Monday, 16 September 2013 12:52:00
This is a tough one. In Mark 10:1-9 some Pharisees ask Jesus, “is it lawful for a man to dismiss and repudiate and divorce his wife?” They asked this in order to test Him. The Amplified says to “find a weakness in Him.” They were always doing that. But Jesus doesn’t flinch. His answer: “What did Moses command you?” The Pharisees go on to admit that Moses did indeed allow a man to divorce his wife. Then Jesus zeros in on the matter. Yes, Moses did, Jesus concedes, “because of your hardness of heart, your condition of insensibility to the call of God.” But it wasn’t always so. “From the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave behind his father and his mother and the two shall become one flesh . . . What therefore God has united (joined together), let not man separate or divide.” It’s clear that God doesn’t like divorce.
But why doesn’t He? And why is marriage supposed to be forever? Because when you ripe something in two that is supposed to be one, there is damage, there is pain, there is destruction. And this destruction and pain spill over onto not only the former husband and wife, but their children, their families and even their friends as so often times these people are forced to choose sides. Nobody wins here.
Let me say right off that I don’t judge those who are divorced because “there but for the grace of God go I.” Marriage is tough. I wager that most people who have been married for any length of years have been tempted to “call it quits” at one time or another, or at least had it cross their mind, however briefly. But I do say we need to discuss this topic openly and honestly because divorce in the Church is just as rampant as divorce in the secular world. And this should not be. If anything, the divorce rate in our churches should be much lower. After all, we have God’s Word and His Holy Spirit to guide us. But how to prevent it? For one thing, we need to be honest with our children. Prepare them for the realities of marriage and discourage living together before marriage. (Aside from it being called “fornication” in the Bible and frowned upon by God, did you know that the divorce rate for couples that cohabitate before marriage is much higher than the average rate? It’s true!) But most of all we need to stress that God must be in the center of their lives and to allow Him to pick out that perfect spouse for us. That means waiting. And most of us don’t like waiting for anything. And when we don’t wait, when we forge ahead and pick our own spouse based on looks, personality, position in life, etc, we could not only be missing God’s best, but we could be entering a relationship bound for serious trouble.
Remember how Jesus said the reason people get divorced is because of the hardness of their heart? Well, here’s the final blow. We all have hard hearts. Hearts that are, by and large, centered on us. We are selfish and want our way, that’s why marriage is so hard. It requires compromise, the giving up of our selves for another. Beloved, only Jesus can plow the crusty patch that is our heart. Only He can change us, give us a heart of flesh and enable us to truly live the life He desires for us, and that includes our married life, too. Remember, it’s “not by might not by power but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)
Until next time,
Monday, 31 December 2012 17:50:00
How can we find our value in a bargain basement world? For God’s people, the answer is simple. We can’t. Why? Because the world’s value system and God’s value system are completely different. The world values physical beauty, wealth, success while God values holiness, integrity, honesty, faithfulness and the like. And if we focus on what the world values it often causes us to devalue ourselves. It’s easy to feel we’re not important. Not in the grand scheme of things, anyway. And thus we can feel insignificant.
That’s when we need to redirect our focus from the things of the world to the things of God. When seen in this light, the world offers little. Look at their take on physical beauty. Their standards are so artificial that few can match them. And this has reaped a harvest of suffering. 1% of all American female adolescents have anorexia—that’s 1 out of 100 girls between the ages of 10-25 who are starving themselves; 2 to 3 out of 100 suffer from bulimia; and 20% of all these girls/women will die prematurely from complications related to their disorders. Proverbs 11:22 tells us that “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion. While Proverbs 31:30 says, “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.”
Even worldly success, accomplishments and riches can be meaningless, and often comes with a great price. 41% of 1st marriages end in divorce and, according to the Children’s Defense Fund, there are close to 13 million latchkey children in the US; children who are left unsupervised while their parents work. 1 Corinthians 3:19 tells us that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” When you see the above statistics, it really brings that scripture home.
As Christians we need to be careful that we don’t buy into the world’s value system. God’s word tells us in Romans 12:2 “Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” The world wants to conform us, but God wants to transform us. And 2 Corinthians 4:7 tells us that our treasure is in earthen vessels, and that treasure is God Himself, His Holy Spirit, who resides in us. Pontius Pilot asked the crowd to choose between Jesus and Barabbas, and the crowd chose Barabbas. The world will always choose its own. And since Christians are not of this world, the world will never value us. And if we apply the world’s standards to ourselves, we won’t value ourselves either. So we must look to God for our worth, and let His criteria determine our value.
And God does indeed value us. Why? Certainly not because of our physical beauty or our abilities, or our wealth or success. But because we are made in the image and likeness of God. Because we have been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus. Because we are the very temple of God. And He loves us so greatly. And that love is unconditional, intense and everlasting. It will not—never never never be revoked. He tells us this over and over again in scripture. And here’s what the Bible calls us: joint heirs with Christ—Roman 8:17; heirs of promise—Hebrews 6:17; heirs of the kingdom—James 2:5; heirs of salvation—Hebrews 1:14; more than conquerors—Romans 8:37; a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people—1 Peter 2:9. Not only that but God knows the number of hairs on our heads. And before we were born, He called us by name.
What else could we possibly want or need?
As the New Year approaches, let’s move forward in the Lord. Let’s do what the Apostle Paul did in Philippians 3:13-14 “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Let’s begin the New Year by forgetting the mistakes of the past and focus on Jesus. Let’s allow Him to draw us into a deeper love relationship with Him and show us our worth and His great love for us so that we can move into this new season with confidence and soul peace.
Happy New Year. May 2013 be the best, the happiest, the most meaningful year ever!
Until next time,
Monday, 01 March 2010 11:22:00
Did you know that God is jealous? He is. In Exodus 20:5 God says, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them (graven images), nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God.” It even carries a severe penalty because if you continue reading that same passage, it says “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” But it’s also followed by a promise in verse 6, “and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”
It’s sometimes hard to think of God as jealous, to associate Him with that word. “Oh, but that’s just a mistranslation,” you might say. “It really doesn’t mean jealous as Webster defines it: resentful of rivals or demanding exclusive loyalty.” Well, I checked out the original Hebrew word and yes, it means just that. God is jealous. And He is jealous over you and me.
The Bible, both Old Testament and New, are full of types and shadows. In the Old, Israel is likened to a wife. In the New Testament, the church is called the “Bride of Christ.” But that’s not where it ends. Like in any husband-wife relationship, the Bible calls our unfaithfulness to God, adultery. It also uses terms like fornication, whoring, as in “whoring after” other gods (Exodus 34:15). And after such spiritual unfaithfulness is committed, the Bible sometimes even uses words like “divorce” as in Jeremiah 3:8 “When for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I (God) had put her away and given her a bill of divorce.”
There can be no doubt that God is serious about our relationship with Him, and that He wants that relationship to be exclusive, intimate, and deep. So we must guard against spiritual adultery, guard against the things that in and of themselves don’t seem wrong but that can become idols in our life: materialism, ease, pleasure, success, or a dozen others; things that can fill our hearts and crowd out God. And don't forget one of the biggest idols of all: SELF.
God wants nothing less than first place in our heart. And He deserves nothing less.
Until next week,