Get Prequalified—Finding a Mate - Genesis 24; Genesis 29 - Skip Heitzig
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Good morning. So glad you joined us today. Would you turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Genesis chapter 24? Genesis 24 and 29, both of those chapters together if you pray mark that, that's what we'll we be looking at today. Mike Driggs and Pam Sears went out for a dinner date. They're both from Colorado Springs, and he wanted to go to a restaurant out of town. So they were driving. He got lost, and ran out of gas-- I mean, legitimately ran out of gas.
So now the couple on their date have to walk two miles from their stalled vehicle to a gas station to get a gas can to hitch a ride back with a tow truck driver to their vehicle. Romantic, right? When they get back to their vehicle they make the astonishing discovery that the vehicle doesn't exist. It has been stolen. It gets more romantic. Now they got to go back to the gas station, call the police. Police show up 45 minutes later. It takes two hours to complete the police report, so they're well into the evening.
Mike is undaunted. We're going on a dinner date, he says. So they take a $20 cab ride to the Regional Airport to a rental car agency, rent a car, and drive to dinner. After dinner when they're walking out of the restaurant, Mike is informed that the valet who parked the car accidentally backed the car up into a guardrail. So now it's a damaged rental car. So to make matters worse, as Mike is driving Pam back home after dinner with his damaged rental car, he gets pulled over by a police officer and gets ticketed because the brake lights don't work because the valet backed the car into a guardrail.
So when they arrived to her house, she feels so bad she says look come on in for a few minutes and decompress. So when Mike opens her front door, Pam's german shepherd is on the other side of the door, lunges at Mike, bites him in the arm. He gets 18 stitches in the local emergency room, and now it's 1 o'clock in the morning. True story, right, so this is like the worst day you've ever heard of. The outcome of that date is that Mike got a job with the car rental agency, and Pam ended up dating the emergency room intern. That's just a bad date.
When you think about it, Adam had it pretty easy, right? There was only one gal and God created the gal, and the Bible says the Lord brought the woman to the man. Don't we wish? You just get a knock on the door, special delivery from God. Here's the package. But that doesn't happen to us. We go through a process we call dating.
Now just curious how many of you are single? Would you raise your hand up? Don't be-- raise them up high. Come on. Be happy about that. Now keep them up. Keep them up. Keep them up. Keep them up. Keep them up. Keep them up. Keep them up. Now look around quick. Look around. Find out who's available now. There you go. See I helped you out a little bit there.
Did you know that dating is a relatively new practice? It's only about a century old, just over 100 years. Before dating as we know it in Western culture, the interaction between male and female was highly regulated. There were rules for physical contact. There was the use of chaperones on dates, and marriages were arranged. Now we live in a dating culture, but dating it seems like from my perspective has gotten a little more complicated over the years.
And add to the complications of a next generation what is the phenomenon of online dating, a number of sources like Match.com, Zoosk.com, OkCupid, and many others. And there is even a niche for Christian online websites, E-harmony.com, ChristianMingle.com. These are very popular. In fact, 40% of singles have dated someone they met online. Now that's significant, because that's opposed to about 25% who date because they've been introduced by friends. So the statistic of online dating is going sky high.
And I have-- I have met people. I have friends who have dated and gotten married, because of an online Christian site very successfully. I don't really care how the Lord brings the woman to the man. I care that the Lord brings the woman to the man.
So there's a number of options. Now when you turn to the Bible, you discover that the Bible really doesn't talk about dating. There's no dating text. There's nothing like thou shalt not date, or this is how thou shalt date.
And I also understand that there is a movement against dating that has arisen from some churches. Some Christians feel strongly against dating, and so they want to kind of go backwards just a little bit to a different way of doing it. They call it courtship where it's a little more regulated, offers a little more structure.
And to even complicate things further, there's now something called dourtship. I kid you not. It is a hybrid combination of dating and courting. Are you dating? Are you courting? No, we're dourting. Now I really can't tell you what that is. I just read about it.
