Mar 20, 2019
Lenten Worship: Cross Roads
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  • Mar 20, 2019Lenten Worship: Cross Roads
    Mar 20, 2019
    Lenten Worship: Cross Roads
  • Mar 17, 2019God’s Incredible Love
    Mar 17, 2019
    God’s Incredible Love
    Series: (All)
  • Mar 10, 2019Overcoming Temptation
    Mar 10, 2019
    Overcoming Temptation
    Series: (All)
  • Mar 3, 2019It is Good to Be Here
    Mar 3, 2019
    It is Good to Be Here
    Series: (All)
  • Feb 24, 2019Doing the Unthinkable
    Feb 24, 2019
    Doing the Unthinkable
    Series: (All)
  • Feb 17, 2019Marriage and the Need for Forgiveness
    Feb 17, 2019
    Marriage and the Need for Forgiveness
  • Feb 10, 2019Leave and Cleave
    Feb 10, 2019
    Leave and Cleave

    “Leave and Cleave”

    Genesis 2:18-24

    February 10, 2019

     

         When two people get married sometimes we refer to it as “tying the knot.”  Apparently this phrase grew out of an ancient custom where the bride and groom would actually have their hands tied together with a rope during the wedding ceremony, indicating that they were making a special commitment to each other.  Even today some pastors will put a sash around a couples’ hands instead of a rope to symbolize their commitment to each other as two people become one in marriage.  Marriage is hard work.  It can be tough in that dating often revels the best of you, while marriage often reveals the worst of you.  Even couples who have the best of marriages still have their obstacles, difficulties, and battles on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, this knot – known as marriage – can easily become untied these days as some people simply walk away from their vows when the marriage becomes a bit stale or uncomfortable.      While there is certainly nothing in this world that will guarantee a successful marriage, I do believe if people build their marriage on God and His Word or if they let God tie the knot, their marriage will be stronger.  The first marriage between Adam and Eve was intended by God to be a model for every marriage, of what marriage should be like and why marriage is important.  But sadly, it was attacked and destroyed by Satan.  Did you ever realize that Satan didn’t appear to bother Adam until Eve was created?  As soon as Adam and Eve were married Satan attacks.  Clearly Satan hates marriage as he looks to destroy all families and relationships.       It all started when Adam was naming all of the animals that God had made.  One by one, Adam examined these creatures, noticed what their individual characteristics were, and then he named them accordingly.  Imagine the situation, Adam looking each creature and saying, “Giraffes, Lions, Elephants.”  But it didn’t take long for Adam to realize that something was missing in his life.  There was no one like him in all the world.  He couldn’t have an intelligent conversation with an animal.  He could talk to God, but it wouldn’t be quite the same.  Adam needed someone by his side and without that companion, that helpmate, something was missing.       Up until this point, everything that God had created was good, and in the case of humanity, very good.  But God knows that it is not good for Adam to be alone.  It is not that God had made a mistake or had forgotten something, but His creation was just not completed yet.  So God decides to make a helper suitable for Adam.      Now before I say anything further, I should state that there is nothing wrong with being single.  God doesn’t call everyone to be married.  Jesus was never married.  Paul, who wrote our text from last Sunday, 1 Corinthians 13, which describes in great detail what true love is all about, was never married.      So initially, Adam is in a situation that is not good as there is no one like him.  But Adam doesn’t complain.  He trusted that God would take care of him and do whatever was best.  So, as we heard in our Old Testament lesson, God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep and while he was sleeping, He took one of Adam’s ribs and made a woman from the rib, and brought her to Adam.  We should also note from where God took the bone to make the woman.  He didn’t take a bone from Adam’s head, so Eve could rule over Adam.  He didn’t take a bone from Adam’s foot so he could (figuratively) walk all over her.  God picked a bone from Adam’s side, a bone close to Adam’s heart, so that she could be an equal helper to Adam in every way, but they would have different roles in marriage.      Husbands and wives, do you see this blessing that God has given you in your marriage?  