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Letters From My African Lover

Nicole Parker
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Nicole Parker

Wife, mother, and Biblical counselor

Recorded

  • December 13, 2014
    10:30 AM
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All right. I've titled this. Letters from my African lover. Now that might be a little confusing because over here African means something different than in the States. So when I shared this in the States. It was more my African lover Well of course because you see my husband was born and raised in Africa he's born in Zimbabwe. And when we were first married we lived here at held a burg. So we've been we've been on both sides of the ocean together. But in the States we tell everyone where an African-American couple you see because he's African and I'm American. Over here of course African is different than African over there. So they're all astonished. I married an African You should have seen all the looks when. When we were dating. Because people would say Oh so you're dating a man from Africa. So was he a missionary. No. Oh Oh so. Do you have a picture. Because everyone's Of course very interested in what color is see. And I thought it was a little funny not to tell them. But I would eventually be good and say no you know you're not confusing me. I know. He's African. But it doesn't matter what color his skin is my husband is a true African in his heart. When we were here I held a bird he postured united nation. Church the. The church was just such a blessing to us I think there were two of us and one other white person in the church. But it was wonderful we had such great fellowship and. It was a. It was a great experience. And I love seeing how my husband loves being an African and just mixing in with everyone and. He did his doctorate over here in Africa. On churches in transition from being white. To multicultural. And how we needed to have the spirit and how to be able to help people work together in unity. Regardless of racial divides and things like that so we're both very passionate about being integrated racial. And it's wonderful to come to this conference and see everyone together worshipping in unity. The Lord has brought South Africa so far hasn't he. Well we're very blessed to be here. And so anyway this talk I'm talking about letters from African lover because this whole seminar. The series is on relationships. But the most important relationship. Before you can have a relationship that horizontal and healthy with any other person is a relationship with God. Right. The law of God has two great principles. Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul with all your mind with all your strength and second. Love your neighbor as yourself right. But if we try to get love your neighbor as yourself first and make that the First Commandment. Everything falls apart. So we have to put first things first relationship with God. Now many times when I talk with someone I do a lot of biblical counseling so when people come to me for counseling. Bell say well I'm just going through all these things and I'm struggling with anxiety I'm so depressed. My boyfriend and I really should break up but I just can't or whatever it is they're dealing with. I find generally the most helpful thing to talk about first is how is their relationship with God. Because if your relationship with God is not doing well. Then everything else in your life tends to start falling apart. And then when I when I do talk about that people tend to tell me Well you know I I'm not really having a devotional time every day or. If they are having a devotional time. It's more well I have. I read this little devotional page every day or I spend five minutes or I read a chapter or I have a prayer. And that's not really about a deep connection with Christ as the center of their lives. And this is the problem. Many people say well. I don't know how to get really close to God because of course. What makes it difficult. In building of a deep relationship with God. We have busy lives don't worry and can you talk with God face to face. No it's sometimes very difficult to feel close to God. You don't talk with him you don't see him. And you often don't feel him being there. And this is why I think it's very helpful to talk about my husband's and my story personally and how the Lord let us together. You see he was living in Africa. He came across to the States. Just for a couple of weeks. And during that time we met. We ended up spending. Barely a week together really in the midst of the general conference session in Toronto in two thousand. And as we were there spending time together. We got to know each other well enough that we decided we wanted to stay in touch. And so he came back to held a bird. And I was living in New York at the time. So we were not just a long distance relationship people say well we have a long distance relationship. We don't get to see each other very often now we were at seven times owns a part. And we had to really be intentional. If we wanted to build a relationship. So I think that's a good allegory for helping us understand how to build a relationship with God I couldn't see my husband you see. I couldn't touch him. I hardly knew what his handwriting looked like. I didn't know his favorite colors his favorite foods. But when we were getting to know one another long distance we were intentional. Because we were motivated. You see many people think that they just can't build a relationship with God That's close. Like they can build with their boyfriends or their girlfriend it's so much easier to build a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend right. Because they're right there you can see them they talk to you they laugh with you. You can hold hands with one another it it just feels so real so often when a person is starting to feel firstly for a relationship with God. They mistake that for a thirst for a relationship with a human being and begin immediately searching for a partner someone that will make them feel complete make them feel loved and you can find that pretty quickly. If you're looking in this world often. You'll find someone who will make you feel loved for a little while but then what you see no one ever really knows us to our very souls. Except Christ. And therefore we can never truly trust someone else's love. They don't really know us to our very souls and. We're all sinners aren't we. You know my husband is a wonderful husband. But he's a sinner. And I'm a sinner. So we fail each other we misunderstand each other we needed a relationship first with a God who we couldn't see who we couldn't touch. But who we knew loved us so much. And who we could love and response. Because that's the great cry of the human soul we have to have a relationship in which we could really know God and love him. The problem is for most of us. We're just not very motivated. We aren't motivated enough to work at it and I know this because when my husband first wanted to build a relationship with me on I wasn't sure if I wanted to put in the effort because you know what. He lived all the way over in Africa. I'd already tried once having a long distance relationship and everything was wonderful until you were actually in the same place and then it all fell apart and we were so different from one another and it just wasn't going to work at all but we didn't see it until we were actually together for a couple of weeks. So I was kind of skeptical about the whole long distance relationship thing. When I started spending time with my husband. Just long distance at that time you know nowadays you can use. Guy. You can. You can connect in so many ways for free. Then we had email. And we had this new thing called M.S.N. messenger. So we downloaded that on to our computers and we could now type to one another slowly now of course my husband living in Africa. He had a very old computer. And I would happily be typing away isn't this wonderful this guy is such a great listener. Because his computer was so old that if I was typing anything. He couldn't. So he literally couldn't get a word in edgewise. Communication problems. But we worked. That. Once we were able to realize we just have to both you know I have to pause and let him right back. Because I'm wondering why are you not answering any of my questions I keep asking if you're saying nothing. You know so that was the first hour or so of trying to talk on M.S.N. messenger. But you see. We persevered through it didn't weigh because we cared about one another it was too expensive for us to call across the ocean very much. So we focused our time mostly on emailing each other and you see. We spent a month getting to know one another after he left the States. So we had one month. I told him. I want one month before I make any decision about having a committed relationship with you. I want to have time to actually get to know you a little more. He was he was ready he said. I've I've known you now for a whole week. I want to get to know you better. Said no no no I need a little more time than that. So I said give me a month and during that month he cold a couple of times we emailed each other and I started getting to know this man better. I realized you know what this guy is all the things that I've been looking for. Even though I wasn't really sure if I was looking for a husband. Now I knew this is the sort of guy that has been exactly what I wanted. So I was still struggling you know how can I really connect with this guy so far away. After two weeks. Two weeks into our four four week. Agreement. He said I already know. I want to date you. Let's let's start and I said now. I said. One month. Give me a month. So we had two more weeks of getting to know each other and by the time we agreed to start dating I was almost positive I was actually going to marry this guy. Which was a very scary thing and I didn't dare tell any of my friends because you know people are going to think you're nuts. You think you're in love with that guy in Africa you don't even know him. So. But in my heart I knew. This is somebody who I match with so well. The kinds of friendships that we built our goals in life. Our personalities the things we laughed. At the things that we cared most deeply about we could see because we've been talking communicating about all of this I could see this is the sort of guy that I really think I want to spend my life with. And even though at the beginning I told him I don't know what's going to happen. We never went into it as a sort of futile let's just hang out together see how it goes you know many times. These days people start dating. Because they're bored. Because they're lonely. Because the other person is there and it feels nice. We weren't about to start a relationship like that especially since he was in Africa they would have been no reason to do that right. We weren't going to get any warm fuzzy feelings out of making out with one another we were going to have to do the hard work of communicating and sorting out whether we were planning to marry one another and that was from the beginning our attention. We agreed we wanted to know one another we wanted to know whether we wanted to spend our lives together as a team and ministry. So we focused on those questions. We wrote out a commitment to one another and agreements the rules for our relationship like making sure that got us our first priority that responding time with him. Even if we don't have time to spend time with one another and that we would refrain from kissing when we were actually together and any prolonged or intense hugging you know that's a little fuzzy on the definition but we knew when we were going beyond it was time to stop hugging. You know we made specific intentional. Rules for ourselves. Planned out how we wanted to run our relationship. And how we would strategically evaluate the Lord's plan for our lives. Now I'm not saying with the pattern for everyone that this is what everyone must do and we are the right people and did everything right. The Lord leads and so many different ways doesn't he. He's so good in teaching us how to look at things through his eyes. So many people. I've heard their stories have a lot has led them in all kinds of surprising ways our way was surprising to you. Married