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Being Faithful – Malachi 2:10-16

Being Faithful – Malachi 2:10-16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 25, 2018 AM

After learning to say, “No!” we quickly learn to ask the question, “Why?” It is an innate thing with us and it goes back to the Garden of Eden when Eve rebelled and then asked the very same question. It exists in every preschooler and manifests itself in adolescence through our demand to be told the reason for everything that happens to us. We especially hate it when someone dares to tell us, “Because I said so, that’s why!” We want and expect an answer to our inquiry. But guess what? The simple truth is, we do not deserve an answer for every “Why?” we ask, nor should we expect one.

In God’s economy trust is manifested when we obey without asking “Why?” When we pridefully think God should justify himself to us God reminds us that his ways are not our ways, nor are his thoughts our thoughts. He desires his children to live by faith and trust. Israel had failed to do just that. Instead they came up with their own way of worship, their own manmade guidelines, and fashioned gods into the images that made them feel comfortable about themselves. God, through Malachi, called them back to a fresh beginning in himself. Would they listen? Let’s find out as we discuss being faithful…

READ: Malachi 2:10-16

When Israel was faced with the scathing retort from Malachi, they demanded to know “Why?” God literally says, “Okay, if you want an answer here it is!” For a fresh start they needed to realize…

I. They were faithless! (V. 2:10)

Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another?

1. Spiritual questions stab the soul and our answers reveal our faith — Malachi asks three!
1) The first question is: “Have we not all one Father?” The issue here goes to the idea of what a person truly believes. Malachi is addressing the teaching that God is the spiritual father of us all. Malachi is making the case of one God, who is our father and it goes back to verse 6 where God asks, “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me?” So the correct answer would be, “Yes. We have one father and he is God.” If we recognize God is our spiritual father, then he is to be obeyed!
2) The second question is: “Did not God create us?” This idea goes to who is in charge—just who is the Creator and who is the creation?! In our day we like to think we are in charge. “It’s my life and I’ll do what I want!” We want to decide what is best for ourselves. We do what we like. We worship God how, when, and where it suits us. It is the profane notion that says, “I can worship God anywhere.” Yet God says, “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you, and I will accept no offering from your hands (v. 1:10).” If the One who created us wants us to worship him are we not obligated to worship him the way he desires, when he desires, and where he desires? The answer of course is, “Yes.”
3) The final question Malachi asks is: “Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another?” God had created and worked with Israel as a nation and as a people. Now Israel was divided. This was totally against God’s will. Amos related that God had “chosen” them from “all the families of the earth (Amos 3:2).” Yet they acted like bickering children and rival siblings. They had profaned God’s sacred covenant by splitting the nation! They were faithless!

EXAMPLE: Being the siblings we were, Ed and I used to pick on one another. It is a brotherly love/hate thing. Anthropologists believe it goes back to establishing dominance within the gorilla group, establishing a pecking order. Not that I believe this is true for human beings who are created in the image of God. Anyway, I do know that when my Mom would have her fill of our rivalry she would tell my Dad, “You handle it. They’re your boys!” All he had to say was, “Boys, behave because I said so.” And we did. We behaved because Dad had set the law down. He was our Dad and we respected him and the punishment that followed if we didn’t “behave” because he said so. The same was true for Israel and it is true for us as well. Christians are to honor and follow God for no other reason except he said so and it is a matter of being faithful not faithless!

Like all people who have been caught doing what they should not have been doing, the Israelites demanded proof of their untrustworthiness of not being faithful. God responds by telling them that if they wanted a fresh beginning they needed to realize…

II. They were Spiritual adulterers! (Vv. 2:11-12)

Judah has broken faith. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem: Judah has desecrated the sanctuary the LORD loves, by marrying the daughter of a foreign god. As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the LORD cut him off from the tents of Jacob–even though he brings offerings to the LORD Almighty.

1. Spiritual adultery occurs when we fool around on God!
1) Malachi describes their sin, “Judah has broken faith!” The KJV gives us a better idea of what had occurred and just how God looked at their sin by describing it this way: “Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god!” The unfaithfulness Malachi had in mind (v. 10) is called “a detestable thing” (lit., “an abomination”), something abhorrent to God. The abominable unfaithfulness that profaned Israel’s holiness was spiritual intermarriage with pagan idols. They had married themselves to foreign gods instead of being faithful to the one who loved them! They fooled around on God!
2) Malachi declares the result of sin, “As for the man who does this, whoever he may be, may the Lord cut him off from the tents of Jacob—even though he brings offerings to the LORD Almighty.” The prophet invoked a curse on any Jew who had committed or would commit the sin of idol adultery. It meant that the man would die or that he would have no descendants in Israel. This was a horrible notion to the Israelite. Notice also that “even though he brings offerings to the Lord Almighty” God would see through his hypocrisy. Christians do this very thing when they say they love God, believe in Jesus, yet live with one foot in the world. Christians can commit adultery with their faith and deaden their walk when we fool around on God!

