Friday, March 29, 2013

Resurrected Marriage

Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.  Scripture says He raised from the dead after being dead three days (Luke 24:21; Matthew 12:40).  Because of His death, He defeated sin, death, and the grave (1 Corinthians 15:57).  We can now have new life in Christ because of the crucifixion and the resurrection.  In other words, because Jesus went from death to life, we too can go from death to life in all areas. 

Scripture says in Christ we are a new creation – the old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Romans 8:11 says, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you.”  The same power that resurrected Jesus can resurrect your life!  This means you can be saved eternally and go to heaven one day when you die but it also means other aspects of your life can be resurrected as well.  The Christian life is more than saying a prayer to be saved and waiting to go to heaven.  It is about victorious living while you wait! 

Jesus wants to resurrect your marriage.  If your marriage is dead or dying don’t give up – Jesus can breathe new life into it!  The first step is to make sure you have surrendered your life to Christ.  You must be saved.  Romans 6:3-4 says, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?   We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  In order to have a Christ-like marriage you must learn to be Christ-like.  Sir, the only way to be a husband that loves your wife like Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25) is to die like Jesus did and let Him resurrect you to a new life.  How can you be like Jesus if you don’t know or spend time with Jesus?  Ma’am, the only way to submit to your husband like the Lord is to know and spend time with the Lord (Ephesians 5:22).

The only way to have a marriage full of the life of Christ is kill all the fleshly ways of doing things and be resurrected to walk in a new life.  Most of the time the main problem of bad marriages is no one wants to die to self.  Without a crucifixion there can be no resurrection.  Jesus willingly laid down His life for us to save us (John 10:18).  1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”  Walking in a resurrected marriage means you continually lay down your life for your spouse in specific practical and measurable ways.

Your marriage isn’t too dead for Jesus to resurrect.  Maybe you don’t see any signs of life?  Maybe it stinks?  Is it dead?  Good, then you are on step one of Jesus resurrecting your marriage.  Now you must let Him breathe His life into you and your spouse.  That is His Holy Spirit’s power – the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in every Christian.  It may seem like your marriage is like crucifixion – painful, agony, torture, death.  Remember this:  crucifixion (death to self) + the Holy Spirit = resurrection.  The Holy Spirit is the change agent.  Without Him you are stuck in crucifixion and death.  With Him you can be raised to new life in your personal life and relationships.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Remedy For Rumors

“Rumor has it…”  What is it about having the edge on juicy information?  What drives people to be the first to have and share some inside information?  If someone starts off a sentence with, “Guess what I heard?” you had better be careful to check that information as truth before sharing it.  Why is it we love rumors and gossip?  What is even more ironic is that they are both forms of lies.  If Satan is the father of all lies (John 8:44) then why do Christians especially run to them sometimes like moths to a flame? 

Proverbs 18:8 says this about rumors:  “What dainty morsels rumors are.  They sink deep into one’s heart.”  Rumors draw us in like a magnet.  Matching rumors against truth before believing or spreading them sometimes evades Christians.  Scripture says we shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free (John 8:32).  We should check everything against truth before we accept it as truth.  Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Well-meaning people can sometimes unintentionally spread gossip and rumor – lies.  To stop spreading rumors you must do a few necessary fact checking steps.  First, consider the source.  Is the person telling you this information reliable and trustworthy?  Is this the person you get all your truth from?  Next, consider the person the information is about.  Is this generally true about their character and lifestyle?  The best way to clear the whole matter up is to go directly to the person the story is about.  Call them, meet with them, speak directly to them – do whatever it takes to get the truth from them before you believe and spread the juicy information.  Whatever happened to believing the best about someone before we jump to conclusions?  Whatever happened to believing God’s Word over the Devil’s lies?  Even if you do have true information you should seek to protect another believer and not use it against them.  Proverbs 11:13 says a trustworthy person keeps information, not spreads it like wildfire.

I’ve gone as far as to say, “That is out of their character and until I can speak with them directly about it I must choose not to believe it.”  I’ve also said, “Let’s get them on the phone right now so we can ask them.”  I also attempt to trace a rumor back to its source.  I ask that person to call everyone back and clear up the matter.  Too bold?  Confrontation with the truth is the only action that will stop a gossip dead in their tracks.  This kind of action clears up the matter immediately.  For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases” (Proverbs 26:20). Sometimes people spread information in the guise of prayer.  “Pray for so-and-so because of what they did.”  Problem is most of the time no one gets around to praying. 

