If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. – James 1:5
God is so good. He is an amazing Father who gives to His children over and over again. One of the most humbling experiences I’ve had was making the decision to fight less with God (I backslide and still try to fight sometimes. I’m stubborn) and to pray about something on my heart. Doing that instead of trying to do it on my own was wisdom that God had given me without me realizing it at first. That’s just one of those mysterious ways He provides more than we ask for, knowing we will need it in the future. The Bible has a lot to say on wisdom, in fact it has a lot to say on many aspects of our life. The application of what it gives us is to me, wisdom. We are making a choice to use what we have learned to change who we are for the better.
Wisdom Towards Others
In Colossians 4:5-6 we are given some wonderful advice and a sound warning about how we treat others. It is a caution for us to be wise towards others. We should pray to keep guard over our mouth (Psalm 141:3) so that we fulfill what Colossians speaks of. We cannot be speak grace when we are irrational (take this as emotional too) because we are certainly not in the mindset to be kind. To season our conversation with salt is to consider what salt meant back then. Salt was used to purify things and make things taste more delicious. So when we season our conversation with salt we are speaking in purity with kindness and love as Christ would but it also means we are doing so with charm or affection because then the listener is enjoying our words. If we can think before we speak and then present it in a loving manner we have accomplished using the wisdom God graces us with in the Bible.
Praying for Wisdom – A Challenge
Let’s give each other a challenge. Let’s draw a line in the sand and commit to praying for wisdom more. For the next two weeks when you need God’s help on a decision don’t rush in and ask God to work it out. Instead hit those knees and ask God for the wisdom to make the decision He wants you to. Solomon did it, he was the wise king. Jesus did it and He is the Son! Surely we can take a biblical hero and the Saviors’ route to improve our interaction with people? If we do guard our initial reaction and instead pray and make those choices in God’s will I promise you that you’re going to see a change in you and a change in the way people interact with you when those two weeks are up.
How often do you go to God for guidance? Whether it is asking for strength to see something through or the wisdom to make hard choices God can help. It may be the impending passing of a family member or the decision to move across the country away from all you have ever known. Those type of decisions are the kind that I want in my Father’s hands. He is all-knowing and therefore knows my heart, the outcomes of both choices and certainly where He wants me to be in life. God doesn’t make the wrong choice for us, we choose not to listen to His will. That is when things go astray. Pray for strength. Pray for wisdom. Pray because prayer is our link to Him. That is really the only reason you need. Pray because God is always there to talk to.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. – Ephesians 4:1
Being a prisoner for the Lord. It’s a powerful idea. It’s also terrifying. We like to control things, it’s easily one of the things I personally struggle with. I am getting better at it but at one time it was almost impossible for me to just lift my hands and say, “Yep, God, You take this, I know you have the control.” I thought I needed to do it all, I needed to set my destiny. Paul on the other hand is the epitome of what a prisoner for the Lord meant. His words can be taken as a double entendre because at the time he wrote this epistle he was a prisoner of Rome because of serving Christ and on the other hand when you accept Jesus’ Lordship you accept Him as master. You serve under His will.
Serving others is a life worthy of the calling we receive. For some of us that is missionary work. Others it is front-line ministry. Yet again it may be the friendly face at the doors of the church welcoming regular attendees and then newcomers. It doesn’t matter what path God sets on your heart, what matters is that you are serving Him by being willing to serve others. Jesus specifically told us that the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve others (Mark 10:45) and He went farther than just serving in the sense of washing feet or getting food. The last half of that verse shows how He served humanity, His life ransomed for many. That’s you, that’s me. I’m not saying run out and serve someone by finding death through risking your life for them although in the heat of the moment is a different thing altogether.
Serve Like Christ
Jesus who gave up all of the powers of Godhood humbled himself to wash the feet of the disciples, to sit with sinners and to die for all of us. He calls us to serve others, that’s it. That is why our burden is so much lighter than the one He had to carry. He died for all of us, not just one person but everyone.