In the old ways of doing things, the biblical standards marriages were arranged by parents. Usually dads would talk to other dads. They would agree my little girl's perfect match for your little boy. A dowry would be given. And today in Arab cultures to this day these things are agreed upon like this, and in that culture, it's sealed with a cup of coffee. At least they got that part right. They seal the deal over a cup of coffee.
Now what we're going to do is look at some text in the Bible, Genesis 24 and 29. They're not dating texts per se, but we do find examples of people who are engaged in the process of finding a mate, securing a mate. And one is named Isaac, and the other is named Jacob. And we're going to look at some principles that emerge as we go through this text.
We're building a smart home remember, and I think you'll all agree that it begins here. A smart home comes from smart dating. So let's look at some of these principles, and we'll begin in Genesis 24. And the first principle, let's call it pre-qualifying for the home. These are pre-qualification principles. Number one is separation, separation.
So in Genesis 24, Abraham figures out that it's time for his son to get married. So he does what any dad would do. He sends a matchmaker to find a wife. The matchmaker happens to be the eldest servant in the household. We come to find out his name is Eliezer, and he sends him out. Now to us that sounds pretty goofy. You're thinking-- you're thinking are we going to trust somebody's marital future to a third party. Well, I guess it depends who it is, because from my perspective judging from what I can see today with the divorce rate we're not doing a better job of it than they did. In fact, I would say even a worse job of it.
But anyway back to the text in verse 3 of Genesis 24, Abraham is commissioning his servant, and he says, "and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife from my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you will go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac. And the servant said to him, 'perhaps the woman will not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I take your son back to the land from which you came?' But Abraham said to him, 'beware that you do not take my son back there.'"
So it's pretty obvious Abraham does not want his son marrying a Canaanite. No Canaanite chickens for my son, because their value system, their belief system was not part of the covenant that God made with Abraham and his offspring. So he doesn't want a Canaanite to marry his son. He does not want his son to go back to the old country and get, sort of, tainted with that religious system. So it's the principle of you go back and you bring her back, and she has to understand certain things to fit into this covenant.
This is the principle of separation. It is best articulated in the New Testament book of 2 Corinthians 6 where Paul writes to not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Now I know that that text is primarily being written to Christians of Corinth to separate from the false teachers that were part of that community, but the principle applies. Do not be an unequally yoked together with unbelievers. One translation says stop forming intimate and inconsistent relationships with unbelievers.
The illustration that Paul uses is from farming. To be yoked is a farming term. A farmer would find two animals that he could put a yoke around, because they had to pull a plow. So a farmer would pick two animals that were suitable for each other. For instance, he's not going to pick an ox and a pony. He's going to get two animals of the same species, of the same size, strength, temperament. Why? Because they need to pull the plow in the same direction to get the work done.
If he gets wrong or mismated animals, they're going to pull in opposite directions. So it's an illustration, we can bring into marriage. In marriage, it's the yoking together of two people, and they should be going in the same direction. Believers and unbelievers are not going in the same direction. They have opposing masters. They have opposing worldviews. They have opposing sources of wisdom. They have opposing aims in life, and most significantly, they have opposing eternal destinies.
So I would ask a young girl why are you dating that non-Christian guy? What in the world do you have in common? Well, we both like jazz. OK, but you better go deeper than that. Life is going to be for them one big tug of war. They're never going to be able to pull the plow so to speak, do the Lord's work. This is the reason why Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 tells Christian widows who have lost their husband and want to remarry, he says, by all means remarry, but-- listen to his words-- only in the Lord, only in the Lord.
You see if a child of God marries a child of the devil, they're going to have problems with their in-laws. So you want to get them matched, mated, separated under the same covenant. Now there's something interesting before we move on to the second. There is the presence of another party in this relationship, and that is the servant who chooses the girl. He is invited in. He takes part in the process. And that's because in those days marriage, courtship and marriage was not a private matter. It was a family matter in those days. In fact, it was a community matter.
