The key to building a healthy marriage is this: Love is action, and it is reciprocal!

married

As we will discuss in my new book, “This Is Marriage,” coming out soon, the prime key to building a healthy marriage is this–love is reciprocal! The husband loves and thus, the wife responds with respect and honor and so conversely–in the midst of their relationship with Christ as LORD! Christ and the church are the prime models for us in a lifelong commitment of monogamous marriage. Let’s explore some tried and true practical ways to make this happen.

Here are some simple tips from Scripture to put goodness in action by just watching how you use your attitude and words.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

  • Always place Christ first and foremost in your life, and He will provide and guide (Matthew 6:33).
  • Always focus on building your faith and maturity first (Matthew 7:3-5).
  • Always pursue love even in toil as the mark of a true follower of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 13)!
  • Always grasp on grace and how Christ loves you and your spouse, so you can give grace to them (Galatians 2:20-21)
  • Always pray together daily (Psalm 127:1; Matthew 18:19).
  • Always respect and love your spouse (Ephesians 5:1-2)!
  • Always be encouraging, listening, supporting, accepting, trusting, and respecting with love (Ephesians 4:2).
  • Always express your love to your spouse daily with a good attitude with, words, deeds, and kind touches (Solomon 8:6-7).
  • Always forgive mistakes and practice forgiveness (Colossians 3:13).
  • Never be arrogant, criticizing, threatening, nagging, blaming, complaining, punishing, or bribing (2 Timothy 2:22-24).
  • Always laugh and have fun together (Proverbs 17:22).
  • Always say “I’m sorry” (1 John 3:4-6).
  • Always communicate goodness, ask, don’t second guess, thank, praise and listen (Romans 12:19)!
  • Always put the needs of your spouse ahead of your own (Proverbs 17:9)
  • Never trust your heart; you can only trust the Lord (Jeremiah 17:9)!
  • Always be supportive of each other (Ephesians 4:2-3).
  • Never seek to change your spouse, you can only change yourself (Romans 12:17-18).
  • Always use words to build up your spouse, not tear him or her down. (Proverbs 25:11).
  • Always have enjoyable talks every day (Proverbs 27:6).
  • Never be defensive (Matthew 7:1-5).
  • Always say “thank you” and “we” (Proverbs 10:12).
  • Always go on dates, have fun together (Song of Solomon 7:11-12).
  • Never absolutely never give egotism, sarcasm or cynicism (Proverbs 17:4).
  • Never speak from anger (Ephesians 4:26).
  • Never ever threaten the relationship (Mark 1:15).
  • Always Give your spouse at least one compliment every day (Philippians 1:3-6).
  • Never take your marriage for granted (Colossians 3:23).
  • Always serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).
  • Never talk badly about your spouse to others (James 1:19).
  • Always look for solutions, not problems (Proverbs 29:20).
  • Always do all the important things together (Philippians 4:13).
  • Always seek unbiased godly counsel (Psalm 37:30).
  • Always discuss outside friendships (like work relationships), never harbor secrets (Galatians 5:13).
  • Always agree to disagree, you will never agree on everything (1 John 3:18).
  • Never try to control your spouse (Philippians 2:2).
  • Never threaten splitting, leaving or divorce (1 Peter 1:22).
  • Always, in all you do, seek and glorify the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:11).

Seek yourself, and you will be sad and lonely in so many ways! Seek Christ and you will be fulfilled and content! Remember that the heart of any healthy relationship is love and respect!

Upgrade your mindsets to goodness!

 

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Love is a Verb, so is Marriage

Here is the Preface of my new book coming out on marriage.

God’s precepts on building a great marriage and Biblical instruction on making marriage work and succeed even in times of stress and turmoil.

“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33

The world tells you that it is all about you; your needs to be fulfilled. That marriage is about making me—yes, ‘ME,’–happy! Look at all the excitement of the pursuit, the proposal, the engagement, the wedding plans and so forth. Jump ahead a year, two years or ten. What do you have? Do you have the thrill, the rush, the anticipation? For most, not so much. The fact is, that seeking to be fulfilled did not work out so well.

