Let’s talk about COVID-19 or the Wuhan flu. What should the Christian response be? Certainly, it should not be fear or panic nor should we be suspicious or view this with disdain. I have to admit that I tend to view this as if we are burning the ship to save the passengers. However, I’m wondering if this crisis isn’t more about God’s divine hand in using something bad to slow people down a bit and make us focus on what is really important. What is important is knowing God and loving people, and the present distress gives us an opportunity to do both.
We are in slowdown mode!
No school, no church service.
Staying home more. What a great
opportunity for families to just be families again and spend time
together. What a great time for dads to
step up and lead their families spiritually.
What a great time to memorize some Scripture together. What a great time go for a walk as a
family. The outdoors are not off limits,
get out and enjoy God’s creation. What
an opportunity to read some good books and more importantly The Good Book! What
a great opportunity to take some real time in prayer. So dear Christian, don’t brood over what you
can’t do, rather rejoice in what you can!
The second aspect of this is how we can respond to our
Franklin Graham posted this on social media a couple of days
ago. I think it is an excellent point of
years ago, the great writer and theologian A.W. Tozer made this profound
statement, “A scared world needs a fearless church.” That is so true. During
this time with the coronavirus, fear is
gripping the hearts of people around the world. There is a mountain of anxiety
and alarm, and it is still building. It is as real as the virus itself—but it
is treatable. There are people in need that we can reach out to help. Like a
fireman runs to the fire, the church needs to respond to crises around us. We
who are the church need to stand up and be the hands and feet of the Lord Jesus
Christ. During these days of less group activity and gatherings, we could all
take time to call and check on the elderly or others who are alone. Maybe you
could offer to drop off some food or necessities they might need. Talking with
someone on the phone, listening to what they are going through, and most
importantly, praying with them, could change not only their day, but their
entire outlook. We need to share the “reason for the hope that is in you” (1
Peter 3:15). Jesus Christ is our hope, our anchor, our comfort, and our peace.
Let’s share His love with as many people as we can, making every day count.
Christians, God can use you. The virus isn’t the only thing that’s contagious. What
if we had an outbreak of people helping people and a sweeping eruption of
We can be the hands and feet of Jesus here and now. We just need to see the opportunities.
I was encouraged by this passage this morning: 1 Peter
1:3-9, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to
His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and
undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept
by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the
last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need
be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your
faith, being much more precious than
gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor,
and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love.
Though now you do not see Him, yet
believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the
end of your faith—the salvation of your
Sometimes, my devotions send me in the wrong direction. If you read the Daily Bread devotional
booklet, you might remember the one entitled “Jesus in Disguise” by James
Banks. (August 13, 2019). Mr. Banks told
the story of his son participating in a “homeless simulation.” He basically camped out on the city streets
for a couple to days to help identify with homeless people. That sounds very
noble, but I wasn’t so convinced and so my mind wandered. The point of the devotional was to be like
Jesus and care for people. That I agree
with, but the real issue we have is why are people homeless and does camping
out with them really help you identify the problem?
So I go to the word to see what does the Bible have to say
about this subject? Here are a couple of
Biblical references to see God’s mind on this issue.
Deuteronomy 15:7, If
there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your
land which the Lord your God is
giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor
Psalm 41:1, Blessed is he
who considers the poor; The Lord
will deliver him in time of trouble.
And there are many others text we could reference here. God expects His people to be
compassionate. He expects us to help
those who due to circumstances beyond their control need a hand up. God also says…
2 Thessalonians 3:10, For
even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work,
neither shall he eat.
Proverbs 6:6, Go
to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise.
God expects those who can take care
of themselves to do so and to have the wisdom to plan for the future.
God isn’t sending us mixed messages here. He expects people to work hard and not depend
on others for their existence. He also
expects us to help those who are helpless.
We see both sides expressed to us in the book of Galatians.
Galatians 6:2, Bear one
another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:4-5, But
let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself
alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.
It seems to me that the issue within modern Christianity is that
we are not addressing the right problem. In Jesus day, people were poor
or even homeless because of circumstances beyond their control. A widow in the ancient cultures may well lose
all. An orphan had no one to care for him and thus become a beggar. Drought and famine could take the prosperous
farmer to a state of homelessness, as could injury or disease. It seems to me
that we need to realize that the poor and the homeless of Jesus’ day wasn’t
exactly the same as in our modern culture.
Our problem is drugs and alcohol from which homelessness is a
result. The vast majority of the homeless in our culture are homeless because
of drugs. Yes, there are some who become homeless because of adverse
circumstances not of their own doing, but that is a very, very small
number. If you watched the documentary
“Seattle is Dying,” you can’t miss the point.
Drugs are the problem. It seems
to me as long as we continue to identify homelessness as the problem we are
missing the real problem and so come up with the wrong solution. You will not solve the homeless problem in
America until you first deal with the drug issue; and you won’t solve the drug
problem until you deal with the heart problem.
So when someone “pretends” to be homeless in order to better
identify with the homeless, I tend to be skeptical. Until you know the power of the drugs, the
overwhelming urge to stay high, and the bodies longing for the next fix, you
aren’t really identifying with the homeless.
You may realize some of their hardship, but you really can’t
identify. If I was homeless and someone
was out there pretending to be homeless, I’d resent it. I’d feel like it was demeaning, besides the
fact that it’s basically a lie! I don’t
want to question this young man’s heart or his motives. I’m sure they were pure, but I feel they were
So what can we do? Well, we
can follow the Biblical mandate. Take
care of our own lives first so we can care for others. Don’t covet and don’t horde. Take care of your family, don’t expect the
government or the church to do so. Take
care of those in the body that may need help if you can. Take care of your neighbor. Help the
helpless. Realize that if we are talking
drugs, alcohol or mental illness you can’t fix this. Throwing money, food, clothing or even
housing at the problem won’t fix this. In
fact, it may make it worse. In these
cases we have to deal with the core heart issues or mental issues that are
beyond physical Band-Aids.
A few days ago, America was
rocked by yet another mass shooting.
Everyone is asking why, what has happened to America? In my opinion, we are missing the obvious
answer. God’s Word is clear why this happens.
Romans Chapter One gives us a clear picture.
Because of the nature of man, vs.18
For the wrath of God
is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who
suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
“Ungodliness’ is living like there is no God. It’s simply doing our own thing and telling
God to take a hike. It’s loving our sin
more than reverencing God. God hates
sin! God judges sin. We sin because it’s our nature, but it’s also
our choice. In Genesis Chapter Four, we see that Cain chose to murder his brother
because his brother displeased him. He lived and acted like there was no God. He
chose to murder his brother. When we
yield to the fallen nature, the result often is violence. We see it in the smallest child to the grown
man who abuses his wife. We are sinful
by nature and by choice. When we
accommodate that nature, violence often happens.
Violence can also happen in cultures that suppress the
truth. Genesis 6:11-12, The earth also
was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked
upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their
way on the earth.
