Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Marriage Basics Series – Roles Rules Rights & Responsibilities


Genesis 17:4  As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.

Marriage is a covenant relationship between a man and a woman before God.

3 years ago this past October 5th, Brenda and I bought a TV. It was the newest thing on the market. Apparently some guy purchased it and took it home and when his girlfriend saw how much it cost she made him take it back. This TV is amazing. The bells and whistles are cutting edge. When I walk in the room it listens for my voice and waits for my command. It will even follow my hand gestures and I can play angry bird from across the room with just by waving my hand. It has all the built in features of a Smart TV with apps and web browsing.

It is a really smart TV with 3D on demand – it will take a 2D program and 3D it with some depth effects and everything … anyway it is awesome. And, because it had been brought back the manager of the store, who didn’t realize they even had this kind of TV according to the young excited sales lady who said that if it wasn’t against store policy she would have already taken it and put it in her car … anyway … the store manager marked it down to one third its original cost and then the store had another percentage sale going on and as well if we applied for a credit card they would take another amount off plus it came with some rebates connected with this new model and then it qualified for a free sound bar and cables … it went on and on and on. By the time we walked out of that store with our new TV and the keyboard that it came with and the two remotes, one of which I have never learned to use, and all the other stuff it was getting close to the store and Samsung owing us money. These kinds of deals follow my son around all the time – his favor is incredible. We usually send him to buy us anything - - - but on this deal I was too concerned to involve him since I was beginning to feel sorry for the store. If he had of been there we might not have had room for all of the other stuff they would have thrown in.

Then, while paying for the TV they offered us a 4 year warranty, not based on the TV’s original cost but rather on the sales price we had paid!!! That meant that we got a full in home warranty which would repair or replace the whole thing with no cost or hassles to us and we only paid a fraction of the cost it should have been. Plus – the TV worked really really really great … I didn’t understand how it did what it did but that didn’t keep me from enjoying it – at least for the first 3 years.

Because it was so high tech and cutting edge bells and whistles I figured the coming technology would outpace this television and I certainly didn’t understand how it all worked so how could I ever fix it if it broke.

Sure enough about 5 months ago it stopped working and I had to call the repairman out and he asked questions, opened it up, ran tests and figured out what was broke and worked on it until it started working again. I’m really glad there was somebody who understood it enough to troubleshoot the problems and knew how to fix them. If it had been left up to me I would still have an unworkable TV … not that it couldn’t work … just that it wasn’t and I didn’t know what to do about getting it to work.

A man and woman can get married and be happy and raise a family and celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and love Jesus and each other without understanding the dynamics and strength of their relationship. We can enjoy and benefit from many things in life without fully understanding them or how they work … we just know that they do.

Take electricity or the internet or cell phones – I dare say most of the people who have them and depend on them could not begin to describe their inner workings but they reap the benefits anyway. Take away electricity or the internet and we certainly hope that someone around us understands it and knows how it works and can either tell us how to fix it or come to our house and fix it for us. We enjoy the benefits of many things which we don’t fully understand.

Many couples are enjoying marriage that do not have a clear understanding as to why their lives are always filled with joy and peace and love and patience and gentleness and faithfulness and goodness and self control. Others however wonder why their marriages are so stress and strained and pressured and filled with aggravations and arguments and frustrations and thoughts of wanting to run away or crack someone over the head with a bottle. It is just not working and they don’t know how to fix it.

Good news!!! Somebody else does know how to fix it! His name is God and He has trained representatives and fully accredited technicians equipped and in your area ready to help you reboot and repair your covenant.

You know, much like that TV – just because I didn’t understand it didn’t mean someone else didn’t know how to find the problem and fix it. Of course, that technician, no matter how good or expert they were in their field or their capabilities to find and know how to fix problems, if I didn’t let them look at it or didn’t follow their instructions or tore out or tore up the work they were doing or fought with them through each appointment – I have a feeling that the problems with my TV might never have gotten fixed. It’s the same with our relationships.

Tonight we are continuing in our Marriage Basics Series by surveying:
The Roles, Rules, Rights and Responsibilities of the Marriage Covenant.

