The Marriage Puzzle

The Puzzle of Your Needs and Conflicts

Pastor Lutzer | October 18, 2009

Summary

The purpose of marriage is to glorify God and to illustrate the relationship of Jesus to the church.

Selected highlights from this sermon

We should not be surprised that there is conflict in marriage. Women need to feel loved; men need to feel respected. If one doesn’t feel like they’re getting their needs met, they withhold what the other needs, and the cycle continues.

We need to follow the example that Jesus set: when sinned against (or even if we feel like we’ve been sinned against) we do not sin in return. Because the purpose of marriage is to bring glory to God and to illustrate the relationship between Jesus and the church.

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There is a story about two men in a cemetery, and one was overhearing as the other was standing at a grave. And the man at the grave kept saying, “How could you do that to me? How could you do that? Why did you die? Why did you die?” So as they were about to leave they fell in step and the one said to the other, “You know, I just want to give to you my condolences because I heard you say, ‘Why did you die? How could you do that to me?’ I’m sure that was the grave of your wife.” He said, “No, that was the grave of my wife’s first husband.” (laughter)

Why is it that marriage that has such great potential for good things can sometimes go badly? We should not be surprised that there is conflict in marriage. A couple hundred years ago Richard Baxter said this to men about marriage: “Remember still that you are both diseased persons, full of infirmities, and therefore, expect the fruit of those infirmities in each other, and make not a strange matter of it as if you had never known of it before. If you had married one that is lame, would you be angry with her for limping? Or if you had married one that had a putrid ulcer, would you fall out with her because it stinketh? Did you not know beforehand that you married a person of such weakness as would wield you some matter of daily trial and offense? If you cannot bear this, you should not have married her. If you have resolved that you could bear it, then you are obligated to bear it now. Resolve, therefore, to bear with one another, and remember that you both took one another as sinful, frail, imperfect persons—not angels or as blameless and perfect.” Well, he says, “You can’t take two sinners self-willed with different backgrounds, throw them together, and then expect complete total harmony all the rest of your life. Realize that conflict is part of marriage.”

Well, speaking of that, I have two true stories for you very briefly. Both are ones that I know about. The wife speaking to me about her husband says, “He’s so oppressive that sometimes I think I am in a concentration camp in Auschwitz, yet he expects me to make love with him. I feel as if it would be like a guard coming to a woman in a concentration camp for intimacy and expecting her to enjoy it.”

Well, here’s another one from a husband: “The minute my wife comes home she is on the internet. If she does cook, it’s just warming up some food she bought in a store. Then beginning about 7:00 p.m. she goes upstairs to her computer and is on a social website until about 11:00 p.m. She has a group of friends that she connects with. These friends are obviously more important than I am, so we live in the same house, receive mail at the same address, but that’s about all. What makes this doubly bad is that I am a pastor and she works as a counselor in a Christian counseling center.”

Well, I’m going to have something to say to both of these couples before this message is over. Let me say that the purpose of this message is to discuss the needs that we all have. It is to discuss conflicts, and we’re going to look at conflict and we’re going to take it apart. We’re going to get at the essence of conflict. We’re going to look beyond the superficial and get to the heart of it. It’s going to be like hitting a piñata at a Mexican festival. Suddenly it’s all going to come together and we’re going to find out what in the world is inside of this business of conflict. Why are there so many arguments that are never resolved? Today you are going to find out why. And then the other purpose of this message is to give us a way out, to give us a way of ending arguments, of understanding one another, and living happily after.

Do you think that one message can do all of that? Well, you know I don’t think so, because there are some of you who are going to listen to this message and you’re going to say, “I finally got it; now I understand why we can never get on the same page,” and there are some of you who will not get it, because no matter how much truth, it’s going to be like bullets off Batman’s chest. It’s just not going to penetrate. And though what I have to say is so incredibly important (and for some of you, your marriage might be at stake), my message can’t do it. Only God can. I pray that He might use this message, but ultimately only God can do the miracles that we’re looking forward to today as a result of what I have to share with you.

So would you bow with me in prayer? No matter by what means you are listening today, I want you to pray right now and say, “God, speak to me. May I get it.”

Father, I have the faith to pray that as a result of this message some homes, where there is only noise, will finally have harmony. And where there’s been conflict and arguing that at last there will be some peace. Show us, Lord, in our own lives what we lack and show us what we need to do with such clarity and conviction that we don’t miss the message. We pray in Jesus’ blessed name, Amen.