Why? There are two of you in the marriage, and you cannot be fulfilled and happy if you do so at the other’s expense; unfortunately, this tends to happen over time. Blessedly, there is a solution to bring back that excitement, hope, and wonder. The Bible has a better plan, and the Bible gives all the instruction to make a marriage work, a wondrous marriage. It is about understanding and applying what love and marriage really is to be about and the practice of real forgiveness. Of course, communication is important, too. If we do not know what marriage is supposed to be about and only focus on what we want it to be, we will fail. We will fail. If we refuse to know and practice real love, we will have only sadness and brokenness. If we are not willing to forgive, we have…nothing. We have nothing ahead, except broken expectations, disappointments, and hurts that create anger, bitterness, and a life of dysfunction ultimately ending in divorce or general unpleasantness!

Remember, though, you can have joy and real purpose in your marriage; you can escape a relationship rife with chaos and dysfunction. You and your spouse can have a successful marriage!

In this book, I will help guide you through the insights from God’s Word. That love may be a noun as a word, as in a person, or place or thing; but, it is more of a call to action, to be and thus, a verb. Thus, marriage too is a verb, a call to action.

The efforts and guidance for this endeavor is based on the Word of God and learning and distilling from more than 20 years of research and 19 years of humbling practice. (Remember, you have no need to rely solely on what I say; look it up for yourselves in the Bible.) You can build a good marriage if you want to learn to love, respect, forgive, pray, and be humble in your relationship with Christ and with your spouse, then you will succeed.

God tells us what makes a good marriage, fun, and enjoyable. This book aims to guide you, in Christ, to a wondrous marriage. The challenge in this book is for you who are already married and how to realize all the joy of a good marriage. If you are looking for advice and guidance about finding a potential spouse, I encourage you to still immerse yourself in God’s Word and, perhaps, check out my book, “Healthy Relationships.”

The ultimate goal of this book is to let you know that your marriage can be good. It can be fun. You can be close best friends.

Unfortunately, many marriages don’t seem to have this. I will not bore you with statistics, but over half of marriages are in trouble, and the rest, well only one eighth consider both husband and wife to be happy. The rest—you and me–want better marriages, but feel stuck, stagnant, even hopeless. They feel frustrated and hurt; they feel that maybe they’ve made a mistake and wish for a time machine, a do over button, or a redo switch. Too many feel that the fun, adventure, and happiness is in the past, but that is just not true. You can be close and grow closer together. Your marriage can be an exciting adventure that is meaningful and encouraging to both of you.

In fact, your marriage can be the best part of your life.

You perhaps are thinking, “What is the catch”? Okay, there is a bit of a catch. Like anything worthwhile and important, a good marriage requires work, commitment, and maintenance to be effectual. This book is about how to go about that. Like anything worth doing, you have to be willing to do it. You have to want a healthier marriage; you need to work on better communication. You do need to pray with one another. You have to know what it means to cherish and what is respect; you must learn what love is and what it is not. You have to see what God has for you, not just what you want. Finally, you must want it to get it.

Look at it like this. When you first started to drive, did you know what you know now? Are you a better driver now? I hope so. But, when you first started, I bet you thought you knew it all, you were so excited, you did not always listen to wise instruction. You made mistakes because you didn’t listen to advice and because life is about experience. You learned the rules of the road and gained valuable experience, because you practiced and worked at it. You worked at this because you needed to; you realized you needed this skill—it is a necessity. Marriage is much like learning to drive. Even with the feelings, desire, and intention to love, communicate, and forgive, we may not have had good role models, instruction, or counsel. Maybe we disregarded God’s Word or didn’t even know of God’s plan for us. You had all the hope, enthusiasm, the willpower and a wish to make it work. Slowly, you may have realized that marriage is tough and, instead of working on it or knowing how to work on it, you became disillusioned, frustrated, or complacent. Or, maybe you did work on it—read a book, listened to others, changed certain behaviors—without lasting success. Maybe, you have given your marriage, your “all” to no avail. So, you want to give up or shut down.

I encourage you to be bold and brave! In Christ, you CAN move from the darkness of hurts and live in the Light of Christ.

Surrendering to the Lord and reading God’s Word with the Holy Spirit in you guiding you, you absolutely will behold a wondrous revolution in your lives together. If you are already blessed with a good marriage, consider this a tune-up, building upon the hard work and commitment that you have already realized in a good relationship. You and your spouse is worth this much.

