The Link Between Worship and Relationships
About the Guest
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Alex KendrickAlex Kendrick is a follower of Jesus Christ and has a passion to tell stories of hope and redemption. He is a co-writer for the screenplays and books, and he's the director and editor for Kendrick Brothers' films. Alex has spoken to churches, universities, conferences, and businesses all across America and in other countries. He has been featured on FOX News, CNN, ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, Time Magazine, and many other media outlets. He is a graduate of Kennesaw State Universi...more
Alex Kendrick explores how our relationships with God and our spouse affects our worship.
The Link Between Worship and Relationships
Alex: Some of you would say, “Our marriage is good!” Some of you would say, “Our marriage—it’s all right; you know?” Some of you would say, “Our marriage is just blah—just blah.” Some of you would say, “Our marriage is bad.” What’s incredible to me is God, Himself, has felt all of those emotions that you feel.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.
Dave: So, we get to listen to a message today from Alex Kendrick. You know that name?
Ann: He’s one of my favorite teachers.
Ann: And the first time I heard him was on the Love Like You Mean It® cruise.
Ann: Every time I have heard him since, I love his teaching.
Dave: Yes, and you didn’t know that because he’s a film producer, director—you know?—produced War Room, Fireproof—great movies. Yet, I’ll never forget hearing him on the Love Like You Mean It cruise; and he is a powerful speaker and preacher. This message is about marriage and how it connects to the nation of Israel. So, it’s profound. Enjoy!
Alex: If I were to ask you if God has feelings and emotions, what would you say?
Alex: He does. Now, He is the Creator. So, sometimes, I think, “Okay; God created everything. So, all of my emotions have their origin in Him.” Of course, I can twist and warp my emotions if I’m not walking with Him, of course; but my emotions—the way I feel when I’m excited and delighted, happy, ecstatic—well, that has it’s basis in the Lord creating that for me, allowing me to feel that. When I feel okay or when I feel blah—bluuuh—that has its place too. When I feel terribly sad, almost depressed, well, that feeling comes from something too.
God created the spectrum of emotions; but to what degree has God, Himself, felt the gamut of emotions that you and I feel—specifically, in your marriage?
So, I want to go back to 1 Kings, Chapter 8 and 9. We’re not going to read the whole thing. I’m going to do a lot of summarizing. So, you are welcome to follow along with me, or you can just listen to me because I’m going to summarize it anyway. I’m going to go back to 1 Kings 8 and 9.
So, Israel, from the time God delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt—right?—He delivers them. They wander in the wilderness for 40 years because of disobedience and lack of trust. He takes them eventually with Joshua into the Promise Land, establishes the Promise Land, kicks out all of the ungodly peoples that God says to kick out because He is giving this land—which belongs to God, by the way. God gets to determine who gets what land. So, He says, “I’m giving this land to you.”
Israel starts to take over the land. Then they look around; and they say, “Well, that nation has a king, and they have a king, and they have a king. We don’t have a king.” Samuel says, “God is your King. I’ll speak for the Lord, but God is your King. Trust the Lord.” It goes really well for a while; but they say, “No, we want a king.” God says, “You don’t want a king because you don’t understand what you are asking.” “No, Lord, we want a king.” So, they get Saul. Saul starts off well, but then things go south.
After 40 years, Saul turns away from the Lord, makes some dumb decisions, dies. The kingdom is stripped from his lineage, and it’s given to David. David becomes king, also for 40 years, and then Solomon for 40 years. We get to the moment where the temple is going to be built—and I’m going to camp out on the temple in just a minute. Does anybody know how long—from the time the Hebrews were released from Egypt to the time God finally got His temple to put the Ark in and for His presence to dwell and His name to be known? Does anybody know how long that was? 480 years. That’s a long time.
You can say, “Well, for God, it’s not really waiting because He is God.” No, He says wait. He says in Scripture. I have waited. God is very, very relational—very relational with us. After 480 years, He gets the temple. Now, I want to remind you how significant the temple is, and you’ll see where I’m going in just a minute.
The temple was built by the greatest craftsman of the day. King Solomon spares no expense. He gets the best craftsmen. The best stones—they are cut specifically. The temple is erected. He overlays everything—the finest craftsmen—inside with all the wood with gold—pure gold. So, when you walk in, you see all the wood, and it’s all ornate in design. It’s all overlaid with gold, and the utensils are the finest bronze for all the priest to use and do their sacrifices.
You have the Holy of Holies. You have the cherubim, gold; the Ark of the Covenant, gold. I mean it is magnificent. When they finish building this after a long period of time, Solomon—remember David wanted to do it; but God said, “No, it not for you, David. You’ve committed too much bloodshed. It’s for your son Solomon.” So, David could only make some preparations. So, Solomon does this. When he finishes doing it and the people are very, very excited, Solomon, at this point, is whole-heartedly honoring the Lord as the One true God.
He gathers all the officials and leaders of Israel together in Jerusalem to dedicate the temple, and this is a big deal in Scripture. When he does, this magnificent temple is finished; and the Ark is about to go in. I was noting when I was reading this how God treated this. God’s pleasure was—it was so thick there. His favor was so thick. This is one of the moments where God and His people have an intimate, intimate form of spiritual relationship and connection.
So, the Lord is there looking down; and they are proclaiming the name of the Lord. Solomon dedicates the temple, and if you read 1 Kings 8 and 9, you’ll see this long, beautiful, God-honoring prayer of dedication where Solomon blesses the people for coming and he blesses the Lord; and he says, “You are the One true God. There is no other.” His hands are raised. He falls to his knees. He says, “God, You delivered us. You sustained us. You protected us. You provided for us. You are the beginning and the end, Lord. You are the only God.” He’s worshipping God. The people worship God with him, and he dedicates the temple.
They take the Ark in; and when they do, God shows up. He manifests Himself in this thick cloud that emanates around the Ark, out of the Holy of Holies, throughout the temple, and starts to come out. There is a physical manifestation of the glory of God. It says, “The priests were overwhelmed.” They even had to leave and walk out. It was so strong. So, God shows up. He’s being worshipped.
Now, this feast of prayer and worship and unity and sacrifice were a sin offering and for just an offering to the Lord out of worship. They are doing it over and over and over. So, it’s offering to God. It’s feasting. It’s praising. It’s praying—the dedicating of the temple—just loving God. It was a love feast for the Lord. It goes 14 days before people start going back home.
You see when God does this, and He shows back up to Solomon. What did God say the first time He appeared to Solomon? Ask whatever you want, and I’ll give it to you. Solomon thinks about—[okay, fame—that’d be nice. Money—no] “God, I’m asking for wisdom.” God says, “Because you’ve asked for this, I’m also giving you fame. I’m also giving you wealth.”
So, God appears to Solomon a second time after this event. That’s very telling. God is pleased. He comes to Solomon; and He says, “I will always keep someone from your line on the throne; but walk with Me, seek Me, obey Me.” God is saying, “Seek Me. Choose Me. Choose Me. Choose Me.” God wants your heart and your love and your adoration of Him over everything else; right? It is a very intimate moment.
Now, if I had to compare it to something, you and I had a honeymoon; and you’re just doting on your spouse. You want to please your spouse. You’re not overloaded with the rest of life. So, we have this time where they are dedicating the temple, and then times goes by; and God keeps His Word. He douses Israel with protection and blessing and fame. Solomon becomes wealthier and more famous than anybody in the land anywhere. So, God’s blessing Israel.
Other countries bring tribute to Israel. It says, “They fear Israel’s God”; but as time goes by, what does Israel do? They get used to this. Many of the men in Israel start looking around going, “Hey, things are going well here. Look at what they are doing across the lines here in that country over there. Look at those dancing girls down there, around that idol down there. Look at their feast. Look at their celebrations.” They started looking around at what’s going on.
Solomon—he makes the poor choice of marrying wives from some of these other countries that worshipped different gods. So, in tandem, Solomon—and it’s starts with the men of Israel. They start noticing these other gods. Why? They forget the context and the blessings of what God has done for them. They take them for granted: “Oh, it’s always going to be like this. I want even more”—right?—“I want even more.” So, they start looking beyond what the Lord has provided, and they start bringing other gods into the land.
God starts sending prophets to say, “Whoa! What are you doing?!” “No, seek Me. I’m the one that’s providing all this for you. Your protection comes from Me. Your notoriety comes from Me. Your blessings come from Me. Choose Me. Choose Me,” God says. He sends one prophet after another, and it goes from being intimate to being—meh, meh.
You’ve been there in your marriage; right? After a while, it gets blah. They’re half-heartedly honoring God now. God’s keeping His end of the deal; but now, God starts to express more emotions that we haven’t seen yet. This longing for Israel to choose Him whole-heartedly, not just halfway—“Choose Me whole-heartedly. Focus on Me whole-heartedly.” Israel doesn’t do it.
Now, you have moments. You have King Josiah who finds the Old Testament Law, and he comes back to the Lord; and they have these brief revivals; but they are not sustained. They have a Weekend to Remember; right? And they keep going, and it’s blah. It’s blah. Then, it goes to the other extreme where it’s bad. When you get to the book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah is known as—what?—the weeping prophet. Why is he known as the weeping prophet? He’s, not only seeing what is about to happen to his beloved Israel, but he is also expressing God’s feelings toward Israel.
So, I want to read you both extremes. I’m going to start in 1 Kings 8 and 9. I’m just going to read a summary. So, follow me here. Solomon finishes building the temple with Lebanese cedars, gold, bronze. He gathers all the leaders and people of Israel together, places the Ark of the Covenant inside. The glory of the Lord filled the temple like a cloud of mist. Solomon stood and blessed the people and praised the Lord. He recounted God’s promises and faithfulness, culminating in a dedication of the temple as a place for God’s Name to be honored, His presence to dwell. At this point, God is delighted and happy.
Solomon worships and praises God’s power and mercy, forgiveness, righteousness, provision, protection. He falls to his knees as he prays out loud to God with his hands toward Heaven; and the people joined Solomon in making thousands of sacrifices and offerings, worshipping the Lord. They do it two weeks. Then God blesses Solomon and all of Israel, and this goes on for some time.
Now, here’s the other end of the spectrum. This is out of Jeremiah 2 and 3. He speaking for the Lord: “As a young bride”—He calls Israel His bride—“As a young bride, you were so eager to please Me and to love Me; but you strayed from Me even after I protected you and provided for you over and over again. You began seeking and giving your love to worthless idols made by man. Even my priests began ignoring me. You treated My love for you as worthless. You have abandoned and rejected Me for gods that cannot see and cannot hear.
“But I feared you from slavery. I gave you this land. I brought the rains and the harvest. I defeated your enemies. I brought you blessings. Yet, you lust after false gods like a wild donkey lusting for a mate.” That’s pretty harsh. “What have I done to make you reject Me? You’ve defiled every hilltop and place of worship by prostituting yourselves to other gods. You are an adulterous wife.” God calls Israel His bride, His wife. He says, “Come back to Me! Return to Me! Choose Me! Love Me for disaster and judgment are coming because of your wickedness.” This is what struck me.
Wherever you are right now—some of you would say, “Our marriage is good.” Some of you are saying, “Our marriage is all right; you know?” Some of you would say, “Our marriage is just blah—just blah.” Some of you would say, “Our marriage is bad.” What’s incredible to me is God, Himself, has felt all of those emotions that you feel. He felt it for His chosen ones, His nation. I mean think about this. Think about what God says here. Can you think of anything worse than feeling totally abandoned and rejected? There is no intimacy. There is nothing. Yet, that’s what God is feeling here.
No matter where you are the Lord knows. None of this is foreign to Him. Then Christ comes; and does He not go through this same thing? He is celebrated and followed and praised, “You are the Son of God.” And then those—“I don’t know about You, Jesus”—the Thomases—“I don’t know.” Then people that said, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! You lie. You are not the Son of the Living God.” He is totally abandoned and rejected; and even His closest followers flee or totally say, “I don’t know the Man.”
The Lord knows you better than you know yourself, and He has been there. So, times when I might struggle or Christina might struggle in our relationship, the Lord knows exactly how you are feeling. He has felt it and for longer periods of time than you and I have ever felt it. Think about it. Most of His relationship with Israel was bad. Most of the—it was negative. It was “Israel, please come back. Please come back. Please come back.” There are few times when God was totally delighted. You could probably name them on one hand.
Yet, He loves us. He’s compassionate and merciful and gracious to us and long-suffering. It amazes me when I think about that. God, on my darkest days, you have felt that.
Ann: Hmm, as I listen to that, I think I am so glad that God is so patient. We’ve been listening to Alex Kendrick, a message that he gave on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.
Dave: And he’s going to be speaking on the Love Like You Mean It cruise this February. I’m telling you right now. You need to sign up, and you’ll get a special discount if you sign up right now. So, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and sign up for the Love Like You Mean It cruise. You don’t want to miss it because it’s great messages like this and a great week.
Ann: And hey, here’s a little secret.
Ann: The Kendrick brothers are going to have us preview their newest movie coming out—
Ann: —on the ship that no one else will have seen yet.
Dave: Yes, there is a reason to get on that boat; but he just finished Point 1 of this message which is fabulous. There is another point, and he’s going to jump into that right here, right now.
Alex: Here is my second point. When our worship is right, then we are in a position for God to do amazing things and to show up. Israel was in a right state of worship. They were acknowledging God for who He is and for who they were and their dependence on Him and that He is the only God—when their worship was right. See, worship by its very nature is humbling. It is an unselfish act because if I am sincerely worshipping God, what am I doing?