I need to say that for the major insight in this message I’m indebted to a book entitled, “Love and Respect,” by a man by the name of Emerson Eggerichs. One of his insights comes from the fifth chapter of the book of Ephesians, and that by the way is our text for today, Ephesians 5. He believes that the thing that is of the essence is found in Ephesians 5:33. It says, “However, let each one of you (speaking to husbands) love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Now here’s the bottom line. A wife’s primary need is to be loved by her husband. She needs to know that she is number one in his life and that she is cherished and treasured. That’s her number one need. The number one need of a man is that he might be respected. If he’s not respected, he is not having a fundamental God-given need met. So think about this for a moment. What happens is this: What does a wife do if she doesn’t feel loved? If she doesn’t feel loved, she lashes out in a way that is very disrespectful, so that all that he has coming to him is this disrespect. Now that he is receiving disrespect, how is he going to react to this disrespect except to come across as very unloving. So you have two people arguing. Their basic needs are not met and the more they argue, and the more they disagree, the more their fundamental needs are not being met and so Eggerichs calls this “the crazy cycle” that goes on year after year after year with nobody having their fundamental needs met, and nobody understanding why they can’t get on the same page and why they can’t stop their arguing.

She’s saying, “Love me, and treasure me, and I promise you I’ll be different.” He’s saying, “Respect me and I will treat you differently,” and neither of them are giving each other what they need.

Now if that were the whole story it would be bad enough but it’s worse than that because, you know, there are men who maybe love their wives, but the wife doesn’t feel as if she is loved, so what’s this guy supposed to do? And there may be wives who respect their husbands but the husband feels no respect. You see how difficult this becomes? And then add to that the fact that we see our own faults very differently than we see the faults of other people. We magnify their faults and we see ours under a microscope, and it’s so small.

Maybe now we can begin to understand why General MacArthur used to tell the troops at West Point, “Gentlemen, don’t even think of getting married until you’ve mastered the art of warfare.” (laughter) We now get it, don’t we?

What we’re going to do is to look at the Bible and see what love is and find out what respect is, and see whether or not at last we can put an end to all these crazy arguments that never end, and we can all get on the same page. Are you with me so far? How many are with me? Can I see your hands please? I’ll go with 40%. (laughter)

First of all, what are the needs of a wife? Now I am picking it up in verse 22 of Ephesians 5: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” The fundamental need is a wife desires that her husband lead so that she can follow. Some of you wives read this passage of Scripture and already jitters are going through your body. You are full of fear. You are saying, “What do you mean submit? If I were to submit, am I supposed to be a doormat? He’s going to misuse me. He’s going to mistreat me. He’s going to even abuse me.”

By the way, that word abuse is a heavy-laden term, and that’s why the last message in this series on marriage is going to be on abuse. But most of you aren’t in that category. What you are simply saying is, “I don’t like the fact that I have to be under his authority,” and it’s because you don’t trust God. That’s what it says in 1 Peter 3. It says the ancient women hoped in God and then they were submissive because they were trusting God. You are taking a risk, to be sure, but the fact is if you do not respect your husband, and if you are not under his authority, you are going to have conflict in marriage. That’s just the way it is.

Now, I do need to clarify that when we talk about submission it doesn’t mean that you agree with your husband about everything. Obviously you won’t. It doesn’t mean that you are going to stop thinking on your own, and become a robot and stand in the middle of the room and watch him bark our orders and tell you what to do next. That’s not what we’re talking about. It doesn’t even mean that you shouldn’t try to change your husband’s mind if he has crazy ideas. I think, for example, of Rebecca. She has saved me from an awful lot of stupid decisions. I wouldn’t make a major decision without consulting her and asking her input. So that’s not what we are talking about. What we are speaking about is (what John Piper likes to say) a disposition on your part that you are going to follow while he leads, and grant him that respect. You ask, “Oh, but what if he’s out of line?” You don’t lecture to him. You don’t put him down, but you do entreat him, and you say, “You know, I want to respect you, and I want to follow you, but considering how you are acting over here, it’s making it very difficult for me. Is there some way that we can resolve this?” because the Bible says that wives should submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ. Take that in faith.

Now what else does she obviously need? She needs love. “Husbands, love your wives.” You knew that it was coming up here in the text because now we are in verse 25. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” That’s the analogy. I have performed many weddings here at The Moody Church. As a matter of fact, I could write a book of cartoons of funny things that have happened at weddings. Get six pastors together and you would have enough cartoons to fill a good-sized book. But when the wife is coming down the aisle, standing here to greet her is Jesus Christ. That’s what Paul is saying. “Husbands, you are to be Jesus Christ to your wife.” Now, how many of you wives would say, “I married Jesus?” I know mine wouldn’t, but that’s the analogy. We’re supposed to be Jesus Christ to our wives and love her as Christ loved the Church.

We say, “Well, how can we do that?” Well, think about Jesus Christ’s love for the Church for just a moment. Does Jesus listen to you? Have you ever prayed and Jesus said in effect, “Look, I don’t have time to listen to you now. Don’t you know that there are huge world events going on and I’m preoccupied?” No, Jesus listens to you. Gentlemen, there are some things I am going to share directly from my heart to you, and the ladies don’t even have to listen if they don’t want to. It’s for you. Our wives need communication. It’s happened a hundred times in our home. Rebecca will tell me something and two minutes later I’m asking her about it. Clearly I wasn’t listening. Our wives need to talk and we need to listen, and if you ever become impatient listening, ask yourself, “Does Jesus become impatient and say, ‘Hey, you’ve prayed long enough; I’ve got other things to do’?”

The other thing is servant leadership. Now the Bible says that Jesus gave Himself up. You have so many men who say, “Oh, you know, I’m willing to die for my wife.” Well, I hope that you are. I hope that I am, but you know that’s not where most of our wives are. My wife is wondering why I don’t see that the garbage needs to be carried out, and start there and then talk about dying for me further down the road. (laughter)

Gentlemen, listen. Ladies, you don’t have to listen but you can if you want. Let us suppose you had a plant in your room, or in your house (a real plant—not artificial but real) and you walk by it and you notice that it’s got all of these brown leaves and it’s shriveled up and it’s not looking very good. As you leave you say, “Look at these brown leaves,” and you throw them in the air, and you say, “You know I am so sick of looking at that plant. It doesn’t look very good. I think it’s time for me to get a new one.” It’s called divorce. “Let me have somebody who still has some vibrancy. Let me find a plant with some green leaves and with some fruit on it, and none of this dead stuff. I’m in a dead marriage.” That’s one response. The other response is to say, “Hmm, brown leaves! I’d like to do an analysis of the soil. Let’s study the soil in which it grows and let’s make sure that the plant has water. I know how much to water it, and when to water it, and also let us make sure that it has fertilizer, and let’s see whether or not this shriveled plant can’t begin to grow and to have green leaves again.”

I’m giving you reality in this message. All right? Men, we are the soil in which our wives grow, and if we want to have a vibrant wife; if we want to have her satisfied (and my dear friend, put this up as a banner and use it as a bumper sticker), happy wife, happy life. All right? (laughter) What we need to do is we need to understand her and her needs, because we are the soil in which she grows. Jesus is the soil in which we grow and He gave Himself up for the Church. That is really love.

We have to protect our wives. In one of the books I was reading, a couple was going through a museum. They were looking at a Rembrandt painting, and of course, you’re not supposed to touch paintings when you are in a museum, and their little child was reaching up to touch the painting, and the mother said, “Don’t you dare touch that. That’s Rembrandt!” My dear friend, if you don’t touch a Rembrandt painting because you are honoring it, why do you allow anyone or anything to touch your wife who is created in the image of God? She is heir with you of the hope of promise. She is the one that you swore to love. It is our responsibility to protect our wives, and (then the Bible says) to cleanse her with the washing of the water through the Word. Men, you should take the initiative to pray with your wife. Well, you say, “I’m not very good at prayer.” Most of us aren’t, but your wife will appreciate the fact that you are taking that initiative. You are the spiritual leader and if you aren’t, learn to be in small ways, and God will bless you and enable you to lead her in bigger ways as time goes on.

And then, again, you guys (I don’t know, this is for us) we have to do something that Jesus never has to do. He never has to ask for forgiveness and say, “I’m sorry,” but we do, and we need to do it often. I think Rebecca will testify that in our marriage one of the things I have tried to do, no matter how upset I might be about something, I always like to be quick to say, “Look, I’m sorry. I messed up. Will you forgive me?” I don’t see any possibility for a happy marriage without that. That’s why in the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport a woman came and sat next to us and said, “You must have been married for many years,” because she had seen Rebecca buy something that I like to eat, and we’re sitting there in harmony eating. We said, “Yes.” And then she said, “I’m going to get married.” Remember me telling that story? And then she said, “What word of advice would you give to someone who has never been married before?” and Rebecca, just as quick as that Rebecca, as I was rolling my eyes and thinking about where in the world this was going, said, “Learn to forgive.” And I thought, “Well Rebecca, now you should turn to me and thank me for the many times (laughter) you have been able to practice that particular virtue considering the man that you married.” A wife’s primary need is to be led and to be loved.

What about the husband? Well, “See that she respect her husband,” it says in verse 33. Now what that means (and when you add to that the whole issue of submission of the wife) is that husbands need someone who is reliable, and whom they know is dependable. She’s not the kind of woman who is spending money behind his back and doctoring the checkbook to cover it up. She’s not the kind of person who is conniving, and by the way, speaking of money, it is so huge that the next message in this series has to do with money, because there are so many conflicts over that and so many divorces over that, and that’s why we are going to deal with it in the next message in this series on marriage. But the heart of her husband, the Bible says in Proverbs 31, doth trust in her. I know that God has given me a wonderful wife, and among many, many other virtues I can say of Rebecca, “My heart does safely trust in her.” A man desires that. She’s not running off telling other people about how bad he is. She’s not the kind of person who is speaking behind his back. He can trust her.

And then of course, respect. Now, ladies, it’s your turn. You respect by the tone of your voice. You can say the right thing but you can do it in the wrong way, and that can indicate huge volumes of disrespect to your husband. Now here’s what women generally think. What if a man were to say to his wife, “Well, you have to earn my love”? Could you imagine saying that as a Christian? She’d say, “Earn your love? Don’t you read your Bible? You are supposed to love me unconditionally like Jesus Christ loved the Church, and now you are talking to me about earning your love?”

Well, now what if he were to say to her, “You have to respect me unconditionally”? She would say, “What do you mean, respect you unconditionally? You have to earn respect.” Women sometimes say, “That rat has to earn my respect,” so she doesn’t respect her husband, because, you see, it is conditional (and of course, he never reaches the point where he is worthy of respect; you can be pretty well sure of that), his needs are never met. He acts in an unloving way; her need for love is unmet, and on and on the crazy cycle goes.

One way that you can respect him is by the way in which you entreat him. Don’t lecture him. If you find out that he is struggling with pornography, you don’t give him a lecture and shame him. What you do is you say, “I just want you to know how much you deeply hurt me by this. I am a crushed woman but I want to stand with you through this. We want to get to the heart of it. I want to pray with you and I want to encourage you out of this.” And by the way, one of the messages still to be preached in this series is on addiction, but she is there to stand with him, to love him, and as best she can, to continue to respect him, even though he so deeply disappointed her.

Ladies, you could change your marriage if you encouraged your husband. Find something that you can encourage him in, something that you appreciate, something that’s good, because it’s there. Maybe you have to do a little bit of archeological work to find it. Whole marriages could be changed by the way in which couples speak to one another, and by the way in which they engage each other and speak of one another.

You know, I am always reminded of that mother whose daughter came home with her boyfriend and after they left, somebody said to the mother, “Well what did you think of your daughter’s boyfriend?” Trying to think of something positive, she said, “Well, you know, at least the words on his tattoos were spelled correctly.” (laughter) I mean, find something good. Put a note of encouragement where he’ll find it. Respect him. He needs respect. If he doesn’t have that, unfortunately he’s probably going to act in unloving ways. He doesn’t have to but that’s the tendency.

Now, where does this all lead us and why should our lives be changed because we’ve listened to this message? Every time you hear a message you should say, “Why should my life be changed as a result of this?” That’s the whole purpose of preaching. It’s not to give you information. It’s to change your life, and the information is intended to do the change with the help of the Holy Spirit.

First of all, number one, would you remember this? Our marriages as Christians should not tell lies to the world. You see, God instituted marriage to show the relationship of Christ and the Church. That’s why Paul says this is such a great mystery. This hadn’t been revealed yet in Old Testament times as it is in New Testament times, and when we as Christians have bad marriages, what we are saying is that Jesus and the Church don’t get along very well, and this is the way they fight, and this is the way they argue. And we are sending a wrong message about Jesus and the Church, and we need to repent because the purpose of marriage is to bring glory to God, and to illustrate the relationship of Jesus, ladies, whom you married, to the Church, men, whom you married. That’s the purpose.

Now let’s go back to the two stories that I began this message with. Let’s go back to the woman who said her husband is as oppressive as a guard in Auschwitz; all that he cares about is dragging me into the bedroom. That’s essentially what she said. All right, what should happen in that situation? What should the man, who is supposedly a Christian, do? What should he do? He should back off, and he should think to himself, “Now wait a moment. How could my wife feel so unloved that she would think this of me? What have I done or not done in order to give her this sense of being used rather than valued?” That should be his first question, and so what he ought to do is to study his wife, and study his relationship to her and say, “Wherein is this breakdown because she’s acting out like this because she doesn’t feel loved, so how can I make her feel loved so that she won’t speak this way about me?”

She, as a Christian, on the other hand should say, “You know, I overreacted and I didn’t speak well about my husband.” By the way, she told me this in his presence during a marriage counseling session, and I think that if the truth were known, her comment was a little bit over the top, as people sometimes do. She should be entreating him rather than lecturing him and trying to tell him off because she is still to respect him. You know, that’s not conditional.

Now let’s go to the situation in which the wife comes home, makes a quick dinner, then goes up and is on the internet from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m. on a social networking site. What she argues is that her husband is so boring and she has these needs that need to be fulfilled. She says, “I find these needs fulfilled with my internet friends, and that’s really where I get my fulfillment.” Now, folks, I want you to imagine this woman as a Christian standing in the presence of Jesus on the judgment seat of Jesus Christ where the Bible says all of us are going to be. Let’s imagine it. Jesus is asking her about her relationship in marriage and why she neglected her husband, and why she was on the internet for four hours every night, finding fulfillment apart from her marriage, and apart from him, by the way. And she says, “Well, Jesus, you know our marriage was boring.” Jesus says, “Ah yes, that’s right. You know, I realize now that you are supposed to respect your husband and be under his authority but you are right. I didn’t mean it if you married a boring husband. You know, there’s nothing that drastic. I mean you certainly had a reason why you wouldn’t have had to obey My clear word. That sounds good to Me.”

Do you know what that woman ought to do? She ought to get on her knees and repent and stay there long enough till the rebellion is out of her heart. Then what she should do is to go to her husband and ask his forgiveness. Maybe he is boring, but you know, maybe it’s been years since he felt respected and maybe it’s been years since she felt loved, and what they need to do is to get on with their relationship and the covenant that they made before God, and stop all of these silly excuses for their disobedience. That’s what they need to do. Could I be any clearer than that? Is there anyone here who says, “Now what does he really think about these things?” We need to stop lying about Jesus and his relationship to the church. Our marriages are telling lies.

Second, when sinned against, do not sin. What does the man say? “Well, you know I tried to love her and all that I get is this contempt.” Now normally what happens when a husband receives contempt from his wife is he responds to it, and that is a huge mistake. You know, the Bible says in the book of Proverbs, “Where there is no wood the fire goes out (the quarrel ends).” If you don’t respond, at some point she IS going to stop talking, I think. I’m reminded of a little cartoon. A little boy said, “My parents argued all evening but my dad never said a word the whole time.” (laughter) But she is going to stop at some point, and when I say she, it could be he. You understand all illustrations I give could be flipped over to the other side. Just let it go, and then when she is finished, say, “I am so sorry that you feel so unloved that you have to speak to me like that. Could we work on a lot of deeper things than the superficial arguments?” Where there is no wood the fire goes out.

Now what happens in a case like that? The two are arguing and instead of taking the wood out of the fire and not putting more in, he thinks that he can fight this fire with a little bit of gasoline. He thinks, “Here’s some gasoline. Oh, you know you are blowing up, so here. Oh, you want that? I’ll give you that too.” So where does that leave them? It leaves them destroyed, with the pieces all over the place to pick up. Most of them will never be picked up. It will kind of be smoothed over. The real issues will not be dealt with. They’ll go on and the same thing will happen again and again and again. When sinned against, do not sin.

