Sunday, June 30, 2019

God & Country - A Biblical View

Definition:  blending Faith and Patriotism - honor or nation AND the God who gave it.
The people putting this together had high recognition that God had a mighty hand in establishing the nation.

Biblical examples.... of men who qualified as patriots.

#1.  Jeremiah - preached destruction under 5 kings for 40 years!! - condemnation by the hand of God.
Jer. 5:26-31, 19:7-9  Not a popular message.
But known as "the weeping prophet" - which led to him writing Lamentations.  He wept over his people and his nation.

#2.  Ezekiel - preaches the message of Jeremiah's letter to the people exiled in Babylon.
Jer. 29:4-7 - deported into Babylon.  Ezekiel - not popular either.

#3.  Daniel (carried away in the first exile) - served Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, & Darius as a favored advisor, yet  ... Dan. 6:10, 9:1-3 - patriot of Israel

#4. Nehemiah - faithful servant of Persian King Artaxerxes - (100 years after the return) - Neh. 1:1-4, 2:4-6 - don't know if he'd ever been to Jerusalem

#5.  Jesus - Matt. 23:37-38, 24:1-2 - total desolation 35 years later

#6.  Apostle Paul - Apostle to Gentiles!!  - Rom. 9:1-5, 10:1

These men shared some common national views ... that serve as Biblical models for us.

(1)  They loved their nation - (why did Jeremiah weep??)
(2)  They sought the good of their nation -
which = why in every instance = "return to the LORD"
Additional:  they loved enough to give back - most of these men died martyrs.
Example:  Declaration of Independence signers:
56 signatures - their fate?
5 captured and executed as traitors
12 had their homes ransacked and burned
 2 lost sons in the colonial army
 9 of the 56 fought and died of wounds or hardships of the war
several others lost their businesses and personal holdings to the British Army
Francis Lewis saw his wife jailed for being married to a patriot - she died in that jail
Thomas Nelson authorized the shelling of his own home - which was occupied by British as a headquarters
Carter Braxton lost his shipping fleet to British navy.
British soldiers looted the property(s) of at least 8 others.
Point =  they sought the good of the nation at their own expense.

Example:  statement by JFK - "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country"

BUT  (3)  they put God before their nation
   (a)  the nation is NOT the Lord    (b)  the nation is temporary!
Phil. 3:20, 1 Pet. 1:3-4

(4)  they recognized the sins of their nation AND owned selves as part of the problem!!  Dan. 9:4-8

(5)  They believed God would RIGHTLY judge their nation - whether judgment = blessings or curses ... it'll be RIGHT!!

(6)  They believed in God's good will toward their nation - in fact ... toward ALL nations!!  Jonah 4:1-3

and so... John 3:16-17, 1 Tim. 2:1-4 - this is the heart of God.

(7)  They believed God would not abandon their nation  (His people)  Jer. 29:10-14
short range pessimist / long range optimist

put together ... (8)  they always held forth HOPE for their nation.  Lam. 3:19-24  The prophets never ended on gloom and doom, but on hope!

How can I make a difference?  I'm not a prophet - statesman - wealthy - influential ... only a drop in the bucket!!

On one hand - you may be only a drip, however, you are called to be a Faithful drip!!  Do what God calls you to do - drips accumulate and make a difference when all together.

Closing Scripture:  Matt. 5:13-16

Monday, June 24, 2019

Biblical Guidelines for a Prospering Nation

Opening introduction:

Article written by Donald S. Lutz and Charles S. Hyneman - published in American Political Science Review - 1984 - "The Relative Influence of European Writers on Late 18th. Century American Political Thought"/

15,000 writings were reviewed of the era between 1760 and 1805.
Of those they selected 916 previously published items for their research.  (books, newspaper articles, pamphlets, etc.)

Then they counted citations (reference made to previously published works) within these writings as a means of measuring the influences upon our Founding Fathers (as they hammered out constitution for this new-found nations - the United States of America.

Of 3,154 citations found in these 916 publications, 34% were quotes from the Bible!!!  - Apostle Paul was most quoted.

