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6. It's Complicated

Mark Howard
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Mark Howard

Director, Emmanuel Institute of Evangelism


  • June 21, 2018
    6:00 PM
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Now yesterday we talked about a lot of what we talked about was the surrender of our will to God and how God can make an entire change in our lives by the choices that we make for him through the power of choice we were we read that entire change we made in our lives and so we surrender our will by choosing Christ over everything else the 1st point of Christianity or true conversion is that point as I mentioned yesterday where we 1st choose Christ's will over our own is not the only time that that needs to happen but that's the turning point when we become disciples of Christ just like Peter on that boat that was when he became a disciple when his will conflict of Christ and that's when he said you know what Christ you're going to be 1st and I mentioned that yesterday we can go through a lot of motions in the Christian life without really submitting our lives to Christ but when we make that point of submission that's the point of justification or conversion justification is the work of a moment and much of what we have talked about are the steps to Christ but I mention to you yesterday the book steps to Christ is not just about steps to Christ it's a lot of a lot of instruction on steps with Christ and our scripture reading said that in the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from what from faith to faith and the language of the Apostle there is trying to communicate to us that this is a in fact he goes on to say the just shall what live by faith live is not a one time thing live implies that there's going to be a process here faith the faith is very clear that this process once we've received Christ and been born again our journey with Christ has just begun our message today is intitled it's complicated one of the 1st one of the social site Facebook's 1st features was the relationship status. From the beginning it was excessive for one so successful in fact that it began to invade every culture and lexicon of dating and all of the different descriptions that were available single in a relationship and gauge married separated divorced there's the status it's complicated which fast became an iconic phrase to describe the rocky dating lives of teens and 20 somethings according to the Urban Dictionary it refers to a couple in an ambiguous state between friends and in a relationship apparently it also may be used to indicate dissatisfaction with an existing relationship but now let's prefer a spoke hers here be honest relationship have always had a level of complication before Facebook had a status for it isn't it true when I begin dating my wife I was I had just turned 18 there she was 16 when I 1st started dating and she insisted we weren't which of course complicated things she was taking a sort of summer break it was over the summer that we meant she was taking a break from a boyfriend of hers he had gone to Florida for the summer so they kind of put things off but she let me know that she was dating so that when we would go out to eat together and hang out together we were not dating and she made it clear that when he got back I was out with complicated things to say goalies Well my wife and I have been married for 32 years now and there are still times things get complicated because relationships have complications one of the main reason is because there's more than one will involved and as it is with earthy relationships so it is with the spiritual I want you to term with me the gospel of John is an important passage here in John Chapter 3 when Jesus meets with Demas one that. I don't know that we overlook it but maybe we don't draw from it what we could in John chapter 3 and verse 12 now Jesus is talking to Nick edemas and trying to explain to him being born again talks about the wind and how the wind works but I want you to notice what Jesus told him in verse 12 he says if I have told you what earthly things and you do not believe how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things what's the point she put Jesus is communicating here is that God has ordained certain things to happen the way they do on this planet because there illustrative of heavenly things what would happen if our earthly relationships had absolutely 0 in common with heavenly relationships and so what Jesus is saying is we can learn from the interactions we have the art when we're talking about a relationship with God in relationship with Christ it's not going to be so absolutely different from an earthly relationship that we can't draw any parallel as it would make things confusing our relationship with Christ has been we talk about relationships relationship are important of course they're important and relationship with Christ has been kept in the buzzword for some time now but there's a challenge when you do talk about the relationship is that there's different kinds of relationships even within the same relationship it may be at different stages sometimes relationships are good and sometimes they're not so good and so when a person is is wanting to to to boost their own self esteem in some cases they say well you know I know that I should be doing this or that but I have a relationship with Christ what don't pat yourself on the back just yet because the devil has a relationship with Christ too it's not a good one. But they used to live together up in heaven and the heavenly community. Not every relationship is a good one in a study conducted by the Institute of church ministry at Andrews University in 1988207th day adventists