I was really touched by a Heart To Heart post, which was shared on the men’s private website last Friday, with a very emotional reaction when I read “How many times must God show us His awesome power before we believe?” That really spoke to something that so often breaks MY heart, because I know it must break the Lord’s heart as well.
I frequently receive calls from standers who are very excited, because they have received a “sign from God” that assures them that He is in fact going to restore their marriages; and it’s even quite often a specific sign requested in prayer! One would think that if we ask God for a very specific sign or feel that we have heard from the Lord that He’s going to do something, the matter would be settled in our hearts, minds and spirits once and for all. But that rarely seems to be the case, and I’m often amazed to see how little time passes before the same people are again calling; filled with doubt, discouragement and little hope, as if that encounter with the Lord had never happened. And even worse, the same thing often happens over and over again with the same people. How that must grieve the heart of God! And it could well hinder or delay the restoration of our marriages. But the good news, as Dan shared, is that we can ask the Lord to help us even in our doubt and unbelief; which He will be ever so faithful to do, just as He did for “doubting Thomas” when He told him to touch His nail scarred hands and put his hand in the hole in His side!
With rare exceptions, usually when people try to “intellectualize the things of God, the only difference between those who have great faith and those who don’t is the amount of time spent seriously reading and studying the Word of God; and that’s confirmed in Romans 10:17, which says Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. We just can’t win by trying to intellectualize the things of God, which 1 Corinthians 1:17-19 makes very clear, because it says For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
At some point in our walk with the Lord, and in our stand for marriage restoration, we have to come to the place of realizing that if we can’t stand on the power and promise of God’s Word, we have NOTHING to stand on, and no reason to have hope or the expectation of the restoration of our marriages and families. Psalm 119:105 tells us that God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path, so we aren’t likely to find our way to marriage restoration without relying on the light and power of God’s Word to show us each step along the way.
While there are many passages of scripture that make it very clear that God will uphold us as we stand for the restoration of our marriages and that He will NEVER condone adultery or adulterous marriages, one of the most significant is < href=http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mal%202;&version=51;>Malachi 2, particularly verses 13-17 (NLT), which says:
Here is another thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. You cry out, “Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” You have wearied the Lord with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. You have wearied him by saying that all who do evil are good in the Lord’s sight, and he is pleased with them. You have wearied him by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”
How anyone can read Malachi 2 and not understand that God is seriously offended by adultery and divorce, which are indisputable violations of HIS covenant, and will not continue in righteous fellowship with anyone committing either, is beyond comprehension, other than being blind to the truth of God’s Word. And that’s strongly confirmed in 1 Peter 3:7 (AMP), which says In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives], with an intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation], honoring the woman as [physically] the weaker, but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace (God’s unmerited favor) of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off. [Otherwise you cannot pray effectively.] Obviously adultery and divorce does not add up to living considerately with our spouses! And Jesus reaffirmed God’s view of adultery and divorce in Luke 16:18, where He said “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. And Matthew 19:8-9 says Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” And the question of how God sees divorce and remarriage just doesn’t get much clearer than what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, which says To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. That’s the passage that first spoke to me about marriage restoration, and I knew then that I’d never marry again unless reconciled to my husband. I was especially struck by how extraordinary it was that Paul made a point of saying that this was a command from God and not just his opinion, which was obviously intended to stress its significance; which should also make it more difficult to arbitrarily dismiss or rationalize away as many Christians (including many Christian leaders) do today.