Adam noticed this blessing right away.  When God presented him with Eve, notice Adam’s response.  He said in verse 23, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”  Adam was so happy to be blessed with a spouse, and this is what God wants our attitude to be in marriage.  God has provided you with someone to help complete you, to help cover up your weaknesses.  How could anyone complain about this gift of God?  How could a husband ever beat or hurt his wife, a gift given to him from God; and how could a wife ever speak poorly or take advantage of her husband, a gift given to her from God?      We should also note that the word, “helper” in verse 18, “…I will make him a helper fit for him” is not derogatory term to suggest that the woman is the “man’s assistant” or someone less equal than a man.  The word has the idea of supplying something that would otherwise be lacking.  Many times in the Bible it is used to refer to God as our helper.      There is an old saying, “It is not how you start, but how you finish that counts.” But when it comes to marriage, how you start is just as important as how you finish and may determine how you finish.  The main principle of marriage, of “tying the knot,” is to let God bring the two strands (man and woman) together, and to let Him tie the knot together.      Then, when the wedding is over and the marriage is official, God tells the bride and groom in verse 24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh.”  The Hebrew word for “leave” is often translated “abandon” as in “abandon ship.”  That’s some strong language.  Those who are about to marry are to abandon the ship of their parents in which they have been nurtured for as much as 20 or 30 years.  But there’s a reason for that as the man and woman now have to get on their own ship called “marriage.”  This doesn’t mean that we are to suddenly neglect or disrespect our parents who have given so much of their time and treasure to care for us.  After all, the Bible tells us that we are to always honor our parents and we are to provide for our relatives, especially our immediate families.  But in this sacred bond called marriage, a new home, a new family, a new life is being formed.  A man and a woman form a new body, one flesh from two; and this new body is to be nurtured and cared for at all times.      As the husband and wife leave that parent-child relationship, our text for today says that the man shall “hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Those words “hold fast,” suggest something that means, “to be glued to” or “to be cemented together.”  Every husband should hold fast to his wife for dear life – no matter what, because it is in this process of holding fast that God builds character, perseverance, faith, trust, and love.       Other translations of this text say that the husband and wife cleave to each other in marriage.  That word, “cleave” suggests more of a strong “stick-to-itive-ness.”  This bond of marriage is more than a mutual agreement.  Agreements can be changed.  Opinions can be swayed.as we see more and more of this happening today when it comes to the understanding of marriage.  But the bond that God had in mind and instituted in marriage despite our opinions is to be lifelong: “…a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to His wife, and the two will become one flesh.”  They will be two hearts, woven together as one.      But a good weave always involves 2 strands plus one.  Consider a hair braid.  For all appearances it looks like 2 strands of hair twisted together, but in reality there is always a third, not immediately evident, but playing an important role in keeping the other two closely woven together.  If we were to pull that strand out the other two would be weakened and eventually pull out.  The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that “a cord of three strands is not easily broken,” and when a man and woman come together in marriage as one flesh, behind the relationship is the understanding that God is the third strand, though not immediately evident, who has promised to be with all married couples and every one of us to the very end of the age.      Therefore, when two people come together in marriage, God weaves that new life together around His love.  A love that forgives the past, gives us a new start, nurtures and sustains us in all circumstances, and keeps our love from growing stale and weak.  Indeed, God’s love can deepen our love and help it to grow stronger through every joy and sorrow shared together.   
  • Feb 3, 2019Love
    Feb 3, 2019
    Love