So when people date, they first need to take a step toward God and then a step toward others. Let me explain that. You first take a step toward God. I'm separated under God. Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. You're to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. You won't be able to love another person well if you don't love the Lord more. That's where you start. It's a step toward God.
Second, there's a step toward other people. You want to lean hard on people who know you best, who love you most, and who will tell you when you're wrong. You don't want to exclude them. You want to include them. You want to invite others into the relationship. Couples need honest, courageous people who if there's a problem won't be afraid to tell them that.
And here's why, because dating-- this modern concept that we've been engaged in a century or so-- dating by its very nature is isolating. A boyfriend and a girlfriend isolate with each other. They get closer to each other, and in getting closer to each other, they grow further away from other people that were at one time very, very significant in their lives, further away from friends, further away from family. And so they spend less time with the very people who could speak into that relationship, and it's an important accountability.
So separation, let's go onto the second pre-qualification, supplication, fancy word for prayer. They prayed, and throughout this whole chapter it's bathed in prayer. But I want you to notice a very strange prayer. Verse 12, this is now the servant commissioned to find the mate.
Verse 12, "then he said, 'O Lord God of my master Abraham, please give me success to this day and show kindness to my master Abraham. Behold here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say please let down your pitcher that I may drink,' and she says, 'drink and I will also give your camels a drink- let her be the one that you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.'"
Now I know your thinking, oh, come on. That's never going to happen. But look at the next verse, "and it happened, before he had finished speaking, that behold Rebecca, who was born to the Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, came out with her pitcher on her shoulder. The young woman who was very beautiful to be behold-- check-- a virgin, no man had known her.
She went down to the well, filled her pitcher, came up. Servant ran down to meet her and said, 'please, let me drink a little water from your pitcher.' So she said, 'drink my lord.' Then she quickly let her pitcher down to her hand and gave him a drink. And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, 'I will draw water for your camels also until they have finished drinking.'" Now at this point that's when all the ahh music came into his little head. Like, wow, this is really happening.
"Then she quickly emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran back to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. And the man wondering at her remains silent so as to know whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not." Now this is an unusual prayer, right, because it's answered before he can even say amen. Boom, she shows up. And he's going, no way, and God's saying, way.
So the whole chapter begins essentially in prayer when Abraham places his servant under an oath before God to do something. It continues in prayer as this servant prays for success. Then after the Lord answers his prayer-- we don't have time to chase down all the verses-- but in verse 26 and 27, he bows down. He thanks God. He worships God for answering his first prayer, and then the chapter closes in prayer.
Go down to verse 62. This is a few months later they're traveling hundreds of miles back home for this girl to be introduced to her future husband, Isaac. Verse 62, "now Isaac came from the way of Beer Lahai Roy, for he dwelt in the South. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening. And he lifted his eyes and looked, and there, the camels were coming. Here comes the bride. Then Rebecca lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from her camel."
What I want you to notice in the text is the single word meditate. He was meditating in the field. That doesn't mean his legs were crossed, his arms were out like this going ahm. This is not transcendental meditation. The word most rabbis believe, even the ancient targums of Israel, the commentaries on the scripture, translate this word pray. He was praying in the field. Meditating can be translated to praying. The word means to seek the Lord in solitude.
So the chapter has been bathed in prayer. The bride comes on the scene, and there Isaac is in the field praying. You go why is he praying? Because he's getting married. That's why. That's why he was praying. He's going to make a commitment, a lifelong commitment that has lifelong ramifications. You best be praying. You best be inviting God into that relationship, and he does. He invites the Lord in. He is praying.
So if you're single, I hope you are praying regularly for your spouse that you're going to meet someday. You're going believe me, Skip, story of my life. I've been praying for that guy for years, whoever it is. I pray it every day. Good, keep doing it. If you have children, pray for their future spouse. I mean if you have babies, day one, start praying for their future spouse. When our son was born, we immediately began praying for his wife who would be Jenae. We didn't know her, didn't know her name, but we prayed for her way in advance.