"...the Biblical tradition is most prominent among the citations .... It is relevant ... to note the prominence of Biblical sources for American political thought, since it was highly influential in our political tradition and is not always given the attention it deserves."

Question:  What book of the Bible most often quoted?  Answer:  Deuteronomy.
Why?  note the (1) historical setting, and therefore, (2) the content and (3) parallels

Question:  IF the bible was relevant to the colonials in late 18th. century (ie: in developing our constitution)
THEN is it relevant to us in early 21st century?

11 years ago, preached a sermon entitled "Biblical Guidelines for an Aspiring Nation."
Better = "Biblical Guidelines for a prospering Nation"

Because, the words, instructions, warnings are (mostly) for once they are IN the land ... settled, prospering....  Deut. 8:10

On one hand, we recognize America = a prospering nation
However, also fear it = a faltering nation!!

So, (as approach our 243rd birthday) - lets looks at some
"Biblical Guidelines for a Prospering Nation"

Note:  this is not a message to the nation.  Rather = a message to individual citizens of the nation!!
Because - a _________ nation is made of __________ people!  (fill in the blanks with the same word)

So.... (1)  the setting of Deuteronomy
         (2)  the parallels to the colonies  (& to us!)
         (3)  the text - Deut. 4:1-2, 5-6, 9
                              Deut. 8:1-20
God's will is never done corporately until it is done individually first.


#1.  Be Reasonable - Deut. 8:17-18
our prosperity = result of ..._____?

#2.  Be Thankful - Deut. 8:10
Example:  saying grace at meals - is not necessary, but is appropriate - Psm. 50:23

#3.  Be Careful - Deut. 8:11-14
Be careful to (A) remember  (16 times in Deuteronomy, 166 times in scripture)
                    (B) not FORGET
(prosperity tends to pride ... which = forget Him and focus on ME) - not good for us, not good for the nations.

#4.  Be Wise - Deut. 30:11-16, 19
wisdom is more than knowledge = practical application of Knowledge!  (which = relationship with God through Christ)
Biblical wisdom is using knowledge in a wise way!

#5.  Be Instructive - Deut. 4:9, 6:4-9
IF national blessings = result of following God,
then why are we not more vocal about the need to follow God.   The Jews were supposed to be a mouthpiece for God.

#6.  Be Evangelical - Deut. 4:6
Israel's calling included making God known therefore drawing people to Him
The church's calling includes making God known.... through Christ and the Cross

#7.  Be Faithful (to keep what He instructs)  - Deut. 8:6 - "observe" - this means more than stand and watch!!
Examples:  holy days, festivals, rituals = FOR the people (not for God).  When a people neglect, ignore God's institutions .. that people will suffer loss!!  Example = church.  Christ died for the church!  Is His bride!!!

The audience = common folks!  Believers who want God's blessings on themselves, their children, their neighbors, their nation!!!

The choice/decision we (like they) must decide how we will respond to:
(1) these vast blessings and
(2) the God who provides them.

This can be a corporate, national choice ONLY if it is 1st. an individual choice!!!
Because ... a ___________ nation is made of __________ people!!

Close w/Jesus' words - John 13:17

Closing Scripture:  2 Chron. 7:13-14

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Biblical Submission and the Christian Family

Ephesians = typical Pauline - ie:  Theology AND Application

So:  Eph. 1:1 - addressed "to the saints".
Then - Chap. 1-3 - the Theological foundation for Christian life
followed by Chap. 4-6 - the Application, Lifestyle, and Practice

Eph. 5:21-6:9 = Classic passage on Christian Family 
Address:  Wives, husbands, children, fathers, slaves, masters  (ie:  a Christian household)

This passage = many issues but has a COMMON theme!!!   SUBMISSION

Most often noted and quoted scripture = Eph. 5:22
Usually overlooked = (1)  this = POINT of the entire passage!
                                 (2)  it Applies to all family members!!