What spawned this endeavor?

In the 1970’s, Edith Schaeffer–and others–occasionally did marriage retreats; I was fortunate enough be at a few as a kid and later, to rediscover her notes. Upon finding the notes, I combined them with my own knowledge gained while researching and ghostwriting a book for an eminent Christian psychologist and used it for sermons and also Bible studies for couples. In my research, I noticed that critical biblical insights were overlooked. This frustrated me. I felt frustrated that so many books on marriage are written for the Christian world based on man’s psychological theories while God’s Word is barely addressed or treated as a buffet; even worse, some materials, even take God’s Word and take the Word out of context and twist it to serve the author’s purpose and not glorify Christ and His “true Truths.” Thus, the main points God has for us are missing. This is the fruit of the combined work and is designed to be used as a tool for a retreat, seminar, pastoral counseling, professional Christian counseling, sermon guide, and/or personal devotion and for me, a how to guide that I can keep going back to for advice and help.

How this Book was made?

This book is not about my theories or some personal agenda; rather, this work is based on God’s precepts on building a great marriage. What I have done here is read the Bible, conduct some real research and extract the prime precepts, practiced them and practically lay them out for you. While I understand that the concepts are easy and that the practice can be difficult, this is completely doable even in the most barren circumstances.

This love and marriage book is also based on over 25 years of careful exegetical research and pastoral counseling experience. Primarily, this series is based carefully on the Bible’s timeless truths. It is not about psychological fads or theories. The goal is to find the best real answers from the timeless truths for real help to those who just need to know or who are down and out and do not know where to go. The main viewpoints and directions are what the Lord gives us from His Word so that we can better prepare and practice for the second most important thing we will ever do in life (the first being our salvation).

In addition to the Word, research and experience, over 100 couples in fulfilling, long-lasting marriages were interviewed, which facilitated the “Tips.” To round this out, some key research was gleaned from the Schaeffer Institute, the Fuller Institute, and Fuller Seminary. Included in interviews and consultations were: Ray Stedman, Chuck Miller, Dr. John Gottman, Edith Schaeffer, Dr. Julie Gorman, Dr. Archibald Heart, John Stott, Dr. Clyde Narramore and many other professionals including many seasoned pastors and Christian counselors.

This is a work is also one of practice–the trials and errors of a married man who has made the mistakes and tried his best to be better, who has failed and has succeeded to be the best spouse that one can be. I have never been unfaithful, praise God; but, I have had to examine how faithful I have been in my loving and adoration, in my cherishing, forgiving, affections, even when times have been bad and daunting. I am a work in progress, as we all are.

You have in your hands a colossal endeavor that has been simplified and made practical for you.

You CAN build a healthy marriage that glorifies Christ as Lord.

Who is this Book for?

It is for me. It is for you. This book is for couples seeking pre-marriage counseling and for married couples who desire God’s call in their marriage or refreshment of the marital relationship. It is also for those who are having doubts, troubles, or hurts. It is for those who are feeling overwhelmed and, maybe, hopeless in their relationship. This is for those who just want to grow closer to the Lord and live in a marriage that is blessed and led by Christ. This is for those who just want a “how to,” one easy to read compressive book on marriage that has all they need and they can keep referring to. This is an invitation to come see what our Lord, through His Word, has to say about building a great lasting marriage.

How to use this marriage book

Like any book, just read it and be in prayer. Ask, How can I change and apply these precepts and be humble to make it work? You can discuss this with your spouse and/or in a small group. This book has a ‘tag-team’ approach. I will present a biblical description, such as an aspect of Love–what it is, how to know it, and apply it into your life and marriage. Next, I will present a key aspect on how to build an effectual marriage. In addition, we have discussion questions to challenge, inspire, provoke and help you process these true Truth from Scripture and the ideas distilled from those passages. Then we have dozens of “Marriage Tips,” that will help focus you in the right direction, give practical help and encouragement. Perhaps, read and practice one each day. See the Appendix for a complete listing.

