Saturday, January 24, 2015

Husbands and Wives: We Both Have Issues

I want to take a look at a portion of Scripture that deals with the relationship between a husband and a wife in Ephesians 5:22-25 where it says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”

These verses have caused more division than practically any other in the Bible since the beginning of the women’s liberation movement of the 60’s. Before that, the verses were pretty much accepted and rarely challenged because of prevailing culture. However, with the dawn of women’s liberation, in the United States especially, they have been resisted and scorned. The question is, “What exactly do they want to be liberated from?” Of course, the answer is the traditional definition of womanhood and all that came with it.

It is my contention that the beginning of the “women’s liberation” movement started at least twenty-five years before WWII with start of the suffrage movement, but certainly gained steam during the war and afterward. The stimulus to me is simple, the ladies went to work and the men went to war. Then the men came home and the women did not. In other words, Rosy the Riveter went to work and never came back home.

Looking past that, the real problem is our sinful natures. In a nutshell, women have a problem submitting and men have a problem loving. Throughout the Scriptures, women are constantly told to submit and men are constantly told to love. Why? – Because the Lord knows that we each struggle in these areas.

The ladies’ problem started as far as I can tell in the book of Genesis when she defied her husband and took of the fruit. I say that because there is no indication in Scripture that God ever told Eve face-to-face what he had already told Adam about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Therefore, that means that she was given her marching orders from her husband (Genesis 2:8-18), and when she rebelled, it was firstly against him and his authority, and secondly against God who had entrusted that authority to him.

What this means is that it was Adam’s responsibility to pass that information along to Eve. In other words, her discipleship was his responsibility. We also find that pattern throughout the Bible. Of course, that is a study for another day.

Of course, to do that, we as men need to know how our wives tick. I believe that is what Peter meant when he said, “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). To me this is saying that we as men need to understand that subjection does not come easy to our wives. It goes against their very natures. Just like Eve, they have a tendency and propensity to rebel against our authority.

That is exactly what Genesis 3:16 is referring to when God said to the women, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." What he meant was that she will desire the position and authority of her husband, but he will rule over her. It speaks looking back at her initial rebellion to that authority that caused her to take the fruit in the first place. Thus, the ladies have issues as a result of the fall with submission.

As for the men, where could one possibly start? We have so many problems, but the one at issue here is the issue of unconditional love. Paul spoke to it Colossians 3:18-19 when he dealt with the same issue at hand in Ephesians, but with one caveat. He said, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.” It pretty much means the same thing as what Peter said in regards to living with them in understanding, but Paul uses the word “embittered”. Why in the world would we as men be embittered toward our wives? - Because they don’t submit naturally and that can cause resentment in the relationship that can lead to bitterness.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, “Men can live without love, but they cannot live without respect.” When a woman rebels against the authority of her husband, she is disrespecting him and the marriage will ultimately fail or go on in to a lifelong commitment to misery.

However, we as men must understand the struggles that each of us has as a result of the curse, and should strive to love our wives unconditionally, knowing their weaknesses, and yet willing to love them as Christ loved the church and gave his life for her (Ephesians 5:25). We are as men called upon to do no less.

In the end, I firmly believe that the more a man shows unconditional love toward his wife, and attempts to make her secure in that love, the easier it will be for her to submit to him.


Friday, January 23, 2015

A Closer Look at Holiness

The Bible says in Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

Notice that the apostle starts out verse 1 with the word “therefore”. We were always taught in Bible College to ask ourselves when we come across this particular word to ask ourselves, “What is it there for?” It is there because the apostle is saying essentially that in lieu of everything that he has covered in the previous chapters with them: the fact of God’s righteous judgment, God’s wrath that will be poured out on the unrighteous, the fact that works cannot save anyone, the fact that the wages of sin is death, the fact that the gift of God is eternal life to those who will accept it, that justification comes only by faith, and that no one needs to be a slave of sin and self any longer, etc. In other words, he is saying that because of all of these things, this is what they should do.

Notice also that he says that he “urges” them. That to me is the language of the New Testament. The KJV translates it “beseech”. It is the equivalent of begging or pleading. It is what I call the language of the New Testament as that it speaks of grace and not law. The verse that comes to mind when Paul compares Old Testament law and New Testament grace is Hebrews 12:18-24 when the writer compares them to the mountain upon which Moses went to the receive the law in Exodus 19. In it he says, “For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command, "IF EVEN A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE STONED." And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, "I AM FULL OF FEAR and trembling." But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.” His point is that in the New Testament under the system of grace, we as believers do not stand before the condemnation of the law any longer, but before grace that has been presented in the new covenant.