Before looking at the passage, look at Biblical view of submission.   (We have developed a cultural description of submission, not a Biblical one)

The word in the Greek is:  hupotasso = military term/ to rank under

We are familiar with this in, for example, the military, workplace, etc.
here Paul applies it to the Family  (household)

BUT ..... a big difference!!!
(1)  This is talking about a Family!!  Not military, workplace, etc.
(2)  = Christian Family - instruction for them
(3) = Biblical View of Submission!!!  ie:  God's view  (not the world's, society's, culture's)
On one hand, it's the same word and are many legitimate parallels 
However, Christian understanding and application will be different and enhanced  (compare the many forms of love with Agape love (God's love)
Phileo = brotherly love
Stergo = love for family
Eros = passionate love
Agape = love of God
When translated into English,  all the same word - LOVE - but in the Greek were different.

So ... SECULAR (world's view)  Vs. BIBLICAL (God's view)

(1)  Secular man measures status by how little he must submit.  Less means he's higher up in the rank,
Biblical view measures status (of a man) by how much he is willing to submit!!   Mark 10:42-45

(2)  Secular submission (typically) is compulsory, imposed upon us
Biblical view = self imposed, voluntary - John 10:17-18 - you take that position.  Example = Christ
Eph. text ... is:   Never  "subject another..."  Always "submit yourself"

(3)  Secular submission (typically) is motivated by self - interest.  (ie:  "I submit because it's best for me!!)
Biblical Submission = I submit because it's better for others!!
Rom. 15:1-2

(4)  Biblical Submission is not merely to a person (officer) BUT to a role, calling, responsibility  (a ministry!)
Example:  Jesus to Peter - "feed my sheep, nurture my lambs" = Submit self ... to ME, to Role, to Flock
So,  1 Pet. 5:1-4 - hence --> 1 Pet. 5:5

(5)  Secular view - "leadership and submission is contrary to one another"
Biblical view - "leadership and submission = complementary to one another!!
Biblical view says the greatest leaders are those who would submit to those they lead.

(6)  Secular submission seldom acts silently.  (either (1) protests  or (2)  flaunts the sacrifice)
Contrast Christ:  "silent before accusers"
1 Pet. 2:21 - "to this you are called!"

(7)  Biblical submission is more than action, = ATTITUDE!!  - Phil. 2:5-7

Some Observations:

Chaos was born from a refusal to submit!  - (Satan and demons refused to submit to God)

The Fall occurred when man refused to submit  (Adam and Eve and to us)

Therefore, Redemption = result of willing submission.  OF Christ ... to the Father, to His role, to the Cross!!

Personal Salvation = available ONLY to those who will voluntarily submit to Christ (to grace) etc, etc, etc.

In light of this (and much, much more!)
How is it...???
That something as fundamental, necessary, valuable, honorable, laudable as Submission can fall into such disfavor with man?
TO the point that it is considered and Inferior action and a BAD word!!!!!

ANSWER = We (mainly Americans and even some Christians) have fallen for AND Embraced the world's view.  (a secular view) of submission.... AND Rejected God's View!!!
NOTE:  Rom. 12:2

With this in mind, Eph. 5:21-6:9

Summary:  (1)  Submit yourself to Christ
                 (2)  Submit yourself to your family
                 (3)  Submit yourself to YOUR ROLE within the family
Prov. 14:1

Closing Scripture:  Prov. 8:1-6

Friday, June 7, 2019

Children: A Blessing From the Lord

Differing views regarding children.

Christian's view developed around Scripture.
Biblical view = "Children are a blessing from the Lord"
Psm. 127:3-5, Gen. 1:28 - part of blessing for creation = children
Mark 10:13-16 - Example:  picture of Jesus with the children

On one hand, Bible presents children as a Blessing.  However, Biblical writers were NOT ignorant of the BURDEN.
They have many needs:  (physical, psychological, spiritual)
At least are intrusive, demanding.
At worst = tyrannical!!  -  (if don't believe that, sign up for nursery duty!!)

They are the source of great joy!!  However, also source of great grief, sorrow, disappointment, heartache
Examples:  Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Samson, Absalom

Nevertheless, in spite of the burdens, the Biblical message remains:
"Children are a blessing from the Lord"

Note:  (1)  not just a potential blessing, simply "a blessing"
           (2)  a blessing not just to parents/grandparents - but to US , to community, to society, to mankind!

