Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate Matt. 19:6.

When the Lord directed that we should teach about building a strong family in Him, I kept thinking about the many things that have gone wrong with the institution of marriage and family in our day. I pondered about the words of the Lord Jesus quoted above. It meant marriage must endure to the end without divorce or separation. Jesus made it clear that Moses allowed divorce because men were hard to teach (to be shown the best way of handling marriage) Matt. 19:8. Gods plan or vision for marriage has not changed. Marriage is still meant to be a blessing. Yet everywhere we turn we find brokenness in marriages and families. The answer to this problem is found in Gods vision for marriage. Men ought to go back to Gods plan for marriage. The problem is that, the devil has enticed men to substitute Gods plan for marriage and family with his plan (the devils) in order to counter the blessedness of Gods intention in the institution of marriage. Just like life in salvation, marriage must involve God from day one to the end. However, people have decided to put God out of their marriages, thus turning marriage into a burden instead of a great blessing.

The heart of God must be bleeding when He sees his own children in Christ joining the ranks of those who have failed in their marriages. Why is this happening even among the believers? It is because many of them are living part time Christian lifestyle. They have put in place a time for being spiritual and a time for being ordinary or normal Christian. And so, during the ordinary session of their lives, they are ready to use the wisdom of the world and the flesh with disastrous consequences for their marriages and families.

Astrong family in the Lord will mean a strong church, a strong community and a strong nation. The family unit is the building block of every community. And so, the foundation of every nation is in the family. And a strong family comes from a strong marriage in the Lord. The chaos and the moral degeneration that we see all around us today is the result of attack on family values and its roots in the marriage.

Marriage as the most important and oldest human institution is being attacked more than ever. None other than the devil himself authors this attack. He began this work right from the Garden of Eden.
Let us examine three keys to building a strong and lasting family;
1). Oneness in marriage.
2). Submission and sacrificial love.
3). Wisdom and understanding.

Oneness in marriage

Consider the text;
“And God said, “for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one. So, they are no longer two, but one” No human being must separate, then what God has joined together’ (MATT. 19: 5-6)

In the passage quoted above, Jesus made it very clear that no one should take marriage lightly to warrant divorce or separation for any excuse. That it was God himself who first instituted marriage by causing man and woman to be united together and be one person.
The mystery of marriage and success in marriage lies in the passage quoted above.
God desires oneness in marriage. What this means is that each partner in marriage ceases to peruse his or her own vision and takes up God’s vision for the marriage. They loose their lives for one another i.e. for the sake of obedience to God’s word. And that is the essence of what Jesus meant in Mark 8:34-35 when he said that if anyone looses his life for His sake he will find it and if anyone withholds his life from Him, he will loose it.
For two different people to become one in marriage, their common and uniting factor has to be God and His word.
It is important to note that underlying every distress or failure in marriage is disobedience to the principle of God’s word for marriage and family by one or both partners in marriage.
Full blessings are reaped in marriage when the couples are obedient to God’s word. If there is any place where a ‘mini’ heaven may be experienced on earth, it is a working marriage built on obedience to God’s word whereas ‘hell ‘ may be experienced in a marriage where God’s word is disregarded.
The oneness or unity that God desires in marriage should be reflected in the entire family. It is this oneness in the marriage and the family that the devil hates and fights. There are many couples who are already separated though still in the marriage. The devil will try to use the following weapons to fight oneness in marriage and family: –
i). Selfishness: causes the couple to refuse to submit to one another and so disrupts unity.
ii). Suspicion: will eat away trust from the marriage and family. Where there is no trust there will be no common ground.
iii). Break in Communication: signals trouble. It can breed suspicion and give the devil room to feed the mind of the couple with malicious and false thoughts about the other. When your partner keeps quiet, dont stop communicating, dont react like wise, lest you become a tool in the hand of the enemy to destroy your marriage and relationship.
iv). Disobedience to the word of God: mean obedience to the worldly way and philosophy of handling marriage. This will allow the devil to have a foothold in your marriage.
v). Disagreement on Financial matters: using money selfishly will cause unhappiness, abuse and lack in the family. Never allow money to rob your marriage of joy and peace. Rather using money responsibly for what is best for the family at that material time will bring peace and more blessings in the family.
vi). Adultery and sexual promiscuity: Any temptation towards adultery must be dealt with immediately and drastically. It is dangerous and foolish to allow yourself to be enticed and carried away by sexual promiscuity. One may plunge into adultery with vigor, but will come out of it sapped and dying (Pr.2: 17-19). The best thing to do is to flee from sexual immorality (I Cor 6: 18-20).
Ungodly tastes. Bad dressings, occulted materials and symbols can bring into your marriage and family demonic forces that will cause disruptions and trouble. On no account should a married couple watch pornographic films, get involved in oral sex and seek sexual satisfaction the worldly way. This will open the couple up to lust and other sexual abuse.
vii). Control by the extended family: Any attempt by the parents or relatives of the couple to control the home of their loved ones will cause disunity and trouble. Otherwise the best thing to do is for the couple to make their relatives know that they are one and that when the husband is not at home, the wife is in full charge.
Having no time for one another: keeping out of touch with your spouse and family for long breaks the unity. You need to have time for one another. The more you live together, the more you will know one another and the closer you will become. Those who keep away from their families for so long ends up paying a heavy price in terms of the developments that they failed to do for their marriage and family. Nothing is more valuable than your family. God will help you be with them when you so desire.

(B) Submission and sacrificial love

Consider the text;
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church, His body of which he is the saviour. Now as the Church submits to Christ so wives should submit to their Husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her Eph 5:21-25.

Here we see that the partners in marriages are commanded to submit to one another because of their fear or respect for Christ. To submit is to surrender. Husband and wife should surrender their lives to one another. In marriage they are liable to one another.
This means that married people ought to act in the best interest of their spouses, in obedience to what the Lord says. And so submission begins with the fear of God. Those who dont fear God, though they may claim to Love God will not want to submit to their spouses.

Though partners in marriage are called to submit to one another, it is clear that there is a complementary assignment emphasised for each of them. It is total submission of the wives to their husbands and sacrificial love by husband for their wives. The submission is likened to that of the Church to Christ. It is when the Church is totally surrendered (obedient) to the Lord and worships him, that his great works in every aspect of the churchs life and missions is seen. Whereas when there is disobedience, the church experiences great losses and defeat. In the same way, God is ready to move in a great way in answer to the prayers of a submissive wife. The kind of love a husband is required to give his wife is Christ -like, ready if need be to die for his wife. That is selfless and sacrificial. Christ does not harm his church rather he does good for it.
The husband should not hurt his wife emotionally or physically and should not deprive his wife of all that he needs to provide. The Headship of the husband in the marriage is not the boss like headship as mistaken by many men. Bosses dont die for their workers instead they would prefer their workers to die for them. Rather it service- oriented headship, the kind that ensures that the next step taken by the husband is fine for his wife and family. When he does that he will cause the Lord to move and bring the needed changes in his marriage. Many people want to wait for their partners to begin obeying Gods command for marriage before they can begin doing so. And that is what has robbed Gods children of the many victories they would have seen in marital challenges.

Testimony of obedience:

The testimony of Mama Florence should be an encouragement to all of us. She is now thirty-two years in marriage. When they wedded in church, they were merely nominal Christians. After ten years in marriage, Florence experienced challenges connected to her husband’s unfaithfulness. She tried to fight back the best way she knew but in vain. She then gave her life to Christ and submitted to his will. She pleaded with the lord for the soul of her husband, for another ten years. During those ten years of submission and waiting, her husband continued being unfaithful. Many times he would ask her to drive him out for shopping after which he would tell her to take him to a home that always turned out to be for his mistress or girlfriend. The husband would then remain behind for a ‘good time’ but not without telling Florence to come back and collect him, which she would obey.
Not only that, he even tried to hinder Florences spiritual life. But in the tenth year, the lord proved his word. He answered Florence and saved the husband Richard. Today as an elder and teacher Richard serves the lord with zeal and gratitude. He still remembers with tears what he did against his wife and family, but is overwhelmed with joy for Gods goodness and mercy that was extended towards him because his wife submitted to Gods will and prayed for him. God protected their marriage and spared him from Aids. The Lord renewed their marriage and restored their family. Today Richard is in deep love with his wife.