were surveyed about among other things their devotional habits respondents showed that only 41 percent were spending regular time in personal Bible study and prayer I don't know how those $41.00 per I don't just because even even in the case of somebody having regular time in Bible study and prayer doesn't guarantee a good relationship but I'm going to tell you that the other group the 59 percent they're not having a good relationship you can't have a good relationship when you don't spend time with the Lord so I want to talk to you this morning about our relationship with Christ and by God's grace communicate maybe how we can have a strong relationship now I see 3 essential components in any relationship you can come up with a different list that's fine but I see 3 things that are essential in those 3 things are time and communication and expression and a good relationship needs this for example let's start with time talk about time for a minute in time in the in the context of time if you think about your closest relationships there is there is not a single person on this earth who has a super close relationship with somebody they don't spend time with you might say but my best friend lives over in Washington state well they didn't used to or you did you understand I'm saying in other words time is essential to any good relationship now moment when my wife and I began dating it was my I told you I just turned 18 I started my 1st year in college and I was a little distracted that's a picture of my college transcript I don't know if you can see it but if you note that. I had D's in every class and that's how it was in high school for me I did fairly well but I wasn't spending my time with my schoolwork I was spending my time somewhere else and her name was Stephanie nobody has to tell you when you're in love with somebody to spend time with them or when you're getting to know to love somebody to spend time with them time is essential in a relationship Incidentally my grade point average is a one point 0 and if any of our viewers or listeners are are either getting ready for college or in college I just want to give you a news flash that I had when this happened to me and that is that in high school you get a D. you pass not so in college you don't pass and listen they don't give you the money back you paid for the class that's another story but just a little bit of wisdom that has come over time time is essential to any relationship and let me say something else here you'll never find time love that guy last question is a great great I'm going to see if I find time right you never find time you make time and you have to make time for Christ's now we're going to get in this to this a little bit more I'm going to talk a lot about our devotional aspect of our relationship with Christ I'm not going to limit it to that but I'm going to tell you that as we saw from the survey results Christians struggle with devotional wife and I think in part it comes from faulty expectations and maybe that's why they don't commit time but you have to commit time to something and if you're going to have a strong relationship with the lord you've got to set aside time for it you've got to commit time you make time you don't find time and time in and of itself is not sufficient. One thing that I have learned no no let me rephrase that one thing I am learning 32 years of marriage my wife will tell you haven't learned yet and I'm working on it is that not all time counts I can be in the same room with my wife I can be the same car with my wife but that's not time together. I have one lady said a man I know at least a lady think and you preach it but you know there's a word at least we used to use a phrase called quality time undivided attention you know time that's great but time and time in the same place is not time is not time together you know a lot of people say they have devotion time I even know people that have time set aside and they read their Bible but I want to understand that all time not all time is the same my friend Jennifer sitting up here up front now Jennifer Jennifer and I could go out and eat lunch together but that wouldn't be a date but some people think that as long as they're spending time reading something in the Bible that's devotional it would have to be a different attitude to make it a date and sometimes the attitude people approach the time with God with is not devotional at all they're not coming to him in a way that is wanting to spend time with him and learn with him that undivided attention time sometimes is obligatory time well I got to do this thing now we bring this on ourselves sometimes when it we are dealing with devotions. And I did this pains me but too often when when I say when I'm talking about devotional time I'm talking about personal study of the Bible personal study of inspired writings personal time in prayer not group stuff this is a personal but sometimes this is a competition now as a pastor I mean we've had you have to hear me out here but. We've had a whole workers' meetings focused on the importance of prayer and I'm not diminishing that in the least but ministers get together and we like to talk about the people like Martin Luther who spent 3 hours a day in prayer and suddenly it becomes a contest because now you've got to spend 3 hours a day in prayer you're not a Christian or maybe you're not as good a Christian as Martin Luther and her 7th day adventists it ought to be for or if the Lord's coming soon I'll be 5 and prayer is important and I'm not diminishing that but sometimes our devotional we get the idea that to have a good devotional life I've got to have quantity and quantity does not amount to a good devotional life in and of itself Ellen White says oftentimes