EXAMPLE: Spiritual adultery doesn’t mean a person has to totally leave God. It occurs when our spiritual affections are lukewarm because we have diluted them. Jesus told the church at Laodicea “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked (Revelation 3:15-17 NIV).” We leave our first love when we allow the world to attract us more than our love of Jesus does. When the things of God become second place to our success, our education, or our relationships we have done a “detestable thing” and married the “daughter of a foreign god.” We have fooled around on God!

Not wanting the Israelites to think that they were getting off easy God, again through Malachi, continues in his chastisement of his children. God illustrates for them exactly why their sin had affected their relationship to one another as well. They wanted a fresh start, yet they were not being faithful…

III. They had committed spiritual divorce! (Vv. 2:13-16)

Another thing you do: You flood the LORD’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, “Why?” It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.

1. Breaking faith with God is like divorcing a devoted spouse – we are to remain faithful!
1) Malachi teaches us about the outcome of our actions (v.13)! Malachi said the people had “flooded the Lord’s altar with tears.” People are always sorry when they get caught in sin or when they need God’s help. The idea here is one of begging, pleading, or false and phony repentance but God did not care any longer. He knew their true inner nature. John wrote to his friend Gaius, “It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:3-4 NIV) It does not matter how “sorry” we are what matters is if we put into practice and renew our marriage vows to the Lord. God is filled with joy over our walk with him!
2) This is why Malachi shows them the exact sin they were guilty of (2:14-15a)! God doesn’t heed their tears or hear their crying. They asked, “Why?” and he replies, “Because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant (v. 14).” God had made them “one flesh” with himself. God wanted a holy people totally devoted to him! This is why Peter warns us that “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).” God hates divorce and especially our spiritual abandonment from a personal relationship with Him!
3) Malachi then mentions the cure (2:15b-16)! God’s people are to “guard” themselves in their “spirit” and “not break faith with the wife of your youth (v. 15b).” They were to return to the one they loved in the first place! It would show true repentance. By guarding their spirits they would be acting in accord with God’s purpose and would help preserve the unity of the nation as well as their individual relationship to him! We forget that God sees divorce as an act of spiritual “violence.” This is why he “hates divorce”! This is why he asks, “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his.” He continues by asking, “And why one?” God then gives us the answer, “Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” Christians are God’s spiritual children, “children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:13 NIV) We are to remain faithful!

EXAMPLE: The other night I watched an old John Wayne movie called “The Cowboys”. During the movie some boys that were supposed to be moving a herd of cattle through dangerous country found a bottle of whiskey and got drunk. John Wayne and his cook knew they had done it and the next day when the boys were suffering from the effects of too much alcohol, the cook gave each one a dose of castor oil. As he ladled a large spoonful into each boys unwilling mouth, he remarked sarcastically, “I wonder why you ‘boys’ all of sudden are so sick?” That’s the way the cure for sin is. The cure for our sin may seem distasteful to us but God is gracious and desires that we return to Him. And, yes, it can be hard to swallow! We need to remain faithful!

Conclusion:

We all at some time want to ask the question “Why?” Yet for some of us the answer may be more than we want to hear. These people revealed their true faith; they were spiritual adulterers, who had divorced God from their lives. The writer of Hebrews teaches, “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:12-13 NIV) It is a matter of being faithful!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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How to treat others! – 1 Timothy 5:1-16

How to treat others! – 1 Timothy 5:1-16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 14, 2018

One hurdle a nonbeliever has to jump over is when “Christians” do not live like it. Paul had just gotten through writing Timothy to “Watch your life and doctrine closely” because he knew that a true faith results in a changed life. Believers are to act like Jesus. Remember believers are to be “blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe”. (Philippians 2:14-15 NIV) How we treat others speaks volumes about our faith.

Although Timothy was not to dwell on his youthfulness, he was to be mindful that he was still a young man; especially in dealing with folks who are older than himself, and also in his bearing towards young women. Paul begins with the treatment of older men and returns to it again later on. Between these two passages about men he gives directions for Timothy’s guidance respecting the women in his church, especially respecting widows. In this Paul teaches us how to treat others, let’s see how…

READ: 1 Timothy 5:1-16

Remember the lyrics to the Ghostbusters song? “If there’s something strange in you neighborhood, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! If there’s something weird and it don’t look good, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!” Well if there is something strange in your local church, who you gonna call? Paul writes Timothy that…

I. The family of God is to take care of the family of God! (Vv. 1-6)

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.

