Celebrate!!!

I  fully admitted to my Growth group on Wednesday night that I have had a hard time “drawing near” to Christ this week.  On Holy Week of all things.  And my heart really has hurt about this.  I mean this week I am supposed to be somber, sullen, reflective, worried, sad, and all of these random emotions that really reflect the fact that I am supposed to remembering and honoring – preparing my heart for the crucifixion.

 And this year, I just haven’t gotten that feeling…. And you know why?

Because my heart wants to celebrate.  I know the tomb is empty.  I have seen it with my own eyes.  And I know the celebration that is coming on Sunday! 

master_1536x2048-2

Through an intense study of Paul’s life this year, my heart has gravitated towards people.  The reason Jesus came to us.  The reason Jesus did all that he did.  It is because of people!!!   I read a blog post last night from Margaret Feinberg and she summed up my feelings perfect!    She basically said that not only will we celebrate on Sunday and because of Sunday but God’s got thisall the way to the end!  Sunday is just the beginning!  She says, “ There will come a day when you and I will spend afternoons swimming in the river of life and snacking on fruit from the tree of life (Revelation 22:1-5). We’ll share stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness—the aha! moments of how He had been working in and through our lives all along.

It makes me want to celebrate and sing and be joyful and grateful!!! 

He is….Redeemer, Savior, True Love, Faithful, Perfect, Healer, Almighty,  Amazing, Beautiful, Merciful, Everything, Peace, Lord, The Word, The Blessing, Real, The Promised Fulfilled, Salvation,  Shepherd, Holy and The RISEN GOD!!!!

 

Passion Week 2014 – Sunday and Monday

Holy Week. What do those words mean to you?  It is the supposed to be the most reflective week of the year for a Christian.   I have been blessed with an opportunity to journey to Israel twice.  I pray that some of the pictures will help you as you reflect on Jesus’ march to the cross.  Today’s blog post is going to have two sets of verses: a group from yesterday (Palm Sunday) and then verses for Monday (The Day of Teaching!)

Praise Him! Luke 19: 29 - 43 says:

29 As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, 30 “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” jerusalemmtolivesdescent3-800

32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.” 35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.  37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”  40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” 41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.

What was the most profound set of verses to you?  To me, it was the following: 41  As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.

Here was the view that Jesus had as he wept over Jerusalem.  I have walked this path and have wept for Jerusalem.

IMG_2431Jesus was arriving in a city, riding on a donkey, fulfilling scripture, and riding His way to His physical death….but he didn’t mourn for himself, the beatings He knew were coming, etc but for Jerusalem.  Do I mourn for those that do not know Jesus?

And for Monday:

Today (Monday) has always been known as a Day of Teaching for Jesus.  Matthew and  Luke have Jesus clearing the temple right after his entry into Jerusalem, Mark has it happening the next day….no matter the time frame – right after the clearing of the temple…Jesus used the day for a lot of teaching!

Here is a depiction of the temple court – do you see all the columns? This is probably where the tax collectors, etc would have been.

templeThis picture is a view that we had from the Mount of Olives. To the right is the temple court-yard (of course now part of the muslim mosque.)  But you can imagine it!

steps temple court

Here are the actual steps leading to the entrance! Jesus taught on these steps!  These actual steps!!!

stepsAnd this picture shows one of the entrances to the temple.

steps1And a memory for those of us who went with us to Israel, Scott read from scripture on these steps.  And then encouraged us to take in the view and to pray!

IMG_2383What has God been teaching you lately?

 

Questions

Good morning everyone!  I wanted to throw out a few questions concerning marriage for you to contemplate this Friday and this weekend.  Think about what we have learned over the last week from Ephesians.  Share your thoughts please!!!

But first, next week is Passion Week – I need a comment please on your opinion – Stop Ephesians for the week so we can all focus on Jesus’ week and the time of reflection leading up to Easter Sunday OR continue with our study?  We have two weeks left.  I will be doing both but can focus the blog either way.  

  1. What are some of the things that are contributing to the death of marriage and the family?
  2. Although the divine pattern should be evident to the world as it looks at Christian marriages and families, why isn’t it?
  3.  What is required before a person can make his marriage and family what God intends them to be? Explain.
  4.  How can believers be empowered to have meaningful and fulfilled marriages and families?
  5.  Why is there concern about the state of marriages today?
  6. What is the answer to marital problems that Christians are having?

Love and Respect

Can you believe we are finishing up Chapter 5?  What a great end to the week and a perfect set of verses this week to meditate on throughout the weekend.

Ephesians 5:33 says Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Every time I have ever read these verses I automatically see that husbands are to love, wives are to respect.  Is it because for women “feelings of love” come more naturally or because “feelings of love” lead us astray?  As women are we more nurturing, self-sacrificing by design?  No idea – just free thinking!  We did learn that love is very hard and demanding.

The husband is mentioned first.  We have already discussed and talked about what and how a husband is to love his wife.  He is to provide for, to protect her, to please her, to preserve her and to praise her. Why? Because husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. He is the one who does it all for the church. In us, he gives us the power to do the same thing.

I asked Philip to give us a male perspective on the verses we have read this week. His words are in italics below.

Verse 33 is a summary statement of the previous 11 verses.  Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church and wives are to respect their husbands.  Despite what some people say today, men and women are different.  And those differences are by God’s design.  Although we’re equal in personhood and equal in salvation, God designed us to complement each other in unique roles in marriage.  Unfortunately sin turns husbands and wives against each other at precisely those points where God designed us to complement each other.  When I read Ephesians 5:22-33 I see so clearly the goodness of God in telling us how to glorify Him in our marriages and in the process increase each other’s and our own joy by living as husband and wife according to God’s design.

