WILL KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN! What happens is people close their eyes and refuse to see the warning signs God gives you!
Please know that I am fully aware that each person has the free will to make their own choices. There is nothing you can do to insure at some point, 1 year, 2 years, 10 years, or even 30 years later, that your spouse will not choose to fall into sin of some kind, sin that could greatly damage and even destroy your marriage. However, this is also why you must pray for your spouse each day, continue to build that spiritual foundation you both started prior to marriage throughout the rest of your lives together. It does not insure your spouse will never fall into sin, but it makes it so much more difficult when they are walking with the Lord each day, just like it becomes difficult for you to fall into any sort of continual sin in your life when you are faithfully serving and following the Lord each day.
Another thing that you need to be doing during this time you are building a spiritual foundation to your relationship is to begin to talk about and work out all of the real life, day to day issues you will be facing once you are married. How will the finances be handled? What are your goals and desires for work and your careers? What about children? During this year plus that you are building your spiritual foundation, you also need to be talking through and coming into agreement on the day to day issues of your life together. You have to COMMUNICATE! A huge problem in many marriages is that two people who have committed their lives to each other have never had a real open and honest conversation!
One other important issue that must be addressed are people who have been married before. Divorce is no different that having a 2 foot gash in your stomach. It is a WOUND and wounds need time to heal! You do not heal the wound of divorce by immediately getting married again. Also, no matter how bad the previous spouse may have been, there are always TWO PEOPLE involved in every divorce. People who get divorced will jump right back into a new marriage and NEVER even being to deal with whatever issues they had in their life that contributed to the divorce. If you are divorced, before you even consider a new relationship, take the time to heal as well as to reflect on the mistakes you made. If you are getting into a relationship with a person who is divorced, understand that you need to take even more time building that spiritual foundation plus working through the issues you will be facing after you are married, since there is the additional baggage a divorced person brings into a relationship and marriage.
I love you and care about you so much. The fact is, the biggest mistake I see daily in troubled and failed marriages happened BEFORE the marriage even took place. People meet, start a relationship, and the foundation of that relationship ends up being everything BUT Jesus! I am amazed how people will make a lifetime commitment to someone they really don't even know, and then are totally shocked when they come to find out this person is NOT the same person they had that 2 hour date with a few times!
Over your lifetime, you will have a close intimate relationship with only a handful of people. Out of the billions of people on this planet, you will only have that close, intimate, life-changing relationship with a handful of people. These relationships will greatly determine the course of your life. The choices you make in these relationships will follow you for the rest of your life. You are being an absolute fool, if you do not take the time and effort and direction God will give you on who those people are supposed to be. THE COURSE OF YOUR VERY LIFE IS AT STAKE!
I will be praying for you today. For those who are already married, it is never too late to start building a firm, spiritual foundation to your relationship. I pray that you will start to do that today. For those who are not married, please understand that the person you marry is the most important choice you will make other than to accept Christ as your Savior. Please read and pray over these words today. They are coming right from God to you. He loves you so much and only wants the best for your life. Marriage is God's holy institution. Do all that you can to insure a happy, Christ-centered, blessed marriage before you get married by building a spiritual foundation to your relationship.