Save the Date! (Psalm 45)

What is this psalm about?  The Jewish rabbis clearly saw it as a Messianic Psalm.  That’s a psalm (song) that is primarily related to Israel’s Messiah (Anointed One), the historical figure of Davidic descent who would one day arise from within the nation to deliver His people from oppression and oppressors, and begin an eternal reign marked by international prestige and dominance, and national righteousness, prosperity, and security.  The book is full of such Psalms, and has legitimately been called “the Prayer-book of the Messiah.”  The last words He spoke on the cross were a quotation of a verse of the Psalms, and it appears that Jesus clearly saw His own life and ministry, death and resurrection, etc., as the fulfillment of the book of Psalms.  His apostles seemed to view it the same way, with the very first sermon preached (on the day of Pentecost, by Peter) taking the structural form of an exposition of two of the Psalms, 16:8-11, and 110:1.  In the gospels, Jesus clearly proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah of Israel.  The writers of the book of Hebrews clearly affirms this messianic identity of the Lord when he quotes a couple of verses of Psalm 45, introducing the phrase, “But concerning the Son…” (Hebrews 1:8).  In doing do, the writer identifies the Lord Jesus as THE Messiah figure promised to Israel, and desired with great anticipation by that nation.  Therefore, this is clearly a psalm written in anticipation and worship of the coming Messiah, our Lord Jesus.

After an introduction to his psalm in which the author identifies himself as a member of the “sons of Korah,” and reveals the type of psalm he has written (perhaps to inform the music director of the type of music to play in accompaniment).  He then goes on to share why he has written the psalm:  He has been meditating on his Messiah, and through divine revelation has learned amazing things about this coming King—and he simply must record what he has seen…

My heart overflows with a good theme; I address my verses to the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. (1b)

A loose but workable outline of this psalm can be expressed in one sentence: The awesome Messiah-King, Jesus Christ, is coming to fetch His bride, to return to His Father’s home where the grand wedding will take place, commencing an eternal marriage.   I have placed this sentence as large divisions of the passage, over a textual outline of the passage.  I hope in doing so I have not created too tangled an outline of the marvelous love song written to our dear King Jesus!

I.  The Messiah-King, Jesus Christ, is coming… 2-9

A.  He is handsome appearance and gracious speech 2

2 You are fairer than the sons of men; Grace is poured upon Your lips; Therefore God has blessed You forever.

B.  His astounding might in battle 3-5

1.  He is a mighty warrior 3

3 Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One, In Your splendor and Your majesty

2.  He always fights for the right things 4

4 And in Your majesty ride on victoriously, For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.

3.  He defeats all His enemies 5

5 Your arrows are sharp; The peoples fall under You; Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.

C.  He rules over an eternal kingdom 6-9

1.  He rules in eternal righteousness 6

6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

2.  He loves what is right, and hates what is wrong. 7

7 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows.

3.  He is desirable to all who draw near to Him. 8-9

8 All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad. 9 Kings’ daughters are among Your noble ladies; At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.

II.  …to fetch His bride the Church… 10-15

A.  She lives with longing for her King alone 10-12

1.  She leaves all to follow after Him alone 10

10 Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear: Forget your people and your father’s house;

    2.  She worships Him alone 11            

11 Then the King will desire your beauty. Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him.

3.  She expects future blessing through Him alone 12

12 The daughter of Tyre will come with a gift; The rich among the people will seek your favor.

B.  She is adopted into a royalty when she marries Him 13-14

13 The King’s daughter is all glorious within; Her clothing is interwoven with gold. 14 She will be led to the King in embroidered work; The virgins, her companions who follow her, Will be brought to You. 

III.  …to return to His Father’s home where the grand wedding celebration will take place. 15-16

15 They will be led forth with gladness and rejoicing; They will enter into the King’s palace. 16 In place of your fathers will be your sons; You shall make them princes in all the earth.  

Cross-ref: Revelation 19:6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”         

Post-script: The author’s blessing on the King 17

In response to the marvelous things the author has seen of this King and this beautiful bride—symbolic of the Lord Jesus and His Church, the author resolves that he will do one thing:  he will seek to write so that the name of the King will always be remembered, so that thanks would be given to the King forever.

17 I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever.

Conclusion: What does this mean for us today at Grace Bible Church?  

Sharon and I received a card last week in the mail that simply said, “Save the date!”  It was a pre-invitation, asking us to be sure to “save the date” of my nephew’s wedding in July.  We have to make plans, or NOT make plans—in order to be sure to make it to the wedding.  In the same way—expecting the King, our Groom, to return for us one day, to take us to His Father’s home, where He is preparing a “place” for us—that requires a change in how we plan and look at life, too.   I bleive this Psalm is a type of “Save the Date” message to us from God.

This Psalm presents a warning, an invitation, and celebration to us today:

1.  There is an underlying warning that runs throughout the Psalm: This King loves righteousness, and will one day return to judge the unrighteousness of our world.Cross-ref: Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.  

2.There is a clear invitation here, an announcement for us to “Save the Date.”  We can ignore that announcement, if we so choose.  But we are all invited.  We’ve been invited—will we now “Save the Date” in our hearts and lives, in a practical way, be living with a view to that future, indescribably joyful day when our King arrives to take us to the Father’s home, to live with Him forever? There are some clues here in this Psalm about how we might join the celebration:  Listen, O daughter…give attention…incline your ear…Forget your people and your father’s house..”   We only save the invitations that we receive that we truly value, and intend to respond to.  Do you value this invitation from God to have a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ?     

3. There is a matchless celebration coming, where the Groom and His Bride are finally together, for all eternity. While we are certain the Bride of Jesus today, as His beloved Church—there is still an ache, a longing and desire to finally be with Him forever—to have our “marriage” to this King finally, once and for all time celebrated and commenced.  The Bible promises that one day there will certainly be a grand wedding feast where we will indeed finally be with Him forever, face to face!

1 Corinthians 7:25-40 “Is Marriage for Me?”

Three issues to consider when considering getting married…

  1. Great CAUTION should be shown before marrying in these challenges times.  25-31

A.  Our times are troubled, marry or remarry only with great caution 25-28

25 Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. 26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.

B.  The eternal perspective of our faith changes how we see everything… 29-31

1.  RELATIONSHIPS:  Our present understanding of marriage won’t last 29

29 But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none;

2.  DEATH: Our weeping will not last 30a

30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; 30b

3.  HAPPINESS: Our joys will not last 30c

and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice;

4.  POSSESSIONS: Our purchases will not last 30d

and those who buy, as though they did not possess;

5.  CULTURE: Our various, worldly pleasures not last 31

31 and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away.

II.  There are inescapable CONCERNS that a marriage will face. 32-35

A.  The husband’s cares are now divided between the Lord and his wife 32-34a

32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided.

B.  The wife’s cares are now divided between the Lord and her husband 34b

The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

C.  Marriage adds great challenges to a life devoted to following the Lord. 35

35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.

Unfortunately, in the history of Christianity, even to this day–the concerns that marriage partners carry towards one another have been viewed as a regrettable impediment to spiritual growth and health. Nothing could be further from the truth!  It is through the daily routines of kindness, comfort, and self-giving that make up a healthy marriage that amazing opportunities develop for the believer to grow closer to the Lord.  Paul is not chastising those who marry–he is simply pointing out a fact: a married person’s concerns ARE divided between the Lord and the spouse, but, the person’s loyalty and intimacy with the Lord are only strengthen and nurtured through obedient participation in the marriage relationship!  It is just as regrettable that person called to marriage would remain single as that a person called to singleness would force himself/herself to marry.

III.  There is the need to obtain proper CONSENT before entering into marriage.  36-40

A.  FATHERS:  Consent to arrange marriage for Christian daughters 36-38

Mike Aquiline, Director of the St Paul Center for Biblical Theology, describes some of the more horrible aspects of the culture of death that the ancient Mediterranean world devolved into during and after the years of the New Testament period of the church.  It was especially harsh for females.  Regarding the ancient institution of marriage, he writes,

And pagan marriage offered no respite from this misery. Greco-Roman women were usually married off at age 11 or 12, to a mate not of their choosing, who was often much older. (Christian girls tended to marry at about 18)  Afterward, they suffered in predatory relationships rife with contraception, abortion (which often killed the mother), adultery, and unnatural sexual acts. Infanticide was common, especially for female or defective offspring. Of the 600 families who show up in the records from ancient Delphi, only six raised more than one daughter. Though most of those 600 families were quite large, they had all routinely killed their baby girls. Dr. Rodney Stark quotes a letter from a pagan businessman writing home to his pregnant wife. After the usual endearments, he closes his letter by saying, briefly and casually, “If you are delivered of a child before I come home], if it is a boy, keep it, if a girl, discard it.” (Stark, The Rise of Christianity)

So, the decision on the part of a father in ancient Corinth of whether or not to “give” his daughter in arranged marriage was a very significant, vital decision to make.  As the Christian families increasingly opted to not participate in the marriage customs of the surrounding culture, keeping their daughters with their birth families for a longer duration—they began to be known for the high value and dignity that they placed on their sons, but especially on their daughters.

1.  To follow the cultural custom of arranging a daughter’s marriage is not a sin for a father. 36

 36 But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry.

Roman legal age of marriage for girls was 12, for boys it was 14 years of age. Most marriages were arranged by parents (husbands and wives). Faithfulness and harmony in the marriage were Roman ideals, and Christian parents also arranged their children’s marriages as did the surrounding culture.