It also reminds me of the fact that when Moses came down off that mountain with the Law of God in his hands, three thousand people were killed when they were found to be participating in an idolatrous orgy around the golden calf that Aaron had made in Exodus 32. That event is in juxtaposition to the first sermon preached in the New Testament after the ascension of our Lord on the day of Pentecost when the gospel was presented and three thousand souls were added the church. The point is that with the giving of the Law three thousand perished, but with the giving of the message of grace as presented in the gospel, three thousand souls were saved. The Law kills and grace saves.

Notice also that the next word that Paul uses in addressing his audience is “brethren”. The intended receivers of these words are those who have accepted the gospel message that brings life instead of those who have not. Sometimes we forget that the Bible was written for the children of God. When others who have not come to Christ and are not filled with the Holy Spirit attempt to read it, it is like they reading a letter to and from someone else. They get lost in it because they do not know who the author is, the back ground, etc. Again, it’s like reading someone else’s mail to them.

Also, Paul presents his plea “by the mercies of God.” The point is that if it had not been for the mercy of God being extended, grace would not have been possible. Of course, that mercy from God came in the form of His own Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. I learned an acronym many years ago: G.R.A.C.E. which means God’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense. It reminds me of the verse in Lamentations 3:22-23 that says, “The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” The KJV translates it, “through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”

Notice also what Paul is asking them to do in lieu of this mercy that has been extended. He wants them to “present their bodies as a living and holy sacrifice”. The word “present” literally means to yield. In other words, it’s not mandatory, but expected. It’s kind of like when we are driving down a frontage road then decide to merge onto the highway. Normally, traffic coming onto the highway is expected to yield to the faster moving traffic already on the highway. However, there is nothing that says that they have to, but it is wise if one does not want to cause an accident. A yield sign is far more gracious than a stop sign. One leaves discretion to the reader while the other does not. Paul is asking his readers to yield their bodies in lieu of everything that he had said up to this point in chapters 1 through 11.

The thing that Paul asks that they yield is their bodies to the Lord. We live in a culture today that constantly speaks of how their bodies belong to them and no one else. As a matter of fact, the pro-abortion movement spends a lot of time talking about how the bodies of women belong to them alone and they are the ones who should decide what they do to and with it. While that argument may hold some water with the unbelieving heathen, it certainly does not hold water in regards to a child of God. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:20, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. He also said in Philippians 1:19-20, “for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” Paul’s greatest desire was that Christ would be exalted in his body whether that was in this life or by his death. How many of us can truly say that? How many of us do things to our bodies that may not bring God glory? We really need to remember that our bodies belong to God and not ourselves.

I really have spent a lot of time with young people discussing things like tattoos, gauges in their ears, and other body piercings. In my opinion, they are limiting what God wants to do with them when they make permanent changes to their bodies. I think it best just to leave a blank canvas so that you can be all things to all men. I believe that is what Paul admonished of us in 1 Corinthians 9:22 when he said, To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.” We can’t do that when our dress and appearance is offensive to some. For those who are already whining, read Romans 14 real slowly and pray about it.

Then notice that he asks that they present their bodies that belong to the Lord as “a living and holy sacrifice”. Note that he says living sacrifices and not dead. Sure, the Lord may use our deaths as a means of His own glorification, but he also wants our lives! Too many cry, “I’d die for God!”  That’s great, but for most of us, we will never get that opportunity, for the moment, He merely wants us to live for Him!

Notice the qualification of these sacrifices: “holy”.  Holy means to be consecrated or set apart. God wants us to be holy! Peter said in 1 Peter 1:13-16, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." The Lord wants holiness from us so that we can be “acceptable to God”.  Peter also admonished us in the area of holiness, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” (II Peter 3:14).

Paul concludes this passage by reminding us that presenting our lives to the Lord is our “spiritual service of worship”. In other words, it’s the least that we can do considering all that He has done for us.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Need of Salvation

Just posted "The Need of Salvation" in my Message Player. This message lays out the need of salvation taken from the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus as found in John 3:1-16.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Christian Conduct, Part 1

In this study we take a look at the area of Christian conduct in regards to freedom and responsibility.

The notes are included.

Christian Conduct, Part 1

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Thoughts on Christian Conduct

Here are some thoughts as I am preparing a message on Christian conduct from Romans 14.

There is no doubt that some areas of conduct are crystal clear in the Scriptures, and that others are not so clear.

However, I do believe that God has given us three things that need to be considered when dealing with questionable issues: conviction, conscience, and consideration.

1) Conviction looks forward.

2) Conscience looks back.

3) Consideration looks to the left and right.

I believe that conviction, conscience, and consideration should govern how, why, and what we do at all times.

If what we are doing violates one of these at any point, we probably shouldn't be doing it.


Monday, January 5, 2015

How Many Christians Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

Charismatic: Only 1 – Hands are already in the air.

Pentecostal: 10 – One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

Presbyterians: None – Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

Roman Catholic: None – Candles only.

Baptists: At least 15 – One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad and fried chicken.

