The Link Between Worship and RelationshipsMarch 5, 2018
Alex Kendrick explores how our relationships with God and our spouse affects our worship.
Alex Kendrick explores how our relationships with God and our spouse affects our worship.
The Link Between Worship and Relationships
Bob: The book of Hebrews says, no matter where we are in life, we have a high priest who can sympathize with what we’re going through. Here’s Alex Kendrick.
Alex: Wherever you are right now: some of you would say, “Our marriage is good!” Some of you are saying, “Our marriage is alright; you know.” Some of you would say, “Our marriage is just blah,” and some of you would say, “Our marriage is bad.” What’s incredible to me is God Himself has felt all of those emotions that you feel.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, March 5th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Whatever you’re going through today—whatever you’re facing / whatever you feeling—you serve a God who can relate. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.
Dennis: Are you still rocking?
Bob: I’m always rocking—that’s just my way of life.
Dennis: You are—you are rocking.
Bob: But I have to tell you—we care about our listeners; don’t we?
Dennis: We do!
Bob: And so, we’re here today, not only to hear a great message from our friend, Alex Kendrick, but we’re here today because, if we don’t say something pretty quickly to our listeners—
Dennis: —they’re going to miss it.
Bob: —they won’t have the opportunity to be with us, next Valentine’s Day, for the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise. We just got back a few weeks ago from this year’s cruise. It was a great event. In fact, the message we’re going to hear today was a message that was shared onboard the cruise.
But as of today, more than 70 percent of the state rooms for next year are already booked. We just thought we’d better let our listeners know: “If you want to go, we expect this’ll be sold out in the next couple weeks.”
Dennis: And I’ll tell you, Bob—this was yours and Mary Ann’s, as well as Barbara’s and my, eighth cruise.
Dennis: I never cease to be amazed at the stories we hear of God intercepting people on the high seas—well, they’re not high. [Laughter] Actually, there was a little rocking taking place of the ship, but you don’t get sick.
Dennis: You really don’t. It’s a big ship—almost 3,000 people from how many states?
Bob: I think there were 45 states. I met a couple from Nigeria, who had come to Florida from Nigeria, to be on the cruise with us.
Dennis: And I met someone from Romania.
You know, it’s just a great time to get away—it is a great time to get away. Now that it’s a week long, it is really a delight—everything’s taken care of. You couldn’t get better teaching than what you get on the Love Like You Mean It cruise. In fact, we’re going to hear from Alex Kendrick today, who gave a devotional. This is an illustration of one of the morning devotionals that was given to—what would you say?—1400/1500 people?
Bob: Oh, the room was packed—it was a full room.
Dennis: Alex Kendrick is the producer and director of War Room, and Courageous, and Fireproof, and on and on they go. He was also one of the co-producers of Like Arrows, which you’re considered a co-producer of that as well.
Bob: Right; right.
Dennis: That’s going to be released May 1 and 3 in theaters—over 800—across the country.
Bob: Well, and Alex told us this year that he and his brother, Stephen, and their brother, Shannon—they’re going to be back with us, next year, for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. They expect to have a sneak preview of their latest movie. In fact, the folks on the cruise will be among the first in the nation to see the movie that they haven’t even filmed yet.
Here’s the point of all of this—you ought to join us for a great week-long getaway. If you have any interest in doing it, now is the time. Call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY to get more information; or you can find out more, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com—there’s a link available to you there. It really is a great getaway.
Dennis: And you’re about to hear a great message by Alex Kendrick. It’s really about marriage lessons from God’s relationship with His people.
Alex: If I were to ask you if God has feelings and emotions, what would you say? He does! Now, He is the Creator; and so, sometimes, I think: “Okay; God created everything. So all of my emotions have their origin in Him.” Of course, I can twist and warp my emotions if I’m not walking with Him—of course—but my emotions / the way I feel when I’m excited, and delighted, happy, ecstatic—well, that has its basis in the Lord creating that for me / allowing me to feel that. When I feel okay or when I feel blah, you know, that has its place too. And then, when I feel terribly sad, almost depressed—well, that feeling comes from something too.
You know, God created the spectrum of emotions. If you would have asked me, “Well, does God have strong feelings about this or that?” I would say: “Of course; He’s the Creator / He created emotions. Of course, He does.” But to what degree has God Himself felt the gamut of emotions that you and I feel, specifically, in your marriage?
I want to go back to 1 Kings, Chapters 8 and 9. From the time God delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt—right?—He delivers them; they wander in the wilderness for 40 years because of disobedience and lack of trust. He takes them, eventually, with Joshua, into the promised land—establishes the promised land / kicks out all the ungodly peoples that God says to kick out—because He’s giving this land, which belongs to God, by the way—God gets to determine who gets what land. So He says, “I’m giving this land to you.”