Marriage is a Covenant which is different from a Contract. If we are to ever understand marriage we must first understand covenant. Marriage has been designed by God to work. When marriage stops working it can be fixed. However it will take both people doing their part to make marriage what God designed it to be and accomplish what God designed marriage to accomplish.

Covenant is a giving of myself to fulfill my role and do my part in a relationship. The Bible teaches covenant. Contracts, as good as they are, will not serve in marriage relationships to create the same advantages and benefits as will a covenant. Contract by nature is a protective instrument. A contract says, “I will if you will … and If you don’t, I won’t and on top of that it will cost you …” A contract protects us from the other individual and provides penalties for not keeping the contract.

While a contract is basically my good at your expense, a Covenant is your good at my expense. A covenant says, “I will … even if you don’t.” A contract is often a 50/50 relationship while a covenant is designed to be a 100%/100% responsibility. A covenant says I am 100% responsible to do my part irrespective whether or not anyone else does theirs.

As well, success in the critical areas of life should not be left to trial and error. If we do not teach our sons to change flat tires and provide for their families and if we do not teach our daughters to be nurturing, keep a home and care for the family … how shall they ever learn? If we do not instruct our children how to manage a healthy home and build happy relationships how shall they know? Trial and error is not the best way … we need model the most important lessons we wish to teach our children and one of those areas is the covenant of marriage!

To begin our discussions tonight allow me to share an unpopular truth:
        Men and Women are Different!

Each one designed by God and endowed with certain abilities and most often gifted with certain perspectives and strengths generally found within that gender. Variations do not disprove but rather stand as markers to validate a norm. Allowing a deviation to establish a new norm is to imagine no standards or rules of life and law does or should exist. Add to any subject the fact that God has spoken so directly to the matter and we recognize truth which will stand regardless as to whether individuals or society agrees or not. Such is the truth that defines the differing roles of a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage.

God is the one who designed marriage and offers His blessings on this covenant. God had defined marriage and its:
·        Roles
·        Rules
·        Rights
·        Responsibilities

Marriage Roles
        (Information from Marriage Basics guide; Number Two)

Genesis 2
21 ¶  And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.
22  Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
23  And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man."
24  Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
25  And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Ephesians 5
25  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
26  that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,
27  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.
28  So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
29  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
30  For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.
31  "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
32  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33  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.

The husband is the primary provider, protector, defender and leader.
The wife is the primary homemaker, nurturer, helpmate and support.

Marriage Rules
Marriage Rights

Marriage Responsibilities

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Living Hope

                (*Note: Today is the 3rd Day Since Passover)
I believe God intends for us to live a life filled with hope. What we do today can make that a reality. Success in life is most often the result of hard work and a sheer refusal to quit on God or to give up on who and what God created you to be. God has given mankind a Living Hope for a better tomorrow. And, God has created us with His purpose in our hearts.

Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, failed at every early attempt and went broke five times before he finally succeeded in manufacturing and marketing the early American motor car.

R H Macy, the founder of Macy’s Department Stores, started seven failed businesses before hitting it big on 34th Street in New York.

Harland David Sanders, also known as Colonel Sanders, founder of the famed Kentucky Fried Chicken, faced several critics and plenty of opportunity to quit and try something else. His famous secret chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before he finally found a restaurant that would accept it.

Albert Einstein did not even speak until he was 4 years old and did not read until he was 7. His teachers and parents thought he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually he was expelled from school and was later in life refused admittance to college only to go on to win the Nobel Prize and change the face of modern physics.

Thomas Edison’s teachers told him that he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Then, as a young man he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Edison went on to make 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb before he finally found a design that worked.

