As we approach this Easter, it is my desire to take a special online journey with you through the passion week of Christ beginning with the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. That will be the subject of my Palm Sunday message. You can join us for that message at watchGBC.com at 10:30am (EST). Monday through Friday, I will post a video right here on my blog, at watchGBC.com and at our Facebook page. These videos will track the events of the passion week and give a brief devotional thought. I hope this journey will encourage you and motivate your love for Jesus Christ.
￼“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”
1 Corinthians 11:23-31
Recently my wife and I were having a conversation with some friends about marriages that have fallen apart. It saddens all of us to hear of family members, co-workers or friends who once enjoyed a happy marriage but now are experiencing the heartbreak of a broken marriage. Over this past year, I have had a front-row seat on both marriages that broke apart and that have been restored. For certain, there are few things more heartbreaking to me than to see a man and a woman, who had once stood at a wedding altar and vowed to be committed to each other until death would part them, parting in life. There is so much heartache, hurt and tears. Many observe these type of situations and a say, that will never happen to us! Believe me, I hope and pray it does not! However, maintaining a growing, close, open, committed marriage takes more than mere intentions and words. It takes work! What are some commitments you and I need to to make and keep in order to have great marriages?
Commitment to Jesus:
Genesis chapter two records for us the first marriage. It was designed by God. It was really great! God designed marriages as being between one man and one woman. Though society has redefined this, it does not change was is naturally and Biblically true. Many trying to make marriage work apart from God, but it was never intended to work without Him. One man said it this way, “If you want to be a good spouse, be a good Christian first.” Those who are in love with Jesus and His Word make the best spouses. Are you committed to Jesus about everything else in life—your dreams, your jobs, your family, your spouse? Who or what holds the highest place in your life? It needs to be Jesus! Does His Word have first place in your daily life? Do you prioritize serving Him by serving others in your church family? Do you demonstrate first love to by loving His followers and assembling with them? Are you committed to responding to His preached word with determined steps of growth. A lack of commitment to Jesus will always produce struggles in our marriages.
Commitment to Your Vows:
Do you remember standing at the wedding altar and saying something like this to your spouse? “I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife, 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, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto pledge myself to you.” That is a serious vow! God says it this way in the Bible, “Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.” (Ecclesiastes 5:5) We should not enter vows with a mindset that we can break them if we change our mind or times get rough. If divorce is an option in your mind before you make the vow, then you should not make the vow. In fact, the word divorce ought be erased from your marriage vocabulary. Remain committed to your vows by the grace of God.
Commitment to Making it Better:
There are some marriages that remain “committed” to their vows in the strictest sense, but are cold. There is friction, years of unresolved differences, emotional baggage, little communication, fear of transparency and the list could go on. Publicly, the marriage is together, but privately it is not really twogether. Great marriages do not just happen, they are diligently built and maintained. Marriages need regular investments. What will you do in the near future to make your marriage even better? One of the reasons my wife and I host a couples retreat is that we desire to help couples make their marriages better. There is room for improvement in every marriage, including mine. I encourage you to make it better!
Can you think of some other commitments that should be made in our marriages? I would love to hear what you think in the comments below! If you are struggling in your marriage, there is hope! God is able to do what we think is humanly impossible. Please seek counsel from your pastor. If you have been divorced, please know, that God love you no matter what and still has a beautiful plan for your life. While God hates divorce, He does not hate you! You can find all the healing you will ever need in seeking Jesus with all your heart.
Also, I would like to invite you to join my wife and I at our church’s annual Couples Retreat on March 22-23, 2019, you can find out more about it here. We pray that it would be a blessing to you!
God often brings us to situations that are bigger than our faith, experience, resources and the human help available to us. Time after time in Scripture, God allowed men and women to come face to face with their own limitations in order that He might prove his “bigness.” Think about a few (of many) illustrations with me.
Abraham and Sarah
God had promised that He would make Abraham’s family to grow in the generations to come to be as numberless as the sand of the seashore. That’s a big family tree! Yet, Abraham and Sarah had no children. They were rapidly ageing and Sarah had long passed her children bearing days. Humanly, physically what God had promised was impossible. In Genesis 18:14 the question was asked of Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.” The correct answer is “NOTHING!” Even though there were some moments of doubt, Abraham believed God and God gave them a son through Sarah.