a year after they meet. Well it was a whole year in two days. But that's not that's not what I would recommend for people especially when you're getting to know one another across the ocean. We knew some other people who were dating long distance like we were cross. Across an ocean and got married about the same time we did. Within a couple of months she was hiding in the bathroom calling the police because her husband was beating her. Threatening her life. She didn't realize that this was the sort of man he was because again she wasn't being strategic An intentional. And she didn't really know him. So we knew it was risky. But we were getting to know each other and why. Because we were motivated. We really wanted to glorify God. And we cared about one another and I see when you're wanting to build a relationship with God. You have to do with the same way you have to be motivated enough. If you're not motivated enough to want to build a relationship with God. You're not going to do the hard work. You're going to sit down with your Bible and then you're going to go. I think I'm just going to send an S.M.S. to somebody you know what I mean just going to check Facebook quickly. I'll get back to the Bible. I have a quick prayer be with Grandma help me to do well in my classes and what do I want to eat for breakfast. You know what I mean. You must be motivated. In your relationship with God and be willing to sacrifice and to persevere these days. People don't persevered. In relationships very often they do whatever they feel like doing a turn on the T.V. if they feel like turning on the T.V.. If they know they're feeling kind of restless and empty inside. They don't tend to go to their Bible. They go to the refrigerator. You know what I'm talking about right. This is the way we live it's our culture. And in order to overcome that culture we're going to have to be intentional about building a relationship with God. Many people ask me Well how can I actually have a devotional life. That makes a difference. Well what did I do with my husband. When we were getting to know. Another We set aside an hour every day. We said we're going to have an hour of time together and barring some kind of emergency or not being able to get on line or something that was what we did we'd spend an hour together every day. No matter what. How busy we were tired we were the much other stuff we. We wanted to get done. We made it a priority. Make a priority. Out of having time with God and you'll find your relationship begins to grow. However you don't want to just try to make that your priority and. That's the end of it. Many people use their devotional time in ways that don't actually help them grow no there's nothing wrong with studying the Bible it's a wonderful wonderful thing to do. But the purpose of devotional time. Is not to just get your scripture memorization done. It's not to just read through the Bible. It's not just to study out a complicated passage of Scripture. These are all great things to do. But that's not what devotional time is about many people try to use their their Bible study time in the morning devotional time to put together a Bible study to give to someone else. Or maybe to just feel like they're confident that they've done the right thing you know I used to have to have my worship time I'd made a commitment I was going to have an hour every day with God no matter what. And if I woke up late. Ended up only having forty five minutes I'd feel so guilty and like. I just I know I'm missing out because I haven't done what I promised I would do. And somewhere along the day I'd try to get at least fifteen minutes just sit down and read quickly. So that I could say OK I had my hour of devotional time. I was getting in an hour. Most times. But it wasn't necessarily devotional time. It was ticking it off the list I've got everything done I spent another ten minutes here in another five minutes there so I did the whole hour. See devotional time is not about checking something off the list. Crossing off yes I did that. I've managed to get it done today. Now I feel like. Come spiritual. It's about connecting with God as a best friend. The purpose of devotional time. Is first of all beholding God and His love for me. I have to be hold the character of God in order to be changed into his image don't I it's not enough for me to have decided to give my life back to the Lord back in one nine hundred ninety. I need to do it now. I need to give my life to the Lord now. Today every day. Hand him. My heart and say. You see me doubt God seeis to me everything within me show me today. How I'm not like you. And then change me into your image. And he will. That's what he loves to do. But the first step is beholding God. Many people have a hard time. Loving God. They know you know the Bible says Love the Lord with all your heart soul mind and strength but I don't know how to love him I don't feel close to him. Love is not a feeling. It's a commitment. It's a choice to follow. But it becomes so much easier to love the Lord to be committed to him when you can trust him. So many times we've had life experiences that make us wonder is he really love. Is God really committed to my best interests. If so why did he allow this person to die. Why did you allow this bad thing to happen to me. We have to take the word of God who He says he is as a higher authority than who we feel he is or who are circumstances seem to tell us he is. That's what the are devotional time is supposed to do to help us see who God is based on his word and say this is who you are. This is the kind of God you are that you. Walking down the street. Saw this blind man crying out for you when you stopped. And you called him. And you healed him. Even though he's wretched. He's miserable he's poor. He's blind. And when he cast off his garment to run toward you. He's also naked spiritually. Part of my ass is every one of us right. When we spend time. I'm reading. Not just reading but actually drinking in the lessons of the word imagining ourselves in this that place right there walking with Jesus saying what he's doing wondering why does he treat this person so well. Why does