Winston Churchill struggled in school and even failed the sixth grade. Nonetheless he was determined to have a career in politics. However, for many years he continued to lose, in fact he lost every election for public office until he finally became the Prime Minister of England at the ripe old age of 62. He believed he was born for the very thing he finally got to do.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the Military of the whole United States of America at one of its most critical moments of existence, was not at first successful in his military career. Early on he went to war as a captain and returned home with the rank of private on top of that he had to walk home because someone stole his horse. He went absolutely as low as you can go, but he didn’t stop there. He continued to fail in business after business and was defeated numerous times while running for office.
        1832 – Ran for State Legislature – lost.
        1832 – Applied for law school – couldn’t get accepted.
        1836 – Had a total nervous breakdown and was bedridden 6 months
        1838 – Ran for speaker of the house in his state – lost.
        1840 – Sought to become elector in his state – lost.
        1843 – Ran for Congress – lost.
        1849 – Sought job of land officer in his home state – rejected.
        1854 – Ran for Senate of the US – lost
        1856 – Sought the VP nomination of his party – less than 100 votes.
        1858 – Ran for US Senate again – again he lost
        1860 – Elected as the 16th President of the United States of America.

All in all, Abraham Lincoln lost 8 elections, failed in business twice and had a complete nervous breakdown before succeeding to become one of the greatest leaders our country, and arguably any other country in the history of the world, has ever known. He was born with a purpose.

I can go on, and on, and on with success story after success story, people from all walks of life, who endured hardship and criticism, difficulties, rejections and defeats, but who never quit, never changed focus, never gave up and eventually went on to build their dream.

People like Michael Jordan who knows the price of success.

Did you know that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team? But he didn’t let that setback or what others thought about him stop him from playing the game he loved and pursing the dream he had. He said, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.”

Success in this life demands we have endurance when it comes to our dreams. However success in this life, important as it may be, is not all there is. Wouldn’t it be horrible to have success and no hope afterwards!

Happily ever after is a thought we all like. Those are the kinds of movies I remember from my childhood and they are still the movies I like to watch today. Now before you decide that I am “Old Fashioned” – think again … Happily Ever After never goes out of fashion --- morbidity tries to take root in every generation but God is still the purveyor of a “better day” reality.

During the past few years I have been finding it more and more difficult to watch television shows or movies which have no redeeming quality. The movies are bad enough but imagine how terrible it is to find a person in real life that has no hope or optimistic outlook for their future.

The truly blessed are those who are not just optimistic but also realistic, those who see the situation for what it is and still have faith in God’s plan, still trust in His Word and still continue to hope against all odds.

Hope gives us the ability to wait for what we do not now see …
        Hope gives us the power to persevere until we see success …

Romans 8
24  For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?
25  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

We must however make sure our hopes for success in this life and to live happily after in the life to come is founded in the One True Living God and His Son Jesus, who is Messiah, The Eternal Word and Everlasting Truth.

God did not send His Son to save the righteous, but rather to call sinners to repentance. Eternal life is not given to perfect people, only those who have been forgive. God has invited every person to live “Happily Ever After” in glory with Him regardless of their past, their sins, their failures, compromises or defeats. Salvation is God’s hope for each one of us.

God is hoping that you will choose to include Him in your life and the situations you face today. He is your hope of a better tomorrow.

The Bible tells only one story but the story has two potential endings:
·        One filled with hope and one filled with hurt
·        One sets you free from your captors and the other leaves you in chains of bondage and slavery
·        One ending when the Good Guy comes riding up on a white horse to rescue and protect you and in the other the bad guy wins and carries you off to live in a deep dark dungeon.
·        In one ending you live happily ever after and in the other you live unhappy, lonely and tormented with no hope of rescue.
·        In one you get to marry the richest and best looking person who will serve you, care for you and make all your dreams come true – in the other you are deceived and then kidnapped and bound and tortured and abused by a depraved maniac who only gets pleasure from your fear and pain.
·        One ending has you living with your family in a mansion with peace and music and joy … while the other ending leaves you alone in the dark surrounded by screams and in never ending pain.

So – The Bible only tells this one story and either ending can be true … Good News … every person gets to choose which end they want to live.

The really Good News … Your Happily Ever After Life can begin anytime you choose. Today there is hope for your marriage, your children, your health, your job, your finances and your future. Do you have hope? God has given us a living hope … put your dream in God’s hands and persevere.

1 Peter 1:3  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.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Marriage Basics A Personal Commitment To God and His Word


God’s Word will settle every question. Either God’s Word speaks directly to the issue or His Word gives direct guidance in how to settle those issues not directly spoken to in the Word.

