RSS

Love and Respect Ephesians 5:33


Indebted to Dr. Emerson Eggerichs for his insight*

Many of us have heard these words in our life: Do you take this woman/man to be your lawful wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.

They are words said before our spouse, our family, our friends, and God.

When home is ruled according to God’s Word, “angels might be asked to stay with us, and they would not find them-selves out of their element.”

Why do many Christian marriages fail? Somebody is out of the will of God.

Ephesians 5:33 (ESV) However, let each one of you {husband} love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

This verse is the often unknown secret to the communication code in our marriage relationship.

  • Love is her deepest need and respect is his deepest need.

Love: a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person; a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NASB)
1  If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
4  Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
5  does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
6  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
7  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8  Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
9  For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
13  But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

It is what you say but just as much what “you do.” It is the husband regularly doing “loving actions” or “acts of kindness.” But don’t misunderstand, husbands, what I am saying. They also need to hear those special words “I love you.” But the words without the action(s) don’t mean as much.

Respect: to hold in esteem or honor; to show regard or consideration for. esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respect for your judgment.

It is deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; it is a proper acceptance or courtesy; it is acknowledgment.

  • Without love she reacts without respect, and without respect he reacts without love.

Marriage Report Card

No marriage is perfect

Will YOU do anything about it if there’s an area that needs improvement?

Are both of you ‘set free’ to talk about these issues?

How Being a Strong Christian Will Help Us

Christians are concerned about others.

Christians practice love.

Christians want the best for others.

Christians have a positive sexual ethic.

Christians can forgive.

  1. Make A Commitment

“Till death do us part.”

86% of the people who said that they were unhappy were happy five years later.

  1. Make it a Priority

Continue to work at marriage.

The greatest thing you can do for your children is to love your spouse.

  1. Make Marriage Fun!

Some middle age crisis are because all the fun has gone out of marriage.  It’s all work and no play!

Ecclesiastes 9:9: “Enjoy life with the wife of your youth.”

Enjoy sex:  Song of Solomon.

Learn to have fun with only a little money.

  1. Learn to Communicate, Talk, and Fight!

Learn to listen. 

Learn to talk.

Be friends first!

Learn to fight fair.

  1. Deal with your Demons!

Find out what you’re doing to harm your marriage and heal it.

Dictatorship?   Financial irresponsibility?

Temper?    Pornography?

Substance Abuse?

You name it…get help!

  1. Have God at the center

From God we learn the marriage skills of:

Kindness   Forgiveness

Unconditional Love  Faithfulness

God will help us!

 Buy Me A Rose Lyrics
 He works hard to give her all he thinks she wants…A three car garage, her own credit cards. He pulls in late to wake her up with a kiss good night. If he could only read her mind, she’d say:

Buy me a rose, call me from work, Open a door for me, what would it hurt; Show me you love me by the look in your eyes. These are the little things I need the most in my life.

Now the days have grown to years of feeling all alone, And she can’t  help but wonder what she’s doing wrong. Cause lately she’d try anything to turn his head. Would it make a difference if she said:

Buy me a rose, call me from work, Open a door for me, what would it hurt; Show me you love me by the look in your eyes. These are the little things I need the most in my life.

And the more that he lives the less that he tries To show her the love that he holds inside.
And the more that she gives the more that he sees…This is a story of you and me

So I bought you a rose on the way home from work, To open the door to a heart that I hurt. And I hope you notice this look in my eyes Cause I’m gonna make things right For the rest of your life. I’m gonna hold you tonight. Do all those little things …For the rest of your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love and

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 4, 2020 in Marriage

 

Biblical Christian Marriage – Ephesians 5:21-32


I have decided at every place I have ministered…to spend time each year on lessons related to marriage, parenting, and the home in general. The home is God’s creation, the first divine institution, and marriage was God’s idea.

Genesis 2:7 (ESV) then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Genesis 2:18-24 (ESV) Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
19  Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
20  The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
21  So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
22  And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
23  Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
24  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

The sanctity of marriage (vv. 23-24). Paul’s instructions create a head-on collision with the beliefs and practices of our culture. God’s pattern for marriage wasn’t devised by Adam. “Marriage was born in the loving heart of God for the blessing and benefit of mankind.”

No matter what the courts may decree, or society may permit, when it comes to marriage, God had the first word and He will have the last word. His original plan was that one man and one woman be one flesh for one lifetime. To say the same thing in a different way: God plan was for Adam and Eve, NOT Adam and Steve.

God had at least two main purposes in mind when He performed the first marriage in the Garden of Eden.

First, He wanted suitable companionship for Adam, so He gave him a wife. He gave Adam someone who was his equal and therefore could understand him and help him. As two people live together in holy matrimony, the experience either brings out the best in them or the worst in them. It’s an opportunity to exercise faith, hope, and love and to mature in sacrifice and service to one another for God’s glory.

Second, marriage provides the God-given right to enjoy sex and have children. The Lord commanded them to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). The sexual act is a gift from God to a married couple.

Who is in charge? A fair question, that deserves a Biblical answer.

5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.NIV This is the last participial phrase flowing out of being filled with the Spirit and functions to introduce verses 22-33.