Israel starts to take over the land. Then, they look around and they say: “Well, that nation has a king, and they have a king. We don’t have a king!”
Samuel says: “God is your King. I’ll speak for the Lord, but God is your King. Trust the Lord.” And it goes really well for a while; but they say, “No; we want a king.”
God says, “You don’t want a king, because you don’t understand what you’re asking.” “No, Lord! We want a king!” So they get Saul. Saul starts off well—the Lord’s hand is on him—but then things go south. After 40 years, Saul turns away from the Lord—makes some dumb decisions / dies. The kingdom is stripped from his lineage and is given to David. David becomes king—also for 40 years—and then Solomon for 40 years.
We get to the moment where the temple is going to be built. I’m going to camp out on the temple in just a minute. Does anybody know how long, from the time the Hebrews were released from Egypt to the time God finally got His temple to put the Ark in and for His presence to dwell and His name to be known? Does anybody know how long that was?—480 years!
The Lord waited a long time. You could say, “Well, for God, it’s not really waiting; because He’s God.” No; He says “wait.” He says in Scripture, “I have waited.” God is very, very relational—very relational with us.
After 480 years, He gets the temple. Now, I want to remind you how significant the temple is; and you’ll see where I’m going in just a minute. The temple was built by the greatest craftsmen of the day. King Solomon spares no expense—he gets the best craftsmen / the best stones—they are cut specifically. The temple is erected. He overlays everything with the finest craftsmanship inside—with all the wood and then overlays the wood with gold, pure gold. So, when you walk in, you see all the wood; and it’s all ornate and designed—it’s all overlaid with gold. All the utensils are the finest bronze for all the priests to use and do their sacrificing. And you have your Holy of Holies—the cherubim, gold / the Ark of the Covenant, gold—I mean, it is magnificent.
When they finish building this, after a long period of time, Solomon—remember, David wanted to do it; but God said: “No; it’s not for you, David. You’ve committed too much bloodshed. It’s for your son, Solomon.” So David could only make some preparations. So Solomon does this. When he finishes doing it—and the people are very, very excited—and Solomon, at this point, is whole-heartedly honoring the Lord as the one true God—he gathers all the officials and leaders of Israel together in Jerusalem to dedicate the temple. This is a big deal in Scripture.
When he does—this magnificent temple is finished and the Ark is about to go in—and I was noting, when I was reading this, how God treated this. God’s pleasure was so thick there / His favor was so thick. This is one of the moments where God and His people have an intimate, intimate form of spiritual relationship and connection. The Lord is there, looking down, and they are proclaiming the name of the Lord.
Solomon dedicates the temple. If you read 1 Kings 8 and 90, you’ll see this long, beautiful, God-honoring prayer of dedication, where Solomon blesses the people for coming; and he blesses the Lord and he says, “You are the one true God; there is no other.” His hands are raised; he falls to his knees—he says: “God, You delivered us; You sustained us; You protected us, You provided for us. You are the beginning and the end, Lord. You are the only God,” and he’s worshipping God.
The people worship God with him, and he dedicates the temple. They take the Ark in; and when they do, God shows up. He manifests Himself in this thick cloud that emanates around the Ark, out of the Holy of Holies, throughout the temple, and starts to come out. There is a physical manifestation of the glory of God. It says the priests were overwhelmed. They even had to leave and walk out—it was so strong. God shows up; He’s being worshipped.
Now, this feast of prayer, and worship, and unity, and sacrifices for a sin offering and for just an offering to the Lord, out of worship—
—they’re doing it over, and over, and over. It’s offering to God; it’s feasting; it’s praising; it’s praying—the dedicating the temple—just loving God. It was a love feast for the Lord, and it goes 14 days before people start going back home.
And you see, when God does this—and He shows back up to Solomon—God is pleased. He comes to Solomon and He says, “I will always keep someone from your line on the throne; but walk with Me, seek Me, obey Me.” God is saying: “Seek Me. Choose Me; choose Me; choose Me!” God wants your heart, and your love, and your adoration of Him, over everything else; right? It is a very intimate moment. Now, if I had to compare it to something—you and I had a honeymoon, and you’re just doting on your spouse. You want to please your spouse. You’re not overloaded with the rest of life.
We have this time, where they’re dedicating the temple; and then, time goes by, and God keeps His Word. He douses Israel with protection. God’s blessing Israel, and other countries bring tribute to Israel—and it says they fear Israel’s God. But as time goes by, what does Israel do? They get used to this! Many of the men in Israel start looking around, going: “Hey, things are going well here; look at what they’re doing across the lines here, in that country over there. Look at those dancing girls down there—around that idol down there. Look at their feast. Look at their celebrations.” They start looking around at what’s going on.