The number one problem with marriages worldwide is that people think they know more than God knows or have a better idea – maybe they are facing something God did not consider or account for. Perhaps God didn’t mean what He said or for some reason it simply doesn’t apply to me.

When people reserve the right to discount or disobey God’s Word they will have problems they cannot fix.

Proverbs 14:12  There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Romans 3:4  “… Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar …”

Isaiah 55
8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
9  "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

God knows what He is talking about and He is just smarter and nicer and kinder and more loving and wiser than are we.

Matthew 24:35  "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Even when we don’t fully understand it or feel it is unfair to our situation, nonetheless God’s Word will stand up to the test of time and prove to be the best in every situation … and especially when dealing with relationships since relationships are the most important thing to God.

Job 36 11&12 tell us that if we will obey and serve the Lord then we will spend our days in prosperity and our years in pleasure.

Last week we discussed the fact that God is the Author of marriage and that He remains pro marriage. We found that God likens marriage to a mystery which can only be understood in light of Jesus and the Church. The Church is a group of people who have been called out of the world and called together into a family. The Church is both the Body and the Bride of Christ. These analogies are realities and serve to describe what God expects from the covenant relationships we enter into with others on the earth.

The blending of two lives together into one can be tough. Thankfully God has gone before us and given us the blueprint for a perfect marriage.

Marital conflict among committed Christians seldom begins with someone not knowing what to do. Rather the biggest problems most people face in marriage is having and holding reasons why they don’t do what God says they should do. There simply is no other explanation.

Believing we have a better way than God’s way is the original cause of every problem we see on earth. When it comes to marriage, doing it your way instead of His way is a recipe for disaster.

When there is no higher authority to which we must answer we become a god unto ourselves. As well, the practice of fashioning a god who is limited to seeing things your way and always agreeing with you is a pagan ritual which will demand daily sacrifice of your family on its altar. Jesus gives life, all other gods demand death and they can never be satisfied. When you are either in a place where you or someone else in the relationship cannot or will not be satisfied with simply following the Word of God, idolatry is at the root of the problem. The most difficult idol to break free from worshipping is self. Let’s see how we can deliver ourselves and our relationships from that false god.

This brings us to our first of the Seven Deadly Sins of Marriage, (A counseling guide by RL Hammonds, published by GTCOTR, Inc., Revised 2002)

Number One - The Lack of:
        A Personal Commitment to God and His Word

There are three commitments I encourage every married individual to make and strive to keep:

1.   I accept God’s Word as full and final authority in my life and decisions.
2.   When God’s Word is spoken I will listen and submit without hesitation, justification or aggravation. (Without regard as to when or where it is spoken or who speaks it.)
3.   Without regard as to what others do or don’t do, I will hold myself one hundred percent responsible to keep my commitment to God and His Word.

This commitment puts God in the driver’s seat, totally responsible and accountable to deal with the other person. I’m sure you have noticed that there is a certain undeniable truth in life: We cannot make another person change. We can encourage, model, mentor and pray for others however, change and godliness only comes from each individual’s decision to change.

It is my hope that I can give God reason in my world to work on others around me who are causing the problems instead of finding that He has identified me a contributor to the problem or perhaps the problem itself. When we please God and submit to His Word several things happen behind the scenes in the spirit realm.
1.   We stand right with God
2.   God is welcomed into the relationship
3.   He becomes responsible to convict and convince the other person
4.   We find a peace that passes all understanding and a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory right there in the midst of our situation.
5.   The victory we achieve in each battle will lead us to win the war.
6.   We become examples to others and give them hope for their lives.
7.   When we see our greatest responsibility is to please God, we find success much easier and more rewarding than first imagined. 