Back in Romans 1:18, the end of this verse is very
interesting. “Suppress” here is
the word “ka-tekh-o” meaning to
“hold down.” Isn’t that exactly what we
do as a nation? We ignore God’s word, we
reject it, we oppose it! There are
consequences for doing so. When an entire culture chooses to live like there is
no God, the culture will suffer, which leads us to our next point.
Because of deterioration in the culture, vs.19-25
Vs. 19-20, Because what may be known of God is manifest
in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His
invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are
made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,because, although they knew God, they did
not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts,
and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became
fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like
corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore
God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor
their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and
worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed
God says, all of mankind is without excuse. No one can say “I had no idea God existed.”
Here is why that is true.
(1) Within every person is a God awareness, the “moral
code” written on our hearts.
(2) The creation proves the existence of God, so there is
no excuse for not acknowledging God as the supreme authority. The design of the creation proves beyond a
doubt there is a creator who must by definition be God. The God of creation has reached out to us
through His Word, His Spirit and by His Son.
The text tells us “They knew God.” Everyone who got
off the ancient ark, knew God, their descendants knew God. But along the way, the truth of God was
rejected for a lie. What people tend to
do is “change the glory of God” by corrupting the truth of God, putting the focus on the creation rather than
acknowledging the creator. The theory of
evolution is the highest form of this.
It is a belief system! Evolution is the worship of the creation rather
then the Creator. It is the religion of
atheism. This is where the problem in
America lies. We can trace all the ills
of our culture back to embracing the origin of our beginning to evolution!
Romans 3:10-18 quotes various
texts in Psalms and Isaiah.
As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none
who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
together become unprofitable;
There is none
who does good, no, not one.”
“Theirthroat is an opentomb;
tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of
asps is under their lips”;
“Whosemouth is full of
cursing and bitterness.”
“Theirfeet are swift to shed
Destruction and misery are in their ways;
And the way of peace they have not known.”
“Thereis no fear of God
before their eyes.”
No fear of God! This
is exactly what embracing the theory of evolution has produced!
When you lose your fear of God, you devalue human
life. The result is violence!
From this came the sexual revolution of the 60s whose
mantra was “God is dead.”
From that came abortion as a method of birth control,
which is the modern day equitant of offering our children to Molech.
From this also came extreme Environmentalism, literally
making the creation god. This produces a
culture with no moral compass and no respect for human life.
The result is HOPELESSNESS! With the hopelessness, some have been ostracized. Young men who have no hope and see no future
despair and a certain element become violent.
I believe there is also a dark spiritual element as
Ephesians 6:12-13, For
we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against
powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts
of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God,
that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to
It is incumbent upon us to be light to this lost world. Don’t
get distracted by the politics! The real
issue is morality. So we must stand for
truth! Kneel before God and Stand against sin. Stand up for what is right!
Considering all we learn from the Word of God and observe
in our culture, we should not be surprised at evil outbursts in our culture.
This lead sus to our next point.
Because we reap what we sow, vs.26-28
For this reason God
gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use
for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of
the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what
is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was
due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave
them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
We see here the results of a culture the does not fear
God. Sexual preversion is one of the
results of a culture that has lost its way, and no longer fears God. So God gives them there way: Uncleanness, vile passions, a debased
mind. That mind rules over
them. It then becomes the norm, and so
Vs. 29-32. Hits the
nail on the head.
Being filled with all
unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness;
full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,
backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things,
disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving,
unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice
such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of
those who practice them.
This is exactly what we have become. But please realize
this is not unusual. The Church was born
under Roman rule, a very similar moral culture to the one we live in. God has ordained for us, the people of God to
shine as light to a hopeless culture.
Romans 1:16-17! For I am not ashamed of the gospel of
Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for
the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is
revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
Don’t allow the darkness to overwhelm you, walk in
Isaiah 60:1-2, Arise,
shine;For your light has come!And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,And deep darkness the people;But the Lord
will arise over you,And His glory
will be seen upon you.
What can we do?
(1) Pray! The great Welch Revival of 1904 began with
(2) We can act. Speak out about the underlying moral
issues that cause these terrible acts.
(3) We must evangelize!
The only hope for our culture is to turn back to God!
People are fascinated with
treasure. We dive on ancient shipwrecks
in hope of finding treasure. We put on
headphones and dance with a metal detector trying to find treasure. We obtain old maps hoping to figure out where
the treasure was buried. It’s like an
Easter egg hunt on steroids. I’m wondering,
have we ever considered the treasure found in the Word of God? Yes, it’s buried, but it’s not hard to
find. Even a child can partake of
it. Let’s discover what the Word of God
says about its treasure.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7, For it is the God who commanded light to
shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this
treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and
not of us.
The first and best treasure is salvation.
God, in His mercy, shines the light of His presence into our hearts and minds
that we might partake of the treasure of eternal life. The light of God shines on the face of
Jesus! He is the treasure! He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the Redeemer, the Savior! In Him, we know the glory of God.
God takes the treasure of His Son
and places it in earthen vessels. Not in a beautiful treasure chest, not in a
glorious Chinese vase. He places His
treasure in plain old ordinary people like you and me. In so doing, the power of God and wisdom of
God is on display because God is saving, using, and mobilizing regular people
for His glory. If you step back and look
at what God has done in the world through the redeemed, it’s remarkable! God takes the plain, the ordinary and hides His
treasure deep within that the extraordinary things done through the lives of
ordinary people might be understood to be only by the power of God through the
person of Christ.
The Word of God also warns us
about false treasure. Not every things
that glitters is gold. When I was a
child, we use to wander up on “Spud Hill” behind my grandmother’s house. There we often discovered mica that sparkled like
gold but was worthless. We liked to pretend we had discovered hidden
Matthew 6:19-20, Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on
earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but
lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Earthly treasure is fleeting. It
may be stolen or decay. Fame and fortune
are fleeting. In light of eternity,
earthly treasure is but a moment in time.
That is why it is so important that our worldview is beyond this
The verses in Matthew are a
warning about false values. Earthy
treasure gives the things of this world too much importance in life. The
downfall begins with coveting, which lead to greed or lust and ends in a love
affair with stuff or fame. When we love
“stuff,” we cease to love God. As
Christians we must constantly police our hearts and examine what we love.
God also speaks to us of true
treasure. Matthew 12:35, A good man out of the good treasure of his
heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings
forth evil things.
It’s what’s inside that
counts. True treasure is to value the
things of God above all else. To value
God, to value His name, to value His Word and to keep his statutes is true
treasure. To surrender to the Spirit, to
pray earnestly, to love well, this is true treasure. With this treasure comes joy. If you look at
people who have earthly treasure, are they really joyful? I read a statistic years ago that 80% of all
lottery winners’ marriages ended in divorce. If earthly treasure was so
satisfying, the number should have been well below the 50% national average,
not abovt it. Earthly treasure does not
truly satisfy; true treasure does.
