Love And Respect 

Esther 1:20
“When the king’s decree which he will make is proclaimed throughout all his empire (for it is great), all wives will honor their husbands, both great and small.”

The opening scene of Esther sheds a bright light on the needs of men. Ahasuerus, king of Persia, had invited all the nobles of his kingdom to a great celebration. It is likely, he was trying to persuade them to get behind his program of sending a massive army to overthrow Greece. During this celebration, he called for his wife to come and parade herself before him and his friends. No doubt, this would be an embarrassing act for any woman, so she refused. Ahasuerus took her refusal as a personal attack against him. He felt as though his wife was not behind him, supporting and honoring him as king. This sent a chilling message to all the men, if the queen did not honor her husband, what chance did they have of being honored by their wives.

Those who study human behavior suggest the greatest need a man has in a relationship is to be honored or respected. When a man senses his wife supports and believes in him, he is able to face just about anything. While I am not suggesting Ahasuerus’ behavior is noble, I do see a picture of how important it is for a wife to support her husband. One of the greatest women of Scripture is Sarah, who was honored by God for the honor she gave to her husband. Paul declared, the number one responsibility of a wife is to respect her husband.

I have found, in many marriages, wives are failing to honor their husbands because they don’t sense they are being loved. This turns into a vain battle where the wife is not honoring, because she is not being loved, and the husband is not loving, because he is not being honored. If that describes your marriage – STOP IT. Instead of waiting for your spouse to do the right thing, offer yourself to the Lord and determine you will live pleasing to Him. Whatever the current state of your marriage, take comfort in knowing God is able to do great things in the lives of all who are willing to do things His way.

Pastor Jim

 

Honor

Romans 16:3b
“. . . my fellow workers in Christ Jesus

Years ago, I received a letter; I had been selected to be awarded for my accomplishments as a teacher. Upon reading the first paragraph, I was honored and somewhat humbled. My ego was stroked, as I was being told of the great responsibility I was fulfilling by teaching others. However, as I continued to read, I discovered any teacher who was willing to purchase the hundred-dollar, leather-bound book, would have their name listed in it. Even though I knew it was a scam, I was still slightly tempted to have my name in a book honoring me for my accomplishments.

We all love to be honored. We love when our accomplishments are recognized and applauded. We will even sit back and watch as others are honored for their acheivements. It is interesting to me, the things for which men are honored. When a person writes or sings a song… Honor. When a person entertains us with their acting, directing or producing skills… Honor. When a person accomplishes extraordinary feats with a ball… believe it or not, Honor. Like the trophies they receive, that honor will fade away and soon be forgotten. What of our accomplishments for the kingdom of God? Jesus told us they are stored away in heaven, where they will never decay.

Here in Romans 16, we are reminded of what is honored in Heaven’s Kingdom. We read of men and woman who we will never find in a list of who’s who among men. If you Google “Famous People”, their names will never show up, nor will their accomplishments be regarded as great. Yet, their names are listed in the eternal Word of God, and their accomplishments remind us of how we can store up treasures that will last into eternity. Some of the things listed include: serving within the church, opening our houses up for a home fellowship, working alongside those who are preaching the Gospel, or teaching the Word, treating our place of business as a means to effect other for the Kingdom of God, sharing Christ, and passing the test that trials place upon us. As I read this list of men and women, I am encouraged by how important the “little” things are to God, and to the Apostle. What joy must have filled Paul’s heart, knowing the church in Rome was filled with people who were dedicating their time and energies to further the Kingdom. The work of ministry was not left to a few, but was supported by the faithful labor of many.

Rather than spending our time trying to gain the fleeting honor of men, let’s determine to live for an honor that will never fade away. Malachi writes of a book in heaven that includes the accomplishments of the saints. (Malachi 3:16) Allow me two final points of application.

First, I believe we would be amiss in our reading of the chapter, if we did not take a moment to give honor where honor is due.The following is a list of people who you will meet in heaven, who are recorded here for their impact upon the world. Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila, Epaenetus, Mary, Andronicus, Junia, Amplias, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles, the household of Aristobulus, Herodion, the household of Narcissus, Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus, and his mother, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.

Second, Paul ends this section by saying, “Greet one another.” It is not just those, who in times past, faithfully served Jesus who deserve honor, but those who are currently involved in impacting the world for Jesus. We should be looking for ways to serve the Lord today, as well as giving the proper place of honor to that service. Rather than looking at serving the Lord as a chore, we should look at it with the honor the Word of God places upon it. What will you do for Heaven’s Kingdom today?

Pastor Jim

 

Expanding Your Portfolio 

1 Kings 5:13
“Then King Solomon raised up a labor force out of all Israel; and the labor force was thirty thousand men.”

Building the Temple was a massive undertaking. It was to be a structure like no other. Unlike the pagan temples that were built in an attempt to reach up to the gods, this temple was built so God could reach down to man. The entirety of this structure pointed to the fact that God made a way for sinful man to have relationship with a holy God. As soon as a person approached the temple, they would smell the sacrifices, and be reminded of their need for a substitute to die in their place; removing the guilt and penalty of sin. These sacrifices provided a temporary covering, and pointed forward to Christ, who would die once, for the sins of all. Without question, this was the most important building of the ancient world.