When you go out on your first day together, open it in prayer. And the guys, lead it. Say, hey, let's pray before we go anywhere to night. First thing you do in the car, let's pray. Or if he didn't do it, then gals remind him. Hey, would you mind-- can we pray before we start this evening? Now I tell you what that does. It immediately raises the level of the dating relationship to a spiritual level. It takes it from the physical plane, how am I looking, how am I doing, and raise it up to the best level.
And if you're looking for an ice breaker, this is it. Like what do I say first? How about let's pray. That will break the ice. Now if there's resistance, that's a red flag. If she goes, I don't to pray, don't say get out then. But, you know. But if there's resistance, that's a red flag.
You see when a person prays and you pray with somebody else, you are getting insight into their relationship with God or not immediately. You're getting a read on their relationship with God. So I think that's important. In fact, I always ask engaged couples what role does God play in your relationship? This is a pretty standard boilerplate question for a pastor to ask.
I remember one time years ago I asked this of a couple. There wedding was this Saturday. I had met with them-- I was meeting with them on a Friday the day before their wedding. I suppose that they had gone through our classes, and so I asked the question. I said what role does God play in your relationship? They looked at me like I was a zombie, like what? I said, yeah, do you read the Bible ever? Do you pray together? What role does God play? Can you just tell me how the Lord has led your relationship?
And this gal, future bride, looked at me and she goes it's none of your business. So I paused and I thought how will I put this? I said, OK, so you guys-- you guys know I'm a pastor, right. And so you've probably figured I'm thinking that pastors every now and then like to talk about God, kind of, a no brainer. So here's the pastor talking to you about God. What role does God play? And she was infuriated. She got up, and she walked out of the room.
Well, I did not feel comfortable doing the wedding the next day, so I didn't. And I knew in-laws had come in, and they had the parties set and it was set. But we did not do it here, and I did not do the wedding. I don't know what ever happened to them, but it didn't happen here. So there needs to be separation. There needs to be supplication.
Here's the third principle, selectivity, selectivity. Now I want you to go over a few chapters. I mentioned chapter 29 as well as 24, so go to the right a few blocks until you get to chapter 29. We're fast forwarding now an entire generation. This is now the next generation. The guy in play here is not Isaac but Jacob.
Jacob is himself wife hunting. It's the best way I can put it, because he doesn't have a servant finding a wife for him. He ran away from home, so he's, kind of, on his own. He's wife hunting. And he comes to the old country of his forefathers, and I'm going to take you down to verse 9. He's at the well as well. He's there. That's, sort of, like town central back in those days.
So verse 9, "while he was still speaking with them-- that is servants of Laban-- Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was the shepherdess. And it came to pass when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near-- so he's, kind of, making the move now. He's going close-- And rolled the stone away from the well's mouth-- getting a little closer, kind of, like, hey, let me take care of that for you-- and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother."
Then watch this verse. "Then Jacob kissed Rachel." So that's pretty cool, right. He's getting real close to her, moving the stone away, and now he's within striking distance. So it's like moves it away and [KISS SOUND] plants one right there right by the well. But the rest of the verse. "Then Jacob kissed Rachel and lifted up his voice and wept." Now come on, you guys should be roaring in laughter right now because of that. That is one of the weirdest verses in the whole Bible. What guy kisses a girl and [CRY SOUND]. What?
She's thinking, do I have bad breath? Do I need to go home? That's just weird. I don't know. It's a long journey, hot sun. But he was the emotional type. If you remember Jacob, he was the kid who, kind of, like baked bread with his mom and wasn't outside much. I don't know what the deal is. Maybe he's just weeping for joy.