Episcopalians: 3 – One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks and one to talk about how much better the old one was.

Mormons: 5 – One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.

Unitarians: We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, you are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, 3-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

Methodists: Undetermined – Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb, or tulip bulb. Bring a bulb of your choice to the Sunday lighting service and a covered dish to pass.

Nazarene: 6 – One woman to replace the bulb while five men review church lighting policy.

Lutherans: None – Lutherans don't believe in change.

Amish: What's a light bulb?

The Discipline of Relationships, Mind, and Devotion

II. Discipline of Relationships
To be all God wants us to be, we need holy relationships!

If we are married, we need to live out Ephesians 5:25-31: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (v. 25).

If we are fathers, we need to live out Ephesians 6:4: Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

If we are human, we need to live out Matthew 18:15: Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.

Guys, relationships are not optional, because God uses them to make us better men.

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
I firmly believe that you will never be a better man until you hang out with a better man.

Cf. improving in any sport (Liberty vs. UNC, 56-29)

III. Discipline of Mind
According to the dictionary, the mind is that “element, part, or substance of a human or conscious being that processes reason, thinks, feels, wills, perceives, judges, etc.”

With that said though, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:16, For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD THAT HE MAY INSTRUCT HIM?" But we have the mind of Christ.

That being the case, we should put on the mind of Christ!

To have the mind of Christ is to think like Christ.

Philippians 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Each ingredient is a matter of personal choice.

We make it every day.

2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

You can never have a Christian mind without reading the Scriptures regularly because you cannot be influenced by that which you do not know.

IV. Discipline of Devotion
Reading and meditation of God’s Word is essential.
Two reasons:

  1. The more we expose our lives to the righteous life of Christ, the more his image will be burned into our character.
  2. The second reason is that God’s Word bends our wills to His will.

To have an effective devotional life, we must plan for it.

Disciplines of a Godly Man - Integrity, Tongue, and Work

This is a continuation of  our study on the disciplines of a Godly man that includes the areas of integrity, the tongue, and work.

Disciplines of a Godly Man - Integrity, Tongue, and Work

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Choices Have Consequences

While at the service tonight we read from Psalm 84:4-6 which says, "How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Selah.  (5)  How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion!  (6)  Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; The early rain also covers it with blessings."

The verses are speaking of those who go through the Valley of Baca which means "weeping". The verse may be referring to the tears of those who are passing through forming streams or wells, or it may also be an encouragement for those who are passing through to make a stream or well for those who will follow. I favor the latter which would mean that all those passing through difficult times should praise the Lord with those who follow in mind.

That being said, when I read it, it reminded me of 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 which says, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;  (4)  that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,  (5)  not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;  (6)  and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you."

These verses are reminding us that when one falls into immorality, they never do so alone. There is always collateral damage when it comes to immorality because it usually involves another person, thus "defrauding his brother in the matter."

So, how are these verses similar? The choices that we make have to the potential to either leave wells or destroy those around us.


The Discipline of Purity

I believe that sensuality is the biggest obstacle to godliness among Christian men.

The fall of King David should not only instruct us, but it should also scare the hell out of us!

David took his eyes off of the prize and it cost him dearly.

The cure is walking in the Spirit.

Romans 8:1-13

Galatians 5:16, 25

Ephesians 2:3  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

In other words, we don’t live that way anymore, because we are new creations in Christ.

 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Quote Five to Stay Alive: Memorize passages like:

Job 31:1 "I have made a covenant with my eyes; How then could I gaze at a virgin?

Proverbs 6:20-29

Ephesians 5:3-7 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;  (4)  and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.  (5)  For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  (6)  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  (7)  Therefore do not be partakers with them;

2 Timothy 2:22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Find someone who will help you keep you faithful to your commitment.

A pure mind is impossible if you mindlessly watch TV and movies or visit pornographic web sites.

1Thessalonians 4:3-7  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication (immorality): (you can’t do that if you are constantly allowing yourself to be bombarded with temptation!)(4) That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; (in other words, it is your responsibility. God will not make you be holy, but you will never be more anointed than you are holy!) (5) Not in the lust of concupiscence (lustful passion), even as the Gentiles which know not God: (6) That no man go beyond (take advantage) and defraud his brother in any matter: (when we are immoral, we take advantage of and defraud the other person) because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. (7) For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

We need to develop a divine awareness that sustained Joseph and caused him to say, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9).

Disciplines of a Godly Man - Relationships, Mind, and Devotions

This is a continuation of the study on the disciplines of a Godly man focusing on the areas of relationships, the mind, and devotions.

 Disciplines of a Godly Man - Relationships, Mind, and Devotions

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Disciplines of a Godly Man - Purity

Here is my first study in a series called Disciplines of a Godly Man on the issue of purity.

Disciplines of a Godly Man - Purity