Archive for the ‘Peter’ Category


I want to focus on the golden sash across Jesus chest. It is the sash that covers His heart. It is a Kingly sash, wore by one in authority. It is a symbol of strength for action. The material is real gold and gold is only achieved when refined by fire, indicating that He was tested, yet came forth as gold. The purity of gold over His heart represents the purity of His love.

His heart of love is the basis of His authority, His strength and His actions. His love is the foundation for everything He is and does. This is Divine Love, which we understand when we see the Real Jesus. It is a Love this world does not understand.

We need an extreme makeover of our concept of love.

We need to see the Real Jesus to understand the Love that He expects us to have in our Christian Life.

Most of us really only know phileo, brotherly love. It is love (actually friendship) based on common interests and concerns. It is usually based on our interests and concerns.

Jesus expects Christians to have agape love. He expressed what it means in Matthew 5:44 when He told us to “love your enemies”

To love (agapáō) others means to see what their need is and to meet that need, not according to that person’s concept of need, but that of the one who loves. For a believer, we are to see the needs of even our enemies and we must do everything in our power to meet that need. Believers are never told to love their enemies with the word philéō because that would mean to have the same interests as they have[1].

To See This we need to understand God calling us ‘friends’

God calls us his friend (phílos), as He did Abraham (James 2:23), when we adopt His interests as our own, just as Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son even as God did His own.[2]

The Son of Man, the Real Jesus Christ has a message for each of seven churches in Revelation. Each message indicates a facet or characteristic of His Divine Love, and how the church is falling short of His love. The very first church, Ephesus, thinks they love Jesus, but Jesus wants them to understand what Divine Love is really all about.

Revelation 2:1-3

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.

Some clarifications of the words Jesus uses:

Jesus knows (eido). He knows these people intimately, and watches them constantly.

  • “emphasizes better the absolute clearness of mental vision which photographs all the facts of life as they pass” (Swete)[3].

Works (ergon)

  • erga; The whole life and conduct as in John 6:29[4]. “Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29
  • deed, act, action, something done[5]

Toil (kopos)

  • kópos; gen. kópou, from kóptō <G2875>, to strike. Beating, wailing, grief with beating the breast, equal to kopetós <G2870>, lamentation, wailing (Sept.: Jer. 51:3). In the NT, toil, labor, i.e., wearisome effort, generally[6]
  • Originally suffering, weariness; hence exhausting labor[7]

Patient endurance (hupomone)

  • Hupomoné is associated with hope (1 Thess. 1:3) and refers to that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial.[8]

Cannot tolerate evil men (Not able (ou dunēi).bear (bastasai)

  • No power to bear them. They are such a burden, you dismiss them as being a burden and drag to the congregation.
  1. Test and deny false (pseudo) apostles
  2. Patiently endured and born up for the sake of Jesus (bastazo)
  • bastázō; from básis, basis, foot. To bear, carry in the hands or on the shoulders (picturing the duty of a servant, to bear a pitcher of water). Also pictures carrying the cross.
  • Figuratively it means to bear, support, endure, i.e., labors, sufferings[9]

Not fainted or turned back. (kopiáō)

  • kopiáō; contracted kopió, from kópos, labor, fatigue. To be worn out, weary, faint[10]

Ephesus sounds like a great church. They are doing all the right things. Any Pastor would be proud of this church! But they should be a church rich in ‘agape’ Love, for Paul taught them all about it…

Paul Emphasized Love to the Ephesians

Remember Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: It was all about needing, knowing, living a life of Love, God’s Divine Love.

  • 1:5 –  “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ
  • 2:4 –   “For his great love wherewith he loved us”
  • 3:17 – “that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
  • 3:19 – ” the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ”
  • 4:2 –   “bearing with one another in love”
  • 4:15 – “speaking the truth in love”
  • 4:16 –  “the body…builds itself up in love”
  • 5:2 –   “Walk in love as Christ also loved us”
  • 5:25 – “As Christ loved the church and gave himself for it”
  • 5:25, 28, 33 “Husbands love your wives” – because you picture the love of Jesus Christ.

How could the Church at Ephesus fail the Test of the ‘Golden Sash’?

But I hold this against you, that you do not love as you did at first. Remember then how far you have fallen. Repent and live as you lived at first. Otherwise, if your heart remains unchanged, I shall come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Revelation 2:4-5(Phillips)

~’But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. ~’Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Revelation 2:4-5(NASB)

But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. Revelation 2:4-5(HCSB)

Jesus sees and knows intimately how hard they labor and toil and try to live a life pleasing to Him. They live good and moral lives for His name’s sake. They endure persecution for His sake.

  • However, Jesus sees that something is missing in their hearts.
  • Something about their service bothers Him.
  • Outwardly, everything is great, but inwardly, something is not right.

He sees that their duty is correct, but their devotion is missing love. They are laboring and enduring from obedience rather than love.

They have moved away, they have forgotten what made them new creations. They have forgotten the love of Jesus Christ. Instead of it being about Him, and their love for Him, it has become about the service, the duty, and the religious observances. They are serving Him simply because they should.

Jesus holds this against them.

Remember their deeds at the first? Acts 19 recounts their sacrificial love for Jesus Christ. They sacrificed everything for the sake of following Jesus!

And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. Acts 19:19-20

They have Fallen

They have (aphēkes), at a particular moment, made a sad but definite departure from their fist love.

  • your first love (tēn agapēn sou tēn prōtēn). The Love you had at the first!

Aphekes pictures a definite moment in time when they left, deserted, or quit loving Jesus with all their heart mind, soul and strength. It is the same word used in Romans 1:27 that describes a man’s decision to leave the natural love of a woman and start loving a man. O yes, homosexuality is a decision, just as leaving your first love is a decision.

Remember Your First Works

The first works define your life, define your heart. The first works move you to crazy love, where you risk everything for the one you love.

  • The work of God resulted in something utterly crazy, giving His only Son to take all the sins of the world. [“This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29]
  • The work of Jesus led Him to become rejected by His Father, so that He might redeem you and me.

Jesus saw their service, but He also saw their hearts, and saw that they were falling into ritual service, ritual devotion, ritual duties. They were faithfully doing their duty. They were being good people doing what good people should. But the basis for their service was no longer their agape love. They had fallen into a phileo love. Their love for Jesus was now based on their own interests and concerns. Gone was that willingness to risk it all for Jesus Christ.

Jesus never meant His followers to religious or good. He meant them to love, the same way He loved. That love was not comfortable, not good, but it risked everything.

The Ephesians needed to repent. You need to ask yourself, do I need to repent?

  1. They had made a definite decision, which weakened their love.
  2. Their decision resulted in a fall from Divine Love, the only Love, which pleases the Lord.
  3. Their decision resulted in duty not devotion.
  4. Their decision resulted in the Lord’s demand for repentance and return.
  • Decision: to love something other than Jesus Christ, or to disobey his commands
  • Fall: Change of focus meant that the throne of God lost its power

Leaving their first love meant that sacrifice and devotion gave way to duty and observances.

The impact of this letter to the Ephesians is seen in answering the following questions from what Jesus said in the Gospels.

How Does Jesus Define Divine Love?

Divine Love is Crazy, with no concern for yourself, your safety, your possessions or even your reputation:

Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect (COMPLETE, FULL), as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Luke 6:27-31 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

What is the Source of Divine Love?

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. John 15:9-11

I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:26

You must know and be convinced of the Power of God’s Name if you are to risk everything for the sake of Jesus Christ.

What Causes us to lose our Divine Love?

A. NEGLECT OF THE WORD: Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. John 14:23-24

B. Other or Divided Interests: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24

C. FRIENDSHIP WITH THE WORLD: You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4

D. CHOSE COMFORT vs. SACRIFICE: READ MATT 19:17-21 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect (complete, full), go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me”.

How important is it that we have Divine Love?

John 5:40-44 “yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

Divine Love is Fullness of life!

Be Full and Complete as the Father is Full! Only when you risk it all do you know true love and fullness! Which would you rather eat-the fruit of the forbidden tree or the fruit of the tree of life! Those that keep their first love will eat of the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life was in the Garden of Eden, where life was complete, full, until sin entered the world. The Tree of Life will be in the New Heavens, when God’s plan is fulfilled, and life on earth is full!

The world teaches that fullness of life is in possessions and money, a prestigious career, the number of friends you have, or even your family.

But Jesus said “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:35-36

Divine Love is Fullness of Life…Fullness of Life comes to those willing to risk it all for His sake!

What are the consequences of fallen love?

In His letter to the church, the danger was the removal of the candlestick, which signifies the removal of the fire of the Holy Spirit. Today Ephesus lies in ruins, and the church is long gone.

