I Want A Happy Marriage, What Shall I Do?


I Want A Happy Marriage, What Shall I Do?

March 21st, 1982 @ 7:30 PM

Genesis 24:58-67

And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham's servant, and his men. And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them. And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way. And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Genesis 24:58-67

3-21-82      7:30 p.m.


And welcome to the great multitudes of you who are sharing this service with us in First Baptist Church of Dallas; listening on radio— the Sonshine station, KCBI, and the great voice of the Southwest, KRLD.  This is the pastor bringing the message in the series that he delivers on Sunday night entitled “What Shall I Do?”  The message tonight, “What shall I do?” I Want a Happy Marriage: What Shall I Do?

As a background story and text, we turn to Genesis 24; all of us turn to Genesis chapter 24.  We shall read out loud together, beginning at the fifty-eighth verse, reading to the end of the chapter.  Genesis 24:58-67; this concludes one of the most beautiful and precious of all the love stories in the Bible.  Genesis chapter 24, beginning at verse 58 and reading to the end of the chapter.  Now let’s all of us read it out loud together:

And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.

And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and Abraham’s servant, and his men.

And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them.

And Rebekah arose, and her damsels, and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.

And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahairoi; for he dwelt in the south country.

 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.

 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.

For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a veil, and covered herself.

And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.

And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

[Genesis 24:58-67]

The conclusion of one of the beautiful love stories in the Bible.

I want a happy marriage! What shall I do?  So far as I know, there is no one who marries but who has a hope and a dream and a prayer that everything good will be in it.  They purpose to marry for keeps.  They don’t purpose to divorce or to fail.  They solemnly and earnestly respond in the vow, “Till death do us part.”  But more than half of the marriages in America end in divorce, and in some cities—and we are beginning to approach it—there will be two out of three marriages that break up.  There are more than sixty percent of the American mothers in the labor force of America, many of them forced to toil in the market, and there are more than six million children who live in fatherless homes or in homes of one parent; a single-parent home.

When we marry, is that the purpose of our marrying?  Is that what we say those vows to one another for?  You never get over a broken marriage, never!  The scar is there; a burning remembrance is there as long as you live.  And if there are children involved, it carries with it a trauma that is indescribable.  How do you make it work?  Beautifully so!  That is the sermon tonight.

After fifty-four years of being a pastor, and after reading endless numbers of books, I gathered the material out of my own life, out of the counseling services that I read, and I put them together, and I called it “Thirteen Rules for a Happy Marriage.”  Not that I started out to find thirteen rules, but when I gathered all the material together, out of my own experience and out of my much reading, and put it all  in this message, it came out thirteen rules.

First, the first one: make God your friend and confidant.  Remember that God is for you.  He is not against you.  He is on your side!  There is a beautiful Proverb in 18:24: “There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother,” and that friend is God.  That is what Solomon was writing: “God is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother,” and His intention for you is that you have a beautiful and happy marriage forever.

God made, in the beginning, one man for one woman [Genesis 2:22], and the first time divorce appears in the thousands of years that followed is in the Mosaic legislation.   And Jesus said in Matthew 19:8, “Because of the hardness of your heart, Moses allowed you to put away your wife.”  It is man’s innovation; divorce and polygamy is an invention of the man.  It was not intended by the Lord God.  In Malachi 2:16 it says, “God hates putting away…”  God hates divorce.  When therefore the marriage is contracted and you stand before the minister, make God your friend and confidant: “I want to marry in the Lord, and forever, and for keeps.  I’m not marrying to break it up or to divorce.”