And Solomon—he makes the poor choice of marrying wives from some of these other countries that worship different gods. So, in tandem, Solomon and—it starts with the men of Israel—start noticing these other gods. Why? They forget the context and the blessings of what God has done for them—they take them for granted.
They start looking beyond what the Lord has provided, and they start bringing other gods into the land. God starts sending prophets to say: “Wait, wait, whoa! What are you doing? No; seek Me! I’m the One that’s providing all this for you. Your protection comes from Me; your notoriety comes from Me; your blessings come from Me! Choose Me; choose Me,”—God says. He sends one prophet after another.
It goes from being intimate to being, you know—[so-so]. You’ve been there in your marriage; right? After a while, it gets blah. They’re half-heartedly honoring God now. God’s keeping His end of the deal, but now God starts to express more emotions that we haven’t seen yet—this longing for Israel to choose Him, whole-heartedly, not just halfway: “Choose Me whole-heartedly! Focus on Me whole-heartedly.”
And Israel doesn’t do it. Now, you have moments—you have King Josiah, who finds the Old Testament law, and he comes back to the Lord—
—and they have these brief revivals, but they’re not sustained. They keep going, and it’s blah; it’s blah. And then, it goes to the other extreme—where it’s bad. When you get to the Book of Jeremiah—Jeremiah is known as what?—the weeping prophet. Why is he known as the weeping prophet? Because he’s not only seen what’s about to happen to his beloved Israel, but he’s also expressing God’s feelings toward Israel. I want to read you both extremes. I’m going to start in 1 Kings 8 and 9—I’m just going to read a summary—so follow me here.
Solomon finishes building the temple with Lebanese cedars, gold, [and] bronze. He gathers all the leaders and people of Israel together; places the Ark of the Covenant inside; the glory of the Lord filled the temple like a cloud of mist. Solomon stood and blessed the people and praised the Lord. He recounted God’s promises and faithfulness, culminating in a dedication of the temple as a place for God’s name to be honored / His presence to dwell. At this point, God is delighted and happy.
Solomon worships and praises God’s power, mercy, forgiveness, righteousness, provision, protection. He falls to his knees as he prays out loud to God with his hands toward heaven; and the people join Solomon in making thousands of sacrifices and offerings, worshiping the Lord. They do it two weeks. And then God blesses Solomon and all of Israel, and this goes on for some time.
Now, here’s the other end of the spectrum. This is out of Jeremiah 2 and 3, and he’s speaking for the Lord. As a young bride—He calls Israel His bride: "As a young bride, you were so eager to please Me and to love Me; but you strayed from Me. Even after I protected you and provided for you over and over again, you began seeking and giving your love to worthless idols made by man. Even my priests began ignoring Me. You treated My love for you as worthless.
“You have abandoned and rejected Me for gods that cannot see and cannot hear, but I freed you from slavery. I gave you this land. I brought the rains and the harvest. I defeated your enemies. I brought you blessings. What have I done to make you reject Me? You’ve defiled every hilltop and place of worship. You are an adulterous wife.” God calls Israel His bride / His wife—He says: “Come back to Me; return to Me; choose Me; love Me! For disaster and judgment are coming because of your wickedness.”
This is what struck me—wherever you are right now—some of you would say: “Our marriage is good”; some you would say, “Our marriage is alright; you know”; some of you would say, “Our marriage is just blah, just blah”; and some of you would say, “Our marriage is bad.” What’s incredible to me is—God Himself has felt all of those emotions that you feel.
He felt it for His chosen ones, His nation. I mean, think about this—think about what God says here. Can you think of anything worse than feeling totally abandoned and rejected?—there is no intimacy / there’s nothing! And yet, that’s what God is feeling here. No matter where you are, the Lord knows. None of this is foreign to Him.
And then Christ comes, and does He not go through the same thing? He is celebrated, and followed, and praised: “You are the Son of God!” And then those: “I don’t know about You, Jesus,”—the Thomases—“Ah, man, I don’t know.” And the people that said: “Crucify Him. Crucify Him. You lie; You are not the Son of the living God.” He’s totally abandoned and rejected. Even His closest followers flee or totally say, “I don’t know the man.”
The Lord knows you better than you know yourself, and He has been there. And so, times when I might struggle or Christina might struggle in our relationship, the Lord knows exactly how you’re feeling. He has felt it—and for longer periods of time than you and I have ever felt it! Think about it—most of His relationship with Israel was bad / most of it—it was negative—it was: “Israel, please come back. Please come back. Please come back.”
There were few times where God was totally delighted—you could probably name them on one hand—but yet He loves us. He’s compassionate, and merciful, gracious to us, and longsuffering. It amazes me when I think about that: “God, on my darkest days, You have felt that.”
