Marriage 5 – faithfulness

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on the nature and consequence of the wedding vows – a promise of devotion.

Scripture

Malachi 2:14-16

14  But you say, “Why does [the Lord not answer our prayers]?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15  Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16  “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

1 Peter 3:7

7  Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Observation

Context: Malachi prophesied in about 4000BC in the newly restored Jerusalem to Jews religiously observing the ceremonial rituals; however they missed the intent of the Law. Peter wrote to scattered and persecuted Jewish Christians throughout the Roman empire in AD45.

  1. Consider Malachi 2:14-16
    1. Summarize the prophet’s appeal in one sentence.
    2. The word “faithless” is used three times. What does the word mean in this context?
    3. The prophet accuses his hearers of being “faithless” (v14) – what does that suggest of the culture of the day? And considering the audience why should that surprise you?
    4. Suggest a few synonyms for “faithlessness” in this context.
    5. What are the consequences of this “faithlessness”? [hint: verses 14a and 16a]
    6. What do you understand under “covering his garment with violence”? (verse 16)
  2. There is much similarity between the two Texts above: both written by Jews to Jewish audiences about marriage and unanswered prayers (450 years apart).
    1. Why according to Malachi are the prayers of his hearers unanswered?
    2. Why according to Peter are the prayers of his readers unanswered?
    3. How does “faithfulness” and “honour” in marriage relate to each other? [hint: how do you get married…? What do we do during the wedding ceremony…?]
    4. What does that suggest about God’s intent for marriage?

Personal reflection and Prayer

Marriage is covenant of companionship.  It’s a pledge of devotion, a promise of loyalty to each other in mind, heart and body.  Marriage requires faithfulness.

  1. What is commonly regarded as the most destructive act of betrayal within a marriage?
    1. Typically, how does that start? And how does it escalate?
    2. What are the typical emotional consequences for the guilty party within the marriage?
    3. What are the typical emotional consequences for the innocent party within the marriage?
    4. Describe the long-lasting effects of such betrayal in the married couple, should it survive the betrayal?
    5. Describe the long-lasting effects of such betrayal in the married couple, should the marriage end in divorce.
    6. What then is the ultimate cost of such an act of betrayal/ unfaithfulness / dishonor?
  2. How could one maintain marital faithfulness in (a) mind, (b) heart and emotions, and (c) body in such a perverse society with a low regard for the marriage covenant?
  3. Malachi instructed his readers to “guard themselves in your spirit” (v15 and 16). How could you “guard yourself” against such unfaithfulness?
  4. One way of “guarding yourself” is to be “sober-minded and watchful in prayer.” (1 Pet 5:8) Pray that God will keep you from temptation, and preserve your moral holiness in mind, heart and body.
Advertisements

Marriage 4 – children

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on the nature and purpose of marriage, today highlighting the blessing of children.

Scripture

Malachi 2:14-15 [ESV]

14  But you say, “Why does [the Lord not answer our prayers]?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15  Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.

Psalms 127:3-5 [GNB]

3  Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a real blessing.  4  The sons a man has when he is young are like arrows in a soldier’s hand.  5  Happy is the man who has many such arrows. He will never be defeated when he meets his enemies in the place of judgment.

Observation

  1. What are the general cultural attitudes towards marriage and children?
  2. Consider Malachi 2:15
    1. What was on God’s mind when he made the husband and wife one?
    2. What does that suggest about God’s perspective on marriage and children?
  3. Reflect on Psalm 127:3-5
    1. Reading this, what attitudes does the Psalmist express about the Lord, marriage and children?
    2. In your own words express what the Psalmist reveals about children and marriage.
    3. Why would children be a vindication when one’s enemies accuse you?

Personal reflection and Prayer

When God make a husband and wife one, he has “godly offspring” in mind. When he adds children to a marriage his intent is goodness, joy and prosperity.

  1. When you think about marriage and children, what feelings does it conjure up?
  2. If you are married and already have children:
    1. What joy and wealth of life have they have brought into your home?
    2. How can you communicate to them that they are indeed a blessing and gift to you?
    3. Search your heart: would you receive more children as gifts from God? Pray about that!
    4. Thank God for the gifts.
  3. If you do not have children:
    1. How does today’ devotional study challenge your thinking about God’s intent in marriage?
    2. Pray to God about your attitudes and expectations of marriage and children.
  4. Have you considered the blessing that parents are to children?
    1. Have you considered adopting children?
    2. Are adopted children also a gift and blessing from the Lord?
    3. Prayerfully consider adopting children.

Marriage 3 – unity

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on the nature and purpose of marriage, focusing on the phrase “and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

Scripture

Malachi 2:14-16

14  But you say, “Why does [the Lord not answer our prayers]?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15  Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16  “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

Observation

  1. Consider verse 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.”
    1. Who “made them one”?
    2. Whom was made one?
    3. How did he make them one?
    4. Why did he make them one?
    5. What should be the response (or attitude) of those being made one?
  2. Note the repeated phrase at the end of verses 15 and 16 So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless”
    1. What does that suggest of the importance of the phrase?
    2. What does that imply of the relationship between verses 15 and 16?
  3. Consider verse 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”
    1. What did we learn about “man” and “his wife” in verse 15?
    2. Try to put Malachi’s thoughts in your own words by describing how the phrases “make them one” relate to the concepts of “divorce”, “violence” and “guard your spirit”?
  4. According to this Text, what is the most important way to preserve the unity God has established in marriage?