IF it be true (that children = blessing from the Lord), THEN there are additional Biblical Issues to consider:

I.  Receiving Children 
Reword to "A benefit bestowed (blessing/gift)... by &  from the LORD! - Isa. 29:22-23 - Isaiah's message to Israel as being carried off to Babylon

21st. Century view?  Even a staunch atheist considers a baby - wonder/awe/"miracle"

Application:  to parents (grandparents) - easy!!!
But to non-Parents???  Example:  introducing new babies to the church.   Pleased, proud, because = Gift to US!!

II.  Stewardship:  manager of another's property.
Biblical sense = manager of what God's placed in your care. - New Testament = steward

Biblical Steward = manage - WISELY - FOR the Master.
Non - Parents?  we have also received and been Entrusted  - 1 Cor. 4:2

III.  DISCIPLINE  which = corrective and punitive
But comes from the word Sozo and Phronema (save & mind)
Literally = "Saving the mind"

Now - Heb. 12:5-11
still corrective, punitive, but also formative, developmental, building, training, shaping.  Example:  athlete

(1)  not to love would = ungodly (un-God-like)
                            not to discipline = the same!!!
(2)  NON-Parents ... your punitive options are limited, but your developmental options are not!!

With  issues of Stewardship and development, comes:

IV.  Self-Development - because can't give what don't have  (example:  wisdom)

IF the point = Raise child UP, then I want to be as tall as possible!!!

Also touch on
V.  Success and Failure  
(1)  You will fail sometimes - Rom. 3:23
(2)  You will FEEL like a failure - MANY TIMES!!

Continue to tell 'self what you already know ...
 (1)  raise child for Long Haul!!  (example:  Jacob == Israel)
 (2)  child has free will - NO guarantees!! - Prov. 22:6 - "train up" = general promise)

VI.  The Common Foundation  (where we started the series) - Matt. 7:24-27
Upon this foundation  (1) you build 'self
                        ...       (2)  you (attempt) to establish your children

Closing note:  Matt. 7:28-29 - (with "these words are trustworthy and true")

Application:  if have never built on the Rock, need to do that!!

Closing Scripture:  Prov. 2:1-6

Monday, May 27, 2019

Personal Baggage in Marriage

During counseling sessions, often must distinguish between:
1)  marital problems
2)  personal problems.

(1)  Marital Problems = problems caused by the union/  issues that did not exist prior to the marriage.
Examples:  money management by 2, child discipline, blended family, sexual incompatibility, in-laws

May be gender differences, personal preferences, issues of cooperation.
BUT = common, predictable

(2)  Personal Problems are not problems caused by the union.
Rather = un-resolved issues brought into the union.
Examples:  chauvinism, frigidity, lying & deceitfulness, extreme selfishness, verbal & physical abuse

These cause problems within marriage, but are not caused by the marriage.

Example: what a Combat Vet or POW might bring into marriage.
ie:  anger, violence, stubbornness, fear, suspicion, timidity, withdrawal, fear of intimacy, fear of bonding

These often are hidden, masked, controlled, BUT tend to surface in intimacy of marriage

Some descriptive terms  (to help define this!)

Baggage - because bring in and unpack in marriage.

Personal - because = yours!  Belongs to YOU!!
(will cause problems for spouse, BUT are not spouse's problem!!!)

Emotional - because deep seated feeling, logic resistant, may even be UNTRUE!!  Examples:  anorexia, inferiority complex

Problem - because = Problem!!!!
hinders personal development, damages the relationship.

Origin??  - may be
(1)  inherited - stubbornness, depression, anxiety - fallen people born to fallen people

(2)  learned - example:  kids in foster care system

or (3)  combo of these

Whatever the cause, the outcome = unhealthy FEELINGS which leads to improper ACTIONS which leads to relational TURMOIL

(again) these may be masked during courtship, but will surface in intimacy of marriage!!!

#1.  We ALL have personal baggage  
because = sinners, raised by sinners, in a sinful world.  Rom. 3:23

#2.  emotional baggage comes in all sizes. 
Examples:  handbag to steamer trunk,  termites and tornadoes

#3.  The emotional health of a marriage cannot exceed the emotional health of the individuals in the marriage.    "a __________ marriage is made of __________ people"

#4.  the emotional health of 1 partner cannot (fully) compensate for the emotional baggage of the other.  example:  marital math - a 7 + a 3 does not equal 10  (=5!)