So once we’ve settled and understand the question and issue of God’s will concerning marriage, adultery, and divorce, it’s important to take the next step, which is understanding that it is god who will do whatever it takes to bring about the restoration of covenant marriages, and that there’s nothing we can do to impact our spouses’ circumstances or change their hearts. But that IS something God, and God alone, CAN and WILL do, if we’ll just stand in faith and obedience on the power and promise of His Word and make a commitment to honor our marriage vows until the day we die. And Hosea 2 provides an excellent portrait of exactly how God does that, which we’ve seen played out over and over again in our midst, and which continues to be played out in the lives of many of our members’ spouses even today. And we have God’s assurance that He CAN and WILL do EXACTLY what His Word says He will do in Isaiah 46:11, which says From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do. Unfortunately, I couldn’t count all the times I’ve heard men and women say But…my wife this or my husband that..”, actually trying to explain why God isn’t going to do EXACTLY what God said He would do! BUT God’s Word says otherwise in one of my favorite verses, which is Proverbs 21:30, because it says There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD. And Proverbs 19:21 even says Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. And Proverbs 20:24 goes even further to say A man’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way? Then another one of my favorites is Proverbs 16:1, which says To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue. And we have God’s very explicit assurance that what He says goes; because Isaiah 55:10-11 says As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Since what makes us Christians in the first place, is based entirely on god’s Word, we must choose to base our stand and faith for the restoration of our marriages entirely on His Word as well. We can’t rely on what the world thinks or listen to what our spouses say, or even be swayed by what they do or don’t do. Our ONLY hope is in the power and infallibility of God’s Word. So our ability to BELIEVE that God CAN and WILL restore our marriages is directly in proportion to the faith and confidence we place in the truth and power of His Word, and His faithfulness and ability to bring it all to pass. So if we read the above passages of scripture and still struggle with our faith in God to restore covenant marriages, we need to examine our understanding of the Word of God and the value we give that in our life and in the determination of our faith and confidence as Christians. Because if we can rely on it to believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again three days later, it shouldn’t be so difficult to believe that God can resurrect what appear to be dead marriages in the exact same way!
Now, here’s Dan’s Heart To Heart post from last week. So be blessed and encouraged!
A couple of my daily devotions this week dealt with God’s covenant with us, spiritual relationships and doubting God. And I’ve had some thoughts about that, which I’d like to share.
First of all, God’s covenant with us is not a contract that is conditional on our love for Him; it is a promise that He holds in His heart. Though others may forget their promises to us, and though we may at times forget the promises we have made, God’s promises will always be fulfilled. God promises to love us and provide for us, even when we have lost hope. And He also promises us healed marriages.
2 Samuel 7:21 (NLT)
Because of your promise and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have made them known to your servant.
Our relationship with God is dependant on God’s unconditional love; not on the strength of our faith. We all have times when pain and hurt overwhelm us, or when we have a lapse in our spiritual relationship an walk with the Lord and it is difficult to feel His presence. When that happens, we need to be honest with God, admit our weaknesses and pray that He will strengthen our faith and give us back our hope. We can help this process by reading the Word, and seeking knowledge and understanding from God’s book of instructions. In Marsha Burns’ Small Straws today, she shares the following:
“July 13, 2007: If you are willing to receive it, I will reveal aspects of your life that keep you from being your spiritual best. All I need is your permission and cooperation to move you forward in truth and revelation. Now is the time to bring all things into the light because the devil can only work in the dark shadows of hiding and deception. Discover the freedom that comes from being open and honest in all things. Be assured that nothing you think or do is hidden from Me, says the Lord, but that there is nothing that can separate you from My love.
1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.”
Mark 9:24 (NLT)
The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
When our hope fades and our faith weakens, our hearts become frail, so we must stay focused on our God, who loves us unconditionally; our God who has made a covenant with us to provide what He promises; our God who will never leave us to ourselves.
As we increase our faith, our hope, and our spiritual relationship with God, let us not become Doubting Thomases; let us have patience to endure and persevere as we wait upon the Lord for His divine plan, which includes His promises to restore our marriages. Unfortunately, the account of doubting Thomas is a reminder of our own failure to have full confidence in the power of God. How many times must God show us His awesome power before we believe? “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (John 20:29) Let us have the courage to be among those who have not seen and yet who believe. Let us look around and know that God is no respecter of persons; what He has done for others, He will do for all of us. And when we trust God completely, our faith, hope, and spiritual relationship with Him will bring about the peace and joy that only He can provide. Blessings!
John 20:25 (NLT)
They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”