I’m acknowledging, “Lord, You are the one on the throne not me. I’m acknowledging my need for You—that You are the Holy One not me; that You are the righteous One; that You are the Creator; You are the Sustainer; You are the Provider. You are all of these things not me.” For me to worship God is to say, “I am the worshipper.” So, when my worship is right, then I’m in a position for God to say, “Alex, work on this. Alex, apologize for this. Alex, I’m going to teach you something here.” I’m moldable when my worship is right.
Israel’s worship was right when they dedicated the temple. When God is pleased, He comes down and manifests Himself. He says, “I want to be with you. I want to be intimate with you. I want to teach you. I want to bless you.” He shows up, and he says, “Ask what you want?” He douses Israel with everything that they need and want and more when their worship is right.
So, wherever you are, two things: God knows and has felt it Himself; and secondly, when your worship is right, then you are in a position for God to do amazing things. Now, the timing is up to Him. Maybe, you say, “I want God to work on my spouse.” All of us want God to work on our spouse: “Lord, if only my spouse would only realize this”—you know—because—what do we do? We use our own scale. See, in my marriage, my scale is “Oh, I have things to work on, but my spouse really has things to work on.” Then Christina, who loves me, thinks the same thing about me: “I know I have things to work on, but you REALLY have things to work on.” That’s the way—because we are using our own scale.
When my worship is right and I’m viewing it the way God wants me to view it, He will show you what you need to do. When you’re listening, my worship is right; I’m listening; I’m honoring; and I’m humbling myself because it’s a full acknowledgement God of who You are and of who I am not. Lord, I need You; but all of us want intimacy; right? You want intimacy in marriage. You want intimacy in your relationship. You want intimacy physically; and hopefully, you want intimacy spiritually with the Lord.
So, to get there, acknowledge the God who created it has also walked it. He’s also felt it. Old Testament, New Testament—both—He knows what it is like to be elated and the best is. He knows what it is like on the most horrific, worst days. You have not gone through anything He, Himself, has not gone through; but secondly, He wants intimacy with you. He wants you to chase Him and to know Him and to seek Him, and not half-heartedly, not on the blah days.
So, my final statement to you is this: In many ways, your marriage should be a reminder of God’s desire for intimacy with you. If it’s not going well in your marriage, ask yourself, “Is it going well between me and the Lord?” That should be a reminder—husbands! That should be a reminder, wives. “I want intimacy. I want greater levels of intimacy—relationally, emotionally, physically. So, Lord, if I turn that around and I say, ‘Lord, what do You want from me? Do You also want greater intimacy from me? Do You want more of my heart and my worship?’” Let’s get our worship right. Then watch what God does.
Bob: Alex Kendrick is so right here. You will almost never find a couple where both the husband and wife would say, “My relationship with God is strong. It’s thriving. It’s doing well. It’s just the relationship we have together in marriage that is not working out right.” When there is something wrong in our marriage, there’s often something wrong in our relationship with God. We can begin addressing the issues in marriage by getting right with God.
The message you have heard today is a message from Alex Kendrick from one of our Love Like You Mean It marriage cruises. Alex and his brother Stephen are going to be back on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise in 2022. They are going to bringing their latest movie. We will get a sneak preview of what the Kendricks will have in theaters next year when we get together for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise in February of 2022.
We are so excited to have a real cruise happening in February. The safety protocols are in place. Cruising has been happening now for months. You can sign up for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise without concerns, and a lot of you are doing it already. We’re about 70 percent full on the cruise. So, we wanted to come to FamilyLife Today listeners and say, “If you are interested, now is the time to sign up to join us and be part of the cruise in 2022.
You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and get signed up over the phone. We have a special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners that is in place between now and October 4th. So, it’s the best time to sign up and take advantage of some savings.
And let me just say the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise has been used by God to strengthen so many marriages over the years. Couples, who come who are in a good marriage, come away refreshed and renewed. We’ve had couples who have come who have been struggling in their marriage and God has used the cruise as a turnaround for so many of them.
We would love to have you join us in 2022; and again, right now is a great time to sign up and save some money. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. That’s 1-800-358-6329—1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” Alex and Stephen Kendrick will be joined by Dave and Ann Wilson, Ron Deal, Dr. Juli Slattery, other artists, musicians, speakers. It’s going to be a great week away, the 2022 Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. We hope to see you there.
And with that, we’ve got to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for joining us. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us on Monday when we’re going to hear from Dr. Juli Slattery about what a wife can do to help find and motivate the hero in her husband. Hope you can tune in for that.
On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I am Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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