In order to complete the Temple, Solomon raised up a labor force of thirty thousand men. These men, from all walks of life, devoted months at a time to the work of the Temple. Their work included quarrying enormous stones and transporting them to the Temple mount, along with cedar beams, that came from Lebanon. It was no small task. The labor was great and the project took years to accomplish. When it was finally completed, this structure stood as a light to the world, pointing men to God. For hundreds of years, it served the purpose of providing fellowship between God and man.

There are a lot of things in which we can invest our time, talents and treasures, but there are few that rival investments made in the kingdom of God. I imagine at the end of their days, each of those who devoted themselves to the work of God, thought nothing was of greater value than the hours spent in the quarry working on the Temple stones.

When time runs out for you, and you are looking back over the course of your life, what is it you have done for the Kingdom? Has your time been spent on your own pursuits, or on Kingdom matters? Have you invested in retirement plans, family vacations, recreation, at the expense of investments in the furtherance of the Gospel?

Take a few moments to consider your life and be sure that you are spending it on what matters most.

Pastor Jim

 

True Beauty

Proverbs 31:1
“The words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him . . .”

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b9a/30989304/files/2014/12/img_1277.pngProverbs 31 is a section of Scripture most often taught at women’s conferences or retreats, because it goes to great length describing a virtuous woman. A more careful look will reveal this passage was actually instructions to the King, by his mother. It was her attempt to teach him how to find a godly wife. We find not only the characteristics that a virtuous woman ought to pursue, but also the traits a godly man should be looking for in a wife.

Each year a variety of media outlets declare their list of most attractive woman on the planet. In each case, it is the physical characteristics that are focused upon, without mention of true character. The king’s mother reminds him of the need to look beyond the surface, at true beauty.

Proverbs 31:30
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

I have always been struck by the fact that, in her 70′s, Sarah was still considered beautiful by the king of Egypt. Thinking she was the sister of Abraham, he pursued a relationship with her. Years later, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter declares Sarah’s true beauty. He describes her as being chaste, gentle and one who feared the Lord (1Peter 3:1-6). While physical beauty is the first thing we notice in another, character and godliness are the traits that will last.

Men need to be careful not to be drawn to a women’s passing beauty, while ignoring true godliness. Women need to be careful not to rate their beauty above things that really matter in the kingdom of God. All the lighting, camera angles, and airbrushing cannot replace godliness or true virtue. Let’s not look at the latest fashion magazine as a mirror, but to the Word of God, so we become people who fear the Lord.

Pastor Jim

 

Troubles In Marriage

Proverbs 21:9
“Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”

Proverbs 21:19
“Better to dwell in the wilderness,
than with a contentious and angry woman.”

Proverbs 19:13
“. . . the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.”

images-1.jpegSolomon seems to be an expert on dealing with a contentious wife. He speaks of living with her as being like a dripping faucet, or a leaky roof. He suggests that it is better to find a corner of the housetop to live on, rather than be in the house with her. He later states, you are better off homeless and living in the wilderness, than remaining in the home with her continual nagging. Solomon’s statements serve as a good illustration of what not to do in a marriage.

First, we find clear application for the wife. Simply put, do not be contentious. The word contentious means to be argumentative, quarrelsome or even combative. It speaks of someone who is always finding fault in what another is doing. Paul explained that the role of the wife is to honor and support her husband. A wife should be actively involved in building her husband up, so he can become the man God intended him to be. Constant nagging, belittling, and opposing, undermines the work God wants to do, rather than accomplishing it. Peter put it like this,

1 Peter 3:1
“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives”

Second, we find application for the husband. It may be true that living on the roof or out in the wild is better than living with constant contention, but it is also true that it is much better to live in a house without it. If we examine the life of Solomon we find that perhaps he was the cause of the contention. Scripture instructed the king to have only one wife. That was always the plan of God for mankind. Solomon ignored the Word of God, as it related to marriage, and multiplied wives unto himself. In addition to his many wives he also had a long list of girlfriends. It is no wonder his wife was contentious. If a husband does not treat His wife the way the Bible describes, he has little to complain about when she does not treat him the way he desires. Instead of multiplying wives, Solomon should have been multiplying the expression of his love toward the wife he had. In the same way, a husband should not be looking at what is wrong with his wife as an excuse to mistreat her, but instead should be desiring that his wife be the most loved woman on the planet.

If husbands will seek new ways to express love to their wives, and wives will seek to build up their husbands, we will have a whole lot less contention in the home, or men living in the wilderness.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Zephaniah 1- Privacy Please
Zephaniah 2- Meekness