True treasure produces
righteousness in the person who possesses it. Righteousness is simply “right
living.” Godly living comes from God
We want to mine out that good
treasure that bears eternal value and reject the “fool’s gold” that has no real
How do we know that we are really
mining the real gold and not the false?
Jesus gives us a test to evaluate our treasure.
Matthew 19:21, Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have
and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow
As you examine this interaction
of Jesus and the rich young ruler, it seems Jesus is testing his values. The
young man felt he had given all and done all until Jesus asked him to literally
give all he had, then he had second thoughts. The test is really “what do you
love more than Me?” Are you willing to give it all up to be a follower of Jesus?
It’s easy to say “absolutely” until Jesus asks us for something specific like
sports, or hobbies, or a job. Why would He ask us to give up such wholesome
things? Because they are getting in the way of our truly following Jesus with a
whole heart. The point of your salvation is not your happiness; it’s your
holiness. The point of it all is the glory of God. So the test is, are you
willing? Some are; many are not.
One day, we shall all stand before
the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). On that day, our treasure
will be judged.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15, For no other foundation can anyone lay than
that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this
foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s
work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be
revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If
anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet
so as through fire.
From this passage, we understand
that Christ is the foundation of our lives and that He ultimately is the
treasure! From the foundation, we build
either with worthless materials or precious materials. What makes the
difference? The heart. This building is our life, and we are putting it up
brick by brick. Our building is our life events or works that are established
on the Rock the Lord Jesus Christ. What kind of works are they? Will they stand
the test of time? Are they works that are eternal or just superficial that will
be lost in judgment? The works that last
are the works that Jesus does through us! It’s not about what we do for Him.
It’s all about what He desires to do through us. So the lasting works are those
moments in time when we surrender our lives to Christ and He works though us by
the person of His Holy Spirit.
So dear Christian, where is your
treasure? We live in a culture that is
crazy about stuff and fluff. We, as followers of Jesus, have a higher calling. It’s not about the stuff; it’s about treasure
in heaven. It’s about things that will
last for eternity. Wherever our heart is, that is what we truly treasure, either
the thing of the culture or the things of God.
We live in days of great confusion about morality, gender, rights, marriage.
We live in days of great confusion about morality, gender,
I thought it might be profitable in this era of confusion
to meditate a bit on Christian marriage.
We must recognize that marriage is not just a Christian institution;
it’s a human institution! Marriage was ordained of God before the fall of man;
and thus, it was given to all men for all time, not just Christians. However, today, let’s go beyond the basic institution
of marriage to “Christian Marriage.” Just as God has called us to the “higher calling”
in life, so we also have a higher calling in marriage. Ephesians chapter 5 is a
great text for us as we consider what it means to be a Christian within the
covenant of marriage. I realize this epistle
isn’t about marriage; it’s about living the Christian life. However, as
marriage is a big part of our life, let’s study through this text with marriage
Sanctification in Marriage.
The need to protect Marriage
Ephesians 5:2, And walk in love, as Christ also has loved
us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a
Please consider carefully the
phrase, “Walk in Love,” What does that look like?
When you see a couple strolling
along holding hands, you think, “Ahh, there is a couple in love,” but in
reality they may not be in love at all.
They may just be going through the motions. “Walking in love” looks like
Jesus! Note what Paul exhorts here, “As Christ also has loved us.” Christ
is our example. He walked selflessly.
If we want an exceptional marriage, we first need to die to self! There are always marriage conflicts and life
conflicts as two sinners come together under the covenant of marriage. These
conflicts can be traced back to loving self.
James 4:1, Where do wars and fights come from
among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your
When a couple constantly point
their fingers at their spouse and spout a litany of grievances without owning
their own wrong doing and bad actions, they are consumed by self. To protect your marriage and to allow it to
prosper, you have to overcome self!
Vs.6-7, Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these
things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not
be partakers with them.1. Don’t be deceived by “empty words.” The secular view of marriage is just
that, empty words that have no understanding of what marriage really is. To the
secular world, marriage is optional; it really doesn’t mean much. God’s view of marriage is that marriage isa
divinely instituted lifetime covenant whereby a man and a woman become one.Marriage literally means “joining.” A covenant is an “agreement” we enter into, a
sacred bond to love, honor and cherish one another until death do we part. Marriage is something we should take very
seriously, but also joyfully! It is God’s gift to us. It separates man from the
animal kingdom and reiterates that we are indeed made in the image of God. There
is a need for us to protect our marriage by not buying into the worlds view of
marriage but rather keeping God’s view of marriage in the forefront.
Vs.8-10, For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness,
righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 1 One
of the key phrases here is “finding
out what is acceptable to the Lord.” What does God want our marriage to be? As we view the Scriptures, it becomes pretty
clear. (1) God wants two people to become one; one mind, one goal, one
standard, one force. This doesn’t mean that Christian couples lose their
individuality or don’t disagree or disappoint, but rather that they are able to
overcome obstacles and walk this road together in unity because they love their
mate more than themselves.
(2) God wants us to fulfill our
God given “roles” as husband and wife. Ephesians
5:23, For the husband is head of the
wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.1
Headship does not mean a
dictatorship. Husbands are to be heads of our home as Christ is the head of the
Church. That means sacrificial love. In
the Christian model of marriage, we see husbands bearing the burden of life and
wives coming along side to buoy him up. Think of riding a bicycle built for
two. Both people are working toward a common goal, but only one can steer.
Vs.14, Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”1
Our key phrase here is: “Give
you light.” If you really
want a good marriage, we have perfect instruction, the Word of God. We have
perfect illumination, the Holy Spirit. The
problem is we usually want the other person to change rather than really
wanting to work on changing ourselves.
God gives light, you must walk in it!
1 Jn. 1:7A, But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have
fellowship with one another.1 Who is the “we” here? Is this communing with God or fellowship with men? It
works for both. When we walk in the
light, we have fellowship with God and that fellowship then translates into
divine fellowship with fellow Christians, and hopefully our spouse. If you want a thriving marriage, you
have to intentionally work on it by working on you. This is the best way to
protect your marriage from complacency, discord, and alienation.
Edification in Marriage, or how to nurture your marriage
then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time,
because the days are evil.1
Paul exhorts us
to walk carefully! The thought is not like walking on egg shells but
rather to walk deliberately. Why are marriages falling apart? People don’t walk carefully. They often take
their relationship for granted; and then one day, it’s too late, the marriage
is kaput. We need to continually work on
affection and submission. This is foundational to marriage. We live in
dangerous times, and to redeem the time we need to make the best use of
it. We do that by loving well and
Vs.17, Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the
Lord is. 1
“Understanding…Lord is” What
is God’s will for your marriage? That’s easy,
stay Married! But even more important is
that your marriage might glorify Him! When we walk well as individuals and as a
couple, we are allowing our marriage to be what God intended it to be, a union
that bears His image.
