A Happy Marriage 

Malachi 2:15
“But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? and why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.”

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Malachi has a lot to say about marriage. He warns the people of the danger of marrying badly, by choosing an ungodly spouse. He refers to marriage as both, “The Lord’s holy institution which He loves,” and as a “Covenant.” He exhorts husbands to think of their wife as a companion, and to be careful not to deal treacherously with the wife of their youth. And he declares that God hates divorce because of the impact it has upon the children.

There are many reasons why we should treat our spouse and our marriages with the upmost care.

1. A happy wife makes for a happy life. Paul put it like this, Ephesians 5:28 “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.”

Love is a very interest thing. It is not an emotion, but something that affects all the emotions. It is something that can be stirred up or neglected, so as to become almost dormant. Solomon warned young men not to stir up love before its time (Song of Solomon 8:4) and Jesus warned about a time when peoples love would grow cold (Matthew 24:12). Since love can ebb and flow, it is important to make installments of love in our marriages. We need to realize, we will fall in love with the things into which we invest love. Years ago, I turned a closet into bookshelves. It was not the fanciest nor the most artistic piece of furniture in the house, but I loved it because of all the hours I had spent making it. If your marriage has grown cold, it is time to make some love investments into your spouse.

2. Your witness depends upon it. God designed marriage as a way to testify of His love for the world. Ephesians 5:32-33 “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.”

When God wanted to illustrate the relationship He wants to have with us, He compared it to the most loving and intimate human relationship we could ever experience. I often think of this verse when I see the face of a groom, as his bride makes her way down the aisle. The sheer joy he is expressing gives us a glimpse into the the way God feels about mankind. Our marriages were designed by God to show the continued love God has for us. It is to illustrate His daily care, His nurturing hand, and His ability to forgive and love, even through difficult times.

3. It’s for the family. Marriage was designed by God as a greenhouse, where godly offspring are to be grown. Malachi 2:15, “But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? and why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.”

The healthiest environment for children to be reared is one where both mom and dad love the Lord and each other. It has often puzzled me when I hear adults claim they have ended their marriage for the sake of the children, because almost every adult whose parents divorced when they were children, speaks of how devastated they were by that event. In some cases, people who have had substance abuse issues, trace the start of their problem back to the time when their parents split up. I understand it is not healthy for children to be in an environment where their parents are constantly fighting, but I also understand that difficulties in marriage, are not the reason to end a marriage. They should be the catalyst causing us to work on our marriages.

If your love for your spouse has grown cold, or if it feels like their love for you has waned, perhaps it is time to make some investments into your marriage. Think back to how you expressed love to the wife of your youth. Reflect upon the ways you put her needs above your own, and showed her how much she mattered to you.

It will be worth the investment.

Pastor Jim

 

Main Thing 

Hebrews 8:1
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, . . .”

Under the Levitical priesthood, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies bringing atonement to the Lord on behalf of the people. His job was basically to represent the people to the Lord, and the Lord to the people. If memory serves me, I believe the Latin word for high priest means “bridge builder.” The role of the priest was to make a way for man to be right with God. Hebrews 8 reminds us, Christ is our High Priest and having made a way for us to be right with God, He is in heaven representing us to the Father.

As the High priest’s garments were stained red with the blood of the sacrifice, so Christ bears the scars of the cross, as a reminder of the atonement provided at Calvary. When we sin and the devil brings charges against us, our High Priest bridges the gap, perhaps by showing His scarred hands and feet, declaring that the price has been paid, and forgiveness is given.

When we are facing trials, obstacles or temptations, and it looks as though we may fail under the pressure of the test, our High Priest stands in the gap and prays for us. Like Aaron and Hur holding up the hands of Moses, Jesus holds up our hands that hang down and strengthens our feeble knees. It is His constant prayer and encouragement that enables us to press through the trials and onward with the Lord.

With eyes of love, our High Priests watches our every move. Not because He is hoping we will fail and He might rebuke, correct, and chasten us, but because He loves us as a father loves his son. There is never a moment when we are beyond His gaze. In one of the most magnificent promises in the Bible, we are told He sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17). Imagine the throne room of God, where the songs of the saints accompany the angelic choruses giving praise to Jehovah God. Then a voice rises high above all others and begins to sing a love song, and you are the subject of His song.

It is no wonder the writer of Hebrews declares that this is a better covenant.

Pastor Jim

 

It’s Ruined 

Jeremiah 13:1
“Thus the Lord said to me:’Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put it around your waist…'”

Often the prophets were instructed to illustrate their messages. God so greatly desired His message to be heard that He would wrap it in packages that would be difficult to forget. In this case, Jeremiah was instructed to strut around town wearing a beautiful sash. Since the normal attire of a prophet was quite drab, this sash would certainly grab the people’s attention. After some time, Jeremiah buried the sash in the muddy banks of the Euphrates river. There it sat until it was ruined and could no longer serve its purpose. Jeremiah then dug it up, put it on and once again strutted through the city. As much as the beautiful sash had captured the attention of the people, this filthy, worn and tattered garment would be difficult to miss. When asked why he was wearing it, Jeremiah was to reply that just as the sash was ruined by the weather, so Judah had been ruined by ignoring the ways of God and living after their own desires.

We were designed by God with a purpose. That purpose is wrapped up in living after the precepts found in His Word. When we neglect or reject the ways of God, we are no longer living according to the design. A flower planter made from a muscle car might be unique and even capture people’s attention, but that is certainly not what that vehicle was designed to be. We were designed to bring glory to God, and will find the greatest fulfillment in life when we choose to surrender to, and follow after, Christ.

Don’t be a muddy sash.

Pastor Jim

 

Slippery Slope 

Psalm 73:2
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped.”

This psalm is the personal testimony of a man who almost fell away from the Lord. When he speaks of slipping, he is not talking about a little slip, but rather about throwing in the towel, and giving up on following the Lord.

His condition began when he bought into the lies of the devil. Jesus exposed who Satan really is when He described him as the father of lies. His lies are always the same. He brings into question the goodness of God, and makes sin look like something it is not. He did it to Eve, when he convinced her that God forbid the fruit in order to keep something good from her; persuading her that the fruit was the secret to really enjoying life. He did the same with the Psalmist, when he convinced him that God was keeping good from him, and those who rejected the Lord, were the ones who were gaining in life. From this skewed perspective, he describes the ungodly, “Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches” (Psalm 73:12).  He also spoke of the sinner as having no pain in death, great strength, no sicknesses, and living in abundant riches; all of which was and is completely untrue.

When the devil makes us think God is keeping good from us, he can also convince us that life is better away from the Lord; that is when we start to make compromises. We allow things into our lives that we had once laid down at the cross. Those things do give an immediate sense of pleasure, but like all sin, the pleasure is soon gone. We are then left ensnared in something that is robbing us of the abundant life Jesus provides. As scary as this may be, there is a solution.

The Psalmist declares, “Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart” (Psalms 73:1). He was rescued when he remembered the goodness of God. When he took his eyes off others, and put them back upon the Lord, he was reminded of the character of God.

Just as it is in the nature of the devil to lie, it is the nature of God to give good things to His children. James reminds us that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). Because He is good, He can only do what is good. In fact, the term ‘God’ is derived from an old word meaning ‘good’. Paul explained, having given us His only Son, He will freely give us all things (Romans 8:32). God will hold back no good thing from His children. If there is something I desire, and do not have, it may simply be that having it would not be good for me. It is so easy to lose perspective and begin to see the world through the eyes of the Psalmist. Thankfully, he explains what led to the lies being uncovered.

He declares, “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me— Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.” Psalms 73:16-17

The sanctuary was the meeting place with God, where the people of God gathered, and the truth of God was declared. If you are struggling, tempted to go back to the things of the world, rather than forward in your relationship with the Lord, get to the sanctuary. Get around the people of God, where the Word of God is being declared, and let Him remind you of His goodness.

Pastor Jim

 

Valley Of Decision 

1 Kings 18:21
“And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people answered him not a word.”

For thousands of years, men have stood in the valley of decision, unwillingly to make a complete commitment to the Lord. Fear, guilt, weakness, sin, and the influence of others, hold us back from surrendering to the Lord. The words of Elijah are as needful today as ever. He calls us to carefully consider the Lord, and make a decision to commit our lives to Him.

In every age, men are persuaded to become like the culture in which they live. The moral code of culture pulls us to reject the high standard of holiness found in the pages of God’s Word, and to accept immorality as the norm. At the same time, a resounding voice cries out from heaven, calling us to commit ourselves to Christ.

Rather than waiting for others to make a decision for you through the persuasion of the culture, why not commit to Christ and become the one who influences others. As you forsake the world and commit all to Christ, you will find that your life has a great impact on others for the kingdom of Heaven.

Time is running out, and today is the day of salvation. Make the choice to follow Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

The Hearts Cry 

Psalm 27:4 
One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, . . .”

Did you ever have that daydream, as a kid, where you found the magic lamp, and the genie promised to grant your wish, no matter how outlandish it may be? Imagine what it would be like if God appeared to you, declaring He would give you whatever you asked for. How would you respond? What would you ask from the King of Kings.

The Bible records the stories of a few men who actually had that experience. God asked them what they wanted, and granted their request. Solomon, the son of David, after receiving the kingdom from his Father, was overwhelmed by the task of ruling the nation. While seeking God for direction, he had a fascinating dream. In Solomon’s dream, the Lord appeared, explaining that he would be given anything he wanted. Solomon’s response was for a heart that would listen to God, and wisdom to rule the people. During the ministry of Jesus, he encountered two blind men outside the city of Jericho. Upon hearing that Jesus was passing by, they cried out for help. Jesus responded to their cry with a question, “What do you want Me to do for you?” Their response was foreseeable, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”

Here we find David giving his unsolicited response to the question. He declares that if he could have anything from the Lord, it would be to dwell in the presence of the Lord all the days of His life. More than riches, wisdom, health, power, or prestige, the heart of David cried out simply for more of the Lord. David was not alone in this cry, Paul declared; “. . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, . . .” (Philippians 3:10). Like David, Paul’s heart cried out to know Jesus better. It could be argued, the greatest hero of the Old Testament was David; and of the New Testament, Paul.

David was known as a man after God’s heart, who led the nation to the pinnacle of godliness, prosperity and success. Paul, after a remarkable conversion experience, became the greatest evangelist, and pioneer of the Gospel the church had ever seen. He was responsible for writing at least thirteen New Testament books, and carried the Gospel across the Roman Empire. I think a case could be made that the reason for their success, above their contemporaries, had to do with the desire of their hearts. They longed, not for riches or reward, but for more of Christ. What is your heart’s cry? No matter what it might be, there is nothing greater than to cry for more of Jesus.

Psalms 27:8 “When You said, ‘Seek My face’ My heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.’”

Pastor Jim

 

Best Of The Best

Leviticus 22:20
Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it shall not be acceptable on your behalf.”

20140225-070519.jpgI once heard of a farmer whose cow had given birth to twin calves. In his excitement, he decided to dedicate one to the Lord. As the days passed, his wife reminded him of his promise, she inquired if he had decided which calf was the Lord’s. Sadly, one of the calves became ill and the farmer did all he could to nurse the animal back to health. Late into the evening, he returned from the barn, and slumped into a chair. His wife, asked what was the matter, to which he replied, “The Lord’s calf died.” Too often, this is typical of our offering to the Lord. Whatever we have left, do not want, need, or use any longer, is offered to the Lord.

God instructed His people, when they give, they should offer the best. Anything defective might still have a use, but it was not worthy of being presented to the Lord. A lamb with a broken leg, would still make a wonderful meal, but was not the lamb to offer to God. When it comes to giving, we should always seek to give our best. If we are giving of our time to teach a Sunday School class, we should do all we can to be well prepared; that is our offering, and God deserves our best. If we are involved in a men’s or women’s group, we should give ample time to prayer, and to completing the lessons, so we have something of value to bring to the discussion; that is our offering, and God deserves our best. If we are involved in worship, we should practice the songs, pray for the church services, and the people of God; that is our offering, and God deserves our best.

The principle is simple. When we give to God, we want to give our best. Imagine if you were having an important guest over for a meal. Would you serve up the leftovers from the past few meals; stuff the kids picked at, but didn’t finish? Would you toss it down on paper plates? Or would you go out of your way to discover their favorite foods, and do your best to serve them in a manner worthy of their office? Certainly, God deserves more from us than we would give to one another.

Pastor Jim