1. One would think that with age comes wisdom but this is not necessarily true. We all have met older folks who have squandered their lives and made really ridiculous decisions and are suffering the consequences. Foolishness knows no age limit and this is why Timothy needed to act as to exemplify Jesus. Both those inside and outside of the church would be watching his life very closely. Paul tells him to “not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father” and he was to “treat younger men as brothers”. Timothy was part of the family of God and he was to treat other believers as family. So gentleness, kindness, and morality were to be his motives so that “younger women” were to be treated “as sisters, with absolute purity”. In a world that chewed up people and especially the weak, the orphaned, and the widowed Timothy as a believer was to “Give proper recognition to those widows who [were] really in need. But if a widow [had] children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” Family was to take care of family. Paul told Timothy, “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.” Paul is writing about a person’s focus in life. In that day widows had very few options; either they had family who could care for them, they begged, or if they were young enough they became prostitutes. Note Paul’s emphasis is on their spirituality. Someone who focuses on her spiritual growth is to be commended while the one who focuses on only her own pleasure is spiritually “dead” without even knowing it already. The family of God is to take care of the family of God!

EXAMPLE: Over the years I have counseled folks who had to leave their church for varying reasons and in each case they experienced loss. Some would confess that it was worse than leaving family behind! What they forgot is the fact that this is exactly what it was! This is why Paul writes that “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV) A close knit family loves and cares for one another and so does a close knit church family. Paul let Timothy know that the family of God is to take care of the family of God!

We can forget that our faith is not just about ourselves. Others are watching our actions, our lives, and the way we treat one another. This is why Paul would teach Timothy that…

II. The family of God is to have an impact on their family and community! (Vv. 7-10)

Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

1. Paul’s whole focus was on how Timothy could be a positive influence on his church and community. He didn’t need to worry about his age but instead about how he would be an example to his flock! Therefore he was to “Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame.” The world of Paul’s day was not family oriented in that it did not see the need to take care of widows and orphans. So when Paul wrote that “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”, he was espousing a whole new concept. If one was changed by the power and presence of God then it had better affect their family life as well! The same is true for all believers. We are to take care of family. Paul continued by giving some practical advice in that “No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.” Evidently the early church began to keep a list of widows in order to help them out during difficult times. Paul knew younger widows had a greater chance to find employment or the ability to get help and he wanted the entire church to realize the benefit of being “faithful” in marriage and in one’s life. His emphasis then was encouraging older widowed women to not be involved with the things of the world like gossip, idleness, or being meddlesome or nosy. Instead they were to focus on their families, their church, and their neighborhood! For Paul being a believer was more than what happened after death, it was about how one lived their life here and now. Paul was encouraging Timothy to lead his church to understand that the family of God is to have an impact on their family and community!

EXAMPLE: We had a mean old grumpy neighbor who would yell at us if we cut the corner of his yard. One day we all deliberately ran across his yard and laughed at him when he came out to yell at us. We thought it was funny; little did we know my Dad had seen us. He came outside later on and called me and my friends over. “Boys”, he said, “in life you will either be seen as good men or bad, which do you want to be seen as?” We all agreed that we wanted to be known as “good men”. “Then go and apologize to Mr. Anderson for cutting across his yard and laughing at him.” Then without another word, my Dad turned and went back in the house. We knew what we had to do. Paul told Timothy that the family of God is to have an impact on their family and community!

We live in a day and age where most focus on themselves. As believers in a church we are more than a “village” we are the family of God. It can be difficult at times but we must take responsibility for one another and Paul taught Timothy that…

III. The family of God is to focus on one another! (Vv. 11-16)

As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan. If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.

1. For Paul again it was a matter of focus. A believer should focus on the Lord and allow him to be displayed in every area of life. So Paul gives Timothy some practical advice: “As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list.” They probably could find a way to provide for themselves or they had children who could help. Paul sympathized and understood that younger women “when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry”. This was natural but these women needed to be aware of what they did after being widowed or they could “bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge”. I do not think Paul was referring to the widow’s list but rather to her pledge to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30 NIV) “Besides,” Paul explains they might “get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house” and if they did “not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busy-bodies, saying things they ought not to”! Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop. Paul was aware that there had arisen some kind of problem in Timothy’s church where he needed help and evidently it was with younger women not conducting themselves properly. “So I counsel younger widows to marry”, Paul related, “to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.” Paul not only wanted Timothy to spiritually succeed but he desired the entire church be successful as well but sadly “Some [had] in fact already turned away to follow Satan.” A lot of folks have misunderstood Paul’s words to Timothy thinking he was stating this was the only role for women but nothing could be further from the truth. Paul believed that both women and men who possessed the means were to take care of their families! This is why he finishes this section to Timothy by writing, “If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.” The family of God is to focus on one another!