So in verse 15-- go down a few verses-- "Laban said to Jacob, 'because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing?'" So he wants to hang around. He wants to be with his girl, and so he wants a job. "'So tell me,' he says, 'what should your wages be?' Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the elder was Leah. The name of the younger was Rachel." That's the one he wants. He's selected her. He's picked her.
"Leah's eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance." OK, now stop right there. Jacob understood the culture. It is customary for the oldest daughter to be married first, not the second oldest. But he wants the second oldest, not the oldest. They're both described in that verse, verse 17. "Leah eyes were delicate. Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance."
Listen to that same verse in the New Living Translation. "Leah had pretty eyes, but Rachel was beautiful in every way with a lovely face and a shapely figure." And he said, I want that one. He knew exactly what he wanted. He was making a selection. That one, he thought, was perfect for me. Now speaking of that, some of you are looking for the perfect person, OK.
There is no perfect person. There's a perfect person for you. And you can argue is there only one or are there many? Not going to get into that. But you won't find somebody who is perfect. We have a name for people looking for perfect people. They're called bachelors. And they just, sort of, stay that way-- or bachelorette. It's like the guy who was getting up there in age, and he had never married and his friend said, how come you never married? He goes, well, I never found the right gal.
He goes, come on. The right gal? You've met plenty of gals. Surely one of them must have been OK. He goes, well, there was one girl, and she was perfect. He goes why didn't you marry her? Because she was looking for the perfect husband. So if you're looking for perfection, not going to happen. But there is a perfect one out there for you, and for Jacob, he saw Rachel and that was perfect for him. That's what he thought.
Now this does bring up an issue. What is it that attracts people to people? What attracts us to each other? It's interesting how that certain features in one person are attractive to one person but not to another one. Now scientists have studied this, and they call it love mapping or a love map. That in your brain you've got just the chemical anatomical circuitry that causes a person to be attracted to certain features of another person. You look and go, wow, and you're drawn in. Some might even say that's love at first sight.
One of the experts of this by the name of Helen Fisher said the issue of love at first sight brings up the speculation of a biological origin to this phenomenon. So some of you are going awesome. I thought so. But wait, there's more. She adds this. In terms of human courtship and marriage, several observations are important. The infatuation phase-- that's the wow phase at first-- the infatuation phase tends to wane after four years or less. This may be in part a reflection of the human brain's inability to stay in a revved up mode over a long period of time.
So folks this is why the Bible says beauty is passing but a woman who fears the Lord, she will be praised. There's more to it than just the immediate. There's the eventual. A woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Rachel was not her father's choice, as we're going to see in a moment.
Rachel was not even his father's choice. His father came from the same culture. First born girls always get married first. So the dads, the families wouldn't have agreed. However, that's the one he selected. That's the one he wanted. That was his choice.
In our culture of dating, we choose our mates. So I'm just saying to you, choose well. Be discriminate. Be careful. Select well. Yes, take others into consideration, but that's not the be all end all of it. So if Jacob would have say, well, I'm going to do whatever my dad selectors or whoever her dad selects, they wouldn't have got married. But that's the one he believed was the right one for him. He had to live with that choice.
Once upon a time there was a young man who fell in love with a young woman. He decided to bring her home to meet his mother. His mother disliked the young girl immensely and would not give the blessing for this couple to continue. He disliked her-- she disliked her and refused to give the blessing.
Well, this frustrated the young man. And so he found another girl and brought her home. And the same thing happened. Mom rejected her. This happened three times. So now he's very exasperated. The young man in desperation decides that he's going to find a girl just like mom, and he does.
He finds a young girl who walked like his mom walked and talked like his mom talked and even looked a lot like his mom. And he brought her home to meet his mother. He thought surely my mother will approve. Well, it didn't go very well. His father couldn't stand her. Moral of the story is if you get married just because that's the one mom and dad want me to have or my friends tell us we look cute together as a couple, those are dumb reasons to get married.