Rule number two for a happy marriage: begin with God’s definition of love.  One of the most amazing things that I have ever come across in the years of my studying is this: there is a word used for “love” throughout the Greco-Roman Empire, everywhere—just as we use the word “love” in America, and you hear it every day, on the radio, on television, endlessly in these triangular soap operas.  There is a word that the Greco-Roman Empire used, that the people who lived in the Roman Empire used universally, and that word is eros—e-r-o-s—eros; the Greek word for “love.”  Now the astonishing thing, and the startling and amazing thing about that is this: the word is never found in the Bible; never.  Not one time!  Not once does the Bible ever use the word universally used in the Roman Empire for love, eros; it’s not in the Bible

The Bible uses a word practically unknown and unused.  In common everyday language, it was never heard.  The word that is used for love in the Bible is agapē, and you will not find it in the literature of the Roman Empire.  In 1 John 4:8, the apostle will write: “ho theos agapē estin”: God is love.  God is agapē.

In Ephesians 5:25, the apostle Paul will write, “Husbands”—and he uses a verbal form for agapē, agapaō—“Husbands, agapaō your wives, even as Christ also agapaō  the church.”  That is the only word that you will find in the Bible for love, the kind of love that the Bible speaks of: our love for Christ and the love that is to characterize the home.

Now, we have that same distinction in our modern, American life.  The world’s definition of love is eros, the same as you would find in Greek literature.  It refers to a maudlin sentimentality over which we have no control.  It is an emotion alone.  We are the pawns of our sexual glands.  We are animals.  Nothing is morally right or wrong.  We do as we feel like doing—eros—and it makes marriage hopeless and divorce inevitable.

God’s concept of agapaōagapē—is a commitment to Christ and to one another wholly and forever.  It is a way of choice.  It is a way of living.  It is a way of thinking.  It says, “I will place you in the highest, best interest of my soul, my heart, and my life.”  Now I want to show you that out of the secular world.  I read Ann Landers.  Now, isn’t that the craziest thing your pastor ever did in your life?  But I read that.  I don’t live out there in that world, so I read her to find out how that kind of a seamy side of the world moves along.  Some of the things she said are as screwy and cock-eyed as anything you could imagine, but some of it is good.

So here is one.  Now, here is the difference between eros and agapē.  This is Ann Landers.  A fellow writes to her and he says, “When I was in high school, you had a column, and I cut it out and put it in my wallet.  And now my wallet is old and worn out, and that thing is old and worn out and faded, and I want you to write it again.”  So she says she is so pleased to do so, and here it is.  She is writing the difference between infatuation and love.  Here we go.  Ann Landers:

Love or infatuation?  That is, agapē or eros.  Infatuation is instant desire.  It is one set of glands calling to another.  Love is friendship that has caught fire.  It takes root and grows one day at a time.  Infatuation is marked by a feeling of insecurity.  You are excited and eager but not genuinely happy.  There are nagging doubts, unanswered questions, little bits and pieces about your beloved that you would just as soon not examine too closely, it might spoil the dream.  Love is quiet understanding, and the mature acceptance of imperfection.  It is real.  It gives you strength and grows beyond you to bolster your beloved.

You are warmed by his presence even when he is away.  Miles do not separate you—you want him nearer—but near or far, you know he is yours, and you can wait.  Infatuation says, “We must get married right away, I cannot risk losing him.”  Love says, “Be patient.”  Don’t panic.  He is yours.  Plan your future with confidence.”

Infatuation has an element of sexual excitement.  If you are honest, you will admit it is difficult to be in one another’s company unless you are sure it will end in intimacy.  Love is the maturation of friendship; you must be friends before you can be lovers.  Infatuation lacks confidence.  When he is away, you wonder if he is cheating; sometimes you even check.

Love means trust.  You are calm, secure and unthreatened.  He feels that trust, and it makes him even more trustworthy.  Infatuation might lead you to do things that you will regret later, but love never will.  Love is an upper—it makes you look up, it makes you think up, it makes you a better person than you were before—the difference between eros and agapē .

Number three: bestow words of appreciation and lavish and praise.  Proverbs 25:11 is one of the most beautiful sentences in the Bible: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”  Don’t criticize—don’t.  Don’t find fault.  Compliment and praise.  That woman of yours will stay in the kitchen and cook all her life if you will tell her what a marvelous job she is doing.  Whether she is doing it marvelously or not, that does not make any difference.  Just compliment her.  A husband came home one evening and met his wife, and she was in tears, and she said, “Oh, sweetheart, I don’t know what to do.  The dog ate the biscuits!”  And he replied, “Sweetheart, don’t cry.  We will get another dog.”  Compliment her, praise her!

Number four: Don’t criticize her or him in public—never, ever.  Don’t criticize him or her in public.  Matthew 18:15 says if there is a fault, you tell him alone.  Do that.  It makes him feel small; makes her look cheap?  That is the way to do it.  Do it in public, and you can cut each other down ignominiously.  On the other hand, always build up.  Even if he is a Pygmy, if you brag on him, hold him up, he will feel like he is ten feet tall.  Let me tell you something.  It is almost unbelievable how a girl can manipulate a boy or how a woman can manipulate a man.  She has an intuitive way of doing it, and he is not realizing it, but intuitively he responds.

There came a little boy home to his daddy from school, and he announced to his father, “Daddy, today I learned what girls are for.”

Well, that intrigued the dad, so he said, “Son, what did you learn?  What are girls for?”

And the little boy replied, and he said, “Daddy, I was out playing ball at recess, and little Naomi came up to me and said, ‘Billy Bob, would you show me how to hold a mitt?’”  And the little boy showed Naomi how to hold a mitt.

“And then she said, ‘Billy Bob, will you show me how to swing a bat?’ and, Daddy, I showed her how to swing a bat.  And she said, “Billy Bob, will you show me how to catch a fly?” and I showed Naomi how to catch a fly.  And she said, “Billy Bob, will you show me how to run to a base?” and I showed her how to run to a base.  Oh, Daddy, I learned today what girls are for.  Girls are for to teach things to.”

Can’t you see what that little girl was doing?  She was just leading that little old boy, Billy Bob, by the nose.  Any girl can do that.  Any wife can do that.  He is made that way.  He responds.

Number five—these rules for a happy marriage: treat that companion as you did when you were courting.  Why do you want to change?  Then you were so coy, and sweet, and nice, and affectionate, and attractive.  Why do you want to change?  Why do you want to treat him like a dog now?  When you were married, you loved to be together.  Why don’t you wish to be together now?

She says to him, “I wish I were dead!”

He says to her, “I wish I were dead, too!”

And then, she says, “If you are going to be dead, then I wish I was alive!”

Oh, oh!

Before I married Maggie dear
I was her pumpkin pie.
Her precious peach, her honey lamb,
The apple of her eye.

But after years of married life
This thought I’m forced to utter.
Those fancy names are gone, and now

 I’m just her bread and butter.

[Author and Work Unknown]

Why change?  What you were in the days of your courting, be now.  Just keep it up, and it will surprise you how everything else will keep sweet and dear and precious.

Number six: plan little kindnesses, surprises, for each other.  Go out to dinner, a gift, anything.  It doesn’t matter what it is.

I don’t know whether you feel this or not, but this morning—what service was it?  This morning when that girl—what service was it?  At the eight-fifteen service, at the eight-fifteen service this morning, there came one of those special education girls.  She came up here to join the church; confess her faith in the Lord and join the church.  She looks to be about sixteen or seventeen years old.  And when she came up, out of some yard somewhere she had pulled some flowers and put a napkin around them, and when she came up to me, she gave me those flowers!  Why, I felt like a million dollars!  I am not disparaging flowers.  They were just sorry flowers, but they were beautifully done.  I was moved by it.  Everybody is that way.  It isn’t the size of the gift or the expense of the gift.  It’s the thought of it.  It works!  It’s the most marvelous working apparatus you ever saw.

There is something about us beyond the material.  I don’t deny that all of us are materialistic; we like things.  We like clothes, or automobiles, or houses, or lands, or stocks, or bonds, or fame, or success, or whatever.  We all are in this world, but we also are something else.  All of us are.

One of the famous things that I read in history was when a man said, “If I had ten cents”—you can imagine how long ago that was—“if I had ten cents, with five cents I’d buy a loaf of bread to feed my body, and with five cents, I’d buy a rose to feed my soul.”  Do it!  It will work.

Number seven: place the other’s good and happiness above your own.  Romans 12:10 says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another . . . in honor preferring one another.”  Work at it.  Seek to make the other one happy, and when you do that, you will learn yourself to be wonderfully and beautifully unselfish.

Number eight: talk and discuss things together.  Talk.  Communicate.  Make no decision unilaterally—just you do it.  Talk it over.  I read a conversation in a counselor’s office.  A couple is there before a marriage counselor, and he says to him, “You call what she says ‘nagging.’  Try listening to her; it is harder to listen than to talk.  Try listening to her.”

So she said, “He always has his nose in a newspaper, or glued to a TV, or asleep.  I just might as well not be there.”

Then the counselor said to her, “Then, shake him and say, ‘Listen, I have something to say to you.’”

Then the woman took off, and for an indefinite period of time, she just poured out a stream of words, and the counselor says—in that thing I read—that the man had learned and perfected what is known as ‘occupational deafness.’  He just turned her off, no matter what she said; just go on and on and on.

Well, that’s bad.  That’s terrible.  This woman went into the doctor’s office and poured out to him an endless series of words about ailments and ailments, and finally the weary doctor said, “Here, take this medicine.”  And she took it in her hand, and as she was walking away, she turned around and said, “But, doctor, you didn’t look at my tongue to see it is coated.”  And he replied, “I didn’t need to look.  There is no grass growing on a racetrack.”  Talk together; communicate with each other; discuss things together.

Number nine: never speak or air the problems of the family outside the home.  Don’t ever do it; keep them there in the house.  I can tell you this truly: others are not interested in your problems, period!

Do you remember I was sick a few weeks ago—two weeks ago?  I had the flu.  I was just as sick as I could be, and I was walking down that street right there.  I was going over the “Y,” trying to get myself up and couldn’t.  Well, anyway, I met a fellow, and he said, “Hi there, preacher.  How are you?”

I said, “Fine.  I’m fine.” And I was just as sick as a dog.

Why did I say that?  Because he’s not really interested.  Nobody is.  They are not interested in your problems.  Keep them in your home.  Keep them to yourself.  Nobody wants to listen to the troubles that you have—nobody, nobody.  You afflict them when you try to tell them about all the things.  Keep them in your house—keep them in our heart—keep them at the house.

Number ten: thrust anger far from you.  Ephesians 4:26: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath.”  Isn’t that an unusual thing?  Now you look at that text: “Be ye angry, and sin not.”  He does not write in Ephesians 4:26, “Don’t get angry.”  That is unrealistic.  Let me tell you something: there is no such thing as two people marrying and they not having some confrontations in their life; they just do.  You are going to.  There is no possibility to escape it.  It is going to be like that sometimes.

I read where a preacher was up there in the pulpit, and he described an interview he had with a sweet couple that had been married fifty-five years and had never had an argument or a cross word.  And as the preacher described that beautiful, dear couple—who had lived together fifty-five years and had never had a cross word or an argument—the people were moved and their eyes were moist as he described that beautiful marriage.  Then, in a tone of quiet confidence, he came closer to the microphone, and he said, “Do you know—do you know how that came about?”  And then, in all earnestness he said, “They were lying about it.”

That’s God’s truth!  Any time in this world a couple says to you, “We have been married forty, fifty years—thirty, or whatever—and we’ve never had a quarrel, we’ve never had a cross word,” they’re lying to you.  You don’t live without some kind of confrontation—that is, if you’re alive.  Now, if you are a cadaver, why, you won’t have any problem, but if you’re alive, you’re going to have a cross purpose in some of the things that you do.  Now, don’t respond when you’re angry.  Just don’t.  Speak when you’re angry and you will make the best speech you ever regretted in your life.  Don’t ever let anger be a permanent guest in your home.

I heard a guy who said, “My wife is the most even-tempered woman I ever knew in the world.  She is just mad all of the time.”

Don’t let anger be a permanent guest in your home.  Listen, it lies in the power of anyone—I mean, anyone—to throw an apple, a rotten apple of discord, into the domestic harmony.  Family quarrels are the bitterest of all; doing and saying things designed to hurt, insulting things to say.  And it drives sometimes to desperation, to murder, and to suicide.  All of us react in kind.  All of us do.  If we are cruel, the opposite person has a tendency to strike back, to seek a whip to induce pain.

But if we are kind and gentle and gracious, we elicit a like response from the other partner.  All of us know Proverbs 15:1: “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”  It is that kindness and generosity that will remake you and the home.

There came a woman into the lawyer’s office, and she said, “I want a divorce, and I want to do it in a way to hurt him bad!  I want to crush him.  I want to kill him.  Now, you tell me how to do it.”

And that divorce lawyer said to her, “I’ll tell you how to do it.  You go home and you be nice, and gentle, and loving, and precious, and you say every kind thing and do every wonderful thing for your husband.  Then, after you have done that, you come and tell me, and we’ll slap him down with a divorce.  We will just kill him.  We’ll just crush him.”

So she went home, and after two months she came back to the divorce lawyer, and he said, “Well, how did you fare?”

And she said, “I did it!  For two solid months now I have been kind to my husband, and generous, and loving, and tender, and affectionate.”

“Wonderful!” said the lawyer, “Now let’s slap him down!  Let’s strike him down with a divorce!”

And she said, “Are you crazy?” She said, “I have fallen in love with the guy.”

What happened is apparent.  She began to be tender, and kind, and gracious, and loving to him, and he felt himself loved, and cherished, and he began to respond in kind.  It never fails.

Number eleven: never live beyond your means.  Watch that money problem and watch that debt.  The Bible has more to say about that than any one thing; Jesus had more to say about that than anything of which He spoke.  That’s why last week I had that man come here and talk to us about a financial seminar.  You have a money problem in your house, and home, and life—I don’t care who you are; if you are rich it is a bigger problem than if you are poor. And it is best to avoid money troubles, problems.  Don’t, don’t!  From what I can read, the marriage counselor will say there are about as many divorces over the problem of money as there is over anything else in the family.

He says to her, “You know, if I had a string, we could get rich!”

And she says, “How?”

And he replies, “I’d put you on one end of it, and I’d lead you around and exhibit you for a monkey!”

And she replies to him, “You better get you another man!”

And he says, “Why?”

And she replied, “So the people will know on which end of the string is the monkey!”

Watch that debt!  Debt is slavery; mammon is the largest slaveholder in the world.  Watch those credit cards.  In my personal opinion, get rid of them.  Watch those endless payments.  “He who goes a-borrowing, goes a-sorrowing,” said Ben Franklin.  Romans 13:8 says, “Owe no man any thing, save to love one another.”  I have an interpretation of that.  I don’t think it means, “Don’t owe any thing; don’t ever go in debt.”  I think it means this: “You are not to go in debt unless you can see your way clear to pay it.”

For example, I think it wonderful for a young couple to go in debt to buy a house, but it has to be in the framework of their financial abilities to pay for it.  I think it a wonderful thing for a couple to have a baby, and they may have to go in debt to pay the hospital for it, but it is in an arrangement whereby they can see their ability to pay for it.  And if you can’t pay for it, then you don’t get it!  Debt: money is a good servant but a dangerous master!

When I was in Baylor, I never allowed myself but ten cents for breakfast.  I never allowed myself but thirteen cents for lunch.  I never allowed myself but eighteen cents for dinner, never.  I didn’t have any money.  When we married I was making twenty-five dollars a month, and we lived on it.  When I had my doctor’s degree and was pastor of my first church out of the seminary, I was making two hundred-fifty dollars a month.  You can live on your income, whatever it is.  I have done it.  I have done it for years and years.  And God will bless you if you will do that.  Don’t go in debt, unless you find a way in your financial programming to take care of it.  You’ll be a slave the rest of your life if you do.

Number twelve: work and strive to make your intimate life beautiful.  Experts agree, from every way I can study it: sex alone seldom makes or breaks a marriage, but it has a lot to do with it.  It’s well-named when they refer to that master bedroom.  If you’re cool and distant and unresponsive there, you will be everywhere.  If you are warm and tender and compatible there, you will be everywhere.  If a storm is brewing, it will first appear there, and if the floodgates of understanding are open, you’ll first sense it and feel it there.

The man says, “I can be myself at home.  I can be at home and be myself.”  What does he mean by that?  I’ll tell you what he means.  He means that in the business where he works, and in the parties and the social gatherings, he’s scintillating; but when he is at home, he is rude, crude, hateful, and demanding.  That’s what he means when he says, “I can be myself at home.”  Discourteous….ah!

A fellow came down the stairway to the breakfast room, and growling and frowning, and his wife said, “How do you want your eggs?”  He said, “Cooked!”   So she said, “Well, how do you want them cooked?” So he said, “I want one fried, and one boiled, and one scrambled!”  So she fried one egg, boiled one egg, scrambled one egg; laid it before him.  He glowered at them, and she said, “Now, honey, what’s the matter?” And he said, “You scrambled the wrong egg!”  You can be that way in your home.

So the courts have a name for the breaking up of the marriage; they call it gross neglect of duty, or mental cruelty, or incompatibility.  Why don’t you turn it around and be at home as you are in your business?  When you are trying to sell that critter over there, whatever it is you are trying to sell him, you try to be nice, you try to be pleasant, you try to be attractive; you do everything you can to sell the guy some sorry thing that you are trying to sell him, whatever it is that you are trying to sell him.  Why don’t you try to sell something to your wife?  Like yourself?  Why don’t you be as nice, and scintillating, and gracious to her as you are to that critter out there that you don’t even know, you just see him in the store?

Now the woman: let me tell you something.  She holds by a silken cord, stronger than the chains of a slave, that man.  She entwines his heart, she binds his affection, she controls the seat and motive power of his will.  And the sex life in the home is of her making.  Now let me tell you something that I have read, and I’m going to quote a sentence from it.  If you use your sex as a reward, or you deny it as a punishment, you are a first-class prostitute.  That’s what they do.  They sell what they have.  They sell their affections for something they can get out of it.  And here is the sentence that I read: “When sex is the stake you play for, you play a dangerous game!”  Don’t do that; don’t sell yourself for anything, not even to your husband, but make your sex life beautiful, loving.  That’s your gift, and God will bless you in it.

Number thirteen, and last: center your marriage in Christ and in the church.  First Corinthians 7:39 says, “She may marry whom she will; only in the Lord.”  And 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “You are not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever.”  What I do in the unending sessions I have with young couples who are going to marry—I’ve many times asked, “What do you tell them when a young couple comes to you and says, ‘We want to be married?’  What do you say?  What do you tell them?”  This is what I do. I tell the young couple, “Look, I have five fingers, and there are five things that if you’ll do, you’ll have a beautiful marriage.

Number one: say grace at the table.  Thank God before you eat.  Dogs don’t do it, I know.  Hogs don’t do it, I know.  But you do it; say grace at the table before you eat.

My second finger here:  somewhere in the way, read the Bible and say grace.  Do it at breakfast, do it in the evening, do it anytime, but read a passage of Scripture and say grace.

My third finger: before you go to bed at night, both of you kneel down and pray out loud where the other one can hear.  There’s something about that that dissolves the heart.  If you’ve been misunderstanding or unsympathetic, or you’ve been harsh or cruel, when you kneel down and you pray where the other one can hear, it’s dissolved away.