Make a personal commitment to God and His Word today!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Church in Babylon


1 Peter 5
10  But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
11  To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
12  By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand.
13  She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.
14  Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Note: (Written about the year AD60/61 and sent by the hand of Silas to those in Asia Minor; “She” refers to the Church in the city of Babylon.)
10  But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

After you have suffered a while … The God of all grace will …
1.   Perfect you (Mend; Restore; Put your life in order)
2.   Establish you (Make Stable; Support; Undergird; Set Fast)
3.   Strengthen (Strengthen)
4.   Settle you (Place you on a firm foundation)

The life of Peter (From childhood to martyrdom – his wife and the price she must also have paid for him to say yes to Jesus that day …)
·        Many scholars imagine Peter and his younger brother Andrew to have been orphaned or at least to been raised without the benefit of a father being present in his early life.
·        One of the older Disciples of Christ, Peter was probably near 30 and married to a woman from Capernaum when he first met Jesus.
·        Shortly thereafter he was cleaning his fishing nets beside his boat when Jesus asked him to use the boat as a platform from which to teach the multitudes who were gathering on the shores of the lake.
·        Afterwards Jesus told Peter to launch his boat out into the deep waters and let his nets down once again. Peter, although with some reply, obeyed His request and encompassed a huge catch.
·        It was then Jesus challenged Peter become a fisher of men.
·        Peter left all to follow Jesus convinced that He was the Messiah.
·        Peter opened his house to Jesus and soon everyone knew where they could find Him when they needed something.
·        The miracles, the trials, the tests, the prisons, beatings, hardships, the healings, the hopes, the martyrdom he marched towards and the eternal glory he embraced gave Peter a life worth living and a testimony worth hearing.
·        Peter knew of what he spoke when finally, later in life, having fulfilled his great commission and taken the Gospel of Jesus from Jerusalem, through Judea and Samaria and on to the uttermost parts of the world, he said:

1 Peter 5:10  But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

Without regard as to where you are in life right now, whether busy about making a living, trying to build a life or hoping to make a difference … you need to meet Jesus and take Him home with you.

Let me tell you what having the Lord Jesus Christ in your life will do for you through the years.

1.   He will heal your hurts and put your life in order.
2.   He will undergird and support you so that you are stable and steadfast.
3.   He will make you strong in the places you once were weak and give you vigor and vitality in life.
4.   He will set your life on a firm foundation in such a way that the very gates of hell cannot prevail against you.

Is there any reason in your wildest imagination why you would dare pass up the chance to invite Jesus into your life in a greater way today? 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Marriage Basics - A Predisposition to Marriage


Each Born Again Believer in Jesus Christ as God’s Son, Messiah and Savior of the World, is a member of the Church of the Living God. The Word Church is used in the New Testament to describe a special “Called Out and Called Together” group of people chosen by God to be a part of His family forever.

In order for any single person to become a part of the Family of God two choices must be made:
1.   God must choose that person to be in His Family.
2.   That person must choose to accept God’s invitation.

Becoming a member of the Family of God is by invitation only and RSVP’s are required to get in. The invitation has an immoveable stipulated condition. The person wishing to accept the invitation must first believe that Jesus is the Son of God and receive Him into their heart by faith. The spiritual act of believing and receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior signals to God that the person has full intent to be “all in” the family.

The Church, this called out and called together special group of people who have been invited to join the family of God and have accepted God’s invitation, is referred to in the scriptures as:
1.   The Children of God
2.   The Family of God
3.   The Saints of God
4.   The Army of God
5.   The Church of God
6.   The Church of Christ
7.   The Body of Christ
8.   The Bride of Christ

Revelation 21
2  Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

9 ¶  Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife."
10  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
11  having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

You might think this is simply a city, New Jerusalem … however, this is the habitation God is building for Himself in which to dwell forever and ever. We, His Children, we, His Saints, we, His Family shall be the dwelling place of the Lord throughout all eternity. He will dwell with us and be our God and we shall be His people.

He created us, chooses us, calls us by name and invites us to be His dwelling place.

1 Peter 2
4  Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious,
5  you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the Chief Corner Stone and we are the rest of those living stones which make up the city of God, that great eternal dwelling place of our Lord.

The Bible tells only one story – the story of redemption. This one story God tells continues to point to the most important thing on God’s mind – His family! Throughout the scriptures God likens Himself as a Father with a first born Son and many other Children whom He loves. God adopts those who accept His invitation to become a part of His Family.

