Father in heaven, Lord we do bless you today. God we thank thee. Oh, Lord, how have been loving us! You have been pouring love upon us, Lord. We thank you for the sweet instructions that we have received already this morning, God. They are honey, they are as sweet as honey, Father, greater than much fine gold. Lord we pray that you will continue to give us instruction, Lord, that will grace and bless our lives. I pray for these here young people, Lord. I pray that you will cause them to prosper. I pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
Alright, we greet each one in Jesus' name again this morning.
I've been so exited as I have been teaching these sessions on godly courtship. Several times my heart has been overwhelmed with tears of joy as I realized the potential of some sessions like this. If you young people will get a hold of what we are saying, and put it to practice, I can almost guarantee you a happy marriage. That's exiting to me. Because a happy marriage will bring happy children into the world, happy, godly children that can do damage to Satan's kingdom and glorify God. It's a very important issue, isn't it?
I'd like us to open our Bibles to 1st Corinthians Chapter 1. I'd like to begin by reading here in verse five [and] read a little bit about fellowship.
We are giving this series of lessons in a series. Every title each day is the same so the one is flowing from the other one. The session today will flow from yesterday's session, and I'd like to conclude a little bit about this whole matter of defrauding one another, and flirting, and tearing up, and watching for the next couple, and all of the girlfriend-boyfriend talk and all of that. I would like to just sum that up here this morning with an application of what it can do for your fellowship one with another if you'll put these things away.
In 1st Corinthians 1, and we'll start reading in verse 4, "I thank my God always on your behalf for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ", and that is truly my heart this morning to each of you young people, that in everything, you are enriched by Him, in utterance, and in knowledge, and that's my prayer for each one of you. Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you so that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ who shall also confirm you unto the end...", (which is an encouraging thought, isn't it?), "... that ye might blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.", and that is my heart for each one of you also. "God is faithful...," (verse 9), "...by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I beseech you, brethren...," (and I beseech you, young people), "...by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment concerning this matter of courtship,".
I beseech you, young people, you allow God to bring your hearts and minds to bring you to a place of agreement with your fathers and your mothers, with those spiritual leaders that God has put over you, and also with your fellow brothers and sisters. For there is rich blessings if you will allow that to happen, and do your part to make it happen. God has called each one of you young people to one of the richest... (How shall I say it?) ...fellowships that you can have. There are fellowships upon this earth. There are lodges, there are clubs, there are all different kinds of fellowships, but God has called you young people to the fellowship that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. That is rich, it is awesome, it is edifying, it is strengthening, it is life-changing, and If I'm not careful I'll lose my subject and start preaching on that. But consider with me today: This is God's standard for you. My own testimony, the fellowship of the brotherhood, is all of those things that I said. It's rich. We don't want to miss that; God wants you to have that.
But I have noticed through the years that this whole matter of defrauding, and flirting, and pairing up, and boyfriends and girlfriends, and all of that has literally destroyed the pure fellowship that young people ought to have for one another and with one another. It's so bad that a young man is almost afraid to share something that God showed him to a young lady for fear that the others that are watching will say, "OH! Look over there!". We want that for you young people. We want that desperately, and I just want to encourage you in that, that if you can come to a place of one-mindedness of this subject, to where you all lay down your guns, so to speak, and everybody agrees, "We're not going to play around with this nonsense anymore,". You may be able to enter into some fellowship among yourselves that you never had before. It's not right that the young lades are afraid to see a brother in the Church and say, "Brother John, God bless you. How have you been doing this week?", and for brother John to say, shortly and briefly, without spending a long, long time to share what God is doing in his life. There's nothing wrong with that. God wants it in the Church here on a Sunday morning. I feel very free to walk up to a married sister and share with her what God did in my life, and ask her what God is doing in her life. God wants it to be the same this way. That's not wrong.