Vs. 19, Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. 1
Are you saying we should “sing”
to each other? Well it wouldn’t hurt! I
think the thought here is about the emotion of joy, to have a merry heart (Proverbs
Enjoy life together, Enjoy Jesus
Vs.20, Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name
of our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Give thanks together! Count your blessings. Remember
the good things and be thankful. Joy and thankfulness in marriage will nurture
and strengthen your relationship.
Vs. 21, Submitting to one another in the fear of God.1
“Submit” means to “come under” or
put the other person above yourself!
To nurture your marriage, you
need to realize the perils and pitfalls that are out there and that many couples
fall into. Marriage isn’t easy-it’s
work-but it’s also very satisfying when we participate the way God intended us
to. God will use your marriage to reveal the weakness in your character that He
might accomplish His perfect will in you. It’s not just about marriage! It’s about sanctification. We nurture our
union by putting the other person’s needs ahead of our own. When both husband and wife are living for the
other, marriage works!
Glorification in Marriage. How to glorify God in Marriage.
How wives can glorify God in
Key verses: 22-24, Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to
the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the
church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is
subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.1
Don’t get so hung up on the “submit” word and miss the key phrase, “As
to the Lord” If a wife loves and honors her husband, she will come under
His leadership and trust him to lead.
Let him be the head of the home. Allow him to carry the weight. In so
doing, God is glorified.
1 Peter 3:1-5, Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own
husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be
won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct
accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the
hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden
person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet
spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in
former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being
submissive to their own husbands.1
That inward adorning glorifies
How husbands can glorify God in
Vs.25-29,Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ
also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and
cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to
Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but
that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their
own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one
ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does
Again, don’t miss the key phrase
here, “As Christ Loved.” That
is sacrificially. When we love
our wives, we put their needs above our wants.
Husbands who love their wives in this way bring Glory to God. 1 Peter 3:7, Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving
honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the
grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.1
Here the key words are “understanding and honor.” Husbands love and honor their wives when they
realize that this is the woman God made just for him. A husband’s attitude should be that his wife
is God’ gift to him, just as Eve was God’s gift to Adam; and therefore, he
At the end of the day, marriage
is all about glorifying God. “Whatever
you do, do all to the glory of God.”1
1 Corinthians 10:31. Including
Your marriage needs to be about
Jesus in you!
Marriage is about two becoming
one. It is a metaphor of salvation. Vs.31-33,
“For this reason a man shall leave
his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one
flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself,
and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
As we have become one with Christ,
so we become one in marriage. This is
something we need to celebrate and make sure we are getting right by
protecting, nurturing and glorifying God in marriage.
We have been working through the book Discipline The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot
is my privilege to meet with a group of elders once a month to learn,
fellowship and pray together. We have
been working through the book Discipline The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth
Elliot. This month we were discussing
the discipline of the body. Here are a
couple of quotes from Chapter Seven of the book I thought were pertinent.
“Discipline, for the Christian begins with
that so true! From the discipline of the body comes all other disciplines. If
we can’t rule over our own body, we probably aren’t able to discipline much of
“We cannot give our hearts to God and
keep our bodies for ourselves.”
Jesus isn’t Lord over our bodies, then Jesus isn’t Lord at all. His dominion in
our lives is all or nothing. He did not make us to live independent of Himself.
He made us to be dependent and to worship and that begins with disciplining the
fallen urges of the body. I think Romans
12:1 is the optimal text here:
12:1, I beseech you therefore, brethren,
by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy,
acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 1
act of presenting our bodies to Christ as a living sacrifice is an act of
worship. We are acknowledging Him as
Lord and giving to Him what is rightfully His, our lives which includes the
physical body. So in presenting the body
as a living sacrifice, we discipline the body.
covers four areas that the body needs discipline in: 1. Food.
What we take into our bodies and how much. 2. Sleep. The body needs rest and therefore we
must discipline when we go to bed and when we get up. 3. Exercise. The body needs to move and we
must be intentional in this. 4. Sex. The body is designed by God for
reproduction within the confines of the marriage covenant. To quote Elliot here, “If marriage is not included in God’s will for an individual, then
sexual activity is not included either.”
I couldn’t agree more. We
must also then define marriage as a God given covenant between a man and woman.
Elliot didn’t have to make that distinction when she was writing. How sad that
occurs to me as I look over this list, food, sleep, exercise and sex, that the
world you and I live in has attacked each and every one of these areas of life
to such a degree as to almost make it impossible to live the disciplined
life. Take our food, for example. We have so much highly processes food that is
so cheap and easily available that it seems impossible to avoid it. This highly processed food is at the root of
the obesity crisis in America.
Christians we must consider what we eat and how much if we are truly presenting
our bodies to God for His glory. Moderation
in all things is the key. Limit processed foods, eat vegetables, fruit, and
meat and you should be healthy.
we have exercise. With the advent of modern technology, we have kids and adults
that are addicted to games, television, phones, and social media. That means that kids often don’t go outside
and play; they stay in inside and sit. Our new neighborhoods are constructed
with no yards for kids to play in and so they don’t. We might send them to the park, but that also
has its threats from drug dealers and gangs.
On the other end, we have people who are so enthralled with the gym that
working out has become their idol and their body their temple, their place of
worship. As followers of Jesus, we need to walk well, not just spiritually but
physically! Let’s be intentional to make
sure we exercise the body. When you go
to the mall park as far from the door as possible. That way you are giving prime parking spaces
to others and you get in a walk. Make
exercise a part of your lifestyle, but don’t let it become an idol!
also is under attack from technology. We
stay up late and watch the tube and wonder why we or our children can’t
sleep. The body was made to go to sleep
when the light fades, so plan on turning off all the electronics well before
bed time and let the brain settle down before lying down for the night. It’s a great time to read a book to the kids
or to settle in with a cup of tea. Be
intentional in preparing for sleep.
last, but not least, there is the issue of sex!
Where do we start in describing the attack of the culture on the sexual
relationship? It’s everywhere and it is exploited to the place that it has
become the driving force of the society. In many ways, we are reaping the
results of the sexual revolution of the sixties. The results are death and divorce. As
Christians, we must guard the mind to protect ourselves from lowering this
wonderful gift of God to married couples to something animalistic. Discipline what you take into you mind for
the glory of God.
you see, dear friend what we are up against when it comes to disciplining the
body. Everything is under attack and out
of proportion. We have gone from moderation
to over indulgence. So what do we as the
children of God do? We become even more
intentional in disciplining the body. We don’t want to over react and become hermits;
but we do need to realize that if we are going to bring our body under
subjection, we have to recognize the threats of the culture.
wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:27, But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when
I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.1
here of being disqualified from ministry was to be “benched,” unable to
participate. When we don’t intentionally
rule over the body and its longings, we are then unintentionally worshipping
ourselves rather than the God who made us.
So there is
a war out there for the mind and the body.