  • Worship Devoid of the Spirit

Across the world there are churches that look like churches, act like churches, but the Divine Love of God is not in them. The Holy Spirit is not there. They are functioning out of a mistaken sense of duty. There may be a supposed love for Jesus, but they have fallen from His standards. They are down, serving in their fleshly strength. They are not living in the fullness of Christ of His love, of His word. They are like the Pharisees, content in their religious observances, yet on their way to Hell.

  • Children, teens Abandon the Church

The other consequence is that our children grow up with a concept of religion, but no concept of loving a real Jesus. Therefore, they rebel against religion for the sake of religion, and seek after something else that fills the void in their heart.

  • A Nation that is Outwardly Moral but inwardly Corrupt

How do we return to our first love?

Jesus said we are to do three things:

A.Remember

  1. Remember what He has done for you
  2. Remember what you were willing to do at first.

B.Repent

  1. Change your heart focus,
  2. Get rid of those things that have captured your affections, that have taken the place of Jesus Christ.

C.Return

  1. Do what you did when you first came to Jesus
  2. Live for Him totally.
  3. Risk it all for Him

David Left His First Love

PSALMS 51:7-15 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

David returned to his first love, singing and writing the Psalms, teaching others of the ways of God!

Peter Left His First Love

John 21:15-18 “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep”. He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”

Peter had left his first love, even denying Christ, and returning to the thing he loved most-fishing. Yet, when confronted by Jesus, he could only confess deep emotions for Jesus. He was not quite ready to confess agape love, that love that risks everything, sacrifices everything. Still, Jesus said, feed and care for my sheep. You will one day know that agape love.

Return to the works you did at the first. Return to the time you depended upon me for everything. The agape will return. You will regain your first love. You will sacrifice, you will risk it all!

Peter returned to His agape love, and He teaches us the importance of it in his last letter. Look at what Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:3-11:

2 Peter 1:3-11 – His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with (phileo) brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with (agape) love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3-11

  • You will never fall as I did. You will keep your first love!

Do You See the Real Jesus? Do you see His Golden Sash? Do You Pass the Gold Sash Test.? Do You Love Him with Divine Love?

Have you fallen into comfort and complacency? Are you still doing the first works? Are you still risking everything for Jesus Christ? Perhaps you never did, perhaps you are not a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you never loved Him with agape love. You need to make sure you are a Christian. You need to repent and love Jesus with agape, sacrificing, risking it all kind of love!

Do you really want to Know Divine Love?
Do you want to see the Real Jesus?

Turn with me to Hebrews 13:12

So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. Hebrews 13:12-13

Outside the Camp is Where we Find Agape Love

Jesus Christ died to set apart a people unto God. If we truly love Him, we must go to where He was willing to go – outside the camp.

  • ‘Outside the camp’ is where the lepers were kept.
  • ‘Outside the camp’ is where murderers were sent.
  • ‘Outside the camp’ is where the beggar begged as the apostles walked through the gate.
  • ‘Outside the camp’ was where all who were to be separated from society at large were to be kept.

‘Outside the camp’ is where we were called to ‘go to him’ and ‘bear the reproach he endured’ – death. Death to our comfort, death to our desires, death to our reputation.

Going Outside the Camp is where we discover the Love of the Golden Sash.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;1 John 3:16-19

  • Divine Love risks it all for the city that is to come.
  • Whatever you lose in this life will be made up 1000 fold in the life to come.
  • We can either retreat and perish in the wilderness
  • We can risk it all for the love of Jesus Christ, who risked it all for us.

In the 1600’s there was a man named Joseph Aline and he wrote a book entitled An Alarm to Unconverted Sinners.Let me close our time with what he said.

“All of Christ is accented by the sincere convert. He loves not only the wages, but the work of Christ. Not only the benefits but the burden of Christ. He’s willing not only to tread out the corn but to draw under the yoke. He takes up the command of Christ, yea, even the cross of Christ. The unsound man closes by halves with Christ. He’s all for the salvation of Christ but he’s not for sanctification. He is for the privileges but appropriates not the person of Christ. He divides the offices and benefits of Christ. This is an error in the foundation. Who so loveth life let him beware here. It is an undoing mistake of which you have beenoften warned and yet none is more common. Jesus is a sweet name but men love not the Lord Jesus in sincerity. They divide what God has joined, the King and the Priest, yea they will not accept the salvation of Christ as He intends it. They divide it, every man’s vote is for salvation from suffering but they desire not to be saved from sinning. They would have their lives saved but with all would have their lusts. Yea, many divide here again, they would be content to have some of their sins destroyed but they cannot leave the lap of Delilah or divorce the beloved Herodias. They cannot be cruel to the right eye or right hand. The Lord must pardon then in this thing. 0 be careful here, your soul depends on it. The sound convert takes a whole Christ, takes Him for all intents and purposes, without exceptions, without limitations, without reserve. He’s willing to have Christ upon any terms. He’s willing to have the dominion of Christ as well as deliverance by Christ and he says with Paul, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “phileo”.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Archibald Thomas Robertson, A.M., D.D., LL.D., Litt. D., Word Pictures in the New Testament, (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1930), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Revelation 2:2”.

[4] ibid.

[5] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 650.

[6] ibid, 877.

[7] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Revelation 2:2”.

[8] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “hupomone”.

[9] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 328.

[10] Ibid, under kopiáō.

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I love this verse from Stuart Townend’s song “How Deep the Father’s Love for us”

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

If you have been a Christian for many years, it is easy to forget what a wretch you were. If you continue to walk close to the Lord, you will be mindful of that wretchedness. It is the walk of a wretched man saved by Jesus that is best suited to being a “Good Samaritan”. If you think you are something for God; if you walk around thinking that God is sure glad He got you, you will not be a Good Samaritan. Oh, sure, you love yourself, but you love yourself too much to ever reach out to the wretches living around you. The love you have for yourself is blinding you from seeing the needs of other wretches around you.

A Good Samaritan has no “walls” when it comes to the needs of his neighbors. A good samaritan is not afraid to get close to other “wretches” to see what their needs are. He sees no color, no race, no status, no religion. He sees the forsaken, the diseased, the impoverished, the disabled, the alone, the abandoned, the damaged. He not only looks close, but he does what he can to meet the needs of the “wretched”. Everything he has is Gods, and he holds nothing back from God or his neighbors.

The Good Samaritan does not go around boasting of what he does. You see, he is simply one wretch helping another wretch.

A person who is a living, walking, Good Samaritan reveals what is in his heart.

The Heart of a Good Samaritan reveals two things:

1. Our love for God and His Son Jesus Christ

2. Our love for people, the people that Jesus died on the cross to redeem the other “wretches”

  • These people were ugly, hateful, sinful, vile, sin-sick, hopeless, rebellious
  • But Jesus loved them, died for them
  • These people were you and me.

In effect, being a Good Samaritan unites us with the heart of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the ultimate Good Samaritan. He gave his all for our sake, the wounded, the captured, the bruised, the broken, the forsaken.

Satan and Sin had us in an eternal death grip, but Jesus Christ came to our side and freed us from the death grip of sin. He was our personal Good Samaritan.

The question I want to answer today: How do we continue our comittment to being Good Samaritans?

Now, I know that you do not normally think of yourself as being selfish, uncaring and unconcerned. Certainly the lawyer who asked Jesus the question “Who is my neighbor?” did not see himself as that way. He thought he was a model Jew, the best of the best. However, Jesus cut to the very depth of his soul by revealing his bias toward the Samaritans. He challenged him to see everyone, regardless of his or her religion or culture as his neighbor, worthy of his love.

Face it; it is easy to overlook certain people. It is easy to judge, condemn, and even isolate ourselves from certain people. However, Jesus challenges us to know that there is not one person on this earth that is not worthy of our love. Jesus wants us to know that He died for everyone, no matter how vile they are, or regardless of their religion or culture. We are not special. We are not better than anyone else is. They are our neighbor and needing our love because such were we! What is more, because of our busy and isolated lives, we lose sight of the needs of people who don’t live by us, or who are in neighborhoods we do not go to.

Practical Advice about Trip Hazards

Before we look at Scripture and see what can trip us up, I want to offer some practical advice for any Good Samaritan.

One problem facing many of us Baby Boomers in the troubled times we are in, is caring for our elderly parents, caring for a son or daughter out of work, caring for a spouse with a debilitating medical condition. Many find themselves in a Caregiver Role. To be a Caregiver is to provide financial, relational, physical, spiritual, or emotional support to someone who is unable to live independently like:

  • newborns or small children
  • those recovering from an injury or illness
  • aging loved ones
  • anyone facing a terminal illness
  • those who are disabled in some way (physically, mentally, emotionally)

This just about covers parents and people from all lifestyles and all ages, so it probably affects you or someone you care about. There are dangers involved in being a Caregiver or a ‘good Samaritan.’ One of those dangers is in the form of overwhelming stress or an overwhelming sense of helplessness.

