A Life-Giving Relationship with God, Part 1
From the series Keeping Love Alive - Volume 4
Do you long to keep the love, the spark, the intimacy alive in your marriage? In this program, Chip will help us do just that – as he kicks off his series, Keeping Love Alive, Volume 4. Stay with us as Chip identifies 4 relationships great marriages have in common… and why they’re vital for you and your spouse.
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About this series
Keeping Love Alive - Volume 4
Four Relationships Great Marriages Have in Common
We’ve all heard or read news stories that celebrate couples who’ve been married for 5, 6, or even 7 decades. So how did they stay together that long? What’s their secret? And better yet… how can we build those types of lasting bonds? Through the 4th volume of our Keeping Love Alive series, Chip’s identifying 4 relationships great marriages have in common. Learn why these connections are critical to every relationship and how you and your spouse can better prioritize them in your marriage - starting today.More from this series
My prayer is I want to show you the four specific kinds of relationships that create a root system that bring life to you personally so that you can actually give life to your mate.
There is an awe when a man and a woman, in connection with the living God, accept and love one another and your minds and your hearts and your emotions and your bodies become one in windows and seasons that are awe-inspiring and what you realize that this is a taste of the kingdom.
And what I want to share with you is the four relationships that every marriage has to have to make it through the storms, you will have seasons of drought, you’ll have seasons of anger, when there’s death, when there’s cancer. Because marriage, fundamentally though it will be very fulfilling and very challenging, it’s really an image of Jesus and His Church. And it’s really a picture of a fulfillment and an intimacy that God longs for us to have and you are living in a world that is one hundred percent against that and trying to destroy it.
So, with that in mind, are you ready to go? The first relationship that you need to have that kind of a marriage is a life-giving relationship with God. You might underline “life-giving”. I don’t mean you happen to go to church, I didn’t say you read your Bible, not how many podcasts – there may be lots of means, but I’m talking about a life-giving relationship that you are experiencing life and power and grace and motivation to care, to forgive, to step out, to grow.
Great marriages are characterized by couples who give their mates what they need the most when they deserve it the least at great personal cost. I’m going to read that again. This is my personal definition of what love is. Great marriages are characterized by couples who give one another what they need the most when they deserve it the least. I mean, you’re thinking, Not now! Are you kidding? After what he said? After what he did? After what she said? …at great personal cost. And I think if you look at Jesus on the cross and you want to define love, Jesus gave us what we needed the most when we deserve it the least at great personal cost.
Translation: Marriage is not a fifty-fifty proposition. Great marriages are built on loving our spouses in the same way Christ loved us. I put it in your notes, John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than that he or she lay down your life for your friends.”
1 Corinthians chapter 13 says, “Love is patient,” you say, “I really love my wife, I love my husband.” “Love is kind, love is not jealous, it does not brag, love isn’t arrogant, it doesn’t act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit, is not provoked. Love does not keep an account of wrongs suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth. Love believes all things, hopes all things; love never fails.”
We throw that word around quite easily and here’s the principle that I want you to get. What I just described is impossible. The principle is you cannot give what you have not received. Jesus said, John 10:10, “I came that you might have life and you could have it abundantly.”
But if you are not, not just that “are you saved” or are you forgiven or are you a follower or are you, you know Jesus personally? Great, you have now entered the family. I’m talking about are you receiving daily, moment-by-moment, the life, the grace, the power to actually have Christ live His life through you so that the man that shows up or the woman that shows up in your marriage is Jesus wanting to fulfill His agenda, to actually treat that person you’re married to exactly how Jesus would if He was living inside your body.
Memo: the Scripture says that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit and that when you prayed to receive Christ and repented of your sin, you were taken from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light and you were sealed with the Spirit. And guess what, so that means Jesus does live inside of you. Now, we all have that battle with our flesh and even after forty-two years, I’m just going to tell you, in my marriage, the way I want is my way. And when I try and get my way, or I try and manipulate my wife or I try to, trying to get things to work out so “it all works for me” – it never works.
So, I’m going to encourage you that the reason you need a life-giving relationship with God is you simply can’t, you can’t give your mate what they need. And it’s not a negotiation. It’s not a fifty-fifty. It’s you saying, “Regardless of how my mate responds, I’m going to be Christ to her. I’m going to be Christ to him.” Biblical marriage from Ephesians 5:22 to 33 requires sacrificial, others-centered love that is humanly impossible but supernaturally enabled as we see a steady flow of God’s love in us.
