Hi this is pastor ken with my Monday Marriage Message…Unanswered Prayers
Malachi 2:13-15 in the New King James Version reads as follows, And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; So He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore, take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.
This same sentiment is again spoken of in 1 Peter 3:7 it reads, Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
Scriptures like the ones above are difficult to wrestle with. On the one hand, we know that God is love and so it can seem like He is being a bit harsh for a loving God. On the other hand, we have learned that God is a God with a plan for our marriages and therefore must do what is necessary to help us accept the plan and recognize how important it is for us to live our marriages according to that plan.
For those of you who are already parents, you have some understanding of the ability to love your children desperately and yet find the need to withhold something from them to help them recognize the importance of some particular concept. I believe this is what God is trying to do for married couples in regards to the scriptures above.
I have said many times that marriage is the practice field for the relationship God desires to have with us. It is where we learn to make the choices necessary to be in good relationship with God. His own word defines Him as a jealous God, and that He requires our faithfulness. Likewise, marriage is where we learn to be faithful to one only. God requires we be honest before Him. Marriage is where we learn to live together with someone in the ‘stupid honesty.’ I spoke with you about two weeks ago on this podcast. God requires we learn to prefer Him and his ways above what we may desire in a particular moment, and our marriages give us the ability to practice that by preferring one another as scripture admonishes us to do. Like with any sport one might participate in, practice is a necessary component to playing well. We simply cannot continuously have poor practice sessions (marital interactions) and expect that we will be able to play well on game day (relationship with God).
I believe that one of the points God is making in the first scripture above is directly connected to game day. So He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. At first glance, it may look as though God is saying that He either can’t or won’t listen to our prayers if our practice sessions don’t go well. I don’t think that is the case, at least not the totality of it. The second part of the scripture gives further clarity. But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore, take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. What I think God is pointing out is that it is not He who isn’t listening but rather we who are turning a deaf ear to Him.
No one (including God) likes to speak and not be listened to. He has told you in this scripture that He has given you a portion of His own Spirit in your marriage. As I expressed in an earlier entry, this portion of His Spirit is one of the primary ways He gets to have a voice in our marriages. It is a reliable way for us to know what things will be good for our marriages and what things might cause it harm. If we heed that portion of His Spirit, and are sensitive to it, we will do those things that will grow and protect our marriages. If we are not sensitive to His Spirit, we tend to ignore the warnings and prompts from Him and do what we want to, even to the detriment of the relationship. This scripture is quite clear; God is paying attention to the way we treat each other as evidence of our choices. Are we allowing the portion of His Spirit to lead and to guide, or are we taking the helm ourselves? If we are choosing to ignore the portion of His Spirit, His response is clear. Why should He expect we would listen to an answer to our prayers any more than we have listened to the portion of Him that exists right there in our marriage? I don’t think God is saying that if we don’t treat each other right He will respond by not answering our prayers. I believe God is saying that if we don’t listen to His Spirit in our marriages, why would we would be any more likely to listen to an answer to our prayers. He is simply pointing out that the lack of listening isn’t on His part…it’s on ours. I believe the scripture from 1 Peter bears that out as well.
Final thought. I recognize that these scriptures look a little one sided toward men, and some husbands might feel they are being singled out. If we look at the historical context of Malachi’s time, we can see that men were making all the decisions for their marriages, and their wives had little to no voice. Certainly there were difficult wives then too, but they could not choose to divorce their husbands, only husbands could do that. Therefore, that scripture is written toward men. In our society where a woman can end a marriage as easily as a man, I think it important that women heed this scripture just as men should. I thoroughly believe that God is watching the behavior of wives just as He is of husbands to see if His Spirit is being heeded in our marriages. Again this truth becomes evident when you look at it in light of 1 Peter 3. There verses 1 through 6 speak of the choices God desires to see wives making that will illustrate their willingness to be obedient to Him as they take on the supporting role in the marriage. Then verse 7 admonishes men to treat their wives with gentleness and all of those choices, both the husband’s and the wife’s are to be carefully considered and in line with what God desires so that their prayers may not be hindered.
Questions to Answer:
Have you ever considered the fact that God measures how important He is to you by how you treat your spouse?
If you were observing your behavior toward your spouse on any given day would you see someone you would describe as a lover of God who follows His leading?
What areas of your responses to your spouse need to be considered and improved for God to be comfortable that you are listening to the portion of His Spirit He has placed in your marriage?
Actions to Take:
Pray and Thank God for the portion of His Spirit He has chosen to endow your marriage with.
Ask Him to make you aware of any ways you may have been dealing with your spouse that don’t match up with His Spirit. Ask God’s forgiveness and empowerment as you make the necessary changes in how you interact with your spouse.
Seek your spouse’s forgiveness for how you may have been dealing with them “treacherously” and let them know you intend to make changes in that behavior going forward.
