Next Sunday’s sermon is called “Loved,” taken from Ephesians 5:21-23. This week’s devotional explores other texts used in the sermon and prepares the reader for the ideas to be explored. Set aside some time to read this guide, and you won’t be disappointed. You will be able to enter deeply into the sermon with your prepared thoughts. As the Bible tells us, “Study in order to be an approved workman.”
Daily Bible Readings:
Monday, May 29. Read Jeremiah 2:2-3; 3:6-10. 1) What metaphors does Jeremiah use to describe Israel’s relationship to God? 2) Why do you think these are appropriate? 3) How are they appropriate as ways for you to think about your relationship to God?
Tuesday, May 30. Read Matthew 9:14-16. 1) What is the subject Jesus is discussing in this text? 2) Why did he choose marriage as a metaphor? 3) See also Matthew 25:1-13. How does he use a marriage ceremony to make his point here?
Wednesday, May 31. Read Revelation 19:6-8. 1) Written to persecuted Christians, what is John describing, and how would it have been encouraging to them? 2) See also Revelation 2:2,9. How does John use marriage metaphors here?
Thursday, June 1. Read Philippians 2:6-8. 1) This passage doesn’t use marriage metaphors, however, it does explore the idea of submission. 2) How did Christ show submission? 3) Would it have been possible for him to refuse to be submissive?
Friday, June 2. Read Genesis 1:27-28; 2:20-23; 3:16. 1) Read 1:27-28; 2:20-23. What do you think the relationship between man and woman was like after God created them? 2) Read 2:20-23. What was the relationship like after the man and woman disobeyed God? How does it appear to be different than in their relationship immediately after being created? 3) If the relationship changed, which model should we seek to imitate today in our own relationships?
Saturday, June 3. Read Ephesians 5:21-23. This is Sunday’s sermon text.
Prayer for the Week:
Dear Father, we give thanks to you for the blessing of marriage. We thank you for what we can learn in marriage, how marriage can transform us into your image, and how marriage can be a way to bless our world. Please help us to learn marriage’s lessons of love and submissiveness. May we not imitate the self-centeredness of our world nor the refusal to enter into a truly committed relationship with another. May you be glorified in the beauty of our lives. In Jesus’ name, we pray this. Amen.
Hymn for the Week:
O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee by Washington Gladden, 1879.
O Master, let me walk with Thee,
In lowly paths of service free;
Tell me Thy secret; help me bear
The strain of toil, the fret of care.
Help me the slow of heart to move
By some clear, winning word of love;
Teach me the wayward feet to stay,
And guide them in the homeward way.
Teach me Thy patience; still with Thee
In closer, dearer, company,
In work that keeps faith sweet and strong,
In trust that triumphs over wrong.
In hope that sends a shining ray
Far down the future’s broad’ning way,
In peace that only Thou canst give,
With Thee, O Master, let me live.
Devotional Article of the Week
Marriage Can Be A Lot of Work
by Bill Denton
The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24 NASB)
In the midst of marital disagreement, it is not uncommon for a spouse to wonder if there isn’t somebody with whom they would be more compatible. Suleyman Guresci, of Izmir, Turkey, divorced his wife of 21 years after a bitter six-year court battle. In an effort to find the ideal woman, Guresci turned to a computer dating service – the kind that evaluates your written profile and suggests matches for you. From a list of 2,000 prospective brides, the computer selected his former wife, who (unbeknownst to Guresci) had signed up for the same service. Guresci’s response? He decided to remarry his wife just nine months after their divorce.
He said, “I did not know that my ex-wife had been the ideal counterpart for a marriage. I decided to give it another try by being more tolerant toward her.” Raymond McHenry, “Stories for the Soul,” p.176
Marriage can be a lot of trouble. Just think about all the time, effort, expense, worry, tension, and heartbreak that goes into the male-female relationship. Young people grow up worrying that someone of the opposite sex won’t like them. The same young people often have concerns about what real love is, how they know they are in love, what to do if they think they’re in love, and wonder what would happen if the other person really does love them back.
Then there is all the fuss about engagements and weddings. Most guys seem to breeze along and go with whatever they are told to do, but for many young women, it’s a big deal. It’s even a bigger deal for the mother of the bride-to-be. There are so many decisions to be made, a wedding dress to choose, bridesmaids dresses, decorations, people to invite and more. Yes, it’s trouble.
Then the wedding happens and the happy couple gets hit with rice or birdseed, climb into a terribly decorated car and launch into married life. Maybe they enjoy a few days of honeymoon, but sooner or later, just about every couple wakes up one day and comes to a frightening realization: marriage is a lot of trouble and with all its joys and blessings, it also requires a lot of work!
That person you adored can sometimes seem like a stranger. He or she has weird ideas about decorating the house, how to spend money, whose parents you will visit on holidays, what leisure time is all about, and even what TV shows to watch. Resolving financial problems isn’t simply a matter of choosing what to buy; it’s having enough money period. Communication can grow in volume in direct proportion to the frustration level caused by one’s spouse. Nope, marriage isn’t easy, it’s hard.
I dare you to read your Bible and find the passage that says marriage is easy. Let me save you more trouble. It’s not there. Marriage takes work, effort, purpose, and time, but it can succeed beautifully … especially when we realize that God has given us “the ideal counterpart” and we have “decided to give it another try by being more tolerant.”