To serve like Jesus did is to show love and compassion for others. Help the widow with carrying groceries or the Veteran that is homeless. Those times when you’re interacting with them one on one is a chance to share your testimony with them by acting in kindness. That one gesture may be what God uses to pull their brokenness to Him and begin piecing things together for their salvation. What if a week later that Veteran comes up and asks why you were so kind and you tell them because Jesus; then you get them to come to church once, no pressure. They keep coming and then they accept Christ as Savior and Lord.
You just did the work Christ commissioned us to do and all you did was be kind. You didn’t go to some far flung land and become a missionary. Missionary work is not for everyone, it’s a heroic effort in all the good ways to me. But being kind doesn’t take heroic effort normally. It takes more to be unkind than to follow the directions Christ gave us.
Not every person you help is going to want to hear your testimony and it’s likely the majority won’t. The example I gave just illustrates how God can use you and it takes no effort on your part aside from showing someone how kind you are. It would be great if it always worked that way but dispel thoughts of grandeur and settle in reality that you do it for the potential of glorifying God.
The best way to serve the Lord is to do what he has commanded of us. As a prisoner of Christ we should be eager to reach out and share our experiences as we have went from our lowest lows to the highest highs that only God can provide. It takes more thought and energy to be cruel than it does to simply react and help someone. Jesus helped the world knowing that His reward would be that humanity would slay Him. You know what helping others does for us? We serve the Lord in that capacity and have the chance to glorify Him. If we are doing it for any other reason aside from a genuine desire to help someone then we aren’t following the commandments of our Master. He delights in our joy of Him.
Serve selflessly because Jesus gave it all. He deserves nothing less than all of what we can give Him.
Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. – Ephesians 4:25
“Well it’s true.” or “It’s the truth.” I’ve said it, you’ve probably said it too. It’s usually the follow-up to someone having said something not very nice about someone. It may very well be true that Bill-Jo’s sister-in-law is as trustworthy as Judas turned out to be but that doesn’t mean we are charged to judge. In fact, the Bible tells us specifically we are not to. Jesus showed us how easy we are to point fingers at so-and-so when the teachers of law and the Pharisees brought an adulterous woman before Him and asked Him what He would say where the law of Moses commanded them to stone her. Jesus spoke directly to them saying, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one the men left until Jesus was the only one there with her. He asked her where are those who would condemn her. She responded that no one was there.Then Jesus did what He does the best, He gave her grace when He was the only one who could condemn her and then He told her to leave her life of sin (John 8:3-11.)
Truth Should be Spoken
It’s a fine line you know, speaking the truth. You have to find a way to do it with gentleness (Galatians 6:1). We should certainly speak up when we know something is not true. That doesn’t mean berating someone. It means speaking why you disagree and giving a sound argument not based in emotion but fact. I’ve said this more than once because I can’t stand seeing it happen. If you feel something is not truth, especially about God and you allow it to continue then you are an accessory to spreading false testimony. That’s harsh but true and I do say it in love because I love Jesus and I cannot stand someone speaking ill of my Savior. It is the same for any situation in which you stand by willingly and allow something to happen. Adam did it, man fell. Aaron did it and both he and Moses never entered the Promised Land.
Jesus did not. He would not. Instead he placed Himself between our eternity of separation from God and made a way for us through His sacrifice. His truth set us free.
Truth and Intentions
Why do we speak the truth? Is it because a fact needs to be spoken or do we have ulterior motives? There is a fine line there because we cannot turn a blind eye to the acts of others but we have to figure out why we are going to confront them and what our motives are for doing so. When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in Matthew 23:1-39 He was clear in His intentions. The Pharisees had become a group of men who sought the adoration of society and the power of position. They had yoked Israel under Mosaic law but were not practicing it themselves. Jesus was bold and did so right in the Temple, what awesome courage and strength!