2.  To decide not to follow the customs of the day was a good thing. 37

37 But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well.

3.  Summary: Freedom to do either, but a father does “better” to keep his daughter at home with her family longer than his surrounding culture did. 38

38 So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better.

B.  Consent for WIDOWS to remarry 39-40

Note: These verses are not addressing the issues of remarriage faced by those who no longer are married (such as divorced or abandoned mates) or those who have never been married.  The verses appear to address those who have actually been widowed, and apply to those whose former mates are still formally recognized as “husbands.”

39 A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.

C.  A good application for ALL of us regarding the consent to marry might to be be sure that we are in obedience to both our consciences and to the Bible.

Application: Singleness and Grace Bible Church

  1. The benefits of singleness will remain unrealized if you do not take advantage of them—the church community needs you! The mere opportunity to avoid the troubles of life that your married brothers and sisters face is not an invitation to live a care-free, happy-go-lucky life.  The mere opportunity to live a life of deeper devotion and spiritual pursuits does not mean that you are a St. Francis of the Singles—you still need to get your hands dirty in ministry. Use who you are, where you are, and how you are in life, right now!
  1. The burdens of singleness are unbearable when they are faced alone—you need the church community!  Isolation kills, and the mono-culturalism of only being with fellow singles or fellow young people stunts growth. Isolation intensifies temptation and relapse into harmful patterns and sin—you need the church to “rub shoulders” with friends, and to share your life with them, and to find the right kind of relational intimacy. The battle of loneliness shouldn’t be fought alone!  The answer to loneliness, particularly after the loss of mate, or a divorce or separation, is not to withdraw, and certainly NOT to seek another marriage relationship. It is to belong to the Lord, (like Paul) should you remain unmarried for the rest of your life or for a season—you need the church to share that life with!

 

 

 

 

1 Corinthians 7:17-24 Don’t leave the path He found you on (but follow wherever He leads)

Verses 17-24 form a fascinating section of chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians, serving as a type of heavy duty hinge between Paul’s discussion regarding those who either had been or were presently married (vv1-16) and his counsel regarding those who had never been married, whom he refers to by the classical term, virgins and those wives whose husbands had died (25-40).  Verses 17-24 not only serve to conclude his direction to the first group, but also serve to introduce his counsel to the second.  In these verses Paul advises both groups: Don’t scramble to leave the place in life where God found you, but also follow Him when He leads you off of that path…  This passage deserves much more treatment than I intend to give it from the pulpit this Sunday, so I’ve put together this short summary of it for your consideration.  Thanks!  Pastor Ken

  1. Paul’s Big Idea: Stay where you were when God called you to follow Him, but follow Him where He leads.  17

17 Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches.”

I can imagine many places where a person might be in life that they would NOT want to “remain” in once they are called by Him to the new life of salvation!  It’s important to remember Paul is writing regarding some specific questions he’d been asked by the Corinthians regarding these issues of marriage (7:1), so we should not assume that Paul is suddenly, in response to those questions, departing from his response to go on a tangent and write about Judaism vs. being a Gentile, or slavery vs. living as a free-person.  It is reasonable to assume that Paul is still speaking of marriage issues, although he is backing off enough to give a very generalized view here, and is not giving an unalterable, fixed command for all Jews, all gentiles, all slaves, all gentiles, etc., but is instead providing guiding principles for them to apply to their specific circumstances.

Example Number One:  Whether you are from Jewish culture or from the gentile culture—don’t run away from where God found you. 18-20

18 Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.” 20 Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.”

To be called while “already circumcised” simply meant that one had become a believer in Jesus Christ out of the Jewish culture of ancient Corinth.  Physically, such man had been circumcised in adherence to the Jewish law, probably as an infant.  (Some Greeks who converted to Judaism did undergo circumcision.)  But in a larger, (and I think more likely sense), Paul is referring to a man who lives with Jews, and lives as a Jew—observing the Jewish customs and traditions.  Such a man was not to try and hide where he’d come from when God found him.  (It was possible, and fairly routine, for a circumcised man to undergo a surgical procedure to reverse the circumcision—mainly to alter the cosmetic effects of the procedure.)  Likewise, a Gentile man, who would not have undergone circumcision, was not to undergo circumcision in some sort of misguided attempt to more closely identity with the culture of the Jews.  Understanding the Lord Jesus was a Jewish man, and would have been circumcised, this would certainly have been a very real possible desire for a Gentile man who had become a follower of Jesus.  In each of these cases, the believer was to consciously remain in the culture condition in which God had called him.

Example Number Two:  Live as free men who have become slaves to the Lord.  21-23

21 Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. 22 For he who was called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he, who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

It is impossible to understand this passage unless we gain a very clear idea of the vast differences between the slavery forms of the ancient Roman world and that of the Colonial and pre-Civil War United States of America.  The United States condoned, practiced, and facilitated a system of slavery the likes of which had been rarely seen in human history.  It is perhaps the most inhumane, self-defeating, animalistic system of bondage one can find in history.  Americans must own that part of our history, and never seek to forget or justify existence, just as we must not simply shrug our shoulders at the subsequent forms and presence of racism and racialization that the nation is still seeking address in its culture—even after the abolition of slavery with the Civil War.