We have to engage the war for the good not just of the body but the
Ministry, in general, and the pastorate specifically, can be a joy or a grind.
Ministry, in general, and the
pastorate specifically, can be a joy or a grind. Those of us in pastoral ministry tend to
blame the flock if it’s a grind and pat ourselves on the back if it’s a
joy. In reality, it’s not about the
flock. I realize that some flocks are easier to shepherd than others. I realize that some days it’s a grind and
some days ministry is a joy. But when we
consider a body of work, what is the overall view? Has your ministry been a joy or a grind? In the big view of things, it’s not about the
flock; it’s about you. Jesus died to
deliver me from me so that He could live through me. That is true for you as
well. That means the ministry isn’t about my satisfaction or happiness. It’s not about the flocks satisfaction or
happiness. The ministry is all about the work of God through you, and so the
point is to thrive in that ministry rather than just survive. I think there are five activities that need
to be true in the lives of those who minister to thrive. When these aren’t true, we are merely
grinding our way through our days of ministry.
That’s a tragedy!
1. Preach the Word!
2 Timothy 4:1-5, I charge you therefore before God and the
Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and
His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season.
Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time
will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own
desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves
teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned
aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the
work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.1
This exhortation to young Timothy
is as relevant to us in the modern era as it was in the first century. We live in an age of great apostasy, some of
which is very subtle. It is so easy for
pastors to get sucked into the spirit of the age and leave the fundamentals of
the pastorate, that being Biblical preaching!
The truth of the Word of God is always relevant; it never becomes
outdated. Yes, sometimes the truth of
the Word hurts, but only for a season.
When it has accomplished its perfect work, the true disciple will
receive it as intended, the work of the Holy Spirit. As a minister, you are an opportunity in the
body for the Holy Spirit to do His work.
If the sound teaching of the Word is rejected, don’t take it
personally. They aren’t rejecting you;
they are rejecting Christ. So preach the
Word without fear and see what God will do.
I think Jesus’ words to Saul on the
road to Damascus are instructive to us.
Acts 26:16 & 18, But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you
for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which
you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. To open their
eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan
to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among
those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”1
What a sacred calling we
have. What a glorious task, to be used
of God to transform lives. That is why 2
Corinthians 5:19is so precious to
is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their
trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.1
He has committed to us, those who
preach the Word, the ministry of reconciliation! This is not about reconciling men to men, but
men to God! What an awesome and holy
calling. If God has called you to this,
He will empower you for the task. As you
are empowered for the task of preaching, the Word of God will be at work in you
first. As you minister the Word by the
power of the Spirit, you will find great satisfaction in your ministry because
it’s not about you, but about God in you.
2. Keep yourself in love with Jesus.
Philemon 4-7, I thank my God, making mention of you
always in my prayers, hearing
of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the
saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the
acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have
great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have
been refreshed by you, brother.1
What was the first characteristic
that Paul praised in the life of Philemon?
His love toward the Lord Jesus!
It’s so easy in ministry to get our eyes off the prize. The prize is not
glory nor fame, nor fortune, nor full pews.
The prize is knowing Jesus and loving Him well. When we love Jesus well, we love ourselves
little. That sort of love results in what
we see in Philemon, “the hearts of the
saints have been refreshed by you, brother.”
While loving Jesus allows us to
love the flock well, it also help us to endure the hardships of life and
1 Peter 1:7-8, That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold
that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and
glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though
now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and
full of glory.1
Don’t miss what Peter is saying
here. Even in those times of testing,
our heart issues are what really matter.
It seems that testing just brings out what is really in our hearts. So, if we love Jesus well, if we love Him
more than anything or anybody, when the time of testing comes (and it will),
the character of Christ in us will come to the forefront. When we keep
ourselves in love with Jesus, we thrive in ministry despite our
Jude 21, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our
Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.1
3. Guard your heart.
One of the dangers of ministry is
becoming cynical. The problem with shepherding is that we shepherd sheep not
doves. Sometimes, sheep can be blessing; and sometimes, sheep can run over you.
If you get run over a couple of times you start putting up walls and expecting
the worst. Your view of the church
becomes tainted and “stinkin’ thinkin’” rules the mind. If we go back to our quote from Philemon, the
second characteristic Paul praised was Philemon’s love for the saints! “Hearing
of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the
Paul also said of Philemon that
he was a blessing to the saints. “For
we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the
saints have been refreshed by you, brother.”
It’s hard to refresh the saints if
we have hard hearts towards God’s people.
There is a constant need to check our attitudes in ministry. Paul wrote
the following to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:15, I
write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of
God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.1
If we are going to conduct
ourselves well in the house of God, we have to make sure our hearts are open to
God’s work in us first that we might be used of the Spirit to make a difference
in the lives of others.
Paul wrote to the Church at
Philippi, which would include their shepherds.
Philippians 4:1, Therefore, my
beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord,
While they were standing fast
against oppression, we as pastors sometimes must stand fast against our own
thinking. Negative thinking does not further the Kingdom of God.
1 Peter 1:22, Since you have purified your souls in
obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one
another fervently with a pure heart.1
This applies to us as pastors as
well as to the congregation. Maybe even more so.
4. Crown the True King!
We have been called to shepherd the
flock, not to be the “king of the hill.”
1 Peter 5:2-4, Shepherd the flock of God which is among
you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest
gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being
examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive
the crown of glory that does not fade away.1
Peter exhorts elders to shepherd
with a correct attitude, that being love for God’s people, not a pay
check. He also explains that we are not
the “Lord” over the flock; we are
simply God’s shepherd for that flock. He
is the “head” shepherd; we are under Him.
I have seen pastors who were convinced they were doing God’s work; but
in reality it was their work all along. It
was their pulpit, their church, their kingdom; and if any one rocked the boat,
it was their way or the highway. How
tragic! We are called to lead the flock,
not drive it. We are not the sovereign
over God’s people; He is. After all He is the one who died to save His
own. We didn’t.
I think sometimes pastors get
caught up in the hype. They take to
heart all the praise that comes following a Sunday service and really think
it’s about them when in reality they are being praised for what the Holy Spirit
is doing in the hearts of men and women.
While you have been a blessing to the flock, you are not the one who
blesses. It is God who is doing the
work; you are just the hammer in the Master’s hand. Appreciate that you are appreciated, but
don’t buy into the hype.
Satan’s downfall was that he became
proud and lofty and thus, lost his way. His
thought-process is recorded in Scripture. Isaiah 14:14, I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most
I’m afraid that sometime we as
pastors have this same attitude. We are convinced we are doing the Lord’s work
when in reality we are serving ourselves.
We need to place the crown on its rightful head. The crown belongs to
Jesus, not us.
Matthew 23:12, And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself
will be exalted.1We
need to take this to heart. We can’t expect to thrive in ministry when we usurp
God’s crown. Instead we should live out
a previous truth found in the same gospel. Matthew 6:33, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these
things shall be added to you.1
This doesn’t just apply to our
secular life, but our spiritual and ecclesiastical life as well. Seek God’s
kingdom above your own and you will thrive in ministry.
