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The Myth of “Happily Ever After”


marriage-mythsWe see from 1 Peter 3 that the believing wife can win over her unbelieving husband “without words” by her Christ-like behavior in the home.

We also saw that there are three things she is not ‘given permission’ by God to do: She cannot leave. She should not nag. She must not lead…the husband is still head of that home and, unless he is against God, she must continue following in that relationship.

We have often heard the phrase “happily ever after” when attending a wedding of two special people, deeply in love, and making vows before God, family, and friends. The Disney empire has fed our romantic fantasies for fairy tales so we are captivated by storybook romance.

This is not the Christian view. Our faith sees the wedding day not as a place of arrival but the place where the adventure begins.”1

The divorce rate in our culture is at an all-time high. Whatever happened to “happily ever after”? Why is it so hard to maintain the hopes and dreams that surround a beautiful wedding with all its promises of love and fidelity, sacrifice and service?

Marriage counselors Les and Leslie Parrott have an idea. In their excellent book Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, they suggest four myths that have torpedoed many marriages because of unrealistic expectations and misconceptions about what marriage should be.

“For too long,” the Parrotts write, “marriage has been saddled with unrealistic expectation and misguided assumptions. Liberated from these four myths, couples can settle into the real world of marriage—with all its joys and sorrows, passion and pain.”2

Many people know that something is wrong but they don’t know what; and you can’t fix or change something if you don’t know what’s wrong in the first place. Many of our marriage problems are due to harmful expectations and beliefs that fly in the face of “real reality.” One divorce lawyer told the Parrotts that the number-one reason people split up is that they “refuse to accept the fact that they are married to a human being.”3 In this article we bust the myth of “happily ever after.”

Myth #1: “We Expect Exactly the Same Things From Marriage”

When people are in love, it’s easy to assume that the other person has the same values and expectations as we do. But every family has its own culture, so to speak, and we tend to expect life will continue the same way once we’re adults as it was while we were growing up. One way these differing expectations play out is in the unspoken rules of each family.

We are usually not aware of our unspoken rules and expectations unless there is much time to ‘get to know each other’ or until the other person violates them.

I recently heard a great word of wisdom: “Expectations are the mother of resentments.” How true is that?! When our spouse doesn’t live up to our unspoken expectations, we can feel frustrated and irritated, and often we don’t even know why we’re upset because we don’t know what’s wrong. It’s helpful to think through “the rules” of one’s family so that unspoken rules and expectations are brought out into the light of examination.

Here are some rules from various families:

  • Don’t ask for help unless you’re desperate.
    • Downplay your successes.
    • Be invisible.
    • Get someone else to do the hard or dirty work.
    • Don’t get sick.
    • Never ever get angry.
    • Don’t talk about your body.
    • Don’t go to bed without cleaning the kitchen.
    • Don’t talk about your feelings.
    • Don’t ever upset Daddy.

Can you see how these unspoken rules can cause havoc if a spouse doesn’t know about them?

Another source of mismatched expectations is the unconscious roles that spouses fall into, the way an actor follows a script. We inherit expectations about how wives and husbands act by watching our parents and other adults, and we often play out those roles the same way unless we choose to change it. For example, one new husband surprised his wife at dinner by picking up his empty iced tea glass and tinkling the ice cubes.

His father had always signaled this way to his mother that he was ready for more tea. The bride was not pleased to learn that her husband expected to play the role of pampered king whose every whim was gladly granted!

The myth that “we expect exactly the same things from marriage” is busted by identifying and talking about unspoken expectations and unconscious roles. The more openly couples discuss their differing expectations, the more likely they are to create a vision of marriage that they can agree on. It’s good planning to work through some of those “my family does it this way” scenarios well in advance of the actual marriage ceremony.

Myth #2: “Everything Good in Our Relationship Will Get Better”

Most people, when they fall in love, really believe their love will last forever because it’s so intense and intoxicating. It’s hard not to believe that everything good about the relationship will just continue to get better and better as time goes on. But reality “is that not everything gets better. Many things improve in relationships, but some things become more difficult. Every successful marriage requires necessary losses, and in choosing to marry, you inevitably go through a mourning process.”4

For some, marriage means giving up childhood. It means giving up the safety and security of being your parents’ child, and becoming a full-fledged adult. God makes this statement in Genesis 2:24 when He says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Marriage means the end of childhood, and that can feel like a loss to be mourned.

Marriage also “means giving up a carefree lifestyle and coming to terms with new limits. It means unexpected inconveniences.”5 Marriage means always passing one’s plans and choices through the filter of “us.” Since “the two become one,” many of our even mundane life choices impact someone else. That can feel like a loss to be faced, as well.

The Parrotts write, “By far the most dramatic loss experienced in a new marriage is the idealized image you have of your partner. This was the toughest myth we encountered in our marriage. Each of us had an airbrushed mental picture of who the other was. But eventually, married life asked us to look reality square in the face and reckon with the fact that we did not marry the person we thought we did.”6

It is an illusion that the intense romantic thrill of the beginning of a relationship will last forever. “Debunking the myth of eternal romance will do more than just about anything to help . . . build a lifelong happy marriage.”7 When we get past the myth of continual bliss with a perfect partner, we can embrace the reality that we married another flawed and fallen human being. This is good news, because God only gives grace for reality, nor for illusion or temporary enchantment. And this is good news because intimacy is only available with a real person, not with an idealized image.

Myth #3: “Everything Bad in My Life Will Disappear”

Remember the story of Cinderella? A poor, mistreated stepchild who is forced to serve her wicked step-family is magically turned into a beautiful princess. She is rescued by her Prince Charming and they live . . . all together now . . . “happily ever after.” And don’t we all long for a Prince Charming or a beautiful princess to make us happy and wipe away every tear from our eyes?

The myth of a “happily ever after” life is a legitimate longing of our hearts. We ache to return to Eden where everything bad in our lives will disappear. God promises that He will eventually make all things right again, but it doesn’t happen in marriage between two fallen human beings living in a fallen world.

Marriage is a glorious institution invented by God, but it “does not erase personal pain or eliminate loneliness. Why? Because people get married primarily to further their own well-being, not to take care of their partners’ needs. The bad traits and feelings you carried around before you were married remain with you as you leave the wedding chapel. A marriage certificate is not a magical glass slipper.”8

The Parrotts write, “Getting married cannot instantly cure all our ills, but marriage can become a powerful healing agent over time. If you are patient, marriage can help you overcome even some of the toughest of tribulations.”9

Perhaps the biggest reason for this is the amazing power of love. I believe God’s love is the strongest healing agent in the universe. In marriage, He can love us through our spouses; He can be “Jesus with skin on” to each of us.

A healthy marriage can become a place to wrap up unfinished business from childhood and deal with unresolved hurts. It’s a myth that everything bad in our lives will disappear when we say “I do,” but God’s grace is bigger than the myth. We still live in a fallen world with a fallen spouse, but God can bring much grace through mutual love.

Myth #4: “My Spouse Will Make Me Whole”

One of the greatest lines in all of movie history belongs to Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire where he tells his wife, “You complete me.” It is romantic and feels emotionally satisfying—but in reality, it’s just not true.