How to use this marriage book as a workshop

In addition to using this personally in your marriage and in fellowship in small groups, you could also this in a workshop setting. This endeavor will be a seminar and or a devotional format. I suggest to have your people read the book first, or one chapter at a time, and then discuss the key points of need and do the questions. Perhaps go over one chapter for a day seminar or three chapters for a weekend retreat. Any chapter(s) can be used; however, the main ones I suggest are, Chapter 3 The Love Challenge, Chapter 6 Marriage where Real Love is Practiced, Chapter 7 Cherish and Respect, and you can have a seminar with a financial planner and do Chapter 18 Marriage Money Matters with the Appendix of Budgeting ideas, or a seminar with Chapter 19 Divorce Proof Your Marriage or, Chapter 20 The Marriage Tune-up!

The passages, main points, and some applications are given, so you can read, be challenged, equipped, inspired and encouraged, to make a wondrous marriage begin. In addition, I will take you into a journey of what love is and what it is not. You will get an aspect of love and a session on what a biblical marriage looks like to work on at your own pace.

Thus, this book can be used as a personal mentor for individuals and can be done individually, but it is best to do alongside with your spouse or fiancé, small group, or with a qualified pastor or counselor. This book can also be used for a community workshop or class.

I recommend that this be a journey to be done together as a couple, and you can share with a counselor or a small group or marriage retreat. The appendixes are additional resources for you and for counselors. It is best to follow a sequence that looks like this: Read the passages and curriculum, discuss with your spouse, be committed to listen, be open for criticism, be forgiving and remember the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians, Chapter Five. Try to practice the ‘Tips” as much as possible. Then, follow through with a counselor or mentor, and remember to stay in prayer with an attitude of I can do this, I can have a wondrous marriage, I can make it work.

Let us look at how to prepare and build for a successful marriage.

First, read 1 Corinthians 7:1-11, 39-40, 13:1-13, be committed to learn, forgive and engage God’s Truth and apply His precepts to your life. The revolution for the healthier marriage begins.

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” 2 Timothy 2:19

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Do angels have wings?

angels_wings

I was just asked a question that comes up this time of year, do angels have wings?

This church member said she saw a major news channel report, “Angels exist but do not have wings and are more like shards of light, at least according to a top Catholic Church angelologist.” My first thought, how do I apply for that job and how much does it pay…. But, the answer, no-one wants to hear. If you read the Bible and pay attention to every passage about angels, well, no, they do not have wings.

 What are Angels? They are God’s messengers who communicated God’s purpose to Biblical personalities. Angels are not chubby nice winged personalities that you see in Hallmark stores or movies, who fly around playing harps; rather they are are spirit beings (Matthew 2:13-23; Hebrews 1:14).

The word “Angel” means “messengers.” They are heavenly beings that live and work in Heaven. They are messengers sent by God to “minister,” as in to serve God and humanity.

These celestial beings may seem ominous to us, hence why in every encounter in Scripture where they were revealed, people fell to their feet. But, they are created beings and have limited knowledge and attributes. They have the same emotions and will that we have-the reason one-third of them fell-and they are curious and interested in the things of God-the reason two-thirds remained loyal to God. God had not told them everything, but now His plan is made known (Eph. 3:10).

Their central role is to serve God in heaven and have many different roles and levels of casts.

They can intervene to protect us, and also discipline us. They escort His elect to their heavily reward and glory, and when Christ returns, they will accompany Him in full force and magnitude. The role of angels is very important and needed, but we must never elevate them above what God intended. They are to be honored and respected and obeyed, but they are never to be worshiped or prayed to (Gen. 18; Matt. 18:10; Luke 16:22; Acts. 5:17-21; 12:1-10; Heb. 1:4-15; 13:2; 1 Pet. 1:12; Rev. 22:9)

Also, in the Bible the heavenly creature that have wings are Cherubim (Exodus 25:20; Ezek. 10) and Seraphim (Isaiah 6). They are not Angels.

The “Four living creatures” from revelation comes from Ezekiel, they are not Angels, they are figurative and Babylon descriptions, this possibly refers to a type of angelic who ministers to God, like the Seraphim  and Cherubim  their job is to act as protectors, guardians, and servants, giving their adoration. Their purpose is to showcase and point to that “God is Great” (Gen. 3:24; Ex. 25:17-22; 1 Kings 7:29; 1 Chron. 12:8; 28:18; Psalm 18:10; Isa. 6; Ezek. 1:6-11; Rev. 4:6-11).