You take others into consideration, you bring them into the relationship, but end of the day you make the selection. You're going to live with that girl. You're going to live with that guy. So you make the right choice, so separation, supplication, selectivity. A fourth, sacrifice, now you see this in the next couple verses. Verse 18, "Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, 'I will serve you seven years for Rachel, your younger daughter.'" Dude, come on. That sacrifice. Seven years for a chick.
"And Laban said, "it is better that I give it to you than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me." Jacob knew exactly what he wanted, but he's willing to wait. He's willing to sacrifice. He's willing to work seven years in this case. I know a lot of guys who would quit after a couple unanswered phone calls, let alone wait seven years. Or one deep conversation, meaningful conversation, I'm outta here.
But he waits seven years. In fact, if you go down to verse 20, it says "they seemed like a few days to him because of the love that he had for her." now in spending seven years working for future father-in-law would not only give him a job, but it would give him an opportunity to get close to her, to observe her, to watch her family situation. The sacrifice was worth the payoff. I'm going to learn a lot about the family dynamic over a period of time.
This would ensure that this relationship is not based on hormones or pheromones but godemones, right. God has to be involved, and this has to work out and that seven years would allow that to happen. By the way speaking of patience and sacrifice, girls, if you're dating a guy and he says something to you like, oh, I love you so much, I just want to get physical with you and have sex with you and I love you so much I just can't wait, you drop him like a hot potato and don't look back. Because love is patient and love is kind.
Every relationship involves sacrifice. And I'm preaching to the choir here, because if you're married, you know it involves sacrifice on a number of levels. You sacrifice your independence in part. You certainly sacrifice self will a lot. You have to sacrifice personal activities, solo plans, certain freedoms. You sacrifice spending your money, spending your time.
Let me add something that you need to be willing to sacrifice. You need to be willing to sacrifice the backdoor. I want to explain that. You know when you're building a smart home and you have doors and windows, there's one thing you want to make sure you don't have in a smart home is a backdoor. If you have one, seal it, shut it, don't let it-- don't let it be used. The back door is divorce. If you go from dating to mating, that's when you close the back door.
You never allow divorce to be brought up in a conversation. It was covenant my wife and I made before we got married. We said we will never use the word divorce even if we're really angry at each other. That's one no, no. We'll never use it. We'll never talk about it. We'll never joke about it. And it's never been brought up.
So you close that backdoor. That's part of the sacrifice. I'm going from dating to mating, close the backdoor. Now speaking of sacrifice, that leads us to a fifth pre-qualification principle that just, sort of, takes sacrifice up a notch. It's called stamina. Because after all this relationship needs to stand the test of time if you've closed the back door.
So back to our text, seven years go by. It's wedding time, right. It's showtime, and you'll see that Jacob can hardly wait. He has a wedding feast. But late at night, father-in-law to be switches his daughters around and instead of giving Rachel, gives her Leah. Verse 21, "then Jacob said to Laban-- so seven years is up-- "Jacob said the Laban 'give me my wife.' OK, he's done, right. He's ready for marriage.
"Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled that I may go into her." So he's pretty upfront about this whole thing. "And Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast came to pass in the evening that he took Leah his daughter and brought her to Jacob and he went into her. Jacob gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a Maid. And so it came to pass in the morning that behold it was Leah." Surprise, delicate eyes.
"And he said to Laban, 'what is this that you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why then have you deceived me?' And Laban said, it must not be done. so in our country to give the younger before the first born. Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for this service, which you will serve with me another seven years'-- another seven years-- then Jacob did so and fulfilled her week. So she gave him his daughter Rachel his wife also.
So the next day, he wakes up turns to the other pillow and notices, wait a minute, that is not Rachel. That's not what I signed up for. That's not what I worked seven years for. But it's her. Now some of you are going, oh, come on. You mean he couldn't tell the night before? Answer, no, he couldn't. He couldn't for a couple reasons. Number one, there weren't like wedding lights going on. There was like candlelight. It was dim, number one.