he treat this person this way. We understand more and more of the character of God beholding God. As he is will change us into His image. Noble teach us to love him. You see as I got to know my husband. By just messaging back and forth with him asking him about things talking to I was doing exactly the same thing as when people are praying right. I couldn't see him. I couldn't hear is force. But I believe that the messages he was sending back. Came from him and he believed the ones coming from me. Came from me. We communicated. We got to know one another skerrick Toure's. We became friends. And then we fell in love. It took time. It took intentionality. But the key was I was beholding who my husband was when he was only my boyfriend. Devotional time is for beholding God and His love for me. It's for nurturing my friendship with my savior. You want to have a relationship built on communication and quality time. And my husband and I when we were dating. We couldn't actually sit down together and many people say well I just don't know how to spend time with God I get bored I fall asleep when I'm trying trying to pray. Again. How did I get over that with my husband. When it was my boyfriend. I had to be intentional I had to be motivated. But because my relationship with him was growing I wasn't falling asleep sitting there typing at the computer. I was spending time with someone I cared about. If you're having a hard time being able to study maybe you need. Get out of your bed. Maybe you need to go for a walk. Pray out loud. I've been known to put on a headset so it looks like I'm talking on the phone but I'm really just praying I just want to look like I'm a mad woman walking down the sidewalk talking to myself. Whatever you do you need to pray. Make it make it a priority to communicate with God about the things going on in your life. It was the little things that bound my husband and me together as we were getting to know one another he he would tell me I did this in my class today I think it didn't go over too well I should have. I should have done this. I think I need to do this you know he was humble. He was on est he didn't make himself out to be a hero. These are things that drew me to him that I could see the little things that showed so much. It's one we share the little things with God. Talk to him about everything that perplexes the mind. He holds up worlds. Right. He can take care of these complicated situations we face in our friendships. In our families in our own turmoil within ourselves as we struggle with the way that we see we are and who we should be. He wants us to bring those things to him. And as we pray about them. We take the burdens off of our shoulders and cast them on to his. And then we're so grateful. We live in praise to him. Wow I can't believe you took that. I can't believe you change that situation thank you so much. This is how we build a relationship with him right. We have to commune with God. About what's actually going on in our lives in our devotional times. Devotional time. Is not a time to just check it off the list. I've done everything. It's about building a relationship through communication and quality time. Just the way all relationships grow right. When I wanted to get to know my husband I knew. I was going to have to spend time in communication. Right. And it can be just time together you can sit next to a person in class for four years straight. But if you don't communicate with them. You don't have any quality time with them. You're still strangers aren't you. Many people have that kind of relationship with God. They go sit down with them every day and say. How are you. I'm fine thanks for this nice day. Amen. And they don't really build a relationship instead. They become more entrenched in their pattern of thinking well. That's him. And this is me. We're going on with our lives. They don't actually communicate with him and build a relationship. God wants us to communicate with him about what's actually going on in our lives. Now. Devotional time is also a time to lay ourselves before the Lord. And let the steward cut where it needs to cut there been so many times that I've been in my devotional time and in just praying. Lord what do you want to change in me today and he'll say That right there. How you spoke to this person. And I said how bored. I didn't think anything when I said that no. But now it's time. You know you need to change the way that you're relating to your boss. All the Lord I've been relating to him that way for three years now. Now but today's the day that you're ready to hear that it's time to change. Maybe I wasn't ready to hear yesterday or any other day for the last three years. But the part of the justices the shining light that shines more and more into the perfect day right. God wants us to keep growing. So every day as we lay ourselves before him and say What is it that you want to do in my life to change me into your image. He'll point out things will say this right here. The way that you're cherishing fear. In this area of your life. The way that you're refusing to trust me with this area of your life. The way that you're clinging to power or to pride in some. Way. These things are the things he wants us to hand over. Let the sword cut. As we pray. As we learn who got is. We're willing to give him anything and everything. The. The purpose of devotional life is to build. My sense of worth and love ability. My sense of identity. On god who he is how much he loves me. He's created me in His image has any. He's redeemed by His blood. When I build my sense of worth on him. Then my sense of worth doesn't go up and down on what any human being thinks of me. And it definitely won't be helpful. If you're in a marriage. Or in any kind of intense relationship. To have your relation you're worth going up and down based on what this other person thinks of you have you noticed that when this person says something to you and it just makes you crash. You know many people get married because they think you know I was so lonely. Then I got together with this person as soon as we started dating I got so much happier. Then we got engaged and I'm even