Psalms 68:6  God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.

If we follow the pattern of God’s Word and apply the spiritual principles of the scriptures to natural life we see that these truths of family run parallel. There are a few ways in which we can become family.
·        Be born into a family
·        Be adopted into a family
·        Marry into a family

All of these truths were first seen in the Bible as principles of God before they started to be practiced by man. In fact, God is the Author of marriage and family values. Ephesians chapter 5 reveals how marriage between a man and a woman is meant to be an expression of the mysterious relationship and spiritual experiences ongoing between Jesus and the Church, which is His Bride and by covenant also His Body.

The Book of Corinthians tells us that when a man and woman enter into the covenant of marriage that they no longer belong to themselves but even their body now belongs to their betrothed. These and a vast number of other scriptures continue to paint but one picture and tell but one story in relationship to marriage … God is for it!

So without further ado, let’s begin our series tonight on the Basics of Marriage realizing that the Bible contains the truth about our relationships and how we can make the most and get the best out of each one. The introduction to this Series is entitled:

A Predisposition to Marriage

Ecclesiastes 4:9  Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor.

Ecclesiastes shows that God has a general predisposition towards relationships. In fact, all the way back to the beginning of time God showed He had a predisposition towards marriage as well.

Genesis 2:18   And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."

You see, God never intended for His relationship with man to take the place of man’s relationship with man.

God is the Author of life and the very best we can do in life will be found as we strive to understand and live a God ordered life while embracing and supporting a God intended lifestyle. Marriage is not a contract but rather a covenant and as such demands both commitment and performance.

Marriage is not a 50/50 partnership but rather a 100%/100% union. A contract says I will if you will and if you do not then I will not and on top of that I will make certain you pay for not doing what you promised to do. As we have seen in America and throughout the Western World, dysfunctional families are the result of either one or both spouses refusal to commit and/or perform in accordance with the God ordered rules of life.

Family, whether God’s family or your family, is a team effort and in order to function properly respect must be given to each player. No one can make anyone else do their part or play their position. However, when we do our part it puts God in His best position with the greatest reason to intervene in the life of our family members as only God can do. Like or not, we are all dependent on one another.

1 Corinthians 11:11  Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord.

In the following weeks we are going to cover the top 7 reasons why Christians have trouble in marriage and why many finally opt for separation and/or divorce. The material we will cover is designed to provide counsel and challenge some basic beliefs and shape personal choices.

I want to encourage each of us to open our heart and mind as we survey the word together and reinforce the God ordered principle of marriage contained within. This journey will not only help you with the various relationships you enjoy/endure, but it will also arm you to be a better servant of the Lord and friend to those in need around you. So for this lesson simply remember: God is a God of relationships and - “It’s not God’s will that anyone be alone …”. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Bear That Killed Goliath


Some of you this morning might say, “Pastor, I’ve read about Goliath and I don’t think you’ve got the story right …” – Well if so it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve messed up trying to tell a story. In fact, for one reason or another I’ve messed up and had to start over several times trying to tell this story.

Some years ago we had a contract with Trinity Broadcasting Network to produce 51 30 minute programs which were aired in 242 countries  three times each week. They contracted with me to go to the places where the Bible happened and tell the stories of the Bible from those places. We went to places like Asia Minor, Italy, Egypt, Israel, along the Syrian, Lebanese and Jordaian borders and throughout the Palestinian Territories.

Half the challenge was getting to some of these places and gaining permission or tolerance long enough for us to set up and create a program we could use. Each program had to pass 4 standards before it could be counted as potentially useable and we committed to get no less than 3 potentially useful programs before leaving any location hoping at least one of those 3 could be edited into a final product to be aired worldwide.

As you might imagine at times the equipment would glitch or the wind or weather just would not cooperate or people would come up and begin asking questions or crowds would get unruly … any number of interruptions could compromise the take and make us stop and do it over. Then, even when everything was working just right and everything was in focus – I’d mess up and say the wrong word, call the wrong name or forget to make a point. Then we’d stop and do it all over again.

