Nip It In The Bud!

We are going to take a look tonight at the seeds we plant in our everyday life, and our marriages; and how they specifically affect our “right now,” and our “future.”

Mark 4:26-28 (NASB) And He (Jesus) was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; 27 and goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts up and grows – how, he himself does not know. 28 “The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.

This verse says that the soil produces crops all by itself, even without outside help, or interference from man.  God designed the earth to work with seeds in just this way.  It is something that God set in motion, not man!  Or you could say it this way, the idea of seed, time and harvest is a principle found in God’s word.  There is nothing you can do to stop it or change it, it is a principle, or a “law” that is set in motion, just like gravity.  This principle did not start taking place in the book of Mark in the New Testament, but was initiated and started all the way back in the first chapter of Genesis.

Genesis 1:11 Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with seed in them, on the earth”; and it was so.  “It was So, and that’s all you need to know!”

Genesis 8:22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Now the scripture back in the book of Mark said that man planted the seed, then he just went to bed, and when he got up the next day the seed was sprouting and growing, and he doesn’t even know how.  Now over the years, using science, we have figured out a lot of different ways to grow crops and to make seeds sprout, but there’s still so much that we don’t understand.  We have learned how to enrich soils to get better plants, we’ve learned how to eliminate soil all together using hydroponics, and we’ve even learned how to cross breed plants so that we end up with seedless watermelons and seedless grapes.  We have learned how to “genetically modify” fruits and vegetables.  But just know this, anytime you tamper with a principal spelled in God’s word, and you alter it to do something else, usually another negative result happens.  Many times we don’t even know about the negative results until many decades later.

So, there are five observations I want to make in this little message tonight:

  1. God himself put into practice the principle that seeds, when they are planted, will grow.  There is nothing you can do about that.  It’s His process.
  2. A seed must be sown in order to grow.  Unsown seed has an unrealized harvest.  Seed will not grow unless it’s planted!
  3. Seeds reproduce after their own kind.  The fruit that grows from a seed will always be of the same kind as the seed.
  4. After seed is planted, there is some amount of time that goes by before you see the results, or eat the fruit of it.
  5. As long as the earth remains, this process will continue.

With those five points in mind, let me just say that seeds can take on many forms, and can be good or bad, and we’ve got to learn to know the difference, and to act accordingly.  It’s important to know that a seed can simply represent an origin point, or the very beginning of something.  It’s the point at which something begins the process of growth.   A seed is as small as it will ever get.  Seeds only get bigger.

Now, this starts becoming very important when you consider the power of seeds in the light of your marriage.  You see, seeds can be planted by our words and our actions . . . or the absence of our words or actions.

Think about it!  What you do and say have a powerful impact on your spouse, and literally sets the course of growth for the seed that has been planted.  The seeds of your words and your actions are a direct example to those around you, of what you believe in, support, love, hate, and tolerate.  Your seeds locate YOU!

The simple fact is that the harvest, or the fruit that you are currently experiencing in your life and your marriage, is the direct result of seeds that you have sown in the past.  Good or Bad!  If you don’t like the plants that are growing, check out the seeds you are sowing!

Keep in mind the original five points:

  • God himself put seedtime & harvest into practice
  • A seed had to be sown in order to grow.
  • Seeds reproduce after their own kind.
  • It has taken some amount of time.
  • It will not stop.

Let’s talk for a few minutes about some different kinds of seeds that you may have planted in your marriage:

Need Seed - This is when you say things or do things to your spouse that are grudgingly or of necessity.  Your heart was not really in it, you just did what you needed to do at the time to get through that situation.

Feed Seed - This is when you completely miss the opportunity to do something good or right, because you are only in it for yourself.  Your focus is to eat the seed for yourself.  Why should I do this nice thing?  She probably won’t even notice or care.

Weed Seed This is a seed that grows up and chokes out other good seed that has been planted.  This kind of seed can completely “undo” the results of good seed already in the ground.  This is negativism that occurs in marriage when the husband refuses or is incapable of weeding the garden.

Greed Seed This is a seed, that when grown, is only interested in individual, personal gain, with no respect or concern for that of the spouse.  It’s only for your gain.  This is the “my money,” “my account,” “my car,” “my time” seed!  Very unhealthy!  Often is the beginning of divorce!

Deed Seed This is when you do or say something to your spouse only to be noticed.  Only to get the attention on yourself.  This is “brownie-point” seed!  This seed is often used as bribery, blackmail, or bargaining in order to get something else. It openly displays selfishness to everyone around you, but especially your spouse and family.

Speed Seed This is when you lead incorrectly by example, and jump into things too quickly without knowing the details, or even praying about it.  This seed doesn’t even really consider God in the matter at hand, but can easily size up the situation, plan, investment or decision with the need for God’s involvement.  Thanks God, but I’ve got this!

Plead Seed When you give in to your spouse because they are simply begging or pleading with you of you to do something.  Many times, this is where true leadership goes out the window, the man steps out of his Godly role in the family as the head of the union, and proceeds to take his pants off and hand them to his wife, who will not need them, because she is already has the pants in the family, and is quite comfortable wearing them.  This is usually the beginning of the end, because this is “genetically modified” seed in it’s highest form.  It is attempting to change the roles of each spouse that God Himself set into place.  Do we need to read Ephesians 5 again?

You’ve got to watch what kind of seed you are planting.  Seeds will make or break your marriage.

If you knowingly, willingly, and purposefully plant negative seeds in your marriage, don’t be surprised when a terrible harvest comes your way.

If you knowingly, willingly, and purposefully plant positive seeds in your marriage, don’t be surprised when a wonderful harvest comes your way.

The good news is that even though a small seed can grow into a huge tree, it is also most vulnerable, and at it’s weakest state when it is in seed form.  That means that there is no better or easier time to take care of a bad seed, than in the very beginning.  At it’s infancy.  A bad seed, or even a bad seed that has started to sprout, can easily be plucked out and destroyed.  But nourish it and let it grow for a while, and now you’ve got a real problem.  Thus the title of this message, “Nip It In The Bud!”  That’s the best time to nip it.

Now, Frustration can come when you don’t understand the Germination Time of the seeds you plant.  When you don’t take into account the dormant time of seeds.  There is seed, there is time, and there is harvest.  Things take time!

Once a good or bad seed is planted, there is always a period of time that goes by before the resulting plant is actually seen breaking the surface and sprouting.  That time period can vary depending on many conditions, including the quality of the soil, exposure to light, moisture, air temperature, etc.  That period of time is called the seeds “Dormant Time or Seed Dormancy.”  It doesn’t look like that terrible seed you planted is going anywhere . . . . I said that terrible thing, but nothing really came of it . . . . or . . . . I’ve been purposely going out of my way to bless my spouse, and do kind things, but it’s like they haven’t even noticed . . . . I’ve been giving and giving, doing the right thing, but it just seems like I’m going nowhere.  Sound familiar?  It happens to all of us!

But dormant time is not “NO” time, it is “GROW” time.  As is turns out, there is a whole science behind all of this, and there is a lot happening that cannot be seen.

Seed dormancy has two main functions: 

The first is called synchronized germination – this is when the seed itself is working with the soil, waiting for the optimal conditions to grow (keep in mind that God made the seed this way, to do just that)

The second is called spreading germination – this is when the seed itself is working with the soil, to spread the growth of a batch of seeds over a period of time, so that a catastrophe does not result in the death of all offspring of the plant.  (Frost, flood, animals)

The bottom line is that God made seed to work with the earth to find the best time to grow, and to have the best chance of survival to grow into a plant.

You see, some things need to be planted, and some things need to be pruned!  Some seeds need to be watered, and some need to be weeded.

So then, we find this truth before us tonight:

  • Plant good seed
  • Don’t plant bad seed
  • Nourish good seed planted
  • Nip bad seeds planted

The Holy Ghost helps us know whether to nip it or nourish it.  Do you want it to grow, or do you want it to go? 

Things that are planted will grow up if cultivated.

Good things grow up to be great things, and bad things grow up to be terrible things. We must learn to be patient while the good things grow, but quick to take action on the bad. 

Weeding your garden can be messy business, but it’s worth it.  That’s why you see all those gardening bags having a kneeling pad in them.  Because in order to get all the weeds out, sometimes you have to spend some serious time on your knees, and not everyone is willing to do that. 

The devil always shows you the worst case scenario about the good God wants to do in your life.  He says if you serve God you will miss out on the fun.  He says if you become a missionary, God will send you to the worst place in Africa. He says if you become a minister of the gospel that all your friends will leave and you’ll be alone.  But he also shows you the best case scenario when it comes to sin and pleasure and enjoyment.  God kind of does the opposite of that and shows you the best case scenario about serving God, and the blessings that will come in your life by obedience to Him. And He shows you plainly and tells you the truth about how sin and wrongdoing will affect you and bring negative things into your mind and your thinking.

One of the worst seeds that you can ever plant is the seed of fear.  Fear will grow up and dominate.

One of the best seeds that you can ever plant is the seed of love.  Because Love will also grow up and dominate.

So in closing, let me sum it up this way:

The Best Use Of Life Is Love  - Love should be our top priority, our primary focus, and our greatest ambition.  Life without love is really worthless!  Paul makes this point in the New Testament – “No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”

The Best Expression Of Love Is Time - Important things can be measured by how much time we invest in them.  Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it.  You can always make more money, but you cannot make more time!  Relationships take time & effort, and the best way to spell love is TIME.

The Best Time To Love Is Now  -  The Bible says “whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone.  Use every chance you have for doing good.”  Today marks the beginning of the rest of your lives together.  Life is about togetherness – Life is all about Love!

Posted in Conqueror's Club Messages, Marriage, Teachings of Jesus | Leave a comment

The Standard, The Agenda, & The Ultimatum

The Standard, The Agenda, & The Ultimatum

The Standard

The American College Dictionary defines the word standard like this:

Standard – An authoritative model or measure, a pattern for guidance, by comparison with which the quantity, excellence, or correctness of other things may be determined.

• Railroad Standards                        4 feet 8 1/2 inches

• Safety Standards                             OSHA – Ladders, Helmets, Goggles

• Construction Standards                Stud Distance, Slab, Blueprints

• Electrical Standards                     Hot, Neutral & Ground

• Law Enforcement Standards      Penal Code, Law

• Weight Standards                          Federal Commissions – gas pumps

When you violate standards that are in place for your safety, you enter an unsafe zone.  The train comes off the tracks, your ladder won’t support you, you can get shocked, you can get arrested for violating the law, and your marriage can begin to unravel.  All because we chose to violate standards.

Everyday we make decisions on how to act, how we form our attitudes and emotions.  We set goals for ourselves, our family, and even our business . . . and we honestly attempt to meet them. And every one of our actions express an code of right and wrong, because all of life is ethical.

There are many moral values which are recommended to us. There are many codes of right and wrong. We go through every day life surrounded by viewpoints which are in constant competition with each other. Some people make pleasure their highest value, while others put a premium on health. Could be entertainment, or rest, or work ethic.  There are those who say we should watch out for ourselves first of all, and yet others tell us that we should live to serve our neighbor. What we hear in advertisements usually conflicts with the values endorsed in our church. Sometimes the decisions of our employers violate laws established by the state. Our friends don’t always share the same code of behavior as our family. Throw in some standards on child behavior and discipline, and you’ve got a nice soup going now!  Making ethical decisions can be confusing and difficult. Every one of us needs a moral compass to guide us through the maze of moral issues and disagreements that confront us every moment of our lives.

To put it another way, making moral judgments requires a standard of ethics. There must be a standard for life and for marriage!  Have you ever tried to draw a straight line without using a straight edge, like a ruler? As good as your line may have seemed initially, when you placed a straight-edge up to it, the line was actually very crooked. Or have you ever tried to give an exact measurement of something by simple eyeballing it? As close as you may have come by guessing, the only way to be sure and accurate was to use a proper standard of measurement, like a yardstick or a measuring cup. Try baking a nice cake by just guessing at the ingredients, having no recipe  to follow.  And if we are going to be able to determine what kind of persons, actions, or attitudes are morally good, then you will need a standard here as well. Otherwise we will lead crooked lives and make inaccurate decisions. What should our ethical standard be? What yardstick should we use in making decisions, determining attitudes, or setting and keeping our marriages on track? How do you ever know and test what is right and wrong?

To the Believer, the Holy Bible is the only ‘Divinely Inspired’ Word of God; the Ultimate Standard of measurement for Christian conduct, Church order and doctrine.  In Short, God’s Word is the Standard!

Don’t ever doubt the integrity or validity of God’s Word!

Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven.  – Psalms ll9:89

For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.      – Hebrews 4:12

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.            – Matthew 24:35.

Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.  – Matthew 4:4

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. – Psalm 119:105

The Bible is a Divine Revelation. In the Bible we find out what God wants mankind to know about Himself and His plan.   The Bible is the only written revelation of God to man.  There is only One Mind Behind The Bible.

The Bible bears the seal of Jesus’ authority, as He quoted the Old Testament dozens of times and referred to it as the Word of God.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible Is The Word Of God – Our Standard!

  • It has a Supernatural Origin
  • It is a Witness of Fulfilled Prophecies Concerning Christ
  • It is a Witness of Jesus’ Life
  • It has a Witness in Archeology
  • The Bible Is Scientifically Accurate and Correct
  • The Bible Is Never Out of Date, never Out of Touch
  • The Bible Is Completely Contrary To Human Thinking
  • The Bible Holds The Highest Moral Standards
  • The Bible Is Divinely Inspired
  • The Bible Is Truly Recorded

So, What is the Purpose Of Bible?

The purpose of the Bible is to reveal God to mankind, and get us to come to God through Jesus Christ, so that we can know Him.

JOHN 1:1,14

1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father . . . .

LUKE 24:27

27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

JOHN 20:31

31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Psalm 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.  Think about that!

 

The Agenda 

The devil’s Agenda is to steal the Word

 

Luke 8:5-12

The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly. – John 10:10

And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.  – Mark 4:15

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:  -  1 Peter 5:8

Your adversary, the devil. That’s who we are talking about!

His agenda and aim is to get you to believe that you don’t need the Word of God, that you don’t actually need to read it. You can have the Word, hold the Word, and even occasionally quote the Word, and that really doesn’t bother him, because there is not much difference between him and you at that point!  Have you ever heard that phrase that says “Ignorance of the law is not exemption from it?”  He wants you to think that you have no responsibility for the Word – that not knowing it will not adversely affect you.  That’s a lie!

His job is to sufficiently acclimate you to not reading the Word, so that you no longer require it to get through life?  This can come at both ends of the spectrum.  The poor, or down and out person sometimes believes that they are so unworthy that God wouldn’t do anything for them, and yet the person who’s highly successful can often times believe that they are so successful that they don’t need God to do anything for them. In both situations they lack the one thing they need the most, which is a need for God and a trust in Him.  One person feels disconnected from God while the other person feels they don’t need a connection to God.  But I’m telling you, you need God in your life more than ever before, you need God in your marriage more than ever before, you need God!  It may not seem like you need him right now, especially if everything is going your way, but there will come a day that you will need God.  You better not wait until you need God to learn how to connect to God, it may be too late at that point. I think it may actually be a more dangerous place to be to be a self-sufficient, self-made man, a prosperous person, that doesn’t see the need for God.  “I’m doing just fine without God, why should I burden myself?”

Many of you need more grace in your life, and you’ve even cried out to God for peace in your home, but the Bible says “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord”  – 2 Peter 1:2

If you want more Grace and Peace, then you need to know Him better than you do right now!  The primary way to know Him, is by reading His Word.

It is high time that we start placing a bigger emphasis on the eternal than the temporal. You see, the grass withers and the flower fades but the Word of our God’s shall stand forever.  If you want to connect with something that will be everlasting, you better connect with the Word of God. Everything you can see, smell, touch, taste, or hear, is going to go bye-bye and will not remain.  Only the things that are done in obedience to God’s Word will stand the test of time and eternity.  This is why the devil so desperately wants to steal the Word that is being sewn in your heart. He hates you, he hates your success, he hates your marriage, he hates your children, and will do everything that he can to derail you and cause it to all come crumbling down around you.  He would never want you to introduce your own children to God and His Word.  It’s his worst fear!  He wants divorce to run rampant in Christian households, so the children will walk into a confusing future void of His Word – void of power – void of grace and peace.   His number one goal is to destroy you, to knock you out of the race, and ultimately kill you. If he can’t do it all at once, he will take it step-by-step and destroy your marriage, separate you from your children, cause mass confusion in your thinking, deceive you, and pull you off track as quickly as he can.  Dangerous ground!  It will always be dangerous when you don’t feel a need to trust entirely in God.  

 

The Ultimatum

“If you don’t keep the Word of God as your marriage standard, your marriage cannot go the distance!”

You can only fake it so long!  You can only skimp along with a mediocre marriage so long before things fall apart.  In order to make it for the long haul, you must reposition the Word of God to it’s rightful place of preeminence in your life and marriage!

This is yours alone – you own this – this is the Ultimatum – your choice!

The promise of Jesus in John 8:31-32 is for you. If you continue in the Word of God, you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free!

•  Don’t you want to be free?  Free from guilt, shame and sin?

It takes only about 17 hours to read the New Testament and about 70 hours to read the entire Bible.  That is at a casual reading pace allowing for moderate understanding. 70 hours is 4,200 minutes.

So, if you read the Bible for 11 1/2 minutes every day, you would easily read the entire Bible in a year.

To accomplish the same results in 5 days a week, you would need only about 16 minutes a day.

If you read for about 26 minutes a day, you’d have it read in only 3 days a week.

Every nightly TV show lasts at least 30 minutes, the average movie is about an hour and a half, and the average sports game is about 3 hours and so on!

You say, “Tony, are you saying that I have to give up TV and Sports and Movies?”  What I’m saying is that our lives have veered so far off course regarding the Word of God, that any change at this point is going to seem drastic!  What I’m saying is that it’s a shame that we have to seriously think about whether to pull back on some things in order to put the Word of God in it’s rightful place in our lives.  What I’m saying is that it’s amazing to me that we give stronger consideration to the consequences of missing our entertainment than we give consideration to the consequences of missing the impact of the Word of God in our lives and marriages!  What I’m saying is that we all face enormous and tedious decisions regarding our finances, medicine, jobs, education and our children and grandchildren, knowing that the answers to our questions are contained in the Word of God, and still we will not open it long enough to find an answer.  We would rather Google it or ask someone else’s opinion than to go to God Himself.  We need to know God better than we do.  That’s what I’m saying!  I’m saying it, because I’m not hearing it said too much!  I’m trying desperately to help you in this meeting by telling you the truth.

The Bible Is The Word Of God, and His Standard will never change!

This world’s standards can change from time to time, but God’s standards never change.  We have moved from LP, to 8-track, to cassette, to CD to MP3’s.  We used to have huge hard drives, then came portable drives in the form of 5-1/4 floppy discs, then 3 1/2 inch floppy discs, then XD memory cards, then Compact Flash, and now SD cards are used for most things.  Things have improved greatly over the years, and no doubt will for years to come, BUT God’s Word needs no improvement!  – EVER!

The written Word is more reliable than all your supernatural experiences, dreams, visions, and prophesies.

2 Peter 1:16   For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

2 Peter 1:17  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

2 Peter 1:18  And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

2 Peter 1:19   We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

2 Peter 1:20  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

2 Peter 1:21  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

What is this great spiritual experience that he’s talking about?

Matthew 17:1-8  Read this from NASB.  Also seen in Mark 9  &  Luke 9

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. – Romans 10:17

You see, God’s Word is alive!   The more you expose yourself to it, the more it will expose itself to you.

To know God better you must spend time hearing what He has to say. The Bible is His message to you, His Love letter, His instruction manual for life, His written Wisdom, and His answer to whatever your question is.  If you want Him to listen to what you have to say, you should also be willing to read what He has written down for you.

Although God can also speak directly to your heart, you need to know His written Word so you can judge whether God is speaking to you, or the enemy is trying to deceive you.

God will not love you more because you read the Bible.  It’s for your benefit — it’s not required to make God love you. However, without reading the Bible, you will never know the depths of God’s Love, you will not grow spiritually, and you will be more easily deceived.

Prayerfully reading the Scriptures yourself is the only real defense against being misled.

God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). Don’t you want to know the truth? Why waste your time on lesser, unreliable things?

In Mark Chapter 4, the Bible refers to the Word of God as a seed that is planted.  Verse 28 says, “For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself.” The earth was made to incubate seed, and to germinate and release that life. Your heart was made for the Word of God!  God’s Word was created to be placed in your heart. Just taking a Bible and holding it close, putting it on your coffee table, or carrying it with you doesn’t have any virtue. It doesn’t release power in your life. You have to take the Word, make it a seed, and plant it in your heart. When you do that, your heart is designed to bring forth fruit of itself. It will automatically change the way things work in your life.

Only when you know the genuine can you really spot the counterfeit!

I know the Bible is a big book, but God had a lot to say!  Reading the Bible should not be viewed as some terrible task that can never be accomplished, but rather a joyful encounter with the Word and Will of God.

There are currently more versions of the Bible than ever before.  You can get Bible software for your computer, Bible Apps for your iPod, iPad or mobile phone.  You can listen to it online, download it, stream it, or even still listen to it on CD’s.  You can buy Bibles online, or you can simply visit any Bible Bookstore.

You can do this!  For your self, your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, your future children, your church, your future!

Posted in Conqueror's Club Messages, Daily Encouragement, Marriage, Teachings of Jesus | Leave a comment

Cookout Fellowship & Finances

Thankful

For where we are in life, and where God has brought us from.  God has blessed us so much, and it’s important to recognize this and to give Him thanks for all He has already done!  We should never make it a practice to let even the small things God has done for us to go unnoticed and unthanked!  If we want God to take us further financially, then we need to give Him credit for what he’s done in our lives so far.

Mindful

I believe God wants to prosper you so that you can bless others. The Lord told Abraham:   “And I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shall be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2).  We should be mindful that we play an active role in God’s prosperity being worked out in our lives.  If God blesses you financially, and you turn around and violate the principles of his Word, you can remove the prosperity immediately.  Sometimes we do this, and then we look around at God and ask him why he did something terrible to you.  Or why He didn’t protect you from this great fall.  All the time you were looking for the answer to the financial questions in your life, and you never had to look any further than your bathroom mirror!

Faithful

Faithful to what?  To cooperate and to participate which God’s plan of prosperity for your lives.  This part of the plan will always involve the giving of your finances in tithes, offerings and first fruits offerings.  Why, you might ask?  Because loving and giving will always go hand in hand in the Kingdom of God.

A true love offering shows our commitment to God, our trust in God, and our thankfulness to God for all He has done.  An offering is truly a great connection to God Himself  -  a point of contact  -  a direct link.  God has a good deal of experience with sacrificial offerings, I assure you that He is well acquainted.  You know, God has given us our whole life, our breath, our mind, our days, months and years; and when we give an offering to Him, we are actually giving Him back a part of our life!  It represents us, our time.

It’s time to activate and cooperate with God’s plan of provision and prosperity for our lives, our family, and our Church.  God is not changing His plan, it’s up to us to seek Him, find Him, and follow Him!  The Bible says in Proverbs that “There is a way which seems right unto man, but in the end, it’s destructive.”  If you are trying to work God’s plan your way, it won’t work, it has to be His plan, His way!

So, what is God’s way you might ask . . . . it is to put Him first in everything!  Decisions, Time, Focus, Finances, Goals, Ambitions, Thoughts.  Turn off the world’s financial plan, and turn on God’s Financial Channel.  Just change the channel.

The Bible says that “A faithful man shall abound with blessings,. . . . “ Proverbs 28: 20

Let me just say this about you:

God’s favor causes your family to increase more and more, and you

are blessed and highly favored.  You prosper in everything you do at

home, at work, in business and in all the other affairs of your life!

Your relationship with your spouse is good, and together you have

obtained the favor of the Lord.

In your prosperity, you are like a mountain that cannot be moved, and

the Lord has granted you long life and favor, and has preserved your

spirit from destruction.  God is pleased with you and His favor endures

for a lifetime.

I declare that no matter what happens around you, that you will have

a covenant of peace with God and His love, kindness and favor will

never depart from you; for God surrounds and protects you with favor

like a shield, and fear cannot rule in your life because you have favor

with God.  Your enemies cannot triumph over you because the Lord

has greatly favored you!

You are filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.  His will is your prosperity.

God delights in your prosperity.  He gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant in the earth.

You immediately respond in faith to the guidance of the Holy Spirit within you, and you are always in the right place at the right time because your steps are ordered of the Lord.

God has given you all things that pertain to life and godliness, and you are well able to possess all that God has provided for you.

God is the unfailing, unlimited source of your supply, and your financial income will continue to increase as the blessings of the Lord overtake you.

You are like a tree planted by the rivers of water, and you bring forth fruit in your season, your leaf shall not wither, and whatever you do prospers.  The grace of God even makes your mistakes to prosper.