    “Love”

    1 Corinthians 13:1-13

    February 3, 2019

           A couple came to see their pastor (not me), because the man was concerned about his wife’s depression.  He had tried everything he could think of to help her, but nothing seemed to work.  After talking to the couple for about an hour, the pastor gave the woman a hug and kissed her.  He then turned to the husband and said, “That’s all your wife needs about 4 days a week.”  The husband said, “Oh, I can’t do that, I can only bring her here on Thursdays.”      Many research organizations tell us that about 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and that bothers me, because it makes me wonder at times if we do enough to strengthen and save our marriages.  After all, if I told you there was a 50% chance that you would lose something of great value to you, you would probably do everything you could to protect it, to insure you didn’t lose it.  So if we value our marriages, then we ought to be doing everything we can to insure that they will succeed.       The problem is many times married couples do all kinds of things to save or strengthen their marriages, but they don’t do the most important thing and that is going to God.  Our world offers all kinds of books and seminars about marriage that will teach you how to communicate better, how to handle conflict, how to manage finances, how to be more intimate with each other, and these are all fine – they are very helpful, but one thing is still missing and that is love.  Marriage is supposed to be based on love, which you would think ought to go without saying – husbands and wives should love each other.  But since we are sinners by nature, and sin leads us to love ourselves rather than others, we need to be reminded to love each other.      So what is love?  Ask that question to 10 different people and you will probably get 10 different answers, because love can mean different things to different people.  The New Testament was written in Greek and the Greek language has several words for love.  There is the word “eros,” which means a physical or sexual attraction, which is a legitimate and necessary aspect of marital love.  But marriages need a lot more than “eros” love.  Another word for love in Greek is pronounced “phileo.”  This love has to do with friendship and companionship, which is also an important part of marriage.  There should be friendship and things you enjoy about each other in marriage.  But you can have all kinds of “phileo” and “eros” love and still not approach what the Bible means by love that makes marriage work best.  The third word in Greek for love is “agape.”  This word describes God’s love for us and in the confines of marriage it is a commitment on the part of each married partner to be primarily concerned for the well being of the other in a giving, sacrificial, and unconditional way.      Now that’s a tall order and we all fall short, as a result many marriages struggle and fail, especially when people have all of these misconceptions about love, such as “love is a feeling.”  It’s a feeling deep down in your heart, that’s it.  Well, love does affect our feelings in a powerful way, but it is more than just a feeling.  Another popular misconception is that “love is uncontrollable.”  Many times people will say, “I fell in love.”  What does that mean?  When someone says that do they mean, “It just happened.  I was walking down the street and I fell in love.  I couldn’t help it.”      God’s “agape” love that we see in our second lesson for today from 1 Corinthians 13 is quite different.  Jesus commanded us to “love (agape) one another as I have loved you.”  That means we have control over who we love and who we don’t love; when we love and when we don’t love; we get to choose.  God says that love is a matter of choice.  In Colossians 3:12-14, God says, “…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity.”  In other words, to put on love involves an action we must take.  If love was just a feeling or an accident then God would not have commanded it.  He commands love, therefore love is an action, and how we act towards our spouse in marriage and towards others is what love is all about.  In verses 4-7 of our second lesson we see a definition of how love acts.  It says, “Love is patient, love is kind, love always trusts, it doesn’t brag, it’s not arrogant, it’s not rude, and it does not insist on its own way.”  This gives us a list of how love acts, and what I would like to do is to use this list as a guide this morning to determine whether our love is alive, dying, or dead in our marriages (and this can apply to all relationships).  The first thing it says on that list is “love is patient,” which means love is alive when it has time.  It is dying when it is hurried, and it is dead when it cannot wait.  Love takes time, it requires patience, because we spend a lot of time waiting in our lives.  We wait in traffic, we wait at the grocery store, we wait for an appointment, we wait for an illness to pass, we wait for marriage, and we wait for children.  Waiting with someone is not so bad, but waiting for someone is where we struggle with patience.  But our God is a patient God as He forgives us again and again and again in our lives.  And if God can take time to make allowances for our faults, then we can be patient with one another.      Second, 1 Corinthians 13 says “love is kind,” which means love is alive when it cares, it’s dying when it forgets, and it’s dead when it ignores.  Kindness means the ability to care for each other in the practical details of everyday life.  Kindness knows how to turn the grand vows that we make on our wedding day into cleaning the house, changing diapers, staying up with sick children, and caring for a spouse in their older years.  Jesus showed loving kindness in the care and healing He offered to people who were brought to Him in our Gospel lesson from Luke 4.  All of them were healed without question or conditions.      Third, the Bible says “love always trusts,” which means love is alive when it is secure; it is dying when it starts doubting, and it is dead when it stops trusting.  Trust or security is vital in relationships; and if you add just a little bit of doubt to a marriage you can make it very unhealthy.  Ask yourself this morning if it would make any difference in your marriage or in your relationship with your parents, children, or other family members if you said, “No matter what happens, no matter how ill you become, no matter how many times you fail, and no matter what we have to go through in life, I love you.”  It should make a difference, because God says that same thing to us: “No matter what you do or fail to do, I love you.”  That is the security we have with our God.      Finally, the last thing we read on that list is “love does not insist on its own way,” which means love is alive when it is giving; it’s dying when it is exchanging, and it’s dead when it is taking – when it’s selfish.  It’s interesting how many different kinds of relationships we have.  We have “give and take” relationships, which often means I take and you give.  We have “fair exchange” relationships – you do this for me and I’ll do that for you.  But the best relationship to have, especially in a marriage, is a “give and give” relationship, with both people giving because they want to give and are not forced to give.  Many people want romantic love in their marriage and that’s fine, but it’s very important to understand that romantic love demands constant attention, while real love gives constant attention.      As Christians we know that God loves us – by what He says here in His Word, but more importantly through His actions.  Every Sunday the one object we all see, without fail above our altar, is the cross.  In 1 Corinthians 1:18, it says that “the message of the cross is the power of God.”  God’s power was demonstrated when Jesus rose from the dead; but His love was demonstrated – was put into action – when Jesus willingly died on the cross for our sins.  The cross says to each of us: “I love you.”      The Bible tells us that Jesus is love, so every place that you see the word “love” on that list, you can replace it with the word Jesus – “Jesus is patient, Jesus is kind, Jesus always trusts.”   Think of yourself like a rechargeable battery – unless you are plugged into God’ Word often, your love for each other will quickly dry up and be replaced with love for yourself – and that does not lead to a happy marriage.  We need Jesus in our marriages, not just to model love, but to give us that love through the forgiveness He won for us on the cross so it will empower you to love one another with the same love He has shown to you.        
  • Jan 27, 2019Bad News and Good News
    Jan 27, 2019
    Bad News and Good News
    Series: (All)
  • Jan 20, 2019Every Life is Valued and Gifted
    Jan 20, 2019
    Every Life is Valued and Gifted
    Series: (All)
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