Looking To The Future

Numbers 36:7
“So the inheritance of the children of Israel shall not change hands from tribe to tribe, for every one of the children of Israel shall keep the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.”

The children of Gilead, from the tribe of Manasseh, brought an interesting case to Moses. The father of one of the families had died without having any sons, as a result they were concerned with what would become of the family inheritance if the daughters married outside of their tribe. If the land became the property of the husband’s tribe, it would not be long before some tribal inheritance was lost. Moses sought the Lord and determined that an ordinance be put in place where the land would not pass from tribe to tribe. To ensure this, a woman without brothers would need to consider her inheritance and marry within her tribe.

Clearly, this particular rule is not in play under the New Covenant. As a follower of Jesus, we have no promise of receiving land, nor of that land being passed on as an inheritance to our children. That being said, I think this passage brings to light a much bigger principle; when we are determining who we should marry, we need to keep our inheritance in mind.

Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers that they would know the hope of their calling (Ephesians 1:18). This is an important truth for all of us. We need to know that we have been called to leave the world behind,  to follow Jesus, and serve Christ. When it comes to determining who we will date and ultimately marry, we must keep our calling in mind. Too often, we find believers neglecting their inheritance for the sake of a relationship. They pursue a person because they are attracted to them physically, without giving any consideration to that person’s walk with God, or calling. The Bible clearly teaches that a follower of Jesus should not be in a relationship with someone who is not following Christ; but there are other things to keep in mind as well. What evidences does this person show that they are a disciple of Christ? How are they currently serving Jesus? What part does the Word of God play in their decision making? Do they have the same long term goals of serving the Lord that you have?

We can avoid a lifetime of difficulty if we keep our inheritance in mind, before entering into a relationship.

Pastor Jim

 

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.”

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

 

Healing For The Backslidden 

Hosea 14:4
“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him.”

Backsliding refers to a condition where a person who was once closely following the Lord, is now far from Him. Israel was in a condition of perpetual backsliding. They would turn, wander, or be led away from the Lord on such a regular basis, that their experience with God was more like a roller coaster or a pendulum, than a walk with God. Hosea speaks of God healing their backsliding. This in no way implies that backsliding is a disease a person has no control over. Instead, Hosea is suggesting that God is able to fix, restore or heal the damage done to a person during their backslidden state.

When we are walking with Jesus, it is like being a branch that is connected to a healthy tree. We find a constant flow,  causing us to bear fruit in our lives, that is not natural to us. A person who has a propensity toward anger, finds they have self control, a person who is melancholy by nature, becomes filled with joy, and a person who tends to worry about everything, finds peace for whatever life throws at them. When we stop walking closely with Christ, this supply becomes restricted.  Soon, we are like a branch that is cut off from the vine. We begin to act and react to the circumstances of life without the power of God. It does not take long before those closest to us begin to suffer from our lack of abiding in Christ. In many cases, when this backsliding continues, we find that relationships are destroyed. Marriages, families and friendships have all been drastically impacted by the behaviors of a backslidden believer. Hosea promises, when we return to the Lord, our backsliding can be healed.

Life is filled with testimonies that support this truth. In our church, we have many families who were devastated by the behaviors of a backslidden believer, only to have those relationships restored when the person returned to the Lord. Whatever damage you have created by wandering away from Christ, be confident in the fact that God wants to restore you to Himself, and is able to heal that which has been broken.

Pastor Jim

 

Leading The Way

Isaiah 3:12
“…O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths.”

Isaiah is warning of coming judgment. The people had left the ways of God; perhaps thinking the Word of God was antiquated. Instead of being a nation that shone as a light to the world around them, Judah had become like all the other nations. Morally, spiritually and ethically, the people who were called by God to be a light, looked all too similar to the world around them. Isaiah points out one of the main contributors to their downfall,

“Those who lead you cause you to err. . .”

Those who should have been leading the people to follow the paths of God, were in fact, leading the people away from God. Jesus warned about blind leaders who led blind followers right into a ditch (Matthew 15:14). A nation is in trouble when the leaders lose sight of the proper destination. But who are these leaders? Who are the people who have the greatest influence on the next generation?

It is not difficult to see the influence entertainers have upon a culture. Whether it is a sports hero, musician, or actor, they have a powerful platform, and a strong voice. Both, companies and causes, understand the way to increase their influence is to get a famous person behind their product. That being said, the most influential leader with the loudest voice to the next generation, is the voice that happens within the home. Parents continue to have the most powerful effect in the lives of their children.