happier. They just can't wait till they get married and they just think they're going to be catapulted into the stars. And instead they find themselves in the pit of hell. Because if you build your sense of worth or love ability and what a person thinks of you. Everything hangs on that relationship if that person says one thing to you that hurts you. You crash. Because that's where you have to get your sense of worth out of this person. And then you have two people going. You must give me what I need. Know they can never give you what you need only Christ can give you what you need. And that is the secret of your devotional time. Every one of us has these two great longings in our souls to find love to find worth. We can only find them in the cross. God wants us to be changed into his image. The purpose of your devotional time. Is to continue the process that he has begun a new justification. Forgiveness it cleanses our past that makes as though we're white as snow right. But sanctification it cleanses our future. Moment by moment day by day God keeps peeling off the layers of sin of doubt. Of pride and showing us how we can become like him. We keep stepping doesn't matter where you are on the path toward heaven. God is willing to take you where you are at that moment. Anytime. What matters is which direction you're facing. And which direction you're stepping. They may be small steps. Doesn't matter. All God wants is for you to be facing his direction. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Looking on to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. He helps us as we behold him to just shed the layers of sin. Become more and more like him. That's the purpose of devotional time. When your devotional time is like that. You'll find that your other relationships of life. Begin to come into harmony. Not everything not all the time you're relating to centers in your center yourself. But your sense of worth will level out so you don't crash. When someone criticizes you at work. You don't crash. When someone turns their back on you. It will hurt. It hurt Jesus didn't it was Jesus hurt when Judas betrayed him. Absolutely. Did Jesus decide I'm not going to love anybody any more than they all do this no. If we want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. We must be hold him every day. That's what the purpose of devotional time. Is God has put two great themes throughout Scripture. Creation and redemption creation. Shows us the power of God that he can take mud and fashion. Hands like these that he can take mud and fashion a brain that can think that can choose. That can be changed into his in. Midge right. It's incredible. Creation tells us the power of God and the love of God that he decided to create me to make me in His image that I could have a relationship with him and redemption. Shows me how much he still loves me the inherent value of the human soul is found in story of redemption. God creates me out of mud right. He breathes into me the breath of life. He stands me on my. My feet and says I want you to learn to love like I love. And I slap him on the face and say I don't need you. I can go on my own way. Now if you created something like that. What would you want to do. You know I'm going to say bad blood. Throw it out right. Who needs that God can create another one right. But instead he follows after. And he says I will die for you. That tells us how much we're actually worth in His sight. When we drink in the love of God and are worth in His sight. Every day in our devotional time. Everything in our lives. Is transformed by it. Our relationships. Our sense of worth. You want to know the cure for workaholism. It's finding your worth in Christ. You want to know the cure for compulsive relationships. It's finding your sense of love in Christ. Its creation and redemption of the two great themes in scripture that tell us the answer to the two great questions of the human heart. Am I loved and am I worth anything. Yes. Yes we are. And that's what we need to focus on in our devotional time. If your devotional time has dried up and you're struggling to really connect with God. This is what you need to go back to looking at creation and redemption the themes throughout all the stories of scripture. Showing how much he loves you. How priceless you are in His sight. And you'll find the other things in your life the crises the turmoil that keep making you crash. Those things will start to level out because you'll be able to go faith in faith in His Love for You see we think that our hearts will get satisfied by relationships with other people. We're notoriously idolatrous aren't we as humans we're created to be worshippers. We can't help it. We cannot change that. Even Adam and Eve in the garden they were created to be worshippers. But they had a choice. Who would they worship. Who would they serve. We have a choice to. We cannot choose whether or not we will worship. We only choose who we will worship. I can choose to worship God. Or if I refuse to worship him. I will worship self. I can't help it. A worship self in whatever way I can find a way to worship self. People say well you know you don't understand how much I love my girlfriend. How much she means to me. It's not that I'm worshipping myself it's that I love her. No it's not. People don't love the other person. If they don't love God. First they love what they get from the other person. I don't mean that an atheist can't have some sort of genuine love and their hearts. But every bit of love is a gift from God It comes from beholding love in him in nature in his word and wherever he's given us the message of what love is. But true love. Happens when we worship God first. Because then I can love other people not because I want to get something out of them. But because God has loved me so much he's poor his love into me. Given me a sense of how much I'm worth and his side how much I'm loved. Now a poor strew me to those around me. That's how God wants our relationships to work. When we go into relationships idolatrous Lee instead though. We're trying to suck out of this other person a sense of love and worth. That only God can