EXAMPLE: I received a phone call one afternoon from a lady who was experiencing both verbal and psychological abuse from her husband. Her children were as well. She related her pastor and church had told her to stay with her husband. Needless to say she was beside herself. I told her to pack a few of her and her children’s things and get out of the house immediately. I told her that her husband had broken his vow to love, honor, and protect her. She needed to do whatever it took to protect not only herself but her children. A huge emotional and spiritual burden was lifted from her. Later she discovered her husband had begun to physically abuse her daughter. They came here for a time to be spiritually and emotionally healed. Now, years later, she is happily remarried, a grandmother, and her son is in Special Forces. Paul taught Timothy that the family of God is to focus on one another!

Conclusion:

The family of God is to take care of the family of God! The family of God is to have an impact on their family and community! The family of God is to focus on one another!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Wives and husbands! – Ephesians 5:22-33

Wives and husbands! – Ephesians 5:22-33
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 19, 2017

Interestingly there have been some articles recently that show that marriage is coming back into vogue. In fact, research has shown that married couples live from 5 to 10 years longer than singles do. Married couples are more financially, emotionally, and spiritually secure. And contrary to what you may have been told about divorce, recent studies show that evangelical Christian couples’ divorce rate is around 10% and nowhere near the regurgitated story of 50% like you often hear.

Contrary to what we may know about the Bible we are more often shown what not to do in marriage than what to do as we look at the lives of some of the biblical characters. This is because God deliberately gave us his words concerning his interaction with mankind with warts and all. However there are some great verses that do teach Godly concepts of how wives and husbands are to interact. Here in Ephesians Paul teaches us about the church and in doing so also instructs us about wives and husbands; let’s see what he teaches us…

READ: Ephesians 5:22-33

A happy and secure marriage begins and ends with what its focus is; if it isn’t focused solely on God first at its core it is misdirected. And within this relationship…

I. Wives are to willingly yield to their spouse! (Vv. 22-24)

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

1. This has become one of the most talked about, misunderstood, or disdained pieces of Scripture there is within the Bible. Millennials hate it because it suggests they must be submissive and in a “me first” society this is an anathema! However when Paul wrote “Wives, submit to your husbands” he did not end his thought there but he continued by writing what he meant exactly: “as to the Lord”! All believers are to be in total submission to the Lord, period. The original Greek word for “submit” (hupotassō) means to be subordinate to, to be under obedience, or willingly submit oneself to another. It is a personal willful choice as in when one willingly submits their selves by faith to Jesus! Was Paul a misogynist, a narrow-minded bigot, or just plain old fashioned in his thinking? No way! In fact he was very progressive because he continues by sharing his reasoning: “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Like Jesus who established the church through is willing sacrifice, husbands are to be respected or submitted to by their wives because of their willingness to make sure their wives are successful in marriage by their own sacrifice! It is done just “as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Paul never meant this as a form of slavery or second class citizenship but rather as a godly union of a couple where the man should do his manly duty and be the wise, kind, and compassionate example like Jesus he should be so his wife can submit to him! Wives are to yield to their spouse!

EXAMPLE: Does this mean a woman should be a willing doormat to her husband? No way! God never endorses one sin over another. Paul is teaching relationship. Just as Jesus sacrificed everything for his church, his bride, husbands should be willing to sacrifice everything in their relationship with their wives so she can willingly submit to his displayed wisdom, kindness, and compassion! Wives are to willingly yield to their spouse!

Paul continued in discussing what he meant a married couple’s relationship should be like. Wives were to willingly submit to their husbands however…