1 John 3:16 talks about not loving in word or tongue but in deed and truth. We love because He first loved us.
And so, what I want to talk about now is: Developing a life-giving relationship requires three things. Some of these I’ll go over rather quickly, because many of you will say, “Been there, done that, got it.” And others I’ll spend a bit more time on.
Developing a life-giving relationship with God requires, one, a spiritual birth.
Many of you probably know this, but I don’t want to assume it. One of the great passages in the book of John is a spiritual leader of Israel comes to Jesus by night and he wants to know, “Obviously You’re from God. You do all these miracles. What is the deal?”
And John chapter 3, if you’d like to follow along, “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher. For no one can do the signs or the miracles You do unless God is with him.’ Jesus responded and said to him…”
He’s a religious leader. He has probably the major portions of the Old Testament memorized. So, there’s no big introduction. “Truly I say to you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see,” or, “cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Literally the word is “born from above.” A spiritual birth. Nicodemus took it pretty literally. He said, “Well, how can a person be born when he is old? He can’t reenter his mother’s womb a second time to be born, can he?” And Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless someone is born of water,” physical birth, “and the Spirit,” spiritual birth, “he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is the spirit. Do not be amazed that I say to you, ‘You must be born again.’”
And then He begins to explain it in language that an Old Testament Pharisee could clearly understand. But here’s what I can tell you. I went to church, a high church; I sit, kneel, stand. I could cite the prayers. God was very distant and I believed what I think a lot of even “Christians” think. I thought if my good deeds outweighed my bad deeds, someday, somehow, I’d get in. And so, I, like most people, compared myself with, like, axe murderers and people that were mass killers and thought, I’m better than most people and if you get in…
And my self-evaluation, I didn’t understand that I needed a spiritual birth, not religious activities. I didn’t understand that God is holy and if we put it, I’m an old coach, so let’s just say in your personal life you have to score a hundred percent, right? Make every free throw.
Make every shot in the game. Every single one. And no turnovers. One missed shot, you’re out. Or if you’re a math person, you have to get a hundred on the test, and the test is life.
So, no matter what you do, all fall short of the perfection or the glory of God. And so, it says the only way is you need to be born again and the gospel is not a repair job, a remodel job of trying hard to clean up your life and be a better, nicer person and go listen to someone talk and sing a couple songs.
The gospel is you are dead in your sin, separated from Christ, and God in His great love sent Jesus to die upon a cross to pay for your sin, absolutely, rose from the dead to prove it’s true, and comes to you and says, “I long to forgive you. I created you. Would you receive this free gift?”
Repent just means a change of mind. Those who turn from their sin and have a change of mind and recognize their need and say, just like the thief on the cross, “Save me. I need Your help. Please forgive me.” Jesus said, “Verily, verily.” When He says it twice, that’s sort of the Greek New Testament way to say, “Underline, underline.” “Verily, verily I say unto you, he that hears My word and believes on Him who sent Me, has,” present tense, you don’t guess, “has eternal life and has passed from death to life and will not come into condemnation.”
And so, the question I have for you that is so important is: Are you certain you are born again? And there’s going to be a sign in some endzone, right? And it’s going to say John 3:16. And if you never knew what it said, it’s, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever does,” what? Circle that word. “Believes.” It means put your trust in. Believe – it doesn’t mean intellectually agree with. “…shall not perish but have eternal life.” But no one quotes verse 17. Here’s the reason. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” God’s not down on you.
I grew up with a God whose arms were crossed, toe tapping, and, man, if it was fun, He was against it. Bad, bad, bad, wrong, wrong, wrong. That’s not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible, His arms are open, He understands, He was tempted in every way like us, yet, without sin. And He understands where you have messed up and He understands the consequences and the pain and the shame and He’s just saying, “If you would just be real and come to Me, I have already forgiven you. Will you receive it?
Second, a baby is born, right? Physically. You know, some of you, I was – I still remember when my wife turned to me and said, “My water broke.”
And that’s why He said, “That which is born of water,” He says just like there’s an actual birth, there is a spiritual birth the moment a person recognizes their need, turns from your sin, and asks Christ to forgive you and come into your life. Then you begin a journey where He begins to produce the life of Christ in you.