In the 1700s there was a Scottish pastor by the name of James Frazier. He was a beloved pastor and the author of a couple of books, and a battered husband. It is unclear how the Presbyterians of that day would allow a man with a disobedient wife to be a pastor, but they did. It is said that she never provided him with a sit-down meal at their home. Everyone in his parish knew this. He would have starved to death if the church members had not left him pouches of food by the fencepost when he passed by on his pastoral errands. When he returned home at night he was not able to be in the same room with his wife because he would get a tongue lashing, so he went to his study, but his wife controlled the coal bin and the oil for the lamp, allowing him no fire to warm himself or oil to light his lamp. If he sat still in the dark he would nearly freeze, and because of this he walked back and forth from one end of the study to the other in the darkness. And because he did, you see, how would you know if you were in total darkness when you got to a wall? Well, he kind of kept his hands out and then turned around and went back to the other wall. After he died they examined his study and found indentations in the plaster where his hands hit the wall on his nightly beat.

Once when the local Presbyterian pastors were gathered together, a toast was offered for the wives of the pastors. The man offering the toast turned to Frazier and said (I’m sure with a touch of sarcasm), “James, you’ll want to offer a toast to your wife as well, I assume.” “So I will and so I should,” said Frazier, “for my wife has been better to me than all of yours put together.” Their mouths dropped. “How so?” they asked. He said, “My wife has driven me to my knees seven times a day, and that’s more than any of your wives have done for you.” (laughter) They were probably so happily married they didn’t even have to pray.

When sinned against learn not to sin, and you’ll never be more like Jesus because that’s exactly what the Bible says. “Who when he was reviled, reviled not again.” He did not render evil for evil, argument for argument. You win this, but I’m going to win this, and here’s a zinger for you as a parting shot. No, he was willing to be sinned against, and yet not sin.

I think it was Joni Eareckson Tada who spoke about the purpose of suffering. She said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Suffering is like sheep dogs that nip at our heels to force us to walk the hill of Calvary.” And for some of you, that kind of suffering is in your marriage unfortunately. But I believe that, through repentance and faith through dealing with issues, you can get beyond that so that you can begin to sing together rather than just make noise. But you know, it needs repentance. It needs humility. It needs brokenness, and that leads me to my last point.

Ultimately, the success of all this is the cross of Jesus Christ, the Bible says, who gave Himself up for us all. He died for the Church. You see, there are some of you listening to this, and this is pretty foreign to you, and the reason is because you are on the outside looking in. You may not be a part of the Church as the Bible is using the term here. You may be a church member to be sure, but the Bible is saying that it is through our forgiving (because of our forgiveness) that we receive forgiveness because of Jesus and His forgiveness (and imagine how much God has forgiven you). In fact, neither you nor I have a clue as to how much God has forgiven us. He has forgiven many of our sins that we aren’t even aware of, ones that we have committed over and over again, plus a whole lot of other things, and the Bible is saying that God is a reconciling God, and we, having been forgiven, forgive.

If you weren’t here for the message that I preached entitled The Puzzle of your Past where I talked about forgiveness, I encourage you to get the CD and listen to it, because some of you need to deal with past issues. All kinds of baggage from your past need forgiveness and resolution, but at the end of the day, it is the good news of the Gospel that enables us to live together on the same page.

If you have never trusted Christ as Savior, remember this: He died so that we could be forgiven, reconciled to God, and belong to God forever. And the way in which we receive that free gift is through the gift of faith and we simply say, “Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I believe on you and I trust you, and I trust you to forgive me. And then I shall trust you to help me to forgive others.” Husbands, you can begin to get on the same page, so that you are free to love your wife so that she feels loved; and wives, you can do the same so that you feel free to respect your husbands, because he needs respect. And then we can live every day of our lives confessing that because of our weaknesses and our sins, we need God every single hour.

Would you join me as we pray?

Father, my suspicion is that there are many people who are listening for whom this message was specifically intended, but whether or not it will reach its target, and whether blind eyes are opened and cynical hearts are caused to melt is totally dependent upon Your Spirit. We ask, Lord Jesus, that You might do that, because now we are waiting for miracles. We are waiting for the dead to rise, and the deaf to hear, and the blind to see.

How many of you would say, “Pastor Lutzer, I know that today’s message was intended for me?” Why don’t you raise your hand right there as an indication of the Holy Spirit of God working?

Father, those for whom this message was intended and for those who didn’t raise their hand, let them not go until they have met You. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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