If we want to see the next generation walking with the Lord and seeking to honor Him, we cannot leave that kind of leadership to others. Christian parents cannot expect the church to be the primary tutor of their children’s spiritual development. That is the role of the parent. Every mom and dad who wants to see their kids walk with the Lord, should determine to walk with Him themselves. If you want your children to read their Bible, start reading yours. If you want your kids to make good choices, exemplify that in your life. If you want your kids to think living for Christ means we follow a higher standard than the world around us, then be sure you are living by that standard yourself.

In our nation, we have developed a dangerous trend. Parents have bought into the lie that children are resilient and can withstand divorce. Time and time again, I hear people say, they split up for the sake of the kids. “All we ever did was fight and that was not a healthy environment for raising children, so we decided to split up.” If you have decided to divorce your spouse, you are not doing it for the children. If the children were your concern, you would do whatever it takes to work through the problems in your marriage, and create an environment where the love and grace of God are being seen daily.

Instead of blaming the world around us for all the problems, it is high time the people of God stood up and began to lead.

Pastor Jim

 

Strong Love 

Song of Songs 8:7
“Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.”

There are a host of strong motivators that drive a person to action. Fear of what may come will often lead a person to behave in an unhealthy manner; lying, hate, and worry are often a byproduct of fear. Money can be a strong motivator. People will work themselves to the bone, and even sacrifice their families, to get a little more, because of the false security a savings account brings. Of all the motivating factors in life, none can compare to what will be done for love.

It was love that motivated God to send  His son into the world. It was love that drove Jesus to the cross, knowing the suffering He would endure. It was love that compelled Paul to endure whatever it took, to take the Gospel to the farthest parts of the planet. It is love that causes a young man to risk it all, propose to a young lady, and begin a life together.

Clearly, love is the greatest driving force in the universe. If we want to keep our relationships healthy and strong, we must be careful to feed that love. Jude wrote of our need to, “keep ourselves in the love of God.” This is done by, daily, investing time in the Word, prayer and obedience. Song of Solomon spends eight chapters illustrating the need to invest in our marriage relationship, to keep love strong. The love we invest now will be the driving force that keeps our marriage healthy, in the days and years to come.

Pastor Jim

 

Roses Are Red 

Song of Songs 7:1
“How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince’s daughter!”

Song of Solomon is like a series of love letters between Solomon and his bride, designed to express the great love they have for one another. Writing love letters is not unique to their relationship. Thousands of years later, it is still common for two people who are in love to write to one another. I recall a time when my wife and I were dating, she drove to the grocery store where I was working, just to put a note on my car,  so when my shift ended I would know she was thinking of me. Sadly, in many cases, as the years pass, love notes are replaced with “honey-do-lists”, and our relationship becomes more like partners working together for a common goal. In a time where communication is at high speed and easy access, many are failing to take the time to properly nurture their marriage relationship. Taking the time to write a love note to your spouse is a great way to make a positive investment in your marriage. I understand this is a difficult task for those who feel they are not particularly poetic. Perhaps a glance into some of Solomon’s notes will encourage you. In an attempt to express his love Solomon states,

Your waist is a heap of wheat”

“Your neck is like an ivory tower”

“Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon”

No doubt, these things read differently in his culture, than they do in ours, but I still have to wonder if any woman really wants to be compared to wheat or an old building. I suggest, the real power behind his poetry was that he wrote it especially for her. Take a few moments to think about the things you appreciate most about your spouse and write a little note telling her (him) how much you love her (him) . Your marriage is worth the investment.

Pastor Jim

 

My Love 

Song of Songs 4:7
“You are all fair, my love, and there is no spot in you.”

In addition to being a love story, Song of Solomon also illustrates the love God has for us. Perhaps, nowhere is that more evident than in this verse. It has been stated, love is blind; because when two people are truly in love they do not focus on what is wrong with one another. It is not that God’s love is blind and He does not notice sin in His children, but through the cross, He has washed our sins away. When God looks upon those who have been born again, He sees us as holy and blameless. Two different applications cry out to us from this one verse.

First, since we are holy, we should seek to live holy. It is important that our lifestyle lines up with the fact that we have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. Too often, Christians develop the attitude that since we are forgiven we can compromise and commit sin. While I am not suggesting Christians are perfect, I am saying we should seek to live in a way which reflects the fact we have been born again.

Second, if you are married, your spouse should be lavished in the kind of love that says, “There is no spot in you.” You should have eyes for your spouse alone, and she should know it. Marriage is a lifelong commitment, requiring a love that looks beyond faults, as we seek to grow old together. Take some time this week to think about a way to lavish your spouse with love.

Pastor Jim