actually give us. And it never ends well. Never ends well. You wonder why there are so many divorces in the world. It's because we're so selfish. And it's divorces and even just the worse thing. What about all these abusive relationships. Don't we hear in the news all the time about women who have been beaten to death by their boyfriends of their husbands. How does this happen with a person who loves this other person supposedly with all their heart. How does it happen on both sides the man is committed to power at all costs he's worshipping himself. What is the woman committed to. Well off and she's committed to the sense of worth that she gets out of this man. Well it's. I know he's not the nicest guy. But you don't understand. I'm the only one who really sees how wonderful he is I'm the only one who sees his potential. See if we don't worship God. We always either. Worship the other person in some way. What they make us. You know feel loved or. However they change how we feel about ourselves or we try to make ourselves into the God that they need. I try to be the savior. Right. So many times. A woman who's been beaten to death by her boyfriend or her husband. The reason why was she was trying to be his Savior. She was trying to be the one that if I can just show him how much he's loved. On I will be the one who turns his life around. I will be the one. And it doesn't work does it. Because we're created to be worshippers. But we must worship God. First we are like sponges. Every one of us is aching for someone to satisfy are thirsty souls. We need so much to have a relationship with a God who loves us the only one who can actually satisfy our soul. I sometimes liken it to a sponge. That people are trying to to spend their time with God every day and yet they're coming up draw I like if I have a sponge. That I'm plunging it into a a sink full of warm soapy water. I don't know why has to be warm and soapy for the illustration but somehow that helps our minds right. So I'm taking my sponge and I'm putting it down into the sink full of warm soapy water. But I pull it up and it still dry. How would that happen. Why is it that sometimes people put there's there. Time in I'm going to have a devotional life they spend their time with God but they come out still dry. It's because that sponge. Is wrapped in a plastic bag. So you put it into that water. You bring it back out. Is it wet still dry. Many times we try to have devotional time. But it's our picture of God that's worked. We cannot believe that he really loves us. And therefore we cannot connect with him deeply and let him satisfy our souls. What is the plastic bag that surrounds my heart in your heart. I don't know everyone of us has different laws that the devil tells us about God. But I can tell you that there there. I can tell you that the devil is telling you lies about the character of God. Every chance he gets. Whatever his lies are for you. He'll tailor make them. But they're going to be about the character of God. Everything is always about. Is God really love. Is he really powerful if I can't believe. If he's really powerful. I'm going to be filled with anxiety. I'm going to be trying to control the events in my life that I cannot control. I'm going to be fearful. I may be lying awake at night because I cannot believe. They got as powerful. If I cannot believe that God loves me. I'm going to be looking for love in all the wrong places. Because I cannot help it. I'm created to worship. I'm going to worship whatever gives me a sense of identity of love of worth. That will be my God. The thing that makes me feel like I'm worth something. The thing that makes me feel loved me. So God wants to poke holes through the plastic bags. Right. He wants to poke through the lies that the devil tells you about his character. And he does that using the sharpest thing in the world. What is that it's the sort of the sort of the Spirit which is the Word of God. When you identify the things that the devil is telling you about God. You'll always find me. You always find that they center on whether God is really trustworthy. Whether God is really loving. So find what it is that the devil tells you. Maybe some of you could even say what some of the lies are that the devil tells you what is it that you hear running through your head when you get down. You never do anything right. You're so stupid. No one will ever love you. I don't know what the lies are that you hear but I know you hear them. Whatever they are you meet them with the Word of God. This the devil tell you you're ugly. Well the real live behind that is that your worth is somehow based on how you look. But man looks on the outward appearance right. Not God. You see how the sort of the Spirit will cut through. You have to remember my worth is not based on what I look like devil. Doesn't matter whether I am beautiful whether I'm ugly. We've made try to fix it with makeup we may try to fix it with clothes. No God wants to strip off all of that and say no no that you are beautiful and priceless. In my eyes. No matter what you look like on the outside. You may feel beautiful. At twenty. You're not going to feel beautiful at eighty anymore anyway. God has this way of stripping away one by one the things that make us feel like we're loved and worth while until we're looking to him because he has to right. That's because he's a God of love. He has to make the idols crumble in order to bring us back to himself. So God wants us to find our sense of identity and him. That is the safest way to get into a relationship now with my husband when I began getting to know him. I thought he was amazing. Then I got to know Him more and more and you know what he is amazing. He gets more and more amazing every year. I've been married to him three thirteen and a half years now so maybe it maybe will start going downhill next year who knows right. No I know we won't. Because he's an amazing person he's created in the image of God and he's beholding God and becoming more and more like him all the time. It's wonderful being married to a person like that. I can't tell you how wonderful it is now that I'm married though. I understand things