His intention was for the people to throw off the burden of man and take up the burdens that God actually wanted man to bear. Our burdens are light (Matthew 11:28-30) compared to what Christ carried and yet His intentions always are pure. Ours are tainted by our desires and wants. When we understand that the ministry that Jesus laid down was based in love because of God’s truthful desire to make us all His children it is really humbling. He created everything and we have spat on His Son, we have beaten Him, we have mocked Him and ultimately killed Him for one thing and one thing alone. Fear of the truth.
Fear is a terrible thing for us humans. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that the spirit God gave us was one of power and love and self-control. If we have the strength of God in our will there is nothing left to fear. We lie because we fear. When we lie we do not speak love we speak venomous things. We are slow to hear, quick to speak and quick to anger. When we speak truth we need to do so with compassion and understanding. Things we say may not be easy to digest even if they are true. If you speak a lie you can hurt someone but if you speak a hard truth without the love of Christ you can wound someone far deeper. People get angry about lies and can become hurt but I can attest that someone the truth hurts deeper than any lie. We are victims of that treatment and we have treated others the same way.
Our greatest commandments are of love. Recite that to yourself before your lips open. You’ll find that your words are different than what you expected them to be.
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
This should be a pretty familiar pair of passages for all of us. Galatians is an important part of how Christianity evolved after Christ ascended. Paul had visited the churches in Galatia (potentially founded many of them, it is uncertain) and after he left he received word that some individuals had begun teaching an alternate gospel to the newly converted pagans. Paul’s gospel was based on Jesus’ ministry while these individuals were saying that the gentile Christians must conform to Mosaic law. Even while rebuking them he always does this in love. Paul boils down how Christians should act in to the fruit of the spirit.
Fruit, not Fruits
I do feel that it is important to highlight that Paul signifies that all of the fruit of the Spirit is singular. The word used in Greek was ‘karpos’ a word that meant fruit but also meant ‘that which comes from something’ or an ‘effect’. This is significant because we as humans produce sinful things. We produce works of the flesh. Paul is clear in saying ‘works’ of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21 but when it comes to the Holy Spirit it is singular. There is one Holy Spirit, there are many humans therefore only the Spirit can produce the nine traits that are the fruit of it’s presence in us. Humans can produce all the works of the flesh but the traits of the Spirit are the result of it’s effect on us. I hope I made sense there!
The fruit of the Spirit are things we as Christians need to pray for. Those traits are how Jesus lives. Jesus instructs us to abide in Him because we cannot bear fruit without the vine (John 15:1-11). Jesus is the embodiment of those traits and the way we learn to bear the fruit we are commanded to is by seeking strength in God when we face adversity. I would be a liar to say I got this on lock, I don’t. I get irritated over small and likely trivial things. I feel terrible about it because I feel like a backsliding serpent of a man. Maybe it is all the noise in the house and I snap and yell at my kids. I shouldn’t do that but I have. It’s those things I ask God for strength so that I can work on them. He’s a good father and listens when I call out to Him. It takes more effort to be mean to someone than it does to be kind. I pray every day that God gives me strength to not get irritated at my co-workers and to show His Son through me. I talk openly about church and God because we should never fear offending someone just because we are Christian. My hope is that I represent a child of His kingdom in the most honorable manner I can and produce fruit for God’s will.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. – Colossians 4:6
I think that sometimes I come across as this hopefully happy and exuberant person but I’m not. I’m like you and I struggle. I fight with my spouse, I fight with my family and I even try to fight with God even though I know full well I can’t win that battle. A lot of times I have felt like Jacob who wrestled with the incarnation of God on the Jabbok river edge (Genesis 32:22-32). I have struggled with God and Jacob is proof that with just one touch God can transform you. Despite my desire to sometimes try to do things my way He puts me back where I belong in a kind way. He allows me to talk to him regardless of how terrible I may have been. I have to be honest, most of the time when I struggle with God, with myself, it’s because I’m not taking the time to talk to God.
Make Time to Talk with God
How great is it that we have a Father who is always ready to listen to us, no matter how trivial we may see it as, it is always the most interesting thing to Him when we do. Our relationship with God is very much like a marriage.Our connection to God means we must make a conscious effort to reach out to Him. Proverbs 15:8 tells us that our prayers are God’s delight! You glorify God by talking with Him, I can’t find a more simple and better reason to talk with God. We talk with our corporeal parents for guidance, does the Creator not deserve the same or better?