#5.  emotional issues in 1 partner tend to create emotional issues in the other.
Example:  an abusive alcoholic brings down wife.

#6.  emotional issues in the parents tend to create emotional issues in the children.  
Extreme example:  who is most likely to be physically or sexually abusive??  Answer:  the one who was raised in that kind of environment.  Hence:  chains of Baggage!!

Question:  How important is all of this???  (for Christians???)
Matt. 22:36-40

Your emotional health affects
(1) your Personal development
(2) your relationships with others
(3)  your influence, impact on others  (especially your kids!!)

Objection!!  too much psychology!!  Not enough Bible!!
So....... use a Biblical word, term, concept!!

SIN:  any attitude, behavior, response outside of or contrary tto God's will for you.

Distinction!!  having baggage is not necessarily SIN!!  It = the response to the baggage that determines  SIN!! 
Example:  tortured POW,  sex slave - horrible conditions.  How respond in current situations determines.

Unbiblical Responses??
denial, indifference, downplaying, stonewalling, blame transfer, defeatism

Biblical Response?
A)  Examine - James 1:21-25  Heb. 4:12
B)  Admit - 1 John 1:8-9
C)  Repent
D)  Repeat - over and over again, til head and heart are in agreement

May require additional help!! - friend, pastor, counselor, etc.

BUT - 1st. and biggest issue = DECISION - John 5:6

So... who's Boss of your marriage??
        who should it be???
Prov. 14:1

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Family Series: Marital Problems

Example:  Song by the Dixie Cups - 1964 - "Going to the Chapel".
Song = feelings, dreams, hopes, Expectations!!

One one hand the head KNOWS better!
However, the heart won't believe it!!

What happens:  to feelings?  dreams?  Romance?? (ie: within marriage)

#1.  Life - jobs, bills, house to clean, yard to mow, kids, in laws activities, interruptions, illness, aging.....

#2.  Marriage .... the blending of 2 people, lives, souls... with different backgrounds, personalities, ideas, ideals, goals, methods, preferences...

In a Perfect World - would be NO PROBLEM!!!  But, this is NOT a Perfect World!  - fallen world, fallen people.

Hence, the "Buffaloes & Butterflies" series (started in 1989 - 30 years)
Which leads to "Why your hubby is such a clod" and "why your wife is such a witch".

Illustration:  couple at marriage conference several years ago - came up and said "Bro. Ed, my husband is not a clod."  Ed:  "how long have you been married?"  Answer:  "6 months".   3 years later - couple went through painful, horrible divorce with verbal & physical abuse leading up to it.

On one hand, this couple WAS headed into problems (Storms)

However, the outcome was Not pre-determined!!  It could have worked IF Both had learned a few things
and both had applied a few things.

Typically, a couple faces 2 types of problems within marriage:

#1.  Marital Problems - ie:  problems caused by the marriage, by blending 2 people, lives, souls

#2.  Personal Problems  (baggage) problems brought to the marriage.

Today will deal with (typical) marital problems - experienced by all couples!!
Will use the "Buffaloes & Butterflies" as illustration, outline.

Why your hubby is such a clod.....
1)  he's human - Rom. 3:23   Therefore (a) morally flawed and also b physically flawed!!
Example:  spouse that snores.

2)  he is male (female)  decidedly different!!!  - Gen. 1:27

3)  He is ignorant - ie:  unlearned, untrained, un-educated... IN  (a)  opposite sex  (b) marriage

4)  He's forgetful - what comes natural?  without thought?

5)  He's confused - because Buffalo/Butterfly language, logic, etiquette doesn't make sense!!

6)  He's hurt - hurts accumulate, lead to wounds to callouses and scars, and  behavior often = Response, result of that.

REPEAT all of the above with "Why wife is such a witch"!!!

Question:  Is there an Answer?  Remedy?  IF is spiraling downward, can we reverse?

(1)  Human-ness?    (a)  accept the physical flaws.  (b)  address the moral failures!!!  Rom. 6:11-14 (non-responsive to sin, dead to sin)
(Note:  this = SELF Adjustment NOT Spousal adjustment)

(2)  Differences?  Learn to:
(a)  accept the differences  (they are by design!)  Gen. 1:27
(b)  Appreciate the differences!!!
Can you do that!!  - (seems to work when making love!)

(3)  Ignorance?  Offset with education!!!  (books, CDs, DVDs, videos, etc. and communication!!!
ie:  Learn  (a) what spouse needs and craves
     Learn  (b)  to meet those needs!!  - 1 Pet. 3:7

(4)  forgetfulness?  Review to Remember!!
Re-visit, Re assess, Re learn, Re commit.....

(5)  Confusion?  Learn to live with it!!!

(6)  hurts?  (wounds?  scars?)
        (1)  establish good will
        (2)  adjust your behavior - determine NOT to hurt,  determine to Build up!!
        (3)  apologize
        (4)  Forgive
        (5)  Repeat

Relational Advice from Christ --- Rev. 2:5  (to the church at Ephesus)

Touchstone verse:  Prob. 14:1

Monday, May 13, 2019

Building Your Personal Life on a Proper Foundation

House = building.  Home takes people.

Matt. 7:24-27
TEXT= Building your Personal life on Proper foundation  (ie:  the words of Christ and the Person of Christ)

Today: we use it to illustrate building your Family on a proper foundation.
(that is not the text, BUT the principles parallel and = excellent illustration)

The 4 Primary points for today:

#1.  You build your house (home)
on one hand, it is not all your doing, all in your control.  However, you are a builder!!

#2.  Storms will come because that's the world we live in -- fallen world

#3.  Your house will shake - regardless of how well you build!!

#4.  the foundation is critical because without a solid foundation NO building will stand!!!

I.)  IF the house = a home .. THEN You build your house.
  as a youngster.... you inherit a home - can be good, bad, in between
  as an adult --- you must build it!!!!   (can buy a house, must build a home slowly)

(1) nothing of consequence is build without the Lord's assistance --- Psm. 127:1, But we must do our part.
(2)  we don't all have access to the same building material ... (parents, background & raising, education, opportunities, talents, skills & ability, IQ, etc.)

Nevertheless, we are called to:
(1) WORK with what we have
(2)  cooperate with God's grace - 1 Cor. 15:10, Col. 1:28-29, Phil. 2:12-13
God is at work.  We are called to work WITH Him!!  Is no room for passivity, indifference, laziness, etc.

II.)  Storms will come  (regardless of your faith)
      (A)  Natural Storms (sickness, disease, accident, etc) - we live in a fallen world, Christians are not exempt.
     (B)  Man Made Storms  (created by ... spouse, kids, parents, in-laws, etc.)  - We're fallen people
     (C)  Self-made Storms - OFTEN = own worst enemy!!
     (D)  Super natural storms - Eph. 6:12, 1 Pet. 5:8 - Satanic, demonic.  They have a vendetta against Christ and God's kingdom, not you.    95% of the reality of the universe is invisible to us.

III.)  Your house will shake - AND experience damage!!  No matter how well build!!  - 1 Cor. 10:13,
1 Pet. 4:12 - because this is the world we live in.

IV.)  The Foundation is Critical  
The foundation = (A) the teachings of Christ - Matt. 7:24 - it is not something your build, but something your choose 
                      = (B)  The Practice of those teachings - Matt. 7:24, 26, John 13:17 - Church going just gives the knowledge.
                     = (C)  The Person of Christ - Matt. 7:21-23 - Can practice His teachings, but not have Christ.  If you don't have Christ, have missed the essential element.

(1)  You BUILD your house ... with the Lord's assistance
(2) You choose the foundation - you Decide .. (initially and continually)
(3)  Your choice determines your status!!
WISE man???  or FOOLISH man??   Prov. 14:1 - both are builders
Every individual must choose - no guarantee everyone will follow.

Closing Text:  Matt. 7:28-29
"NOT because He was loud, brash, dogmatic, but because He left the impression that He knew what He was talking about!