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Mark 12:30-31

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

marriageMarriage, the joining together of two neighbors. So often as followers we focus on loving our neighbors and we forget about loving our first neighbor, our spouse.

It's easy to get caught up in the mission of the church; to get busy doing the holy tasks that we feel we are called to do. We feel good. We feel important. We feel useful. We feel productive when we are giving of our time and talents. But all too often, we put these feelings in front of the command God gave us to love our neighbors.

I am certainly guilty of this. I know the importance of the mission of Radius; to move out in ever-widening circles to change our world. But how can I change the world if I ignore the command to love my wife and to lead my family?

Add to that the difficulty I have in outwardly expressing how I feel and you have a potentially dangerous situation.

To be fair to myself, I do have a few good qualities as a husband and I do not completely ignore loving my wife and family. All I am saying is that I am not perfect. I am broken. We are broken. People are broken. And so it is important to recognize that we all have faults and failings.

Proverbs 17:9

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

Fortunately, my wife excels at forgiving faults through unconditional love. This is one of the biggest lessons she has taught me over the years and one that I strive to reciprocate.

So between her example and the example that Christ gives us as a result of his marriage to the church, I have a pretty good model of what love looks like in marriage. Thankfully, I know people are praying for us, and we are praying for others. But let's all take a moment to pray together as a church for marriages all across St. Petersburg. Couples are hurting and struggling. Couples are falling away from each other.

The stronger our marriages our, the stronger the church will be.

Will you pray this prayer?

2 Samuel 7:27-29

“O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, I have been bold enough to pray this prayer to you because you have revealed all this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you—a dynasty of kings!’ For you are God, O SovereignLord. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant. And now, may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you have spoken, and when you grant a blessing to your servant, O Sovereign Lord, it is an eternal blessing!”

 And let us continue the prayer,

God, we praise you for the example you've given us of how to love. We thank you for the free-will you give to us so that we can choose love every day. We ask that you work in marriages all across St. Pete to strengthen them. We pray that you will call husbands and wives back to you lord. You promised that you would always pursue any sheep that have left the flock. God, pursue those lost sheep. Bring them back to the flock so that we may love them. Father, give us the strength to love our spouses as you love us.

We pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

Gather with us this Sunday as we continue our Shipwrecked series. In the mean time, check out Blake and Amanda's thoughts on marriage from this past Sunday here.