that I never understood when I was single and I can tell you this. You have no idea until you're actually married. How every hour of every day up all the rest of your life is changed by who you marry. It's incredible what your children's personalities are going to be and how they're going to be disciplined. The size of house you live in the place you live. And those are just a few of the things there are millions literally millions of areas. In your life that are going to be changed by who you marry Mary carefully. Let the Lord guide you. I cannot tell you how important that is with my husband and me. The Lord guided us so carefully through so many ways one of the things that we did. To be intentional was we got a book of questions to ask before you get married that book is out of print now but there are some other ones that are just as good I think like there's one that's like a thousand and one questions to ask before you get married something like that. There are great books out there with questions to ask and we went through one by one. And sometimes. One question would springboard us into a discussion that took an hour. On all sorts of different topics. Things like what would you do if we had a handicapped child. Where would you want to go on vacation. What sort of birthday present would you give to my mom. To your mom. How would you want to spend holidays. How we were how we raise our children to worship God or not how we discipline our children. Just so many areas. Prioritize these things that you would buy for the household. You know exercise equipment. Jewelry cars what. What sort of house are you going to want to live in these are the kinds of questions you need to ask before you get married to someone. The great thing about a relationship with God. Is that you know that he has no weaknesses. And you can always trust his judgment. You can always. Trust him to communicate to you what you need to know right now in this situation in your life it may be painful it may be difficult he never promised it's not going to be painful if you just follow me. Was Jesus' life painful. Are we are we servants better than our master. No pain is not our enemy though. The Bible says sin is our enemy. Pain is the tool that God uses to transform us into His image and often his most effective tool isn't it. Jesus says comment to me. All you that labor and are heavy laden. And I will give you rest. As you come to him with the lies that the devil tells you when you lay them out before I mean your devotional time say Lord this is what the devil's telling me today. I feel terribly. This is what's going on in my heart. Lord take this. Give me your word. Give me an answer to this lie so that I can meet it with your power. I had a friend who used to put promises he'd write a promise. On a piece of paper and put it in issue. He was so desperate to walk on the Word of God to stand on the foundation of God's love for him. And that was how he got it across to himself. Whatever you do I like to write a verse on my hand sometimes. We're keep something in my pocket. Or put it up on my kitchen window so that I can see it while I'm washing dishes. Whatever you do spend time with God. Let him answer. The lies that the devil is telling you because I guarantee those things are holding you back. And your devotional time with God if you're not allowing him to meet them with the word. He wants us to come to him and get rest. When I was spending time with my husband even though we were across the ocean from one another it gave me such joy. I love being with him. Why. Because we were building a love relationship. The more I loved him the more I long to be with him. God wants us to have that he wants us to find rest in community. First in him. And then with one another he's a communal God right. He's three and one. God has always been in relationship. Vulnerable were relationship with himself as Christians we must believe in a try you know God because he has to be. Already multiple to be able to love before he created beings. Otherwise he would have created us because he was bored and lonely. Right. If he is love that he's a relational God. He loves relationship and his entire law is relational Love God Love your neighbor as yourself. God has said he will judge us. He decides who is saved and who is lost. Based on a relational law. That's pretty serious isn't it means that God makes relationships. The most important thing in the universe. You know when I talk with people about who they want to marry we live right on the edge of a college campus. So you can imagine. We have a lot of people who are asking questions. How will I know the right person to marry. What kind of responses do you think people give me. When I ask what kind of person do you want to marry. What do people say. You tell me what would you think anyone. A smart person right they want to marry someone who is intelligent at least as intelligent as they are right and they're of course all kinds of different sorts of intelligence but they want someone who's smart. They want someone who says what else. Spiritual. Where else. Someone who can cook There's a man. A true man speaking. Take note all you ladies. Right anyway. What else. Good looking. Right that's a big one. These days. I don't know that it mattered that much. Hundreds of years ago when people couldn't see mirrors and they weren't controlled by magazines but nowadays. It's very important to many people. What else. Somebody with a career he's somebody who knows where they're going at least right. Yes some people want money. The many people are afraid to admit it but. It's a reality. And one that may change. All of your life. Significantly right. When I've was looking at my husband. I wanted him because he was my best friend. And I felt he was really my soulmate. He was this wonderful person. I connected so well with him. We loved being together. People say I want somebody I can be completely real with someone who will keep me from ever being lonely again. Someone to laugh with someone to CROSSFIRE with someone who had Myers me. Someone who chooses me above all others isn't that important. You don't always put these things into