Slavery in the Roman Empire, on the other hand, was very complex and different from the American version, and it permeated all levels of Roman culture.  Up to 1/3 of the slaves in any given Roman city were born of slave-mothers, and had grown up as slaves.  Slaves were everywhere, and one could not easily recognize a slave when one saw him or her, say, on a street in Corinth.  Your doctor, lawyer, household manager, farm supervisor, warehouse foreman, etc., and certainly your children’s teacher—was a slave.  Slaves in ancient Rome might be lashed to the oars of a war-ship, and consigned to an almost certain death.  They would be found in the mines, working alongside prisoners and convicted criminals, and liable to suffer an early death.  But also, they might be found working side by side with free-men on public works projects.  They might be married (although their marriages would not be considered legal per Roman law), might have children, might be soon to receive their freedom from a kind master, or certain to be sold to another master.  They might be freed by a master—so that the master could marry them (this is only in the case of a female slave), or, they might be repeatedly molested and raped, with the permission of the law, by a cruel master or his wife.  And get this—some of the slaves had chosen to be slaves, having “sold” themselves into a limited time of slavery to a master, usually in order to pay off a debt!  I don’t think I’ve begun to scratch the surface of the complexity of the ancient Roman world’s system of slavery—but I hope I have presented to you that it was in a multitude of ways vastly different than the horrific, reprehensible crime of slavery that our government and its forbearers allowed early in our history.

So, what was a man (or woman) to do when called by God into a saving relationship—and by the grace of God now a member of a church, perhaps worshipping alongside both other slaves and slave-owners?  Paul advises this:  “If you’re a slave, don’t worry, just make sure you jump at the opportunity to become a free-man, if and when the opportunity arises.”  His reason?  “You are now, in the eyes of the Lord, free—so live that way as the chance arises.”  And to those who had met the Lord while free-men; they were to see themselves as now being the Lord’s slave.  And to each Paul is adamant:  “Do not become the slaves of men!”  I realized there are many applications that we can make to this specific statement of verse 23; “Don’t submit to man’s religious rules.”  “Don’t be a people-pleaser!” etc.  But I think we should also be sure to affirm what the basic meaning of Paul’s instruction would be to those he was writing:  Don’t make yourself a slave to anyone on earth.  No matter how rough times get—do not enter into a slave-master agreement with anyone, ever again!”

In conclusion, Paul summarizes his point: “Stay where you were when God called you, and from there, follow Him to wherever He leads you.”

24 Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.

Paul does not tell Jews to act like Gentiles, as if that would somehow make them more “Christian”, or perhaps more acceptable to the surrounding, non-Christian culture.  He doesn’t tell Gentiles to act like Jews, as if it would make them more “Messianic.” (Don’t we often struggle with the desire to change the externals of our lives as a means of image-making, and not out of genuine submission to our Lord?)  Paul doesn’t tell slaves to aspire to remain slaves, but instead to seek freedom when it comes, as they have a new Master, Jesus Christ, a Master who does not suffer worldlings to hold His brothers in captivity.  This was a lesson written with the blood of its own sons, fathers, and brothers by the United States in the 1860’s.  Paul neither asks anyone to remain in bondage, nor does does he advocate running away from who we are, and where we were at in life when God called us to His Son.  And for those who met Christ while enjoying the social status of being a “free-man,” Paul reminds them, and us today who enjoy so much freedom in our American culture:  “You are now slaves to the Lord.  Serve Him alone, and never again choose slavery over the life of freedom that He has purchased for you with His precious blood.”  Changes to the external circumstances of our lives are to arise out of THE great change of our salvation, and never independent of it!

 

1 Corinthians 7:8-16 God Loves Your Marriage!

Introduction:  Paul continues his words of encouragement concerning marriage, answering questions that he’d been asked by the Christians at Corinth.  In this section he addresses the marital concerns of three distinct groups:  Those who had been (but no longer were) married, those whose marriages were in crisis, and those whose mates did not share the Christian faith.  Our approach to these verse will be guided by the observation that they are not a source of God’s Laws concerning marriage, remarriage and divorce, but are instead an account of God’s deep Love for marriages of all sorts, and desire that all marriages would function at their fullest, richest capacity for intimacy, redemption, and peace.

I.  For those formerly married, either remain single and celibate, or remarry 8-9

8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I.  9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

II.  For those Christian couples whose marriage are stressed 10-11

A.  Do not separate 10

10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband

B.  If presently separated, either remain single or reconcile with your mate. 11

11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.  

III.  For believers whose mates do not share their faith. 12-15

A.  If the non-Christian mate is satisfied—remain in the marriage. 12-14

12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away.  