a perusal of many chapters in the Bible doesn't do you any good I'll tell you something else the Scripture says Jesus often spent and Ellen White confirms his entire nights in prayer but guess what he didn't spend every entire night in prayer Are you aware that sometimes he prayed longer than others and the reason I'm telling you this is sometimes we talk to a friend and you some friend says I had a friend once who said you know I figure we tithe our money we ought to tithe or time so 2.4 hours a day we need to spend in devotion I said Good for you I'm not I'm not challenged by the fact that he spends 2.5 hours and I didn't perhaps do that today because my devotional life is not his and your devotional life is not mine and I'm saying this because far too many 70 avenues just give up because I like I can't do 2 and a half hours I can't pray for hours a day I can't pray for one hour I'm lucky to get 15 minutes to give him 15 minutes we've got to stop comparing on this is personal this is what I do with me between me and God and I'm going to tell you if you spend the personal time you know when I began dating my wife dating wasn't dating remember because she whole thing there when I thought I was dating my wife. It didn't start out spending significant amounts of time to be here and there and the more I got to know her what do you think happened the timing Crees a point I want to communicate is it's any IF YOU WANT TO relationship with Christ you need to commit time to him Don't be so worried about the how huge the block of time is you start giving him the time undivided time. Turn off the phone so this is something that I've noticed recently I'm going to get into something else and it's probably going to get me into trouble but I do most of my devotions on my i Pad Oh I know there preachers who say don't do it on your phone and this and I have there are good reasons for that I'm going to want to just a minute you know why I do that because there came a day when I was reading my Bible and I couldn't figure out why everything looked blurry and I talked when I went to the I doctored he said that's normal Your eyes are good I said no my eyes are good I can't see anything when I'm reading it so I have a reading glasses progressive they called their pain to use I used to be an electrician and work on my hands I can't see anything here anymore because I got to go like this and so sometimes what I do is this when I'm working on something up here I'm to be honest with you so listen to my i Pad I kind of just attack sides and so it's but I'm going to tell you now the distraction and I think this is why some preachers make the point of this the problem with your i Pad your i Phone and doing study on it is those notifications. They come up and say oh you have a message so I'm just going to tell you that that takes away from undivided time with God You want to good relationship with Christ you want to have time where you can focus on him in there's no distraction I'd recommend in our day to start but if you don't have an hour date given what you have. Because if you don't give them anything you can't the relationship not going to grow it's just not going to grow now something else I need to make a point of here is relationships develop over time we don't start out as best as with people best friends and I've heard a lot of talk in recent years this is big emphasis in our church or like that we don't want to put the cart before the horse talking about Christian behavior before we know we love God especially young people like the need to understand the love of God before we can talk about Christian behavior well that all sounds really beautiful the problem is Love grows over time that would be like saying hey don't want to walk with your wife or with your girlfriend don't go out to dinner together until you know you're in love how do I know if in love and so I start spending the time together we get ourselves in these challenges and we we create this this up paradigm that we can't work within your relationship with God is going to grow over time and get some people say I don't know if I should even give any kind of energy into this Christian think is I don't know if I'm feeling it yet well you're not going to start feeling it until you start doing it and spending that time with the Lord you want to spend the time commit that time to him and I'm going to get into this a little bit further and some of that time you spend is going to be it's going to seem very unproductive I'll touch on that as we go no no to the statement missteps crisis is make every effort to keep open the communion between Jesus in your own soul seek every opportunity to go where prayer is want to be made now it's going to go on in this statement I want to make this point when you are wanting to grow relationship and you want to spend time together when it comes to relationship with the Lord now I've talked about the personal but you can't get around corporate worship and there are some people that avoid corporate worship and wonder why their relationship is struggling and some of you are thinking I go to church every Saturday and I'm going to tell you I'm not talking about church. I'm talking about Sam a school I'm talking about prayer meeting Oh you say I'm too busy to go to prayer meeting you're too busy to have a relationship with Christ quit lying to yourself goes on to say those who are what really seeking for communion with God will be seen in the prayer meeting brothers and sisters I can't understand it where we are today we all we live in the last days I can preach on Sat at the same to a man from here to the Lord 2nd coming all raise their hand to say we want to be like Jesus we want to see him come but for some reason they can't get out the prayer meeting and I could I could read you statements from Ellen White that curl your toenails on this I'm hesitant to do that as a pastor because I'll tell you something every time you share this with the Saints what here's what happens when light comes to us we're not different from the rest of the world when light comes to us in our mind we say yeah but we make excuses and we dig our heels in we start to get resistant and it gets a point where the more I try to remind the Saints Here he goes again I'm going listen but this is a serious issue those who are really seeking for communion with God will be seen in the prayer meeting face full to do their duty and earnest in anxious to reap all the benefits they can gain they will improve every What how many every opportunity of placing themselves where they can receive the rays of light from heaven she goes on in that book to say we sustain a loss when we neglect the privilege of associating together to strengthen and encourage one another in the service of God That's corporate worship that helps to strengthen our relationship you can't neglect that and think you're going to have the thriving relationships don't know it's not going to happen let's talk about communication these folks are communicating and maybe you've been communicating like that I mean look at this guys it was what I do that's what if you think you know what you did I don't know what happened I'm just reading into the picture but. Probably little life experience there. And before long you know what you did. When you're in love nobody has to urge you to spend time talking and listening when my wife and I were dating we had phones not not cell phones right that fit in your pocket we had big handset receivers with cord. My wife and I we would go to bed at night talking on the phone we just wanted to talk all the time and I can't tell you how many times we would fall asleep on the phone and be awakened to this. And then he went on talking about the older ones you know and I'm talking about like what is that young people. See when you used to leave the phone off the hook after a little while they'd be this tone that would start putting it did sound like that and it was supposed to hang the phone back up so somebody could call you again if they needed you don't have to tell somebody to spend time talking or listening. Communication is a 2 way street talking and and listening we talk to God in prayer one of my favorite verses is in Psalm 40 verse one want you to see this with me so I'm 40 verse one Psalm 40 and verse one notice what David says here this is just so powerful to me he says I waited patiently for the Lord and he was he was inclined to me what does it mean to incline I'm not I'm fighting the temptation to go to the rest of the earth we've got more to cover but that is where I want to see this morning it says David says I waited on them on the Lord and he inclined to me and heard my cry so David's prayed to God and what does it mean to incline means to lean what's being communicated there why does a person lean in when another person is crying out. Listen to me and don't miss this there is never a time that God does not want to hear your prayers your sincere prayers I should say the Bible says He who turns your from hearing the law Florida even if prayer is an abomination but when you are sincerely crying out to God wanting is help wanting to know is will he inclines to you the book steps through I want to tell you this so much the chapter privilege of prayer I mean I can't I can't touch this this morning we're just scratching the surface read it privilege of prayer the knowledge of God That's one of those 2 chapters in growing up in Christ I'm trying to combine all those this morning but in the chat and I think it's a privilege of prayer chapter always has the angels are just amazed that we don't pray more that we have got this access to God and we were always complaining about our problems you know how we do that we do it with each other like like you can help me I mean you know I'm going to talk to him about it I mean this is you know I don't know I don't know you know I've met people who struggle with prayer because they're afraid they're not doing it right and I have to confess I think his ministers we messed this up we have our public prayers and we do it all so I'm sure you've heard people cause I've heard people praying like well they pray so good you know they get up and this is flowering that's not the prayer God is looking for saying that's and I'm not saying that's inappropriate I'm saying God doesn't care how you if you phrase it just right just talk to him open the heart to him as to a friend God longs to hear our prayers Oh my calls it secret Piers he says above all we must not neglect secret prayer that's personal prayer for this is the what the life of the soul this is what brings to us the spiritual strength of dog it is what what's next word impossible for the soul to floors while prayer is neglected I want to I'm sure that there are some here today say I just struggle with that part of things I mean I just can't see God and pray. I want to challenge you this morning I want to challenge you if you have a problem with that personal prayer just you know really spending any real time in prayer take 15 minutes give God 15 minutes I'm going to tell you have a struggle with it 2 minutes and you're going to be like OK what els don't get up stay there ask the Lord Lord teach me to pray Lord tell me what to pray I'm going to tell you your mind is going to start flooding with thoughts there are there are days when I have to get up and I don't want to get up I mean get it I mean praying before these meetings and it's like Lord I don't want to go it's like I'm here it's like I'm in this little place with the Lord and I don't want to go out they're going to stay right here and you'll get that if you don't have it now just you've got apply yourself a little bit to it in the Lord will teach you how to pray but you can't be like OK I'm going to been 2 minutes I don't know what to say I'm going to get up to give it some time I mean there are times when you have to do that but in your personal time if you set the time aside you have to be anywhere just ask the Lord for guidance and tell him what's on your heart like you talk to a friend it's impossible for the soul to flourish while prayer is neglected goes on to say or says a little earlier in the book the darkness of the evil one closes those who what that word neglect is an important word didn't say those who forget to pray neglect is a word that you use when you know you ought to do it you want to do it you know you should be doing it but for some reason you just don't do it you neglect it the darkness of the evil one closes those who neglect or neglect to pray now listen when we are praying we're not telling God something he doesn't know the purpose for and I'm saying that because sometimes it's like especially when have you ever had that situation where you've done something really bad you know you shouldn't do it you did it and now you're like I can't pray now I just did this thing that I keep telling the Lord I'm not going to do and I did it again and so you what you do is you try to really strengthen up your spiritual let you start doing some good thing you're going to go to prayer meeting that week even. And you get up early for set of a school and then after a little bit of work then you're like now I can go to God you know what you just did you just try to make yourself better by your own works. God doesn't need that you don't want that from you we did that but Jesus said your heavenly Father has knowledge of what you need before you ask and we don't pray to let him know what and guns like oh really thanks for informing me God already knows it he's wanting to invite us up into his way of thinking and put us on his wavelength notice in the book steps to crisis is through sincere prayer we are brought into connection with the mind of the infinite prayer is God drawing us to Himself remember again we learned earlier this week there's nothing in us that desire spiritual things if you're thinking about praying who gave you the idea. We've got to remember that I mean as well I should pray but I don't know if God will hear me if you didn't want to hear you would be tapping you on the shoulder saying you ought to pray when you're thinking about praying is because God has invited you to do that he's inviting you into His presence and that communication of spending let me just say this I'm going to challenge you to do if you forget everything else this morning do this and I mean this with all my heart this is probably one of the most important maybe the most important thing I've said this week I would encourage you to have a plan when you when you read to read the Bible in harmony with Ellen whites conflict in the ages books pay charts and prophets prophets and kings desire of ages X. the Apostles great controversy if you've never read done that or if you have you if you do that and forget everything else it can't meeting your spiritual life will thrive period I guarantee it I guarantee it. We are not spending enough time inspired materials inspired writings are different than normal writing they contain the power of God in them and their transformative and they give us a foundation and I want to tell you word drift to day we've got a lot of 7 down as I feel for our young people were afraid to teach anything anymore they don't know what we believe Oh I could go on about that I'm just telling you we've got to be studying for a selves and inspired writings that's where we connect That's how the Lord reveals Himself to us we talk about beholding Christ in this nebulous way we just need to be you know where we behold Him is word because we behold him somewhere else how do we know that's not him or the impostor in the word is where we get the clear view of Christ in inspired writings we get the clear view of Christ in the newly released discipleship am book which I'm going to share with you tomorrow morning a little bit about there's a reading plan in the back that you can follow along and do just what I've said and you do that like I said forgetting everything else and you will become strong in your spiritual life you can't help but have a relationship a crisis of course you have to make time to do that and then there's the communication and then there's expression you don't have a good relationship without expression there was an age at least here in America where it was thought to be beneath a man to tell his wife you loved her tell her she looked beautiful that was not the manly thing to do Ellen White addresses it in the book admin as Tom says some men feel that this is you know beneath them in the book ministry healing there's some great stuff in the family in the home in the role of the husband let me say about what I mean by great you're going to be totally convicted when you read it and you're like OK now I have a whole bunch of other things I need to work on OK Amen praise God because he wants to make us more like him but expression is essential in a relationship somebody a man that or do you not care. How many of you like to have your significant other if you're in a relationship like that expressed that to you alright parents to children children to parents expression is essential in a relationship and you don't have to tell people they get in a relationship to express themselves she's going to get mad at me producing this I told her I did it in Carolina but this my friend Allison and this is her Facebook page you see that little thing on the bottom in a relationship right I don't think anybody prodded her to do that and I think somebody said you know you really ought to put that on your page I think the reason this whole relationship status thing is there is because people like to express themselves they're they're good they're in a relationship that's part of the expression and we're going to talk about that more tomorrow we talk about witnessing about that relationship to other when I started dating my wife there were ways I express myself I found out the things she like now this is a picture of the actual place we used to go there in Columbia Missouri an insurance company that had this fountain and we would go in space we've spent hours there talking together but I would find things she liked to do I would find things she liked to receive I learned very soon that my wife liked pink roses not red roses so what do you think I did it I said Listen honey that's red roses or nothing take it or leave it right. You're like you were married for 32 years Yeah though I gotter pink roses this is a part of expression is a part of relationships finding out what the other likes and doing it the Bible says and if he turns 5 that we are to find out what pleases the Lord I mean I just don't get people like oh you know you're on a work trip because you want to do you know I want to do what pleases the Lord that's what I want it's part of my relationship and we get into this thing today I've had people come to me say Pastor you know sometimes you you preach sermons and they're all behavioral always talking about behavior talk about performance. We need to be focusing on relationship not performance I'm not I'm not I was going to ask how many of us heard that I don't want to ask how many have said it because it sounds so good it sounds so balanced until you think about it and I may have made mention of this the other morning if my wife and I have marital problems Well I don't want to use myself as an example here because I'm going to be a drinker I'm not going to be a drink OK well I already did it so I'm going to be a drinker OK I'm not having a pastor or drinker I'm married my wife this is a making this up OK I better be clear you're going to go and say I didn't even realize it but the pastor has had to drink or making this up OK let's just assume that I have a problem with alcohol and it's causing some strain in our marriage my wife says to me Honey we really need to see a counselor say fine we'll go to counseling together we go to the counsellor we sit down we're talking together the counselor says Mr Howard I'd like to ask you something I think it would be for the betterment of your marriage but I really think you need to do something about this problem with the bottle with alcoholism and I say hey listen buddy I'm here to talk about my relationship you leave my performance out of it how far my going to get in my relationship folks relationships are built up with different performances not I'm not saying you can't overemphasize one and I'm not saying that there are times that people have that Christians haven't overemphasise performance to the exclusion of relationship but you can't divorce the 2 part of it any working relationship is finding expression in part of expression is not having your own way all the time in the relationship yielding your will at certain times is a very practical part of any good relationship isn't it you know what I want to Chinese My wife doesn't like Chinese really doesn't like Chinese food it's terrible tragic So you know what she likes Mexican food I like Mexican food I can do Mexican food. So sometimes we don't have Chinese We have Mexican That's OK I can live with that I've lived with it for 32 years I'm happy about it so it's a fact she's a great cook and if I had to cook for myself I'd probably be eaten out of a can anyway so I'm glad for that but you understand what I'm saying there are times when you year old in a relationship any relationship and there's much yielding that happens in the Christian relationship the only difference is when it my wife and I either she's yelling I'm yelling to opinion but when I'm yelling to God I'm yelling to what's right I'm giving in to what's right and the Lord will won't withhold anything from us it's not going to make us happy when it's all said and done how many times have you yielded your will to the Lord with fear and trembling like OK we're going to give this thing up my life going to be ruined I guess I'm going to give up this bad habit and when you do by the grace of God you're like why didn't I do that 15 years ago the Lord always knows what's best time communication and expression are essential to any relationship and I want to share with you Pastor Tim Keller in his book The meaning of marriage shares the following factors the main contributory factors to the breakup of marriages 4 of them why marriages fail living together before marriage you where this statistically folks I mean it's so funny we we I like maybe a number inappropriate expression but I say we live in the try before you buy generation people say oh we're going to live together now it's going to guarantee long marriages Yeah that worked how long do we have to do something wrong before we admit it isn't working even in the church you understand in the church today that this is more and more common all go ahead sleep together before you married and go ahead and live together and it's OK it's not a big deal that some archaic old Elizabeth and custom and yes statistically we could and why are we doing it well you've got to get to know each other or make your marriage last longer right who still believes that. If you do just check the statistics one of the main contributing factors to a marriage failing is living together before marriage the other marrying before the age of 18 the other having children before marriage. There are exceptions there are exceptions my wife had just turned 18 there are exceptions to that don't point to exceptions say Well I think it works because this thing over here statistically these but that last one on realistic expectations when I want to focus on unrealistic expectations can sink a marriage and they can sink your relationship with Christ in high school I was enamored with pictures of romance candlelight soft music moonlight strolls where conversation is limited to cliches strung together at a romance novels romantic comedies and Hallmark cards or probably all from the Love Boat and I'm serious we for for many of us I'm going to tell you something else that's a whole nother sermon so I can't get into it but we've got to address the whole dating situation with our young people and I'm telling you because too many of our Dalt either aren't doing or are we just aren't clear on it anymore go read Child Guidance go read haven't a stone go look at this to to sticks the problem with dating is we refer to it today is that it shaped by culture in our cultures concept of dating is totally non-scriptural I'm not saying there's no such thing as dating whatsoever but the dating there when people I watch as young people enter into dating relationships and they think it's supposed to work like they saw in some movie No I had this mindset is all kind of fairy tale ish Oh I also studied French too. I just said Hello my little dog so I know that's all I remember from my French class but it took me this language of romance I want to share with you a statement my friend Cameron evader share with me not too long ago and I thought I mean this. Took me take you by surprise written in the book counsels writers and editors and says that religious life is not to be represented from the pulpit or in our papers as it was as a romance course I 1st read this and I thought I mean I'm kind of talking about that this morning this way right now I just said and I've done this before and then I thought well wait the bride of the church is called The Bride of Christ you've got this relationship thing what does it mean the religious life is not to be expressed not to be represented from our puppet or in our papers as romance now it goes on it pains my soul to see in the papers coming from our press the most important truth placed in the form a place before the people in the form of a romance novelty and romance you know honor to our publications not caught my attention what is novelty as things that are what things that are new right the novel The new it's the newness of something so I got to thinking about romance and I actually looked it up you understand that romance isn't talking about relationship romance is talking about relationship in a certain way according to the Oxford American Dictionary romance is love especially when sentimental or idealize Webster's 828 dictionary when he was describing the Literary the literary romance use these words and this might even clarify it better he says of the literary romance compared to the literary novel he said it volts or soars above the limits of fact in real life and often of probability in other words it's unrealistic and I think what Ellen White is trying to communicate is that sometimes we can talk about the religious life in an realistic ways and create unrealistic expectations. This is what happens in marriage people see this movie into this this there's a common thread at least in some of the movies back in my day the romance movies about this when you find the right person you're going to they used to call it feeling the magic you just going to know you going to feel this thing and that's how you're going to know that's that's what you're basing the rest your life on. The sequel above all things and desperately wicked The thing is before marriage the relationship centers around dating him too often in dating you only see the side of the person they want you to see right there are certain things you don't want to know about you just yet until you get married so then when you get married here comes the revelation right after marriage you learn everything bad habits bad breath and all of it responsibilities are added to the recipe and there are ups and downs and husband wives don't agree on everything always it's now listen it is in this context that you realize that that love is not a feeling you had but a choice you made it's a commitment you know my mom and dad had gotten divorced and so my older brother had this commitment he was B. he was never going to get divorced and I don't understand it even as a young man 1314 I remember him saying that I still remember this day in a kind of drilled in my head that that's not an option and I've never made an option by God's grace we've already talked about this love is a commitment because love is a commitment so it is in the Christian life the Christian life is a commitment don't know what happened there the Christian life is a commitment and the problem that problem too many Christians run into in their relationship with Christ is they want to base that relationship upon how they feel and you say well I'm not feeling it today I'm having my devotional time today and I'm not feeling it today. Brothers and sisters let me be honest there's a lot of days I don't feel it right I'm getting up to have a devotional reading in the book of 1st Chronicles let's just forget about it OK so on so be get so and so and we get so and so and why am I even reading this I mean Leviticus and I'm looking at all the details of the sanctuary I'm just going to be honest with you that it doesn't all read just the same as David and Goliath right but in the same way in my marriage there are days I wake up and I just feel great and there are days I wake up and I'm crabby and I same thing happens with my wife that's how relationships are now God doesn't get crabby but I sure do but your relationship is based on a commitment you made in God's promises to you and when we start to evaluate where I am with Christ by how I feel about things the devil is going to capitalize on that if there's anything he does well he knows how to manipulate feelings and far too many Christians love feelings to interpret their standing with Christ instead of His Word and His promises a nice I'm going to be honest with you God's testing us on those things he wants to see if we'll take a man his word and the devil comes in and whispers things to us and I have people say I don't feel like God loves me I don't care how you feel he says he loves you you are you calling him a liar apostle Paul says the book of Romans like God be true in every man a liar God says I LOVE YOU DID HE LOVES ME I don't feel like it doesn't matter he said it I don't feel like God forgives me but he said he forgives you have you confessed he says if we confess our sins he's paid for it just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us where is the question I'm going to put my feelings above what the plain word of God tells me it doesn't seem like I'm growing in my Christian life oh this is one of my favorites. It doesn't seem like I'm growing I'm going to here's another challenge for you OK I'm not going to tell you to take this one all that seriously the next time you have time on your hands and you're going to need time to go sit in front of a tree and watch it grow and tell me what you see journal it out you're like that's ludicrous Well what do you think you're going to look at yourself and see Christian growth How's that going to work now let me tell you something that may surprise you how many of you think you would see growth sitting in front of a tree even for an hour I don't see a single hand but let me surprise you it's still growing and just because you don't see growth in you doesn't mean you're not growing you spend the time with the Lord you communicate with him you give expression to that you will grow God guarantees it the Bible promises us that he has begun a good work in us well completed on to the day of Jesus Christ you know on Monday we learned with it Sunday or Monday God is always on our side and the Sabbath message God is always on our side his love isn't based on who we are to he is he's always on our side we can go to him at any time he inclines to us he longs to see us say he gave the most precious thing that he had his only son so we would have eternity he's not busy somewhere sorry I'm tied up he's invested if you sold every possession you had to put it into something how invested would you be. And what does that compare with what God invested in you oh brothers and sisters praise God for it he doesn't love us only when we deserve it because we never will even on our best behavior his love for us is constant and unchanging So what are our feelings have to do with it let's believe his promises and walk by faith and not by sight what do you say. When I finish with this statement steps Christ page 70 it says a life in Christ is a life of restfulness there may be no what ecstasy of feeling but there should be an abiding peaceful trust it's only if you can say I'm going to believe God's word no matter what anything else said Right like the face of Abraham we talked about the other day I believe whatever he said. Well look at my own body will look at my own circumstances the deadness of Sarah's womb and then the life in Christ is restfulness why because it's in his hands and I can trust it in his hands if it is in my hands now I gotta worry but when it's in his hands what I worry about your hope is not where it is not in yourself it is in Christ your weakness is united to his strength your ignorance to his wisdom your frailty to his enduring might So you are not to look to yourself not to let the mind dwell on self but look to Christ let the mind dwell upon his love upon the beauty the perfection of his character Christ in his self-denial Christ in his humiliation Christ in his purity and holiness Christ in his match bliss love that just means it doesn't matter anything else nothing else compares to it this is the subject for the Souls contemplation it is by loving him copying him depending wholly upon him that you are to be transformed into His likeness and brothers and sisters he's going to do what he started he's going to finish it if we just trust in Him are you willing to put your trust in Christ today raise your hands with me if you want to say Lord help my unbelief. Let's pray Father in heaven Oh father we thank you so much that you are always on our side that you are always drawing us to yourself that you incline your ear to us that you draw us to this relationship with you that Lord there is there is nothing you know said he would it would even be thinking about having relationship with you if this morning even now your Holy Spirit wasn't inviting us we just praise your holy name and Lord so often we are assailed by our own doubts and feelings and our false expectations of what our relationship should look like instead of just resting in your promises so I pray Father we believe this morning help our unbelief and the Lord we want to spend eternity with you and your Son Jesus Christ and father with one another we long for that day even so come Lord Jesus we pray in his name. 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