This planet has experienced thousands of earthquakes, but according to the Bible, there really will be a final “Big One.” But it won’t just happen in California. It will be an event that affects the whole planet—and even the heavens.
Marriage is the primary relationship on the planet. Before God created parents and children, He established marriage. Before there were nations, there was a marriage. Before there was the church, there was a marriage. Before there were friends, there was one man married to one woman: That was God’s first priority. If you are married, then loving your wife should be your first priority. You should love her more than your children, and your parents, and your friends.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly! Instead, God allows us to experience struggles, pain, and suffering because He wants us to be able to float above our circumstances like a beautiful butterfly.
In some ways, marriage is like a car. It’ll get you where you want to go, but you’ve got to put something into it. If you got a new car and never changed the oil, or got a tune up, that new car is going to malfunction. I’ve never understood why a couple will spend so much energy, time and money on a wedding, but then they think the marriage will automatically be great. Marriage is a high maintenance relationship. Marriage is made in heaven, but it must be maintained on earth.
Each of us has three kings fighting for control (there are probably a lot more). In each of us, there is a King Saul, a spirit of jealousy, a spirit of envy, a spirit of anger that becomes so blinded that this is a true “rage-a-holic.” Thank God, I think in each one of us there is the potential for a King David, a spirit of submission. It is the spirit of Christ of submitting to God’s given authority. And I also think in each one of us there is a “king-to-be” Absalom and he is the spirit of rebellion, the spirit of selfish ambition. Who I can become? What I could do if I were in charge? I could do a whole lot better if I was in charge of this outfit! Be careful, because those three kings are usually fighting for control of your life.
Have you ever wondered what the apostle Paul looked like? While it is true we do not have any written eyewitness description of Jesus’ physical appearance, we have a fairly reliable one for Paul the apostle. A pastor living in the second century (which means the 100s) who perhaps as a child had actually seen Paul, describes him: “A man small of stature with a bald head and crooked legs in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked, full of friendliness for now he appeared like a man, and now he had the face of an angel.” Can you just see this little man so full of energy? Before he became a Christian, he was full of energy for the wrong thing, but once he was tamed and changed by Jesus Christ, he used his energy for the right cause. Three ways Paul was changed by Jesus.
I know it is tough being a teenager and it’s tough to be the PARENT of a teenager. Mark Twain gave some advice on raising teenagers, “Things run along pretty smoothly until your kid reaches age 13. That’s the time you need to stick them in a barrel, hammer the lid down nice and snug and feed them through the knothole. And then about the time he turns 16 you’d better plug up the knothole.” It is part of the sense of humor of God that he has arranged it that parents would be going through middle age at just the time when they have teens in their home.
For every seven couples who get on board the good ship Matrimony, one of those couples will jump overboard, but two of those couples will stay tied to the mast, lashed to the deck. They are not happy, not enjoying the ride, but because of religious or social reasons they stay in that marriage. Only about four out of seven couples say they are enjoying the cruise, so two out of seven marriages are at extreme risk in America today.
You will never understand God’s love so, don’t try to figure it out—just receive it. You don’t have to figure something out before you use it and enjoy it. I don’t understand electricity, but I’m not going to stumble around in the dark until I have it figured out! I’m just going to flip that switch and use it. And so it is with the love of God. This is what Paul prays for, that you will be strengthened, that Jesus will be your Lord, and you will understand how much Jesus loves you.