Daily Devotional for Saturday October 4, 2008
For Better, For Worse
(Mark 10:9; Ephesians 5:22, 25; Isaiah 41:10; 2 Corinthians 12:9,10)
GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!! Today and tomorrow I am dealing with God's Holy Institution of Marriage which is under attack from all sides. One of the best movies ever created dealing with marriage is currently in the movie theaters. I highly suggest that if you are married, you take your spouse to see FIREPROOF. If your marriage is on solid ground, see this movie as a reminder of how special this holy bond between you and your spouse is. If your marriage is in trouble, go see this movie that I pray will open your heart to seek the Lord for the healing and restoration of your marriage. Investing a few hours and a few dollars in this movie could be part of God's answer to saving your marriage!
Part One of Two
"For better, for worse." Having had the honor and privilege to marry dozens of couples during my years in ministry, without a doubt the most critical part of the marriage ceremony is when the bride and groom make their vows to each other and to God. Often, the importance of those vows is underestimated, the words taken lightly. When I have the opportunity to counsel a couple prior to them getting married, I always make sure they fully understand what they are saying when they vow, "for better, for worse." It means exactly that, "FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE."
Marriage is God's Holy Institution between a man and a woman for life. Other than your relationship with Christ, it is the most important relationship a person will have during this lifetime. God's plan for marriage is one man, one woman, for one lifetime. Anything else is a perversion of that plan. That is why no matter how man may try, marriage will never be between two people of the same sex. God's definition of marriage will always be a man and a woman.
Another perversion of God's plan for marriage is divorce. The most important thing to understand about divorce is that it was never, is not now, nor ever will be part of God's plan for marriage. God clearly expresses His feelings on divorce in Malachi 2:16 by simply stating that "He hates divorce." Divorce is a sin, period. The biggest misconception about divorce comes from the poor teaching that there are Biblical reasons for divorce. This is mainly due to a misunderstanding of the passages in Matthew chapters 5 and 19 where it appears adultery is a legitimate reason to get divorced.
Let me say this as clear and concise as I can. There are NO, ZERO, NADA reasons for divorce. Marriage is a LIFETIME commitment. In all of the weddings I have performed over my years in the ministry, I have never yet said "till death do us part... unless." There are no "unlesses" in the marriage vows you make to your spouse and to God. The exception for adultery is NOT from God, it is an exception from man. It comes from the Jewish laws of marriage and divorcement and is a MAN-MADE reason for divorce. That is why Jesus said in Matthew 19:8, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning."
That is why when you say "for better, for worse" you better understand the commitment you are making to your spouse and to God. Of course nobody ever has a problem with the "for better" part. We all look forward to and enjoy the "for better" days of marriage. A husband and wife sharing the accomplishment of doing well in their careers, making the home you live in a special place, taking time off to travel, the incredible blessing of having children, the joy of seeing each other grow in your relationship with the Lord, and just sharing your love with the one you have committed to spend the rest of your life with.
It is the "for worse" days that people struggle with. Nobody stands at the altar on their wedding day thinking for a moment that "for worse" will ever happen to them. I want to encourage you today that if your spouse has left you, if your spouse has committed adultery, if your spouse is in bondage to alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, or anything else, if your spouse has become ill and you are their primary care giver, if your spouse is not working and finances are a problem, if your spouse is not following Christ and living for Him, if the intimacy and love is missing from your marriage, if you and your spouse can't agree on raising your children....these are some of the "for worse" days that you promised to endure when you made that vow to your spouse and to God!
It is during these "for worse" days that we need to find our hope and strength in the Lord and make our faith real since only He can sustain us. Let me share a powerful truth with you today. The same God who is God during the "for better" days, is the very same God who is God during the "for worse" days. The same God who sees you through the "for better" days, is the very same God who will see you through the "for worse" days.
I love you and care about you so much. This is why I have tried so hard in past Devotionals to share with you how serious the decision to get married is. It is for LIFE. You are making a lifetime commitment to your spouse and to God. That is why I encourage you to take it slow when you are in a relationship that may lead to marriage. Don't rush into anything. First of all, don't ignore God's warning in 2 Corinthians 6:14 by getting involved with a non-Christian. Take the time to build a spiritual foundation to your relationship. Get to know the other person over TIME. So many of the problems I see each day in marriages could have been avoided if people would have only been patient and taken the time to get to know their spouse BEFORE they got married.
I am well aware that this does not insure you will have a perfect marriage. There is no such thing. People make choices every day. Sadly, even people who know the Lord make the choice each day to live in rebellion to God. You are NOT responsible for the choices your spouse makes if at some point in your marriage they choose to rebel against God. However, you can be much more assured of who your spouse is if you are patient and build a spiritual foundation to your relationship prior to getting married.
My heart breaks today knowing how many people are going through "for worse" days in their marriage right now. I will be praying for you. If you are having problems in your marriage today, please know that God is your hope and strength. He is still a God that changes lives and can bring healing and restoration to your marriage. It is satan who is lying to you, telling you to just give up. It is God who speaks truth when He says, "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9,10 NIV)
May God's blessings be upon you as you honor your vows "for better, for worse."
*Don't miss part 2 tomorrow!
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller