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Author Archives: Gary E. Davenport

About Gary E. Davenport

Christian man, husband, father, father-in-law, and granddaddy

The Anatomy of a Backslider: Learning From One Who Knows By Experience


In 2 Peter 2:20-22 we read of the real possibility and serious
consequences of backsliding:
“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are
worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. {21} It would have
been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to
have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was
passed on to them. {22} Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to
its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the
mud.””

It is interesting that we find this passage coming from the inspired pen
of Peter…for if anyone knew “firsthand” the reality and dangers of
backsliding, it was Peter! He discovered these truths the night he denied
Jesus!

The process of backsliding is a gradual one, often overtaking a person by
surprise; and lest we fall from our own steadfastness…we shall
carefully examine the process that led to Peter’s denial of Christ.
Notice how Peter’s own words in his epistles are designed to prevent the
same from happening to us!

THE ANATOMY OF A BACKSLIDER
A. PRIDE – Mark 14:27-31: “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for
it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be
scattered.’ {28} But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into
Galilee.” {29} Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” {30}
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today–yes, tonight–before the
rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” {31} But
Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will
never disown you.” And all the others said the same.”

1. In a boastful manner, Peter claims he will not fall away or deny
Christ!
2. In doing so, Peter takes the first step in backsliding: “pride”!
– cf. _Pr 16:18
3. Why is this the “first” step?
a. Because the first step in entering the kingdom is humility –
Mt 18:3-4
b. So if we lose “humility”, we take that first step backward
4. Paul’s advice to the Corinthians is very apropos in this regard
– cf. _1 Co 10:11

B. LAZINESS – Mark 14:32-42: “They went to a place called Gethsemane, and
Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” {33} He took Peter,
James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and
troubled. {34} “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of
death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” {35} Going a little
farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might
pass from him. {36} “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for
you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” {37}
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he
said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?
{38} Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit
is willing, but the body is weak.” {39} Once more he went away and prayed
the same thing. {40} When he came back, he again found them sleeping,
because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. {41}
Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and
resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into
the hands of sinners. {42} Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!””

1. Told to keep watch, Peter kept falling asleep
2. It was therefore lack of diligent preparation which caused him
to be caught off guard for what was to follow
3. The same thing can happen to us!
a. Without diligence, we too can be found unprepared – Lk
21:34-36
b. More often than not, it is a “gradual drifting” that catches
us off guard – Heb. 2:1-3
c. But when we are proud of ourselves, we become lazy, and
that easily leads to the next step…

C. COWARDICE – Mark 14:54: “Peter followed him at a distance, right into
the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed
himself at the fire.”

1. Note that it says “…Peter followed Him at a distance”
2. Now that Jesus had become unpopular…
a. Peter stays far enough away so as not to be identified with
Him
b. Peter was unprepared for the challenge of facing ridicule and
persecution
3. Without diligent preparation, we too can become guilty of
cowardice!
a. Ashamed to be seen carrying a Bible
b. Ashamed to be seen giving thanks
c. Ashamed to be seen with other Christians
d. Perhaps even ashamed to let others know that we are
Christians!
4. And yet, Jesus has made it clear what He thinks of “cowardice”
Mark 8:38; Rev. 21:8
5. When we are ashamed of Christ, it is natural for to fall into
the next step of backsliding…

D. WORLDLINESS – Mark 14:54: “Peter followed him at a distance, right
into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and
warmed himself at the fire.”

1. We now find Peter sitting with the servants of the High Priest
and warming himself by the fire
2. Ashamed to be seen with Christ, it becomes easy to mingle with
those of the world and enjoy their comforts
3. But one cannot be “comforted by the fire” of the world, and not
be “burned”!
a. Close contact with that which can harm has its effects! –
Prov. 6:27-29
b. So it is we cannot “flirt with the world” and walk away
untouched! – 1 Cor. 15:33
4. By the time we become “friends with the world”, it is only a
short time before we take the next and final step of backsliding…

E. DENIAL – Mark 14:66-71: “While Peter was below in the courtyard, one
of the servant girls of the high priest came by. {67} When she saw Peter
warming himself, she looked closely at him. “You also were with that
Nazarene, Jesus,” she said. {68} But he denied it. “I don’t know or
understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the
entryway. {69} When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to
those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” {70} Again he denied
it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you
are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” {71} He began to call down
curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re
talking about.””

1. Away from Christ, at comfort with those in the world, Peter
finds himself denying His Lord and Savior!
2. In so doing, he has put himself in grave danger – Matt. 10:32-33
3. Though we may never actually deny Jesus in “words”, we can
easily backslide to the point of denying Him in “action”…
a. We are called to worship Him…but make excuses why we cannot
b. We are called to serve Him…but render little or no service
c. We are called to stand by His side and suffer for His
name…but stand afar off in the safety of the world’s comfort

[When we deny the Lord, our backsliding is complete; unless we repent,
the only thing left is to one day face the Lord, where we will fully
realize the error of our ways!

For Peter, he fully realized his sin when the Lord turned and looked at
him there in the courtyard:
Luke 22:60-62: “Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking
about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. {61} The Lord turned
and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had
spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three
times.” {62} And he went outside and wept bitterly.”

Imagine the feeling in Peter’s heart as those eyes of His Savior pierced
his soul! Like
Judas, Peter wept bitterly over his sin.

Unlike Judas, Peter had “godly sorrow” that results in true repentance (2
Cor. 7:10-11). And years later, we find Peter writing the sort of things
that would prevent us from making the same mistake he did…]

ADVICE FROM ONE WHO LEARNED THE HARD WAY
A. TO GUARD AGAINST “PRIDE”…
1. Peter enjoins “humility” – 1 Peter 5:5-6
2. Indeed, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”

B. TO WARD AGAINST “LAZINESS”…
1. Peter commands “diligence” – 1 Peter 5:8-9
2. Note especially his words in his second epistle – 2 Peter
1:5,10; 3:14

C. INSTEAD OF “COWARDICE”…
1. Peter charges us to “glorify God” – 1 Peter 4:16
2. Think not of what it means to you, but what it means to God!

D. INSTEAD OF “WORLDLINESS”…
1. Peter tells us to “abstain” – 1 Peter 2:11-12
2. Remember that we are “sojourners and pilgrims”, destined for a
better place than the things of this world have to offer!

E. INSTEAD OF “DENIAL”…
1. Peter exhorts us to ever be ready to “give a defense” – 1 Peter
3:15
2. By careful preparation, we will “defend” Christ, and not “deny”
Christ!

CONCLUSION
1. From one who learned by the hard road of experience, let’s heed his
advice lest we one day backslide ourselves, and in so doing deny the
Lord! – 2 Peter 3:17-18

2. Remember too that when Peter saw the eyes of his Lord, he realized the
error of his way…
a. Fortunately for him, there was still time to repent
b. But for us, when we see Jesus “face to face”, the time to repent
will be gone…it will be the time for judgment!

3. If we realize that we are guilty of backsliding…
a. Repent now, do not wait until you stand before Jesus
b. Do it now, so that your “face to face” encounter with Jesus will be
terrific, not terrifying!

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2020 in Article

 

Suggestions gleaned from 49 years of a happy marriage


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The key to a successful marriage is treating your spouse as the ‘most important person in the world’ every day and putting their needs ahead of your own.

  1. Listen
    To be truly heard is the longing  of every human heart, and your wife is no exception. It sounds simple, but  listening can be harder than it seems with so many distractions around us and within us. Set aside some time every day to look into your wife’s eyes and really listen to what she has to say. You may be surprised at what you hear. (James 1:19Matthew 11:15)
  2. Communicate
    Don’t make her guess what you are thinking or feeling. Talk.
  3. Sing  Her Praises
    Shamelessly brag about her good qualities and quietly pray about her bad ones. Her reputation is your reputation. (Proverbs 31:28-29)
  4. Pray For Her
    Praying on your wife’s behalf  not only enlists the help of the Almighty, but also puts her and her needs at the forefront of your heart and mind, right where they belong. (Philippians 4:6Matthew 18:19)
  5. Value Her Individuality
    Your wife is wonderfully unique. Don’t compare her to your mom, or your ex-wife, or your old girlfriend.  Your mom may make the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, but unfavorable comparisons won’t win you brownie points.
  6. Put the Seat Down
    Perpetually raised toilet seats are a pet peeve of wives everywhere. And while you’re at it, tidy up a bit. A little consideration goes a long way. (Philippians 2:4)
  7. Throw  Your Dirty Clothes in the Hamper
    It’s likely just a few steps from wherever you are dropping them anyway. Make this a habit, and it will let your wife know your don’t consider her your personal maid.
  8. Turn  Off the T.V.
    Lay aside the video games, pocket the iPhone, and shut off the computer, as well. It is staggering how many hours we waste gazing at some sort of screen instead of  interacting with the real people in our lives. Consciously set limits on your tube-time, whatever form it takes. Use the time saved to invest in your marriage: take a walk with your wife or play a board game together instead. (Psalm 90:12)
  9. Loosen  the Purse Strings
    We all have to keep an eye on our budget, but an occasional splurge can be well worth it. Seemingly frivolous things like flowers, jewelry, and overpriced restaurants let her know that she is more valuable to you than a number in your bank account.
  10. Practice  Servant-Leadership
    All organizations have a  hierarchy. It’s impossible to function without one, but being a leader isn’t the same as being a dictator. The best role model is Jesus Christ, not Joseph Stalin. Jesus washed his disciples feet and then died on their behalf. It’s a challenge to exercise authority while maintaining a spirit of humility, but that is what being a godly leader entails. (Matthew 20:28,Philippians 2:1-8Mark 9:35)
  11. Remember that Intimacy’s a Two-Way Street
    Unfortunately, men are  notoriously selfish in the bedroom, yet are dumbfounded when their wives are less than enthusiastic in this arena. Make this area of your relationship as pleasurable for her as it is for you and it will pay huge dividends. It may mean washing the dishes or helping with the kids, so that she has energy left at the end of the day. It may mean cuddling  and candlelight, so that she can relax and let the worries on her mind drift away. If you aren’t sure where to begin, just ask her, and then listen. (1 Corinthians 7:3)
  12. Give Her Time to Herself
    Everyone needs an occasional break to rest and recharge, and this is especially important for a wife who is at home all day with young children. Yet it’s very easy to neglect this legitimate need unless you regularly and intentionally schedule time  for it. (Luke 5:16)
  13. Set Aside Couple Time
    Soak in the tub together each evening or go on a date night once a week — whatever gets the two of you alone on a regular basis. (Genesis 2:24-25)
  14. Be Careful with Female Friendships
    We all have friends and colleagues of the opposite sex, but tread cautiously. Not all affairs are physical ones. Honoring your marriage vows means remaining faithful in thought and word as well as in deed. (Matthew 5:27-28)
  15. Use Good Hygiene.
    It is amazing how meticulous guys can be prior to marriage in their attempts to impress a girl, but once they walk down the aisle, all bets are off. Clean up a little; I promise it won’t kill you.
  16. Limit the Gross Stuff
    Few women find burping nearly as hilarious as the typical guy does. Good manners are always a win. (Ephesians 5:4)
  17. Be Patient
    In whatever way this applies to you and your situation, apply it. (1 Corinthians 13:4Proverbs 14:29)
  18. Cherish  Her Children (they are your children, too)
    A mother’s bond to her children runs immeasurably deep. When you invest time or energy in them, you are investing in her as well. Kindness to them counts as kindness to her. (Malachi 4:6)
  19. Choose Her Over Hobbies and Buddies
    Invariably there will come times in your relationship when you will be forced to choose between your wife and something else that you enjoy. Always choose her.
  20. Provide for Her Needs
    This is so much more than just putting food on the table. It is all-encompassing. Whether it is physical needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs, you name it — do your best to provide. Sometimes life’s circumstances hinder us in one area, but we can compensate in another area. Often the effort is as important as the outcome. (Galatians 6:2)
  21. Dial Down the Anger
    Your caveman instincts are handy on the battlefield, but horrible for a happy home life. Every outburst or flare-up is a relationship setback. To go forward, the first step is to stop going backwards. Learn to control your temper or it will control you, your marriage, and every other aspect of your life. Just because your wife puts up with it and your co-workers tolerate it, doesn’t make your short fuse an asset. Do whatever it takes to gain victory in this all-important struggle that has haunted man since Cain slew Abel. (Ecclesiastes 7:9,Ephesians 4:31)
  22. Cut Out the Condescension
    If you have been blessed with a quick wit, you can either be the life of the party or a pain in the neck depending on the circumstances. Condescension is anger’s younger brother. It isn’t as loud or as dramatic, but it can be equally hurtful and all the more so for its subtlety. Lay off the snide remarks, the sarcasm, and the belittling. Speak to your wife in the same way that you would speak to a respected colleague. She is, after all, your partner in the most valuable investment of your life — your family. (Ephesians 4:29Colossians 3:19)
  23. Actively Seek Your Wife’s Insights
    Value her input and give it a preferential place in your decision-making process. (Proverbs 19:2012:15)
  24. Learn to Forgive
    Freely forgive your wife’s past, present, and future offenses. Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel and at the heart of every meaningful relationship. (Ephesians 4:32Colossians 3:13)
  25. Verbally Express Your Love
    There are lots of ways to show your love, but women still like to hear it spoken.

Obviously no list is comprehensive, and one size certainly doesn’t fit all, but hopefully this one will prompt you to compile a list of your own, tailor-made for your own wife.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2020 in Marriage

 

“You will be safe in God’s care“


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.“

 

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2020 in God

 

Honor Your Parents – Ephesians 6:1-3


If our faith in Christ is real, it will usually prove itself at home, in our relationships with those who know us best. Children and parents have a responsibility to each other. The fact that Paul took the time to directly address those who were regarded by some as the “lower” and “less important” members of society (wives, children, and slaves) shows that he raised them to a level of importance and responsibility in the body of Christ. All Christians are to be responsible in their positions, living as Christ would have them live.

6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.NKJV Continuing the theme of Christian submission, Paul turned next to children. He assumed that children would be in the congregation of believers as this letter was read. His command to them is simple: Obey your parents in the Lord.

This is not an absolute command; when a parent tells a child to do something unbiblical, immoral, or unethical, the law of God supersedes the will of the parent. But aside from those extremes, children are to obey their mothers and fathers. This is the way God intends it. It’s easy to see the immediate practical benefits of this for both children and parents because parents usually really do know best.

God requires children to obey because children need to rely on the wisdom of their parents. Jesus himself submitted to the authority of his earthly parents, despite his authority as the Messiah: Luke 2:51 (ESV) And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

All young children will, at times, disobey and test their parents’ limits. As they get older, they will understand why God wants them to obey. Obedience that recognizes parents’ authority can carry over into recognizing God’s authority. God’s plan for his people includes solid family relationships where there exists respect, obedience, submission, and love for one another. When both parents and children love God, all of them will seek to obey and please him.

The parent-child relationship is the arena in which the child is to learn to submit to and respect his elders and those in authority over him—including God. Do you require your children to obey you? Do you help other parents by setting a good example for them in this area? Don’t be misled or dissuaded by the media or our permissive culture. Let the Bible be the voice of wisdom that cuts through the noise of our society. If you love your children, teach them the value and blessings of obedience.

6:2-3 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”NKJV Paul added the authority of the revealed law to the natural law described in 6:1, quoting the fifth commandment, recorded in Exodus 20:12, Honor your father and mother. Obeying and honoring are different. To obey means to do what another says to do; to honor means to respect and love.

What does it mean to honor our mother and father? The word “honor” literally means to give weight or heaviness. To honor someone then means that we take them seriously.

Children are to obey while under their parents’ care, but they should honor their parents for life. Paul described this as the first commandment with promise, that of prolonged life.

In the Ten Commandments the first to deal with human relations is this duty toward parents. When the law was first given through Moses, severe penalties were established for the rebellious son who refused this command.

Exodus 21:15 (ESV) 21:15  “Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.

Exodus 21:17 (ESV) 21:17  “Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (ESV) 21:18  “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19  then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20  and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21  Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

It is entirely possible to obey without honor—who hasn’t seen a child do what he or she is told, but with clenched fists and teeth and an “I’m only doing this because you’re making me” attitude?

Romans 1:18-30 (ESV) 1:18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 28  And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29  They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30  slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents…

As children obey the command to honor their parents, they show an attitude of love and respect that they carry over into their relationship with God. Such an attitude provides a community that helps provide for and protect the aged. On the individual level, as each person cares for older people, the elderly live longer, and the younger people help pass the values down to the next generation.

Jesus came into sharp conflict with the Pharisees over their failure to keep God’s will in the way they taught men to neglect their elderly parents. By making a voluntary commitment (“corban”) of their estate, they thought they were free to defy the express command of God.

Mark 7:9-13 (ESV)  9  And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10  For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11  But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12  then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13  thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

1 Timothy 5:8 (ESV) 5:8  But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Some societies honor their elders. They respect their wisdom, defer to their authority, and pay attention to their comfort and happiness. Christians should act this way. Where the elderly are respected, long life becomes a blessing, not a burden to them.

By next year, experts tell us that one in six people will be over sixty-five years of age. Honoring our aging parents will be crucial as our Christian duty.

The family is primary to God as a means for blessing and guiding human lives. With the failure of so many homes in the different ways already identified, the will of God is being thwarted too frequently. One of the rules for right living points to the need for keeping the family strong through proper relationships between children and their parents.

We should honor our parents because the day will come when we cannot show them the honor we would like to give. Some don’t have your parents with you any longer. I hope you don’t have to look back with regret. I once told my parents that I appreciated all they had done for me…my mother promptly said this: “Do you know what you can do? Do it for your own children.”

Obedience must be learned, and it is the job of parents to teach it to their children. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Children need to cooperate with their parents in creating a good home. Parents should not have to fight their children for control of the family.

Train up: – Mold & Shape. Dedicate by training

  • Strong’s: “chanak figuratively, to initiate or discipline:- dedicate, train up.”
  • Same word translated “dedicate” (Deut 20:5; 1Kings 8:63; 2 Chron. 7:5) – Training is dedicating a child to God. James Dobson tells us that we should learn the special characteristics of each child (if we have more than one). They each respond to instruction in different ways. Discover those things and tailor what we say and do with them.
  • When we had our daughter, at one point I told Terry that I would yield to her insights as she grew older…and she said/did something similar when we had two sons. Mother-daughter…Father-son.
  • How? – Guide them in what they need.
  • Train: Hebrew word khaw-nak’ chanak – literally means “to put something in the mouth.” A Hebrew nurse would prepare a concoction to be given to the infant in order to prepare them for nursing.
  • Matthew 5:6 (ESV) 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
  • We seek to “create a thirst for God, for a life patterned after Jesus, for God’s Word and God’s will.

In America, several factors tend to undermine honoring parents.

(1) Because of the rapid increase of divorce, children are often called upon to honor one parent and to despise the other. Neither parent can seem to tolerate the thought of the former mate having the respect of their child. If this were not bad enough, Freudian Psychology has provided each generation with an excuse to blame all of its problems on family members from our past. Countless expeditions into the parental past has provided many individuals with an expensive excursion into past history in order to pin the blame for their sins on someone else, often one or both parents.

(2) Honor is due to more than just parents. The New Testament requires the Christian to honor all men.

Romans 12:10 (ESV) Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

1 Peter 2:17 (ESV) Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God.

(3) The way in which one relates to parents changes with conversion. When a person comes to Christ through baptism, there are a number of significant changes. When a person becomes a child of God by faith, God becomes a Father to them in a new and previously unknown way. While God was once denied, and His authority rejected (Ephesians 2:1‑3), now He is our Heavenly Father, with final authority, authority which has priority over all others, including fathers and mothers. As we have seen from our Lord’s teaching, faith in Christ may alienate children from their parents.

(4) The way in which one relates to parents changes with marriage. Marriage is usually the first of several dramatic changes in the child’s relationship with his parents. From the time our children enter the teen years, we are “working ourselves out of a job.” We’re preparing them for the time when they will leave our home and make their own decisions/mistakes. We are always there for advise, of course, but it is best IF it is offered when “it is asked for.” The parent‑child relationship and the resulting authority is temporary, the husband‑wife relationship is permanent.

(5) Honoring parents may someday require parenting parents. It is an irony indeed, but those who were once cared for by fathers and mothers often find themselves caring for their parents in their final years of life.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2020 in Family

 

Righteous Anger – Ephesians 4:26-27


Ephesians 4:26 (ESV) Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger

“Be Angry!” (4:26a)

The words, “Be angry!” just doesn’t sound right, does it? We are uncomfortable with a command like this. We find ourselves trying to avoid or explain this away, because anger does not sound godly.

The words, “be ye angry,” are a present imperative in the Greek text, commanding a continuous action. This orgē, this abiding, settled attitude of righteous indignation against sin and sinful things, is commanded, together with the appropriate actions when conditions make them necessary.

We must remember that there are two kinds of anger.

There is the “anger of man” which “does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:20), and the anger which is an expression of God’s righteousness. We are commanded in our text to be angry in a way that is righteous, that is a reflection of God.

Þ  God was angry at the unbelief of Moses, which caused him to resist obeying the command of God to go to Egypt and confront Pharaoh, insisting that he let God’s people go (Exodus 4:14).

Þ  God is angered by the mistreatment of those who are helpless, the strangers, the widows, and the orphans (Exodus 22:21-24).

Þ  God was also angered by men turning from trusting and worshipping Him, to the worship of idols (Exodus 32:10; Deuteronomy 6:14-15; Judges 2:13-14; Ezra 8:22).

Þ  God is angered by the grumbling and complaining of His people (Numbers 11:1, 10).

All of these offenses which arouse God to anger seem reasonable enough, but there are times when men may commit offenses which seem minor to us, and yet which provoke God to anger.

One such case is described in 2 Samuel chapter 6. The ark of the covenant had been captured by the Philistines, and was kept for a short time as a trophy in the house of their god, Dagon.

The problem with this was that God shamed their “god” and caused a plague to fall on those in whose city the ark was being kept. Eventually, the ark was returned by the Philistines, transported on an ox cart.

One could expect the Philistines to transport the ark this way. They did not know any better. But God had stipulated in the Law that the ark must be carried by the Levites, by means of poles that were place through rings in the ark.

The Israelites forgot this and began to transport the ark on an ox cart, like the Philistines. When the ox stumbled and the ark seemed in danger of falling off the cart, Uzzah reached out to stabilize the ark and was struck dead by God.

This angered David, who could not understand this outburst of anger at first. Only later, upon reflection, did he realize how important obedience to God’s instructions was. And then, when the ark was transported, it was done as God had instructed (see 2 Samuel 6:1-19).

Our Lord Jesus was also angry.

There were times when Jesus was terribly and majestically angry. He was angry when the scribes and Pharisees were watching to see if he would heal the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath day (Mk 3:5).

It was not their criticism of himself at which he was angry; he was angry that their rigid orthodoxy desired to impose unnecessary suffering on a fellow creature.

He was angry when he made a whip and drove the changers of money and the sellers of victims from the Temple courts (Jn 2:13-17). Because were cheating the worshippers in the exchange of money/sacrifices, they were getting between “the worshipper and God.”

Godly men were also angered by unrighteousness.

Moses, who was initially unshaken by Israel’s worship of the golden calf, became angry when he finally came down from the mountain and saw the extent of Israel’s sin (see Exodus 32:1-20).

Earlier, Moses was angered by Pharaoh’s hardened heart, and his refusal to listen to God and to let the Israelites go (Exodus 11:8).

It would appear that David was angered by Goliath’s blasphemy (1 Samuel 17).

David was later angry when Nathan told him the story of the rich man who stole a poor man’s little lamb, not knowing that he was the villain (2 Samuel 13:21).

The anger which is selfish and uncontrolled is a sinful and hurtful thing, which must be banished from the Christian life.

“Be Angry, But Do Not Sin” (4:26)

If feelings of anger are sometimes unavoidable, there are two things the Christian can do to avoid letting his emotions get him into trouble. The first is “do not sin.” An action taken in the heat of anger is almost always the wrong action.

Only God can properly execute wrath and vengeance (Rom 12:19).

Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

The second action the Christian must take is to get rid of anger within the day.

Few things have higher priority than seeking reconciliation with a brother: Matthew 5:24 (ESV) ..leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. ). Animosity must not be harbored as a growing resentment.

One definition of agape (love) is that “it does keep a record of wrong.” Another way of saying something similar: it does not bring up the past.

My standard: IF I do not take of an issue that brings anger which could lead me to sin, on that day, then I forfeit the right to bring it up the next day.

DON’T GET BURNED! If vented thoughtlessly, anger can hurt others and destroy relationships. If kept inside, it can cause us to become bitter and destroy us from within.

Paul tells us to deal with our anger immediately in a way that builds relationships rather than destroys them. If we nurse our anger, we will give Satan an opportunity to divide us.

Anger must be dealt with as quickly as possible. Used correctly, anger can motivate us to right a wrong, redress a grievance, correct an injustice.

Used improperly, it can burn us and everyone else around us.

Are you angry with someone right now? What can you do to resolve your differences? Don’t let the day end before you begin working on mending your relationship.

If anger is not always evil, it can easily turn one to evil. Anger, like greed, is often the root of various evils. Ungodly anger may become the root of some of the evils addressed in Ephesians 4 and 5. Anger may prompt one to speak to a brother in a way that is destructive.

Just as our speech may edify or build up others, it can also tear down and destroy. Anger which is not properly resolved may lead to slander or false testimony. Anger has prompted people to steal. Anger has caused some to be unfaithful to their mate.

Even anger that begins as righteous indignation can turn sour, becoming ungodly wrath. This is why immediately after Paul commands us to be angry, he warns us to be angry, but not to sin.

As you can see from the text, Paul’s words, “Be angry, and do not sin,” are cited from a psalm of David, Psalm 4:4.

David composes this psalm out of his own distress. Unrighteous men have scoffed at David’s honor, making it a reproach. They have loved what is worthless and deceptive. David agonizes over the wickedness of such men, and calls upon God to deal with them.

Paul adds a dimension which David does not mention in his psalm. It should provide the Christian with strong motivation for heeding Paul’s admonition to avoid sinful anger.

He warns us that we are not to “give the devil an opportunity” with respect to anger. How can this be?

Several opportunities are apparent. First, Satan may take advantage of unresolved anger to promote some other sin, such as slander, strife, or even physical violence.

Satan would surely seek to use our anger to create divisions within the body of Christ. Many churches have been split over petty differences.

Satan, as the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) will surely use our sin, spawned by anger, as an occasion to accuse us before God, and perhaps may use us to accuse our brethren. Satan recognizes anger as a fertile field, capable of producing all kinds of sin, and sin is his specialty.

Paul gives but one method here, by which we may avoid letting righteous anger turn to sin. He instructs us not to “let the sun go down on our anger.”

While righteous anger is to be slow to originate, it is to be quickly dispelled. Anger has a kind of corrosive effect. Anger is designed to prompt us to act, to get us “off the dime” of passivity.

Paul does not tell us what we should do here. I believe that other Scriptures do spell out what is usually required of us.

In short, the process of “church discipline” is the course of action we should take. This process for dealing with our anger toward a brother is Christ is outlined in several texts, and is illustrated in others.

The first step in the process is confrontation. The one who has offended us, or who has acted in a way that dishonors God is to be confronted with his sin. This is to be done as privately and on as small a scale as possible. If the wayward one repents, the matter is settled. If not, then the matter must become more and more public, until it is resolved.

If the sinning saint persists in sin, he must finally be put out of the church, and deprived of the benefits of its fellowship. In the case of the brother who accepts correction, our anger should be converted to forgiveness.

If the brother is disciplined, our anger should turn to grief. In any case, our anger should not be allowed to linger on, turning to bitterness.

In those cases in which our brother is angry with us, we also have a responsibility to bring matters to a conclusion that dispels anger and which reflects the righteousness of God.

We are to go to that brother who has an offense against us, and seek to bring about a reconciliation as quickly as possible (see Matthew 5:23-26).

4:27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

When emotions are out of control, the devil steps in to exploit the situation. Whether in an action taken in the heat of passion, or in a smoldering resentment, the devil is given room to operate.

Characteristics of Righteous Indignation

 (1) Godly anger is God-like anger, it is an expression of the anger which has toward the actions of men. Godly people are angry when God is angry. It is anger which is consistent with the holy and righteous character of God.

(2) Godly anger is legal anger. It is wrath based upon men’s violation of God’s law, and it is anger which is lawfully expressed.

(3) Godly anger is not explosive, and is only slowly provoked. God’s anger does not have a hair trigger.

 (4) God does not take pleasure in expressing His anger in the judgment of men.

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

 (5) Godly anger is always under control. Godly anger does not lose its temper. Ungodly anger is excessive and abusive; godly anger never is.

But He, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them; And often He restrained His anger, And did not arouse all His wrath (Psalm 78:38).

Conclusion

We ought to reserve our anger for when we see God dishonored or people wronged.

If we are to take this text seriously, we must also say that we should see more righteous anger than we do. If God is angered by sin, then we should be angered by it as well.

We need to confront the sinner, and without minimizing the sin, to seek its solution in genuine repentance.

In many marriages that end up on the rocks of divorce, the root problem is anger that has not been righteously expressed and dispelled.

In many families, the division and discord stems from a failure to obey Paul’s instructions concerning anger.

In many churches, the unity of the body of Christ has been hindered by the lack of righteous anger.

Let us seek to be both good and mad to the glory of God and for the health and unity of His body, the church.

 

 

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Posted by on June 11, 2020 in ephesians

 

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.

 
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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.

 
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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.

 
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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.’

 
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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.

 
 
 
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