My God makes all grace abound toward you in every favor and earthly blessing, so that you have all sufficiency for all things and abound to every good work.

The Lord rebukes the devourer for your sake, and no weapon that is formed against your finances will prosper.  All obstacles and hindrances to your financial prosperity are now dissolved.

You are delivered from the power and authority of darkness, and you can cast down reasonings and imaginations that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, and you can bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of God’s Word.

You are filled with the wisdom of God, and you are led to make wise and prosperous financial decisions.  The Spirit of God guides you into all truth regarding your financial affairs.

The Lord causes your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and so your plans are established and succeed.

There is no lack, for your God supplies all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

The Lord has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant, and Abraham’s blessings are yours.

 

Posted in Conqueror's Club Messages, Giving & Receiving, Marriage, Prosperity & Debt | Leave a comment

Married Filing Jointly! – because marriage can be taxing

GENESIS 2:18–25 NASB

The last two sentences are also quoted elsewhere in the Bible – by Jesus in Matthew 19:5–6 and Mark 10:7–9; and by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:16–17 and Ephesians 5:31. Jesus added these very important words: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:8–9 NASB)  

King James says “let no man put asunder” – Rip, Tear Apart

So, right after the last Conqueror’s Club meeting, I was at Pastor Nichols’ house helping him with a few things, and while I was there, the Lord began to minister a very specific thing to me.  I want to share with you, what He spoke to me.

I’ve heard Pastor say for years that “Preparation Proceeds Manifestation,” and the Lord showed me that “Perforation Proceeds Separation!”  What in the world does that mean?  I’m glad you asked!

Perforation is a series of missing parts, gaps or cuts.  All those little gaps add up to create a weak point; or a point at which weakness can be exploited.  Those little cuts may not seem like much at the time, but when you get enough gaps, then the weak point takes over and separation occurs very rapidly.  If the separation is not dealt with, it becomes a divorce or a divergence of course. The only good separation is when you leave your father and mother, and are joined together with your spouse, or when you come out from among the world, and be ye separate.  2 Corinthians 6:17 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate.”  God intended us to leave our families and be joined together as husband-and-wife.  We were supposed to leave and cleave, not just partially get drafted in, but completely grafted in.

Now, a perforation that leads to separation could be almost anything. Anything that tears away at your marriage, or anything that begins to bring separation or division. This could be something as simple as a disagreement about purchase or maybe the discipline of a child.  And it can even be something as practical as having separate checking accounts, separate spending accounts; you know, his money – her money, his time – her time.  Any time that your need for independence in the marriage supersedes your ability to cleave to your spouse, you’re in trouble. It’s really back to those “I” verses we talked about at the very first Conqueror’s Club meeting. If you find yourself constantly thinking about “I, I, I” and not “we, we, we” then you’re in trouble. Your selfish desire stops your marriage fire! It’s not just focus on the family, it’s focus on Jesus in your family.

The Bible says to not let any division be among you.

1 Corinthians 12:25 “that there should be no division in the body.”  Don’t let anything come between you. You need to be aware of and pay attention to the things that cause separation or independence from each other in your marriage. Focus on the things that draw you closer together, not the things that cause you to separate. You might say that you need your space though! Well, get your space and then get back together with your spouse quickly. When there is a gap in your marriage, that means there’s room for something else, or someone else to come in.  Watch it!  It can happen quicker than you can even imagine!

Pastor Nichols has accurately describe marriage as being like two pages of the Bible that of been glued together. Now just try to get them apart. It’s not very easy. And even if you do succeed, all you have is a bunch of ripped up pieces. Once marriage has been put together, it was never designed to come apart again. It’s a permanent thing; it’s a covenant thing!  Anytime you go against an institution that God has established, you’re going to run into trouble.  Decide not to yield to separation and division. Just stop it. Make the choice.

Perforation is simply a series of small cuts that weakens you altogether. If you look at the edge of a perforated piece of paper after it’s been separated, you’ll see that it really is not only a series of cuts but a series of rips because the two pieces used to be one piece just like marriage. Before marriage, if separation occurs between two people that are dating, it’s more like two pieces of paper that have just been put side-by-side, but not actually connected or joined. If it comes time to separate, the two pieces can simply go their separate ways without much tearing, because the two pieces were never one. Now, if you were with someone you were not married to, and y’all decided to go ahead and join your two papers together, then you may have some additional healing that needs to take place.

 

It’s not usually true that two people are just suddenly ripped apart in marriage with out any warning, but it usually occurs more like a perforation. There are usually numerous small cuts or jabs that lead up to the time of separation, it doesn’t just happen all at once.

It is our job as marriage partners, united in holy matrimony, having become one with God in Christ, and one in the flesh, to do all that we can to not let small cuts and jabs create a perforation in our unity. It is our job to pay attention to every small thing that may try to crop up and create ultimate separation, and eliminate them one at a time.  You can usually spot the areas that you are weakest in, so that you can become stronger in them and trust the Lord. You can tell if your communication skills are lacking, or your sexual skills are lacking, or your prayers skills are lacking, or your financial organization skills are lacking. When you notice something like that, that is the time to attack it with fervor and eliminate that little cut or jab so that it doesn’t become a long perforation later. You quite literally need to cut out the cut.

The problem with some marriages, is that they wait until the perforation has occurred and the page is half ripped down the middle, and then they show up to the preacher’s office to have him sprinkle some Jesus pixy dust on them and try to fix all the problems that afternoon. No, that’s not the way to handle it, the best way to handle it is to never let the perforation occurred to start with!  In my humble opinion, this is one of the biggest areas of marriage that needs to be addressed, and needs to have constant marriage maintenance. It’s the little things that you don’t necessarily see, that can creep up on you and cause a big problem later.

It’s so easy to sit back and think we’ve got it made in the shade, that we got our act together, that everything is okay in our marriage and that there are no problems. I want you to have a happy, confident, loving marriage that doesn’t look for a devil under every rock, but the truth is, that marriages are under the greatest attack ever. The truth is, that moral decency has completely flown out the window and the fundamentals of right and wrong have been brought into question. The moral fabric of this nation is being challenged at every turn, and you would be foolish to not stand guard over the ones you love love the most!  In these times, you absolutely must have a standard by which everything else is measured, and for us, that standard is the Holy Bible. It should be your go-to, how-to manual for life, your inspiration, your hope, and your guarantee of a bright future for you and your family!  If you want to know what God thinks about homosexuality or lesbianism or holy matrimony, you can find it in the Word of God. Of all days, this is not the day to slack off on your Bible reading, Bible studying or prayer to God, but these are the days to press in and make sure that you know what it is you believe and why it is that you believe it.

So, I’m not going to load you up with a massive amount of scriptures, like I usually do, because I want you to delve into this, I want you to research it, I want you to look into it for your own self.

Any one of the following evils can rip your relationship to shreds if given a place in your lives.

Overcommitment and physical exhaustion. Beware of this danger. It is especially bad for young couples who are trying to get started in a profession or in school. Do not try to go to college, work full-time, have a baby, manage a toddler, fix up a house, and start a business at the same time. It sounds crazy, but many young couples do just that, and are then surprised when their marriage falls apart. Well, why wouldn’t it? The only time they see each other is when they are worn out!

Conflict over how money will be spent. Don’t spend more for a house or a car or stuff than you can afford. Allocate your funds with the wisdom of Solomon.

Interference from in-laws. If husbands or wives have not been fully delivered from their parents, it is best not to live near them. Independence is difficult for some mothers (and fathers) to grant, and close proximity is built for trouble.

Unrealistic expectations. Some couples come into marriage anticipating that all will rosy, with walks in the park every night at sunset, and continuous, uninterrupted joy. This romantic illusion is particularly characteristic of American women who expect more from their husbands than they are capable of delivering. The consequent disappointment is an emotional trap. Bring your expectations in line with reality.

Alcohol or substance abuse, & destructive habits. These are killers, not only of marriages but of people. Avoid them like the plague.

Pornography, gambling, and other addictions. It should be obvious to everyone that the humans are  flawed. During an introductory stage, people think they can play with enticements such as pornography or gambling and not get hurt. In actuality, very few walk away unaffected. For some, there is a weakness and a vulnerability that is not known until it’s too late. Then they become addicted to something that tears at the fabric of the family.

Sexual frustration & loneliness. A deadly combination!

Business failure. It does bad things, to men especially. Their agitation over business financial problems can easily lead to anger within the family.

Business success. It is almost as risky to succeed wildly as it is to fail miserably in business. The writer of Proverbs said, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread” (30:8).  Those who profit handsomely sometimes become drunk with power and the lust for more! Wives and children can be forgotten in the process.

So, What Do You Do?  How Do You Do It?

Recognize God as the expert.  “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18 NASB). God created the first marriage—which makes Him the expert. His Word now serves as our foundation for understanding marriage.

Focus on companionship.  Unlike the pairs of animals he named, Adam was alone. There was no corresponding complement for him. God declared that the situation was not good. Adam needed a companion.  Marriage was not created merely so the human race would reproduce offspring. It was founded by God to meet the human need for companionship.  People who enjoy strong marriages focus on companionship. Long marriages result as couples learn to develop a deep friendship with one another.

Complement each other.  “I will make him a helper suitable for him.” The phrase “helper suitable for him” literally means “a help opposite him” or “corresponding to him.”  The idea is a helping counterpart; a corresponding complement; connecting pieces that fit together. God created husbands and wives to be positive counterparts.

Prioritize the relationship.  God designed marriage to be a union between one man and one woman—not one man and several women, or one woman and several men.  Adam and Eve had a sole focus—each other. Eve was the only woman in Adam’s life, and he was the only man in hers. This is instructive for us. Couples with strong marriages place their marriage relationship above all other human relationships.

Form an independent union.  “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother” (Genesis 2:24 NASB). The idea of “leaving” father and mother is not that of utterly forsaking them. Rather, it is the notion of establishing a new adult relationship, a new family unit that has its own physical, financial, and emotional independence.  No one is ready to get married until he or she is able to live emotionally, financially, and physically independent of his or her parents.

Bond to each other.  The man was not only told to leave his father and mother, but also to “be joined to his wife.” The point of separating from his parents was to unite with his wife. Joined carries the idea of being “glued to” or “cemented together.”  Good marriages are the result of two independent adults clinging tightly to each other.

Develop deep intimacy.  The goal of marriage is that husbands and wives would “become one flesh.” Obviously, this speaks of the deep physical oneness that comes when joining in sexual intercourse. The apostle Paul’s description of this oneness in 1 Corinthians 6:15–16 refers to sexual union.  Deep intimacy is achieved as a couple grows together physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It involves a process that takes time, insight, sensitivity, and effort.

Be vulnerable and accepting.  “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25 NASB). What a beautiful picture of openness, vulnerability, and innocence! True intimacy is achieved when a husband and wife feel the freedom to be completely open, honest, genuine, and authentic with each other. It occurs as they share their deepest hopes, dreams, fears, and secrets without fear of rejection.

Determine to make it permanent.  Note that Jesus’ statement also comes with a stern warning: “let no man separate.” Marriage was intended to be a permanent union. Successful marriages begin when both the husband and wife enter into the covenant with the understanding that divorce is not an option.

Posted in Conqueror's Club Messages, Daily Encouragement, Divorce, Marriage | Leave a comment

Who Rules The Roost?

Of course, this is a play on words to the Christian.  We understand that there is only One Ruler of the home, and His name is Jesus!  He is the King of Kings!  But, the husband and wife do each have definite Roles in the home!  So, it’s a Role, not a Rule!  What role does each partner play?

  • He may rule the roost, but she rules the rooster!
  • If mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
  • Who wears the pants in the family?

 

The Wife’s “Role” in Marriage?

Wives have unique God-given responsibilities.  Perhaps more than at any other time in history, women today need a clear understanding of how they should relate to their husbands. In fact, the significant social changes brought about by the women’s movement over many decades have led to confusion that the very idea of “roles” is repugnant to some. They feel as if somehow they lose their identity and their freedom if they adhere to some type of “outdated standard.”

It’s important for us to look clearly at what the Bible says on this subject. 

The Scriptures are clear about the unique responsibilities God assigns to a wife.

A wife’s responsibilities can be properly understood only in the context of loving, servant leadership by her husband.

#1: Be a helper to your husband.  While all of us are called to be helpers to others, the Bible places a special emphasis on this responsibility for wives. Genesis tells us that God realized it wasn’t good for man to be alone, and that He decided to make a “helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).  It is interesting to note that the Hebrew meaning of the word helper in this passage is found hereafter in the Bible to refer only to God as He helps us. The fact that this same word is applied to a wife signifies that women have been given tremendous power for good in their husbands’ lives.  God has designed wives to help their husbands become all that God intends for them to be.

#2: Respect your husband. In Ephesians 5:33, Paul says, ” … the wife must respect her husband.” When you respect your husband you reverence him, notice him, regard him, honor him, prefer him, and esteem him. It means valuing his opinion, admiring his wisdom and character, appreciating his commitment to you, and considering his needs and values.

Husbands have many needs. The macho man who is self-contained, independent, and invulnerable is simply a myth.  Men need to have their self-confidence boosted,they need to be listened to, to have companionship, and to be needed.

Every husband wants his wife to be on his team.  A husband needs a wife who is behind him, believing in him, appreciating him, and cheering him on.

 

#3: Love your husband. Titus 2:4 calls for wives “to love their husbands.” A good description of the kind of love your husband needs is “unconditional acceptance.” In other words, accept your husband just as he is, — an imperfect person.

Love also means being committed to a mutually fulfilling sexual relationship.

Sex is one of a man’s most important needs — if not the most important.  When a wife resists intimacy, is uninterested, or is only passively interested, her husband feels rejection. It will cut at his self-image, tear at him to the very center of his being, and create isolation.

Sexual needs should be more important and higher on a wife’s priority list than what to make for dinner, than housework, than kid’s school projects, sports activities, and even the children. It does not mean that you should think about sex all day and every day, but it does mean that you should find ways to remember your husband and his needs. It means saving some of your energy for him.  Maintaining that focus will help defeat isolation in your marriage.

 

#4: “Submit” to the leadership of your husband.  Just mention the word “submit,” and many women immediately become angry and even hostile, and yet this is a Bible word, a God word, with a God meaning and definition.

Some people actually believe that submission indicates that women are inferior to men in some way.  Others fear that submission leads to being used or abused.

Another misconception is that submission means blind obedience on the part of the woman.  She can give no input to her husband, question nothing, and only stay obediently barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

What does God have in mind? Here are two passages from Scripture:

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them (Colossians 3:18-19).

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 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. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.   (Ephesians 5:22-30).

These Scriptures make it clear that a wife should submit voluntarily to her husband’s leadership.  Therefore, as you voluntarily submit to your husband, you are completing him. You are helping him fulfill his responsibilities, and helping him become the man, the husband, and the leader God intended him to be.

Building oneness in marriage works best when both partners choose to fulfill their responsibilities voluntarily, with no pressure or coercion. 

A Special Note: Some of you may live with abuse or in excessively unhealthy and destructive conditions in your marriage. At times, it may be inappropriate or even life-threatening for you to apply unquestioningly the principles of submission.  For example, if you are being physically or verbally abused, you may need to take steps to protect yourself and your children.  You may need to say to your husband, “I love you, but enough is enough.”  Loving, forgiving, and submitting do not mean that you become a doormat or indefinitely tolerate significantly destructive behavior.

How it all fits together - I saw this great example when I was studying!

If you have ever sewn a dress or anything, you know how a pattern works.  The pattern is made of many pieces, some large and some small, none of which accurately resembles the finished product.

When you lay out the pattern and cut the cloth, you do not have a garment, but only some scraps of cloth. Only when it is properly assembled and made usable with buttons, a zipper, or snaps, do these pieces form a completed product.

Every pattern has pairs of parts: two sleeves, a front and back, and even the collar and facing pieces are usually in twos.  A marriage is very similar. God has designed a master pattern for husbands and wives that when followed will create a whole, usable, beautiful marriage.  As we acknowledge Christ as Lord of our lives, we must work out our marriages according to God’s plan and pattern. The key is for each wife to follow God’s plan, know her part, and work to fit in with her husband’s responsibilities.

 

 

 

 

 

The Husband’s “Role” in Marriage

The Scriptures clearly give us the model for being a man, a husband and father.

During the last few decades our culture has redefined the meaning and responsibilities of men and women in society and in the home.  Many men are confused and insecure. Many do not know how to act in the home. Growing up, they lacked a good model for leadership at home and have no mental picture of what it means to lead a family.  Consequently, they do not lead effectively, or they do not even try.

Increasingly, many men are becoming passive in the home.  They’ve decided that the easiest thing to do is nothing. The simplest thing—with the smallest risk—is to stay on the fence with both feet firmly planted in mid-air and let the wife do it all.  When a man is married to a strong wife who will take over, he often lets her do just that.

Fortunately, there is an answer. The Scriptures clearly give us the model for being a man, a husband and father.  It’s called being a “servant/leader.”

#1: Be a leader. The Scriptures provide a clear organizational structure for a marriage. Following are a couple of typical Scriptures:

But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ  (1 Corinthians 11:3).

For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.  But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 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. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.  (Ephesians 5:22-30)

In his commentary on Ephesians, William Hendriksen points out that God “… placed ultimate responsibility of household on the shoulders of the husband . . . The Lord has assigned the wife the duty of obeying her husband yet . . . this obedience must be a voluntary submission on her part, and that only to her own husband, not to every man.”

“Head” does not mean male dominance, where a man lords it over a woman and demands her total obedience to his every wish and command. God never viewed women as second-class citizens. His Word clearly states that we are all equally His children and are of equal value and worth before Him. As Galatians 3:28 tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

The teaching of the New Testament clearly shows that women are to be respected, revered, and treated as equals with men. Unfortunately, many husbands have not gotten the message. They degrade their wives by neglect or with insensitive and abusive treatment. One cause of the feminist movement may have been that men abandoned God’s design. When God presented Eve to Adam in the Garden, Adam received her as a gift of great value to God and him. When husbands, particularly Christian husbands, do not treat their wives as a precious gift from God and helpmate, they can cause those wives to search for a way to find significance and value as persons, often outside God’s will.

So, Are you a leader?  Men who are “natural” leaders have no trouble answering the question, yes.  They know how to take over, control, guide, and get things done.  Some men are not strong or natural leaders.  How can they lead in the home?

Paul says the same to everyone. God has placed the husband in the position of responsibility.  It does not matter what kind of personality a man may have. Y our wife may be resisting you, fighting you, and spurning your attempts to lead, but it makes no difference.  Wives want us and need us to lead.  Men, You are not demanding this position; on the contrary, God placed you there.  You will not lead her perfectly, but you must care for you wife and family by serving them with Gods help.

Scripture does more than assign leadership in a marriage to the husband, however.  Those same passages you just read also provide a model for that leadership.  The Apostle Paul says that the husband is head of the wife as Christ is head of the church. “This comparison of the husband with Christ reveals the sense in which a man should be his wife’s “head.” Hendriksen also writes, “He is her head as being vitally interested in her welfare. He is her protector. His pattern is Christ Who, as head of the Church, is its Savior!”

#2: Love your wife unconditionally.  Ephesians 5:25 reads, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Your unconditional acceptance of your wife is not based upon her performance, but on her worth as God’s gift to you.  If you want to love your wife unconditionally, always be sure her emotional tank is full.  One of the best ways to do that is to affirm her constantly.  Let her know verbally that you value her, respect her, and love her.

There is no question that words communicate love, but so do actions. You need to do both. As the Apostle John wrote in one of his letters: “let us not love with words alone, but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18). One of the missing ingredients in male leadership in homes is sacrificial action.  When was the last time you gave up something for your wife—something you genuinely valued, like your golf game, a fishing trip, or your hobby? Sometimes you need to give up something you enjoy so your wife can have a break and see your love for her.

#3: Serve your wife.  According to the New Testament, being head of your wife does not mean being her master, but her servant.  Again, Christ is our model for this type of leadership. Jesus did not just talk about serving; He demonstrated it when he washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). Christ, the Head of the Church, took on the very nature of a servant when He was made in human likeness (Philippians 2:7).

One way to serve your wife is to provide for her. This provision first involves assuming responsibility for meeting the material needs of the family. 1 Timothy 5:8 tells us, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.”

To be a leader, a lover, and a servant is to accommodate your life to the life of the gift God has given you—your wife. Give up your life for hers and, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, He will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

 

 

 

 

To Sum It Up:

At creation, God assigned very distinct and differing roles to man and woman.  However, they were both created in God’s image, and therefore, their roles were equal in value, but different in function.  These roles were assigned before the fall.  The pattern of biblical roles within marriage continued throughout the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, the roles of husband and wife are symbolic of Christ and His church.  Christian men are to lovingly lay down their lives for their wives.  They still maintain leadership, but this must be servant leadership.  Husbands are not to demand obedience, but guide through humility.  Men are to honor their wives, and to lead and lovingly serve them.

The bible exalts womanhood in the home, and places great value on it.  Women are to follow their husband’s leadership with respect, choosing to submit to that leadership.  The Bible states that when wives submit to their husband’s leadership, they are doing it as service to God.  A woman can be a great blessing and help to her husband.  A  woman’s first priority is to her husband, family, and home life.

Men and women were created with distinct abilities to fulfill these biblical roles, and when husbands and wives follow the biblical pattern within the home, they bring glory to God as a picture of Christ and His church.

Posted in Conqueror's Club Messages, Daily Encouragement, Marriage, Teachings of Jesus | Leave a comment

Lessons At The Lake

Read Luke 5:1-11 (KJV)

Verse 1  -  Available To All

1  And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,

 

Jesus was “standing by” the place where His next miracle would take place.  Where Jesus is present, a miracle is soon to follow.  Jesus makes things happen, but you have to give Him room!  Room in your marriage!  It is the presence of Jesus that brings revival, and even marriage revival. The crowd pressed, but he stood.  NASB says he was standing by!  Sometimes you have to just stand by, don’t take immediate action.  See what your next step will be, get the mind of God. You see, the crowd was hungry for the Words Jesus was teaching, and they were pressing in to Him to the point He was almost in the water.  As the people were doing one thing, he was doing another.  Don’t just go with the crowd on everything.  He was already looking ahead to those boats!  He was multitasking.

 

Will you pursue Jesus to the point that it causes Him to take a different course of action?  Not an unplanned course, be a course reserved for the genuinely hungry child of God who will not take NO for an answer.  How bad do you really want things to be better in your marriage.  Even if things are not bad now, they can still be better than right now!  The real secret is:  He’s not saying NO . . . he only wants you to succeed.  Press in to Him and hear His Still Small Voice.  Go to God with all you have!    You are the one who determines whether your next step is mundane or miraculous!

Where Jesus is, there is an opportunity for you to make a decision.

 

Verse 2  -  Christ Is Caring & Pays Attention To Detail

2  And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 

Jesus saw their empty boats and their empty nets, which, at the time, represented their need!  You may have a marriage need tonight, so I want you to pay close attention to what is about to happen.  He knew that their  hearts would be open during a time of need and saw an opportunity to minister to many people at the same time.   He was prepared to Minister the Word to the crowd and to these few fishermen.  He can meet the need of many or a few, or both, all at the same time!   Jesus is always looking for ways to help people.  He had three sets of people He wanted to minister to:  the crowd, the fishermen, and to Simon individually.  Now, watch how He does it.

 

He saw two boats; two empty boats.  They were empty because the fishermen had “gone out of them.”  He saw that the fishermen were washing their nets!  This is net maintenance.  We all need maintenance, and we all need marriage maintenance.  You do not maintain your nets if you are not planning on using them again!  So, He saw that these men, though frustrated and tired, had not given up completely!  You know, God really cares about even our frustrations, not just our desperation’s!   He really does care about what you are going through.  He wants to help you.  You must learn to look at where you are going, not just where you are!  These men were preparing to go fishing again; they just didn’t realize they would soon be fishing for men. Jesus knew ahead of time that in verse 10 He would call them to be fishers of men.

 

They left their boats for the first time here at the beginning – empty.  They would leave them again, later in verse 11 – full.  Jesus never leaves your boat the way He found it.  If you will let Him, He will always leave you full!

 

Jesus noticed something, a way out of his situation with the crowd.  He was observant, and paid attention.  There were two boats, but he chose a specific one to get into . . . Simons. Out of the whole crowd, and all the fishermen, He knew that Simon was the one who was individually ready to respond.  He also knew that Simon was the catalyst in winning the rest of them too.  Sometimes, one simply thing can open up big doors for your future.  Are you looking for that “one thing?”

The two boats could easily represent the two people in a marriage.

 

Verse 3  -  Jesus Is Humble

And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 

 

Jesus sat down and taught.  Now that seems simply enough, it makes sense.  It is amazing what has happened while people were sitting.  He found Matthew, the tax collector, sitting at the receipt of custom.  At one point, they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, teaching them.  And even around the throne of God, there are twenty-four seats: and upon the seats are twenty-four elders sitting.  Acts 2:2 says “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.”   Jesus sits, elders sit, disciples sit, even angels sit.  And if you do well enough, Revelation 3:21 says “He that overcomes, He will grant to sit with Him in my throne.”   It’s a religious buster to see great things happening while the human posture is in a relaxed state.  It symbolizes that it is not the product of human effort, but the power of a heavenly God.  I want to point out that you are all sitting tonight!

 

I love the fact that He entered into the boat and then asked Simon if he would thrust out a little from the land.  Jesus has a way of entering into your life and putting you in a position to say “Yes” to Him.  It’s like He puts you on the spot knowing you will later appreciate Him doing so.  He gives you a chance to partner with Him; to include you in what He wants to do.  Jesus could have easily just walked out onto the water and taught the people, but He didn’t; He gave Simon the opportunity to partner with Him.  He gave him every opportunity to say “Yes!”  Is your boat available to Him?  Is your marriage available to Him?

 

I also love the fact that “He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.”  Out of the empty ship!  God can take your “nothing, empty, unproductive ship,” and do something amazing with it!

 

Verse 4  -  A Visionary

4  Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

Jesus said let down the “nets,” but Simon only let down “a net”.  He only partially obeyed God, but God still helped him.  God is merciful and compassionate – full of grace.  Jesus might have told Simon to launch out into the deep water for many reasons, not just one!  It might have been to show him that it could be done right where he was before.  (You can have everything and not have Jesus, and you still have nothing!)  Maybe it was to escape the crowd that was now coming out into the water to touch Jesus after he “left speaking.”

 

One thing is for sure;  Jesus gradually got to eventually.  He got to Eventually, Gradually! What do I mean by that?  I’m glad you asked - It’s step by step, a piece at a time.  He was first walking on the shore, then He was standing by, then stepped into a boat, then He thrust out just a little, then sat down, then launched out into the deep.  It’s a step by step process.  You’ve got to give God time to work on your behalf!

 

One thing has to build upon another.  Jesus knew how to minister to the crowd, and he knew how to minister to Simon.  The crowd needed what he said when they were just pushed out a little, but Simon needed what He would do in the deep.  The first thing Jesus said to Simon was to ask him to push out a little from the shore, but now he is not asking, but tells him plainly to launch out into the deep.

 

“And let down your nets for a draught” – It was specifically for a draught.  He didn’t say “let down your nets for a few buckets of fish, or so we can have a little something to eat.”  What God asks you or tells you to do, has an extended purpose.  His purpose!  He’s not just taking a shot in the dark!

 

Verse 5  -  Jesus Brings Out The Best In You Personally

And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 

Simon said “we” have toiled all night (he and his company, co-workers, friends, etc.), but there came a time when he had to make a personal decision about what to do with Jesus’ words.  He said, “I will” let down the net.  Simon, being the leader of the whole bunch, made a decision that would later result in his whole crew becoming participants in a miracle.

Be a leader, step out and do what Jesus tells you to do.  If you are having trouble, or need help, or healing, just do what Simon did.  Add a “nevertheless” to your situation, and believe His Word over all the others!  The doctor said this, but nevertheless, because of Your stripes, I am healed!

 

Verse 6  -  A Compassionate Worker

And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.

God can do it right where you are now; in the same lake you’ve been in the whole time; in the same marriage you are in right now!   When “they” had done it!  I believe there were only a few people in the boat at that time, Simon and Jesus, and maybe a few workers.  (See V. 9,  and all that were with him)   Jesus did not stand back and wave His magic Jesus hands so that the waters suddenly were troubled and out of the water jumped a great catch of fish.  I believe He actually helped Simon pick up the heavy net and throw it out into the water and bring in the catch.   Remember that Simon let down “a net”, but Jesus still helped him.  God will still help you even if you don’t get it completely right; even you still make dumb decisions.   That’s the only reason some of us have even made it this far!  I believe that when Jesus said to let down the “nets,” it shows us that He was willing and ready to do more for Simon than He actually got to do.  It was Simon that put the limitations on Jesus, not Jesus!  I believe this is just more proof that God’s desires and purposes for our lives are so much greater than we ever give Him credit for.  If we could only see a bigger picture and have a bigger vision, then we would understand that God has been ready to do the “Big” things for us the whole time!   We are the ones who put the brakes on, not God!  As you spend more time with God; speaking and listening, I believe it enables you to see things more clearly as He sees them.

When the net broke, so did Simon!  This is when Simon suddenly realized many things including the bigness of God.

Have you ever felt like your net was breaking – that you could not do any more?

 

Verse 7  -  Always Looking For Partners

And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 

Beckoned (KJV) or Signaled (NASB) to their partners in the other boat.  What signal do you send out when you need help? They were in trouble!  Here’s an astounding truth – Partners do a part – they don’t do it all for you – just a part.  You do what you can, and then you need partners to help finish the job.  

 

“Which were in the other ship” – Now, remember the two original, empty boats?  They were empty, right?  Jesus and Simon are in one of them, and here comes the other one, only now it’s not empty – It’s full of fishermen rowing as fast as they can to get out there.  By the time they beckoned, they were already in the other ship, headed their way.  Excited!

 

When you desperately need help and your net is breaking, you MUST follow the example of Jesus and begin to signal to your partners.  You can’t do what needs to be done by yourself – you can only do a part.  You must have others to help.

 

If you are going to accomplish the whole task, you need partners.

A Partner comes to you and helps you do what must be done.

The partners were in a different boat – not just on our staff or in our church, but elsewhere too!  Beckoned to our partners in the other boat.

The partners’ nets were not breaking; they had nothing going on – we do!   Our nets are bulging while others’ are not; they could choose to partner with us and come to us and help us catch these fish while the pressure is on.  Can you come to us and help us accomplish this task?  Will you partner with us?  We have a staff that can accomplish part of the task, but we must have others.

 

Sometimes it takes the faith of one boat to get the other boat moving! Think about it.    What kind of signal are you sending to your partner? How do you call?  When do you call?  What do you say?   Do you ever call?  Are you afraid to ever ask for help from your partner when you feel like your net is breaking?

 

When the partners stopped what they were doing to come and help, everyone’s need got met – both boats got filled to capacity.  What’s in it for me?  How about a swamped boat!  Before the partners got the Beckon signal, nothing was going on for them – they were on the shore cleaning their nets after a very frustrating night of nothing.  When they responded to the signal, they got their socks blessed off.

Imagine how many partners would not be blessed if the signal never came.  No signal – no harvest.  True partners are there all the time, but can only be revealed when the signal is given.   They made the choice to respond.

Partners can do more together and in less time!  Make sure you know who your partners are.  Make sure you have partners for the right reasons.  Jesus wanted partners for the express purpose of catching more fish!  He is interested in souls more than anything else.  The top ministry priority is souls.

 

A real partner is someone that will drop what they are doing to help you do what you are doing.  They will work until the job is finished.  Partners are willing to sow the seed of their time knowing they will reap it again someday.

 

Verse 8  -  A Miracle Worker

8  When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

I personally believe that Simon was just overwhelmed by the fact that Jesus would take time to minister the Word to the crowd for who knows how long and then turn to him and start working on a miracle, and then hang in there and actually help these men completely fill two boats to the point of sinking with fish.  This was no small task, this was hard work!  In verse 5, Simon calls Him “Master” (a title or position), but in this verse, Simon calls Him “Lord.”   The miraculous (signs and wonders) often brings conviction of sins, but it’s end purpose is always conversion.

 

 

 

 

 

Verse 9  -  Brings Astonishment Wherever He Goes

For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:

Peter was amazed.   It takes a lot to amaze a tough, hard-working, gruff, manly, fisherman.  This is not the kind of guy that would just be amused or amazed by just anything.  This miracle was something that actually happened right in front of him.  No smoke, no mirrors, out in the middle of a lake, where no magical trickery could take place.  I mean it was his boat and his net, his oars.  Through one mans obedience, many people shared in the harvest.   Not a bad days work.

 

Astonished at what?  The draught of fishes (the provision and the demonstration) and “which they had taken” (the provider and the demonstrator).   Astonishment means that Jesus can do that which you may not even expect Him to be able to do.  He may catch you by surprise.  He may want to do more for you than you are asking or expecting!  He can excite and amaze one or many at the same time.

 

Verse 10  -  Jesus Has A Compelling Voice

10  And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.

Jesus said to Simon (just to Simon), but in verse 11 it says that they (all of them) forsook all and followed Him.   When you step out and obey God, it will spark others to do the same!  Revival spreads!  What kind of spark are you?  If your fire goes out, you must be re-lit.

 

Verse 11  -  A True Leader

11  And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

When they followed Him, they forsook all.  They were not washing their nets any more, they had brand new nets!  They now had nets made of words.

 

The two boats eventually came back to shore full of fish and Jesus was able to meet the crowd’s physical need of food as well as their spiritual need of the Word of God.  Jesus can meet the needs of a few or of many all at they same time.

 

It is now time to stop inviting people to know Jesus and start compelling them!  It is time to stop asking and start persuading. Jesus met their immediate need with a miracle, but these men left the immediate provision and followed the provider.  When you hear the Word of God and see miracles following, you too must make a choice between the Provision and the Provider!  Will you leave the provision of the present for the promise of the future?  It’s your choice!

Summary:

Jesus Christ is available to all.  He is a caring person and He pays attention to the details of your life. He is a humble visionary who wants to bring out the best in you personally.  He is a compassionate worker who is always looking for partners, a miracle worker who brings amazement wherever He goes.  Jesus has the compelling voice of a true leader.

Posted in Conqueror's Club Messages, Marriage, Teachings of Jesus | Leave a comment

Let’s get Practical

Practical Words

Words are one of the most powerful things you could ever tackle.  Watch your words, the action of your tongue!  Words are like the rudder of a might ship.

 

James 3:4  Behold, the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder, wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. 

3:5  So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!   

 

They are containers that either hold life or death.  They will take you to one place or another.  Your current life is a direct result of your past words.  How’s that working out for you.

 

You can:  Compliment or complain, Build-up or backbite, Bless or Bicker.

You can be a Vision Builder or a Vision Stealer

 

Like that mighty ship is turned, your tongue will determine the direction and path you and your marriage will take.  If your ship has been going in the wrong direction for a while, it might take some time to turn it around, but it will be worth it!

 

Speak blessings, not cursing.  Impart Hope!  Never yell at your wife unless your house is on fire.  Your wife is a delicate and petite flower!  Ladies, build your man up and encourage him, chances are he doing more for you than you might ever imagine.  Life and death are in the power of the tongue.

 

Also, don’t let people say just anything about you or your marriage, and just go unchecked!  Don’t allow junk in.  Don’t allow people to speak negative things about your spouse.  I’m not saying to start a new battle on every front, and retaliate with a barrage of overwhelming opposite comments, and set them straight.  Have a little more faith and trust in God than that;  No weapon formed against you will prosper, and every tongue that rises in judgement against you will be show to be in the wrong.  You don’t have to run around trying to fix everything with your great confession!  If your spiritual antennas are even at half mast, you will see that there is usually a nice, loving way to keep a conversation on track and bring subtile correction.

 

Couples can show affective affirmation through words and actions. It’s as simple as saying “I love you” or “You’re my best friend” or “I like being with you.” Affirmative behaviors can be anything from turning the coffee pot on in the morning for your spouse to sending them a sexy email, to filling their tank with gas.

 

The key is to give consistent affirmation, ”rather than heaps of it at once.”

 

Practical Friendships

#1  Do your carnal, earthly friendships supersede your spiritual relationship and assignment?   They can drastically hold you back from fulfilling what God has for you, if you let it.

#2  Do you tend to have friendships with others outside of your marriage that would rival your friendship with your spouse?  This is dangerous ground.  It can certainly be beneficial to have friends, and the Word of God encourages us to do so.

 

Proverbs 18:24  (KJV)  A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.   

 

Proverbs 18:24 (Message)  Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.

 

Did you know that you and you marriage have an assignment from heaven, and you can choose to walk in it or out of it.  Make sure you have Godly friendships that are in their proper place.  No friendship outside of your marriage should ever supersede, or even overly influence the friendship and relationship of you and your spouse!  You must be cautious not to fall into the trap of becoming such great friends with someone else, that you begin to discuss things that only belong to you and your spouse.  This is very dangerous ground!  Have friends, but be willing to clearly define the lines of that friendship.  You don’t have to get spooky about this.

 

Practical Freedom

Give your spouse the liberty and freedom to love other people in a Godly way.  To have other friends!  Not something weird, but something in line with Gods Word.  If you don’t, you will openly display your distrust in them and set a tone you don’t want.

 

There are six very costly behaviors in marriage:

constant fighting, miscommunication, household chores, jealousy, keeping secrets and not getting along with your spouse’s family.

 

Sometimes you each just need some space.  This is not a hard thing to do.  It’s just a simple decision away.  Just because you can shower together all of the time, doesn’t mean you should.  When it comes to privacy, keep your love life and your sex life off of Facebook, Twitter and all social media!  It’s ok to say that you love your spouse, but nobody needs to know the details of what goes on behind your closed doors . . . Nobody!

 

So, you need to give the freedom to your spouse to have friends, love others, talk to others, have fun with others, etc., knowing and trusting them to do the same.

 

The flip side to this is something to watch for:  It is when the pendulum swings too far in one direction.  When you begin to enjoy that freedom to the point that you want to stay away from your spouse, or stay away from the home.  So many married Christians are just tolerating each other.  They don’t want to get divorced, because they know enough about God’s Word that honestly believe that is wrong, but they don’t even like to be together.  Most of the time, this is a direct result of  miscommunication, or an ungodly outside influence;  both of which can be fixed!

 

Practical Steps

Determine with your spouse to only take positive steps in the right direction, no matter what the subject is.  You could be making a medical decision, buying a house or car, or even making an investment.  Carefully examine what you are doing, and why.  You really can’t afford to just go lax on this and do whatever you want in life.  There is a right way and a wrong way to navigate life.  Make sure that what you are doing is in line with the Word of God, and not just something you are trying to do yourself.  Be led by God.

 

Proverbs 20:27  The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly. 

 

Don’t make snap decisions.  If you’ve got decisions to make, don’t just throw a dart at the wall, really talk about it, weigh your options and pray about it.  Little mistakes that throw you off course just a little bit, will show up later as huge errors.  Bad decisions can cost you lots of money, lots of time, lots of frustration, and lots of sleepless nights.  Do the right thing all the time;  make every attempt to always move forward.  Men, the final decision may be yours to make, but pay close attention to your wife, as she may be very sensitive to the Holy Ghost too, and have great insight that will be very important.  The important thing is to be in agreement, and continue.

 

The big three:  money, communication, and sex.  You know, if you will just spend wisely, talk a lot, and have sex often, chances are, you’ll be just fine!  Just having a lot of these three things, and learning to balance them, will usually fix any problem in your marriage.

 

Practical Planning

Get a will and a living trust going right now!  Show your family that you love and care for them enough to provide for them if you should go.  We live in Texas, and without a will, things could get sticky, take a long time in court, and cost your spouse a lot of time and money.

 

It has been said that a person will spend fifty or sixty years accumulating earthly treasure, then spend another 20 years or more trying to keep from losing it, but will spend less than two hours planning the distribution of it when he dies.  This is real life . . . and death!  This should be one of the top items on your to-do list when you leave here tonight.  You will never know how much hurt it will bring your family if you don’t have one.  You won’t have to go through it because you’ll be gone, but your family will be here.

 

I’m aware of the arguments against this:  

You might say “I just can’t afford to do that!”  You literally cannot afford not to.  Even if you have to start by writing out a will on a legal pad and getting it notarized, that would be better than not having one at all.

 

You may say “I really don’t have all that much to leave.”  Well, you are going to leave it all, and your family might just want ALL of the little you leave, instead of it being eaten up in probate court.

 

More Practical Planning

Get life insurance.  Life insurance continues to provide for your family when you are no longer here to do it.  This goes for husbands and wives!

 

Yes, I’m also aware of the arguments against this:  

“I just can’t afford to do that!”  Really!  You can afford all the other things in your life.  You can afford cable TV, Smartphones with data plans, Starbucks, Aluminum Alloy Wheels, new suits and dresses, car washes, and pets!  If you have a pet, you could have life insurance!  Which one would you rather have?  You really can’t afford life insurance?  Look your spouse in the eye tonight when you get home and tell them you love them, but you are not willing to secure their financial future.  The fact is, You can afford it, but it might mean some sacrifice on your part to do it.  If we need to have another financial seminar about this, we will;  because I’m convinced that I can show you how to save money every month.  You might not like what I have to say, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true, and it doesn’t bother me at all!

 

I also understand that there is a point in your life that you are doing so well financially, that life insurance may not be needed for your spouse.  I get that, but I venture to say that most in this room tonight are not there yet.  Some are, but most are not.  Get life insurance for you and you spouse . . . . and don’t forget your children.  I’m not being morbid, I’m being practical, and one day you may thank me for it.

 

Practical Advice:  The Twice Principle

Don’t put yourself in the position where you are alone with someone of the opposite sex, other than your spouse.  Office, elevators, etc.

Make no provision for sin in your life.

 

Example:  Father tells his son not to go swimming, but the son takes his swim shorts just in case he is tempted.

 

Temptation is all around you everyday.  You have to choose not to look twice!  This one thing I do.  Twice will get you!  Remember LEAK, WEAK, SNEAK, PEEK, SEEK?

 

Seek – You don’t just start seeking sin.  it all starts with a  . . . .

 

Peek - to look quickly at something, or not very long.  Just a glance is all it takes to get the ball rolling.  But in order to peek, you first have to . . .

 

Sneak - to move about in a stealthy manner.  You know you are in trouble when you have to conceal your actions, but you only get to this point because you are . . . .

 

Weak – liable to break or give way under pressure.  Spiritual weakness.  You are supposed to be strong and courageous, but weakness comes as a result of a . . .

 

Leak – to lose the contents of something.  You had it, but you let it slip away.  You chose not to stay full of God, to stay spiritually in tune, full of the Word and Prayer.  Sin and wrong-doing starts right here!

 

Hebrews 12:1-3  Therefore since we have so great a cloud . . .

 

Keeping the ability to quickly get to sin will get you every time.  Hidden computer folders, Apps for secretly hiding pictures, screen shots that cover up your actual computer screen, embedded files, JPG’s saved as PDF’s and files without extensions so they are not searchable, history cleaners, cookie eradicators, etc.  Oh yeah, I’ve seen people use just about every way possible to cover sin.  This is not just about digital downloads either, it just as easy to keep that magazine in that special hidden slot in the garage or shed.  And, this is not just for men!  Women can sin too.  If you are picturing or imagining Fabio while you’re making love to your man, you are going down a trail of destruction.  And if you are looking at porn and picturing yourself in there too, you are headed in the wrong direction.

 

The devil will set up traps for you.  Will you fall for it?   If you’ve messed up, at least make the decision to move forward.  Why do I even bring this up?  Because it is real, it can be a battle, and no one in this room is exempt from temptation.  You will face temptation, and you better know how to deal with it when it comes.  You need to be ready.  This is all part of marriage maintenance.

Posted in Conqueror's Club Messages, Divorce, Marriage | Leave a comment

Love Is

1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

Paul is giving a very detailed description of God’s kind of love right here in Scripture. He said what God’s kind of love is (long-suffering, patient, kind), what it is not (envious, self-promoting, prideful), how it does not act (unseemly, selfish, easily provoked, thinking on evil, rejoicing in iniquity), and how it does act (rejoices in truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things). And, He summed it all up in verse 8 by saying that God’s kind of love never fails.

 

These verses can be used as a checklist for us to see whether or not we are really operating in God’s kind of love. Sometimes we think we have done everything possible, but have we really used God’s kind of love?

 

1 Corinthians 13:4

(NASB) Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,

 

Long-suffering or Patience:  The quality of bearing with and being long-tempered. It is the nature of being self-restrained in the face of being provoked, the opposite of anger. You could say that God’s love has a tolerance for and endures trying situations and people beyond an average standard. God’s love is patient.

The word “kind,” means having or showing a tender, considerate, and helping nature.  Oh how things would be different if we would just be kind!

It seems that we’re always wanting to do something big for God, but the Scripture teaches us not to despise the small things (Zec 4:8-10). In other words, do not despise doing small acts of kindness day in and day out. It is the accumulation of these small deeds of kindness that makes true and lasting happiness for us all. Jesus said in John 13:17, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” In other words, it takes “knowing” the principles of love and their expressions and then doing them to bring forth happiness. What a great world it would be if we all learned just this one principle–”love is kind.”

Envy & Jealousy:  Many problems arise from envy. James said, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16). Envy and strife go hand in hand and open the door for anything the devil desires to do in people’s lives. Some people would never give place to the devil through confessing the wrong things, murder, adultery, or bank robbery, yet through envy, they give the enemy freedom to do his worst.

God’s kind of love is not envious or jealous, because it doesn’t seek its own welfare but the welfare of others. Envy is an indication of self-centeredness.

Charity vaunteth not itself, Not Bragging, Not Arrogant: Means that God’s kind of love does not brag about or promote self. A braggart is not operating in God’s kind of love.

Remember, as with every one of these characteristics of God’s kind of love, Jesus is the ultimate example.

1 Corinthians 13:5

(NASB)  does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

In other words, God’s kind of love always behaves itself. God’s type of love will never drive a person to behave improperly. Anyone who claims to be motivated by God’s love and yet is acting contrary to God’s Word is lying. God’s Word and His love agree.

God’s type of love often involves emotions, but it is not an emotion. It is an act of the will. We can choose to love even when we don’t feel like it, and we can always conduct ourselves in a Godly manner, even when we do feel God’s kind of love.  It is a choice!

Paul told Titus to have the older women in the church at Crete teach the younger women to love their husbands and their children (Titus 2:4). Now there’s an interesting idea!  Most people believe that you fall in love and out of love.  But, God’s kind of love is a choice.

Jesus didn’t feel some emotional sensation when He chose to die for us, but that was the greatest demonstration of God’s kind of love that the world has ever seen. Because He was consumed with God’s love, He acted properly, even when His emotions didn’t agree.

Seeks not her own:  This is another reference to the fact that God’s kind of love is not self-serving or self-seeking. God’s love will cause people to lay down their lives for others (John 15:13), because they have literally forgotten themselves. Many times, when heroes are asked why they put themselves in jeopardy to save someone else, they reply that they didn’t even think about themselves; all they thought of was the danger to the other person. That’s God’s kind of love.

Therefore, God’s kind of love is the antidote to selfishness and pride. We cannot conquer selfishness by focusing on self. The only way to win over self is to fall in love with God more than with ourselves. It is in discovering God’s love that we lose self-love.

Those who have short fuses are not operating in God’s kind of love. When people are walking in God’s kind of love, they are easy to get along with. God’s kind of love does not carry a chip on its shoulder.  God’s kind of love is positive. It focuses on the good things in others and in situations. God’s kind of love thinks on “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

 

1 Corinthians 13:6

(NASB)  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

A person who is living in God’s kind of love will not rejoice in iniquity.  God’s kind of love in individuals will cause them to rejoice in truth. God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). Therefore, those who walk in God’s kind of love will love the Word of God. Those who reject God’s Word and its values cannot claim to be full of God’s kind of love.

 

1 Corinthians 13:7

(NASB)  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

God’s kind of love bears all things. Those who say they’ve taken  all they can bear are simply saying that they haven’t yet drawn on God’s kind of love. Human love has limits, but God’s kind of love knows no limits.

Sometimes we try to comfort people in difficult situations by telling them, “You can only take so much. After all, you’re only human.” Andrew Wommack says “the truth is that we as born-again Christians are not “only human,” we are also wall to wall Holy Ghost!  We have the supernatural, God kind of love in us, and we can bear all things.

God’s kind of love keeps on trusting, and believing. People get hurt, and many times, they lose their trust in God or in people. They feel they could never trust again. Maybe they can’t, but God’s kind of love can. When they reach their limit on believing, God’s kind of love believes all things.

Hope is a product of love. Understanding the depths of God’s love will cause hope in people’s hearts, regardless of their situations. Those who don’t have hope aren’t experiencing God’s kind of love. God’s kind of love hopes all things.

When people feel like they can’t take another minute of their situations, that is a sign that they haven’t yet drawn on God’s kind of love. God’s kind of love endures all things. Too often, Christians resist in their own might, and when they hit their limit, they feel justified in quitting. After all, they tried. However, God’s kind of love never fails.

 

1 Corinthians 13:8

(NASB)  Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 

Paul summed up his description of God’s kind of love by saying that it never fails. He was saying that it will never cease. We will still be walking in God’s kind of love throughout eternity. That’s why it is so important that we operate all the gifts of the Spirit through God’s kind of love.

Paul was not saying that it is inevitable that some prophecies will be inaccurate. Instead, he was saying that there will come a time when there will not be prophecies anymore. In eternity, when we know all things even as we are known, we won’t need the gift of prophecy anymore. He was contrasting the temporariness of prophecy with the permanentness of love, to increase the value we place on God’s kind of love.

Paul was contrasting the temporariness of prophesies and the gift of tongues with the permanentness of God’s love, to increase the value of love.

 

1 Corinthians 13:13

(NASB)  But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 

This whole chapter has been a contrast between God’s kind of love and the gifts of the Spirit. Paul has shown the temporariness of the gifts and the eternalness of love, to elevate the position of love.  Here, he stated that faith, hope, and love will abide throughout eternity, but the greatest of these three is God’s kind of love.

Posted in Conqueror's Club Messages, Daily Encouragement, Marriage | Leave a comment

Marriage Foundations!

If I were to ask you to describe your house tonight, most of you would probably talk about the beautiful front door, maybe it’s square footage, or whether it was one or two stories, maybe even that it had a brick or wooden exterior.  You might describe it’s location, or even tell me how pretty the flower garden was by the entryway.  But, it would extremely uncommon for you to tell me how solid a foundation it had!  How flat and even and level it was.  If I asked you to describe your house, you probably wouldn’t tell me how the footers were dug, and the plumbing pipes were laid in the ground, or even how great the electrical conduit was that came through the concrete foundation.

Yet, without that, none of the rest would work!

So, Tonight, I want to talk to you about Marriage Foundations.

 

Let’s start by looking at:

Ephesians 4:14-16  As a result, . . . .   As a result of what?

Ephesians 4:10-13  He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.  (How’s He going to do that?)

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 

for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 

until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.

 

Now, Back to Ephesians 4:14-16  As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 

but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, 

from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. 

If you compare the body of Christ or even your marriage to a brick building, you would see that the bricks would topple if they weren’t joined together.  The concrete mortar forms those bricks into a solid wall, that is held in place by the effectual working of every other brick.  Yet, even a solid brick wall is of no value if it doesn’t sit upon a solid foundation.

 

So, What is a Foundation?

A platform or base on which to build.  A very important starting point.

The foundation must be built first, because it is the thing that holds the entire structure together – It is the platform.

It’s even a barrier of protection from what is below.

More time and money can be spent here to ensure the entire structure is ready to be built, and will be solid.  Bass Performance Hall – 300 year building.

A foundation is       “One of the most important things you’ll never see!”

Always value the importance of a strong foundation!  When building a large structure, hundreds of thousands of dollars could go into work that no one will ever see.  Besides the obvious concrete, . . . huge pipes, long cables, and deep footers have to go in underground before you can even begin to build what everyone will see.  If you are ever tempted to fudge a bit on the foundation, a wise architect will always jump in and caution you, saying: “Nothing is more important than the foundation.”

Here are 5 things to consider about foundations and marriage!

1.  A good foundation is essential for the health and well-being of a building.  It is also essential for the health and well-being of a marriage.  Your marriage needs a solid foundation!

2.  A building cannot withstand much stress or pressure without a solid foundation. Likewise, a marriage cannot withstand the storms of life without a solid foundation.  Things will come to test your marriage.

3.  A building’s entire strength depends proportionally on the strength of its foundation.  There is a direct connection.  Also, the strength of your marriage depends on the quality and strength of its foundation.

4.  The greater a building’s height, the greater the importance of its foundation. The higher you want your marriage to go, the greater the importance of the foundation you choose to build.

5.  The foundation of a great building is not readily visible, yet it is essential.  The foundation of your marriage will not be immediately noticeable, yet it is essential for the strength, growth, and quality of your marriage.

 

Also consider this:

Like trees, foundations don’t move, they are stationary.  There is a difference between a solid foundation home, and a mobile home.  Have you ever seen a really strong 5 or 6 story mobile home?  There’s a reason for that.

The right ingredients ensure proper hardness of the foundation.  Some of those ingredients are:  Righteousness, purity, holiness, prayer, commitment, faithfulness, obedience, and trust.

Individual Godly Foundations prepare you for a Marriage Foundation.

The Marriage Foundation prepares you for a Family Foundation.

The Family Foundation prepares you for a Church Foundation.

One thing feeds the next thing!

Many things will try to break your foundation – your beliefs, your faith, family, friends, health and finances.  Psalm 11:3  “If the foundations are destroyed,  What can the righteous do?”

  The foundations of your life will be challenged!

  The foundations of your marriage will be challenged!

The foundations of your church will be challenged!

  The foundations of Christianity itself will be challenged!

 

You need to be prepared for the attack of the enemy!  It’s real, and that’s why you need to be strong in the Lord, and strong in His Word.  When I stand up here and encourage you to read the Word all the time, I’m not just throwing useless words out there,  I’m telling you how to prepare a foundation that cannot be shaken!  This is real life!  I’m  telling you, the foundation of Marriage, the core of Christianity, and even Faith itself is being challenged at an alarming rate!   You must be a carrier of God’s Word!  It’s the only way you’ll be able to spot the counterfeit!  You must maintain your Christianity and Marriage foundation.  It’s up to you to water it, and keep it safe.  Safe from what?  Safe from adultery, sin, false religions like Calvinism.

Galatians 1:8-9 says But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Proverbs 4:23  Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. 

Just the other day, a satanic group unveiled designs for a 7-foot-tall statue of Satan it wants to put at the Oklahoma state Capitol, where a Ten Commandments monument was placed in 2012.

The New York-based Satanic Temple formally submitted its application to a panel that oversees the Capitol grounds, including an artist’s rendering that depicts Satan as a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard that’s often used as a symbol of the occult. In the rendering, Satan is sitting in a pentagram-adorned throne with smiling children next to him.

“The monument has been designed to reflect the views of Satanists,” and “The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation.”

The Ten Commandments monument was placed on the north steps of the building in 2012, and the American Civil Liberties Union has sued to have it removed.

This is Oklahoma, the middle of the heartland,” said Rep. Don Armes, “I think we need to be tolerant of people who think different than us.”

While Greaves acknowledges the Satanic Temple’s effort is in part to highlight what it says is hypocrisy of state leaders in Oklahoma, he says the group is serious about having a monument placed there.

On its website, the Satanic Temple explains that it “seeks to separate Religion from Superstition by acknowledging religious belief as a metaphorical framework with which we construct a narrative context for our goals and works.  “Satan stands as the ultimate icon for the selfless revolt against tyranny, free & rational inquiry, and the responsible pursuit of happiness,” the website says.

Has God Really Said?

When you carry an anchor, it is a mobile thing, but when you drop anchor, it stabilizes you because it is stationary!  You hold the anchor, then the anchor holds you!

 

Acts 16:26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. 

4531 – Shaken; to waver, agitate, rock, topple or destroy; figuratively, to disturb, move, shake.

Revelation 21:10 – Start

Revelation 21:19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald;  20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 

Now, you might say that your marriage foundation doesn’t even come close to resembling that!  You might even think that your marriage needs Foundation Repair!  Good news, you’re in the right place!

If your foundation is crumbling, there is hope!  You can get foundation repair.  Water the edges of your foundation with the Word of God, and your words.  Words are containers – life and health, or death and destruction.

 

There are many principles that, if practiced, can help you build a solid marital foundation.

  Commitment

“Commitment” is not a popular word these days. Our society emphasizes individual rights, personal freedom and mobility.  The idea of giving these up because of dedication to another person or loyalty to a relationship makes a lot of people feel trapped.

But don’t think you can have it both ways. You can’t build a divorce-proof marriage and remain unbending toward your personal rights. That doesn’t mean you give up all your freedoms or choices, but it does mean your commitment to the relationship supersedes your individual rights.

Commitment means putting your spouse’s needs above your own. Instead of becoming irritated and disappointed that your needs may not be getting met the way you thought, how about  becoming satisfied when you focus on your spouses needs and how you can creatively meet them?

                    

  Communication

Someone once said, “Communication is to love as blood is to the body.” Take the blood out of the body and it dies. Take communication away and a relationship dies.

The kind of communication I’m talking about isn’t just exchanging information; it’s sharing feelings, hurts, joys. That means getting below the surface and examining the hows and whys of daily life.  But it’s not easy since men and women are different in this area. Research makes it clear that women have greater linguistic abilities than men. Men, that means she talks more than you!   A woman typically expresses her feelings and thoughts far better than her husband and is often irritated by his reluctance to talk. Every knowledgeable marriage counselor will tell you that the inability or unwillingness of husbands to reveal their feelings is one of the chief complaints of wives.

Like conflict resolution, communication is a learned skill — and it’s often hard work.  Watch your words!

 

  Patience

We live in an instant world — Solid State Hard Drives, ATM’s, Smartphones, Online Bill Pay, microwave popcorn. . . you name it!   The problem is we can’t heat up a marriage in the microwave. Relationships just don’t work that way. Marriage, takes time and care to become a really beautiful thing. That means learning patience.

When you put two people — any two — in the same house, you’re going to have irritations and annoyances. Beyond the day-to-day quirks, patience is needed for the long haul. It may take years for you to develop the kind of relationship that’s satisfying to both of you.  A lot of people just don’t have the patience to wait around for things to evolve.  But if you’re willing to sit tight and hang in there, your marriage can be wonderful.

 

  Strong Beliefs

We’re more than a bundle of feelings and physical sensations. There is an inner core of our being, an eternal part of who we are, that represents the deepest, most permanent aspect of marriage.

Research shows that couples with strong religious beliefs are far more likely to stay together than those without them. It’s the shared morals and values that hold a husband and wife together. This solid foundation is a fortress against the storms of life.

For Miriam and me, our Christian faith has been the bedrock, the foundation of our relationship.  We understand that our 24-plus years of marriage, would not be possible without guidance from the Word of God, and direction and comfort from the Holy Spirit.

You can’t let go of the things that you know!  This is the foundation!

 

Paul Harvey in April of 1965:       “If I Were the Devil” 

 

If I were the Prince of Darkness I would want to engulf the whole earth in darkness.

I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree.

So I should set about however necessary, to take over the United States.

I would begin with a campaign of whispers.

With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whispers to you as I whispered to Eve, “Do as you please.”

To the young I would whisper “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that “man created God,” instead of the other way around. I would confide that “what is bad is good and what is good is square.”

In the ears of the young married I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be “extreme” in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct.

And the old I would teach to pray — to say after me — “Our father which are in Washington.”

I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people, instead of the other way around;

I would dupe entire states into relying on gambling for their state revenue;

I would convince people that character is not an issue when it comes to leadership;

I would make it legal to take the life of unborn babies;

Then I’d get organized.

I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull, uninteresting.

I’d threaten TV with dirtier movies, and vice-versa.

I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing, less work. Idle hands usually work for me.

I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could, I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction, I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.

If I were the Devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions; let those run wild.

I’d designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts and I’d get preachers to say, “She’s right.”

With flattery and promises of power I would get the courts to vote against God and in favor of pornography.

Thus I would evict God from the courthouse, then from the schoolhouse, then from the Houses of Congress.

I would attack the family, the backbone of any nation.

I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable. If the family crumbles, so does the nation;

I would convince the world that people are born homosexuals, and that their lifestyles should be accepted and marveled;

I would persuade people that the church is irrelevant and out of date, and the Bible is for the naive;

I would dull the minds of Christians, and make them believe that prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are optional;

Then in his own churches I’d substitute psychology for religion and deify science.

If I were Satan I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg , and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.

If I were the Devil I’d take from those who have and give to those who wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. Then my police state would force everybody back to work.

If I were Satan, I guess I would leave things pretty much the way they are.

 

Jesus spoke about two different foundations for a life. His statements are equally applicable to a couple building a home and marriage together:

 

  Matthew 7:24–27  Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.

Spiritual disciplines

Is there an insider’s secret on how to make the most of time and build a marriage on the solid-rock foundation of Jesus Christ? Yes, it’s called discipline, and it’s not popular.  

I am not proposing a lifeless list of legalistic tasks that will turn the Christian life into a graceless, joyless religion based on works.  But rather basic exercises that will change a flabby, weak faith into a strong one.

▪ Prayer, Bible Study, Worship, Giving, Fellowship, Service, Witnessing.

 

Posted in Conqueror's Club Messages, Marriage, Teachings of Jesus | Leave a comment

How To Stay Married!

So much emphasis is placed on the Wedding Ceremony, the dress, the flowers, the location, the tux, the lighting, etc.  It’s all about the start.  That’s ok, as long as there is also a balance of maintaining the marriage too.   The wedding is the ceremony, but the marriage is the celebration!  I believe more emphasis needs to be placed on maintaining and finishing.  I’ve seen some awesome and very expensive weddings over the years, but that’s just the start, just the beginning.  Many of those beautiful weddings have marriages that are now no longer!  Even though many, many thousands and tens of thousands of dollars were spent on the wedding, not nearly enough time was spent maintaining the marriage.  The start can be great, but the finish is still more important.

 

I’m always amazed at how people who have been married for a good period of time, can so easily fall into the trap of thinking they have it all together.  That there are no problems on the horizon, that somehow they are exempt from marriage maintenance.  Be careful when you stand, lest you fall.  Don’t take your marriage for granted.  It has to be maintained.  You are not exempt from temptation, you are not exempt from stress and strain, financial pressure, child pressure, job pressure, medical pressure, or time pressure, at any age, or at any point in your marriage.  Even if you’ve been married for quite a while, it can be easy to relax your marriage responsibilities, and before you know it, you’ve got a problem.  So, no marriage, no matter how mature or secure, is exempt from pressure, temptation and attack.  But at the same time, every marriage has a 100% chance of complete success, if you do it God’s way!  I’m not telling you this to scare you, or make you feel insecure, or unstable, but to make sure you understand that God’s Principles found in His Word are for everyone, not just newlyweds!

So, “How To Stay Married.”

Step 1:  Don’t get divorced!

It sounds simple enough, but obviously it takes some doing too. Nobody really likes to talk about divorce, but I think we need to approach it head on!  If the option of divorce is on the table, you’ll eventually take it.  Sure, it might not happen right away, but if it continues to be an option, the devil will make sure to align the circumstances so that the atmosphere is at least favorable for divorce.

Almost all couples go into marriage pledging to stay together through thick and thin. “Till death do us part,” “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish,
until we are parted by death.  This is my solemn vow.”

Yet fewer and fewer couples seem willing to honor that promise.

Married couples today are under more stress and face more temptation than at any time in recent history, and largely because of this, people are simply afraid of making a commitment to marriage.  It starts with the fear of making the commitment to get married, then it graduates to the fear of keeping the commitment to stay married.

But I think the most disturbing statistic on marriage is the large number of empty nesters who are choosing to divorce. A recent study conducted by the National Center for Family and Demographic Research at Bowling Green University showed that the divorce rate for those over fifty has doubled in the last two decades. Today, 25 percent of all divorces are between couples over the age of fifty.  In the past, marriages that lasted that long almost always went the distance, but that’s not the case anymore. Empty nesters are divorcing at their highest rate ever.

And, on the other side of the coin, the divorce rate in America is declining rapidly, but only because fewer and fewer are deciding to get married at all.  It used to be called “Shacking-Up!”  Now it’s called cohabitation!  It’s the “un-covenant covenant.”  It’s agreeing to live together and share some things, without a real commitment to each other.  The Bible still calls it sin, no matter what you call it.

So, what am I saying?  I’m saying “Remove the option of divorce all together!”  “Take it completely off the table.”  Let your spouse know that it is not an option for you, That it never will be an option, that you are not willing to go there, that this marriage is forever!  You need to tell them that!  Then, from that time forward, do not entertain divorce, don’t talk about divorce, don’t think about divorce, don’t argue about divorce, don’t use divorce as blackmail to get what you want . . . you get the picture!

If you are here, and you have divorced in the past, and you are married right now, then the one you are currently married to is your spouse, the love of your life, your eternal mate!  Pastor Bob Nichols says that you “start where you are, and move forward from here!”  You don’t stay together for the kid’s sake, or for investment sake; You stay together for God’s Covenant sake!  You made a holy promise and covenant.  Don’t take covenant lightly.

Divorce should not, and cannot be an option if you are going to stay married!

Step 2:  It’s Time To Lower Your Standards!  

Your spouse is the one you married, they are not the one you saw in the ad, or on TV, or in that movie!  Actually, if you knew all the flaws that all those perfectly tanned, beautiful people, they would never draw your attention!  There’s not enough surgery, or pills, or acting classes to get you or your spouse to be like all the unrealistic, false advertisements out there.  Every picture of every man, and every woman is Photoshopped to an unbelievable level.  Many times, those models don’t even end up with the original body parts, but have someone’s else’s eyes, lips, legs, or butt.  Everything is stretched, toned, and plumped, and manipulated in computer software.  Those super models have been lifted, and tucked, and puffed in all the right places to give you the appearance that it is even attainable.  It’s not, in fact, It’s Not Even Real!  And smooth-talking Matthew McConaughey has certainly got to have a spray-on tan!  It’s all fake!

Now am I saying that it’s okay to just stay ugly?  To never exercise, or eat right, or put make-up on, or be a sweet-talker, No!  I’m not even saying you’re ugly, I’m saying that God made you . . . .YOU!  He didn’t mess up when He made you, and if He had a second shot at making you again. . . He’d do it again, exactly the way He did it to begin with!  Husbands and Wives, don’t expect your spouse to be someone else; they are God’s design and perfect creation, and He made them just for you!  Glory to God!  God knew what I would need, and He made Miriam specifically for me!  You should take care of yourself, but not to the point that you’re obsessed with trying to be like somebody else.  If your barn needs painting, paint it!  Do what you can do to please your spouse with your appearance, practice good hygiene, comb your hair, brush your teeth, trim your nose hair.  But when you see your spouse, just know that “that’s the one for you!”  That’s your Mr. Dreamy, that’s your Super Model!

So, in fact when I say that It’s Time To Lower Your Standards, what I mean is lower your worldly standards, and take on the standards of God’s Word.

 

Step 3:  Your spouse is so needy!  

Your spouse is completely different than you.  They have different emotions, different desires, different body parts, and completely different needs.  It’s up to you to learn and understand the differences.  When God made Adam, he made him whole, but not complete!  He needed Eve.  Eve was not just another creation, she was the completion to a creation already started. Adam needed Eve, and Eve needed Adam.  It’s a covenant thing.

Everything about our society tells us to guard our independence, to look after ourselves, to seek what will meet our own needs and not let anyone get in our way. But God tells us the exact opposite.

One author put it this way:

Society tells us marriage is about finding the right person.

God tells us marriage is about being the right person.

Culture tells us marriage is about meeting our own needs.

God tells us marriage is about sacrificing our needs for our spouse.

The world tells us marriage is about happiness.

God tells us marriage is about holiness.

With God, things are seldom as they seem. God tells us if you want to find yourself, you do it by losing yourself in service to others. It’s in losing yourself that you find true contentment and joy. There is no better example than the marriage covenant.

God gave us the perfect formula for a happy, divorce-free, marriage, right here in scripture. It doesn’t take any special skill or ability to understand. It certainly doesn’t take a Bible scholar to interpret it. It’s a simple plan that reveals for us the secret to a marriage that is filled with hope and purpose and is completely indestructible.

What it does take is a willing heart and a humble spirit.  

The problem is, that this part of scripture has gotten a bad rap from husbands and wives, mainly due to misunderstanding.  Therefore, even though it is so desperately needed, it is also so often skipped over because of it’s wording.

This plan is laid out for us in the fifth chapter of Ephesians.

 

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. . . . Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. . . . In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church. . . . Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Ephesians 5:21–25, 28–29, 33

Like it or not Ephesians Chapter 5 is in the Bible.  God inspired it, man wrote it down, and we can read it.  It’s not going away.  It never needs to go away!  It is quite literally the model for marriage.

In the Ephesians 5 model of marriage, women are told, “Submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord” (v. 22). Many women today recoil at the thought of submitting, but probably only because we’ve misconstrued what it means to submit.  You know, sometimes you can gauge what you believe, by whose side you take when something is in question.

Women, if the thought of submitting to a man makes you sick to your stomach, you are actually believing more what the lesbians believe than God’s Word.  The LGBT crowd (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual & trans-gender), thats’ girls that like girls, boys that like boys, boys and girls that like boys and girls, and boys and girls that no longer consider themselves a boy or a girl, but want the best of both worlds simultaneously!  

That plain enough for you? 

That crowd has spent decades getting it ingrained into society that women don’t ever need a man, period.  That’s not what God’s Word says. You see it everywhere, in almost every ad now.  The man can’t figure out how to turn on the TV, so the woman has to come help the stupid idiot out.

When we submit ourselves to Jesus, we don’t fear being dominated or controlled or abused. What we’re doing is giving him a place of honor and respect and leadership in our lives.  It is in this same spirit of humility that women are told to submit to their husbands. To hold them in a place of honor and respect and leadership. Not to become subservient or allow themselves to be abused but to treat their husbands with admiration and esteem.

I know that this is not an easy thing to do, especially with husbands who have done little to deserve their wives’ respect. Many women are quick to point out, “If I gave my husband that kind of honor, all it would do is encourage him to keep being bad!”  Most of their time is spent nagging and complaining because they want to discourage irresponsible behavior. One wife said, “If he ever starts acting like Jesus, I’ll be happy to treat him like Jesus.” Women are afraid of giving respect to a man who they feel doesn’t deserve it, because it just might make things worse.

Whenever I talk to couples about the Ephesians Chapter 5 model, neither the husband or the wife wants to be the first to change their behavior. A natural defense mechanism kicks in, and they immediately become hesitant and fearful.

Jimmy Evans says “But one thing I’ve never seen in the passage is a disclaimer. God never tells wives to submit to their husbands only when they deserve it. He never tells husbands to be loving and sacrificial after they get the respect they need.  The Christian life isn’t about reacting to others based on their behavior. It’s about responding to others according to the principles of Scripture, regardless of how we’re treated.” 

“You and I are called to a higher standard of behavior. As Christians, we commit to being imitators of Christ. To turn the other cheek when we’ve been wronged. To treat others as we would have them treat us. To put the needs of others above our own needs. You and I are called to live according to our faith, regardless of our circumstances and what those around us choose to do. The Ephesians 5 model of marriage is an extension of that calling. We respond to our mate based on the principles God set before us, regardless of how our mate responds.”

When a husband steps out in faith and begins loving and nurturing his wife the way God intended, the wife starts to soften. Before long she is treating him with the respect and dignity he always longed for. She begins submitting to his leadership and trusting him to make wise choices.

When a wife takes the initiative and starts treating her husband with respect and honor, he starts living up to her expectations. He begins leading with integrity and character. He starts to become the man she longs to have.

If you lined up a hundred men in a room and asked them one at a time to tell you what they need and desire most from their wives, two surprising things would happen.

First, every one of them would be able to answer that question. Second, their answers would be very, very similar.

Most men have four basic needs that they want met by a marriage partner.  We’ll talk about two of them now:

They need to feel honored and respected by their wives.  We’ve already been talking about this one tonight.

They need sexual intimacy.

They need friendship – a wife who enjoys doing fun things together.

They need domestic support – a wife who takes care of the home.

Paul addressed the topic of sexual intimacy in his first letter to the Corinthian church.

But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corinthians 7:2–5

Paul understood that unmet needs within the covenant of marriage are a very dangerous thing. When men and women don’t meet their partner’s needs, it gives Satan a powerful foothold for temptation. This is true with all marital needs but especially when it comes to sex.

Men have a deep physical and emotional need for sex. And women have been given the gift of sex. When women choose to withhold that gift from their husbands, it creates a breeding ground for sexual sin and temptation.

Men don’t just desire sex from their wives. They need it to feel fully whole and complete as marriage partners.  When we enter into the covenant of marriage, we actually surrender the rights to our own body to our partner. In Paul’s words, “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.”

Nowhere in Scripture are we given a more graphic example of what it means to become one flesh. In marriage we willingly commit to granting our partners full and complete access to everything we have, including our bodies. It is the ultimate act of service and humility.

Just as a man needs a wife who will tend to his basic needs and desires, a woman needs a husband who cares about her needs and makes it his job to fulfill them. What she most needs from him can be summed up in four basic categories.  Let’s talk about the first two:

Women need security. They need to know that their most basic needs are taken care of, that they are secure physically, emotionally, and financially. They need to feel nurtured and cherished and loved.

Women need affection. They need nonsexual intimacy and care.

Women need communication. They need a husband who will open his heart and communicate honestly, without reserve.

Women need leadership. They need a husband who is willing to take charge and guide the family.

Love was designed to grow deeper and stronger with time. To become even more intimate and rewarding. To meet our deepest needs and desires. To not only last but to grow healthier and fuller with age.

If you want to stay in love, you have to stay in like!

Your job is to discover and meet your spouse’s needs.

 

Here are some free tips:

Compliment and complete.

Think the best of your spouse

Tell your spouse that you love them

Talk the best about them

Cover your spouses faults

Be kind to your spouse

Live in the same house

Sleep in the same bed

Kiss your spouse often

Have sex often

Touch your spouse – hold hands

Posted in Conqueror's Club Messages, Divorce, Marriage | Leave a comment