Can we see Angels? Usually no, and you would not want to, as God’s “messengers,” they are non-sexual and non-corporal beings whose very presence will cause one to have a heart attack or at the very lease defecate your digested lunch out into your pants. Every time they manifest themselves, they first put the person they are visiting at ease, unless they are in disguise like with the encounter with Abraham.

In addition, they do not have wings or halos. And no, you do not want to encounter one.

They can communicate through dreams and life’s events without our knowledge, so we can remain sane and keep our pants clean.

So, how did we get the theme of wings on angels? From paintings depicted in the Middle Ages, when people, especially artists were not allowed to read the Bible.

Sorry folks, that is what the Bible teaches about Angles…they are forbidding not friendly… And, if God wanted an Angel to show wings, he certainly can do that…. Let’s just not fixate on stuff the Bible does not state or make important.

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The Comfort of the Holy Spirit!

John 16:1-15, “Beach Talk”

Do not fall away; I, Jesus Christ, am here for you!

How has your year been? Mine, not so well….. Sick, almost lost home, robbed, swindled by a friend, cheated by another, then in ministry churches burned, people killed, financial problems… But my point is not woe is me; rather, Our great comfort, no matter what, what we go through, what we fear, Christ is here and He sends His Holy Spirit to indwell in us. How great is that!

The precepts of our Lord are not just for academic, they are meant for our learning and growth as well as for spiritual nourishment, comfort, and hope and thus real tires on the road life.

Why, they are not just for study and pew-sitting, because we need their reality, their veracity. Why? We will be hurt, we will be persecuted, kicked out of prideful churches, unjustly fired from jobs, hated by family members, and any one by those who hate Jesus-who want to live their lives their way and do as they see fit.

Those of the devil will attack us, they want to get rid of the good people whose hearts are after Christ and whose wills are surrendered to God’s. They hate us, them because they love sin and we are Christ’s ambassadors; thus, they want you gone and dead so their arrogant, full and puffed-up selves can live and lead the way, because they do not know the One, True God.

Q: Have you ever considered that you may be persecuted, lose a job you like, kicked out of your church, lose a friend, or perhaps even lose your life through the people who are prideful? How does this make you feel?

So, be warned and take comfort that even when it does not look like it, God is in charge. He is! And, who you are in Christ and what you have in Him is far greater than anything you can lose here on earth. All this is temporary, but Christ and our place in Him are eternal. He tells us here in John 16, I will send you the Great Counselor, the Holy Spirit to teach you the Truth, lead, direct, inspire, comfort, and help you. He will help you convince others of me and for me, of God and His righteousness and the judgment to come. Thus, even in these harsh times, you will prevail to give Christ the Glory!

One of the striking key words in this passage is this, Service to God. It seems benign; yet, in the context is that when we are being persecuted, it is a way of worshiping God in the extreme, the honor of living and even dying for His sake (Isa. 66:5).

Yes, this is harsh, yet it is God’s kindness too. It was disturbing to the Disciples and to us what Jesus had to do for us! If Jesus had not lived to fulfill the Law and then died as a sacrifice to redeem us, we would be doomed because there would be no Gospel (Matt. 1:21; John 14:16-26).

So, our Hope to get through it all, so we do not get depressed, give up, or snap, rage, flip out, exit stage left….We have the Counselor / Helper / Advocate / Paraclete. The Holy Spirit, who is like a legal representative who helps by coming alongside, who consoles or comforts, strengthens and advocates for you.

The Holy Spirit who comes alongside us as our Comforter, which is the role model for our actions too.

The Holy Spirit is also the “successor” of Christ walking the earth, but not a replacement. He helps to carry on the work of our Lord in and through us. The Holy Spirit is also our Advocate who defends us, like in a heavenly court where Satan is the prosecutor, God is the merciful Judge, and Christ pays our penalty.

He also illuminates our minds, prompts our prayers, shows us the opportunities, and inspires our messages as we connect Christ to others in our encounters. Tells us, yes you can, you can do it!

He will….Convict / reprove. Meaning He will expose the facts, show fault, or tell someone real truth to be set right when they are doing something wrong and to summon him/her to repentance. One of the prime roles of the Holy Spirit is to illuminate Jesus to people so they can know of His existence, work, and saving grace. He is the prime testifier of Christ to the world and we are the vessels He uses to accomplish God’s purpose (John 3:16-18; 15:22-24; Rom. 1:18-28).

The Holy Spirit convicts, Guilt, exposes sin, and prepares people to receive Jesus. Because of Christ, we are not condemned; but, those who refuse Him will be. It is the world that is on trial; how the verdict goes is how we plead. If we plead the Blood of the Lamb and accept His grace, we are found not guilty, because He paid the fine that we can’t ever possibly pay (1 Cor. 2:10).

Q: Do you feel that you have been warned about trials and tribulations? How can you take comfort that even when it does not look like it, God is in charge?

When we are going through tough times, we may think, God does not care, he just has His favorites and I am not one of them, He is not as powerful as the Bible proclaims, or He just has given up on me, on America, on the Church. But, even though we may feel that way, these doubts are just not true.

What does this all come down to? We can Bear. Meaning more than you can presently comprehend or know. The Devil may bring charges against us, but God sends His Spirit as our defense (Matt. 5:22).

Q: What would it mean to you to be more empowered by God’s love through all situations and circumstances?

He will Guide. This is not about science and knowledge; rather, it involves preparation for faith by His lead and command. We are to have a trusting and prayerful dependence on the Holy Spirit, for He inspired the Word in its inception and inspires us now in our understating and application of it. In fact, we can’t properly grasp or apply His Word without His guidance in it (John 14:26; 15:26; 2 Peter 1:21; Eph. 4:18; Rev. 1:19).

This essence of who God is and what He did must pour into us from Christ and then stream out of us so we can touch others with God’s love.

This love is the definitive work of our God and the power we have as Christians. We are to be empowered by God’s love through all situations and circumstances, through our joys and moods, fears and opportunities. Then, we can practice the true love that we are given, which is the turning of our backs to what we want and our concerns and instead facing forward to others. This requires us to surrender our will to His.

Our partnership with God through faith is demonstrated by substance and connection. It is confirmed in how we choose to live our lives and touch others for Christ. It shows how our character, from our spiritual formation, is applied. If we ignore our brothers and sisters in the Lord or those in the world who are in need while we boast we are in Him, what good is our faith? Our pious demonstrations would be ineffectual, and even detrimental to others. Faith is not a substance meant to stand unused; rather, it is to be employed and infused by Christ (Luke 3:21; John 1:32-34; 3:34; Acts 1-21 John 3:16-20)!

And a closing thought, How can you allow the essence of who God is, pour into you, and then stream out so you can touch others with God’s love?

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Abraham and Faith!

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.  Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” Genesis 17:1-2

Romans 12:1 – Present your bodies as a living sacrifice.

Genesis 13-23, key verse 17:1

Timeline, about 2000 BC.  During Abraham’s life, the areas were ruled by Egypt and the Pharaohs, the Sphinx and great Pyramids are built, and the Bronze Age is in high gear.

Key personalities: God, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and a Promise Land.

Abraham pitches his tent to demonstrate that he follows God. God fulfilled this promise while, at the same time, Abram had to learn patience, faith, and trust in God.

Look to the stars.  God gave Abram a call and purpose, an improbable paradox, but without the goods to make it so, or as it seemed.  So he had to learn, grow, trust and obey God before the fulfillment of this promise, to be a great nation and the ‘seed’ of faith for Jews and Christians.  Problem?  He had no children and his wife Sarai was barren.  Yet, it is by faith that Abraham was honored and used to build nations; he obeyed and trusted in God when told to leave his homeland and venture to an alien land that became an inheritance to his descendants (Gal. 3:7-9, 29).

  • Credited as righteousness, Abraham was saved by faith, not works, a prelude to God’s grace before he was circumcised.  As faith, not works, provides righteousness, faith, not ritual or religion, nor is it wages we earn that we can brag about (Gen 15:6; Gal. 3:11; Rom. 4:1-25; 7:18; James 2:21-26).

God changes Abram’s name (ironically meaning “exalted father”) to Abraham, meaning “multitude”–the father of many nations, and Sarai (that meant “contentious”) to Sarah, meaning “princess”, mother of nations.  Sarai had to learn God’s providence, trust in His provision and to temper her anger.

  • Faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness, at least 14 years before he was circumcised; having taken place before Ishmael’s birth, at which time he was 86 years old, and the other when Ishmael was 13 years of age, and Abraham 99 (Gen. 15:5, 6; 16; 16:1-3; 17:1; 10, 23-27; John 1:40-42; Acts 10:47; Rom. 2:25-29; 1 Cor. 7:18- 19; Gal. 5:6; 6:15).

Birth of Isaac, the promise begins to be fulfilled!  Isaac meant “laughter” of great joy. Then, the big test: God told Abram to do something unthinkable, as previously He changed his name to Abraham, meaning one who will have many children.  He is called to offer up his son Isaac to God.  Isaac grew up to love and honor God with confidence, because he knew what God was yet to do.  His promise was secure.  His son Jacob also lived a life of faith and kept the blessing of God flowing to his son Joseph, whose descendants would come back to inherit and take over the promise land.  Each of these people demonstrated a life of faith lived out (John 8:56; Rom. 15:13).

  • Offered up Isaac.  This was the ultimate test of faith that models what God would do for us to come-offer His Son.  Abraham waited a lifetime to have children and when he finally had one, God asked for him.  As he was in the act of the sacrifice, God interrupted and intervened to save the son, just as He intervenes to offer His Son for us.  He did this to see if Abraham’s faith was real or just pretentious, and if his confidence was in God or just in what He had provided.  Perhaps, Abraham was confident that God would raise Isaac from the dead.  God does not tempt us to see us fail; He seeks to see if we are real.  This is why He is the prototypical man of faith for all to emulate.  This place, ‘Moriah,’ becomes the place Solomon is to build the Temple and outside where Jesus teaches and is crucified (Gen. 15:2; 17:20-21; 22:1-18; 2 Chron. 3:1; John 3:16; Rom 8:32; Heb. 13:20).

OT the promise was by faith and not of works. This points us to a crucial Christian theological point:  justification is by faith alone, by grace alone. This is illustrated and even proved logically by using the example of Abraham.

Key Takeaway:  This passage shows us the importance of our spiritual growth set in the context of the power of God and His Word and as heirs to the Promise.  Let us look to the faith of Noah and Abraham and how we can be that faithful in the midst of cultural hatred toward us, and not buy into pride or prejudice!  (Psalm 8; 1 Cor. 4:2; Gal. 26-29)

  1. When God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, it meant he was a great father, yet he had no children.  How would you feel, what would you do if this happened to you?

 

  1. How did Abraham’s faith showed confidence in God, His provision, and promise?

 

  1. What do these passages teach us about trusting in God’s timing?

 

  1. How does patience and faith go together?  What do you need to learn in this?

© 2012 R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

 

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Dealing with Disappointments

Let us read James 1:5-8

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. ESV

What do you do when you are overwhelmed? 

Disappointments are the collision between our expectations and experiences, while ignoring the signposts of God’s promises.

Our expectations will collide with our experiences and then create a wrecked life of self-pity and resentment. Or, that can lead to a triumphant life. The choice is ours and the key is where we look for our hope! This is about our circumstances and how we look at our Lord. How we see adversity and His sovereignty will totally affect how we learn and deal with it (Phil 1:27-30).

Unanchored stress and disappointments along with detachment from looking to God will take us away from seeing His signposts of precepts.

Thus, we ignore God’s plan and this dumps us in the middle of a tossed sea (Job 23:10; Rom. 5:3-5; 1 Thess. 5:16-18).

We cannot just expect God to get us through without any effort on our part. To grow, we have to struggle and work it out (Phil. 2). It is the struggle that helps us; that is what builds us and forms us. Without it, there is no growth or real impacting faith, honest character, genuine patience, or maturity (Prov. 3:5-6; 20:30; Job. 36:5; Rom. 8:28-29; 2 Cor. 1:9; 1 Peter 1:6-7).

When we do not rely on God, we are, in fact, not taking care of ourselves by helping Him out; rather, we are insulting Him!

Let’s look at some of these key words!