Lies, gossip, rumors, and deception are all tools of Satan to bring disunity to the Church and damage to the Christian’s life.  Believing these can cause division, offense, bitterness, and the destruction of relationships.  Believing lies about someone will affect how you think about and treat people. You’ll brush them off and believe a lie over going directly to them and getting the matter resolved.  Satan is stealing your relationships because you choose to believe rumors and lies.  If you haven’t gone directly to the person the rumor or gossip is about to ask them you have no business believing or spreading it about them.  They are infectious diseases in the Church meant to kill it.  Kill the rumor before it kills you.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Get Stronger - Serve God Longer!

We all exercise daily?  Disagree?  Here are some examples: beating around the bush, jumping to conclusions, climbing the walls, swallowing your pride, passing the buck, throwing your weight around, dragging your heels, pushing your luck, hitting the nail on the head, wading through the muck, bending over backwards, jumping on the bandwagon,  running around in circles, eating crow, tooting your own horn, opening a can of worms, adding fuel to the fire.  LOL!

I've been convicted lately about eating healthier and working out more.  Conviction is a good thing!  It means the Holy Spirit is directing, leading, and talking to you!  I felt like God gave me this statement while I was running this morning - "Get stronger so you can serve Me longer." 

As a believer, my body is  a temple of the Holy Spirit because He is in me (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  I was bought with a price and should glorify God in my body and spirit - the scripture says both.  I should strive to grow stronger in my body AND in in my spirit. That means I have to exercise and feed both well.  Feed - put right stuff in so I will have energy and strength to exercise - send right stuff out.

I've found that exercise bring about great discipline in my life.  I've learned to like (not love yet) running.  Ran a 5k today.  I always listen to sermons and sometime listen to worship songs.  I feed my soul while I am exercising my body.  Today I started listening to a sermon series on the book of Habakkuk.  After I ran and listened to that sermon, I went to the High School football field and did "line drills"  There are variations of that exercise but I started at the end zone, ran to the 5 yard line, back, ran to the 10, back, etc. until I ran the length of the field and back - 2,100 yards or 1.2 miles! During that time I just listened to the Lord.  It's amazing what you hear when you listen to Him!  When I wanted to quit I felt like He said to me, "You can do it!"

If you are struggling in feeding and exercising your body and soul, why not try combining the two?  Start small, achieve, apply, set new goal.  Daily, step-by-step growth is better than reading the whole Old Testament and a marathon every once in a great while (note: you'll never do either without working up to it gradually). Discipline is the vehicle dreams and goals travel on.  Discipline is a good thing - it is a root word of discipleship - being a disciple.   I'm not the best at consistent exercise but I love the results.  Who doesn't?  It's the work that no one likes.  Guess it's true - no pain, no gain. You reap what you sow.  Come on, let's get stronger so we can serve God longer!

Friday, March 8, 2013


Have you ever been so thirsty you thought you were going to die? Maybe your thirst hasn’t ever been that bad but I’m sure you have had a time when you really needed a drink. Maybe after working or exercising? Water is not an option for life, it is a necessity. You can go a few weeks without food but you will die without water in a couple of days. Our bodies are comprised of about 70% water, which blew the mind of my six year old when I told her that. She thought for sure she was about 70% candy and part of me thinks she is right.

Thirst is an indication of dryness. Your brain tells your mouth, lips, and tongue you need refreshment. But it’s not your mouth, lips and tongue that really need the water – it’s your vital organs. Your mouth’s dryness is a warning your life needs refreshing water or you will die. Where there is thirst, there is dryness. Where there is thirst, there is a longing to be refreshed. One day Jesus told a woman at a popular well, “Give me to drink” (John 4:7). This woman had more than a physical thirst. She was dry and thirsty in her soul. She spent her life trying to quench her inner thirst with many broken relationships. Her thirst could only be quenched by “living water”. Jesus gave it to her that day and she never thirst in her soul again. This was what she had been searching for all of her life and this well never ran dry.

In Isaiah 43:19, the Lord tells us, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Verse 20 goes on to say He will provide a drink to His people. In Israel, it rains mostly in the winter. The dry river beds in the summer stand as a testimony that the rain that fell will once again fall and refresh the land. When the rains do come in Israel the riverbeds usually overflow into the land around them and refresh the land and water the crops. This is the picture of God giving rivers in the desert.

Water is a emblem of the Holy Spirit in Scripture. God wants to pour His Spirit into your life and soak you to the point of overflowing. Not only does it refresh your dry riverbed, it overflows in the life of those around you. God doesn’t want you dry and empty. He wants you filled with His Spirit, overflowing with purpose and calling. Psalm 42:1-2 says, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” Appearing before Him every morning with a hunger and thirst opens your dry and weary riverbed before Him. Panting like a water-starved deer is how we should seek Him every day. Searching relentlessly for His presence. The good news is you don’t have to look far. Just look to Jesus and stop searching in the wrong places.

Are you thirsty? Is your life dry and weary? Have you tried to quench the thirst in your life through relationships, achievement, prestige, etc? Everything in life will leave you wanting more because it cannot fill. You will constantly have to go back to those wells and never be able to draw out enough to quench your innermost thirst and dryness. Jesus can quench your thirst and will keep you refreshed and hydrated. You can be like Isaiah 58:11, “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong. And you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”

Friday, March 1, 2013

Forgiveness is Liberating!

Forgiveness is a liberating, loving act and attitude we must have.  It frees you from the hurt someone caused you.  It is healthy and brings peace.  Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”  Some of the best advice I could ever give you is to let that offense go, no matter how bad it was.  “But they didn’t say they were sorry!”   That’s the beauty of forgiveness – they don’t have to in order for you to receive freedom from hurt, bitterness, and anger.  Just let it go and choose not to let them have any more control over your life and emotions.

Unforgiveness will lead to vengeance.  Getting even with someone has a high price that most of us, in hindsight, would never pay.  Unforgiveness imprisons you in your past, holding you hostage from the life you want now and in the future.  As long as you are unwilling to forgive, you will be shackled to that person who hurt you.  Their one time act, whether intentional or not, can hold you captive for a lifetime – if you let it.  Let’s say what they did or said lasted one minute.  Yes it was wrong but now that wrong has reached out further than that one minute boundary and has stolen ten years of your life.  Their act hasn’t consumed you for ten years – your unforgiveness has.  Now it’s all you think and talk about.  Hate and vengeance has fed your unforgiveness and now you have created and nurtured a monster to which you are enslaved.

Unforgiveness is like a sore.  It started out as a small, non-life threatening injury. But you’ve continued to pick at the scab and reject healing.  You’ve enlarged it and opened yourself up to infection.  Now your sore has spread and you feel worse than when you started.  Choosing not to forgive is choosing to love hate.  Unforgiveness spreads like a cancer.  It produces bitterness which dominates thinking and creates anger.  Anger produces offense and soon spirals out of control and sparks thoughts of revenge.  Now, you are vengeful and begin to close off from other relationships to avoid future hurt.  Soon, all this will lead to lies, slander, and even profanity. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way!  Forgiveness frees you!  It takes the weight off and liberates you to enjoy life, live in peace, and engage relationships.  Scripture promotes forgiveness because it is a cool, refreshing, life-giving drink to a parched, weary, dehydrated soul.   There are at least 70 pictures of forgiveness in Scripture.  These figures of speech show us the beauty and benefit of forgiveness. 

Forgiving is like opening the cell door and releasing the prisoner.  Forgiveness is like writing “Paid in Full” over a debt.  Forgiveness is like shooting an arrow so far it can never be found again.  Forgiveness is like taking out the trash as to leave one’s house clean.  Forgiveness is releasing an anchor so the ship can sail.  To forgive is to turn the key, open the cell door and let the prisoner free.  Forgiveness is like pardoning a criminal.  Forgiveness is like sandblasting a wall of graffiti, leaving it sparkling and clean.   Forgiveness is like smashing a pot into many pieces so it can never be assembled again. 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean overlooking abuse, letting someone walk all over you, approving of evil, or even pretending hurt never happened.  It doesn’t always mean reconciliation can happen again.  It just means you can be free.  Forgiveness brings life, health, and freedom.  Jesus forgave us from the most horrible, wretched sin imaginable.  He died for our sins even when we didn’t want or deserve it.  The greatest reason to forgive is because Jesus forgave us from so much.