Make Time to Talk with Your Partner
We should be treating our spouses how God has treated us. If they are expressing something of interest we should listen. It’s something that is effervescent because life happens. Kids, work stress and bills. All of those can seem insurmountable. It becomes a struggle to survive instead of a home of love. Maybe life didn’t work out how you thought it should and maybe she complains too much. Maybe you don’t do all the things you did before because you feel downtrodden. Then you argue and fight until you don’t talk much anymore. I’m not in that place but I’ve seen couples go down that road. I’ve been on the inside watching the infidelity of more than one man and hurting for him and his family. God has no room for that behavior in marriage. When we worship something above God we are doing the same thing.
This hits home for a lot of reasons but almost all of them are in a good way. It’s one of the strengths of the relationship that Bethany and I have built. Each day we talk, maybe not when the work day is on but when we are home. I’ll get the kids to bed and she will bathe. I come down the steps and shower in the hall bathroom. Then we talk, on the couch while I rub her feet. Sometimes my hands hurt and I’ll fuss a bit but I still do it. I like to talk and so I serve her by rubbing her feet and she serves my needs by talking with me. She enjoys talking too I promise! Still, it is something we make a conscious effort to do because it helps us unwind and appreciate what we have.
We talk about the day, wedding plans, God. Make time to say, “How was your day?” and leave the electronic devices in another room. When you are not distracted then you are really making time to talk to them. We should delight in their time just as God delights in our seeking time with Him.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3
Yesterday I touched on the idea that not only should we say what we mean but we should mean what we say. Christianity is far more than lip service. Imagine if Christ had pulled the greatest prank of all mid-crucifixion and said that it was all a hoax. It’s uncomfortable even writing that because I feel like in a way the satire of it is a sin. I’d expect the thought of that is not comfortable either. Christ showed us the path to redemption in the way he would show love to everyone. It did not matter who they were, what their transgression. Show your love to those who are lost, those broken. We are the same but we have salvation. That is the thing that sets us apart, small in word but vital in every aspect of our lives.
No Hoax, Show Your Love
For me, one of the best parts of reading about Jesus in the Bible is when He shuts down the naysayers by giving them Old Testament words that they choose to ignore so that they profit from their work and not God. In Matthew 15:1-9 the Pharisees had come to Jesus from Jerusalem and were asking why the disciples of the Savior broke the tradition of elders by not washing their hands when they ate. Jesus pointed out to them their greed and then quoted the prophet Isaiah (Matthew 15:8-9) when Isaiah said, “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”
Drop. The. Mic.
If we have not only accepted the fact that Jesus is the only way to heaven but have also submitted ourselves to the reality that He alone is King then how we treat others is going to change. It is not easy and we may struggle with being nicer at first because our hearts love sin but the Spirit is there to help push that away with the light we gain. Acts of kindness go a long way to improving anyone’s day. It happened yesterday with Bethany and I. We have a small (not really) desire to drink Dunkin’ Donuts on the daily. So often that the guy at the drive-thru last night knew our order and gave us the drinks gratis. I don’t know if he was saved, he doesn’t know if I was either but how awesome would it be if someone asked, “Why are you so nice?” and we could just say one word to explain it. Jesus. Yahweh. He taught us to show your love and that is a far better example than an angry zealot causing pain and hurt then breaking out our Bible and saying the work was God’s.
I cannot fathom any reason we would want to pay lip service in God’s name. We have no right to do that and frankly I don’t want to. I want words of love to spout forth form my mouth and to not defile others with my words. The moment church, your salvation, the things you say and that you do become more than just a thing you do to get by, that is when you are following Christ. That is where you can show your love and that is when your lip service has stopped. We are expected to stumble and get back up because we aren’t perfect but doing that shows more strength and faith then the falsity of Christianity that has been portrayed.
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices – Colossians 3:9
This verse speaks for itself. If you have taken off your old self then a change has begun. It isn’t overnight and God doesn’t expect us to instantly become a completely different person. The Holy Spirit gets deep in side of you and starts helping you shovel all of that darkness from your heart. A little scoop at a time is really how it works. To believe that you get saved and you live just like Jesus did instantly is a myth. If you mean the words your have said then the next thing to do is step back and take a deep breath because a moment that defines you just happened. Seek those who love Jesus an they will support you. If you just say a few words and walk away thinking you’re ‘all good’ with God then you will be setting yourself up for spiritual failure.
Colossians 3:1-25 is all about how we should be living when Christ has redeemed us. I think that 3:9 is crucial because lying is the oldest deception we have in the Bible. Satan used the serpent as a means to an end. The lie was the misrepresentation of who was speaking to Eve. Of course this went downhill afterward and we all in some shape or form find ourselves telling lies regardless of how small or big they may be. I do it, I try very hard not to and usually restrict my tales to stories for my kids but I make sure they know the stories are not real. Saying words you think have saved you but continually living in no ways whatsoever doesn’t sound like redemption to me. I am not a judge, only the trinity can discern the true nature of our souls but meaning what you say and saying what you mean are important in securing that salvation.
Our marriages work like that too. Communication is the most important goal after ensuring God is first in your home. In many ways you must communicate better to put God first but if you have God in the home then you will have God in the heart.
Saying What You Mean
Jesus tells us this plainly in Matthew 5:33-37 where He is wrapping up speaking about oaths and how we should not make oaths based on Heaven or Earth for Heaven is God’s throne and the Earth His footstool. In v. 37 He says, “All you need say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” This applies to us outside of just oaths. If you hear someone constantly saying ‘I swear to God’ or ‘God as my witness’ it’s usually because they have a tendency to lie or at least not tell the whole truth. As Christians we should say what we mean and do so in love. We should be saying what we mean with sincerity and truthfulness behind it because we should live as Jesus did. He did not lie, we should be striving to do that as well because if not the Holy Spirit is going to convict us and we are going to end up begging forgiveness from the Lord, provided we have that light in us and have not just said some prayer of rote that is supposed to affirm our salvation because we were told that it will save us. Words do not save your soul. Saying what you mean is about the consistency of your thoughts and the words you put forth. Both of which should be grounded in your faith.
Mean What You Say
Meaning what you say is to have a consistency with the words you put forth and the actions you then perform afterward. As an example, I hate to use Peter again but he is the one most familiar to people because he said he would not deny Jesus but he did anyway. He meant what he said at the time but when it came to fulfilling that obligation he fell flat. I try to be very careful but I fail in this on a personal level. Doing a devotional publicly for a year was more ambitious than I could handle but I am doing it as often as time allows. It isn’t that I can’t but I do have family obligations that have to be done before I can do this. God’s work is not put on a backseat because I feel that I am filling my role as the leader of my home by taking care of my family and doing my best to put God forth in all we do. I fail in that too sometimes but Jesus knows my weaknesses and I ask God for the strength to endure them without falling into a tailspin.
When we say things it should be wholeheartedly and again in love. When we say what we mean in truthfulness then we are doing as Christ instructed us to do. Say what you mean plainly and in honesty but without cruelty. Mean what you say by putting your heart into what you say so that love is communicated. Do not say negative things to your wife because I promise you, she will remember that. Do not promise anyone things unless you intend to fulfill those promises because they will remember that you let them down. Our faith is rooted in the trust we have in Jesus that our salvation is secure. How can we expect people to have trust in our testimony if we are acting shakily in behavior?
Our relationship with God requires honesty in all things, trust in Him and the desire to continually communicate with him. Our spouse, our children, every person you meet deserves those same qualities because anything less takes away from the testimony God has given you.
Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. – Malachi 2:15
What is the most important way you commune with Jesus? Is it by reading the Bible? Maybe by doing good works in service to others? Those are great but our most important and necessary way to keep in touch is by communication. We have to communicate with Him in order to keep the connection we foster alive and healthy. The way we do that is through prayer of course, on our own or with others. In Malachi this specific verse is in regards to our relationship in marriage to our spouse. How we keep our relationship healthy with God is how we should keep our relationship healthy with our husband or wife.
In fact you can see a lot of similarities in the Bible of what marriage ultimately is. By definition it is a relationship recognized by custom or law. This may be a long-winded thing but stay with me, We will get to my point. God had a covenant with Adam in the Garden it was a relationship that was recognized by the law that God gave man and woman. Do not eat of a single tree and it worked well before the Fall. God walked with Adam in the Garden and could communicate with God but eventually there was a communication breakdown because both man and woman stopped communicating with God and instead began communicating with the Devil. I don’t believe it is too far of a reach to say that we see that cause dissolution of marriages in the here and now too. Look at how many spouses of both sexes start off a friendly flirtation and then it becomes something it shouldn’t have. Man of course violated the law set forth and God in turn cursed him.
It is not the last time that happens. In fact it happens with Moses & Aaron, David, Solomon, and Peter are all good examples.
Moses & Aaron’s Disobedience
Moses had direct communication with God and was leading Israel to the Promised Land of Canaan but because Moses & Aaron did not do as God commanded when the Israelites were in the wilderness they could not receive the prize that God has promised (Numbers 20:1-12).
David was a man after God’s own heart, a man who wrote many Psalms of the Bible still failed to communicate with God well. He lusted for and ultimately laid with Bathsheba while she was married to Uriah the Hittite. In fact, David sent Uriah off to the front line so that Uriah would (he did) perish. David sacrificed an innocent man so that he could covet Uriah’s wife (2 Samuel 11:1-27). David’s first child conceived during this time did not survive as punishment for what he did. His second child, Solomon became king.
Solomon was the wise king who once discerned the lie a woman told in court by decreeing to cut a child in half. The real mother would rather give up the child than see it killed. This was a mark of the wisdom that God had gifted to Solomon. Even with that wisdom Solomon cheated on God. He had hundreds of wives from the Ammonites, Edomites, Hittites and more. All of which God said not to intermarry because they would lead His people from Him. (1 Kings 11:1-6). His punishment was that after his death the kingdom of the Israelites would fall into dissension. That did indeed happen and all but two tribes rejected his son Rehoboam as king.
Poor Peter, Jesus told him that when the time came that Peter would deny knowing Him three times. Peter of course denied that saying, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Matthew 26:35 NIV). Jesus was correct in what happened and Peter did deny Christ to save his own skin. Christ had professed that Peter would be the rock of His church even knowing that Peter would break communion with Him. Peter like almost all of the Apostles was put to death under Roman rule while Nero was emperor. His death is said to have been by crucifixion.
Tying in to Marriage
I know all of that history may seem far fetched because they have nothing to do with marriage in context but they do represent things that cause breakdowns in the unity we seek with God and the unity we should be seeking with our
Moses & Aaron ignored something that was important to God. His command to provide water in a way that glorified Him was put aside and for that they paid a steep price. If your spouse feels something is important enough to say directly they want your assistance then provide that to them because we are called to serve everyone and we are served in return. That is the real value in helping out. God didn’t need Moses to lead the Israelites but Moses was chosen to serve the people and serve God and for that God would make Moses the leader of the Israelites. The moment that Moses & Aaron lost sight of this glorification of God through their service, they lost everything. They were able to gaze upon the promised land but neither could enter.
David’s problems is far more straightforward. He was given the kingdom of Israel to rule by God’s hand putting him there. Despite David’s worship of the Lord he lead a woman to commit adultery and she became pregnant with his child. His desire to hide that sin lead to the death of Uriah and the baby not surviving. This clearly applies to marriage because even the ten commandments say we should not commit adultery nor covet and David did both. The blood of Uriah was on his hands as well. Covetousness and adultery will cause the death of a marriage if the person doing those acts does not place themselves back in the middle of God’s will.
Solomon’s worship of other God’s caused the dissolution of the united kingdom of Israel. Something hard fought to happen but man made it tenuous at best. This is exactly the same thing that causes marriages to fall apart. A marriage should be God first and when that doesn’t happen we lose sight of what Malachi is speaking about. Couples find other things to put their energy in to and instead of building each other up together it causes them to tear one another down.
Peter’s denial of Jesus was a terrible act. Imagine if you will someone saying, “Isn’t that your wife?” and the response was, “No, I’m not married.” The truth is we are married to God and without Him we will founder. The saying that two heads are better than one is awesome but what if you had the Godhead on your side? Denying your spouse your time, attention, affection etc. can lead to more than just hurt feelings, it will lead to resentment, arguments and potentially divorce.
Communicating love should be a natural thing for us because it is what Jesus commanded. It was his greatest commandments. Sometimes it isn’t about communicating as much as it is miscommunication. To minimize the miscommunication with our spouses we should identify our love language. A love language is a set of five personality types that were defined by Dr. Gary Chapman to help couples communicate better. You can take a profile test to find out your language and then if you want to know more you can purchase his book and read it. I strongly suggest this because you get to learn how each language is different and how to balance or cope with the other languages. That knowledge can be vital to squashing arguments because sometimes it really is a communication breakdown. You will learn how to communicate to your partner in love instead of anger or other emotions.
Marriage is on my mind a lot these days. It should be since I am getting married in October. Some couples will not do pre-marital counseling but we have. I think that it is healthy for the relationship if the couple goes through it because they can learn how to communicate better and how to serve one another without feeling bitter. I think that knowing your partners love language before you make that wholesome commitment is important because what if you cannot fulfill their needs and the obligations of marriage? It makes no good sense to knowingly set the relationship up for failure. God attempts to communicate love to us but we have this knack for ignoring Him when we want something. We cause our relationship to fail while God is steadfast. I’ve been witness to marriages like that and they do fail unless someone makes the commitment to start listening. I hope that I never go down that road and pray to be the best husband and father that I am capable of. With God’s strength I know that I can provide a good environment for my children and hopefully it rubs off on them.
This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. – Philippians 1:9
Paul’s Epistle to the church in Philippi has some long-term foundation starting information to it even though it is only 4 chapters. He sets forth the beginning of Christology which one day I pray God gives em the knowledge to share but what I want to focus on is his reiteration of what Christ commands us. The greatest commandment was found in Matthew 22:37-39, love the Lord our God and then the second was to love others as we would ourselves. Jesus tells us this time and again because His ministry is founded on the love God has for Him and by proxy for us.
Whole Lotta’ Love
This one aspect does so many things for us both in the here and now and in our standing with Christ in Heaven. Jesus let’s us know that to be a disciple we must express out affections to one another just as he expressed His for us (John 13:34-35). It is by this countenance we are proclaiming our discipleship for Him. If we acted in hate what message does that convey? Especially to the broken and fragile of soul. Someone could be a hairs breadth from dropping to their knees and proclaiming Jesus as his redeemer and Lord but the hate they see from those claiming to be His people could instead make them run. I tend to not call out people that I believe are wrong in their faith because I have no authority to pass judgment because I am not without sin myself but groups like Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) certainly do and on the daily deny the very commandment that the son of God had given.
Jesus loved us so much that He willingly put Himself between God’s wrath and us. He laid down his life and fulfilled the law that God set forth (Romans 12:8). If the law is broken a debt must be paid to fulfill it and God did so with His son, with Himself. We are commanded to love like Christ died (John 15:12-13) and that includes sacrificing yourself for others. It doesn’t say go out and be a super hero but it does say we should be willing to die for others. I can think of no lesser example than a man putting himself between another person to protect his family and loved ones. It shouldn’t even be a thought of “Should I?” because we will without consideration of our continual existence in this life.
A Trinity of Affection
Last night at Harvest Bible Chapel in Hickory we went over the deity of Christ. The topic was about how Jesus is God and how He showed it through his words, works, witness and the worship man lauded upon Him. A question came up about the prayer Christ gives for the apostles that they be one as Jesus is one with God (John 17:11) . It was good food for thought because at the center of the trinity is God and each separate part as affection for man. Jesus has proclaimed His love for us by his death. The Holy Spirit shows affection for us by filling us with the light of salvation, it’s that warm heart-busting feeling you get when you are on fire for the Lord and God the Father showed His affection for man by giving us Jesus as the sacrifice for His wrath.
What that all means to me is what Jesus told us. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
I am no scholar but in as plain as terms I can express Jesus was praying that the Apostles and ultimately all Christians be united as one person (body) just as the trinity is one. We do not commune directly with God because He cannot look upon our Sin. We commune with Jesus directly because He filters our sin so that God can enjoy our presence as much as we enjoy His. That is how it works until we die or until the fulfillment of Revelation occurs.
We’ve failed in that haven’t we? Being united. Look at some of the turf wars churches have had. The hate that false teachers spread.
If you follow the command that Christ has given your love will grow beyond what you thought possible. You’ll love everyone and forgive them. You’ll bear with them and support them. You will find that if the trinity is present in your life that love will be a force that you can use to fight off so many things. You will seek fellowship so that you can express that love. Our salvation rests on the fact that God loves us enough to give His son who loves us enough to lay down his life so that the Holy Spirit can imbue that love in us. Treat everyone like Christ treated people. Don’t treat people like they treated the Son.
We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. – 2 Corinthians 4:7
Paul was a passionate man for Christ. His epistles to churches are some of the most studied letters that make up books of the Bible. He is the author of at least 13 books (Scholars question authenticity of Hebrews often) and his second letter to the church at Corinth to me is where we see Paul’s humanity laid bare. God gave Paul immeasurable strength to pursue the ministry Jesus had laid at his feet on the road to Damascus. Through his imprisonment and until his death he still witnessed and never lost the light that he received from Christ. He epitomized the short prayer of supplication we often ask, “God, Give me strength.”
The Treasure and the Jar
The treasure Paul talks about in this chapter of his letter refers to the light Christ puts within us when we are redeemed by His blood. It is the ministry we are charged with. We are taught about this very important lesson as children with “This Little Light of Mine.” Our treasure is the Holy Spirit and we the redeemed are the jar. It is fitting because the jars that Paul would be referring to are the clay pots that were used by the common person. Many of the rich would use metals or wood for their vessels but the clay jars of commoners were frail like we as humans are. We are God’s vessels who carry the light of Christ in us. Those jars of clay were fragile and easily broken like we often are. It is why the potter who created them can repair them so that the precious treasures in them can be shared and not lost.
God, Give Me Strength
That’s the amazing thing isn’t it? We may face terrible circumstances and even death depending on the season we are in but God gives strength to endure those trials. I do think it is important to point that out. Endure and not fix. Endure but not escape. It sounds cold but it isn’t because it gives us testimony. It gives a Christian the ability to say what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. The explanation Paul gives us is about a thorn placed in the flesh and that it was agonizing. He begged 3 times for the Lord to take it from him and God’s response was perfect, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s revelation in that is to boast about his weakness because if the Lord tells you that His grace is sufficient for you in your weakness then your faith in Him will carry you through the darkest of valleys. Admit your weakness and cry out to give me strength Lord and the Father will help.
God provides us everything we need. Love, Redemption, Grace, Comfort, Strength etc. He tempers it because can you imagine if we knew that as soon as we asked God for strength it happened, every time. We would become prideful or arrogant. Instead God does not give us strength to become free of our weakness but the strength to endure it and to continue walking with Him despite our frail nature. We are the vessel that Christ has chosen to extend His grace to. We are frail like a Palestinian clay jar but God’s strength given to us allows us to be repaired from the cracks and chips we have so that we can contain that treasure so that we can show it to the world and pour it in to other vessels like us. Jesus is an amazing artist and the potter of man, there is none greater and I know that if I call out, “God give me strength.” I have assurance that He will give me the strength to endure the season.