In 5:21, Paul says that the one who is filled with the Spirit not only reflects God’s goodness in speech and attitudes but also manifests it in willingness to submit to others out of reverence for Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV) But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Submission or headship often has unpleasant implications for modern Christians, perhaps because this principle has been abused and has been used to justify overbearing and self-serving behavior. The chain of authority is God, Christ, man, and woman.

People often misunderstand the concept of submitting to another person. It does not mean becoming totally passive. Christ submitted his will to the Father, and we honor Christ by following his example. When we submit to God, we become more willing to obey his command to submit to others, that is, to subordinate our rights to theirs.

In the church, the believers are willing to learn from, serve, give to, or be corrected by others in the fellowship. Such submission can allow growth both individually and corporately as the believers seek to follow Christ.

Our motives should be “reverence” (literally, “fear”) for Christ. We should not treat one another rightly just because it is expected or because we will be well regarded but because one day we must give account to Christ of how we have lived.

Ephesians 5:22-24 (ESV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Guys, get ready for this and realize that 3 1/2 verses are addressed to Christian wives, while 8 1/2 verses are written to Christian husbands.

Submission in the church should follow from submission in the home. The home, the foundation for relationships and personal growth, must be an example of peaceful submission.

In a marriage relationship, both husband and wife are called to submit. The relationships between husbands and wives are a microcosm of the larger picture of church relationships.

Paul spoke first to the wives, explaining that they were to submit voluntarily to their husbands as to the Lord. The words “as to the Lord” mean “as is fitting to the Lord.” Our concept of submission must come from that which exists between Christ and the church: Christ loves the church, and she submits to him.

We must not base it on either a feminist or chauvinist view. Christian marriage involves mutual submission, subordinating our personal desires for the good of the loved one and submitting ourselves to Christ as Lord. The wife’s submission to her husband is one way that she can demonstrate her submission to Christ. She does this voluntarily out of love for her husband and for Christ.

The best thing a woman can do for her husband is to make it easy for him to do the will of God. – Elisabeth Elliot Green

Paul explained that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. In other words, the husband is the spiritual head of the family, and his wife should acknowledge his leadership.

Real spiritual leadership involves service and sacrifice. Christ as head of the church is also its Savior. Christ gave his life for the church. So, as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

A wise and Christ-honoring husband will not take advantage of his leadership role, and a wise and Christ-honoring wife will not try to undermine her husband’s leadership. Either approach causes disunity and friction in marriage.

For the wife, submission means willingly following her husband’s leadership in Christ. For the husband, it means putting aside his own interests in order to care for his wife.

Submission is rarely a problem in homes where both partners have a strong relationship with Christ and where each is concerned for the happiness of the other. It takes both.

What if the wife is married to a man with little or no spiritual interest? What is she to do? (Of course, it is best if she marries a faithful, devoted Christian). We told our 1,200 students and over a dozen teachers that “the worse thing in the world is to be married to the wrong person.” It is often the female who fears being alone that is compelled to ‘marry the wrong person.’ Being single allows you more time to serve the Lord and those around you.

1 Peter 3:1-7 (ESV) Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,
2  when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
3  Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—
4  but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
5  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,
6  as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
7  Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
     These verses are important for what they do NOT say as for what the DO say.

They do not tell her to leave, to nag, or to lead! They tell the believing wife to act like a faithful Christian and her example is strong enough (without words) to “win him over” if he has a mind to move in that direction.

5:25-26 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word.NRSV

I would have expected Paul to reason in this way: Husbands are to manifest the headship of Jesus Christ over His church, and thus they are to be the spiritual leaders of their wives. If the wives are commanded to submit, then the husbands surely must be instructed to lead. But they are not. Instead of commanding husbands to lead their wives, Paul instructs them to love their wives.

These verses show a high view of marriage. Here marriage is not a practical necessity or a cure for lust but a picture of the relationship between Christ and his church! Husbands are called to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

That role is nothing less than overwhelming: to love their wives as Christ loved his church. If the task of submitting to male headship seems burdensome to wives, the obligation to love as Christ did will seem out of reach to husbands.

Christ sacrificed himself for the church because of his love for it. Husbands, then, should be ready to make whatever sacrifices are necessary for their wives. Marriage is a holy union, a living symbol, a precious relationship that needs tender, self-sacrificing care.

How are men to do that? The same way Christ loves the church: sacrificially, compassionately, gently, and lovingly. Jesus laid down his life for the church; husbands are called to give themselves unreservedly for their wives and children.

John Stott summed it up well when he wrote of Jesus, “His headship expresses care rather than control, responsibility rather than rule.” Healthy, Spirit-led relationships are not concerned with power, with who’s in control. They are concerned with Christlikeness, with honoring him in their relationship with one another.

How should a man love his wife? (1) He should be willing to sacrifice everything for her. (2) He should make her well-being of primary importance. (3) He should care for her as he cares for his own body. No wife needs to fear submitting to a man who treats her in this way.

Ephesians 5:27-28 (ESV) so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

In the same way means that there exists between the husband and the wife the same union as between Christ and the church. Following from 5:27, husbands should be as concerned for their wife’s spiritual growth and closeness to the Lord as Christ is for the church.

The Greek word for “love” is agapao, referring to that giving love that seeks the highest good for the other. When a husband loves his wife with this kind of love, they both will benefit. A wife need not worry about submitting to a husband who treats her this way.

5:29-30 For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body.NRSV This refers not to self-centeredness but to self-preservation, the natural self-concern that causes people to feed and care for themselves. As a man nourishes and tenderly cares for his own body, he should also do the same for his wife, who is one with him.

Why? Again Paul draws on of the example given by Christ, who nourishes and cares for his body, the church. As Christ nourishes and cares for believers, so husbands must imitate Christ in their loving concern and care for their wives.

5:31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”NKJV The union of husband and wife merges two persons in such a way that little can affect one without also affecting the other. Oneness in marriage does not mean one person’s losing his or her personality in the personality of the other. Instead, it means that each person cares for the other as though caring for himself or herself, learning to anticipate the other’s needs, helping the other person reach his or her potential.

In a natural marriage, the husband and wife complement one another. So Christ and the church must function together; Christ needed the church in order to assume his position as its Head. Christ is the Head of the church as the husband is the head of the wife.

5:32 This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church.NRSV The union of husband and wife, although sometimes imperfect, provides the best picture to describe the union of Christ with his church.

Why get married? Because you simply cannot see yourself living your life without that one, special person.

What does it mean? It means you totally give yourself to that spouse, helping them get to heaven as you commit your life to God, Christ, and His church.

What will happen in that home? You will treat that person as the most important person in the world and in your life. Pure and simple.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 28, 2020 in ephesians, Marriage

 

Beliefs Matter: It Does Really Matter What One Believes About the One Lord  — Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Cor. 8:4-6


Ephesians 4:4-6 (ESV) There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5  one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

(1 Corinthians 8:4-6 NIV)  So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. {5} For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), {6} yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

A man was out on a practice golf course one day when the club pro brought another man out for a golf lesson. The pro watched the man swing several times and then started making suggestions for improvement. Each time the pro spoke, however, the student interrupted with his own version of what was wrong and how to correct it. After a few minutes of these repeated objections, the pro began to respond to the student by merely nodding his head in agreement. At the end of the lesson, the student paid the pro, congratulated him on his expertise as a teacher, and then left in an obviously pleased frame of mind.

The man who was watching all this was so astonished by it that he asked the pro why he went along with him. The pro responded, “I learned a long time ago that it’s a waste of time to try to sell answers to a man who wants to buy “echoes” of his own voice.”

Honestly, all of us need someone to guide us in our attempts to live well.

Sometimes we aren’t aware that we cheat ourselves out of much needed good guidance because we’re enamored with “echoes of our own voice” or other voices instead of the One voice that can help us most.

I think we need direction in this life. We need a map. We need a compass! The primary person we turn to in our life is Jesus Christ!

The one Lord is Jesus Christ. “He is Lord of all.”

 (Acts 2:38 NIV)  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

(Acts 10:36 NIV)  You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

(Romans 10:12 NIV)  For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,

I think all of us here today believe these verses. But do we really believe them? No pope, prophet, teacher, editor, elder, preacher, reformer, president, or any other man has authority to act as Lord of the church.

  • Jesus wants to be that voice.
  • He offers to lead us, and most of us probably think he’s qualified to lead us, but still sometimes we don’t let him lead.
  • Maybe we don’t believe it deeply enough or maybe we’re not be thoughtful enough about our lives to realize how often we listen to our own advice or others who say things we want to hear, instead of listening to him.
  • Somehow we need to more consciously recognize that he’s qualified to do so.

The way Jesus seeks to convince us of his worthiness to lead us, is not by frightening us or by listing logical reasons why, but by demonstrating his authority.

At the end of his life, another event even more powerfully demonstrated his worthiness to lead us: According to God’s plan he was executed but then God raised him from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is not only extraordinarily remarkable, it is significant: it tells us who he is.

(Romans 1:4 NIV)  and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

As His subjects, believers are unequivocally instructed…

 (John 20:28 NIV)  Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

(Acts 2:22-36 NIV)  “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. {23} This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. {24} But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

{32} God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. {33} Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. {34} For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand {35} until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”‘ {36} “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

What we need to recognize in our hearts is Jesus is Lord.

  • to live as He said: holy and righteous and pure, bearing the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:19-21).
  • to carry out His orders as one body (Matthew 7:21-23; 1 Cor. 12:5; Phil. 2:9-11).

But we also need to notice that, even though he is Lord of all, he didn’t conduct himself as an authoritarian. He told people the truth and called people to follow and obey, but he wasn’t harsh and demanding. He had credibility with people because of the quality & character of his own life, because the wisdom and truthfulness of his words, and because of his love for people.

So the question is: Do you believe it? Do you believe Jesus is Lord.

Not just understand it or agree w/ it but believe it. Understanding of Jesus as One Lord could be measured by taking a doctrinal test but believing Jesus is the One Lord is measured by whether we let him lead our lives.

(Matthew 7:21-23 NIV)  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. {22} Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ {23} Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

   (Luke 6:46-49 NIV)  “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? {47} I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. {48} He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. {49} But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

   Some of the key “other god,” rivals to Jesus as the One Lord, though they may not seem religious, are our feelings, our desires, our friends, our society.

We need to identify things like this that influence us and make sure we don’t allow them to be our leader (2 Cor. 8:4-6).  Are you ready for a test? It is going to be tough, I assure you.

  1. Is Jesus lord of our attitude? Setting ourselves up as the standard and arbiter for most everything. I don’t like this or that, we shouldn’t do this or that. It’s so embedded in society that it’s difficult to see. Did we learn to take on this role from Jesus or from a rival lord? We often made these evaluations after our morning worship: “I didn’t like that or I liked that” etc.” Where did  we get that? Did it come from Jesus?
  2. Is Jesus lord of our relationships? Or are feelings allowed to reign. Bless those who persecute us, forgive those who do us wrong, work out matters between the 2 of us, not grumble against each other, have equal concern for all the parts of the body, confess our faults, work out your problems; serve one another in love.
  3. Is Jesus lord of our sexuality? Or are the norms in our society. According to the word of God, sexual relations are a gift from God, a wedding present, if you will, and are to be enjoyed exclusively with a person of the opposite gender that we are married to, our husband or our wife. Now that I’ve mentioned this, do you want to look around for a version of Christianity that doesn’t comment on our sexuality? Society wants to tell us how we should act in this matter…..in that case Jesus wouldn’t be lord.

Stanley Jones tells of a missionary who got lost in an African jungle. As far as the eye could see there was nothing but bush and a few clearings. He finally managed to find a native hut and the man who lived it said he could get him out.

   “All right,” said the missionary. “Show me the way.” The native said, “Walk.” So they walked and hacked their way through unmarked jungle for more than an hour. The missionary finally got worried. “Are you sure this is the way? Where is the path?” His native guide answered, “Bwana, in this place there is no path. I am the path.”

   In the midst of the conflicting desires of our hearts, the confusing advice of our age, and the sometimes overwhelming perplexity about the direction of our lives, one credible voice still quietly pleads, “follow me.” If we believe Jesus is the One Lord, we will do so.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 21, 2020 in Jesus Christ

 

Anniversary of ‘Stepping out of the Boat”


On May 13, 1979, Terry and I ‘stepped out of the boat” and entered full-time ministry. I had been a sports writer since graduating from MTSU for over seven years, but took the opportunity to return to our alma-mater to be the campus minister at the Middle Tennessee Christian Center.

Even though there have been many ‘ups and downs,’ it is a decision I have never regretted, and I now enter my 42nd year.

Certainly the blessings of ministry far outweigh the realities below, yet ministry is definitely not easy. That is why ministry must be a calling and not simply a “job”. If you can’t reconcile with these 10 difficult realities and challenges concerning ministry, then perhaps you should avoid it all together.

My dad told me plenty of things as we discussed this crucial decision, but both he and Mom were full of encouragement, though Mom acknowledged after a few years that she felt I should have followed my dad’s example and kept my “full-time job” and been a part-time minister/teacher.

He did say one thing that I have always laughed about: “Gary, Sundays come around really fast when you are preparing two lessons and two Bible class studies per week.”

I find these timely reminders to be useful when one decides to enter ministry…wishing I had learned some of these sooner in my life:

  1. You will probably begin by ministering to a church that is barely growing (if at all), is opposed to change, doesn’t pay well, has seen ministers come and go, doesn’t respect the position as Biblically as they should, doesn’t understand what the Bible says a minister’s or a church’s jobs are, and will only follow you when they agree with you (thus, they’ll really only follow themselves).
  2. You will feel very lonely on a consistent basis, feeling like no one truly knows you or cares how you feel, because you do not want to burden your family, and trust-worthy peers are few and far between. Because of the ”super-Christian” myth accredited to ministers literally, you will find it extremely difficult to disclose your deep thoughts and feelings to others. Thus, you will struggle with loneliness.
  3. You will be persecuted for preaching the truth, mostly from your brothers and sisters in the pews. You shouldn’t be surprised by the sight of your own blood. You’re a Christian, after all (Matt. 16:24).
  4. You will think about quitting yearly or monthly, if not weekly or even daily.
  5. You will be criticized, rarely to your face, and frequently behind your back. This criticism will come from those that love you, those that obviously do not like you, and shepherds and Christians that barely know you.
  6. Not everyone will respond positively to your preaching, teaching, or leadership. You will bring people to tears with the same sermon: one in joy, another in anger (I have done this).
  7. You will fight legalism and liberalism, along with laziness, ignorance, tradition, and opposition. Yet, your greatest enemy will be your own heart (Jere. 17:9).
  8. You will feel like a failure often, and when you do appear to succeed, the fruit that is produced cannot be accredited to you. God alone gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:7). Thus, there is little “sense of accomplishment in ministry” that you may be accustomed to in other vocations.
  9. You will make people angry regardless how godly you handle yourself; it comes with the position.
  10. Not everyone will like you.

I have discovered all of the 10 items to be absolutely correct.

Do not get me wrong. I find great joy in this life effort! My nature is to be an optimistic realist, thus the ability to see things as they are but to find joy and a sense of accomplishment. I have long said that I have the benefit of doing something I enjoy and can still be a big sports fan without the late nights and early hours…and stress to make a deadline.

I also find great satisfaction in mowing a yard…getting to start and finish something in a single moment of time.

I have learned much from some special people in my life, Lately, one of those dear friends asked me “why would you accept criticism from someone you would never go to for advise?” Amen!

And often people find it ‘convenient’ to agree with you only when you follow their advise, when, in actuality, they are accepting you only for what they see in you that duplicates/mirrors them. Impossible!

A most recent lesson? I try daily not to micro-manage someone else’s personality…wishing that others would follow that idea in regard to me.

I was both a preacher’s kid (PK) and an elder’s kid (EK), so I’ve felt ‘eyes on me’ throughout most of my life. I also was concerned that my three children must have ‘felt those eyes on them’ as well. It is a shame that has to be the case, and I understand some of the reasoning…but others should have no right to expect a higher standard for me or Terry and my children/grandchildren than the one they have for themselves. Jesus Christ puts a high standard on ALL of us.

On my desk are two statements: (1) To err is human; to blame it on the other guy is even more human. And, (2) thank you for not minding my business.

I am still negotiating this thing we call ‘ministry.’

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 13, 2020 in Article, Encouragement

 

Forgiveness


Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)
32  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Two Christians appeared before the court on charges of assault and a breach of the peace.

When the magistrate had listened to all the evidence, he called them to the bench and whispered to them, “Being Christians, the two of you, couldn’t you have settled this matter out of court?”

One of the men, who still had a black eye, said to the judge, “SURE we could have settled this out of court, your Honor! And that’s exactly what we were TRYING to do when the POLICE arrived!”

When missionaries first came to Labrador, they found no word for forgiveness in the Eskimo language.  So they had to make one which meant, “not being able to think about it anymore.”

Some Pictures of Forgiveness

Removing offense far, far away from us (Ps 103:12)

(Psalm 103:12 NIV)  “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

 Putting offenses behind our backs (Isa. 38:17)

(Isa 38:17 NIV)  “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.”

Blotting out what was done  (Isa. 43:25; Psalm 51:1, 9)

(Isa 43:25 NIV)  “”I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

(Psa 51:1 NIV)  ” Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”

Casting the offense in the depths of the sea (Mic. 7:19)

(Micah 7:19 NIV)  “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

It means releasing the resentment, hatred, bitterness, ill-will & desire for revenge.  It means you don’t hold a grudge, or cherish bitterness or harbor any desire to harm them. It means dropping the case we have against them.

Does have to be from the heart (Mat 18:35 NIV)  “”This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.””). We can’t just say the words. This is difficult to determine sometimes because we can’t necessarily keep ourselves from having primary feelings like anger. But we can make choices, including the choice to let go of the things that anger often leads to, like resentment, hatred, bitterness, & ill will.

It also means we stop trying to make them pay (we cancelled the debt so we can’t demand any more payments). We stop exacting psychological payment. If we forgive, we don’t bring it up anymore—to that person or anyone else, & we stop trying to make them pay. Both are wrong!

Does mean we stop dwelling on what was done to us. We may not be able to forget what happened and our mind may go there once in a while, but forgiveness does mean we don’t dwell on it anymore. It is taking the arrows out of our gut instead of continuing to twist them around inside of us.

Whereas before we may have nurtured that hurt to keep it active & alive. We remove the band aid and “rub it” to “keep the hurt alive.”

But now we refused to do that. That may take some prayer to keep releasing it to God, but we don’t let our mind stay there.

Does mean treat them with love, even if we don’t feel it. Feelings are important, but they are not what we base our decisions on. We forgive because it is the right and healthy thing to do, and then we treat the person with love.

When God forgives us, he doesn’t wait to see how it’s going to go before he starts to bless us again.

It does mean we are opening a door for reconciliation. That’s one of the purposes. God’s people are supposed to be reconciled to each other. We can’t say ok I forgive you but I never want to see you again.

Doesn’t mean you have to be the best of friends, but it does mean you tear down the walls. And remember, reconciliation takes two people—they have to be open to it as well.

Does mean we’ll have to take responsibility for our own happiness & we’ll have to change. As long as we’re resentful we give ourselves an excuse not to do the hard work of looking at ourselves and changing our own lives.

One of the real keys is for us to see clearly how important it is to do so.

Let me share several reasons why we need to forgive.  1. God said to.

(Col 3:13 NIV)  “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

  1. Our own forgiveness depends on it.

(Mat 18:21-22 NIV)  “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” {22} Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

(Mat 18:35 NIV)  “”This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.””

If you receive grace, you’ll pass it on. If you harden your heart, you either forfeit his grace or never had it to begin with. You cannot take a grudge to heaven.

  1. To restore relationships.

We need relationships; we were made for relationships. And those of us in the body of Christ “belong to each other.”

And we need to try to make all our relationships good. The trouble is none of the humans who are available to have a relationship with is perfect.

Since we are not perfect, we couldn’t have a relationship with God—but he forgave us so we could have a relationship with him. That’s exactly why we need to forgive—so we can have relationships. It will be possible without them.

Some years ago, after a vigorous brotherly and sisterly disagreement, three children retired only to be aroused at two o’clock in the morning by a terrific thunderstorm. Hearing an unusual noise upstairs, the father called in to find out what was going on. A little voice answered, “We are all in the closet forgiving each other.”

  1. For our own spiritual, emotional, & physical health.

This is huge. Researchers have discovered direct links between forgiveness and physical & emotional health.

Not forgiving almost inevitably leads to chronic anger & stress, both of which are toxic. It leads to higher rates of stress-related disorders, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, clinical depression, lower immune system function, & higher divorce rates.

Some evidence it also decreases neurological function & decreases memory.

  • There might be marriages in our congregations that are going to disintegrate unless someone finds a way to forgive.
  • There might be families that will collapse, unless someone finds a way to forgive.
  • There might be friendships that will unravel, unless someone decides to forgive.
  • There might be groups that will split, unless someone forgives.

The bitterness & resentment we feel will also alienate us & cut us off from others. It will make us suspicious & fearful of relationships. It will isolate us. Unforgiveness destroys community. Churches ought to be a no-debt zone, but it’s not always so.

(Heb 12:14-15 NIV)  “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. {15} See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

 

 

Luke 7:36-50 (ESV)
36  One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.
37  And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment,
38  and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.
39  Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
40  And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
41  “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
42  When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43  Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
44  Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
45  You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.
46  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.
47  Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
48  And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49  Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”
50  And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Jewish rabbis did not speak to women in public, nor did they eat with them in public. A woman of this type would not be welcomed in the house of Simon the Pharisee. Her sins are not named, but we get the impression she was a woman of the streets with a bad reputation.

The woman admitted she was a sinner and gave evidence that she was a repentant sinner. If you check a harmony of the Gospels, you will discover that just before this event, Jesus had given the gracious invitation, “Come unto Me … and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28-30).

It was thus a triple insult that Simon had directed against the Lord of life; not merely the basin and the towel, but the customary greeting of a guest with a kiss, and the anointing of the head with oil had also been withheld.

Simon’s real problem was blindness: he could not see himself, the woman, or the Lord Jesus. It was easy for him to say, “She is a sinner!” but impossible for him to say, “I am also a sinner!”

The one thing which shuts a man off from God is self-sufficiency.

 
 

Beliefs Matter: One Baptism  Ephesians 4:4-5; Galatians 1:6-9; 3:26-28


Ever made a bad first impression? Have you ever felt like you’ve messed it up enough that you wish you could start all over? That’s one way of describing what baptism is all about, a new beginning, a brand new life.

Ephesians 4:4-5: There is one body and one Spirit– just as you were called to one hope when you were called– {5} one Lord, one faith, one baptism; Belief Matters—Eph 4:7 beliefs that really matter, we’ve covered …today One Baptism

When speaking of the one Baptism Paul could not have had in mind the question or debate of where it was of pouring, or sprinkling, or immersion. Only immersion was practiced in the time of the apostles. The earliest case of sprinkling for baptism on record is that of Novation in 251 A. D., who was “baptized” upon his bed while sick by pouring a large quantity of water over him.

According to the historians, immersion was nearly the universal practice until the Middle Ages when the Roman Catholic church declared at the Council of Constance that immersion and sprinkling were of equal validity.

Paul was certainly not referring to Holy Spirit baptism as the one baptism that was the common experience of the church. Baptism in the Holy Spirit was an exceptional experience. On the day of Pentecost, the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5; 2:4). About ten years later, at the house of Cornelius, Peter saw the Holy Spirit fall of Cornelius and his household.

In telling about this, Peter said that the Holy Spirit fell on them, “as at the beginning. Then remembered the word of the Lord how that he had said, John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 11:15-16).

These are the only cases of Holy Spirit baptism recorded in the Bible. The experiences of those who claim to have received the baptism in the Holy Spirit in modern times are so contradictory that no confidence can be placed in them. If there is only one baptism, surely there ought not be any disagreement as to how it is to be performed, or in what it is done.

(Acts 2:38-39 NIV)  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. {39} The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

The difficulty comes in the simple definition —  or redefining – of the word eis. Is it saying that baptism is to receive the forgiveness of sins or baptism is because my sins have  already been forgiven? To say the same thing in another way: is baptism necessary in order to have your sins forgiven?

If the word eis in Acts 2:38 means their sins were already forgiven before baptism, it has to be interpreted the same way in Matthew 26:28: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Does anyone here believe that forgiveness of sins was possible for the masses BEFORE the death and the “shedding of blood” by Jesus?

The One Baptism is an immersion in water of a person who understands and believes the good news about Jesus and who is willing to follow Jesus as his One Lord.

  1. Is an immersion – Word means immerse or dip (ship sinking, man drowning), parallel w/ DBR; some vv. refer to “much water” or “going down into the water” and indicate that immersion is what was going on (Matt. 3:16; John 3:23; Acts 8:38-39). Some may wonder if sprinkling is okay. Wrong Q—don’t need to be trying to figure out whether what we may have done is good enough but figuring out what God wants.
  2. Understands & believes the good news— (vv. Acts 2:24-38; Col. 2:11-12) not a ritual, must be understanding & faith, not for babies or others who don’t understand or believe.
  3. Willing to follow Jesus as their one lord—(vv. Acts 2:36, 41) not magical & not the end of the journey, rather the beginning.

The purpose and meaning of baptism is broad:

  • It is associated with being a part of the church, being clothed with Christ, repentance, death, the Holy Spirit
  • It is associated w/ forgiveness of sins and salvation. I believe a proper understanding of it fits with the clear biblical teaching that we are saved by grace through faith. The best simple way I know to say it is that baptism is one of the responses to God’s grace in order to be forgiven and saved.
  1. Salvation is by grace (Eph. 2:8-9). Grace is the basis for salvation, no way we can save ourselves. When we get baptized, we are not saving ourselves (but cf. Acts 2:40-41).
  2. Baptism is a response to grace. Grace is primary; grace is the basis; baptism is a response to it. Without the grace, baptism would be meaningless.
  3. Baptism is not a work (Titus 3:4-5). Rather, it is a response to Christ’s work.
  4. Baptism is a matter of faith (Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:11-12).
  5. Baptism is one of several responses to God’s grace (faith, repentance, confession).
  6. Baptism is a necessary response (vv. Acts 2:38; 22:16; I Pet. 3:21; John 3:3-5).
  7. Baptism is the beginning point for new life (Rom. 6:4), I don’t know of any other point in time that the NT says we die to our old life.

Every “religious group” teaches some response to God’s grace is necessary for salvation, to believe in Jesus or accept Jesus or pray to Jesus etc. The idea of responding to God’s grace is biblical (“those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace,” Rom. 5:17). I believe the NT teaches baptism is a part of receiving it, one of the necessary responses, in view of the clear statements that connect w/ salvation.

If you are familiar with “the sinner’s prayer” I encourage you to think carefully about that. I can’t find that in the Bible, Rev. 3:20 is talking to Christians.

People feel a need for a tangible beginning point, and baptism is that beginning point…a particular event at a particular point in time and an actual act which is deliberate and able to be witnessed. I believe the sinner’s prayer is a way of filling the void left when people remove baptism.

So baptism is an immersion in water of a person who understands and believes the good news about Jesus and who is willing to follow Jesus as his One Lord.

  • This is the One baptism shared by all God’s people. It holds us together as God’s people.
  • This is what we believe & teach at Parkway & something you need to do if you want to be a member of Parkway.
  • If you’re not quite there yet in your thinking, that’s okay. Our walk w/ God is a journey. But I encourage you to be thinking, praying, & studying about this.
  • It is a vital part. I’d love to talk with you about it if you wish. Or if you think I’m wrong about this, I’d be glad to dialog with you.

(Galatians 1:6-9 NIV)  I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– {7} which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. {8} But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! {9} As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

(Galatians 3:26-28 NIV)  You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, {27} for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. {28} There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Why is this so important? Because the religious world is good at giving “false confidence” in this area. We’ve got to spend some time today in Acts 19:1-5

Paul found some disciples who had been immersed in water: “in the right way” for the wrong reason. Why was it such a big deal? What was the recourse? How does it affect us today? 

Throughout this series of messages on Belief Matters we’ve been saying it’s not enough merely to understand what the Bible teachers or merely to concur with it. It needs to change our lives.

If we believe in the One Baptism, we’ll do two things: Get baptized, w/ understanding, w/ faith, w/ the intent to follow Jesus. If you haven’t done that, I urge you to do so. If it’s associated with being saved, it’s really, really important. Wouldn’t want you to do it just to do it; need to understand. Glad to discuss it with you further.  Live like you’ve been baptized (not “follow the rules”). Parallel <> baptism and death, burial, & resurrection of Jesus.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 28, 2020 in Baptism

 

Beliefs Matter: “It Does Really Matter…What One Believes About One Hope” – Ephesians 4:4; John 14:1-3


Hope is something that God gives to help us keep our lives together until the very end

Ephesians 4:4-6 (ESV)  4  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5  one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Halford E. Luccock, in Unfinished Business, tells the story of a man who fascinated his dinner companions one night by telling of his experiences in the little town of Flagstaff, Maine, in Somerset County.

The town was to be abandoned and flooded and become a part of a large lake. A dam was being built which would submerge the little town. In the months before it was to be flooded, all improvements and repairs in the whole town stopped. What was the use of painting a house if it were to be covered with water in six months?

Why repair anything when the whole village was to be wiped out? So, week by week, the whole town became more and more bedraggled, more unprofitable, more miserable. Then he added: “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.” And I wonder if that’s not a good parable for many people’s lives today.

Hope is something that God has offered us to help us keep our lives together until the very end.

Our hope, in short, is that Jesus is coming back to take us home.  John 14:1-3 (ESV) 1  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

More broadly, based on several texts, our hope is that Christ will return, raise us from the dead or meet us in the air, transform us so that our bodies are like his glorious body, take us to heaven so we can see God face to face & live with him there forever.  Salvation will be complete & we’ll enter into eternal life in heaven.

Our hope is solid. It is not wishful thinking or an outside chance.  

Hebrews 6:13-20 (ESV)
13  For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,
14  saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.”
15  And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.
16  For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.
17  So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,
18  so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
19  We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,
20  where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

The reason it is secure is the basis it has. Our hope does have a foundation: (1 Peter 1:3 NIV)  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

(1 Peter 1:21 NIV)  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Our hope is based on God raising Jesus from the dead.  So, because God raised Jesus from the dead, we have a solid hope that he will return and take us home.

The question isn’t whether we have a thorough understanding of hope but whether our hope is transforming the way we live. Are our lives noticeably different because of our hope that Jesus is coming back to take us home?

A woman diagnosed with a terminal illness called on her minister to plan her funeral. She had some ideas about what she hoped would happen, but she was insistent about one thing: “I want to be buried with a fork in my hand.

Her incredulous minister demanded an explanation. “Oh, it’s quite simple,” the woman said. “In all my years of attending church socials and potlucks, I always remember that, when they clear the dishes, someone will say, ‘Keep your fork.’ It’s my favorite part, because I know something better is coming. So I want people to see me there in that coffin with a fork in my hand and know: ‘Her best is still to come.’ ”

Here are some of the ways the Bible says our hope should affect us:

Give us Joy — (Romans 5:2 NIV)  through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

(Romans 12:12 NIV)  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Lead to Praise: (1 Peter 1:3 NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 

Give us Endurance: (1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV)  We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Cause us to Purify ourselves: (1 John 3:2-3 NIV)  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. {3} Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

Speak openly even courageously to others: (2 Corinthians 3:12 NIV)  Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.

The Bible teaches that our hope should have a noticeable effect on how we actually live our lives.  The one hope of the Christian has always rested upon the return of Christ and the blessings of the- future life” (Titus 2:13 ; I Peter 1 :13).

“Set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” ( I Corinthians 15 :19).

Strengthening our Hope (Bible gives several, I’ll mention 3).

Make sure our hope really is in God (not government or my own abilities; not here & now; not health & wealth gospel)

(Hebrews 13:14 NIV)  For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

(1 Timothy 6:17 NIV)  Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

 (1 Peter 1:21 NIV)  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

 Choose to trust God.

(Romans 15:4 NIV)  For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

(Romans 15:13 NIV)  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Hebrews 10:23 NIV)  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Be willing to learn from our suffering (Rom. 5:3-4).

(Romans 5:3-4 NIV)  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; {4} perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Ironically, one of the things that often robs me of hope is intended to be a means of increasing our hope.  When we suffer, whether it is for our faith or not, it is a God-given opportunity for us to develop perseverance.  If we persevere, that affects our character.

If our character becomes more like God’s, then we have all the more reason to hope. So, suffering gives us an opportunity to develop hope, but it isn’t automatic—we have to be willing to learn from it.

Be diligent in doing good

(Hebrews 6:10-12 NIV)  God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. {11} We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. {12} We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Summary: we have a hope that Jesus is coming back to take us home, our hope has a solid basis: the resurrection of Jesus, & we can strengthen our hope by making sure it really is

In the 1800s, when he was just a small boy, John Todd lost both of his parents.  A kind-hearted aunt raised him until he left home to study for the ministry.  Later on, this aunt became seriously ill, and in distress wrote Todd a letter.  She asked whether death would mean the end of everything, or could she hope for something beyond?

Here is the letter John Todd wrote in reply:

“It is now 35 years since I, as a boy of six, was left quite alone in the world.  You sent me word you would give me a home and be a kind mother to me.  I have never forgotten the day I made the long journey to your house.  I can still recall my disappointment when, instead of coming for me yourself, you sent your servant, Caesar, to fetch me.

“I remember my tears and anxiety as, perched high on your horse and clinging tight to Caesar, I rode off to my new home.  Night fell before we finished the journey, and I became lonely and afraid.  “Do you think she’ll go to bed before we get there?” I asked Caesar.

“Oh no!” he said reassuringly, “She’ll stay up for you.  When we get out of these woods, you’ll see her candle shining in the window.”

“Presently we did ride out into the clearing, and there, sure enough, was your candle.  I remember you were waiting at the door, that you put your arms close about me—a tired and bewildered little boy.  You had a fire burning on the hearth, a hot supper waiting on the stove.  After supper you took me to my new room, heard me say my prayers, and then sat beside me till I fell asleep.

“Some day soon God will send for you, to take you to your new home.  Don’t fear the summons, the strange journey, or the messenger of death.  God can be trusted to do as much for you as you were kind enough to do for me so many years ago.

“At the end of the road you will find love and a welcome awaiting, and you will be safe in God’s care. “

 It’s the wise individual who can hope for the best, get ready for the worst, and take what God chooses to send.

I like the example of the hospice nurse, who had ministered to many as they faced death, trying to ease the transition. A minister asked her, “Do Christians die differently from others?” “Most definitely, yes,” she replied, “Christians really do die better.” Why do Christians die better? “They know it isn’t over.”

I am told the catacombs in Rome, those tunnels under the ancient city, where many of the early Christians were buried, reveal symbols of faith.

Three common symbols appear: the dove, the fish, and the anchor. The dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit. The letters of the Greek word for “fish,” ichthus, stand for the words Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior. The anchor came from the idea that as Christians were going through difficult, insecure times, their hope anchored their souls.

I must insist that we take a few steps alongside the men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) to make certain we see the other side of this difficult coin. The whole situation seemed to these two men to have no explanation. Their hopes and dreams were shattered.  There is all the poignant, wistful, bewildered regret in the world in their sorrowing words, “We were hoping that he was the one who was going to rescue Israel.”

They were the words of men whose hopes were dead and buried.  Then Jesus came and talked with them, and the meaning of life became clear and the darkness became light.

Life with Christ is an endless hope, without him a hopeless end

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 28, 2020 in Church, ephesians

 
 
%d bloggers like this: