Do Not Be Unaware

Do Not Be Unaware

Do Not Be Unaware: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13.  Today’s sermon from Grandview Christian Assembly covered Paul’s warning that our God is not a vending machine, Barney-like God.  He is a God who, like a diligent and faithful Father, cares about how we live post-salvation and, if needed, will get involved in order to correct.

The previous section of verses (1 Cor. 9:24-27) presented the positive incentives for running the race well.  These verses provided the “stick” the the “carrot” of the previous verses.  Both sermons pack a punch and are worth listening to and pondering in prayer.

At the end of sermon, the band played the Casting Crowns song “My Own Worst Enemy” which nailed the atmosphere of calling out to the Lord as our Savior as we recognize how we are like the Israelites Paul refers to in 1 Cor. 10:1-3.  I encourage you to listen to sermons from GCA and then give a listen to the song.

The Marriage Covenant

The-Marriage-Covenant

Grandview Christian Assembly has been spending several weeks working through 1 Corinthians 7 – a chapter loaded with marriage theology.   One aspect of marriage is that it is more than simply an agreement between two people or a human legal arrangement.  Marriage is a covenant in the eyes of God.  The marriage covenant is a picture of the holy covenant of God with His people.  It is something holy and something not to be treated lightly.

A friend, who does not attend GCA, asked me today about a written resource she could use to assist some Christians who are married, are struggling in their marriage, and had not been introduced to the biblical view of marriage as a covenant.  After some digging around, I came across an article from the Resurgence in 2011 that presented the concept simply, and yet from several different angles.  I have reproduced it below:

MARRIAGE IN GOD’S STORY

Phil Smidt 

IN THE BEGINNING

The story of God is one of Good News, and it begins with a wedding ceremony.

After God created the heavens and earth and filled it, he made the man and the woman, uniting them in marriage.

God created marriage for his purposes, not ours, as marriage belongs to him. He determined marriage as a sacred union on which he would build the foundation for establishing families and, ultimately, society and culture. 

MARRIAGE IS

God defined marriage from the beginning: an intimate, covenant relationship between one man and one woman lasting a lifetime (Genesis 2:24Proverbs 2:16-17Malachi 2:14).

Biblically, Moses first characterized marriage: “Therefore (because of marriage – my emphasis) a man shall leave his father and his mother, hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). In the New Testament, both Jesus (Matthew 19:5Mark 10:6–7) and Paul (Ephesians 5:32) affirm Moses and agree with God’s definition of marriage:

  • It is exclusive (one man and his wife).
  • It is not defined by temporal family ties but by permanent covenantal promises (leave father and mother).
  • It is a lifetime commitment (hold fast).
  • Intimacy (oneness) ensues (they become one flesh).

However, marriage was never meant as an end to itself.

As the story of God begins to unfold, he reveals his greater intention for marriage.

A COVENANT PROMISE

God’s love for his people has always been steadfast and sure, and he holds fast to them in a permanent, exclusive, intimate, covenantal relationship.

Vows and promises are the basis for a covenant. On a wedding day, the bride and groom make vows to one another, promising to love each other solely for a lifetime, regardless of circumstances.

Throughout Scripture, there are numerous parallels drawn between the covenant promises of God and his chosen people and the covenant promises of a husband and wife in marriage. Specifically, God calls himself “husband” and his people, “bride” (Isaiah 54:562:5Jeremiah 2:2Revelation 19:721:29,22:17).

GOD IS BETTER AT PROMISES THAN WE ARE

A problem has existed since Genesis 3 regarding the difference between God’s covenants and ours: 

  • God makes promises and keeps them.
  • We make promises and break them.

When the people of God sin against him and chase after other gods, their sinful deeds are named ‘spiritual adultery’ and ‘whoredom’—strong language for sin, but an accurate description of the relationally destructive nature of our rebellion against a loving, trustworthy, and Holy God (Hosea, Jeremiah 3:6–2131:32, Ezekiel 23, Psalm 106:39).

We don’t sin in a vacuum. Someone is always, beginning with God, sinned against. But continually, a passionate, faithful God pursues and intervenes, providing payment for sin that is sufficient and everlasting for rebellious children who repent.  

JESUS AND MARRIAGE

Ephesians 5:23–32 reveals more of God’s plan for Christian marriage as it is written specifically to Spirit-filled husbands and wives (Ephesians 5:1,18): “This mystery is profound, and I am saying it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). The mystery refers to God’s plan of redemption for his church (his bride), collectively all who have received salvation through Christ’s atoning death on the cross.

This powerful image of Christ, and the church in general, also permeates the marriage of one man and one woman, specifically applying itself in the daily details of their life together. Without Jesus, it is impossible for the husband and wife to muster up enough strength, loving feelings, or good intentions to fulfill their biblical role and calling in marriage. But because of him, two sinful, completely different individuals can be miraculously transformed into one.

ROLES OF HUSBAND AND WIFE DEFINED BY THE CROSS

It is clear the Biblical roles of husband and wife are less about what the couple should do and more about what Jesus has done for them. 

Christian wives can look to the cross and see Jesus who freely submitted himself to the will of the Father to die in her place (Ephesians 5:22–24). Her submissive response is not to be one of begrudging foot-dragging, competition with her husband, or a fearful power struggle, but joyful and purposeful, just like Christ’s attitude was for her (Hebrews 12:2).

Likewise, Christian husbands can look to the cross and see Jesus, who in love and humility laid his life aside to die for the man’s sin. Jesus then defeated death and rose to live for and lead the church, providing for its needs (Philippians 2:3–8). In the same way, Christ now calls husbands to die to themselves and live for and lead their wives and children in bringing attention and glory to God, not to rule as controlling tyrants or disappear as cowardly abdicators (Ephesians 5:25–30).

GOD’S VISION FOR MARRIAGE

Spirit-filled married couples have the opportunity to know and accept each other deeply, as they learn that loving someone else isn’t natural, nor does it come easily. They get to love because Christ loves them (1 John 4:10–11). They don’t need to fear intimacy or confessing sin, they can walk in the freedom of faith and repentance. Since they have been graced and forgiven they can offer grace and forgiveness to each other. Because God has been kind to them, they can be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32).

As helpful companions who see their spouse as a precious gift from God, together they get to face the blessings, trials, and unexpected surprises of life, saturate their children with Jesus, serve brothers and sisters in the church, and share the gospel with neighbors, extended families and co-workers. Just as Jesus continues to intentionally pursue and love them, they get to creatively pursue and love each other, building a God-honoring legacy as they grow old together.

WEDDED BLISS

The Bible ends with a wedding ceremony. In Revelation 19:6–9, the story of God culminates in Jesus bringing his Bride, the church, home to live with him permanently. Those who have trusted in Christ for salvation throughout history, whether anticipating his coming or looking back to when he came, will live with him forever.

The marriage supper of the Lamb proves that the covenant-keeping God honors his promises. That is your hope, and will always be the hope of the Bride of Christ.

Living for the Reign of Jesus

focusThis past Sunday, Grandview Christian Assembly preached a sermon on living life – our marriage or singleness, our mourning or rejoicing, or jobs or our relaxation – in light of the return and coming reign of Christ (1 Cor. 7:25-35).  When we shift our eyes from the events and situations of life that can so easily consume us and occupy  the forefront of our priorities, and like Paul, focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and His return we are able to find true passion and meaning for life.  Relationships and rejoicing become a foreshadowing of the coming glory.  Mourning and anxiety become a part of living in a fallen, sinful world, instead of an overbearing burden upon our souls.  The longing expectation redirects our paths and decisions away from the short term and unto the long term priorities of the kingdom of God.

Olympic athlete, Eric Liddell, portrayed in the film Chariots of Fire, departed for China in 1925 and would eventually die in a Chinese internment camp in 1945.  His last reported words were, “It’s complete surrender,” as he willingly laid down his life for the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ.  His last words to the crowd wishing him well at Waverley Station in Scotland were, “Christ for the world, for the world needs Christ!” followed by leading the people in the singing of “Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun” (Name Above All Names, pp 98-99).

Liddell’s life and death are a portrayal of a man living not for the now but with a view unto the Lord’s return.  The hymn sung at his departure, by Isaac Watts, depicts his hope and the hope of all those who yearn and live unto the coming again of Christ:

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,

Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

To Him shall endless prayers be made,
And praises throng to crown His head;
His Name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice…

Blessings about where’er He reigns;
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blessed.

Where He displays His healing power,
Death and the curse are known n more;
In Him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost…

 

Fall 2013 Bible Memorization Challenge

ESV Coffee Bible

The fall semester at The Ohio State University is about to begin.  The on-campus church group, Oasis Christian Community (associated with Grandview Christian Assembly) will be issuing a Bible memorization challenge.  The challenge will have two levels and will be based on two of the fall semester sermon series.

The first level, for those who are new to the idea or hesitant about their memorization skills will be to memorize all of Matthew 5 (48 verses; 3 verses a week) before Christmas break.

The second level, for those wanting a bit more of a challenge, will be to memorize all of Matthew 5 & 6 (82 verses; 5-6 verses a week) before Christmas break.

The rewards for those who successfully complete the challenge(s), besides the spiritual benefits that translate into one’s daily life from verse memorization, have yet to be determined; but will be worth the energy.

Prone to Wander

In preparation for an upcoming sermon on James 5:19-20 at Grandview Christian Assembly, the hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing has been flowing through my mind and heart.  In particular, the lines, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,/Prone to leave the God I love;/Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,/Seal it for Thy courts above.”

I have cause to reflect upon the times I have wandered and cause to reflect upon the Lord who initially sought me, continues to keep me, and has placed a caring community of Christians in my life who have been and are faithful to keeping me from wandering too far astray from the Lord I love.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Why Jesus?

Of all the religions and faith systems in the world, why the Christian faith, why Jesus?  In the Grandview Christian Assembly sermon series “Truth Hunt,” Keith Miller from Cincinnati Community Church finished off the series answering the question Why Jesus?

In Sickness and in Health

I have not been able to sleep soundly in days.  I have a cold sore inside of my mouth that makes it hard to talk, eat, drink, smile, or frown.  Worst of all, it is painful when I kiss my wife.  For a guy who loves to kiss his wife and who uses his mouth to preach God’s Word this is not fun.

Pain is not fun, especially for a guy like me who does not get sick that often.  Pain has induced complaining from me.  Pain, though it can cause a lot of inward-focus, is also a great way for a self-centered person, like me, to stop looking at myself and look to God.  I have experienced enough pain in my life and read my Bible enough so that I try not to naively  get mad at God and declare, “Why are You doing this to me?,” as though every bad thing in life is God’s fault. Instead, I try to remember that this current discomfort has placed me in the position to ask the Lord, “What would you like to gain in my heart through this experience of sickness?”

Through this heart-style, it is my hope and expectation to see the Lord redeem this not-fun-at-all situation for my greater good and His eternal glory.  What that will look like, I do not know and I realize that I may not even “feel” what it is that the Lord gained in my heart after the illness has passed, but I do have faith in my Redeemer and have decided to place my life and heart in His perfect hands whether in sickness or in health.

I have been helped in keeping this eternal perspective through my recent listening to the audio book version of A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada and by the current sermon series on the book of Job at Grandview Christian Assembly; in particular the sermon entitled “Pain“.