Personal reflection and Prayer

When the wedding vows are made before God and witnesses, the two become one as God pours a portion of his spirit in their union. Therefore Malachi calls to preserve the precious unity by faithfulness and watchfulness.

  1. From your personal experience and observations,
    1. what are the most destructive attitudes and actions to the unity within marriage?
    2. how do you “guard yourself” against these things?
  2. One way of “guarding yourself” is to be “watchful in prayer.” Now pray against these destructive attitudes and actions in yourself, or a married couple that is one your heart.

Marriage 2 – covenant

The aim of this devotional study is to consider the nature of the marriage relationship.

Scripture

Malachi 2:14-16

14  But you say, “Why does [the Lord not answer our prayers]?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15  Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16  “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

Proverbs 2:16-19

16  So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, 17  who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; 18  for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; 19  none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life.

Observation

Definition: A covenant is a formal, binding agreement by which one party binds itself to another for life.

  1. Consider Malachi 2:14-16.
    1. What is God’s main accusation against the religiously devout Jews in this Text? Can you discern what practice he was countering?
    2. With what words does the prophet define marriage? What do you learn about marriage from this text?
    3. What are the results of defiling the marriage covenant from this text?
  2. Consider Proverbs 2:16-19.
    1. In one short sentence summarize this Proverb.
    2. What are the results of defiling the marriage covenant from this text?
  3. Both the Texts quotes above place the words “companion” and “covenant” next to each other.
    1. How does those two terms relate to marriage?
    2. What does that suggest about the nature of marriage?
    3. Notice that in the one Text “companion” and “covenant” is refers to the husband, and in the other Text these two terms are used in reference to the wife. What does this teach you about the nature of marriage.

Personal reflection and prayer

In essence, marriage is a covenant of companionship by which two people bind themselves before witnesses and God “until death do us part”.

The standard contemporary wedding vow reads as follows:

Do you [John] take [Jane] to be your wedded wife, to live together in marriage?  Do you promise to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and forsaking all others, be faithful only to her, for as long as you both shall live?

  1. Considering the Texts above, how does this typical wedding vow correspond to the “covenant of companionship” in the Texts above?
  2. For the married person:
    1. Was your wedding vow similar to this? Did you understand the impact of what you were doing when you made those vows before God and witnesses?
    2. In which ways have you been tempted to make an end to this marriage since your wedding? Why did you not do it?
    3. Malachi refers to God’s intervention once the wedding vows have been made. In which ways have you experienced God’s intervention into your marriage in your marriage?
    4. Partnerships are formed because “two is better than one” (see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). What benefits have you and do you receive from this “covenant of companionship”? (You will enjoy this article on the Benefits of Marriage http://walklikejesus.net/2015/02/20/do-you-know-what-you-are-letting-yourself-into/ )
    5. Pray for grace to be faithful to “your spouse by covenant”.
  3. For the unmarried person:
    1. Why would you / would you not want to be married?
    2. Considering today’s devotional reflection, how does it impact your perception and expectation of marriage?
    3. Pray for your marriage partner and grace for faithfulness to one another.
  4. So you know someone close to you whose marriage is falling apart? Pray for them!

 

Marriage 1 – companionship

The aim of this devotional study series is to reflect on the nature and original intent of marriage.

Scripture

Genesis 2:15-24

15  The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

18  Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  19  Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20  The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.

21  So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22  And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23  Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Observations and reflections

  1. Who was the first person to realize Adam needs a mate? (v18)
    1. Why is this significant? [hint: the Garden of Eden, no flaws, God Himself walked with Adam…]
    2. When did God express the need for Adam to find a mate?
    3. When did Adam realize the need for a mate? (v19b-20)
    4. When did God start making a mate for Adam? (v21)
  2. What does the writer call Adam’s mate? (v18, 20b)
    1. What was the need that Adam’s mate had to fulfill? (v18) [hint: “it is not good that man should be…”]
    2. Considering this, what was the core responsibility of Adam’s mate? What did she have to “help” Adam with?

Application, personal reflection and prayer

God made Adam and gave him a job. Before Adam realize his need for companionship God said “it is not good for man to be alone” and made him a helper, a mate to rid him of his loneliness. So Essentially your marriage vow is a promise to be a companion, to help the other not feel alone again.

  1. When did you realize you need for companionship? How did it happen?
  2. When you think about marriage, what stands out most for you?
  3. If you are married: Talk to your spouse honestly and ask him/her whether he/she feels lonely at times in the marriage. Discuss your needs for intimacy and how you can better fulfill the other’s emotional needs.
    1. Pray that God will help you to selflessly fulfill the emotional needs of your spouse.
  4. If you are unmarried: We all have ideals about our future marriage partners, some valid and some silly. Taking today’s Biblical lesson into account, what is the most prominent thing your spouse ought to fulfill in you, and you in him/her?  How dis this affect your search for a mate? (i.e. appearance, education, financial acumen, abilities etc).
    1. Ask God for a companion, a mate, so that you may not walk alone. And ask Him to rid you of any silly ideas about such a person.