  • Tossed refers to being unstable, immature, and weak in   faith (Eph. 4:14-16). We can only become un-tossed by the Anchor of who      Christ is in us, and pursuing Him!
  • Sea is a term that drove fear into Jews then; they   did not venture into the ocean, but relied on others to do that in fishing      and commerce (Isa. 57:20).
  • Double  minded refers to being unstable  emotionally and in thoughts, like a split personality or schizophrenia. It  also means to be a person who has two souls in conflict, two desires that      cannot be reconciled, two masters who ask different things at the same      time. This is “I want my will and God’s will.”    This just cannot be!
  • Doubtalong   with double-minded, is also a form of inconsistent living   and hypocrisy, and is greatly condemned by God. It is saying one thing and   doing another (1 Chron. 12:33; Psalm 12:2; Matt. 6:24; James 4:8). This is   also indecision! It is not being willing to make up your mind and go in the  right direction!
  • Unstable. We are called to make decisions based on God’s values  and not our ideas or indecisions. How do our decisions affect others? How  are they relational and beneficial to others and God’s glory?

Take the Initiative! 

We have to take the initiative in our spiritual formation. We must reach out and accept His Hand. Allow Him lead you out. Do not try to swim by yourself, as the waters of life are too strong; the currents and tides of desires and wrong opportunities will overwhelm you. Anticipate what may lie ahead and prepare; this is James’ whole point! Unequivocally, we have to reach out for Christ and Him only! We can choose not to be bitter-rather be better! What we receive from God is good. What we receive from self and others, with personal agendas that are not centered on God, will be bad and distract us from our growth. If we are being real with our spiritual formation, we will realize our need for Christ and our continual need for His wisdom (Matt. 5:3)!

What do I do when I am overwhelmed? 

Are you allured to your previous sins, addictions or dependencies? Are they crying to you and you are yearning for them? Then ask God for help; He is able! Trust in His control! He is the God who can keep us walking above the waves, and keep us alive and going when we are under them! Go through His Word, seek what you can learn, how you can get through, and for wisdom. If we do not learn, all those “waves” will just be a waste, and perhaps we will keep going through them until we do learn (Psalm 142:1-7; John 7:17; 1 Peter 1:6-7).

Do not escalate your situation by complaining, or distort it by denial, bitterness, or isolation!

Do not be dumb, trapped in your own anger and regret. Be smart; be a Christian who learns and grows and who is committed to obedience, spiritual growth, and maturity. Instead of moaning, seek His grace to solve the situation! Do not blame, or seek fault in others or yourself; rather, get on with life and your commitment to Christ. Allow His amazing work in you!

Resistance to God, our bad attitudes, and anger only cause us more harm, choosing for ourselves to be tossed by the seas of life without hope or purpose.

Let Christ be your anchor, or else you will drown and your life will be a series of wasted opportunities. When you could have and should have grown, you will have squandered His call and put your energies into complaints, and your mindsets and attitudes into bitterness and anger. We need to come to the point that we trust in the Lord, regardless of how good or how bad life is, for it is temporary. What we learn will be eternal (John 7:17-18)!

The key is to learn to take your life and your surroundings as they are, and then strive to build them to what they can be for His glory.

Not just as you want it. If our hearts and minds are divided between seeking God or seeking ourselves, we will become double minded and unstable. We will become spiritually and emotionally unstable and thus sink in the waves of stress and life! We will literally be torn apart spiritually and physically by our stress and worry, because we have not yielded to Him.

Let go and let God; allow your wholehearted devotion to be on Christ and not on yourself.

God will not make your decisions for you; you need to seek His precepts and distill what is best for value’s and character’s sake; then, He will enable us to form it and grow (Isa. 26:3; Matt. 6:33)

Allow me to give you a couple of take home ponders,

What happens when Doubt comes into your life? What will you do about it next time it happens?

What gets in your way of making time with God? What are you going to do about it?

Remember, you are not in this alone, you have Christ the Lord, the church and thus you can get over disappointments and seize the initiative to go forth in life and your spiritual formation and precious relationships!

Let us pray….

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Grow your Ministry using Social Media

Grow Ministry w SM white paper pdf

Key techniques to connect with more people to grow your church or ministry using social media. Developing an effective strategy for Social Media ministry to successfully focus on the appropriate overall ministry goals. 

 

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