Monday, January 31, 2011

Marriage Is Like Christ and the Church

It seems there are more and more marriages breaking up now than any other time in my life.  Divorce is a common experience in today’s society.  Sadly, the problem has magnified significantly even among members of the body of Christ.  In many instances where the marriage is not terminated by divorce, there is tension, bickering, and unhappiness.  The couple may stay together, but they are miserable.  This is not the way God intended for married people to live.  Marriage was ordained by God for man’s emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual benefit.  It can be all of that provided we pattern our marriage relationships after the example of Christ and His bride, the church.
Just as the church is to be submissive to the headship of Christ, so ought wives to have a submissive love for their husbands (Eph. 5:22-24).  This would eliminate power struggles in marriage.  Christ loved the church with a sacrificial love and died for her (Eph. 5:25).  When marriage partners have that kind of love for each other it promotes a serving attitude toward one another rather than a wanting to be served attitude.  A husband is to have a caring love for his wife that is unselfish (Eph. 5:28).  He nourishes and cherishes his wife in the same way that he cares for his own body.  Such promotes kindness and tenderness in a marriage.  Spouses are to have an unbreakable love for one another (Eph. 5:31).  Many approach marriage with a view that says, “’Til death do us part or something else comes along.”  Most all marriages face some bumps along the way.  The road isn’t always smooth, but taking the vows of commitment seriously will help us get over the bumps by working together on the problems.  In such cases divorce is never considered as a viable option.  I am hoping your marriage is one filled with love, joy, excitement, and a sense of purpose as you help one another get to heaven.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Lord, Give Me Wisdom"

He could have asked for anything – riches, wealth, honor, victory over his enemies, or long life, but he asked for wisdom to govern the nation of Israel effectively.  God not only gave Solomon the wisdom he requested, but riches and honor beyond that which was enjoyed by his predecessors or successors (2 Chron. 1:7-12).  Wisdom and knowledge are compatible, but they are not necessarily identical.  Knowledge is needed to pass an examination in school, but wisdom is needed to pass the test in life.  Knowledge comes by looking around; wisdom comes by looking up.  Knowledge comes by study; wisdom is obtained by meditation upon the inspired word.  Wisdom teaches a person how to properly apply the knowledge he obtains.  “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God…” (James 1:5).  Have you prayed that God would grant you wisdom?  Do you regularly and studiously consult God’s book of wisdom, the Bible?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Life Is Tough When You Don't Have Reverse

Wendy Bagwell tells a story about picking up a new Volkswagen at the docks in one of our coastal cities in order to avoid paying the shipping charge.  He drove his new car off the docks without receiving any instructions concerning the operation of the vehicle.  He knew how to drive and that was all he figured he needed to know.  At lunch time, he pulled up to a restaurant, turned off the ignition and went inside to eat.  When he came back from lunch he jumped into the car and discovered that he couldn’t find reverse.  Finally he had to push the car out into the street by hand in order to continue on his way.

Of course Wendy’s Volkswagen did have a reverse gear.  He just didn’t know how to find it, but think how frustrating it would be to own a car that wouldn’t back up.  You wouldn’t buy a car without reverse even if the manufacturer were willing to knock a thousand dollars off the sticker price.

Unfortunately many people who wouldn’t think of owning a car without reverse try to conduct human relations without reverse.  Marriages break up and friendships are severed simply because stubborn people won’t back up.  We dig our feet in the ground and just absolutely refuse to say things like, “I was wrong,” or “I’m sorry,” or “It’s my fault, why don’t we just back up and start over?”  The Bible identifies the source of this destructive behavior trait and warns, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. ).  The passage implies that you need reverse in your relationships as much as you need it in your car.

Jesus had an opportunity to emphasize this lesson to the apostles.  He talked about the importance of forgiving others who have wronged you.  The apostle Peter asked him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  As many as seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”  In other words, for the sake of maintaining good human relations you need a reverse.  You must not allow pride and stubbornness to stand in the way of a positive relationship with others.

