Ted Wilson: Greetings, friends. I hope you have had a wonderful week and have been especially blessed during this special Family Togetherness Week of Prayer, which will culminate this Sabbath with the "Family Togetherness Day of Prayer." This is a special day when, as a worldwide church family, we pray especially for marriages, families, and relationships. For more information on this special day sponsored by the Family Ministries department of the world church, visit their website at family.adventist.org.
Nancy Wilson: Now, more than ever, we need to be praying as marriage and families have come increasingly under attack from society, as well as from within the home.
One of the greatest threats is the possibility of divorce. While it is difficult to obtain worldwide statistics, here in the United States, researchers estimate that 40 to 50 % of all first marriages will end in divorce or permanent separation, and about 60-65% of second marriages will end in divorce. The most commonly reported major contributors to divorce include: lack of commitment, infidelity, and conflict and arguing. Interestingly, research has shown that those who have no religious affiliation and those who have lived together before marriage have a higher likelihood of getting divorced.
TW: However, there are ways to strengthen marriages and families, and in our brief time today, Nancy and I would like to share a few of those ways.
First is a commitment--commitment to God, and to each other. When we are in a strong, committed relationship with the Lord, He guides and gives wisdom in how to have a strong, committed relationship with others--especially with our spouse. In healthy marriages, husband and wife are committed to each other through good times and bad. They take a long-term perspective so short-term problems don't threaten their marriage.
NW: Another way to strengthen marriage is through thoughtful, clear communication and effective conflict resolution. Using clear communication to solve problems is very important in understanding one another's perspective--both through sharing our thoughts and listening to what our spouse has to say. In the book, The Adventist Home, we read this inspired counsel: "Neither husband nor wife is to make a plea for rulership. The Lord has laid down the principle that is to guide in this matter. The husband is to cherish his wife as Christ cherishes the church. And the wife is to respect and love her husband. Both are to cultivate the spirit of kindness, being determined never to grieve or injure the other" (p. 106).
TW: In healthy marriages and families, spouses never use aggression or violence toward each other or their children. This includes, but is not limited to verbal, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. There is never any place for this kind of destructive behavior. Instead, God calls us to love and be kind to one another. In Ephesians 4:31, 32 we read:
"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."
NW: Faithfulness--both emotionally and physically--is very important. Infidelity is one of the most common causes of divorce. On the other hand, spouses who are intimate, emotionally supportive, trusting, and caring have healthy marriages.
TW: Spending time together, as a couple, and as a family, will help to build a strong relationship and friendship among family members. Take time to have good, wholesome recreation together. As much as possible, eat meals together. And most importantly, take the time to have family worship together. It need not be something long and drawn out, but short, to the point, and practical from God's Word. Sing and pray together. The old adage, "the family that prays together stays together" still has much wisdom.
As we participate in this special day of prayer for marriages, families, and relationships, let's remember to be committed to God and to each other, to communicate thoughtfully and clearly, to remain peaceful and faithful, to support each other and spend time together as a family--with God at the center.
In closing, let's remember the type of love exhibited by Jesus, and that, through His grace, He longs to implant in each of our hearts. We read in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7—
"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
May God bless each of us with this kind of heavenly love in our hearts and in our homes so that we might let our lights shine brightly in the world today.
Let's pray together. Father in Heaven, I pray for the families around the globe in the Seventh-day Adventist church and in the public. Lord, help our church members to be wonderful witnesses for you, as to what connection with heaven, through Bible study and prayer, can do in relationships and in helping communities to know that you are to be the center of our lives. Thank you for hearing us and bless in a wonderful way, the families who look to you. In all things give them a strong witness and let them be a glory to your name. In Jesus’ name we ask it, amen.