II. Husbands are to surrender to their spouses! (Vv. 25-28)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

1. Far too often folks have a tendency to ignore the fact that in the New Testament that when the word “love” is used it is most often translated from the Greek word agapaō, meaning “sacrificial love” and not the emotional kind of love the world at large wants to give it. This is the love Paul uses and is the same we find in verses like John 3:16 where we learn that God so sacrificially loved the world that he sent Jesus. So Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church”. So often we hear liberal Christians putting the emphasis on the emotional aspects of Jesus’ love; that he was kind, compassionate, and “loved” people while ignoring the action part of the word. Jesus showed, displayed, and proved his love by his actions and especially by his willingness to die for our sins! So husbands are to sacrificially love their wives “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word”! It is a husband’s duty to love their wives by making sure she is exposed to and mentored in God’s Word the gospel message! To make sure his family, beginning with his wife, is in Jesus’ body his church! Why would this be so important? Paul knew that any family is centered in how the home is run and that always begins with the mother and wife. Husbands are to make sure his wife’s needs are met; especially her spiritual needs “to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless”! So Paul writes that “In this same way”, just as Jesus sacrificed himself “husbands ought to (sacrificially) love their wives as their own bodies.” We want to make sure we are taken care of and so as husbands we are to make sure our wives are taken care of first because Paul understood that “He who (sacrificially) loves his wife loves himself.” Husbands are to surrender to their spouses!

EXAMPLE: We live in such a “me first” society that we have often lost what marriage is to be all about. It is not making sure your needs are met, rather it is an investment in a deep personal relationship that is to last a lifetime. Marriage is based on personal sacrifice and not emotional needs. Yes, certainly emotional needs are to be met within marriage but they cannot be until we are willing to do whatever it takes to have a successful marriage. Husbands are to be like Christ in leading in personal sacrifice with their wives. Husbands are to surrender to their spouses!

Paul understood what personal sacrifice meant because he had given up everything, including being able to have a family for the ministry of the gospel! So he understood what it meant to be totally committed and he understood that in marriage…

III. Both spouses must give their all! (Vv. 29-33)

After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church–for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

1. Paul realized that both wives and husbands might have a problem with what he was trying to teach them. He also knew one of the first arguments would be that he was not married. How could he understand what it took? Yet Paul did and he wrote that “After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church–for we are members of his body.” Jesus had come to seek and save the lost but he also left behind something so radical that it would change the world within a few hundred years; namely his body the church. And just as Jesus cared for and fed his church, as married couples we are to make sure each other is fed and cared for in every way: emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The church is to care for one another. So Paul was not just making a point about marriage but about the church body. The body of Christ is to sacrifice for one another just as Christ did for his church. Each member is now part of the whole because of what Jesus did “for we are members of his body”. Marriage is the same, we are no longer our own we become part of something bigger than ourselves and it is “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” We spiritually, emotionally, and physically become something more than we are as ourselves as a church body and as a married couple! This is why Paul would continue by stating that “This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Jesus’ love for his church should be reflected in marriage by both husband and wife and so Paul finishes by writing, “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Both spouses must give their all!

EXAMPLE: Just as there are many reasons for people joining a church there are many reasons why folks get married; some for personal fulfillment, some for personal gain, some for love, and some for utterly selfish reasons. And just as folks have forgotten how the church is sacred thing established by Jesus; marriage is sacred as well. It is not to be entered into lightly. It demands more than some individuals are willing to give but if they want to be successful in marriage they must learn and respond to the fact that both spouses must give their all!

Conclusion:

Wives are to willingly yield to their spouse! Husbands are to surrender to their spouses! Both spouses must give their all!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Sin’s Acceptance Is No Excuse

Sin’s Acceptance Is No Excuse
by Pastor Lee Hemen
March 19, 2013

Last night on the ABC Nightly News, they reported that 80% of evangelical folks under the age of 30 believe that homosexual marriage is okay. Now while I am always suspicious of the liberal media and especially of any poll they do, let’s just suppose it is true. What does this statistic then tell us about modern day Christianity? Does it reflect our willingness to change our theology to fit our emotional weakness, like Rob Portman or wishy-washy parents who all of sudden find themselves the parents of homosexual progeny. They now have to excuse their child’s perversion because if they do not it might reflect on them as “good” and understanding politically correct parents. After all, if they were born that way then it couldn’t be anything I could have done in raising them that could have influenced them to be homosexual, right.

Here’s the problem however, the Bible teaches us we cannot and dare not change our theology to fit our emotional or political instability. This is exactly where the modern church is failing this generation and future generations. In fact, they are contributing to the demise of the Christian church and its influence. While 60% of America’s population indentifies itself as evangelical, fewer and fewer of these folks know what they believe and why. In fact, many are more than willing to appease themselves as being open-minded and politically correct rather than living by biblical principles.

By this convoluted thinking, anything goes and is okay as long as it makes the individual happier and satisfied for the moment. Christian singles have no problem morally or emotionally compromising their faith. Premarital sex, drinking alcohol, multiple piercings, studs, and tattoos meet their emotional need to be accepted, so it is perfectly fine for folks to acquiesce one’s faith for fancy.

This is why it has become easier and more acceptable to entertain the masses rather than train them. Sunday morning pep rallies have replaced vibrant theological teaching that challenges and changes society. We now have more mega-churches than ever before. In fact, while worship attendance is booming, spiritual societal change has busted. Churches now enjoy pounds of programs, myriads of ministries, and just about anything for anyone but they are not changing society with the gospel. We watched as large numbers of evangelicals voted for a President that supports murdering the unborn, redefining marriage and the enslavement of millions to governmental control simply because young Christian voters wanted to be seen as hip and in touch with their worldly peers.

For Christians to accept the inane statement of the likes of Hillary Clinton who said she wants everyone to enjoy the same love and devotion her daughter experienced at her wedding and therefore supports gay marriage is just plain morally and spiritually corrupt. One’s emotional love does not redefine God’s natural selection of one man and one woman definition of marriage. While my desire is for my children to experience love and devotion I will not relent on my Christian faith in order to make them or others feel better about themselves.

The Christian church needs to wake up and teach sound biblical theology even if it is not popular and stop wanting to be accepted by the world. We were never called to invite the wolves into the sheepfold and then accept them as one of our own. Instead, we were commanded by Jesus to, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV) It is time for the Christian church to change the world with the gospel rather than have the world change us with sin’s acceptance.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Just Wondering…

I was just wondering, what does marriage mean to you? Is it merely a license handed out by a governing authority or does it represent folks who love one another? I wonder how many folks could marry each other at the same time, if the state says it’s okay. Perhaps one who is sixty could love and marry another who is fourteen. If it were voted in by the simple-minded majority then wouldn’t it be okay for a loving father to marry his daughter or a great aunt her little nephew. Could someone clueless in Seattle marry a building or a favorite pet? Why even get married in the first place since you could live together in fornication by using each other for free sexual favors instead. I wonder when abuse is no longer abuse. Perhaps we need to redefine what is perverse or what might be sin so we can feel more comfortable with ourselves and no longer be embarrassed by our behavior. I betcha the One who created us and redeemed us to be his very own could tell us what he thinks about marriage, if we were truly listening. Makes one wonder…

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Christian Responsibilities – Colossians 3:18-4:6

Christian Responsibilities – Colossians 3:18-4:6
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 28, 2011 AM

We all have responsibilities in life. Some of us may take them very seriously while others may have never prioritized their lives at all. I remember very well how I had to learn what responsibility meant when I got my first dog. It meant I had to make sure he was fed, tied up at night, bathed when he rolled in something awful, and I had to train him to behave. Which it would have been a whole lot easier if he had not run away so often!

Paul knew that Christians have responsibilities as well. In his concluding section of his letter to the Colossians, Paul covered several subjects. He first outlined the responsibilities of the members of a Christian family. Paul further dealt with believers’ responsibilities toward Christian servants and their masters. Then he stated certain responsibilities believers have toward their church and toward non-believers. Let’s discover what Paul taught about Christian responsibilities.

READ: Colossians 3:18-4:6

Every home is just one big happy family all the time, right? WRONG! We all know that there are times in every family when we just want to throw up our hands and head for the hills! This is life. This is what it means to have a home and a family. Not all is roses, but it can be great if you are willing to accept your God-given responsibilities. Here in Colossians, Paul teaches us about…

I. The behavior of Christians in the home! (vv. 3:18-21)

1. How a Christian relates to their family reveals how they view their God-given role! Here Paul briefly set forth the relationship of the wife to the husband, husband to the wife, child to the parent, and parent to child. Paul was not setting up an authoritative hierarchy; rather, he was giving us the roles that exist within a good Christian home. Just as there are differing roles within all of God’s creation, families have them as well. A wife’s submission is voluntary, based on her appreciation of God’s role for her life. Paul is not teaching servitude or slavery, and notice he does not tell the husband to make his wife submit!  Also notice that the husband is to “love” his wife with an unselfish love that gives rather than receives. He is never to be harsh. Such love always acts in the other’s best interests. Paul continues by writing that children are to “obey” their parents and not just, in what they choose to but in “everything.” Why? It “pleases God!” He relates that parents, specifically “fathers,” are not to “embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” The idea is one of constant nagging. Paul prescribed the behavior of believers as spouses, as parents, and as children. Christian families are to be characterized respectively by submission and love. Christian children are to be respectfully obedient, while Christian parents are to encourage their children. How a Christian relates to their family reveals how they view their God-given role! Paul teaches us about the behavior of Christians in the home!