Couples who swallow the myth that their spouse will make them whole are in danger of going to one of two extremes. One is an unhealthy dependence on the other that the Parrotts term an enmeshed relationship. They unconsciously make their partner completely responsible for their well-being. They are like ticks that constantly attempt to suck life and love and meaning from their spouse. It is a form of idolatry, because they are looking to their partner to provide emotional “living water” that only God can give.

The other extreme is a disengaged relationship of what the Parrotts call “rugged self-reliance.” These spouses are so isolated and independent from each other that they function more like neighbors or business associates than a God-created union of two souls.

The first kind of couple is looking for wholeness from their partner; the second kind of couple is looking for wholeness from within. It is also a form of idolatry, because they are looking to themselves instead of God to provide meaning for life.

Neither enmeshed nor disengaged relationships are healthy, and neither will allow the people in them to experience wholeness. A sense of wholeness is found in an interdependent relationship where two people with self-respect and dignity make a commit-ment to nurture their own spiritual and emotional growth as well as their partner’s.

Enmeshed relationships are like the capital letter A. They lean on each other so much that if one moves, the whole structure falls down. Their security is in another person instead of in God.

Disengaged relationships are like the letter H. Partners stand virtually alone. If one lets go, the other hardly feels a thing. Interdependent relationships are like the letter M. They could stand on their own, but they choose to stay connected to the other out of their fullness, not out of their emptiness. If one lets go, the other feels a loss but can recover.

Every marriage is between two broken and fallen people who cannot make each other whole. We are called to love and respect each other, serve and celebrate each other—but only God can make us whole.

“Happily ever after” may be for fairy tales, but that doesn’t mean there is no such thing as a happy, rich, fulfilling marriage. But it’s only possible for those who live in reality, not in the fantasy of make-believe myths. May God give us grace to trust Him to walk in truth and not illusion.

________________

Notes

  1. Les and Leslie Parrott. Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 26.
    2. Ibid., 16.
    3. Ibid., 23.
    4. Ibid., 21.
    5. Ibid., 22.
    6. Ibid.
    7. Ibid.
    8. Ibid., 24.
    9. Ibid., 25.
 
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Posted by on February 21, 2020 in Marriage

 

“What is Heaven Going to be Like?” — Revelation 21:1-22:5


“That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).  In the Apostle John’s day, Rome was the admired city; yet God compared it to a harlot.

Human history begins in a Garden and ends in a City that is like a garden paradise.

 The eternal city of God is compared to a beautiful bride (Rev. 21:9), because it is the eternal home for God’s beloved people.

God’s statements recorded in Revelation 21:5-6 aptly summarize these final two chapters: “Behold, I make all things new. . . . It is done!” What began in Genesis is brought to completion in Revelation, as the following summary shows:

 

Genesis Revelation
Heavens and earth created, 1:1 New heavens and earth, 21:1
Sun created, 1:16 No need of the sun, 21:23
The night established, 1:5 No night there 22:5
The seas created, 1:10 No more seas, 21:1
The curse announced, 3:14-17 No more curse, 22:3
Death enters history, 3:19 No more death, 21:4
Man driven from the tree, 3:24 Man restored to paradise, 22:14
Sorrow and pain begin, 3:17 No more tears or pain, 21:4

 We come to the closing scene in Revelation. Here is the most comprehensive section of encouragement for struggling brethren. Throughout this book there have been hints of immortality: the promises to the Conquerors, the white robed multitudes, the triumphant song of Moses and the Lamb, the wedding feast of the Lamb and His bride. Now at last John is given a vision that surveys the Promised Land. In some ways this is the most important part of his book, as it is certainly the most familiar and beloved.

 As this section is read you cannot help but recall a number of Old Testament passages, thus once again we find an intimate connection with the prophets of old:

Isa. 25:8 he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears

       from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.

Isa. 65:17  “Behold, I will create        new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered,nor will they come to mind.

Isa. 65:19  I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.

Isa. 66:22  “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure.

Isa. 55:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;            and you who have no money,

       come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

Isa. 60:20 Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.

Ezek. 36:28 You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

Ezek. 37:28 Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’”

Ezek. 48:31 the gates of the city will be named after the tribes of Israel. The three gates on the north side will be the gate of Reuben, the gate of Judah and the gate of Levi.

Ezek. 47:12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

2 Sam. 7:14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men.

Zech. 14:6-8 On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. 7It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea£ and half to the western sea,£ in summer and in winter.

In this section there is a marvelous message to believers – “Do not give up because you have a wonderful destiny ahead!” The destiny of the redeemed is to be in the “new” Jerusalem. Literally the phrase means, “The new city of peace.” In contrast to their present trials and burdens they would share in grand blessings. It is this beautiful city of peace that brings great comfort and cheer to struggling saints.

Body: Notice how cheer would be brought to believers as they come to know about this eternal home of the saved.

A. This city of peace provides ETERNAL FELLOWSHIP with God (Revelation 21:1-8):

Rev. 21:1 through Rev. 21:8 1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

6He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

They are God’s people (vv. 1-5).

The first heaven and earth were prepared for the first man and woman and their descendants. God had readied everything for them when He placed them in the Garden. Unfortunately, our first parents sinned, ushering death and decay into God’s beautiful world. Creation is in bondage and travail (Rom. 8:18-23), and even the heavens “are not clean in His sight” (Job 15:15).

God has promised His people a new heaven and earth (Isa. 65:17; 66:22). The old creation must make way for the new creation if God is to be glorified. Jesus called this event “the regeneration” of the earth (Matt. 19:28), and Peter explained it as a cleansing and renewing by fire (2 Peter 3:10-13). Bible students are not agreed as to whether the old elements will be renewed or whether the old will be destroyed and a whole new creation ushered in. It is clear to me that whatever God has prepared for my spiritual body will be exactly what He planned and exactly what it needs!

Even despite Scripture’s description, it is difficult to imagine what the eternal city will be like. John characterizes it as a holy city (see Rev. 21:27), a prepared city (see John 14:1-6), and a beautiful city, as beautiful as a bride on her wedding day.

But the most important thing about the city is that God dwells there with His people. The Bible gives an interesting record of the dwelling places of God. First, God walked with man in the Garden of Eden. Then He dwelt with Israel in the tabernacle and later the temple. When Israel sinned, God had to depart from those dwellings. Later, Jesus Christ came to earth and “tabernacled” among us (John 1:14). Today, God does not live in man-made temples (Acts 7:48-50), but in the bodies of His people (1 Cor. 6:19-20) and in the church (Eph. 2:21-22).

In both the tabernacle and the temple, the veil stood between men and God. That veil was torn in two when Jesus died, thus opening a “new and living way” for God’s people (Heb. 10:19ff). Even though God dwells in believers today by His Spirit, we still have not begun to understand God or fellowship with Him as we would like; but one day, we shall dwell in God’s presence and enjoy Him forever.

The eternal city is so wonderful that the best way John found to describe it was by contrast—“no more.” The believers who first read this inspired book must have rejoiced to know that, in heaven, there would be no more pain, tears, sorrow, or death; for many of their number had been tortured and slain. In every age, the hope of heaven has encouraged God’s people in times of suffering.

Verses 3-4 explain, in symbolic language, the beauty of this promised fellowship. This fellowship allows saints to find access to high joy

a. God dwells with them in one tent (Revelation 7:15).

b. The Lamb is their Shepherd (Revelation 7:17).

c. God wipes every tear out of their eyes (Revelation 7:17).

d. They are constantly worshiping in the sanctuary (Revelation 7:15).

e. They sit with him on the throne and He sups with them(Revelation 3:20, 21).

The beauty of this fellowship is enhanced as we see that it is offered absolutely free (Revelation 21:6; 22:17b). Surely the sensible person will see the necessity to remain faithful so he can inherit this wonderful fellowship! (Revelation 21:7).

A greater emphasis is added when the reverse is considered. Those who fail to establish and maintain fellowship with God now will not find it in eternity (Revelation 21:8; Romans 6:23). God’s city of peace will not include any who associate with Satan! (Revelation 21:27).

 These heavenly citizens are an overcoming people (vv. 7-8).

“He that overcometh” is a key phrase in this book (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; note also 12:11). As John pointed out in his first epistle, all true believers are overcomers (1 John 5:4-5), so this promise is not just for the “spiritually elite.” Because we are the children of God, we shall inherit all things.

 In contrast to the overcomers, Revelation 21:8 describes the people who were overcome by sin and would not trust the Lord. What is their destiny? The lake of fire! The world considers Christians as “losers,” but it is the unbelievers who are the losers!

 The fearful are the cowardly, the people who did not have the courage to stand up for Christ (see Matt. 10:32-33). The word abominable means “polluted,” and refers to those who indulged in sin and were thus polluted in mind, spirit, and body (2 Cor. 7:1). The other characteristics mentioned in Revelation 21:8 need no special explanation, except to note that all of them would be true of “the beast’s” followers (note Rev. 17:4, 6; 18:3, 9; 19:2).

 The recipients of John’s letter would be challenged to evaluate their relationship with God. John was writing the Christians and telling them they must be sure they were fit to be among those blessed by heaven’s rewards. John had earlier challenged these Christians by pointing out that some were claiming to be fit for heaven but were not – their religion was only a pretense (i.e. the 7 churches). As we think of this point may we also be challenged so we will not be deceived thinking we are fit for heaven when we are actually fit for Satan’s evil work.

 Out of the Seven Churches mentioned only ONE was without fault and only TWO were commended!

a. Ephesus did not really “love” God (Revelation 2:4).

b. Pergamum did not demonstrate conviction (Revelation 2:14-15).

c. Thyatira encouraged rebellion to God (Revelation 2:20).

d. Sardis was spiritually dead (Revelation 3:1).

e. Laodicea was apathetic (Revelation 3:15).

 B. This city of peace is blessed with ETERNAL PROTECTION by God (Revelation 21:9-26):

Rev. 21:9 through Rev. 21:26 9One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia£ in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits£ thick,£ by man’s measurement, which the angel was using. 18The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.£ 21The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.

22I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.

 The Character of the City (Rev. 21:9-22:5)

The eternal city is not only the home of the bride; it is the bride! A city is not buildings; it is people. The city John saw was holy and heavenly; in fact, it descended to earth from heaven, where it was prepared. John’s description staggers the imagination, even accepting the fact that a great deal of symbolism is involved. Heaven is a real place of glory and beauty, the perfect home for the Lamb’s bride.

 We have already noted that “the glory of God” has appeared in different places throughout history. God’s glory dwelt in the tabernacle and then in the temple. Today, His glory dwells in believers and in His church. For all eternity, the glory of God will be seen in His holy city. It is the only light the city will need.

 The city’s description follows the pattern of cities with which John’s readers were familiar: foundations, walls, and gates. The foundations speak of permanence, in contrast to the tents in which “pilgrims and strangers” lived (Heb. 11:8-10). The walls and gates speak of protection. God’s people will never have to fear any enemies. Angels at the gates will act as sentries!

 In this city, saints of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant will be united. The twelve gates are identified with the twelve tribes of Israel, and the twelve foundations with the 12 Apostles (see Eph. 2:20).

 John had measured the earthly Jerusalem (Rev. 11), but now he is invited to measure the heavenly city. Foursquare means “equal on all sides,” so the city might be a cube or a pyramid. More importantly, the fact that it is equal on all sides indicates the perfection of God’s eternal city: nothing is out of order or balance.

 The measurements are staggering, though given only to signify its greater meaning! If we take a cubit as eighteen inches, then the city walls are 216 feet high! If a furlong is taken as 600 feet (measures differed in ancient days), the city would be about 1,500 miles square! There will be plenty of room for everyone!

 The city’s construction cannot but fascinate us. The walls are jasper, which is a clear crystal; but the city itself will be made of pure gold, as clear as crystal. The light of God’s glory will shine throughout the city, resembling a huge holy of holies.

 Building foundations are usually underground, but these foundations will not only be visible but beautifully garnished with precious stones. Each separate foundation will have its own jewel, and the blending of the colors will be magnificent as God’s light shines through.

 Our God is a God of beauty, and He will lavish His beauty on the city He is preparing for His people. Perhaps Peter had the holy city in mind when he wrote about the “manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10), for the word translated “manifold” means “many colored, variegated.”

 In ancient times, the pearl was considered a “royal gem,” produced by a mollusk covering an irritating grain of sand within its shell. But the pearl gates of the heavenly city will never be closed (Rev. 21:25) because there will be no danger of anything entering that would disturb or defile her citizens.

 John noted that some items were missing from the city, but their absence only magnified its glory. There will be no temple, since the entire city will be indwelt by God’s presence. Indeed, “secular” and “sacred” will be indistinguishable in heaven. The sun and moon will be absent since the Lord is the light of the city, and there will never be any night (see Isa. 60:19).

 1. John’s readers knew the need to be protected. Knowing you are kept safe brings great security and peace. The essence of protection was a great city surrounded by a great wall. Here we read of such a place described in symbolic language.

a. “Twelve gates” – abundant entrance where no one who desired would be forbidden entrance.

b. “Twelve foundations” – such a perfect foundation could never be shaken.

c. “Four Square” – this city will have enough room for all the redeemed under the Old Testament and  New Testament (12b, 14b).

 2. The description is of a strong, spacious, perfect, and beautiful city where God’s redeemed will live with Him in perfect fellowship! To try to make this a literal city on earthly Jerusalem destroys the symbol.

 3. No where else can man find a more appealing description of God’s home for saved souls!

 C. The city of peace is supplied with ETERNAL PROVISIONS from God (Revelation 22:1-5):

Rev. 22:1 through Rev. 22:5 1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

 1. So great is this New Jerusalem and so magnificently designed by God, it does not need many things that are essential to present life.

a. There is “no temple” (Revelation 21:22). No sins need atonement and saints are in God’s presence always.

b. There is “no sun or moon” (Revelation 21:23). The radiance of the Lamb is all that is needed.

c. There is “no night” (Revelation 22:25). There is no darkness for God is light. There is no need for labors have ceased.

 2. Note the provisions offered by God . . .

a. The garden – Eden will be restored and eternally enjoyed.

b. Water of Life – Symbolic of salvation. It is offered full and free (Psalm 46:4a). The beauty is marvelous (Revelation 22:1).

c. Trees of Life – Not just one but whole rows on either side of the river. Fruit is always present.

d. Throne of God and the Lamb – The sovereignty of God will be the center of attention. This throne dominates so that God’s will is supreme. Never again will the saints battle against the Dragon for God is supreme!

 3. What a striking picture! Pause and reflect on it and sense the strong assurance it offers! What greater provisions could we seek?

 D. This city of peace is a place of ETERNAL SERVICE to God (Revelation 22:3, 5):

Rev. 22:3 3No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 

Rev. 22:5 5There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

1. It is misleading to assume heaven will be a place of leisure where all desires are immediately provided angels (See Revelation 7:15b –”day and night”).

2. Notice how service is pictured in verses 3, 5.

a. The entire population will offer priestly service.

b. Service is rendered and is focused on God.

c. Here is a continuation of service that has been offered on earth!

Note: Matthew 25:21 – service on earth leads to service in heaven. We must understand this simple point (Matthew 25:26-30).

d. Heaven will be populated ONLY by those who love to serve God on earth, in the church!

What will we do in heaven for all eternity? Certainly, we shall praise the Lord, but we shall also serve Him. “His servants shall serve Him” (Rev. 22:3) is a great encouragement to us, for in heaven our service will be perfect. As we seek to serve the Lord here on earth, we are constantly handicapped by sin and weakness; but all hindrances will be gone when we get to glory. Perfect service in a perfect environment!

What will this service be? We are not told, nor do we need to know now. It is sufficient that we know what God wants us to do today. Our faithfulness in life prepares us for higher service in heaven. In fact, some students think that we shall have access to the vast universe and perhaps be sent on special missions to other places. But it is useless to speculate, because God has not seen fit to fill in the details.

Certainly, many interesting questions could be asked about our future abode in heaven, but most must go unanswered until we reach our glorious home. In fact, John closed his book by reminding us that we have responsibilities today becausewe are going to heaven.

II. From this final vision we discover the following . . .

A. God answers our desires to know what the future will bring. In symbols He has told us that heaven is a beautiful city of peace where we will find eternal fellowship, protection, provision, and service to God.

B. In this section we have a dramatic contrast with chapter 20. We have here encouragement to remain faithful because eternal destiny will be lived in either the New Jerusalem or the Lake of Fire! (Revelation 21:27).

C. Our ability to enjoy heaven depends on how much we enjoy the church on earth. It is hard to imagine how some will enjoy an eternity of that which appears to be intolerable on earth!

1. Eternal fellowship with brethren.

2. Eternal Protection by the Almighty’s power.

3. Eternal worship assemblies of praise to God.

4. Eternal service to God with the redeemed.

D. Those with whom we identify on earth will be those we will identify with in eternity!

E. We discover an answer to the problem of earth’s evils (v. 4). God lists some of the more prominent evils that will cease. The Lamb has conquered and has answered the problems of the world.

F. Entrance into God’s heaven is not open to just anyone, but only to those who have been given the right (Revelation 21:27). We must make preparations to enter now or else run the risk of never being admitted!

The Challenge of the City (Rev. 22:6-21)

Heaven is more than a destination; it is a motivation. Knowing that we shall dwell in the heavenly city ought to make a difference in our lives here and now. The vision of the heavenly city motivated the patriarchs as they walked with God and served Him (Heb. 11:10, 13-16). Knowing that He was returning to the Father in heaven also encouraged Jesus Christ as He faced the cross (Heb. 12:2). The assurance of heaven must not lull us into complacency or carelessness, but spur us to fulfill our spiritual duties.

We must keep God’s Word (vv. 6-11, 18-19).

Because what John wrote is the Word of God, his words are faithful and true (see Rev. 19:11). The same God who spoke through the prophets also spoke through the Apostle John. As the “capstone” of God’s revelation, John’s book cannot be divorced from the rest of the Bible. If we deny that John wrote the truth, then we must also deny the prophets.

What does it mean to “keep the sayings of the prophecy of this book”? (Rev. 22:7) Basically, it means to guard, to watch over, to preserve intact. We must not add to the Word of God or take anything from it (see Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:5-6).

It was customary in ancient days for writers to put this kind of warning at the close of their books, because the people who copied them for public distribution might be tempted to tamper with the material. However, John’s warning was not addressed to a writer, but to the hearer, the believer in the congregation where this book was read aloud. By analogy, however, it would apply to anyone reading and studying the book today. We may not be able to explain the penalties given, but we do know this: it is a dangerous thing to tamper with the Word of God. The one who guards the Word and obeys it will be blessed; the one who alters it will be disciplined in some way.

For a second time, John was overwhelmed by what he saw and heard; and he fell down to worship the angel who was speaking to him (see Rev. 19:10). The angel gave John three words of counsel: do not worship angels; worship God; and do not seal up the Revelation. The Prophet Daniel was commanded to seal his book (Dan. 12:4), because the time was not yet ready. John’s book was an “apocalypse,” an unveiling (Rev. 1:1); and, therefore, it must not be sealed.

Once again, the Holy Spirit is reminding us of the living unity of God’s Word. We have seen in our study how John, led by the Spirit, reached back into the Old Testament and used many of the images found there, including Daniel’s prophecy. Scripture is its own best interpreter.

Does Revelation 22:11 suggest that God does not want men to repent and change their ways? No, because that would be contrary to the message of Revelation and of the Gospel itself. The angel’s words must be understood in light of the repeated statement, “Behold, I come quickly” (Rev. 22:7, 12), as well as his statement, “For the time is at hand” (Rev. 22:10). Jesus Christ’s coming will occur so quickly that men will not have time to change their characters.

Revelation 22:11, therefore, is a solemn warning that decision determines character, and character determines destiny. Suffering believers might ask, “Is it worth it to live a godly life?” John’s reply is, “Yes! Jesus is returning, and He will reward you!” Next comes John’s second admonition.

We have the responsibility of serving the Lord (vv. 12-14).

“My reward is with Me” implies that God is mindful of our sufferings and our service, and nothing will ever be done in vain if it is done for Him. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, believers will be judged according to their works; and rewards will be given to those who have been faithful.

Throughout church history, there have been those who have become “so heavenly minded that they were no earthly good.” They quit their jobs, sold their property, and sat and waited for Jesus to return. All of them have been embarrassed, of course, because it is unbiblical to set dates for His coming. It is also unbiblical to become careless and lazy just because we believe Jesus is coming soon. Paul faced this problem with some of the believers in Thessalonica (2 Thes. 3).

No wonder John added, “Blessed are they that do His commandments” (Rev. 22:14). If we really believe that Jesus is coming soon, we will watch and be faithful (Luke 12:35ff).

Revelation 22:13 is a great encouragement to anyone who seeks to serve the Lord. Whatever God starts, He will finish; for He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last (see Phil. 1:6; 2:12-13).

We must keep our lives clean (vv. 15-16).

The contrast here is between those who do God’s commandments and enter the city, and those who reject His Word and are excluded from the city (see Rev. 21:8, 27). It is not likely that those who “do His commandments” are a special or an elite group of saints. The phrase is similar to “them that overcome” and characterizes all the people of God. Obedience to God’s Word is a mark of true salvation.

We must keep expecting Jesus Christ to return (vv. 17, 20-21).

Three times in this closing chapter John wrote, “I [Christ] come quickly” (Rev. 22:7, 12, 20). But He has “delayed” His return for nearly 2,000 years! Yes, He has; and Peter tells us why: God wants to give this sinful world opportunity to repent and be saved (2 Peter 3:1ff).

In the meantime, the Spirit of God, through the church (the bride), calls for Jesus to come; for the bride wants to meet her Bridegroom and enter into her home. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).

But believers ought also to invite lost sinners to trust Christ and drink the water of life. Indeed, when the church lives in expectancy of Christ’s return, such an attitude provokes ministry and evangelism as well as purity of heart. We want to tell others of the grace of God. A true understanding of Bible prophecy should both motivate us to obey God’s Word and to share God’s invitation with a lost world.

Conclusion:

This is a beautiful section from Revelation. It is filled with hope, cheer, and encouragement. John’s message closes with a most practical message. The reason why a Christian is not to surrender to the temptation of distress is because of the “home over there.” There is perfection and peace so “Don’t give up!

If our study of Revelation has been truly led by the Spirit, then we will join John in the Bible’s last prayer:

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

Are you ready?

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2020 in Heaven

 

Affirmative Living


Joseph was called, derisively, the dreamer. Some of his dreams were prophetic. He saw himself as a leader of men. Joseph dreamed of using his considerable talents to do great things for God and his family. Joseph’s dreams enabled him to live affirmatively.

Affirmative living means recognizing the presence of God in your life. Whatever happened to Joseph never caused him to give up on God. In fact, everything that happened to him only drew him closer to God. Do you notice the presence of God in your life? Do you believe he has a plan for you? If not, you need to dare to dream again. 

Affirmative living means making the best of bad situations. Joseph was hated and sold into slavery. He was unjustly accused and placed in prison. Though forgotten, he never lost hope. We couldn’t have blamed him if he had. But, whatever happened to Joseph, he kept on making the best of it. He was sold into slavery only to become the head servant. Sent to prison, he took over the administration. Brought before the king, he became Pharaoh’s right hand man.

Affirmative living means maintaining your principles even when inconvenient. Joseph faced his biggest challenge when accosted by his master’s wife. He could have given all kinds of excuses to give in, but he was willing to do what was right, in spite of the consequences. Have you been mistreated? If so, you need to dare to dream again.

Affirmative living means recognizing God is in control. Joseph, when he was finally reunited with his brothers, said to them, “What you did to me you meant for bad, God used for good.” Joseph believed that ultimately God is in control, and that all things work together for good. Have you wondered if God has deserted you, or if your life has any purpose at all? If so, you need to dare to dream again.[1]

I sing with the hymn, “Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come,” but I can also say, “‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

I can testify to the fact that the Debater’s conclusion is apt: Life is fulfilled only when God is enthroned in the center of an individual’s life and that individual acts in obedience to his ruler. But the philosophy that begins and exists and ends in the dust, and then says that the dust is everything — that this is all life is intended to be, that vanity is everything — is utter folly.

The Debater’s conclusion is that everything is indeed vanity unless you put God in the center of life.

——————

[1] Sermon Outlines For Seekers by J. Michael Shannon. 

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2020 in Encouragement

 

“Heaven In The Home: God’s Plan For His Family” Series #5  Marriage: Honor and Purity Hebrews 13:4; 1 Cor. 7:1-9


marriage2(Hebrews 13:4) Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

We need to discuss a sensitive issue today, and I can assure you I will be very aware of what is being said and how it is discussed.

I heard a list some time ago of some topics that are sure to “draw a crowd.” Issues related to sexuality are a sure thing, And studies of the “end times” is also on the list. It only seems normal to assume that a sermon on whether there is “sex at the end of time” would really draw a crowd.

I do feel a strong connection to the minister who was asked to speak on the subject of Sexuality at a ladies community group. He was a little embarrassed and stammered around when his wife asked him the subject he’d been assigned – she thought he said “sailing” when she asked for the topic.

The next day his wife met a lady from the community group and she just went on and on about how good her husband’s talk went. “I’m a little surprised,” she said (thinking his subject had been sailing). “He’s only actually done it twice in his life.  The first time he lost his favorite hat, and the second time he threw up.”

The erosion of marriage is a constant refrain in political debate and a legitimate concern for society in general. In God’s eyes, marriage is honorable. He established it at creation and has honored it ever since. In much of the world today, of course, marriage is anything but honored. A great many couples who marry do so as a temporary convenience, not as a social, much less a divine, requirement for their living together.

Under relentless attack from every direction especially the Media portrayal of family on TV and in the movies and in magazines. cheapening of sexual intimacy; reality TV sleaze shows – auction off a bride or groom…government policy – marriage tax penalty…marriage is passé, out of date, no longer valid – we’ve evolved past needing it…

For us, however, as Christians, this is not a matter of mere tolerance or benign approval of an institution, but a commitment to honor!

Marriage can be held in honor in many ways.

  1. One is by the husband’s being the head. God is glorified in a family where the husband rules. “The husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church” (Eph. 5:23).
  2. Another way is a corollary of the first, namely, that wives be submissive to their husbands (1 Pet. 3:1, 6).

(1 Peter 3:1)  “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,”

  1. A third way marriage is honored is by being regulated by mutual love and respect. “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (v. 7).

Scripture gives at least three reasons for marriage.

  1. One is the propagation of children.

At creation, mankind was commissioned to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28).

  1. Marriage is also provided as a means of preventing sexual sin.

“Because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2), Paul advises, and then goes on to counsel the unmarried and widows to marry if they do not have self-control (vv. 8-9).

1 Cor 7:1 – 9: “Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.£  2But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.  3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.  4The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.  5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.  6I say this as a concession, not as a command.  7I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 8Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.  9But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

  1. Marriage is also provided for companionship.

“God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’” (Gen. 2:18).

REASONS IT IS CONFUSING IN OUR SOCIETY

  1. Sex as a commodity. Sex sells. Why does the poster for welding equipment feature a woman in a bikini? That’s not proper attire for welding. We know why. We have been taught that sex sells. The sports car does not come with the beautiful girl, but men buy the sports car anyway. We have been taught that sex sells. Sex has become a commodity. The buying and selling of sexuality is not limited to prostitution. Victoria’s Secret does not sell underwear. It sells sexuality.

We are always pressured to buy the lie. The cosmetic surgery industry is growing at an astonishing rate. The goal is to enhance features of the human anatomy to make one sexy and youthful. Sex sells. It is good business. Pharmaceuticals to enhance and effect sexual ability are also a growing industry.

God didn’t intend for sex to be merchandise. Sex and sexuality are powerful forces, much more powerful than capitalism and consumerism. When sex is regarded as a commodity, people just might break the rules to “get it.”

2. Sex as an idol. God has already given us a word to live by regarding idolatry. Throughout history, people have carved images of sex gods. Sex has been worshipped and humans have submitted to sex as a power for ages. But that mythological nonsense is all in the past yes? We don’t have temples to sex gods and goddesses anymore, do we? Not with bricks and mortar, no. But we do build shrines of electronic lights and pixels. Pornography is a real power that can work its “magic” in someone’s life as effectively as any force. We like to think that we can control our idols, but in the end they tend to dominate us. 

3. Sex as (nothing more than) a personal choice. Even if we aren’t gratuitous or shocking, talking about sex publicly can be uncomfortable. That’s part of our problem. Although sex is a very intimate subject and does have something to do with our private world, we can go to the extreme of making it so private and personal that we no longer have anything to say about it publicly. And yet, that’s what this word from God is all about. God is affirming that there are certain societal covenants and boundaries that must be respected by all of us when it comes to sex.

This is what the marriage ceremony is all about. We are affirming as a people (single and married) a public statement about human sexuality. This is why the arguments about the definition of marriage are so fierce. It isn’t merely personal choice. If I go into my neighbor’s back yard and move the fence simply because I wanted it moved I am going to have a fight on my hands. Likewise, the ancient boundaries and covenants are not casually tampered with.

So it is doesn’t really work when we trample on marital fidelity and dismiss the breaking of covenants as a matter of personal choice. God intended sex to be something that everyone respects and when everyone doesn’t respect it the way God does, it is cheapened.

Sins Harming Marriage

Premarital sex

(Matthew 19:4-6) “”Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ {5} and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? {6} So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.””

(Acts 15:29) “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.”

(Galatians 5:19-21) “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; {20} idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions {21} and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Homosexuality

Homosexuals want our children to believe their relationships are acceptable.

(Romans 1:26-27)  “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. {27} In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

Adultery

(Matthew 5:28)  “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
10  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2020 in Marriage

 

Heaven In The Home: God’s Plan For His Family #4 – “The Biblical Model for Love”


151459597_640The meaning of love.

  1. Storge: family love; the love of parents for children, children for parents, brothers and sisters for each other.
  2. Eros: sensual love. It means a love that is egocentric, “wanting to have,” seeking union with the object of its desire. The value that evokes it is found in the thing loved.
  3. Philia: friendship; love given to all kinds of human beings, shown in such terms as philadelphia, brotherly love.
  4. Agape: a spontaneous impulse of the heart to desire that which is good for the one loved, and it will be at my cost. There are no prerequisites, no conditions, no requirements.

What these words mean to marriage.

  1. Storge: “my family is important to me. I want my family to be important to you. I recognize that your family is important to you. Your family will also be important to me.”
  2. Eros: “I am physically attracted to you.”
  3. Philia: “Í like you. I enjoy being with you, going places with you, experiencing things with you.”
  4. Agape: “I will be good to you. I will treat you with patience and kindness, with courtesy, consideration, and deep concern. That is an unconditional promise. I will always, under all circumstances, treat you that way.”

Agape

Agape is self-giving love, gift love, the love that goes on loving even when the other becomes unlovable. Agape love is not just something that happens to you; it is something you make happen.  Love is a personal act of commitment. Christ’s love (and hence the pattern for our love) is a gift love. Christ’s love for us is a sacrificial love. Christ’s love is unconditional. Christ’s love is an eternal love.

Agape is unconditional

That means:

  1. There are no conditions necessary.
  2. You don’t have to earn my love.
  3. You don’t have to deserve my love.
  4. You don’t have to measure up to any standard to get me to love you.
  5. You don’t have to work for my love.
  6. You don’t even have to appreciate my love.

Agape is not a feeling. It is an act of the will. Agape is a commitment to act in the best interest of another without any conditions on his/her part, except his/her need. Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.

Philia

In a good marriage, the husband and wife are also friends. Philia’s companionship is many things…being reasonably happy to go shopping with her…watching TV together and munching popcorn…feeling lonely when he/she is out of town.

Friendship also means communication. Philia’s communication is many things…sharing something you read in a book or magazine…reminiscing how you had to catch all the mice and remove all the bats before you could move into your apartment…eating breakfast together without the morning paper…agreeing on the design of the new wallpaper for Jane’s room…having the courage to tell you her you don’t that dress she’s trying on.

Philia is also cooperation. While eros is almost always face-to-face relationship, philia is very often a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship. When there is philia, husband and wife are working together on something greater than both of them. They are finding their oneness, not directly in each other, but in their interest in a common cause. In eros, each seeks fulfillment in the other; in philia, they both seek fulfillment in one mutual goal.

Married Love

“You have said to another, “I will,” and with those words you have declared your voluntary assent and turned a crucial point in their lives. You know full well all the doubts and suspicions with which a life-long partnership between two persons is faced. It is you as a married couple who must bear the whole responsibility for the success of your married life, with all the happiness it will bring. It is not your love which sustains the marriage, from now on the marriage sustains your love.”

“I will give to you a love that is patient…a love that is kind, a love that endures. I will pledge to you a love that is not jealous or possessive, a love that is not proud or selfish, a love that is not rude or inconsiderate.

“My love for you will not insist in its own way, will not be irritable or resentful, will not keep account of wrongs or failures. I will rejoice when good prevails.

“Our love will know no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope. It will outlast everything. Our love will stand when all else has fallen. Our life together will have three great qualities: faith, hope and love. But the greatest is love.”

Marriage was designed by God to provide companionship.

“…not good to be alone” the key to a great marriage is delightful companionship. Long-term, delightful companionship is at its best in an intimate friendship!

How Love Acts (1 Cor. 13:4-7)

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7) “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. {5} It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. {6} Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. {7} It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Some reasons why our families are in trouble

  1. Lack of commitment.

“When reference is made to an individual’s ‘commitment’ to marriage, what is being described is the degree to which that person is willing to compromise self-interest, personal ideals of perfection, indulgence in tastes, and so forth, so that a particular relationship can continue. The alternative to making a commitment is not having a relationship – that is remaining alone.” — William J. Lederer, The Mirages of Marriage, 1968, p. 196.

  1. Too much attention to the urgent; not enough attention to the important.
  2. Decentralization – the average home has released or delegated too much of its responsibility to others who are not as crucial to raising good children.
  3. The expectations for a marriage are set too high

Whatever marriage can be, it ought to be! Marriage is sustained by self-discipline and evaluated through growth.

Practical advice for the wife

  1. Remember why he fell in love with you in the first place. Remember and build on them. Don’t stop the courtship.
  2. Be his wife not his child….and don’t be his mother. Learn to handle difficulties like an adult. Be a helper – not a burden. He will worship the ground you walk on if you are a “trooper” when the going gets rough!
  3. Build him up. No one on earth can build him up as high as you can, and by the same token, no one on earth can tear him down as low as you can. If there is some way you want him to change or develop, encourage him in that direction, but don’t try to push him! Be very considerate of his feelings.
  4. Learn to live on his salary and make him feel like he is a very good provider. Never make him feel that he is a failure as a provider.
  5. Make his home his castle. Make home a refuge for him. Most men don’t notice if a house is deep-down clean, but they notice if it is upside down. Feed him meals he enjoys. Make sure he realizes that he is more important to you than your parents or your children. Make him glad he came home. Make it obvious to children as well as friends that he is the head of the family.
 
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Posted by on January 23, 2020 in Family, Marriage

 

Heaven in the Home: God’s Plan for His Family #3 – Wisdom in Family Matters


wisdomProverbs 22:17-21 (NIV)
17  Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach,
18  for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips.
19  So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you.
20  Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge,
21  teaching you true and reliable words, so that you can give sound answers to him who sent you?

Luke 8:18 (NIV)
18  Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”

There is a cost to acquiring wisdom, but it’s worth it! It isn’t enough to own a study Bible and read books about the Bible, helpful as they are. It’s one thing to know about the Bible and quite something else to hear God speak through His Word and teach us His wisdom so that we become more like Jesus Christ.

During my years of ministry, I’ve met several people whose knowledge of Scripture was phenomenal, but who failed to manifest the fruit of the Spirit: Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Of these ‘knowledgeable” people, these words speak: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1).

But there’s a positive side to this as well: Wise (and blessed) people don’t waste their time listening to foolishness and lies.

Psalm 1:1-6 (NIV) Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
2  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
4  Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6  For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Wise people are careful about what they read, what they hear and see, and what they talk about in daily conversation.  They’re diligent to keep trash out of their minds and hearts, because “garbage in” ultimately means “garbage out.” For this reason, they carefully control the radio and television and they are selective in their reading.

Those who are wise profit from rebuke and from advice: Proverbs 9:8-9 (NIV)  Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. 9 Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.

They don’t think so highly of themselves that they can’t learn from others: Proverbs 26:12: “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

We should keep in mind two things:

  1. Life is short
  2. Our eternal existence is greatly influenced by how we live during this short life

It is imperative, then, that we not waste our time through rash and foolish decisions which not only jeopardize our eternal destiny but can also make this life miserable. Life is too short and families grow too fast for us to raise a family through “trial and error”

The value of wisdom is especially seen in family relationships: “He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind.” (Prov. 11:29).

Consider what many people think is most important in providing for a family. Many would say it is the “necessities” of life such as food and clothing, and a place of shelter. Most would feel that other things are also necessary such as the “finer things” (luxuries) for the children, which parents never had as children. A good “education” for the children, so they too can be affluent.

  1. Instilling a fear of the Lord (reverence and awe). Proverbs 15:16: “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and turmoil with it.”

The fear of the Lord provides: Proverbs 16:6: “By loving kindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.”

  1. Giving them love.

Proverbs 15:17: “Better is a dish of vegetables where love is Than a fattened ox served with hatred.”

Proverbs 27:5: “Better is open rebuke Than love that is concealed.”

Providing an environment where love reigns is more important than providing material abundance. Troubled children come from homes where “love” is lacking, not money!

  1. Providing a peaceful family life.

Proverbs 17:1: “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it Than a house full of feasting with strife.”

What can be done to insure adequate material provisions for the family: Be righteous!

Proverbs 20:7: “A righteous man who walks in his integrity– How blessed are his sons after him.”
Today that means putting the kingdom of God first in your life. Then God will watch out for you and providentially see that your needs are adequately met! Children of righteous parents are truly blessed! But parents who fail to put God first go through life without God’s providential help, and their children may suffer as a result!

WISDOM IN RAISING CHILDREN

Inspired wisdom is explicit in the proper use of “corporeal punishment.” Used properly, it is a demonstration of true love.

Proverbs 13:24: “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”

Proper discipline has proper objectives…

Proverbs 22:15: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”

Proverbs 23:13-14: “Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. {14} You shall strike him with the rod And rescue his soul from Sheol.”

Proverbs 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.”

Proper discipline has its rewards

Proverbs 29:17: “Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul.”

Proverbs 19:18: “Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction.”

It is to be applied before the situation gets of out hand (“while there is hope”). It is also to be applied under controlled circumstances (“do not set your heart on his destruction”). i.e., do not put it off until you strike in anger.

There IS a difference between proper “spanking” and “child abuse”! Corporeal punishment should never be a vent for letting off steam. Rather, a controlled use of one method to discourage bad behavior. To be accompanied with love!

These important points:

  • when you discipline your children, you’re acting like God
  • discipline is a function of love, and appropriate punishment is not something done to a child but for the child
  • spanking before 18 months of age is not wise and after 10 years of age is not effective
  • it should be reserved for times of defiant or rebellious behavior
  • when love is abundant at home, proper discipline (even a spanking) won’t be resented

Children are gifts from the Lord but between 15-36 months they don’t want to be restricted in any way. They are the most self-centered, manipulative, and controlling things on the planet…parents must be adults and be in charge

James Dobson: “The proper time to begin disarming the teenage time bomb is 12 years before it arrives. Children thrive best in an atmosphere of genuine love, undergirded by reasonable and consistent discipline. In a day of widespread drug usage, immorality, sexually transmitted diseases, vandalism, and violence, we must not depend on hope and luck to fashion the critical attitudes we value in our children.”

    “In those situations when the child fully understands what he is being asked to do or not to do but refuses to yield to adult leadership, an appropriate spanking is the shortest and most effective route to an attitude adjustment.” (The New Dare to Discipline, page 28, 7, and 60-61)
Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (as implied by the word “nurture”)

Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
This allows for the common interpretation in which a child’s outcome is virtually dependent upon his training, especially in spiritual matters. i.e., if the child is brought up right by godly parents, the child “must” turn out all right…so if a child is not a faithful Christian, it must always be a failing of the parents.

The original root word for “train” is the term for “the palate, the roof of the mouth, the gums.” In verb form, it’s the term used for breaking and bringing into submission a wild horse by a rope in the mouth. But the term was also used in the days of Solomon to describe the action of a midwife, who, soon after helping deliver a child, would dip her finger into the juice of chewed or crushed dates, reach into the mouth of the infant, and massage the gums and the palate within the mouth so as to create a sensation of sucking – a sense of taste.

The juice was thought to also have a cleansing agent. They would then place the child into his mother’s arms to begin feeding.

It was a word, used, then, to “describe a thirst.” And when we see this application from the original language, it takes on a whole new meaning for Christian mothers and fathers. We must develop a thirst within our children for God and His church. The idea reminds one of Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” 

The verse can also be translated: “train up a child according to HIS way…” that is, train up a child according to his or her inclinations. The key in developing this thirst is sensitivity – an awareness of our children and what they are and what they need.

Adapt the training of your child so that it is in keeping with his God-given characteristics and tendencies; when he comes to maturity, he will not depart from the training he has received.”

Therefore, this verse, like so many in Proverbs, is simply giving us practical advice in raising our children (without necessarily any spiritual implications). However, I might add that trying to force a child to go against their “aptitude” may encourage a child to rebel in ALL areas of parental influence (including spiritual).

 

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2020 in Family

 

“Heaven In The Home: God’s Plan For His Family” Series #2 – Walking and Talking


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What would you be willing to do for your children? The quick response is “everything…anything.” When they are infants, they literally depend upon their parents for everything!

In Man in the Mirror, Patrick Morley tells of a group of fishermen who landed in a secluded bay in Alaska and had a great day fishing for salmon. But when they returned to their sea plane, they found it aground because of the fluctuating tides. They waited until the next morning for the tides to comes in, but when they took off, they only got a few feet into the air before crashing back into the sea. Being aground the day before had punctured one of the pontoons, and it had filled up with water.

The sea plane slowly began to sink. The passengers, three men and a 12-year-old son of one of the men, prayed and then jumped into the icy cold waters to swim to shore. The riptide was strong, but two of the men reached the shore exhausted. They looked back, and saw the father with his arms around his son being swept out to sea.

The boy had not been strong enough to make it. The father was a strong swimmer, but he had chosen to die with his son rather than to live without him.”

Morley went on to say: “The most important thing my dad ever taught me is that there are more important things than me. My major effort as a parent must be devoted to my children. If they turn out badly, nothing I could do in the public eye would have any meaning.’   