I believe with all my heart, if you young people will choose together to lay down these carnal ideas, repent of your defrauding, turn away from all of your flirting, agree together that you are going to pull the reins in on your emotions, and have spiritual fellowship, instead of this which often happens, my, it could change your relationships totally. This has been a burden on our hearts, it's been a burden on my heart, and just a few days ago in this local fellowship, some of us preachers were sitting together sharing and the brother said to me, "Brother, when you share on courtship, please bring this point out to the young people,". It's a burden on all of our hearts. We'd like you to be able to have spiritual fellowship one with another.
Recently, I was visiting with a preacher who is a pastor in a fellowship down in Costa Rica. And he was sharing with me what a beautiful fellowship the young people have down there in their fellowship of Churches, and this is in a mission context, but there's about twenty six or twenty eight young people. And the Churches are scattered in some distance but they do get together for fellowship, and he was sharing with me that they are totally free from all of this mentality from the boyfriend and the girlfriend, and all that goes along with it, and what we're talking about. And because of that they have beautiful spiritual fellowship, and because of that, they rarely have a twenty-year old saying, "I want to get married". He said, "They're not even thinking about that. They're busy doing the work of God together. They're busy having a prayer meeting together. They're busy sharing the things of God together, and they just feel as relaxed around each other as can be,". Oh, I heard that, and I said, "Lord, so be it. So be it,". Let us have that for our young people.
Brother Mose was sharing with me, as we began to discuss this together. He recently made a trip to Germany, and there stopped and visited a fellowship there in Germany. And they had a young people's gathering, and he was there among those young people, and he said, "That's the way it was among those young people. They were so free from all of this boyfriend-girlfriend stuff that they were just relaxed around each other, and they were sharing one with another, they were having spiritual fellowship, they were willing to stand yoke to yoke with one another and go and do the work of God together, and they were free from all of this stuff,". And it was so refreshing to me to hear that testimony, and one that the other brothers shared.
A young brother and a young sister ought to be able to have some spiritual conversation when they meet each other without everyone else watching and starting a rumor and all of that stuff. There should be none of that among us. It binds up this beautiful process that we're going to be speaking about a little bit later here, this morning. It binds it all up. A young man is so afraid. As he is trying to discern the will of God he is so afraid that somebody might see him that he can hardly be free, and it ought not so to be.
So I leave that with you this morning as an admonition to draw a conclusion, and make an application on a corporate level on this subject that we have been discussing. One question that came to me that I want to clarify also, which fits right alongside of this, I said yesterday that you ought to treat the young ladies in the Church like your sister, and the scripture says, "in all purity". That verse does, and I believe it has to do with our moral attitudes toward them. But the question was a good question because some of the young men said, "Well, I have a very sweet and a close relationship with my sister, and we share our hearts many times, and we've drawn very close to each other. Is that what you meant?". I want to clarify on that: No, that is not what I meant. I don't believe that it's wise to enter into deep and close relationships, you know, intimate ones where just begin to share the deepness of your heart with sisters. I don't believe it would be wise to do that, but I praise God that you have a relationship like that with your sister, or your brother. It's a good training ground for your future.
Now, I'd like to move on into this process of entering courtship. Now, we took a long time to get to this. I know this is what you came to hear. We took a long time to get here, but I believe we had to cover all of the ground that we've covered before we got to this point. This process of entering into courtship should be initiated by the young man. He will be the leader in the relationship throughout life, and it's only right that he be the initiator in the whole relationship of courtship. That puts you young ladies in a position of learning how to wait on God and trust him, but I assure you, you'll do that many, many times in your married life as you wait upon God to move upon your husband's heart about a certain thing that you may be concerned about. So, it's good practice for you to learn to wait on God, and trust God, and in the meantime, just go on and serve God, and love Jesus with all of your heart. Let Him be the fulfillment of your every emotional need.
Alright, the Lord through different channels has awakened this young man. Maybe in prayer, maybe by the council of a leader, maybe a father has prompted him or some other godly man that he knows has come alongside of him, and nevertheless, in any way, God has gotten his attention. And he realizes that God is leading him and pressing upon his heart that it is now time for him to seek a life partner. He should begin to pray for direction from God, and at the same time, I would recommend when you feel these kind of promptings in your heart, that you should sit down with your father, and maybe even your mother, but for sure you should sit down with your father immediately and say, "Dad, God is beginning to impress upon my heart my need for a life partner, and I'm starting to pray for direction about it. Could we talk about it? Do you have some instruction that you'd like to give me? Could we spend some time praying about this, and could covenant together to pray about it often?". This is not a matter of "Ok, now God has given me the ok, now I'm going out and finding me a wife". No, you need some help in this matter. You should be in close communication with your father, and praying much together about it.
I'd like to refer again to the Old Testament concerning this principle. In the Old Testament, the fathers were actively involved in this whole process of entering into courtship, and having courtship. They were actively involved, and I think that we do foolishly to say, "Well, that was the Old Testament,". I think we can glean some great wisdom in this area, because the fathers were actively involved. In fact, in some situations (I don't in believe all of them) they arranged the marriage. And I'm not suggesting here today that that be done, but I think that the parents ought to have an active role in helping a young man, and helping a young lady to come to God's clear choice in this matter. In the Old Testament, the father of the young lady was the one who gave permission. In the Old Testament, the young man went to the father to get permission. In the Old Testament, it was the father of the young man who determined when the son was ready to go and get his bride. This was even after the espousal when he had betrothed himself a wife, and people would say, "There is Mary, Joseph's wife,". But even then the father said, "Ok, son, I believe you're ready. Now go and get your bride,".
Consider those things as you ponder this point of making sure that your father is actively involved in this area, and also I would suggest that you get some help from other godly authorities that he may put in your life. I would that each of you would also make a covenant with your fathers, young men and young ladies also, that you will not enter into a relationship without his full blessing. A covenant with [your] father that he will protect you, and watch over you, and help you discern God's choice for your life. I would like to make that reccomendation to each one of you, that you do it even long before we get to this process where we're now ready to enter into courtship. You sit down with your father and say, "Dad, I want you to protect me in this area. I want you to watch over my life, and I want to make a covenant with you. Dad, I'm going to promise you, I'm not going to draw a young lady's heart without your blessing upon it. I'm not going to sneak around, dad, and have my own program going on for a couple of months before I come and let you know what my desires are for this young lady. I'm going to bring it through you. Will you help me with this?".
And young ladies, I would encourage the same thing, that you would agree with your father. (I.E.) "Dad, protect me in this whole area. I promise you, I will not let my heart go in the direction of a young man without your blessing upon it,". And ask him, "Dad, will you protect me in this? Will you watch over me in this area?".
A young lady came to me (and this is something that I get pretty often in different places) and she said, "Brother Denny, I'm not sure what to do. There's a young man, I think he likes me. Every time I turn around, he's always staring at me, and he's always around me, and he's standing there, and I'm feeling uncomfortable. What do we do with that?". Well, I'll tell you what should happen, there. That whole scenario should take place with your father, young ladies. You should sit your father down and say, "Dad, I'm not feeling good about this one boy. He's looking at me, and he's staring at me, and I'm feeling uncomfortable,". You should tell your father that, and your father then should fulfill his responsibility by protecting you, and graciously go to that young man. And in his nice forty to forty five year old mature spirit say to that young man, who may be sixteen or seventeen years old and say, "Son, we're not feeling very well with the way you are behaving yourself with our daughter,". I assure you, if you ask your father to take care of that, it will take care of the problem very quickly. But, the problem is, that that is not being done, so because it's not being done, the young men feel free to move around on their own, and do things that they shouldn't be doing. This is a part of a father's protection over his daughter.
Point number three: Once you have cleared the direction to move ahead with a certain young lady, I believe it the young man's responsibility to go and see the young lady's father. To me, that's so beautiful. It's like, here's this father over here (and we've already portrayed it so clearly) and he's got these wings, and they're stretched out over his daughter, and he's there with her, and he's protecting her, and he's loving her, and he's been preparing her, and all of those things. And now, this young man has to come to the father, and say, "Father, I'd like for you to put your wings down,". That's good for a young man [to come] with much fear, and respect, and carefulness, and probably a couple of days of prayer and fasting on top of it. You'll go to sit down with the father, and you'll probably be nervous, but that's alright, you've never done it before, and you won't do it again. You're usually nervous when you do something new. You should sit down with that father and express to that father what your heart is, and I can guarantee you, if you've done what we've already said, you'll gain some real points with that father if he knows that you've been praying about this for a long time, and you've been discussing it with your father, and your mother, and you've been talking it over with spiritual leaders in your life. And now you're coming here to share with him your desires, and what you feel like God is saying. You'll be to first base real fast.
At that point, it's time for another father to get actively involved. And by the way, young men, plan to wait a while on this stage. In most situations, I don't believe you'll get an answer on the spur of the moment. I won't say not always; it may be that that father has been praying about you for six months, and you walk in the door and say, "Sir, I feel like God has been leading me to your daughter, and I'd like the permission to win her favor," and if he's been praying about it six months already, he'll probably say, "go ahead,". But if he hasn't, he's going to want to pray about it, he's going to want to talk about it with his dear wife, and after they get some clearing, he's going to sit down and talk it over with his daughter, and it may take two or three weeks, and it may take his daughter four months until she feels clear. And she may not have considered you, it's good that she takes a couple of months to pray about it. So, plan on waiting a little bit in this stage. During this time, the father, mother, and the daughter will be considering these points of character, and maturity, and compatibility that were brought out earlier in the sessions. These will be the things that they are considering as they are praying. They're going to consider these things: "Is it God's will? Will this make a good marriage? Is there godly character in this young man? Will he make a good husband? Will he make a good father for our grandchildren. These are beautiful things for a father and a mother to discuss together with their daughter at this time. This is such a sweet thing. My heart just thrills even at the saying of it, because it's right. It has the answer of wisdom in my own heart.
And by the way, you want the blessing of your fathers, your mother, and even your church authority, and the fellowship that you're in. You want that blessing. It's like the dew of heaven that falls down upon your relationship as you begin. I've been so thrilled as God leads young couples together here in our fellowship. They often will get up here and make an announcement up here in the front to let everyone know what their desires are. I mean, they get showers of blessings from the whole congregation. You want that! It's like the dew of heaven.
Alright, now that we've gone through all of this, and we've got a clearing, the young man has gone to the father, and he's gotten a clearing from the father, and he has gotten a clearing form the young lady, and everyone is in agreement. We're ready to begin courtship. You're clear, everyone's clear, but I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the commitment being clear before the emotions are released.
At this point I'd like to give some guidelines for courtship. We're moving on into another phase here. Guidelines for courtship - I'm not going to draw it on the board again, I think it was on here long enough and we referred to it enough yesterday, the diagram of the two young people on the board. Guidelines for courtship - point number one: Make an agreement between the two of you that you're going to have a hands-off courtship. Make that agreement. 1st Corinthians, Chapter 7 verse 1 says, "It's good for a man not to touch a woman", and I don't believe that means that a man can't shake a woman's hand. It's in the context of fornication and moral purity that the questions were given to the apostle Paul, "Concerning the question that you wrote to me," (he says), "It is good for a man not to touch a woman,". I'd like to encourage you in this area. This whole process here on the board is speeded up at a breakneck speed if you step over the line and decide that you're mature enough, and you are old enough, that it won't hurt for you to hold hands, and a little hug every now and then never hurt, and a goodnight kiss is ok. You think you're mature enough for that, but you're going to put this thing that we had on the board yesterday into high gear. Don't do it. We who council with troubled marriages find so many times, that the root and the source of a troubled marriage was a sensual approach to their courtship. Deep wounds are made there, big mistakes, irreparable scars are put there that you won't want to live with the rest of your married life. Don't go that way. Agree together at the beginning that you're going to have a hand off courtship.
And also, tell your parents about your desires, and ask you to keep you accountable. Just out of nowhere dad comes up and says, "Son, how's the courtship going?".
"You still having a hands off courtship"?
If dad does that a couple of times, and those times when all of a sudden there's a temptation to reach out and hold a hand a little bit, you remember, "Dad's going to ask me, 'how's it going, son?', and I don't want to answer it in the wrong way,". So you tell your parents about it, and ask them to keep you accountable in this area.
I'd like to say something a little here before we move on to the next point: To be careful of extreme. You shouldn't push away the normal. Some couples (and I appreciate their motive, there, they are striving with that which is excellent) even say, "We're not even going to shake hands during our courtship. To me, that's going to an extreme. All of the other men in the congregation are going to shake your young lady's hand, but you can't shake her hand. That doesn't make sense. And I believe that's going to the extreme, that you can't even shake hands. Or maybe you're walking across the road, and it's ice everywhere, and you can hardly keep your stability, I don't think it's wrong at a time like that just to grab the arm and to give a little bit of support, there. What the scripture is talking about when it says, "it's not good for a man to touch a woman", [is that] it has to do with those romantic feelings flowing forth. And then we hold hands, and you know the rest of it goes, or can go.
Point number two, in your courtship, plan to have spiritual fellowship around Jesus Christ. I'm assuming here that you're in love with Jesus by now, and you've stepped forward to enter into courtship, and you love Jesus with all of your heart, and she loves Jesus with all of her heart, it's only natural and normal for you to center your courtship around the lord Jesus Christ. Many times, young people will say, "I'm having a struggle at this point, my courtship is centering around her. We're enjoying our fellowship so much, our emotions are drawing together so much that we're having a real hard time having a fellowship around Jesus," and I recognize that. That's going to be somewhat of a struggle, but at the same time I believe if you will center your fellowship around Jesus Christ, share the word together when you are together, share what God laid on your heart that morning, pray together, have spiritual activities together where the spiritual atmosphere can be stimulated, it's beautiful foundation for a lifelong relationship of fellowship of Jesus Christ, which you will desperately need when the winds begin to blow on your married life.
The next point I'd like to talk about is the times that you spend together. As I said already, make it a spiritual time. Also, I believe that most of the time that you spend together should be with others. I don't think it's wise for you to have a time together, and maybe set aside and afternoon, you know, five, six hours. And you just go to a park somewhere and spend five or six hours together just sharing your hearts intimately with each other. I don't believe that's wise to do that. Let most of your time together be time with others. Maybe at your house, or maybe at her house for a meal, and maybe at another brother's house or a sister's house. Or maybe you'll go to church together, or maybe there's a young people's activity, and you'll go there together. Let it be that way. But I'd also like to say, you need to take some time where you can share your hearts with one another, where you can allow your hearts to begin moving in the direction of the diagram that we had on the board yesterday. You need that. You need time to share your dreams, your goals and visions together, where you begin to share some of the burdens that are on your hearts, and you share some of the struggles that you face in your Christian life. These are good things for you to do, and I recommend that.
The next point I'd like to look at is "how long?". "How long do we have the courtship"? Well, this varies some by certain circumstances. If you are quite a distance away from each other, your courtship may be longer because you don't get much time together. If you don't know each other very well (and sometimes that happens when we have fellowships that are spread across the country), you may not know each other as well as you would if you were both in the same local congregation. In situations like that, it's good that maybe the courtship be a little longer. But if all of these other points that we've shared the last two days are in order, you're a mature couple, and love the Lord Jesus, in a mature way you've made your decisions together, and everything is clear, your courtship shouldn't need to be very long. The reason is this emotional bonding process is already in motion, and once you get it in motion, you don't have a long courtship. Otherwise you'll bring a whole lot of unnecessary struggles upon your lives, and upon your relationship, which will hinder it, and you don't want that, and you don't need it.