Number two, brides in those days were so heavily veiled, you wouldn't know what's under that apparatus. So it's like I don't know. I'm trusting that's her. Come to find out the next day it's not her. Dad kept her away and substituted Leah. So 14-- not seven-- 14 stinking long years of work for Laban to get this woman.
Text that comes to mind 1 Corinthians 13, love suffers long. Oh, he's suffering, and he's suffering a long time. Love suffers long. Love bears all things. Love endures all things. Love never fails. That's stamina. Love never fails. Well, I don't feel the same. Love never fails.
I made a commitment. This is stamina talking. We're in it to win it. We're in it for the long haul. I don't feel the same. That's stamina. It never fails. A common pitfall with couples-- we see it a lot. You see it a lot-- is deciding too quickly or rebounding too quickly after a bad past relationship or a previous relationship, rebounding too quickly the second time.
Any couple that says they're ready for marriage after meeting each other, knowing each other two weeks or a month, red flag, red flag. It is much easier to get into a relationship than it is to live through a relationship. And since you are doing this to live through a relationship over the long haul, you may want to slow down. In fact, did you know that risk of marital failure is reduced notably by longer dating periods. That should be no surprise to anyone.
A lot of studies have been done. Kansas State University said, and I quote, "a strong correlation between the length of time spent dating their current spouses and marital satisfaction can be seen. Also couples who have dated for more than two years score consistently higher in terms of marital satisfaction." That just makes sense, because it's all about coming to the place of stamina. You can't be revved up. Four years, the rev goes down. So there's got to be something more than just rev to keep you going.
Now I want to close with a letter, an excerpt of a letter. Here's what's going to surprise you. It's an amazing letter to me. One of the most I've ever-- amazing I've ever read. This is written by a man in his 20s, his early 20s to his fiance, and before they get married he feels compelled to write this letter. Now just think of a young man in their 20s-- some of you guys I'm looking at in your 20s-- imagine yourself writing this. He writes to his sweetheart.
I want you to know and be fully aware concerning the marriage covenant which we are about to enter, I have been taught from my mother's knee and in harmony with the word of God that the marriage vows are inviolable, and that by entering into them I am binding myself absolutely and for life. I am not naive concerning this. On the contrary, I am fully aware that mutual incompatibility or other unforeseen circumstances could result in extreme mental suffering. This is a love note.
This guy says I'm not dumb. I'm not blind. I have seen relationships, and I know that entering into this it will be and might be very difficult for myself or for you or for both of us. If such becomes the case, I am resolved for my part to accept it as a consequence of the commitment we are now making and to bear it if need be to the end of our lives together. Wow.
I have loved you dearly as a sweetheart I will love you as my wife But above everything else, I love you with the Christian love that demands we never act in such a way so as to hinder our prospects of entering heaven which is the supreme desire of both of our lives. Isn't that a great way to say I love you? That's stamina talking. That's sacrifice that leads to stamina. That's a prerequisite.
By the way, the man who wrote this letter was Jim Dobson's father. Wrote this letter before they were married to his mother. And I remember reading this before I got married, and it was this letter that cemented what a Christian marriage is to be and that's what we entered into with that understanding. Now as we close this service, do you know the believers in the Bible, Christian believers are called the bride of Christ. Isn't that a wonderful term of relationship, the bride of Christ?
In fact, Paul says you are engaged to Jesus. You are a spouse to Jesus. All of that language is not religious language. It's relational language. It is God saying I'm madly in love with you, and I want to enter into a personal relationship with you. I want to be a part of your life. I want to be the central part of your life, and I can handle what you have to offer. Just give me that place of throneship.
Now when you date somebody, it's a process of discovery. You're discovering who that person is. You find out they're great and other places, kind of, weird. It's like, boy, he snorts or she burps or whatever it might be. But you work your way through all those discoveries.
Here's the thing about God who wants to enter into a relationship with you and calls you the bride of Christ, he didn't have to date you. He knows all about you, and he still loves you. He accepts you the way you are, and he's just saying accept my love for you. I'm going to give you that opportunity. Let's bow in a word of prayer.