5. Know when to walk away
This concept cover two separate
aspects of ministry, living in ministry and leaving a ministry. As we think of living in ministry it’s
important that you don’t live and breathe ministry. We need distraction from
ministry or we will burn out early. I
think it’s important to have outside interests that occupy your mind. Some
pastors hunt or fish, some like to play soft ball. I enjoyed homing pigeons. Whatever the hobby, do something besides
ministry or you will go crazy! But be
aware that hobbies can become idols! Don’t
let that happen.
I realize that as a pastor you are
always on call, and that is as it should be.
But you need to limit those who will continually demand your time. They will eat you up. Don’t let 5% of your flock
take up 95% of your time. Learn to say “No” gracefully, for your sake, your family’s
sake, and for the sake of the high maintenance member.
You also need to take time to rest
and rejuvenate spiritually. Psalm
23:1-3, The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie
down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my
soul He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.1
Let Jesus lead you so you can lead
the flock! Take some time off. Take time to rest. Take time to pray. Learn to be quiet.
Matthew 11:29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in
heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden
is a wonderful promise from Jesus to us, but please note there is a yoke to be
taken. That means we come under His
tutorship continually and find rest.
I love what God said to Moses in
Exodus 33:14, And He said, “My Presence
will go with you, and I will give you rest.”1
That is exactly what we want.
The second aspect of walking away
is literally walking away, leaving a ministry.
Sometimes pastors leave because they just can’t take it anymore. The
flock has treated them badly and they are hurting and battered and have had enough.
Make sure you aren’t leaving for the wrong reasons. Leaving should be about the
calling of God. He called you to this
ministry and He will call you to another. If God is moving you on, then embrace
it, but don’t run from a difficult pastorate.
God may be making you restless because the flock needs someone else’s
gifts for this particular body and another flock my need your specific
gifts. Be aware of the moving of the Spirit
in your life. Where God is leading you,
follow. If He leads you to stay, then
stay; and if He leads you to move on, do so graciously and leave the flock
healthier then you found it.
2 Peter 3:13-14, Nevertheless we, according to His promise,
look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore,
beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in
peace, without spot and blameless;
It’s summer vacation time! Time to get away! But do we take a vacation from God?
It’s summer vacation time! Time to get away! But do we take a vacation from God? I hope not. God goes with us wherever we go. That means that even when we are away on vacation, we still worship God, we still serve God, we still represent God. While you may be on vacation from your secular life, let’s make sure we aren’t also on vacation from our spiritual life. Take your Bible with you and while you are on vacation, take a vacation to God!
When we take a vacation, we
usually ask four questions:
(1) Where will we go?
(2) What route will we take?
(3) Where will we stay?
(4) What will we do?
1. Where will we go?
This is usually our first problem
in taking a vacation, where to go? One
of our favorite places is the Pacific Ocean.
By the seaside we find peace and rest.
What a great way to get away from it all and just listen to the waves
Matthew 11:28, Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest.1
We find that place of spiritual
rest in Jesus. The labor He is speaking
of here is the burden of religion.
Religion can be a lot of work!
Religion is all about us reaching up to God, while true Christianity is
God reaching down to us. It seems to me that is what Christ is speaking of
here. So while you are on vacation make sure you take some time to be alone
with Jesus. Don’t be so busy that you don’t truly rest. By all means, have a
good time but also refresh your soul.
Isaiah 55:1, Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no
money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and
Wow, think of
it, going on vacation without expense!
That is what we can do when we take a vacation to God! Here is the offer, just come to me and find
rest for the soul.
Revelation 22:16-17, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to
you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the
Bright and Morning Star.” And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him
who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him
take the water of life freely.1
Come and drink
freely! No expense to stay, no motels to
book, no food to buy. Just come as you
as are and drink deep from the blessings of the Bright and Morning Star!
Ephesians 5:1, Therefore be imitators of God as dear
children.1 An “imitator” is
another way of saying a “follower.” To find that place of refreshment, we have
to be willing to follow God! Spiritually,
we will go towards God or away from God. I don’t think you can stay in the same place. Not moving forward is
moving back. If we want to lead our families, if we want to lead our church,
we lead by following! If we don’t lead
by following then we are leading by wandering! Where are you leading? To God or away from God? Make a conscience effort to lead your family
So when you physically go on vacation, follow well to lead well. Don’t take a vacation from the spiritual. Have family devotions. Attend church wherever
you are. Pray together. It will be the best vacation you’ve ever
2. What route will we take?
Usually when we are headed out on
vacation, we get out the maps or we bring up Google on the computer and
research the roads we will be driving to reach our destination. It’s important
for us to know how to get where we are going or we will spend all our time needlessly
God’s Word says a lot about the
path we should take.
Psalm 16:11, You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of
joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.1
Proverbs 4:14-19, Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do
not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; Turn away from it
and pass on. For they do not sleep unless they have done evil; And their sleep
is taken away unless they make someone fall. For they eat the bread of
wickedness, And drink the wine of violence. But the path of the just is like
the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the
wicked is like darkness; They do not know what makes them stumble.1
I like the writer of Hebrews’
take on this: Hebrews 12:1-2, Therefore
we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay
aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run
with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author
and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the
cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of
The “cloud of witnesses” are all
the folks listed in Chapter 11 of Hebrews who walked by faith, no matter the
cost. We are exhorted here to lay down the weights of life and the burden of
sin that keep us from running the race and look at Jesus!
Once we are on that path we need
to stay on it. Ephesians 5:2, And walk in love, as Christ also has loved
us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a
The path of love is way to go. It
is interesting that we are brought together by truth, but we are kept together
by love! Love overcomes. Let’s not forget
the verses just before this exhortation to love. Ephesians 4:30-32. And
do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of
redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put
away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.1
Love overcomes the flesh! The flesh keeps us from following Jesus. The path Jesus asks us to walk is the
same one He walked. Love says: “Take up your cross and follow.” Salvation is free, but Christianity will
cost you something. Travel this path,
dear friend, knowing there will be a toll!
Yet, the joy of the journey! So be willing to pay the price. Do
we love Jesus enough to follow? To pay
But there is another route. It may seem easier, it may seem faster, it
may seem like a shortcut; but in the end, it leads us away from the
destination, not to it.
Ephesians 5:3-7, But fornication and all uncleanness or
covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;
neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not
fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator,
unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in
the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for
because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Therefore do not be partakers with them.1
Here we see the exhortation “Be not partakers with them.” Yet, we find all of these things among God’s
people! How can that be? Many have chosen the route that appears to
have no toll. Yet, there is a hidden tax!The
idea of a “no cost” Christianity is a falsehood. In reality, the price of wandering is far
greater. The loss of fellowship, the
loss of relationships, the loss of family, the loss of joy and the loss of love.