So now, recognizing that if you are going to have a great day on game day, you have to make sure that the practice sessions go well and be willing to identify any areas that need improvement. Don’t shy away from those interactions that haven’t necessarily gone well in the past. Choose the correct action, the one that matches the portion of the spirit living right there in your marriage and then practice, practice and practice some more so you can go be awesome!
Thank you for joining us online. We will begin with a 5 minute countdown prior to service on Sunday Mornings at 8:30 and 10:30am.
Hi this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a special Thursday set aside for giving thanks.
When I consider Thanksgiving Day there are a few mental images that always make their way into my thoughts. First my mind’s eyes revert back almost half a century to the third floor windows of my 5th grade classroom. Those windows looked out across a bleak and bleary poor coal town in eastern Pennsylvania. In my memory those November days were always cloudy. Though some were undoubtedly clear and sunny that is not the way I remember them. When my memories of thanksgiving take me back it is not that poor mining community the windows display, instead I see the brightly colored turkey feathers. Each individual window pane in that room held one student’s artistic rendition of a thanksgiving gobbler in all of its Crayola splendor. When I think of that I am thankful. It is not the paper turkeys I am grateful for but rather the woman that stood at the front of the room. That woman, our teacher was an amazing person. She loved us all and wanted the very best for us. Her name was Phyllis Biga and she was the best teacher I had in 13 years of public education. I was schooled in six different towns in three different states and across them all she was the best. Miss Biga taught me the importance of a solid vocabulary, she was the one who helped me understand that people would judge me by the words that I used and so those words mattered. She taught me a love for history and though some of it was ugly and downright wrong to have been a part of our countries story, she taught us that if we viewed it correctly we could learn from it and become even stronger as a people and a nation. She taught me the importance of our political system and I have never been uninterested in a presidential election since the one she introduced me to in 1976 where Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford to become the 39th President of the United States. So when my mind’s eye looks back through the years and through those 3rd story classroom windows I am thankful for Miss Biga.
Another perennial picture that comes to mind on thanksgiving is one most of us have seen. “Freedom From Want” is a Norman Rockwell painting that actually first appeared in the New York Post on March 6, 1943. Many of us don’t recognize the name of the artwork but know very well what it looks like. It is the iconic Thanksgiving painting depicting a family all gathered around the table as the matriarch settled the platter holding the perfectly cooked turkey into its place on the linen tablecloth below while her husband looks on. That image, though painted 23 years before I was even born, has always made me think of a particular thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother and grandfather Brown’s home. Actually it is reminiscent of almost every thanksgiving meal I ever partook of at there, but especially reminds me of just one. On that day my grandmother had placed my brother Gary and I at the foot of the table on the piano bench with our parents on either side. There were likely no less than 20 people gathered into the crowded dining room. For reasons I have not yet settled in my mind, as soon as Grandpa closed his long-winded yet genuinely heartfelt thanksgiving prayer with the “Amen” I picked up my glass of milk and poured it directly into my brother’s lap. The chaos that ensued was incredible! All at the same time mom looked at me like I had lost my senses, aunts jumped to retrieve tea towels to mop up the floor and my dad whisked my brother away to change his pants. What I remember most though was grandmas voice as she cleaned up the milk from her cherished piano bench I was now standing next to. She laughed as that coarse yet sweet voice said, “We shan’t cry over spilt milk Kenny Jr.” to this day I’m not sure which one of us she was admonishing not to cry, me or her. When I think of that Thanksgiving I am thankful for grandma and grandpa Brown. I am thankful for the things they taught me about the importance of marriage, family, and never crying over spilt milk. I am in great part the man, husband, father, counselor, pastor and Christ-follower that I am because of them and their example.
Today I will gather with my family to celebrate thanksgiving except this time I am the grandpa or as my grandchildren call me, Papa. I am the one who will stand and pray a long winded prayer over the meal and the family. Not because I want to sound especially holy but because I am especially grateful. I am very thankful for the nearly 30 people who will be crowded into the room around the table. I know how good God has been to me, and that I don’t deserve any of it. So my coarse voice will undoubtedly crack as I give thanks for all we have as a family in Jesus and in each other. I will choose my words carefully just like Miss Biga taught me to do because they matter. As a family, are we perfect? No, but as grandma said, “We shan’t cry over spilt milk”. We will give thanks.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever. That verse is repeated at least five times in the Bible, once in 1st Chronicles and at least four more times in the Psalms. When a particular phrase or verse is repeated in God’s word it can only mean one thing. It bears repeating, so say it with me…Give thanks to the Lord for He is Good and His mercy endures forever… again… Give thanks to the Lord for He is Good and His mercy endures forever… c’mon, one more time…Give thanks to the Lord for He is Good and His mercy endures forever.
So now, with a grateful heart for a God who loved you so much that He was willing to send His one and only Son to die for your sins so that you could live with Him in heaven forever… Give thanks to the Lord for He is Good and His mercy endures forever. With that thought in your heart, and those words on your lips…go be Awesome!