The apostle Paul demonstrated this great quality in his life.  John Mark, who traveled with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, for reasons unknown to us, left them in the middle of their work and returned home to Jerusalem.  Later, when they were preparing to embark on their second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them.  Paul adamantly refused to do so and there was such a sharp disagreement that these two servants of God separated from each other.  Barnabas took Mark with him to the island of Cyprus; while Paul took Silas as his traveling companion.  Evidently, Mark proved himself to be a wonderful servant of Christ in later years.  So convincingly did he do so that, in his last letter, Paul instructed Timothy to bring Mark with him “for he is very useful to me for ministry” (2 Tim. ).  Paul did not hold Mark’s past mistake against him forever, but was willing to forgive and reestablish a relationship that had been severed.

For the sake of maintaining good relations with others, don’t forget to use “reverse.”

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"The World Is Mine"

We often fail to be thankful because we fail to be "thinkful."  An unnamed poet gave us these beautiful thoughts to help us be more thoughtful and thankful.

Today upon a bus, I saw a lovely maid
     With golden hair;
I envied her, she seemed so gay,
     I wished I were as fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave,
    I saw her hobble down the aisle.
She had one foot and wore a crutch,
    But as she passed, a smile.
O, God, forgive me when I whine,
     I have two feet, the world is mine!

And when I stopped to buy some sweets,
     The lad who sold them had such charm.
I talked with him, he said to me:
     "It's nice to talk with folk like you,
You see," said he, "I'm blind."
     O, God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two eyes, the world is mine!

Then walking down the street,
     I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play.
     It seemed he knew not what to do.
I stopped a moment, then I said,
     "Why don't you join the others dear?"
He looked ahead without a word,
     And then I knew he could not hear.
O, God, forgive me when I whine;
     I have two ears, the world is mine!

With feet to take me where I'd go,
     With eyes to see the sunset's glow,
With ears to hear what I would know,
     O, God, forgive me when I whine,
I'm blessed indeed ---the world is mine!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Peace For the Troubled Heart

Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful" (John 14:27).  Most people desire peace.  The world's idea of peace, however, is far different from the peace provided by God.  The world views peace as the absence of war or distress; spiritual peace is obtained by the presence of God.  The world bases peace on its resources; God's peace depends on relationship with the Lord.  The peace the world offers depends on personal ability; the Christian depends on spiritual adequacy in Christ.  The world enjoys peace in the absence of trouble; Christians enjoy peace in spite of trials because of the presence of power from God.  People in the world walk by sight and depend on externals; Christians walk by faith and depend on eternals.

There are several sources for the peace offered by God.  The hope of heaven at the end of life's road enables us to bear joyfully with obstacles and battles along the way (John 14:1-6; Romans 8:18).  There is no need for Christians to have troubled hearts for the Lord of heaven and earth is in control and He is our Father (John 14:7-11).  The avenue of believing prayer is a wonderful medicine to soothe a troubled heart (Philippians 4:6-7).  The child of God need not experience a troubled heart because God has not abandoned him and left him hopelessly exposed to the evil one (Romans 8:9; Ephesians 1:13-14).  Many yearn for peace and have never found it.  Their souls are tormented with guilt and regret.  Do you enjoy the peace that only Jesus can provide?

"...And He Died"

Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru who influenced millions to eat properly and exercise regularly, died yesterday at the age of 96.  His television show and writings changed the lives of people for better.  He not only taught good health practices, but he lived by them as well.  His motto was, "If God didn't make it, man shouldn't eat it."  He blazed a trail that no one had traveled up to that time and changed the eating habits of more than one generation.  He was famously quoted as saying, "I can't die, it would ruin my image."  I understand what he was trying to say, but, technically, he was wrong about that.

While none of us know the day of our death (Gen. 27:2), it is for certain that we shall die (Heb. 9:27).  Even though the people mentioned in Genesis chapter five lived an average of more than 907 years, the phrase, "...and he died," is repeated eight times.  While death is a sad experience, it is a common one.  We may prolong life by exercising regularly and eating properly, but we cannot avoid death.  The important question is, "After death, what then?"  Have we properly prepared for eternity?

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Fires of Sorrow

Jesus foretold His death when He said, "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'?  But for this purpose I came to this hour.  Father, glorify Thy name" (John 12:27-28).  Jesus was not saved from the hour of His death, but was brought through that hour.  Christians are not prevented from experiencing sorrow in life, but they are delivered through the fires of sorrow that they might, thereby, glorify God.  Whether in joy or in sorrow, may God be praised.