Now here’s my other point. I’m almost a Baptist, because I almost have three points; but I really just have two. [Laughter] So, my first point is that: “Wherever you’ve been, God has been there and He has felt it.” The second thing is this: “When it was good, why was it good?” Here’s my second point: “When our worship is right, then we’re in a position for God to do amazing things and to show up.”
Israel was in a right state of worship. They were acknowledging God for who He is and who they were, and their dependence on Him, and that He is the only God when their worship was right! See, worship, by its very nature, is humbling. It is an unselfish act; because if I’m sincerely worshipping God, what am I doing? I’m acknowledging: “Lord, You’re the One on the throne, not me. I’m acknowledging my need for You, that You are the holy One, not me—that You are the righteous One, that You are the Creator; You are the sustainer / You are the provider. You are all of these things, not me.”
For me to worship God is to say: “I am the worshipper.” So, when my worship is right, then I’m in a position for God to say: “Alex, work on this,” “Alex, apologize for this,” “Alex, I’m going to teach you something here.” I’m moldable when my worship is right.
So, wherever you are—two things: God knows and has felt it Himself; and secondly, when your worship is right, then you’re in a position for God to do amazing things. Now, the timing is up to Him. Maybe you say, “Well, I want God to work on my spouse,”—all of us want God to work on our spouses—“Lord, if my spouse would only realize this”; you know? Because what do we do?—we use our own scale. See, in my marriage, my scale is, “Oh, I have things to work on, but my spouse really has things to work on.” And then Christina, who loves me, thinks the same thing about me:
“I know I have things to work on, but you really have things to work on”; you know? That’s the way—because we’re using our own scale.
But when my worship is right, and I’m viewing it the way God wants me to view it, He will show you what you need to do. When you’re listening, my worship is right—I’m listening; I’m honoring; and I’m humbling myself because: “It’s a “full acknowledgment, God, of who You are and who I am not. And Lord, I need You.”
All of us want intimacy; right? You want intimacy in marriage / you want intimacy in your relationship. You want intimacy, physically; and hopefully, you want intimacy, spiritually, with the Lord. To get there, acknowledge the God who created it has also walked it / He’s also felt it—Old Testament/New Testament both. He knows what it’s like to be elated on the best days; He knows what it’s like on the most horrific worst days. You have not gone through anything He Himself has not gone through. But secondly, He wants intimacy with you.
He wants you to chase Him, and to know Him, and to seek Him—and not half-heartedly—not on the blah days.
My final statement to you is this: “In many ways, your marriage should be a reminder of God’s desire for intimacy with you. If it’s not going well in your marriage, ask yourself, ‘Is it going well between me and the Lord?’” That should be a reminder, husbands / that should be a reminder, wives: “I want intimacy. I want greater levels of intimacy, relationally, emotionally, [and] physically. So Lord,”—if I turn that around and I say: “Lord, what do You want from me? Do You also want greater intimacy from me? Do You want more of my heart and my worship?” Let’s get our worship right; then watch what God does.
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to a message from Alex Kendrick, a message recently given onboard the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.
After it was over, I tweeted this: “Your desire for intimacy in your marriage should remind you of God’s desire for intimacy with us. Intimacy with God is the first step on the path toward renewed intimacy in marriage.”
You know, the point is—we often think that, if there are issues in marriage, it’s always a horizontal issue. If you want to fix your marriage issues, you start by saying: “Is everything okay between God and me? Is our relationship good?” That’s the place to begin to start marriage repair.
Dennis: And the truth is you can trust God. Here’s who He is—Psalm 103, verse 8: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.” And then it talks about how his love is as high as the heavens.
And Bob, that’s the God of the universe, who invites you into a personal relationship. I love what Alex was saying here—you ought to have a check in your spirit: “What kind of intimacy do I have with God? Am I getting closer, or am [I] drifting?” Now is not the time to be drifting. You need to stick and stay close with the Almighty, because He is the One you can count on.
Well, once again, Alex and his brother, Stephen / brother, Shannon—they’re going to be back with us, again, next year on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, along with their latest film. We’ll get a chance to preview that.
We have a great lineup of speakers and artists; and as we mentioned earlier, this cruise is more than 70 percent full already. If you’re interested in joining us—sailing with us, during Valentine’s week next year, going to Honduras, and Belize, and Key West—go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or better yet, call 1-800-FL-TODAY. We can get you registered for the cruise when you call.
If you have any questions, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com; but call to register: 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to take some time to think about how important it is for us to be patient people in life and in marriage. We’ll hear a message from Bryan Loritts tomorrow. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, with special help from Mark Ramey. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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