Developing a life-giving relationship with God requires, one, a spiritual birth. The second for a life-giving relationship, it requires a radical dedication. I won’t go through the whole book, but the whole book of Romans – is Paul on his way to Spain and there’s a mixed group of all these house churches from multiple ethnic backgrounds but you’ve got to get the context, right?
Chapters 1 through 3, he just makes one point, “All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” Religious people, unreligious people. Chapters 4 and 5 is God’s solution to this problem of falling short or sin. It’s that by the death of Christ He gives grace or a free gift that can be received by faith.
Chapters 6 thorough 8 then is: How do you live out this new life? And the answer is: You can’t. Only the Holy Spirit can live out the life of Christ. And so, chapter 6 will talk about when you prayed to receive Christ and He came into your life, you died with Him, you were raised with Him, you have this battle in chapter 7, and thanks be to God, chapter 8. And he talks about the role of the Spirit in your life living it out.
And then chapters 9 through 11, you know, if you’re a Jew you’re thinking, “Now, Paul, this sounds pretty good, but what about all those promises to David? I thought, that seemed pretty clear. What about that throne that’s going to go on forever? And Abraham, didn’t He make some promises to Abraham about this land and your people and all of that?”
And chapters 9 through 11 will explain sort of that again, forgive all the basketball analogy, but Israel had too many turnovers and they are going to go to the bench. It doesn’t mean they are off the team, but we are going to have, we are going to develop a new team called the Church and it’s going to be empowered by the Spirit. And then at a little bit later time we are going to say, “Hey, Israel, you know. This is the game plan, this is where you guys get to come back in and I’ll fulfill all the promises to David and also to Abraham.”
And after 11 chapters of all of that, you have it in your notes, “Therefore,” now, just follow with me intellectually. This is not about how to become a Christian. That happened at the – end of chapter 3 describes what really occurs. And then chapter 4 and 5 we learned it’s by faith, right? Experiencing God’s grace.
But now he’s giving a whole picture of the Christian life and he is speaking to a group of people that have the Spirit living in them and now the question is, practically, what does this look like? What does a follower of Jesus actually look like?
What is the first step? “Therefore, I urge you my brothers and sisters, in view of God’s great mercy,” eleven chapters, “to offer your body as a living and holy sacrifice.” Then notice there’s a purpose clause. Why? “This is your spiritual service of worship.” Translation: This is what God really wants.
I had pretty much rejected the Church, didn’t – assumed there is some being that created everything. I don’t know who He is, if He was like the people in my church, I didn’t really want to get to know Him very well.
But I was, those of you that maybe have an athletic background, I was a gym rat. If you went to an outdoor basketball court, you would see in the inner city of Columbus, Ohio, all Black guys and one skinny white guy and one really tall white guy, because I always took one big guy with me. And I knew if I was going to get good, this is where you play.
And that’s why I got my scholarship in basketball.
Pete Maravich was my hero and everything he learned to do, I learned to do. And it got me in trouble sometimes with all the behind-the-back passes. But I loved it. And all I cared about was sports.
But I graduated and I remember sitting in a circle with a bunch of friends, about twenty-five friends. And we were passing a joint around. And so, it’s coming around and I’m, like, this disciplined off the wall. I don’t put anything in my –
And I’ll never forget, I gave it to Jacquie and Jacquie was a girl that was next to me in study hall. The first girl that became a friend and she was really pretty and the reason she was a friend, because she dated a guy three years older that was really big, really bad, and he would kill you if you messed with his girl. So she was safe.
And so, I got to know Jacquie and I passed it to Jacquie and she turned to me and said, “You must be really happy tonight.” And I said, “Why?” She goes, “Well, you know, we’re in study hall. I mean, think about it. You know, you date that really cute little girl, you have a basketball scholarship, you did really well in school, you graduated the top of your class.”
And it was the biggest sinking feeling. I had forgotten all about that and I had already gone to, tell you what I’m going to do with my life. I am going to go and I’m going to be trial lawyer, I’ll have three-hundred-dollar suits, I will have an Irish Setter, a beautiful girl, I’m going to have a luxury car and a station wagon. I’m going to live in the suburbs and by thirty-two I’ll be a leader in my community. Ready? Go. And one of the things my dad instilled was confidence. You want it? Work for it. You can do it. And so, I had already set the next set of goals and when she said that, it was the most empty feeling I had ever had. And you know, some of you understand what it’s like to realize it doesn’t deliver. It doesn’t deliver.