The Unnamed Widow
In 2 Kings 4 we find a widow of a godly servant of the Lord in a crisis situation. Debt collectors were coming after her for the debts her husband had left behind. She did not have the resources necessary nor the physical strength to work to earn the money necessary to pay off the debt. She met the prophet Elisha to get some advice. He gave instruction as to how God would meet the need. The need would not be met by human strategy but simple obedience to a “God-plan.” This was a plan that would totally fail if God did not come through. She was to take a pot of oil, that she had, and fill as many borrowed pots that she could. She then was to sell the oil and use the proceeds to pay off her debt. As many pots as she borrowed, God gave oil to fill. God fully met her need!
In 2 Chronicles 20 we find king Jehoshaphat in an impossible situation. The armies of Moab, Ammon and others were marching to invade Judah. As Jehoshaphat received the news, he and all of Judah began to fear and tremble. This enemy alliance would certainly crush them. By all human predictions, they were done. There was no hope. Jehoshaphat called the people of Judah to seek God by prayer and fasting. He prayed, “O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” (2 Chronicles 20:12) Notice his complete reliance and dependence on God. Without God doing something God-sized, they were done! God told him that the battle would be the LORD’s. Long story short, they went out to battle and God fought for them. The end of the story is amazing! 2 Chronicles 20:27 “Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the LORD had made them to rejoice over their enemies.“
Here is the bottom line! God is bigger than every problem, enemy, fear, need, financial shortfall, circumstance, health issue, church need and all our own human limitations. God delights in proving his “bigness.” Trust Him to be as big in your situation as He has revealed Himself to be throughout the pages of the Bible.
One of the highlights of the year for me is revival meetings. There is something very special about gathering together with other believers to sing, pray, be challenged by God‘s Word through preaching and to seek God for personal and corporate revival. I have found that not all believers see the need nor will take the time to engage in revival meetings.
Some wonder, “Why a revival meeting?” Don’t we already have enough to do in life? True! There is a lot on our calendars. We are busy. Home, work, sports, friends all have space on our calendars and then there are our devices that deceptively suck hours of our time out of our days. Some will say in frustration and excuse, “I just don’t have any time this week for revival, Pastor!” May I have a moment to challenge your thinking.
Ephesians 5:16 tells us “Redeeming the time because the days are evil.” Paul was encouraging believers, who lived in days that were against God, to buy back time from being wasted on temporal pursuits and invest it in what was truly, eternally important. More important than anything else in our lives, is our walk with God and that walk being revived (reset or refreshed…whatever the need). Who you are with God is more important than who you are with your family, your coworkers and your friends. Your walk with God is more important than any program, than any project or pursuit. When we walk with God as we ought, we are the best spouse, the best employee, the best friend and the best child. Everything flows from my walk with God. Perhaps that is why Solomon challenged his son to “Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.“ (Proverbs 4:23)
Make the time by setting aside things that are not as eternally important as your walk with God. If a few Facebook friends don’t get a like from you, will that really matter in eternity? If you miss a ball game, your favorite TV show or your child misses a sport practice, will it matter in eternity? If you miss some sleep in order to gather with other believers to be under the preaching of the Word, will you regret that in eternity?
No one has time, we all have to make time for what is truly important. Our walk with God and the preaching of God’s Word for revival is truly important.
This year at Grace Baptist Church, our theme is By His Spirit. Zechariah 4:6 says, “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, Saith the Lord of hosts.” God was communicating a powerful truth through Zechariah that was not for his day only, but for our’s today.
Many followers of Christ endeavour to live, witness and serve in their own strength and effort. Frustrated and defeat pile up leading to quiet despair. They consider themselves to be lesser Chrisitan who is unable to obey God’s Word and be faithful in God’s work.
The truth is, God did not design the Christian life to be lived out on our own and without help. He has graciously provided all the power with which to accomplish His ‘why’ for our lives. It will not be accomplished by our might or our power, but by His Spirit through us.
Prayer and the Word of God are key to living By His Spirit. I hope you are striving to make these Christian disciplines a daily routine. Beyond, your Bible reading, there are some related books that God has used to bless many followers who hungered for more. I challenge you to make this list a part of your reading goal this year. Each book title is linked to Amazon.
- By My Spirit by Jonathan Goforth
- I Saw the Welsh Revival by David Matthews
- The Calvary Road by Roy Hession
- Experiencing Jesus by John Van Gelderen
- Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray
- The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer
- Praying Hyde by Captain E. G. Carre
- Rent Heavens R. B. Jones
- Revival in Our Time by Harold Vaughan
- Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray
- Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray
- We Would See Jesus by Roy Hession
- Victory in Christ by Charles G. Trumbull