Number four: dress up and go to church.  When you appear before the Lord, appear in the best way that you can.  If all you have is a ragged shirt, make it clean.  I have, ever since I’ve been a boy, clothes that I call “Sunday clothes.”  Now that I’m able, I have shoes I wear just to preach in.  Here’s a pair.  I have suits that I wear just in the pulpit.  I have Sunday clothes.  I got that from childhood.  Dress up, the best that you can, the cleanest that you can, and when you appear before the Lord, appear in the best way that you can.  It’s a great day!  Sunday is God’s day, and we are appearing before Him.

Last, number five:  Do something in the church and in the family of the Lord’s redeemed.  Do something. Tell the pastor, “I want to be responsible to sweep out the floor,” or “I want to raise and lower the windows,” or “I want to stand at the door.”  It doesn’t matter—some of us have this assignment, some of us that, some of the other—but if we do something for God, the Lord sanctifies and hallows the offering that we make to Him.

When you bow before the Lord, God bows down from heaven, and you meet in a beautiful and precious and perfect friendship. God’s with you, God’s for you, God’s on your side, and He will help you, and bless you, and work with you, if you’ll open the door for Him to come in [Revelation 3:20].  May we stand together?

Our Lord in heaven, how humbly we could pray that we could center our lives and every dream that we have around Thee.  You made us [Psalm 100:3]; You can remake us [2 Corinthians 5:17].  It is in Your purpose and elective choice to bless us, and, our Lord, it is but for us to open our hands and to receive from Thee these infinitely precious and heavenly gifts that only God could afford to bestow.   And our Lord, to give our hearts to Thee, and to walk in the light of Thy will and in the preciousness of Thy presence, O blessed Savior, how dear, how wonderful, how blessed.  And we pray tonight, that in this service and in this moment of invitation, God bless you, as you answer with your life [Romans 10:9-10].  A family you, come.  A couple you, come.  A one somebody you, come.  “Tonight, pastor, I am opening my heart and my house, and my home and my life heavenward and God-ward, and I’m coming.”  Some, “I want to be saved, I want to accept Jesus as my Lord.”  Some, “I want to put my life in the church.”  Some, “I want to be baptized as God has commanded in the Book” [Matthew 28:19].  Some, “I want to answer a call from heaven, and here I am.”  Take that companion by the hand and say to her, “Sweetheart, let’s go!”  Gather the family together; all of you come.  As the Spirit from heaven shall make the appeal, answer!  Do it now, and, our Lord, bless those who come.  In Thy saving and keeping and wonderful name, amen.  While we sing, bless you as you come.


Dr. W. A. Criswell

Genesis 24:58-67



1.    Isaac and Rebekah
– one of the happiest weddings in the Bible

2.    People purpose
to have a good marriage

3.    People never get
over a broken marriage

4.    How to make it

Make God your friend; confidant

1.    God is for you;
Proverbs 18:34

2.    His intention is
for your happiness in marriage

Begin with God’s definition of love and trust

1.    The mainstream
definition of love, eros; is never found in the Bible

2.    God’s definition
is agape; a selfless commitment

Bestow words of appreciation and lavish with praise

Never criticize in public

1.    Matthew 18:15;
be alone when speaking of faults

2.    Build up in

Treat your spouse just like you did when you courted

Plan kindnesses and surprises for each other

VIII.       Place
the other’s good and happiness above your own

Talk discuss things together

Never speak of family problems outside the home

Thrust anger far from you

1.    Ephesians 4:26

2.    Do not let anger
be a member of your home

Never live beyond your means

1.    Debt  is slavery

2.    Romans 13:8

XIII.       Strive
to make your intimate life beautiful

XIV.      Center
your marriage in Christ

Five Do’s every day

1.    Say grace at the

2.    Read Scripture
every day to each other

3.    Pray aloud with
each other at bedtime

4.    Go to church

5.    Be a servant in
the church