That remind me of Paul’s statement: Romans 9:1-3 (ESV) I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2  that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
3  For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

   The Message renders these verses this way: Romans 9:1-3 (MSG) At the same time, you need to know that I carry with me at all times a huge sorrow. 2  It’s an enormous pain deep within me, and I’m never free of it. I’m not exaggerating—Christ and the Holy Spirit are my witnesses. It’s the Israelites… 3  If there were any way I could be cursed by the Messiah so they could be blessed by him, I’d do it in a minute. They’re my family.

Parents give us a sense of self-worth and confidence. It’s advice we can pass on to any parent: Morley: “They always answered my question ‘Do you think I can do it?’ with ‘Of course you can.’ And they were never too busy to give me attention. Even as a teenager, I thought I must be the most entertaining company in the world because my folks loved to be with me–and with each of my siblings. It didn’t occur to me until years later that they chose to spend time with us.”

 There are some Christian homes which are no better than some of the worst of secular homes; affairs there can be in utter chaos and confusion. Instead of orderly, love-filled peaceful homes, they can be battlegrounds from morning to night, arenas of constant bickering and squabbling and fighting and rebellion.

Deuteronomy 6:1-6 (ESV)
1  “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it,
2  that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.
3  Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
4  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.
5  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
6  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

That is a word addressed to parents. The place to begin, the place to recover the proper functioning of the home, is with the parents. We must begin to heal ourselves before God in order to heal our children. There is no escape from that. We cannot pass on to them something which we ourselves are not. Parents are models, and children will invariably follow the model.

They will live with us in exactly the same way we have lived with them. So we must begin the correction with ourselves. We must discover and develop our own personhood before we can help our children to discover and develop theirs. That is absolutely essential.

Parents who do not recognize that their first responsibility is to what they are before God, and not to what their children become, will ultimately lose both.

Parents who give everything to their children and ask nothing in return quite unknowingly are teaching their children to expect to have everything done for them, and to give nothing in return. It is no wonder, therefore, that is exactly what so many children expect these days. They have been taught that in the home. So the first step is for parents to begin with themselves.

Now we come to the second step, which is found in the first part of Verse 7 in this great summary passage. Moses said, Deuteronomy 6:7 (NIV) Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

This means that along with, and as a result of, obedience to the first step will come this second step. While you are learning to become a person yourself, as a parent, you will at that same time, and in the same process, pass it along to your children. You don’t wait until you have reached ultimate maturity. None of us ever do that anyway. But what you are learning, and while you are learning it, you are passing along to your children.

Some time ago I came to the realization that every day is hut a miniature of life itself, and that a child needs, every day, what a person needs for his whole life. At the beginning of life our needs are obvious — security, a sense of identity, assurance that we belong in a family. Therefore, parents are tremendously important to a child at the beginning of his life.

It occurred to me that this is true also at the beginning of each day, and that every day ought to start with an expression of security, of identity, of appreciation. So in our home we started greeting one another with a hug the first thing in the morning, the first time we meet for the day — just to say, “I love you and you’re important to me, and you belong here.” And it had been wonderful to watch a sense of trust develop, a sense of relaxation in the feeling of a secure home. That’s what God does with us, and this is what is important in the display of love.

We are preparing our children to live lives independent from us, and that, therefore, the acquisition of all the knowledge they will need must start, at least, in the home. It may be continued in school, but the acquisition of all knowledge starts at home:

  • We want our children to know the names and the natures of things. This is the beginning of science.
  • We want them to know how to count and to reason, and there you have the foundation of mathematics.
  • We want them to learn the relationships of cause and effect — why one thing does this, and another does that — and there you have philosophy.
  • We want them to learn how to enjoy themselves, so there you have the arts and crafts and sports.
  • We want them to learn how to exert their influence properly upon other people, and there you have social sciences coming in.
  • We want them to learn how to use their imagination, which brings up the whole realm of literature and drama.
  • We want them to learn how to behave themselves responsibly, how to take responsibility for their own actions and not to blame them on somebody else, and there you have the humanities.
  • And above everything else — that which no school can ever impart — we want our children to learn how to handle failure and guilt. Nothing plagues human beings more than the sense of failure and the terribly agony of guilt. Therefore, the one thing that Christian parents ought to be responsible for, above all else, is to learn how to handle failure and guilt, and to teach their children how to handle it also.

    There is the story of a woman who came to an authority on child raising and asked him, “Sir, when should I begin to teach my child about God?” He said, “How old is your child?” She answered, “Six.” He said, “Madam, hurry home. You’ve already lost five of the most important years!”

Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Unfortunately, it is a most misunderstood verse. Most people understand this verse to mean, “If you teach your child the way you want him to live, while he is a child, then, when he has grown up, he will not leave that way.” But, unfortunately, that notion is not confirmed by experience.

What the text says literally is, “Train up a child according to his own way.” What it is referring to is the fact that children are basically different. There is a mystery built into every child. And the job of a parent is to discover the particular form of the mystery which is there in each child — and no two children are the same. There is a creative urge built by the Creator himself into every child. It is usually related to one of the five senses. That is,

  • Some children love to see things. They love to look at pictures and to investigate and perceive. They are the ones who become the philosophers and the thinkers, etc.
  • Some children are related more to movement. They love to move and they enjoy the feel of movement. They are the ones who build cars and locomotives and airplanes.
  • Some will relate to smell and taste, and they are the ones who make good chefs.
  • Some like sound, and they become musicians and audio engineers, and so forth.

So what this text is saying is that God has built into every child a uniqueness that is “his/her own way,” and the parents have to find that. And when they find it, and help a child find it, that child will find fulfillment, a fulfillment so rich and full that when he is old he will not leave it. When he has grown up he will have found himself. This is true not only of natural abilities, but of spiritual gifts as well. And the role of a parent is to help him in this discovery.

Here is where love comes in — love which spends time with children, love which watches them, and thinks about them, and leads them out in various exploratory paths to find out what interests them, and what they like, love which gives security and identity, and helps a child find out who he is in an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement. And when these two factors interplay, one against the other — law which regulates, and love which discovers — then, you see, you have the pattern for raising children in a way which will produce God-reliant men and women, able to cope with life the way it was intended to be.

We are going to look at many other concepts as we go along in this series. Some of them will be more specific. Some will teach us how to apply these principles to the various methods of handling the education of children. But I hope we will understand that only as we begin with ourselves, and apply these principles first to ourselves, so that our children can see the changes which are occurring in us, only then can they be passed along to those who are coming behind us.

WORDS TO A GROWN UP SON/DAUGHTER

My hands were busy through the day I didn’t have much time to play

The little games you asked me to I didn’t have much time for you.

I’d wash your clothes, I’d sew and cook but when you’d bring your picture book

And ask me please to share your fun I’d say, “A little later, son.”

I’d tuck you in all safe at night and hear your prayers, turn out the light

Then tiptoe softly to the door I wish I’d stayed a minute more.

For life is short, the years rush past A little boy grows up so fast

No longer is he at your side His precious secrets to confide.

The picture books are put away There are no more games to play no goodnight kiss,

No prayers to hear That all belongs to yesteryear.

My hands once busy now lie still The days are long and hard to fill

I wish I might go back and do The little things you asked me to. –Anonymous

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2020 in Family

 
 
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