The next point I'd like to bring out is: keep your courtship under loving, watchful authority. I guess that's kind of assumed that you would do that, but I would like to make a point out of it. Surely if you went thorough authority in the choosing of your partner, surely you'll keep your courtship under authority, also. But I'd like to make a point out of it. Let your parents help you in this area of courtship. Let them watch over you. In fact, invite them to watch over you. In fact, plead with them to watch over you. You need his more now than ever. Share with your parents how it's going. Share your struggles with them. If you happen to have one of those times (and this happens in courtship) where you were sharing your hearts, and your emotions had to arise, and you had to fight off temptations, and weren't sure what to do, [then] you go home and tell mom about that, don't be so dumb to just bury that one and not tell anybody. You tell your mom and dad. They may need to come in and help you, and adjust your courtship a little, and how much time you're spending together, and how much time alone you spend together. Don't you just hide that thing, you go home and you share it with them. I appreciated so much a young man whom I was watching over his courtship. And he sat me down and described to me and shared something that happened. He said, "We were together, we hadn't been together a long time. We were sitting on a picnic table, we were sharing out hearts together, and our hearts drew close to each other, and we just had to walk away from each other right there in the park,". And he said, "Brother Denny, what do you think we should do?". Oh, I bless that young man. I blessed him. We gave him a little council on what he should do, I think he was about a month away from marriage, and he listened to that council, and everything went fine. Don't be so foolish as to hide those things. You let mom and dad know where you are at in your courtship experience. It can be a beautiful exiting relationship with mom and did if you just be open about it. It doesn't have to be one of these heads knocking heads thing, you know ("What do you mean?", "How come?", "Again!?", 'That's not long enough!")? It doesn't need to be all of those things.
Just remember on this point, you haven't walked down this emotional process yet, and you may not see that danger signs as quickly as mom and dad do, so you need to share it with them, and allow them to slow you down if need be.
I have seen several couples follow these basic guidelines that I've shared with you, that led up to courtship, and in their courtship. What a joy to watch that, to see as God leads in their lives, and brings them to the marriage altar. What a joy to see them sitting there behind that table at the reception, after they've been united in holy matrimony, to see their hearts just rush together, to see the expression on Adam's face as he looks at Eve, and to see the expression on Eve's face as she looks into the face of Adam there behind the table. What a joy, what a blessing, what a thrill that is! And I assure you, if it's a joy, and a blessing and a thrill to us, older ones as well looking on, what a joy, and a blessing, and a thrill it will be to you. You'll sit there knowing you've done right, you've kept yourself, you've held your emotions, you were wise, you've kept these things under authority. And now here you are, sitting behind this banquet table, and you're the center of attention, and everybody is happy for you, and they're blessing you, and the one that married you pronounced the blessing of God upon your life, and he didn't just give it in words, but he gave in reality because of the way that you conducted yourselves through your courtship. Oh, what a joy that is.
What a joy it's been t me to see young couples come together this way, marry, and then to sit back at watch the months and years go by, and watch them prosper, and see them, two years, three years later, love growing, beautiful relationships, still holding hands when they walk together, he still opens the door for the young lady, and there's still a courtship going on, even though they are married for three or four years. What a joy to see God bless that union with beautiful children, and the children begin to rise up, and what a joy to know that those little children into a home that was filled with love, and joy, and blessings. What a thrill that is.
This is what we want for each one of you young people this is the burden on our hearts. God wants it for you, your fathers and mothers want it for you, your spiritual leaders want it for you, and all of these other brothers and sisters that are in the church that you're in, they want that for you. I just want to encourage you, go for it. Go for the gold, don't settle for the silver or the bronze. Go for that beautiful day when you sit behind that banquet table, and your hands are clasped together, and the thrill of it is there flooding your heart, and your eyes meet each other, and the joy of all of that is flooding your soul. Go for the gold.
Let's stand together for prayer. Father in heaven, Lord we end these sessions on courtship here with a prayer, with a prayer from all of our hearts, from all of us older ones in this room, with a prayer of blessing upon these young people. God, I pray for them, Lord, I pray that you'll open the eyes of their hearts. Oh, God, I pray that you'll give them the grace, Lord, you'll give them the virtue, you'll give them this control. Lord, give them what they need to make the decisions that they need to make so that they can have these great blessings upon their lives, upon their courtships, and upon their marriage all of their days. Oh God, we are looking to you, and we are trusting you to bring forth much beautiful fruit out of the things that were said these last three days. And father, as we also think of the testimonies that will be shared, oh God, I pray that you will anoint those testimonies, and may they put the icing on top of the cake. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.