Father, thank you for your love for us. It is an everlasting love, as you said to Jeremiah the prophet. Before we even knew what love meant or was or how it's experience, you've loved us. And your love includes wanting to make us your children by faith. You love us so much that you gave your son to pay the penalty for our sins that if we would just turn to you and trust you, you'd forgive us and make us your son or daughter and take us with you to heaven.
As we're closing in prayer, most of us have our heads bowed and eyes closed. I'm going to keep mine open and my head up for a minute, and I'll tell you why. I'm going to give you an opportunity if you've never received Christ personally, individually, authentically as Lord and Savior to give you that opportunity. You know, a lot of times people are looking for the right people, and we, kind of, skip over the step of I've got to be the right person.
And the right person you need to be is a Christian man or a Christian woman. You need your sins forgiven. You need to know that when you die, you're going to heaven. And that's where you start. You start on that level. God accept me as I am, and I receive your son in payment of my sin. So if you have never given your life to Christ, I'm going to give you that opportunity. Or if you once had some experience or a relationship with him, but you've walked away from Him and you're not living in obedience, it's a chance for you to come back home. Build on the foundation.
So if you're willing to do that, to give Jesus your life and take him as your Savior. If you've never done that personally, I want to give you that opportunity. I want you to raise your hand up in the air high. Keep it up there for a minute, what you're saying by raising your hand is Skip pray for me. Here's my hand. I want-- I want to know Jesus. I want to be cleansed. I want to be saved. I want to be a son or daughter of the living God.
If you've not done that, then receive him now into your life. And if you want to do that, indicate so by raising your hand up. Just keep it up for a moment, God bless you right over here to my right, right up front. Don't be afraid to do that. Toward the back and to my left. In the balcony, thanks for that hand way up there. I love that. Right in the back right there to my left. Right over here to my left and in the family room, a couple of you.
Father, thank you for each one so precious to you. I pray that you would bring life change in Jesus' name, Amen. Let's all stand. As we sing this final song I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hands whether you're in the family room or balcony or close to get up from where you are right now and find the nearest aisle and stand right up here where in just a moment I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Jesus as Savior. You're going to make it public. You're going to make it personal. That's how Jesus called people in the New Testament. So please don't be-- you're going to see how encouraging it is when you do this.
If you're in the family room, go through these doors and make your way right up here. If you're in the balcony, come down the steps. We're going to wait for you to come. So no matter where you are, whether you're in the back or the side just make your way and stand right up here. I'm going to lead you in a prayer in a moment when you come.
(SINGING) I surrender all. I surrender all. All to thee my blessed savior I surrender it all. Oh, I surrender all. I surrender all. All to thee my blessed savior. I surrender all.
We'll wait just another moment. We're about to close, but again, make your way here. If you're outside, we'll be leading you this way. I didn't see anybody outside, because I can't see outside but there's a pastor close who would walk you this way. If you're anywhere in the auditorium, just find the nearest aisle or in the middle of a row just to say excuse me. And somebody will be there to take you this way.
(SINGING) Oh, I surrender it all. I surrender all. All to thee my blessed saviour, I surrender it all. All to thee my blessed savior I surrender it all.
Well, let's do that. Let's surrender all right now. Yes, please come on over. So those of you who have come, I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I'm going to ask you to pray these words out loud after me. Say them from your heart. Mean them from your heart as you receive Christ, OK.
Let's pray together. Say, Lord, I give you my life. I know that I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe in Jesus that he died on a cross for me, that he shed his blood for my sin, and that he rose again from the dead. I turn from my past. I repent of my sin. I turn to Jesus the Savior. Help me to follow him as Lord. It's in his name I pray, amen.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. How will you put the truths that you learned into action in your life. Let us know. Email us at email@example.com. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift calvarynm.church/gift. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.