It’s a very steep price to follow the wrong path.
3. Where will we Stay?
We know where we are headed and
we have the route planned. Now where will we stay along the way? On my fiftieth birthday, my sweet bride
surprised me with a trip to the Oregon Coast where we stayed in a hotel right
on the beach. It was wonderful! To look
out at night and see the moonlit waves rolling in, to hear the breakers and to
smell the sea, it’s almost heaven on earth.
When we take our vacation to God,
it is important that we stay in one and only one place. John 15:4, Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of
itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.1
When we abide, we stay put. Jesus
is teaching us here that we need to continue to draw our strength from him by
surrendering our lives daily to His Holy Spirit. When we abide we produce good fruit, the
fruit of the Spirit.
John 16:33, These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome
When we abide in Christ, the
brokenness of the world, while it may well hurt, cannot overwhelm us. We are in Christ and He has overcome!
But if we choose to take the easy
way, the “no cost” Christianityroute,
here is where we stay; Ephesians 5:8-12, For
you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of
light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and
truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with
the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful
even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.1
The exhortation here is not to
have “fellowship with darkness.” When
we fellowship with the darkness, we are dwelling there. We are choosing to stay in a very dangerous
place. We have the light of God, but
sometimes we let it get pretty dim.
We have a couple of biblical
examples. Lot, Abraham’s nephew who
dwelt in the gates of Sodom, found himself in a dangerous place. The light had gone dim. The prodigal son who left the abode of his
father to embrace riotous living found himself starving and eating with
pigs. The light had gone dim. What
happened with these two? They chose to abide in the wrong place. When you go on
vacation, the last thing you want to do is put yourself and your family in
danger. Don’t put yourself and your family in spiritual danger by abiding in
the wrong place!
Where will we stay if we desire
to truly follow Christ? According to vs. 8-10, above, we will abide in the light!
1 John 1:7, But if we walk in the light as He
is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus
Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.1
with God and with one another is based on walking and dwelling in the light of
God. The only way I know to do that is reading
the old Book! God’s Word is a lamp to our feet, (daily guide) and a
light to our path (for a lifetime). (Psalm 119)
If you really want to stay in the light of God, spend time in His Word
and time on your knees. Ephesians 5:13-14! But
all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes
manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the
dead, And Christ will give you light.”1
4. What will we do?
It seems to me there are two
types of vacationers out there. Those
who really work at play and those who don’t!
Kathy are I are in the latter category.
When we go on vacation, we like to eat, sleep, and walk on the
beach. When we take a vacation to God,
what will we do? What is the activity?
John 4:14, God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit
29:2, Give unto the Lord
the glory due to His name;
the Lord in the beauty of
95:6, Oh come, let us worship and bow
down; Let us kneel before the Lord
Revelation 14:7B, Fear God and give glory to Him, for the
hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the
sea and springs of water.”1
When you take a vacation to God,
you leave the world behind and you worship!
So if we truly want to enter into
to worship, we have to be intentional in where we are going spiritually. Ephesians 5:17-18,See then that you walk circumspectly, not
as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand
what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is
dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. 1
Vs.18 is talking about
control. When a person gets drunk, they
are out of control. They do stupid
things. What influence will control your life? That is the exhortation
What will we do? We will worship
and walk in the Spirit! The word “circumspectly” means “exactly” or with a
purpose. Not wandering like Israel in
the wilderness. Not driving around
aimlessly like a lost tourist. God has
purpose for your life. That purpose is
His glory. So we will redeem the time….or let it slip away. Redeeming the time
isn’t making every moment productive in a secular sense. It’s using the time to
know God, to worship Him, and to then live in a way that makes a difference in
So in taking a vacation to God,
we ask the same questions we do in taking any vacation.
Where will we
go? Either to God or from God. It’s our choice.
What route will we take? Either the way of love or the way of the
flesh. It’s our choice.
Where will we stay? Either in Christ in the light or in the world in
the dark. It’s our choice.
What will we do? Either worship and fellowship with God or go our own
way. It’s our choice.
Matt. 11:29, Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly
in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Vacation time is here! When you go on
that vacation, take a vacation to God!!
ENJOY HIM! REST IN HIM! FIND
RESTORATION FOR YOUR SOUL! In so doing, you glorify Him!
The question is often asked, “Why does God allow suffering?” Disease
strikes the good and the bad equally, accidents happen to great people and
innocent folks. Oftentimes, missionaries suffer while serving God in a foreign
land. We wonder, why? Couldn’t God protect them? Couldn’t God have kept them
safe? In this article we want to make
the connection between suffering and sin; God and suffering; and lastly, the
Christian and suffering.
Suffering and Sin
Ecclesiastes 3:11, He has made everything beautiful in
its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find
out the work that God does from beginning to end.1
In the beginning, God made everything
perfect. There was no suffering, no death.
What happened? How do we go from
no suffering to mass suffering? In
Genesis 3, we see the disobedience of Adam and Eve, and with their disobedience
came consequences. With their sin came
suffering and death.
3:7-8 & 16-19 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they
were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves
coverings.And they heard the sound of the Lord
God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid
themselves from the presence of the Lord
God among the trees of the garden.
To the woman He said:“I will greatly
multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth
children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” Then
to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have
eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of
it’:“Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the
days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And
you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat
bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you
are, And to dust you shall return.”1
Suffering is directly related to sin. If man would never have sinned, there would
be no suffering, but man did sin and ushered in all manner of suffering.
God is not the author of sin nor is He the
author of suffering. Suffering is the
result of man’s rebellion. That said,
you may suffer, not as the direct result of your sin, but simply because you
live in a sin-cursed world.
John 9:1-2, Now as
Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked
Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born
The disciples believed that
all suffering was directly related to one’s sin. Their assumption was simply not true.
There are 3 categories of
causes. Birth defects, disease, accidents may or may not be directly
related to your actions. If you smoke, you
may well get lung cancer. Unfortunately,
you may be perfectly innocent and still get cancer. This does not seem fair to
us; however, we must accept that this is part of living in a sin cursed world.
suffering. Cain killed Abel. The
Holocaust happened. School shootings take place. Abortion is a common birth-control method. All
of this is by the evil actions of men.
We wonder why would anyone do such things. The answer is because they yield to their
fallen nature. Their minds have become
reprobate, without moral conscience.
and emotional suffering. Consider what
Adam and Eve must have gone through after the murder of their son by his
brother. Worry, anguish, anxiety, stress, depression were probably all emotions
they experienced. The human condition is conducive to this because of the
So there is plenty of suffering to go
around because we live in a sin-cursed world!
Those who have active faith are better able to cope with suffering than
those who do not. People of faith realize
God is sovereign, and the sovereign God cares for me! Job said “Though He slay me yet shall I trust Him.”
God and Suffering
In returning to the interaction of Jesus
and His disciples concerning the man who had been born blind. John 9:3-5, Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his
parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must
work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no
one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”1This suffering was for a purpose.