There are CARETAKERS and there are CAREGIVERS.

A caretaker provides a level of compassionate service for someone in need. It is not usually overwhelming enough to create compassion fatigue or massive distress because there are clear boundaries, defined duties, and reasonable expectations, as well as defined hours of service.

Caregivers do the same work, but often with greater intensity, since they often aren’t compensated in some way and just work out of the goodness of their hearts to show compassion to the person in need. They often give and give expecting nothing in return, yet that is often why they run out of energy and burnout. They do not have defined hours, schedules, or budgets. It can get very stressful, very fast because they cannot do everything for everyone all the time without it leading to caregiver stress.

The Caregiver Stress Checklist

  • Am I easily agitated with those I love?
  • Am I becoming more critical of others?
  • Am I having difficulty laughing or having fun?
  • Am I turning down most invitations to be with others?
  • Am I feeling depressed about my situation?
  • Am I feeling hurt when my efforts go unnoticed?
  • Am I resentful when other family members are not helping?
  • Am I feeling trapped by all the responsibilities?
  • Am I being manipulated?
  • Am I missing sleep and regular exercise?
  • Am I too busy for quiet time with God?
  • Am I feeling guilty when I take time for myself?

Warning Signs of Caregiver Stress:

  • Physically – exhausted and worn out
  • Emotionally – resentful, stressed, bitter
  • Relationally – feeling used or unappreciated
  • Financially – overwhelmed or depleted

It is right to care for people in need. It is healthy to show compassion. Those are good things and make us feel better for having made a difference in the lives of others. You can show care in many ways and should. Caring is important, but there are some hidden dangers if you do not realize a simple truth.

TEAM GOOD SAMARITAN

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a timeless story of being a compassionate caregiver.

We should not miss the truth of how to protect the Good Samaritan from compassion fatigue.

Yes, he jumped in to help a stranger, and, yes, he showed great love for another human being, but he did not do it alone! The Good Samaritan started a healing process in the life of a wounded man and allowed others, like the innkeeper, to be part of the team to make a positive difference in helping a man rebuild and recover. When you are part of a team helping someone going through a crisis, you are less likely to burnout. And that’s a good thing for everyone so you can have a lot more energy to help others for years to come.[1]

If we are to love our neighbors, and not suffer from burnout, or compassion fatigue, we must be part of a team. We must discover that there is help from a higher power!

For the heartsick, bleeding soul out there today who is desperate for a word of encouragement, let me assure you that you can trust this Lord of heaven and earth. There is security and rest in the wisdom of the eternal Scriptures. I believe the Lord can be trusted, even when He cannot be tracked. Of this you can be certain: Jehovah, King of kings and Lord of lords, is not pacing the corridors of heaven in confusion over the problems in your life!  He hung the worlds in space. He can handle the burdens that have weighed you down, and He cares about you deeply. He says to you, “Be still, and know that I am God”. Psalms 46:10   — James Dobson, Ph.D.[2]

GO TO THE THRONE

To be a Good Samaritan means that you memorize and take to heart Hebrews 4:14-16

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

We often think this verse applies to when we are being tempted. And that is a strong part of it, but the truth is that the weaknesses spoken about refers to illness, physical exhaustion, lack of strength, any condition of weakness that could lead us to lose heart, give up, have a breakdown, get hard hearted, get calloused, disillusioned. In other words, Jesus sympathizes with those conditions that could lead us to give up being a Good Samaritan, to give up following Him, to give up loving our neighbor.

We need to be a part of His team, we need to come boldly to the throne of grace, not only for help and strength for us, but for the ones we are caring for.

Mother’s, when you don’t think you can take care of an aging mom any more, when you have had your heart broken by a wayward son or daughter, when you are about to give up caring, go to the throne, go to the one who has been there, and realize His strength is yours, His grace and mercy are overflowing for those in need, exactly at the time you need it most!

What Will Trip Us Up?

What Keeps us from the throne? What will cause us to stumble and stop being a Good Samaritan?

There are four major reasons that we may stumble and fall, which will keep us from the throne of Grace.

These are found in verses preceding of Hebrews 4:14

1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’ ” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.” 6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:1-13

FOUR TRIP HAZARDS

  1. Faith Connection (Weak or non-existent)
  2. Disobedience (Idolatry, Iniquity and Immorality)
  3. Bitterness (Hard Heart leading to no ability to sympathize)
  4. Grumbling- (Temporal Focus because of a messed up heart!)

1.  Faith Connection

  • Verse 2: For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.

Even though they had witnessed miraculous acts, God was still invisible to the wandering Jews. Whatever their thinking about who this invisible “I AM” was, it did not settle into their heart.

If you are going to continue to be a Good Samaritan, you have to have a daily faith connection to this awesome God, “the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 1 Timothy 6:15

For anyone who desires to please God must believe that He is. Not only on Sunday, but you need a faith connection every day of the week.

Faith is a solid, substantiating force that sustains us during good times, bad times, and difficult times. Satan delights in getting you to doubt God, to ignore God, to resent God. Satan tries to sever your faith connection every day!

You faith connection will allow you to see God in the midst of the storm, in the midst of your exhaustion, in the midst of your struggles, in the midst of your frustrations.

This Christian walk is by faith and not sight, and as soon as you lose faith, or weaken in faith, you will stumble from being a Good Samaritan.

Genuine Love for you hurting and weak neighbors comes from your faith in our Loving God!

2.  Disobedience (Idolatry, Iniquity and Immorality)

  • Verse 6: “and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience”
  • 1 Cor 10:7-8 – Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.

The Wilderness Jews had a problem with idolatry. They put other things before God. Their broken faith connection did not allow them to see God in their everyday lives. So when Moses was gone for 40 days, they got nervous and afraid, and made their own god to worship. They disobeyed keeping the law, they disobeyed Moses, they lusted after things rather than desiring God.

Their disobedience grew from having a small god and large appetites for themselves. They put themselves before God.

It is good to do a heart check every so often. What are you desiring, what are you obsessing over?

When we take our eyes and our hearts off the desires of God, and put them on what we want or what we think we need, then we will stumble from being a Good Samaritan. We will take our eyes and our hearts off our neighbors.

Are you having conflicts in your marriage, in your relationships? Do a heart check! Perhaps you are putting your desires ahead of the other person. You may think you are right, but try humbling yourself before God, and then seeking Him until His desires become your desires in that situation.

Too many times conflict is caused and sustained by our selfishness and by putting things before our relationships.

3.  Bitterness (Hard Heart leading to inability to sympathize)

  • Verse 7: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”.
  • 1 Cor 10:9 – We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,

When we lose our faith connection, when we start putting our desires before God, it will not be too long before something happens in your life that causes you great hurt, great resentment, great anger. The Jews were upset over the desert, the food, the leader. They were angry, upset, and bitter. This bitterness led to hearts that were hard and insensitive to God.

You may have experienced this yourself.

You lost something/someone very dear to you, a son, a daughter, a wife. Or it could be an important job, a friendship. Children get bitter when they are forced to move, when divorce splits the home. Sickness, disease, an accident…anything that happens that directly affects our comfort, our life, our control. When life seems out of control, when our heart is broken, when we get angry, when we question what is going on…there is a temptation to lash out, get resentful, and the bitterness grows.

We must not put Christ to the test

Sinners are said to tempt God (Matt. 4:7; Luke 4:12; 10:25; Acts 5:9, peirázō; 1 Cor. 10:9), putting Him to the test, refusing to believe Him or His Word until He has manifested His power (Sept.: Deut. 6:16; 8:16; Ps. 78:18). When God is said to try (peirazō) man (Heb. 11:17 [cf. Gen. 22:1; Ex. 15:25]), in no other sense can He do this (James 1:13) but to train in order to elevate a person as a result of the self-knowledge which may be won through these testings (peirasmoí <G3986>). Thus, man may emerge from his testings holier, humbler, stronger than when he entered in (James 1:2, 12). [3]

I have known people who were so excited about serving God, who were so in love with Jesus, and because of some tragedy or some loss, have lost that love, that enthusiasm. They test Christ by saying, “if you love me, then you will make this right!” They believe that Jesus owes them and they get upset with Him when things don’t work out the way they think they should. What joy it is to know mature saints who have grown sweeter with the years, who have faced sorrows and heartaches yet their heart is still tender to God, still tender to the needs of those around them

We have a great friend of the family in Swann Bates. She is in he eighties now, and I had not seen her since my mom died in 1996. I had always admired her love for Jesus, her love for the word. She was one of those ‘refreshing’ saints that lifted everyone she met. I knew they had had some financial setbacks late in life, and i wondered how she would be when I went over to her place last Christmas. She was exactly as I remembered her, bubbly, in love with Jesus, refreshing, concerned about me and my family. She had grown sweeter with the years. A couple months ago she lost her daughter, Donna, to breast cancer. I called her up and left a message of consolation. She called me later, and instead of being down, expressed to me her praise for the Lord, her praise for the love of Christ. I could sense the tears, but her love for Jesus came through strong and loud.

I want to be a Mrs. Bates if I make it into my eighties! Don’t you? Praise God for the power of Jesus to make us sweeter through all this life brings us!

If you hear of someone’s need, or see someone hurting, and the Holy Spirit can’t tug at your heart, perhaps there is some bitterness that is spoiling your love.

Bitterness can ruin relationships, especially between a husband and wife, can ruin friendships, and can ruin your enthusiasm for worship, for serving in your church. It will harden your heart to the point where your love for your neighbor is gone, and all that is left is a huge fence.

It is hard putting your heart out there for anyone to step on it. It is hard serving people who are not grateful, who don’t seem to do anything for themselves, or who just seem to be milking the system. It is easy to say it does not do any good, but remember, Jesus Christ died for that person. Jesus Christ died for you. He put His heart out there for everyone to spit upon to beat to mock, and yet He still loved us, still suffered that horrible experience of the wrath of God being poured out on Him.

How is your heart? Is it as tender as when you were in school? Do you still care about the needs of those around you? Or is your heart crusted over, hardened by bitterness and unfulfilled expectations, hurts and losses. Any hurt, any loss pales in comparison with what Jesus Christ experienced for you.

4.  Grumbling- (Temporal Focus because of a messed up heart!)

  • Verse 13: And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account
  • 1 Cor 10: 10 “nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer”.
  • And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Numbers 11:1
  • Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.   John 6:43

When we lose our faith connection, when we lose our desire for God, when our heart becomes hard, it isn’t long before our attitude is affected. You can always tell when someone has a problem with God when they start grumbling.

It can be a little thing, but in my experience, grumblers never stop with little things (like the weather). Grumbling reveals that some things are not right in your heart. In addition, if your heart is not right, the grumbling will come out louder and with greater intensity.

I am not saying that all grumbling is bad. However, I am saying that God hates grumblers, because grumblers are not being thankful for Him!

“How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. Numbers 14:27

DOES THIS SONG DESCRIBE ANYONE YOU KNOW?

The Grumble Song by Thoro Harris

In country, town, or city
Some people can be found
Who spend their lives in grumbling
At everything around
Oh yes, they always grumble
No matter what we say
For these are chronic grumblers
And they grumble night and day.
Chorus:
Oh, they grumble on Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday,
Grumble on Thursday, too
Grumble on Friday, Saturday, Sunday,
Grumble the whole week through.
They grumble in the city
They grumble on the farm
They grumble at their neighbors
They think it is no harm;
They grumble at their husbands,
They grumble at their wives
They grumble at their children
But the grumbler never thrives.
They grumble when it’s raining
They grumble when it’s dry
And if the crops are failing
They grumble and they sigh
They grumble at low prices
And grumble when they’re high
They grumble all the year round
And they grumble till they die.
They grumble at the preacher
They grumble at his prayer
They grumble at his preaching
They grumble everywhere;
They grumble at God’s people
And say ’tis all display
But holy folks don’t grumble
They have only time to pray.
If you don’t quit your grumbling
And stop it now and here
You’ll never get to heaven
No grumblers enter there;
Repent and be converted
Be saved from all your sin
You know that grumbling Christians
Find it hard a crown to win.

Being a Good Samaritan can be difficult. Never do it on your own. Realize it is TEAM GOOD SAMARITAN THAT WILL ENDURE.

Come daily to the throne of grace, there you will find a loving Savior who sympathizes with everything you are trying to do, with everything you are going through. He wants to join His heart and strength with yours in meeting the needs of your neighbors. He offers His grace and strength at just the right time.

  • We need to give Him our hearts daily
  • We need to follow Him daily
  • We need to rejoice and be thankful daily

JESUS is our example. He is our Good Samaritan.

If we lose our faith connection, if we start going our own way, if our hearts get hard through bitterness, if we start to grumble because we have taken our eyes off Jesus and started looking at circumstances instead of Him, then we will give up being a good Samaritan, we will lose our love for our neighbors, we will build walls around our lives, and we will become a grumbler.

And like the Jews in the wilderness, we will lose our way and be overcome in the wilderness.

Do you love Jesus?

Do you love Jesus?

Do you Love Jesus?

Then feed HIS lambs! Jesus says, “Feed My lambs.” Jesus wants us to take care of HIS lambs. And for us to do that, we must be connected to Him by love. His heart must be our heart!

The Lord would answer, “Ah, Peter, and I love you”; but He did not say so, and yet He did say so. Perhaps Peter did not see His meaning; but we can see it, for our minds are not confused as Peter’s was on that memorable morning. Jesus did in effect say, “I love you so that I trust you with that which I purchased with My heart’s blood. The dearest thing I have in all the world is My flock: see, Simon, I have such confidence in you, I so wholly rely on your integrity as being a sincere lover of Me, that I make you a shepherd to My sheep. These are all I have on earth, I gave everything for them, even My life; and now, Simon, son of Jonas, take care of them for Me.” Oh, it was “kindly spoken.” It was the great heart of Christ saying, “Poor Peter, come right in and share My dearest cares.”[4]


[2] Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group, http://www.LifeWorksGroup.org eNews (Copyright, 2004-2008, by the LifeWorks Group in Florida. 407-647-7005).

[3] Complete Word Study Dictionary, The New Testament.


  • We are all in the gutter, but some of us look at the stars-Oscar WildeRefining Fire of Marriage
  • They dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake…Alexander Pope
  • Because marriage, more than any other relationship, reflects God’s involvement with us and bears more potential to draw our hearts to heaven, it can more readily give us a taste of hell (Dan Allender & Tremper Longman III)

We all associate the image of fire with hell. And many marriages in American have gone through this fire of Hell. Whether the marriage ends or the couple stays together, marriage is seen by some as hell on earth.

The Apostle Peter was well acquainted with fire.

Peter knew refining fireHe denied Jesus while warming his hands over fire. Jesus questioned his love while fish were roasting over fire. In both cases he associated fire with a test. One he failed another he passed. I think that is why he wrote these verses in 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NLT):

1 Peter 4:12-13 (NLT) Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT) So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Fire is certainly viewed as destructive and dangerous. Fires destroy forests, but fires also lead to renewal. Fire burns away the dross surrounding certain metals and reveals the pure gold or silver. The fires of life can destroy our marriage, or, if survived, purify our marriage. The fires of our marriage can draw our hearts to heaven or leave us with the taste of hell.

In the Movie Fireproof

FireProof - the Love DareCaptain Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron) is a firefighter in Albany, Georgia. His seven-year marriage to Catherine is falling apart. Neither one understands the pressures the other faces, and after a heated argument in which Caleb screams in Catherine’s face, she declares she wants out of the marriage, and takes off her wedding ring.

While Caleb claims to his friends and co-workers that Catherine is over-sensitive and disrespectful, Catherine simultaneously claims to her peers that Caleb is insensitive to her needs and doesn’t listen to her. Further catalyzing Catherine’s motivation for divorce is Caleb’s addiction to Internet pornography and a large sum of money ($24,000, to be exact) he has saved up for a fishing boat he intends to buy, ignoring the fact that Catherine’s disabled mother is in need of hospital equipment that she cannot afford, and which insurance refuses to cover. Caleb tells his father John about the impending divorce, and John challenges Caleb to commit to a 40-day test called, “The Love Dare.” Caleb reluctantly agrees to do the test, but more for the sake of his father than his marriage. Catherine initially sees through Caleb’s half-hearted attempts to win back her heart, which deepens Caleb’s frustration. But with his father’s encouragement, Caleb continues with The Love Dare, and eventually makes a life-changing commitment to God, unbeknownst to Catherine.

The movie has some various twists but the end result is Caleb and Catherine realize they need each other, and at the end they renew their vows in an outdoor ceremony, this time as a covenant with God. Their marriage becomes FIREPROOF.

Marriage is a Covenant

Marriage a Covenant to GodDid you see your marriage vows as a marriage Covenant? Did both you and your spouse get married knowing you were making a covenant before God! You did, whether you realized it or not.

Definition: a binding and solemn agreement to do or keep from doing a specified thing; compact

We know of Covenants from the Bible. God put a rainbow in the sky as a covenant that He would never destroy the world by rain. He made a Covenant with Abraham, He made a Covenant with David, He made a Covenant with all who by faith believe in Jesus Christ. That Covenant was sealed by the blood and body of Jesus.

When we get married, we enter into a covenant before God. In a Covenant, you make a binding agreement to stay with this woman or man until they die. In that Covenant we also promise to do so and so.

Most people believe “Well, my husband broke his promise to love me, or take care of me or so and so, so it’s OK for me to break my promise to him.” Or, well my wife is no longer the person I married, so my vow does not apply.

We Draw a Line in our Marriage

We Draw a Line in our Marriage“I’ll keep my end of the covenant as long as you don’t cross over this line.” I’ll keep my word as long as you don’t … … … But as soon as you do, that’s it, I’m out of here!

That would be OK if marriage was merely a contract between two humans. But it isn’t. Marriage is a Covenant before God. Whether you believe in God or not, marriage was designed by God and no marriage is undertaken without His knowledge. God is in every marriage, whether you are a Christian or not. In fact, God often uses marriage to bring people to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Your marriage vows are made to God as well as your spouse. Regardless of what specific sins you commit, you are still married before God. You have entered into a Covenant with Him, and He wants you to keep to your WORD. It is binding, there are no exception causes, right person or wrong person, you are held to your word by God. And God will use this spouse that you married to work His will in your life.

So this morning, I want you to consider not taking the Love Dare, but the God Dare.

I dare you to bring God into your marriage, and to hold Him accountable for your love for your husband or your wife. I challenge you to trust God to use whatever sin besets your marriage, your relationship, your love to work His will in your life and make you like Jesus Christ. Regardless of where you are in your marriage, each day you get up and dare God to show you how he is using your spouse to make you like Jesus.

The God Dare is to Learn to Love and Forgive your spouse the way God does, and to realize that He will use your spouse to make you like His Son!

No partner left behind – unless you are my spouse

Dont Leave Your Spouse BehindCaptain Holt was a firefighter. He lived by the fireman’s creed “Never leave your partner behind

The Army Ranger Creed “Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

No man left behind, No partner left behind. These are your buddies who serve by your side, who watch your back. If they should suffer harm, you don’t run to save yourself, even t the risk of your own life you rescue them.

We make a vow, a covenant to marry this man or this woman, but as soon as they cross over the line, or fail to live up to what I expect a marriage should be, we cut the line and run?

  • We are expected to save our bunk-mate but not our bed-mate?
  • We are expected to do our job rather than keep our Vow to Almighty God!

We all stumble in many ways

James 3:2 (NIV) We all stumble in many ways.

We All Stumble in Many Ways

Joe works hard for his family. His job requires long hours, with a long commute to boot. He leaves early gets home late. Joe complains that his wife Cheryl is always on the computer, chatting with friends. He gets home and she is on the computer. She seems to chat more with her friends than with him. Cheryl complains about how he is never home, and when he does he just flops down in front of the TV. She complains about his big expenditures and how he has run up the credit cards. He never has time for the kids.

marriage lose respectThe reality is that Joe and Cheryl have become adversaries. They still loved each other, but in reality they resented their spouses and resented their marriage. They are like Caleb and Catherine Holt, resenting each other and looking for a way out.

If we are honest, we have all experienced times when we resented our spouse. We may have even asked that question – did I marry the right one? Did I miss God’s perfect will? Or we meet someone else who seems to be our “soul-mate” and thank we are missing out on life. Marriage is the proverbial “ball and chain” and we are living as a condemned man or woman. Such questions can lead to contempt for our spouse, contempt for our life, contempt for our marriage.

If marriage is to accomplish what God intends, and that is to make us Holy, to empower us to be Victorious in Christ, then there are some fundamental decisions we must adhere to, and they center upon what God delights in! We must take the God Dare with our marriage. We must trust Him with our spouse.

We must commit to seeing our marriage as God sees it – the way to bring holiness to two stumbling sinners.

I have talked with so many men, so many wives who were totally frustrated with the behavior of their spouse. They won’t stop doing this, they won’t stop doing that. They treat me so and so. I always ask, have you told your wife or your husband how you feel. They will usually say, they don’t want to listen to me, or they will say yes, but it doesn’t do any good. They might change, but pretty soon they are right back doing so and so again.

I simply tell them to bring God into the situation. Simply tell your husband or wife that you are not expecting them to change, in fact you don’t care if they change or not. You have given them to God and are trusting Him to work in their life to make such and such like Jesus. That may scare them, or make them laugh, but that is not enough, you need to tell your spouse that you are asking God to use them to make you like Jesus.

So honey, if you mistreat me, God will use that to make us both like Him. He will teach me to forgive and to love those that persecute or hurt me, and God will open your heart to see how your actions or words are hurting Him. God will use our marriage to produce the character of Christ in our lives. He will use our marriage to prepare us both to live with Him in heaven.

Marriage makes Stumbling Sinners into Holy Saints

How does God use Marriage to Refine stumbling sinners and Make us Like Christ?

There are certain qualities that are ever present when we are dating. These qualities are often what single out that guy or gal from the rest of the herd.

Yet these very same qualities are the ones that seem to be tested the most in our marriage, and yet will bring that sweetness of the fruit of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Those Qualities are Respect, Selflessness, and Acceptance. When you are dating, thinking they are the one, you notice how they respect you, think you are something. They listen to you, your thoughts and opinions are important. There is selflessness about them. They sacrifice what they want to do what you want. They seem to put you first. They accept you the way you are. They love that thing that you are so embarrassed about. They seem so close and loving; they accept me and love me just as I really am.

Something about marriage will test these qualities. Yet these qualities are what we need to be like Christ.

Marriage and Respect

Marriage and RespectRespect for others, respect for Life is foundational component of society. Without respect for life murder is commonplace, without respect for authority society breaks down into anarchy. Without respect for others it becomes every man for himself.

Jesus was the picture of respect. From the lame, blind, poor, tax collectors, prostitutes, people of all walks of life were treated with respect by Jesus. His respect for His Father was greater than anything, and that led Him to throw the money changers out of the Temple. That led Him to call Hypocrites those who burdened people with so many restrictions that they could not come to God.

We find it easier to respect an image, an ideal rather than actual real, flawed people.

We fall in love with this striking woman or gorgeous hunk of a man. We have this ideal in our mind – they will love me, they will treasure me, they will protect me, they will provide for me. But the closer we get the more flaws we notice. Instead of an airbrushed beauty we discover wrinkles, moles, flaws. Instead of that dashing white knight we find a guy who scratches and belches and had bad breath at times.

Our ideal mate is in reality made of flesh and blood. We discover they can be selfish, tired, non-communicative, boring. And as the ideal gives way to the reality, often times our respect and admiration turns to resentment, and even contempt.

When our respect slips into contempt, it’s because I am weak, not because my wife is failing. If I was really mature, I would have the same compassion for her weaknesses as Christ does. Respect is a spiritual discipline, an obligation I owe my wife.

  • Contempt is conceived with expectations
  • Respect is conceived with expressions of gratitude.
  • You chose what you obsess over – expectations or thanksgivings.

PERSONAL TESTIMONY

In the mid-eighties Lydia and I went through a rather difficult time in our marriage. We had six children ranging from 2 to 10, selfishly I had bought a big house that we really couldn’t afford, money was extremely tight, the economy sucked so business was bad, my dad was under a great deal of stress. My wife was under a great deal of stress. I was under a lot of stress.

Instead of focusing on God and what he wanted me to do, I focused on unfulfilled expectations. My dad wasn’t paying me enough, Lydia wasn’t paying me enough attention, she wasn’t taking care of the household duties, and she was worn out, living in ratty sweats. I began to resent my life ad even resent my family and my wife.

overboard4Then I remember watching the movie “Overboard” with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. He was a single dad with four hellishly awful boys and he finds Goldie Hawn washed ashore with amnesia. He convinces her she is Annie, his wife and he brings her home. At first it is too much for her, but she gets the house under control, the kids under control, Kurt Russell under control. Wow, she becomes super Mom and Super Wife. I wondered why Lydia couldn’t do that. Stupid expectations, stupid unrealistic expectations.

Just when my marriage was about to fall apart because I did not respect and value my wife and all she was doing for me, God brought me to the place where my wife and my children were all I had. I saw my wife in an entirely new light-her love and respect for me, even though I had failed and disrespected her. She stuck by me when my brothers kicked me out of a company I had regarded as my own, as my life, as my reason for living. God showed me that without my wife and my children, I was nothing. She stuck by me the next few years as we struggled financially, and then started a paving business. She put food on the table for six growing children when we barely had enough to feed ourselves.

I’m not saying my wife is a perfect saint, but her decision to stay with me even though I was a stumbling and resentful sinner who did not show her the respect that God desired, brought about a change and work in my life that resulted in God showing His ability to transform stumbling sinners into strong saints.

  • Husbands – You Are Married To A Fallen Woman in A Broken World.
  • Wives – You Are Married To A Sinful Man in A Sinful World.

Get An Eye Check Up

Get an Eye CheckupJesus lays out an amazingly simple solution – check your eyesight for splinters and specks before you start complaining about the planks in your wife’s eye.

If you say “But my wife is the one who has the plank”, you are exactly the one Jesus is talking to. Jesus wants us to have humble spirits, humble hearts. We must cast off contempt and resentment and learn the spiritual discipline of respect.

Look at the people Jesus loved and offered respect-publicans, tax collectors, adulterous women, prostitutes, financial cheats, traitors, betrayers.

He washed their feet, he spent time with them, and he ate with them. Where was His contempt? There was none. He gave them His respect, He gave them His hand. We need to extend our hand of respect to our wives, our husbands, regardless of their sins.

Marriage and Selflessness

Once we have obtained that goal of marriage, most men will move on to what they are all about – Ambition and Accomplishment. Wives nowadays are about the same thing, perhaps on a smaller scale.

Marriages become preoccupied with accomplishments. We brag about our job, our money, our car, our home, our friends, our deer, our golf game. These accomplishments become a substitute for the selflessness and humility that are the foundation of intimate relationship.

The man is off making his way in the world, trying to provide for his family, while the wife is either working as well and at the same time becoming a taxi-driver and errand girl for her children. Instead of the intimacy that marriage is designed for, it becomes a series of accomplishments and errands.

Marriage and SelflessnessBill McCartney became famous overnight in Christian circles in the early nineties. A successful college football coach, he started Promise Keepers, which swept the nation. Yet his wife was lonely and hurting, which led to severe depression, during which she lost 80 pounds. Her busy husband didn’t even notice. She said she felt like she was getting smaller and smaller and smaller. Bill admitted his hard-driving approach to the ministry was distracting him from being a promise keeper to his wife and family.

Once he realized what was happening, he took the drastic step of retiring from coaching and stepped away from Promise Keepers to devote his life to his marriage. The McCartney’s are together and thriving in their marriage relationship today because of his decision.

Too often spouses struggle because one is making the other look smaller, while promoting them self. In marriage, being Godly is being selfless. I am no longer free to pursue whatever I want. I am no longer single; I am part of a team.

Marriage is about reining in your ambitions to what God wants. And God wants your marriage to be alive and thrive. But we must experience the cross daily. Jesus Christ set aside His ambitions and powers to become a selfless servant. He went all the way to the Cross, dying for you and me. God says we must be willing to die for the benefit of our marriage, our spouse. Paul said he died daily. Husbands, wives need to discover that selflessness that attracted them in the first place. That selflessness is a daily bowing before the Cross and dying to what each other wants and living to what God wants.

If I was the type of husband who expected my wife to cook for me, have sex with me whenever I wanted, keep a perfect and quiet home for my enjoyment. I would be the type of Pastor who would “browbeat you to fall in line regardless of your particular gifts and talents.”

Likewise if a wife abandons her family to ambitiously serve God, she will likely display the same lack of compassion and empathy for others as she does for her own family.

Our ministry and service to and for God is based on selflessness, and that is an integral part of marriage. God wants us to have the mind and heart attitude of Jesus Christ:

Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV) Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

Marriage is about selflessness, about putting the needs of your spouse first. Those ambitions and accomplishments mean nothing if you lose your wife or your husband.

PRAYERS – If you fail to practice selflessness in your marriage, it can hinder your prayers.

1 Peter 3:7 (Phillips NT) “similarly, you husbands should try to understand the wives you live with, honoring them as physically weaker yet equally heirs with you of the grace of eternal life. If you don’t do this, you will find it impossible to pray properly. (Hindered)

Word is ekkoptō, to cut off. Without this quality men, you will keep getting dropped calls when you are praying. Your prayer life is inextricably tied in with your relationship with your wife. Why should God care about your prayer rquests when you don’t consider your wife’s needs?

Marriage and ACCEPTANCE

Marriage and AcceptanceWhen most of you that are dating, I imagine you had your spats. There may have been that fight followed by a long phone call and hopefully then that makeup kiss. The acceptance was there, the reconciliation was quick, complete, without damage to the intimacy of your relationship. In fact, often the misunderstanding brought a renewed and deeper intimacy.

Marriage is acceptance to the extreme. We are constantly confronted with things that we don’t like about our spouse. We either accept them and move on, or we argue, get hurt, stop talking, and stop having relations.

Marriage forces us into the intense act of reconciliation and acceptance. It’s easy to get along with people if you never get close to them.

Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV) “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

If there is no acceptance in the marriage, things get really icy!

Marriage dissatisfaction reveals unrepented sin. Couples don’t fall out of love so much as they fall out of repentance. Sin, wrong attitudes, personal failures that are not dealt with slowly erodes the relationship.

We all enter marriage with sinful attitudes. When these attitudes surface, the temptation will be to hide them so they are not so well known, or flaunt them out of ignorance or pride.

Dating is like a dance where you try to put your best feet forward, look your best, act your best. But spouses need to admit their sin and not run or hide from it, but use the revelation of your sin as a means to grow in the foundational Christian virtue of humility, leading to confession and renouncement and acceptance.

Then grow further by adopting the positive quality that corresponds to the sin you are renouncing.

  • If you’ve used women in the past, practice serving your wife.
  • If you’ve been quick to ridicule your husband, practice giving him encouragement and praise.

View marriage as an entryway into sanctification-as a relationship that will reveal your sinful behaviors and attitudes and give you an opportunity to address them before the Lord.

Here is what happens in a selfish marriage. Our partner does something she or he know ticks us off. It could be anything, but let’s give an example like, he goes out with the guys or hunting or something when you had something else planned.

Ephesians 4:26 (NIV) “In your anger do not sin… and do not give the devil a foothold.

When we get angry or upset or feel neglected, we usually have a fall-back sin that we excuse and resort to. Kind of like, “we’ll I’ll get you back”. Anger and or feelings of contempt give room for the devil to maneuver in our lives. That old temptation rises, but this time we are powerless to resist. Or we resort to a learned bad behavior.

When the marriage is actually designed by God to be a mirror so we can we can our sin and weaknesses, confess and clean up, sometimes we throw the mirror down and break it.

We are accepted in the beloved (Eph 1:6) Husbands and wives must realize that each has ugly sins that will surface from time to time. But they must be committed to accepting the ugliness and working through it to producing that peaceable fruit of righteousness.

Marriage is a Spiritual Discipline. And disciple is painful:

Marriage is Spiritual DisciplineHebrews 12:11 (ESV) for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Marriage is Seasoning for heaven

Mark 9:49 “For everyone will be salted with fire.”

Stress-free, comfortable marriages are an indirect desire to remain an “unseasoned”, immature Christian.

God has ordained that our refining process takes place as we go through difficulties, not around them.

We must go through the Red Sea, into the fiery furnace, through the River Jordan, to the Cross. God gives victory through our problems. Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23)

Like climbing a difficult mountain, we need to step back and say “this is tough, how do I keep loving this person in the face of this challenge?”

Would I rather live a life of ease and comfort and remain immature in Christ, or am I willing to be seasoned with suffering if by doing so I am conformed to the image of Christ?

If it was so easy to love someone till death do you part, why would we need to promise to love each other “till death do us part?” It is precisely because our society knows such a promise will be sorely tried and tested.

WE DON’T PROMISE TO EAT OR TO BUY CLOTHES.

Every marriage comes to a time when the “RUB” goes the wrong way. It is for those times such promises are made.

The Seasoning “Rub” of Marriage is for Eternal Glory

Gods Seasoning Rub of MarriagePaul wrote in 2 Cor 4:17 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

Any Sports Team-football, baseball, soccer, can go undefeated if they play weak teams. We love teams that have given it their all and have championed against the powerhouse team. We love an underdog that has vanquished a mightier foe. There is something about a struggle that brings out the best in our teams. We know when they’ve given it their all.

Young couples need to hear that: “A good marriage, a lasting marriage, an overcoming marriage is not something you find; it is something you work for! There will be struggles, there will be trials and tribulations, sometimes from without and sometimes within. You must learn to crucify your selfishness. There must be times of confrontation, and there must be times of confession. Eventually through the refining fire of this relationship will emerge a relationship of beauty, trust and mutual support.”

Working through problems is taxing. It is much easier to go shopping or dancing with the gals or go out with the guys or a sports game than to deal with intimacy issues or rejection issues or a relationship that is cold and going nowhere. It’s easier to look elsewhere for emotional satisfaction.

When you see marriage in the light of God’s design, then you realize there are spiritual benefits to working on this relationship, and therefore there are eternal benefits.

Otto Piper: “If marriage…is a disillusioning experience for many people, the reason is to be found in their passivity of their faith. People dislike that the blessings of God may only be found and enjoyed when they are persistently sought (matt 7:7; Luke 11:9) Marriage therefore is both a gift and a task to be accomplished.”

Don’t run from the struggles of marriage. Embrace them. Grow in them. Draw nearer to God because of them. Through the struggles of marriage you will reflect more of the spirit of Jesus. And thank God He has placed you in a marriage where your spirit can be perfected.

JohnWesleyJohn Wesley married a widow at the age of 48:

A greater source of trouble was his marriage to Mrs. Vazeille, February, 1751. Having come to the conclusion that “in my present circumstances I might be more useful in a married state,” he speedily consummated his design. Unfortunately, he could scarcely have hit upon a more unsuitable woman. Of a bitter and angry spirit — indeed, almost if not quite insane — she became the torment of his life. A number of times she left him, and again returned. She defamed him in private, and seized his letters and put them in the hands of those she knew were his enemies, interpolating so as to make them bear a bad construction. In one or two instances she published them. At times she was outrageously violent toward him, and there was always little else in their intercourse than constant connubial storms.

Wesley was almost worn away. February, 1756, he writes: “Your last letter was seasonable indeed. The being continually watched over for evil ; the having every word I spoke, every action I did —small and great — watched with no friendly eye; the hearing a thousand little tart, unkind reflections in return for the kindest words I could devise, ‘Like drops of eating water on the marble, At length have worn my sinking spirits down.’

Yet I could not say ‘ Take thy plague away from me,’ but only ‘ let me be purified, not consumed.’ “Wesley patiently endeavored to win her to a better mind, but all was in vain. His domestic wretchedness was protracted through thirty years, until she died October 8, 1781.

His love letters to her make tender reading. “My dear love, I know not how to stay a day at any place without writing a few lines,” he wrote to Molly on April 2, 1751. “I wonder at myself. How is it that absence does not lessen but increase my affection? I feel you every day nearer to my heart. O that God may continue his unspeakable gift! That we may both daily increase in faith, in zeal, in meekness, and in tender love to each other!”

But after only three months into their marriage, Wesley seems to have been troubled by the increasingly jealous disposition of his wife. “My wife, upon all supposition that I did not love her, and that I trusted others more than her, had often fretted herself almost to death,” he wrote. Wesley talked with her about it and “by the blessing of God the cloud vanished away, and we were united as at the beginning.”

Sometimes Mrs. Wesley drove a hundred miles to see who was with her husband in his carriage. John Hampson, one of Wesley’s preachers, witnessed her in one of her fits of fury, and said, “More than once she laid violent hands upon him, and tore those venerable locks which had suffered sufficiently from the ravages of time.” She often left him, but returned again in answer to his entreaties. In 1771 he writes: “For what cause I know not, my wife set out for Newcastle, purposing ‘never to return.’ Non eam reliqui ; non dimisi; non revocabo.” (I did not forsake her; I did not dismiss her; I shall not recall her.)

Charles and Anne Lindberg

linddeadCharles and Anne Lindberg had their 18 month old baby kidnapped. A ransom was paid, but the boy never returned. The boy was found 10 weeks later, dead, in the woods near their home. His body had been ravaged by wild animals. Reporters snuck into the morgue and took pictures of the badly decomposing body and put them on the front page.

She started writing, something that her husband’s fame had prevented. She wrote: “One can perhaps say that sorrow also played its part in setting me free” She expounds, “What I’m saying is not the old Puritan truism that ‘suffering teaches.’ I do not believe that all suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable”

A difficult marriage, in and of itself, may not cause us to grow, to become holy. We must respond with understanding, love, patience, and a pursuit of virtue within that difficult marriage.

There is no room for victims in a difficult marriage. To become holy we must commit to virtue in the midst of difficulties. We can’t control how our spouse will act or how the world will act, but we can control how we will act and how we will respond. Seeking after holiness, virtue in the midst of hardship, abuse, neglect puts you in the driver seat. There are no victims in God’s marriage design.

Virtue means strength of character. It is power to do right, make the right choice, power to overcome the weakness of sin, bad choices

Anne Lindbergh wrote that “Undoubtedly the long road of suffering, insight, healing, or rebirth is illustrated in the Christian religion by the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

There is not a marriage represented in this sanctuary that has not experienced sorrow, not experienced trials. There isn’t a shared bedroom in Cass County where tension doesn’t occasionally or even frequently lift its snarling head.

Seasoning Brings Life

Anne Lindbergh wrote Second Sowing:

grain comes to life in second sowingFor whom the milk ungiven in the breast
When the child is gone?
For whom the love locked up in the heart
That is left alone?
That golden yield
Split sod once, overflowed an August field,
Threshed out in pain upon September’s floor,
Now hoarded high in barns, a sterile store.
Break down the bolted door;
Rip open, spread and pour
The grain upon the barren ground
Wherever crack in clod is found.
There is no harvest for the heart alone;
The seed of love must be
Eternally
Resown

As long as our pain and wisdom and lessons remain locked up in the heart or hoarded high in barns, they remain sterile and unfertile. Useless. To grow in the midst of difficulties, we must rip open the bags of grain and seeds and pour them out wherever we see fertile ground.

My Marriage is Worse than Most

olderadultsYou don’t understand what I’ve been going through!

Accept this: We often can’t choose which trials we faceSome of us have physical maladies. Unfortunately we do not get to chose whether we get cancer, kidney stones, arthritis, eyesight loss, brain aneurism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, diabetes. We all must face the truth that our body will degenerate as we get older. You don’t get to pick which part goes out of whack.

1223CharlesNita8We need to have the same attitude with our marriage. We each experience certain things with our spouses that are difficult to accept. One may struggle with alcohol, one with smoking, one with drugs, one with addiction to pain killers, one frail health, one anger, one physical abuse, one unhealthy sexual proclivities, one with Alzheimer or dementia, one with wandering eye, one with poor communication skills.

Sometimes we “put up” with the problem because of the benefits. We’ve all seen movies or TV stories about politician’s wives who put up with certain failings because of the “benefits” of her life.

But when there is not that benefit, when the struggle or hardship is so overwhelming that it obscures everything around it, such hardships become chains, a taskmaster, a tyrant, a brutal burden.

Where do you draw the line?

Look to God and forget the LineI will love my wife as long as she doesn’t do this, weighs this, stays this way. If she does this, gets this disease, looks like this, I’m out of here! What kind of Honorable person does that. Not one who shows respect, not one who is selfless, not one who is accepting. Not one who is willing to be seasoned by their Covenant before God!

There is no line in God’s Marriage Book. He has no lines with us. If Christ lives in your heart, there is total acceptance. There is no longer any sin that you could commit that would put you over the line into hell. You are His.

TotallyMarriedOur marriage is a picture of God’s Love and acceptance for us and His total satisfaction for what His Son Jesus Christ did. If we are like Christ, there is no line we can draw in the dirt. This man, this woman, God wants us to stay joined to the rest of our lives. We are both stumbling sinners, we have both been loved and accepted because of Christ. God is using our marriage to conform us to Jesus Christ. We must live by the God Dare, and trust God to use our spouse to season and perfect and discipline us, and to yield that peaceable fruit of righteousness.

  • TOTALLYMARRIED Christians Focus on the Eternal Benefits of the refining fires of marriage
  • TOTALLYMARRIED Couples Focus on Pleasing God

You are either seasoned to death or seasoned to life!


jesus feed the disciplesThe Elder Brother is listening to his father beg him to join the feast. Suddenly he gets it! In a true story we see a group of Elder Brothers led by Peter go on in, in spite of their miserable failures. They go to shore and feast with the Father’s Son, Jesus Christ. What happened? What truth has to get hold of Elder Brothers to cause them to DIVE ON IN like Peter? Hint: Enough introspection, its time to DIVE IN!

Jesus didn’t want His disciples to spend too much time regretting or feeling sorry for their sins. In one touching moment the Lord Jesus let his disciples know that He is not about the Past but about the Future! Jesus wanted them to know He is Lord of the Future, and wanted them to focus on that. He knew they had gone back to their fishing because they were upset and disillusioned about His death. Even though Jesus had been upfront with them, they had responded like selfish Elder Brothers and gone back to what they knew best – fishing. But even that proved empty and fruitless.

The-Disciples-Big-CatchSo Jesus spoke, and their nets were filled. They came ashore, and Jesus prepared a feast for them. Then He focused on the biggest failure of an Elder Brother – Peter. But His words were to all Elder Brothers. He said, “Do you love me more than these?” Peter knew in that instance that his return to fishing meant he was putting it before his Lord. But rather than admit it in front of the others, he saidYes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus said, “then feed my lambs”

jesus-peter-lovest-thou-me (2)

Now there was an obvious disconnect going on here. Jesus wanted to know if Peter “agape” loved him, and Peter insisted he “phileo” loved Jesus. The third time Jesus used “phileo” to meet Peter where he was at, and he pressed the point, “well, then, FOCUS ON THE FUTURE and feed my sheep!”

The Father knows where all Elder Brothers are at, and He still wants us to come in! He’s not about where we have been, He is all about where we are GOING! He’s about the REJOICING!

If Elder Brothers are going to go in, they can’t dwell on the past mistakes, they must focus on a growing love for the Father and taking care of HIS SHEEP! It is not about the fish, its about the sheep!

jesus to peter Focus on the futureSo as an Elder Brother, I’m diving in and going in to the feast because I realize I love my Father, and He wants me to feed His sheep, those younger brothers (and older) that know His voice! I realize it is not about what I want, but what the Father NEEDS, and that is sons who will care for His sheep! And the only reason I am emboldened to dive in is because the Father is ALL ABOUT THE FUTURE, NOT THE PAST!

Do Elder Brothers need to dwell on their mistakes, mourn over all the younger brothers they have offended, grieve over all the hurts they have caused the Father?

No! What the Father wants is for us to turn away from our self and GO IN and REJOICE!

Paul said it best in 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NLT): “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow.”

REJOICE I AM FORGIVENI’m going in, and I am NOT going to sulk in the corner brooding over my failures and sin. The Father wants me to REJOICE. The Father wants ME! He desires a RELATIONSHIP with ME! I’m turning away from my self effort and selfishness, my pride and arrogance, my independence, and I’m going to fall at my Father’s feet and let Him kiss my neck! I’m going in and kiss my younger brother’s neck! I’m diving in to my Father’s AMAZING POWER, GRACE AND LOVE!

Jesus wants to be Lord of our PAST, but He can do it ONLY if we allow HIM to be LORD of our FUTURE!

The only sorrow any brother should have is that which leads us away from our mistakes and plants us FIRMLY IN THE ARMS OF OUR SAVIOR! This life is all about who has our heart!

Lovest thou ME? Then forget those things which are past and press toward the Father’s Heart!

Come on, it’s time to DIVE in (watch the video on YouTube):

There is a supernatural power In this might river’s flow
It can bring the dead to life
And it can fill an empty soul
And give a heart the only thing
Worth living and worth dying for, yeah
But we will never know the awesome power
Of the grace of God
Until we let ourselves get swept away
Into this holy flood
So if you’ll take my hand
We’ll close our eyes and count to three
And take the leap of faith
Come on let’s go

Elder Brother Dives InI’m diving in, I’m going deep in over
my head, I want to be
Caught in the rush, lost in the flow,
in over my head, I want to go
The river’s deep, the river’s wide,
the river’s water is alive
So sink or swim, I’m diving in

Father: I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes as an Elder Brother, and I now know you have forgiven me, and love me. But I’m taking your hand and I’m going in, heart first, sink or swim, I’m diving in!


Boomerang ExpressIt All Comes Back to Jesus! This is the catchphrase for Lifeway’s Boomerang Express Vacation Bible School. We are in the middle of Bible School this week. I decided to give our adults a whirlwind presentation of Bible School in 37 minutes last Sunday. The children are learning about Peter, my favorite New Testament preacher. Peter I can identify with, becasue he was 100% human, yet 100% sold out for his Savior, Jesus Christ.

Each night the children look at a significant event in Peter’s life, and how it impacted his love for Jesus Christ. The nights are themed as follows:

1. Follow Him

Bible Story: Peter’s Invitation  John 1:40-42

Peter Decides to Follow JesusBecoming a born again Christian requires a decision. It is not left up to chance, or your works or even hope. You consciously decide by FAITH to see Jesus as your Lord and Savior. When you make that decision it is as significant as saying “I DO” at the wedding altar. Do you remember the song titled “I Met the Master”? by Dottie West

Like a babe when it cries
For its His mother
Like a child I was helpless and alone
Then I met the Master
And now I, I am one of His own
CHORUS
For all things were changed
When He found me
And a new day broke through
All around me
For I met the Master
Now I belong to Him

When you meet the Master, and your eyes are opened to His Deity, His Sacrifice His Resurrection, YOU KNOW IT!

Life Application: Because Jesus loves and chooses me, I can follow Him.

Peter Discovers Jesus is the Son of God2. Worship Him

Bible Story: Peter’s Discovery  Matthew 14:22-33

In this event Peter discovered what it means to worship Jesus. When Jesus saved his life, it brought a totally new perspective to his view of Jesus. And when the other disciples saw just a glimpse of who Jesus really was, they changed from seeing a ghost to seeing the “Son of God”

Life Application: Because Jesus is the Son of God, I can worship Him.

Peter Denies knowing Jesus3. Confess Him

Bible Story: Peter’s Challenge Luke 22:31-34 Luke 22:54-62 Luke 23:44-46  Luke 24:1-12

Even though Peter knew Jesus was the Son of God, it took the sight of the empty tomb to wake him up to the unbelievable truth that Jesus truly is the Son of God. Until we see Jesus as He truly is, we are not able to confess Him as our Savior and Lord.

Life Application: Because Jesus died for me, I can confess Him as my Savior.

Feed My Sheep Peter4. Serve Him

Bible Story: Peter’s Mission John 21:1-19

Even though Peter failed Jesus at His greatest hour of need, Jesus forgave Peter. But Jese did not allow Peter to continue to sulk and live with a defeatist circle of regret. He urged Peter to focus on what Jesus called him to do – Feed my sheep!

Life Application: Because Jesus forgives me, I can still serve Him.

Peter Obeys Rhoda Answers5. Obey Him

Bible Story: Peter’s Obedience Acts 12:1-17

Even though the danger of death and martyrdom was facing Peter and the disciples, they continued to be faithful to Jesus. They continued to OBEY!

Life Application: Because Jesus helps me, I can follow God’s plan for me.

JESUS IS THE ROCK

Jesus is the RockThere is a famous rock in Australia. Some call it Ayers, others Uluru. Uluru is one of Australia’s most recognizable natural icons. The world-renowned sandstone formation stands 348 m (1,142 ft) high (863 m/2,831 ft above sea level) with most of its bulk below the ground, and measures 9.4 km (5.8 mi) in circumference.

Uluru is notable for appearing to change color as the different light strikes it at different times of the day and year, with sunset a particularly remarkable sight when it briefly glows red.

Jesus and the Bloodwood treeAt the base of ULURU is an abundance of Bloodwood Trees. The Aborigines use the wood of the Centralian Bloodwood for spearheads and boomerangs.

The tree trunk and branches are thorned and become more gnarled with age, lending to it’s attractive appearance. The wood of the tree is heavy and extremely hard and dense. Freshly cut wood will readily sink in water. The sap of the Bloodwood tree is a deep red. The natives use it as a disinfectant.Campeche is a valuable dyewood, it is said to be ready for felling when about 8 years old. The wood, deprived of its bark and sap-wood, is sent the market in the form of large blocks and billets. The wood can dry out, yet still retain its potency. Both hematoxylin and hematein are still commonly used for bacteriological and histological stains. Bloodwood also has other interesting uses. In herbal medicine systems it is employed as a natural remedy for anemia, dysentery and diarrhea, intestinal parasites, tuberculosis, and for menstrual disorders. The bark is used internally for diarrhea, and dysentery; externally as an astringent disinfectant for wounds and skin ulcers.

Is Jesus your Rock? Has his precious, perfect blood cleansed you of your sin, and made you a born again child of God?

Come to the “Rock of Ages”

Boomerang Express Verse: In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9

God loves you! You are separated from God because of your sin. The wages of your sin is death and eternal separation in Hell from Holy God. God’s Love required that a way might be found, a way to redeem sinful man from this sin penalty, and at the same time, satisfy the righteous requirements of Holy God’s Law. God’s Love REQUIRED the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son. Jesus Christ is the REASON that we know God loves us, wants to have a living relationship with us. Jesus Christ, and Him living in our lives is the RESULT when you come to Him as Savior. If you Confess Jesus Christ as your own savior and Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead- you shall be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom 10:9,10)

Is Jesus Christ YOUR Rock? Have you been born again? Does Jesus live in you? Do you KNOW without a doubt that you will spend eternity with God?

Following are pictures drawn by a friend of my family, David Melton. David drew these for the book “This Man Jesus”. I have two of the original drawings. I like the way David captured the essence of both Peter and Jesus. You may use them as you wish.

Jesus washes peter meltonpeter denies jesus meltonJesus saves Peter meltonJesus follow me by Melton