Ask yourself how many believing wives would have given up their marriages were they to face this kind of challenge Florence faced? Whatever your challenge, in family or marriage, know that God cannot fail his word. Dont run away from the challenges you may face in marriage by withdrawing from one another or divorcing. Bring the Lord into the situation, by obeying his Vision for your marriage and Family. He makes the difference.

Wisdom and understanding

Consider the text;
“Through skill and godly wisdom is a house (a life, a home, a family) built, and by understanding it is established (on a sound and good foundation.)” (Proverbs 24:3 AMP).

Wisdom and understanding: The mortar that keeps the family bound in strength.

Astrong house will remain intact inspite of storms and weathering. What keeps the bricks and stones in the house bound strongly together is the mortar. Likewise the mortar that binds the different elements in the family together and keeps it strong against the storms of life is wisdom and understanding.

Wisdom and understanding must hold firmly every area of the family, that is, the couple, the children and the dependants.

What is wisdom and understanding?

“But to man he said, Behold the reverential and worshipful fear of the Lord – that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28 AMP)

When the couple or head of the family decides to fear the Lord, respect him and obey his word, a standard for their children and dependants is set.

When they depart from evil, they produce the fruit of righteousness. Righteousness establishes them. That is why Joshua declared before the children of Israel that; as for him and his house (family) they would serve the Lord (Joshua 24:14-15).

Many Christian parents leave their children and dependants to go their own way and then realize too late that they have taken the wrong way. How else will the Lord bless the fruit of your womb (children) if not by teaching them to know and fear him!

“Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commandments always, so that it may go well with them and their children forever!” (Deut 5:29 NIV)

Parents who have young children should show them the way of the Lord when they are still young. When they do so, the children will not leave the way of the Lord. And when they are grown-up, the parents will be proud of them (Pr. 22:6, Pr. 29:17). The task of training a child lies with the parents. A father, mother or guardian who does not punish their children in correction because they think they love them too much will spoil them in many ways.

To correct a child is love and failure to correct is hatred. (Pr. 13:24) By training your children to fear God and to depart from evil you are building a strong family. Yet when you abandon your children into the hands of the house helper, you are building a weak family that will not withstand trials and temptations in the future. Those who came to know the Lord later in their lives and did not have the opportunity to bring their children in the ways of the Lord can still pray to get them into the kingdom. Again and again I have seen believers pray for their loved ones to find the way to the Lord and they have always been saved. That is why you must never stop praying for your loved ones (spouses, children and relatives), however evil they may appear to be. All things are possible with God. One by one you will see them find the Lord. Do not let the devil or your flesh discourage you.

Do not copy the way of handling your children or family from non-believers, television shows or other worldly literatures. It will only lead to pain and disappointments. The pillar for your family should be God’s wisdom, therefore seek wisdom. Jesus said that wisdom is proved – right by it’s outcome (Matt 11:19). God’s wisdom will lead you to worship God and fear him and to shun evil (repent, forsake it). The end result is the fruit of righteousness. Wisdom will enable you win God’s favor, blessing and strength for your family.

The source of wisdom and understanding:
Jesus is our source of wisdom and understanding. He is the only wisdom that cannot fail you.

“but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power and the wisdom of God” (I Cor. 1:24 NIV).

Pray always that every member of your household will love the Lord Jesus with all their hearts. Let them know that such a love shown to the Lord obligates each of them to love one another in the family. When you make Jesus the pillar, you will be able to understand the truth of what the Lord Jesus Said: “..I will build my church and the gates of Hades (Hell) will not overcome it” (Matt 16:18). You will then have a strong church right from home, able to withstand and overcome the attacks of Satan, because you decided to build a strong family in the Lord.

Whatever the state of your marriage now or whatever might have happened in your past should not discourage you.
Lift up your loved ones and every challenging family matter to God in prayer. Never stop praying even when the situation appears to be worsening (LK 18:1-8). Remain obedient to God. Like many others who have had their answers, you too can have yours. Remember that with God all things are possible (MATT.19: 26).

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