“That the works of God might be
We also have the example of Lazarus death. John
a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister
Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His
feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent
to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” When Jesus heard
that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that
the Son of God may be glorified through it.”1
Suffering always has a divine purpose,
ultimately God’s glory. God uses the
suffering to bring us or others to Himself.
(Your suffering may allow you to minister to others who are themselves
suffering 2 Corinthians 1:3-4). God may
heal those who are suffering for His glory. God may use suffering to purge
rebellion from the life of the believer.
While ultimately suffering is the result of living in a broken world
with a fallen nature, God does use it for His own divine purpose.
Suffering often brings us to our knees. It
is through the difficult times of life that we learn dependence on God. While
sin is the cause, God is in control! He
chooses to allow us to suffer for a purpose.
We also need to consider
the Law of Sowing and Reaping:
Galatians 6:7-8, Do not be
deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows
to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.1
There are consequences for
our actions. If you eat poorly for many years you shouldn’t be surprised if you
have bad health. God expects us to use
the brain He gave us! He expects us to
care for our bodies, our minds and our spirits.
Oftentimes we sow a mess, and then expect God to clean it up, but we
must reap what we have sown. That is true for nations as well.
We also need to understand
that bad things happen to good people
man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, Like birds
caught in a snare, So the sons of men are snared in an evil time, When it falls
suddenly upon them.1
Life isn’t fair. God allows
life to happen. God’s will isn’t that people should suffer and die. He originally made mankind perfect and
eternal. But the wages of sin is “suffering” and death. Because we live in a sin cursed world, we
suffer and Christians are not immune. In fact we may suffer because we are
Christians. Infact, that is normal in
most cultures in our world.
1 Peter 4:12-14 & 16
& 19, Beloved,
do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as
though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you
partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also
be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ,
blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their
part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but
let him glorify God in this matter.
Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit
their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.1
The Christian and Suffering
So when suffering comes our way how should
we respond? 1 Peter 2:9, But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who
called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;.1
Let us never forget what we have been
saved from and to! When suffering comes
our way, let us remember that we are in Christ redeemed!
Hebrews 4:14-16, Seeing then that we have a great
High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us
hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot
sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet
without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may
obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.1
We must hold fast to Jesus. We must come boldly to his throne. We need to
see Jesus with fresh eyes! He knows our
suffering. He suffered on our
Paul wrote of this in Philippians 3:10,
that I may know Him and the power
of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to
When we suffer we have a living glimpse of
the wages of sin.
If we are suffering, let’s not blame God
but blame sin. Could God have prevented
it, or taken this suffering away? Yes!
This we know GOD HAS CHOSEN NOT TO. That’s all we need to know.
Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together
for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His
2 Corinthians 12:9-10, And He said to me, “My grace is
sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore
most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may
rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in
reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For
when I am weak, then I am strong.
We don’t have heaven on earth, but we do
Do we really take the covenants in
our lives seriously?
I’m wondering, in this modern age, do we really take the covenants in our lives seriously? The first question this statement might generate is, “What covenants?” I can think of four: The New Covenant, The Marriage Covenant, The Parent/Child Covenant and the Church Membership Covenant. The second question might be, “what is Covenant?” A covenant is an agreement between two parties, but it’s much more than a contract. The covenants I have listed are divine in nature. They are agreement made before God; and thus they are sacred and not to be taken lightly.
The most important of all the covenants is the New Covenant. This is the unilateral agreement from God to us that He has provided a way for us as sinners to be completely forgiven. That is the way of grace by faith. This, of course, is the new birth, the very act of salvation. What is our part then in this covenant? Is it not the glory of God? When we understand predestination, that God in His divine omnipotence has redeemed us for His own purpose, we realize that this purpose is in fact His glory. We agree with God that we are sinners in need of a Savior. That Savior is Jesus, who came to seek and save the lost. Those who are indeed redeemed by grace are sanctified or set apart to a holy use, God’s glory. I think sometimes we forget that. Salvation becomes all about us and a free ride to heaven. In reality, the point of the covenant is that we as the people of God might live by the power of God to the glory of God. We need keep this truth ever before us.
The next covenant most of us have entered into is the Marriage Covenant. This covenant is a man and a woman coming together before God and human witnesses, pledging to “Love, Honor and Cherish until death do us part.” When a man and a woman are united in marriage, it’s not about the ceremony, it’s about the covenant. A sacred agreement. When we understand this, we realize that it’s not just about staying married; it’s about what it is to “be” married. That means dying to self to live for another. It’s not easy. It’s something we have to work at and take seriously or it decays. Marriage cannot stand on love alone. It must be a three-legged stool, love, honor and cherishing one another. We so easily walk away for our marriage covenant in our culture. The world absolutely doesn’t get it; but God’s people should. This is a life time endeavor. It’s not about our happiness or contentment; it’s about the covenant, and the glory of God.
If we get the New Covenant right, it’s much easier to get the Marriage Covenant right. If our relationship with God isn’t right, then most likely our human relationships won’t be either; but when we get the Marriage Covenant right, then we will get our third covenant right as well, that is the Parent/Child covenant.
Most Christians make a public declaration before the church of pledging themselves to raise their children in a God fearing home and with godly principles. This should not just be a ritual, it should be an act we take very seriously. At our church, we call this our Parent/Child dedication service. Within that service, actual vows are made.
Do you desire to publicly dedicate your child to
the Lord, to be His special possession and to be used for His Glory?
Do you covenant before God to teach your child
the Holy Scriptures and to seek to lead your child to saving faith in the Lord
Do you dedicate yourselves in praying for divine
guidance in raising this young one
Do you dedicate yourselves to set an example to
live by and look up to, the example of godly parents?
Do you by these promises dedicate this child to
I hope we take these vows seriously. The spiritual life of parents deeply affects their children. Parents together pledge themselves to model Jesus for their children. That means that they have to get discipleship right. That means taking up their cross daily to follow Jesus. There is no room for selfishness here. We commit ourselves to something much bigger than ourselves that will indeed live beyond our lifetimes.
The fourth covenant encompasses all the rest in that it holds us accountable for our part in the covenants we have entered into. The fourth is the Membership Covenant. It’s more than just joining the church, it’s identifying with a body of believers and being willing to be transparent and accountable about our conduct in our Christian lives, our marriages and our parenting. I hope we take this seriously. Too often, we just think that church membership is about voting on stuff. Certainly, it is important in making congregational decisions, but that’s not its purpose. The purpose of membership is identification with a body and a level of accountability. So when members begin to live outside the bounds of their covenant, then the elders need to reach out and seek to reconcile the situation. In violating their membership covenant, they were also violating all their other covenants as well. You see, they are all interconnected! If we don’t take our membership seriously, we really aren’t taking Christ seriously.
So dear Christians, it really is good for us examine to our lives, our commitment to Christ, and our commitment to the covenants we have pledged ourselves to; because in the end, it’s all for the glory of God.