1.  The non-Christian mate is blessed (sanctified) to be married to a Christian.  14a

14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband;

2.  Their children are sanctified in having a Christian parent 14c

for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.

B.  If the non-Christian mate leaves the marriage, let them go. 15-16

1.  We are called by God to a life of peace 15

15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.…

2.  We cannot ensure that our non-Christian mates will be saved by our loyalty to the marriage. 16

16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?

Application—What does this text mean for Grace Bible Church today?

1.  We are alert to the damage of the hardened heart.  10-11

  • Restated:       As Christians, we reject the very notion of dissolving our marriages or deserting our mates.
  • “…a hardened heart…” is the underlying reason that Jesus gave for the divorce of believer marriages.  While there are apparent provisions given in the NT for the divorce of Christians—forgiveness, acceptance, healing, and restoration are ALWAYS the preferred path to take in a marriage

2.  We honor the immeasurable worth and absolute legitimacy of marriages that are not united in faith.  12-13

  • Restated:  We wholeheartedly concur that all marriages, including those between Christian and non-Christian, are of precious in the eyes this church.
  • Many Christian ministries have done a pathetic job of ministering to their members who are in mixed marriages, and an even worse job of looking out for their non-Christian mates.

3.  We treasure the opportunity for blessing and salvation that a Christian spouse and parent offers their mates and their children. 14

  • Restated: We treasure the priceless opportunity to bring the blessing of God and hope of salvation into the lives of our mates and our children.
  • This is the Big Picture—the restoration of people to their Creator, the introduction of people to Jesus Christ.

4.         We accept the choices of our mates, but long for them to be saved.             15-16

  • Restated:  While we wholeheartedly give our affection and respect to our unsaved mates, we will also respectfully allow them to leave us should they so choose.  But…in our depths of our souls—we long for them to meet Jesus and find His salvation.

What We Owe Our Mates (1 Corinthians 7: 1-7)

Sermon: The Obligations of Christian Marriage

I.  Our marriages have an obligation of MUTUAL EXCLUSIVITY 1-2

1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good ” a man not to touch a woman. 2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.

II.  Our marriages have an obligation of MUTUAL LOYALTY 3

3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.

III.  Our marriages have an obligation of MUTUAL AUTHORITY 4

4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

IV.  Our marriages have an obligation of MUTUAL INTIMACY 5-6

5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command.

V.  Our marriages have an obligation of MUTUAL GRATITUDE 7

7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.

Conclusion:  For Grace Bible Church…

1.  We define marriage by the Word of God, not our culture’s laws and practices.

2.  We promote healthy, physical intimacy in all marriages.

3.  We seek to care for and bless our mates with “fear and trembling” at the great responsibility of being a mate.

4.  We honor and recognize every gift from God—whether the gift of living in a marriage relationship or the gift of living a life of singleness.

My Body, and Mine Alone? 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

My Body, and Mine Alone?

“So, where’s the harm in a little sexual sin?”

I.  Sexual sin DOMINATES those who abandon themselves to it. 12-14

12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.        

II.  Sexual sin DISCONNECTS us from the Lord Jesus. 15-17

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

III.  Sexual sin DAMAGES both our body and our soul.  18

18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.  

IV.  Sexual sin DISMISSES my importance, identity, and purpose in life. 19-20

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

A.  My importance:  I am the dwelling place of the Spirit of God.   19a

B.  My identity: I am now a person who belongs to God alone.  19b-20a

C.  My purpose: I now live to bring honor to Him, not pleasure to me. 20b

Conclusion: Therefore…as a Christian, I no longer claim “ownership” of my body—it now belongs to God, and I will seek to honor Him alone with what I do with my body.

3.2.14 Grace in Action (John 7:53-8:11)

Grace in Action

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: If this story were acted out in dramatic form, who would the main characters be? Big Answer: They would be those who Oppose Grace, those who are Objects of Grace, and the One who is the Origin of Grace.

Introduction: Jesus was teaching in the temple in Jerusalem 7:53-82

1.         Jesus stayed the night on the Mount of Olives 7:53-8:1

53 And everyone went to his home. 1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2.         He taught in the temple in Jerusalem 2

2 Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them.

I.  The Opponents of Grace: Those who insist the Law be applied–to others. 3-8

3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.

A.  The accusers: scribes and Pharisees 3

B.  The accused: a women set before Jesus for judgment 4a

C.  The charges: She’d been caught in the very act of adultery 4b

D.  Their attempt to trap the Lord. 5-6a

1.  “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; 5a

  • Leviticus 20:10 ‘If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

2.  …what then do You say? 5b

3.  Their motives were to trap Him by forcing Him to make an unfavorable                      decision 6a

6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him.

  • What were the possible responses to this “test”?  What response could Jesus have made, and what would have been the results and implications of those responses?

1)    He could have sided with the Pharisees, agreeing that she really should have been put to death.  This would have challenged Roman law.