words until you see someone who doesn't. And then you're like oh this is not what I want. Cross this person off the list right. And what I hear so much of the time is. I want someone who loves me completely and understands me completely. Well I have news for you. I've married. The best man in the world for me. But he still doesn't understand me completely. And he doesn't love me completely. Because he's a sinner. And because he cannot understand me completely he doesn't know the very depths of everything within me he knows everything that I communicate to him but even I don't know myself to I only God does. And this is the beautiful thing about putting a relationship with God first. You can be completely secure. Because you know you are completely unknown and completely loved. And when you have that sort of foundation of security you can go into a relationship knowing it will be risky. Knowing you're going to get hurt for sure. When you marry somebody the guarantee is I'm going to be hurt either this person is going to die and that will hurt or they're going to live with me and that'll hurt even more. You're you're continually hurting one another showing one Another way is that you're not like she's. This is the real solution to loneliness lies not in marriage. But in our union with Christ which leads to our union with one another we need to love people rather than fearing or using them. That's from the book single and lonely finding the intimacy you do you desire. Now God has given us. So many lessons in his word about how we can understand more deeply. A relationship with him. Mark for vs three and four tells the story of the sower. You know the story of the sower. The so we went out to so we don't have time to go through the whole parable that could be a whole seminar in itself. But briefly. What happens when he drops the seed. On the hard ground. Anyone remember. Gets eaten up by the birds that's right. When the seed is eaten up by the birds. What would you do if you wanted to stop that process from happening if you wanted the seeds to actually go down into the ground what would you do. OK you bury them the first thing to do is you get a sharp instrument right. All of us know you need a sharp instrument. Then you have to start actually hitting the ground right you can't just coached on the top of the ground that's going to take care of it all is it. You have to actually point the sharp instrument at the ground. And then you put some force behind it right. All of us know this basic about gardening you want to get something down into the ground. You've got to take something sharp you pointed out the ground. And you hit. And you keep on hitting. Now this is how God wants to work in our hearts. If you're finding it difficult time in your devotional life. I encourage you to take the sword. And don't just skitter it across the ground. You have to point it at your heart. Pointed at the actual struggles that you're facing. And use it. Put some force behind it claim the promises cling to them. Pray without ceasing. The Lord will help you to be able to to work through those issues so that you can be close to him. And I want to finish just with one final thing how to pray. Make an interrupted time with God. Right. You need time with him. Without a bunch of things. Interrupting you talk with God about what really matters to you. Not just the simple things. The deep things the things that you don't even want to think about the addictions. The struggles that you're facing the people that you're not getting along with talk with him about those. Meditate on his response. In prayer. And in Scripture. Sometimes he'll just speak to you and say you need to do this sometimes they give you peace about something that you cannot change. Sometimes he'll give you a promise that you'll need to claim. And then get rid of mind blocks. Regarding the character of God. When you identify a lie that the devil's telling you that you're struggling with it you just can't get past it. Focus on it. Hand it to him in prayer. Agonize over it give it to him. And then walk in faith. Praising God that he has given you the victory whether you feel it or not you see the cry of your heart is the cry of God's heart for you when you are crying out in loneliness or in fear and darkness of any kind. It's because he's calling you. He's saying Come away to me. Let me satisfy you. Every time we long for something it's because he's created a longing that he wants to satisfy within our hearts. And he will. We're going to talk. In our next seminar. More about. Specifically how to build a relationship over first some of the talk about it's called How to Win a loser. So if you want to get together with the wrong person I'll tell you how. And then. Good news is also tell you how to win a winner so if you want to win a loser you want to win a winner. I'll tell you how to do both in the next seminar. But for now. I want you to come away with this message. The first thing to do. If you want to find the love of your life is to find Christ. Find yourself in him. And then he will be able to guide you to the best person in the world. For you and whoever that person is even if you're already married to. When you're going this was not the best person for me. The great thing about God is he gives beauty for ashes. He doesn't say now you made a bad choice getting married to that person. Just divorced him and run off now a lead you know. He takes you where you are and says Let me make something beautiful. You won't believe what I can do. When you surrender it to me. All right let's bury heads for prayer. Father in heaven. We're so grateful for your love for us. We're so grateful that you've told us that we are priceless in your sight. Lord help us ten turn allies is great truths. So that we can be transformed into your image. We can learn to love. As you love. Thank you for your help us just this media was brought to you by audio a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio. And much more. If you would like to know more about audio verse. If you would like to listen to more service. Lead to visit. W W W dot org.

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