As a Christian husband I feel the weight of God’s commands daily.  We’re not only responsible for our own sins and sanctification we’ve been told we’re responsible for our wife’s as well (I’m not sure if this sentence is 100% theologically precise, but hopefully the idea comes through).  Male leadership in the home is not a right and a privilege but rather a solemn responsibility.  We need our wives to pray for us and we really do need respect. Without respect it is very difficult for husbands to give their wives the love they need.

Thanks Philip – now as I continue…..My thoughts – from a wife’s perspective:

In the media today – the husband is portrayed as a fool – well, really most men are betrayed that way.  It is portrayed at the youngest of levels – in commercials, video games, even books – boys are fools, girls are powerful and smart.  As women have gained more education, more knowledge, and more power – the idea of respecting one’s husband seems…..dated.  Today’s reality – more women work outside the home, more women than men attend and graduate from college, more and more men are now the primary care giver of children.  And more and more women are the primary breadwinners of their families.

NO MATTER what today’s reality is, wives are specifically called to respect their husbands. Respecting Scott means that I hold him in high esteem – that I honor him in private and in public.

My husband has a built-in need for my respect.  And honestly, I am slow in giving it sometimes.  I do know that it absolutely breaks my heart to see the way some women talk to their husbands AND talk about their husbands.  I can’t even fathom it.

I am called to respect my husband whether I feel like it or not.  It is a command, and a ministry that God has given to me.

 In all honesty – I need to show respect to Scott even when he fails.  In reality, Scott is called to love me, even when I am being unlovable.

Ladies,  here are some encouraging words and/or examples to help you show respect to your husband!

  • Express faith in his decision and ability.
  • Leave him notes  that tell him how much you value who he is as a person (and sometimes for his work).
  • If he botches a task at home, don’t sigh, roll your eyes, and mutter at him
  • Make positive suggestions without demanding an immediate answer.
  • Let him vent when he needs to.
  • Encourage him in areas where he doesn’t feel secure and let him know you stand behind him.
  • When he makes a decision you’re not in favor of, listen.
  • Talk about his positive strengths in front of the children.
  • Praise him at least once a day.
  • Pray for him
  • Encourage him
  • Work hard

The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:11-12

A reference to the beginning

Today’s verses are from Ephesians 5:31-32.  I am going to admit that I the days have progressed, it has gotten harder for me to directly specifically about how husbands should love their wives.   I am going to use my SOAP and then go directly to words from John McArthur.

31 For this reason a man will leave
his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh. 32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church

My Thoughts:

If you are in student of scripture, you know that verse 31 is quote Genesis 2:24 – God’s illustration of marriage. God’s intention for marriage is very clear. Leave and cleave.  Verse 31 has been preached on, talked about, claimed, used, etc to the point where I am completely focusing on verse 32.

“This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”

From verses 22 to 32, Paul has used the illustration of Christ loving the church.  He is trying to show how Christ loves the church. He is the Savior of the church, He gave himself for the church, He cleansed her, His love keeps her from being defiled, He loves the church because she is a member of His body.  Jesus doesn’t cast away the church!  He loves us (the church)even when we are unlovable.  He is faithful even when we are unfaithful.   God’s intention is that husbands and wives love one another the same way.  The mystery is great but it has been revealed.

 God’s intention, and His illustration is clear. As Christ loves the church, so you are also to love your wife.  In reality, to do this a man must be filled with the Holy Spirit , to be IN Christ!

And now thoughts from John McArthur:  So, in Ephesians again, God’s design as indicated back in Genesis, is that a man and a woman leave their respective families and come together, clinging to each other and enter into a physical union. They become one flesh. And they cling to each other. This oneness is intimate, unique and personal. This oneness is special. Individual identity is lost. Individual identity is lost. You become really a new person, co-mingled with your life partner.

Would you notice the word “leave” in verse 31? It’s a very intense word, it’s another one of those verbs with a preposition on the front of it, kataleipo, it means “to leave behind,” it means “to abandon,” literally “leave.” And, of course, we have to give advice about that lots of times to young couples who have started to cleave but forgotten to leave, which is very helpful. The word “cleave,” proskollao, it means “to be glued to.” You come together to stick, oneness of physical union which incorporates oneness of mind, oneness of purpose, oneness of heart, oneness of emotion. And you enter into this most private magnificent intimate personal relationship.

So you love your wife with a sacrificial love. You love your wife with a purifying love. You love your wife with a caring love that nourishes her and cherishes her. You love your wife with an unbreakable love that just keeps forgiving and forgiving and forgiving and forgiving. Can a man cast off his wife? I can answer that question with a question. Can Christ cast off His church?

The manner of love in our passage here, sacrificial, purifying, caring and unbreakable. Let’s talk about the motive. What should motivate us to love like this? Verse 32, “This mystery is great but I’m speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”

Why should I love this woman like this? Why should I love her sacrificially, why should I love her to the degree that I lead her to holiness, that I care for her? Why should I commit myself to an unbreakable love which means I relentlessly forgive her and never become embittered?

Motive–because of the sacredness of marriage. That’s the issue. Because of the sacredness of marriage. Marriage isn’t just marriage, marriage is a mystery. A marriage among Christians is a picture of Christ and His church. This mystery is great. And you need to treat marriage with reverence and awe because marriage is a sacred symbol of Christ’s relationship to His church.

Ladies and Gentleman – what do you think?