Well over 100 locations were used to film these 51 programs, some of those locations were used multiple times. At times we would nail it with only a three or four takes and move on but at other times it could take as many as 20 to 25 tries to get 3 acceptable takes. I walked up and back down the same steps at Caesarea 21 times one day repeating the same words over and over before we achieved our goal for that scene. Either the audio, the video, the content or the presentation fell below the 80% mark of acceptability rating and we’d have to do it again Sam.

At any rate you can imagine the plethora of unusable and unedited file footage that we amassed filming those programs. Thursday I reviewed some of the ones we did about the defeat of Goliath that just didn’t make the cut because of wind distorting the microphone or cars in the distance or the way I said or didn’t say words or perhaps it just wasn’t good enough. This morning I want to show three of those short cuts that didn’t make it in raw form so you can at least see some of the geography and topography which surrounded Goliath on the battlefield that day. At the end of the service, after we dismiss, there may be a few more outtakes.

(Production Note: Show 3 clips from Valley of Elah)

1 Samuel 17 gives us the account of that day and reveals why this battle hardened giant of a Philistine warrior named Goliath was defeated. We are told Goliath stood 9 feet and 9 inches tall. He was a giant!

The Philistine army was camped on one side of that Valley of Elah while the Israelite army was camped on the other. Each day for 40 days the Philistine champion Goliath came out and challenged Israel to send a man to fight with him and whoever won the fight, the other side would serve.

King Saul and all of his soldiers, including David’s three oldest brothers, were gripped with fear and could not find anyone willing to face the giant. On the 40th day David, having been sent by his father Jesse to check on his brothers, arrived in the Israeli army camp just about the time Goliath came out to taunt and threaten King Saul and his army once again.  

The story accounts that Goliath came out; cried out,(let a man come down to me); and came up, (drew near), each step a progression of aggression.

David could not imagine why someone, anyone, did not respond and take Goliath out. When David said he would do it, David’s brothers began to fuss at him and make light of his heart. David answered:

1 Samuel 17
29  And David said, "What have I done now? Is there not a cause?"

31 ¶  Now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him.
32  Then David said to Saul, "Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine."
33  And Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth."
34  But David said to Saul, "Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock,
35  I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.
36  "Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God."
37  Moreover David said, "The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and the LORD be with you!"

David was fully prepared because he had:
·        killed the bear and the lion in the private time of his life
o   The Bear represents those enemies who stand up against us
o   The Lion represents the enemies who sneak up on us
o   Both formidable enemies in our personal and private moments
o   Those who face you and try to overpower you
o   Those who come up from behind and try to surprise you
o   The Bear announcing his threat on approach hoping to unsettle you, intimidate you and make you flee
o   The Lion is strong but crafty, he only wants to announce his victory
·        David had faced both in his private time, now he would face Goliath in public. God often prepares us in private before using us in public.

1 Samuel 17
42  And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking.
43  So the Philistine said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.
44  And the Philistine said to David, "Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!"
45  Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
46  "This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.
47  "Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’S, and He will give you into our hands."
48 ¶  So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hastened and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.

David won the day because of his weapon of choice & because of the bear.
·        Goliath came at David with swords and spears
·        David came at Goliath with the name of the Lord (v.45)

What we do in our private times when we face the bear and the lion will determine our preparedness, our confidence and our courage to face the Goliaths of life. David faced the same kinds of tests we face. He had to decide whether to run and hide, stand and watch or advance and engage. What he did when he was alone, small and insignificant was what he would do in the bigger battles of life. We are who we are in private. Here are some private battles we face in life. What will we do when no one is watching?
·        Prayer Life; Time in the Word; Tithes and Offerings               
·        With Family; Friends; In the Work Place; Church
·        With our Blessings in Service to God and Others

We will all face a Goliath and some might imagine that as the defining moment in our lives. However, it’s not our Goliaths who define us but rather Goliath only reveals who we have become in those private times of life. It was the bear that helped David decide who he wanted to be – that’s why I believe it was the bear that defeated Goliath. Where’s the bear in your life? Is there some private moment you can to give to God this morning? Your greatest challenge is to be great in your everyday!