EXAMPLE: Have you read about how many people are using their smart phones to make houses “smart homes”? With many of the phones being constantly connected to the Internet, when you are gone you can adjust the lighting, use web cameras to check on things, turn on outdoor or interior lights as you pull into the driveway, and you can even automatically feed the pets! As “smart” as that sounds, a truly smart home is one where the Lord is the focus. Paul writes that a smart home is one where the behavior of Christ is evident in family life. It is the behavior of Christians in the home!

While not every home is perfect, when God is at the center of a family’s life then it will be as close as God intends. Yet, we do not stay home all the time, do we? We have school, we have friendships, and we have jobs. In order for our families to be fed, clothed, and sheltered, we have to earn a living. Paul related that how a believer acts on the job says a lot about his faith walk. He teaches us about…

II. The behavior of Christians on the job! (vv. 3:22–4:1)

1. How a Christian behaves at work displays the character of Christ to others! In the first century, many of the early converts to Christianity were slaves, and they were accepted in the churches as full brothers and sisters in Christ. We can use Paul’s admonishment for our work ethic today. Why? Because Paul indicated that, their work ethic should be raised to a higher level because of their relationship to Christ! Christians are not to do just enough work to get by or to work only when their boss’ “eye is on [them] and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord!” Christians are to have higher principles than the world! “Whatever you do,” Paul admonishes his readers, “work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men!” Christians in today’s workplace should accept their job as gift from God, who has graciously given them the ability to perform those tasks. Our focus should be on our ultimate reward, not the “Atta boys” from others. Remember, we receive what we have worked for: “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism!” However, conversely a Christian boss should “provide” their workers with “what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.” Paul was not advocating unionism or collective bargaining, but rather he was focusing on the behavior of a Christian on the job. The believer’s work is not just watched by their earthly boss, but by their Heavenly Lord. How a Christian behaves at work displays the character of Christ to others!

EXAMPLE: The other day, as I drove into the driveway, I realized that my neighbors were working at their jobs, raising their families, and serving in their churches just like me! I know this might sound kind of odd to you, but it really hit me that each family had some job they went off to everyday! It reminded me of the response of the American statesman Bernard Baruch when he was asked who he thought was the greatest personality of our age. This 94 year old responded, “The fellow who does his job every day. The mother who has children and gets up to get them breakfast, keep them clean, and send them off to school. The fellow who keeps the streets clean… The unknown soldiers—millions of them.” Paul would say that how a Christian behaves at work displays the character of Christ to others.

While both family and work are important aspects of our lives, if we leave out the next area, we will miss what God has called us to do in this world. We are to be part of the “called out,” to do Jesus’ work and will in the world. Christians not only have responsibilities to family and work, but they are to be an active part of the body of Christ. In Colossians, Paul teaches us about…

III. The behavior of Christians in their churches! (vv. 4:2-4)

1. How a Christian prays for their church says a lot about what they believe about the body of Christ! Paul used the imperative to encourage his readers to persevere in prayer. The word translated “prayer” is a general term for worship and prayer. Paul admonished the Colossians to be watchful or “wide awake” in their prayer lives. In other words, Christians need to be more devoted in impassioned prayer. Some of us are not eloquent speakers or astute scholars, but all of us can spend time in enthusiastic prayer for the needs of our church and those around us by “being watchful and thankful.” Notice too that Paul specifically asks for their prayers. “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.” If you are not praying for your pastor, ministers, teachers, and other workers in your church you are limiting and weakening the effectiveness of your congregation! Why would I say that? Paul urgently related to them, “Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should!” The idea is one of emphasis. Paul believed he was chosen to do what God had given him to do and he desperately needed his fellow church member’s prayers in order to do it effectively: “as clearly as [he] should!” Paul had to proclaim the gospel and they needed to pray for him! Paul knew that how a Christian prays for their church says a lot about what they believe about the body of Christ!

EXAMPLE: What does your routine involve? Perhaps it is getting yourself or your family ready for the day. Perhaps it involves getting off to work, children to school, caring for your home, and helping in your church. Maybe you do not think there isn’t much opportunity to be used mightily by God. Well, you are wrong! With all the emphasis on the extravagant these days, it’s easy for us to lose sight of the fact that God is the God of everyday living. It seems that we’re always looking for some great display of his power in our lives. However, what the Lord desires is for us to focus on doing his will from our heart every day, delighting in humble service for Jesus, especially in his body the church. In fact, Paul would say that how a Christian prays for their church says a lot about what they believe about the body of Christ!

Finally, we discover that the Christian does not just have a family to nurture, a job to work at, or a church to serve in, but we exist is to worship the Lord in all we do. In fact, wherever we walk, whatever we do, and wherever we live, we are part of the world the Lord has created! Finally, Paul teaches us about…

IV. The behavior of Christians in the World! (vv. 4:5-6)

1. What a Christian does with their spare time says a lot about their faithfulness! The phrase, “make the most of every opportunity” literally is “redeeming the time”. It comes from the world of commerce. It refers to going down to the market and making a purchase. The verb form indicates that such action is to be constant and habitual on the believer’s part. We must therefore exercise wisdom at all times in order to demonstrate that we are serious about our Christian living. Christians are to “be wise in the way [they] act toward outsiders.” Christians do this when they make sure their “conversation” is “always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” “Salt” meant the Gospel of Jesus. Christians should act and sound like Christians! This is also why Jesus reminded his followers, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’.” Why? Jesus related, “Anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37) In fact, Jesus would tell his listeners, “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’” (Matthew 15:17-18) As someone once quipped, “We say what we mean and we can be mean with what we say.” Paul reminds us that the believer’s conduct includes his free time and his speech. What a Christian does with their spare time says a lot about their faithfulness!

EXAMPLE: I read a fable about a man who was browsing in a store when he made the shocking discovery that God was behind a sales counter. The man walked over and asked, “What are you selling?” God replied, “What does your heart desire?” The man said, “I want happiness, peace of mind, and freedom from fear… for me and the whole world.” God smiled and said, “Oh, I don’t sell fruit here. Only seeds.” God has given us the “seeds” of the gospel to share with the world around us. What “seeds” are you sowing in the world around you? Paul would write that what a Christian does with their spare time says a lot about their faithfulness.

Conclusion:

Paul teaches about our responsibilities as Christians in four areas of life: 1) The behavior of Christians in the home, 2) The behavior of Christians on the job, 3) The behavior of Christians in their churches, and 4) The behavior of Christians in the World.
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Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2011 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The truth behind homosexual marriage

The truth behind homosexual marriage
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 7, 2010

The latest liberal judge to overturn the will of the people is an example of radicalism trying to redefine culture through the judiciary. When liberalism cannot win at the ballot box or with the will of the people, they go to court and find a sympathetic judge. By the way, no one who thinks this judge is not bias, as the mainstream media has so willingly ignored his personal perverted proclivity of being homosexual, you are ignorant in the extreme.

Homosexual marriage is not about equal rights. The argument that it is racial is laughable but is also a means to shift the true nature of the argument. Two men or two women marrying each other are not the same as one man and one woman of differing races marrying each other. One is morally repugnant, has been defined by all cultures as so, while the other is not, and never has been morally repugnant. Social repugnance because of racial intermarriage has been demonstrated as racial because it is. Same sex marriage is morally corruptible of society. This is where homosexuals want society to head. They want to force society to make those who see same sex marriage as perverted, criminals. They want a redefinition of what society as a whole sees as “normal.”

Same sex couples right now can live together, have a loving relationship, adopt, raise children, inherit, visit one another in the hospital, and even have a marriage ceremony. Those who claim otherwise are either lying or stupid of the social and legal change that has already occurred and exists in these areas. No homosexual couple is restricted in any of these areas.

Then, one must wonder, what do homosexual couples really want and when do they want it? The only difference between homosexual couples and heterosexual couples is that heterosexuals enjoy the true definition of marriage. Homosexual couples never can. One lesbian stated, “This is about other people recognizing what we have already recognized with each other for a long time.” There it is. This is the truth of what homosexual couples desire from society concerning their homosexual marriages. Making other people recognize them as legitimate. That homosexuality is the same as any other relationship and to even think otherwise should be criminal.

All cultures know that they can only exist because of natural propagation. Natural propagation can only occur when a male and female mate. Families are created. The more stable the family, the better for the culture. Chaos ensues within cultures when an anything goes mentality occurs. If you do not believe me, you only have to look to Roman culture, French and Russian histories, and even some of the native cultures of the Americas where whole societies were destroyed in order to appease the perverted behavior of its ruling class. Therefore, historically societies have defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and as unnatural, and against society as a whole when there existed homosexuality. Propagation cannot occur naturally within homosexuality. Stable families are the building foundation of any enduring society.

The pursuit of a lifestyle should not be seen as the same as the establishment of family. The natural selection process of creation would have long ago erased homosexuality as a viable option. Only the perverted proclivity of individuals keeps it alive. The Bible defines it as sin. Homosexuals want all people everywhere to recognize them as the same as natural families in order to redefine sin. Someone once said, “They want what others have… They know God has said that anyone who acts this way deserves to die. But they keep on doing evil things, and they even encourage others to do them.” (Romans 1:29, 32) That is the truth behind the recognition of homosexual marriage.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2010 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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