Friday, 13 December 2013

When God’s Word is Perfectly Clear

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 1Corinthians 7:3

Greek Alphabet
I know the meaning of some passages in Scripture allude me.  I am not one to study the text in Hebrew or Greek to ascertain which bible translation does a particular passage the most justice when compared to the original language.  What is disconcerting to me are the passages that are particular clear, i.e. I have no doubt what it is saying, yet I treat it as though it might as well be in a language with which I am unfamiliar.

When it comes to marriage God provided some reasonably clear instructions.  “Men love your wives as much as you love yourself.”  Ten simple words, in fact only one is more than one syllable.   Which word (s) as men would we not understand?

Perhaps the first Peter verse is confusing, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect…”  Being considerate does not merely mean to open the car door for your wife, it means get to know them exceedingly well, know everything about them.

To wives He wrote “…the wife must respect her husband.”  I’ll accept that the word respect may be somewhat unclear.  May I suggest that nagging, constructively critiquing or in any way treating your husband as a home improvement project would most likely come under the category of disrespect.

In 1Corinthians7:3 the wife is encouraged to fulfill her marital duty to her husband.  I recognize the term “duty” is ambiguous.

Just a few simple statements as to how husbands and wives should approach one another.  If we as married couples did no more than what God instructed in these few verses we would experience much joy. 

What we have managed to do with marriage is the same thing the Jewish religious leaders did with the Ten Commandments.  As if ten were not good enough the Pharisees and Sadducees added over 600 laws for the Jewish people to follow in addition to God’s Ten, how presumptuous.  In the same way thousands of books have been written on the subject of marriage.  Marriage still boils down to love and respect with the biggest deterrent to doing either being self-centeredness.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Lazarus and Your Marriage

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13

John, chapter 11 is the story of how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  Just in case you are not familiar with the story I’ll give you a condensed version.  Lazarus was the brother of Martha and Mary.  Jesus was apparently extremely close to all three.  Jesus himself had referred to Lazarus as the one he loved.  Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus that their brother was extremely ill and asked him to come.  Jesus was about a day and a half away.  Instead of rushing down to Judea Jesus intentionally waited an additional two days before departing.  The sisters were most upset, since they believed that had Jesus come when they called for him their brother would have been spared.  As it was Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days.  The bottom line was that Jesus in fact called Lazarus out of his tomb.

If Jesus had come immediately Lazarus still would have been saved but it might have been viewed as an ordinary healing of a man who had been sick.  Frankly it took more faith than the sisters of Lazarus or the disciples of Jesus could muster, to think Jesus could resuscitate a dead man.  And that is precisely why Jesus waited.  He wants us to depend on Him.  He wants us to know that nothing is beyond His healing power.  He wants us to know that He loves us as much as He loved Lazarus and that whatever befalls us will ultimately serve His purpose for our lives.

Some of you are in a marriage that is dead, at least your feelings are dead.  Is it remotely possible that this same Jesus could resuscitate your feelings and/or your marriage?  Obviously the answer is yes.  And you, much like those at the Judean grave site, have given up all hope.  From your vantage point there is no way that your marriage will come back to life.

However it is possible, for with Christ all things are possible.  Philippians 4:13 tells us that we can do all things through him who gives us strength.  Most likely you will have to make some changes, even if you feel as though you were the victim and had little if anything to do with the demise of your marriage.  Even if you are only one percent to blame you must work on the one percent.  You must be repentant, broken and humble.  You must seek the Lord with all your heart, asking him to resuscitate your marriage.  This may seem unfair but you can only change you.  God can change the heart of your spouse.

Monday, 9 December 2013

How Bright is Your Light

14 And you, beloved, are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. 15 Similarly it would be silly to light a lamp and then hide it under a bowl. When someone lights a lamp, she puts it on a table or a desk or a chair, and the light illumines the entire house. 16 You are like that illuminating light. Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it.  Matthew 5:13-14 The Voice

After reading these verses during my morning devotional I began to wonder whether or not I am being salt and light to my wife and to those I come in contact with each day.  More specifically the portion of Scripture that says “let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me…” challenged me to examine how I am or am not being an ambassador for Christ.

This requires that I be other-centered, that I pay particular attention to my wife’s mood and be attentive to what may be bothering her.  This means that when I am in a store or restaurant or with a co-worker I should listen more carefully for clues that might allow me to encourage the individual.

This also means that I am working on my vertical connection to God, that I am spending more time with Him in His Word and in prayer.  The stronger my vertical connection, the stronger my love for God and the stronger my love for my wife and others in my life.
At times I feel more like a dim flicker of a candle than a bright light.  It is at times like this that I have started to ask myself, “Self –what is going on in your heart?  Why the grumpies?”  For I have learned that even though I can’t always identify what is preventing me from being the beacon that I’m called to be, the answer lies within me.  Most likely I am feeling negative about a particular situation.  During times like this I find that seeking God helps me to pull out of my funk and put my focus back on Him where it belongs.