2)    He could have sided with the Romans and the general population, and denied that the women should be executed.  This would have challenged the apparent, assumed application of the Jewish religious law.

3)     He could have done/said nothing—played it safe.

4.     He responded by writing on the ground, and challenging their application of Moses’ law.  6b-8

i.  He began to write with His finger on the ground 6a

But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.

ii.  He invited any valid witness to begin the stoning of the women, and then continued to write on the ground 7-8

7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

  • Deut 17: 6 “On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. 7 “The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.
  • Jesus put His finger on the fact that these were all hostile witnesses, and thus, could not act as witnesses in a (Mosaic) court.  He exposed their failure to keep the Law, but reminding them of the parts of the Law they’d ignored.

5.  They all left the scene, their plot having failed. 9a

9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones,

  • Heard it = Note, they heard what Jesus said (“He who is without sin…”), and began to leave. Thus, it is NOT necessarily what they may have read that made them leave…

II.  The Object of Grace: the woman, a sinner caught in her sin. 9b-11a

…and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.”

III.  Jesus, the Origin of Grace 11b

And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

 

 

 

 

2.16.14 Because We Say “I Do” Genesis 2:18-25

Big Idea: What do we mean when we say, “I do”?

Answer:  We mean to say that biblical marriage is a PROVISION given to us by God, a PATTERN for us to follow, and a PORTRAIT for us to enjoy.

I.  Marriage is a PROVISION given to people by God.  18-23

A.  The problem—Without a companion who corresponded to him, the man was incomplete in bearing the image of God. 18-20

18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; ” 19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 

B.  The solution—Woman, a companion that corresponded to man. 21-23

21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

1.  Note the independence from man—women have a direct, personal relationship with God, exclusive of men.

2.  Note the unity with man—the marriage relationship is to retain a clear commitment to the unity between mates.

Application: Since marriage is a divine provision to address human incompleteness it must be received with humble gratitude and joy—like the gift that it was meant to be.

II.  A God-given PATTERN for marriage: Heterosexual, Independent, Permanent, Physically Intimate 24

24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

A.  Heterosexual = …a man…his wife

B.  Independent = …shall leave his father and mother

C.  Permanent = …shall be joined (cleave)

D.  Intimate sexually = the shall become one flesh

These attributes of biblical marriage exclude…

Polygamy = multiple wives

Polyandry = multiple husbands

Homosexuality= of the same gender

Application: Since marriage is a divine pattern given to man, it must be followed with precise obedience.

III.  The divine PORTRAIT of marriage is one of healthy, emotional intimacy between husbands and wives, and of the relationship between the Lord and His Bride, the Church. 25

A.  A healthy marriage is an experience of intimacy between a husband and wife

25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Application: Since marriage is a divine portrait of joyful intimacy, it is meant to be gratefully enjoyed as a blessing from God.

B.  A healthy marriage provides a matchless portrait of the love that exists between Jesus and the church.

Eph 5: 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

Conclusion: How are we at Grace Bible Church to respond to this truth?

1.  Gratitude for the provision of marriage.  We did not create marriage—it was given to us, by a loving Creator.

2.  Obedience to the pattern given to us for marriage.  Like Jesus, and the Apostles Paul and Peter, we must glean principles from the account of this first, historical marriage celebrated by human beings.

3.  Rejoicing that when we have Christ, we have the Groom, and need never despair of our failings, and our disappointments in this life, and in our marriages.

.

Daniel 6:1-28 Liars, Laws, Lions, and the Lord Who Saves

I.          The plot of men against Daniel 1-16a

A.        Daniel distinguished himself above all others in his service to the king. 1-3

It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they would be in charge of the whole kingdom, 2 and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss. 3 Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom.

B.        Motivated by envy, peers of Daniel conspired to discredit him before the king. 4-5

1.         They could find no ethical failures in Daniel 4

4 Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him.

2.        They determined to use Daniel’s faith against him 5

5 Then these men said, “We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.”

C.        They tricked the king into creating a law that made it illegal to pray to   anyone by him (for one month), punishable by death. 6-9

1.         They made it illegal to pray or petition any god or person (other than     King Darius) for one month 6-9

6 Then these commissioners and satraps came by agreement to the king and spoke to him as follows: “King Darius, live forever! 7 “All the commissioners of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the high officials and the governors have consulted together that the king should establish a statute and enforce an injunction that anyone who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, shall be cast into the lions’ den. 8 “Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document so that it may not be changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.” 9 Therefore King Darius signed the document, that is, the injunction.

2.         They made it punishable by death to break the new law 7b

shall be cast into the lions’ den.

D.        They witnessed Daniel breaking their law, and pressed charges against  him before the king. 10-16a

1.         They spied on Daniel praying to the Lord God 10-11

10 Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. 11 Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God.

2.         They pressed charges against Daniel, and demanded that Darius put       Daniel to death 12-15

a.         The charges were pressed 12-13

12 Then they approached and spoke before the king about the king’s injunction, “Did you not sign an injunction that any man who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, is to be cast into the lions’ den?” The king replied, “The statement is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.” 13 Then they answered and spoke before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you signed, but keeps making his petition three times a day.”

b.         The king was heart-sick that he’d been tricked into executing Daniel 14

14 Then, as soon as the king heard this statement, he was deeply distressed and set his mind on delivering Daniel; and even until sunset he kept exerting himself to rescue him.

c.         The conspirators insisted in Daniel’s execution—that very day. 15

15 Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Recognize, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or statute which the king establishes may be changed.”

3.         Daniel was thrown into a lions’ den to be killed 16a

16 Then the king gave orders, and Daniel was brought in and cast into the lions’ den.

II.         The presence of God on behalf of Daniel 16b-24

A.        God was present in the conscience of the king 16b-18

1.         Darius hoped that God would deliver Daniel 16b

The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Your God whom you constantly serve will Himself deliver you.”

2.         Darius took steps to prohibit the conspirators from killing Daniel in the night 17

17 A stone was brought and laid over the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signet rings of his nobles, so that nothing would be changed in regard to Daniel.

3.         Darius spent the night fasting and worrying about Daniel 18

18 Then the king went off to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no entertainment was brought before him; and his sleep fled from him.

B.        God was present in the den of the lions 19-24

1.         …saving Daniel from the lions 19-23

19 Then the king arose at dawn, at the break of day, and went in haste to the lions’ den. 20 When he had come near the den to Daniel, he cried out with a troubled voice. The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.” 23 Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

2.         …punishing Daniel’s enemies by the same lions 24

24 The king then gave orders, and they brought those men who had maliciously accused Daniel, and they cast them, their children and their wives into the lions’ den; and they had not reached the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

III.        Conclusion:  The Praise of Darius and the Prosperity of Daniel 25-28

1.         Praise from the king: Darius honored the Lord God 25-27

25 Then Darius the king wrote to all the peoples, nations and men of every language who were living in all the land: “May your peace abound! 26 “I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; For He is the living God and enduring forever, And His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, And His dominion will be forever. 27 “He delivers and rescues and performs signs and wonders In heaven and on earth, Who has also delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.”

2.         Prosperity for Daniel: he “enjoyed success” 28

28 So this Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

Conclusion:  God’s people can rest assured that He is with them in exile—to protect, save, and in the end—vindicate them before their enemies.  There is no stone, soldier, or seal that can stand before the power of God to rescue from danger, and deliver from death–be it in a lions’ den…or even a grave.

 

 

Daniel 1:1-2 History and the Hand of God

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.  2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.

I.  The History of the Fall of Jerusalem 1-2

1:1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon

A.  God’s king was defeated 

1.  The loser, Jehoiakim, king of Judah

  • Gladly served as vassal king to Egypt, and then to Babylon.
  • To raise tribute to pay to Egypt’s king, Jehoiakim used the forced, unpaid labor of his own countrymen.
  • Could not be trusted, either by Jews or Egyptians, or Babylonians. 
  • Notoriously attacked anyone who suggested “bad news” to him.  When he was read the writings of Jeremiah the prophet, (whom he later arrested and held prisoner in an empty well/cistern), he took out a pen-knife and cut up the Scriptures!  (Jer 36:22ff)

2.  The winner, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon

  • Nebuchadnezzar” = one of the most amazing, imposing military/ruling kings in the human history. 
  • Three deportations to Babylon: 605, 597, and 586 B.C.  The Babylonian army destroyed Solomon’s Temple in 586BC.

B.  God’s city was surrounded and sacked 1b

Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.

1.  The loser, Jerusalem, capital of Israel

  • “besieged it” = one of the three main attacks on the city of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.  While the initial defeat happened in 605 BC, the city finally was destroyed in 586 BC.
  • Deu 28: 49 “The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,
  •  F.B. Meyer offers a poignant description of the siege and fall of the city of Jerusalem.  After describing the influx of citizens from the country, and its horrible drain on the resources and infrastructure of the city’s few, precious resources, he goes on to describe the final days of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem.

…So much for the earlier months of the siege:  but as the days passed on, darker shadows gathered.  It was as though the very pit of hell added in human passion the last dread horrors of the scene.  The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, lay by scores in the recesses of the houses, broken like earthen pitchers, the work of the hand of the potter!  The women become cruel, and refused to spare from their breasts for their young the nutriment they needed for themselves.  The tongues of the sucking babes become so dry and parched, that they could no longer cry.  Young children, whose weakness constituted a first claim, asked for bread, and asked in vain. (Jeremiah—Priest and Prophet, F.B. Meyer, Christian Literature Crusade, page 143.)

  • After the fall of Jerusalem in 605 BC, the nation of Israel did not exist as an independent, self-governing state for over 2,500 years, until 1948.

2.  The winner, Babylon, capital of Mesopotamia

  • There was a remarkable renaissance of learning, music, literature during the Second Babylonian kingdom.
  • The city of Babylon itself would impress even if it existed today, for sake of its defensive walls, canal system, parks, gardens, palaces, temples, roadways, gates, and cavernous public buildings.

C.  God’s temple was pillaged. 2

2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.

1.  The loser, Solomon’s Temple…  2a

  • Note:  The Lord “gave” both the king of Judah (Eliakim) and the sacred utensils of the temple into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand.  [Arguably, Nebuchadnezzar also was given the youth of Judah—as had been prophesied to Hezekiah by Isaiah the prophet (Isa 39).]
  • As horrific as the thought is, the texts argues that God’s relationship with Nebuchadnezzar was much like that of an offended landlord hiring out a mercenary to forcibly evict His people off of the land, and out of the city of Jerusalem!  Thus, it is more true to say that Nebuchadnezzar did not steal the Temple’s treasure, but received it from the hand of the God of the Temple!

2.  …the winner, the temple of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian gods 2b

  • and he brought them to the land of Shinar, = (Gen 10-11: Nimrod settled and built a human-ruled kingdom, people settled, against God’s will, Tower of Babel…)
  • to the house of his god(s), and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god. “along with some of the vessels of the house of God…” =  the symbolic humiliation of God, and the safe-guarding of the vast wealth taken from the Temple in Jerusalem.  In the culture of the ancient Middle East, temples were also as banks–they were the safest place to store material wealth, such as the items that Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem.

II.         The hardest part of the story:  It was the hand of God that handed over His people and their city!  2

2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.

  • It is notable that the God here is Adonai—the personal, Hebrew name for God.  Despite Nebuchadnezzar’s presumption that he himself was responsible for the defeat of Israel—the text allows for no such possibility.  
  • Psa 44   12 You sell Your people cheaply, And have not profited by their sale.

A.  His means of destroying and pillaging His people: Nebuchadnezzar, God’s “servant”!

  • Nebuchadnezzar, “My servant” (!):  Jer 25   8 “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Because you have not obeyed My words, 9 behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them and make them a horror and a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. = Like a boss paying a private contractor, God “paid” Nebuchadnezzar to defeat Israel.

B.  His reason the discipline of His people: their disobedience 

  because you have not obeyed My words…  

  • From Moses (Deut, Lev) to Solomon in the dedication of the Temple, to Isiah 39, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Ezekiel and Habakkuk, it had been made abundantly clear in their Scriptures that the price of persistent, unrepentant sin against God, and violation of His covenant with them would result in His forcible eviction of His people from their own land, for 70 years.

III.        The (oftentimes hard) mystery of God’s Hand in Our Suffering

A.  Is God really the author of hardship?  God is frequently named as the source of hardship and suffering in the lives of His dearest saints…

  • It is Job crying out, “   17 “For He bruises me with a tempest And multiplies my wounds without cause. 18 “He will not allow me to get my breath, But saturates me with bitterness. (Job 9)
  • It’s Naomi complaining, after the death of her husband and both of her sons in a foreign land, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 “I went out full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has witnessed against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?”
  • It is Jeremiah saying, “ 7 O LORD, You have deceived me and I was deceived; You have overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; Everyone mocks me.  8 For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, Because for me the word of the LORD has resulted In reproach and derision all day long. Jer 20
  • It is David saying, “He has weakened my strength in the way; He has shortened my days.”  (Ps 102) = “God, You’ve made me WEAKER, not stronger, and You’ve SHORTENED my life expectancy!”
  • It is Psalmist who wrote, “You sell Your people cheaply, And have not profited by their sale. (Psalm 44:12)
  • But it is also Jesus fervently praying to God that the experience of the Cross might be avoided, but that He would put God’s “will” before His own, and go to that Cross.
  • It is Jesus crying out with a loud voice on a dark Friday afternoon, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?!”

CONCLUSION: So where is there hope to be found in suffering?

THE CROSS!  We don’t always know what God is accomplishing in our dark nights, but we DO know what He accomplished on the DARKEST day of human history—the day Jesus hung on a Cross.

  • From  a historical point of view it was just another Roman crucifixion—just another case of a government used by religion to get rid of a Troublemaker…
  • But in view of the hand of God in the crucifixion, something utterly amazing and marvelous happened… heaven’s door was opened for sinners!
  • The who, what, where, and whens of history will never bring us to the deeper meaning behind the things that happen to us–only God possesses the WHYs that we long to know.  And despite the darkness that might best describe the present chapter of your life–believers are blessed to know the end of the “book,” the whys of history–God is at work to bring about His own glory displayed in all creation, and the promised redemption of His people!
  • Alas! and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die? Would he devote that sacred head, for sinners such as I?  By God’s plan, YES!
  • Hope is found when we press beyond the mere history of trouble to see the hand of God at work in our lives through the greatest hope—the Cross of Christ.
  • Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.