Archive for the ‘Service’ Category


Most  people have seen “Achmed the Dead Terrorist” with comedian Jeff Dunham

  • He is known for yelling, “Silence! I kill you!” to Dunham and people in the audience
  • His favorite Christmas song is “Jingle Bombs”.
  • When Jeff mentions that Achmed appears to be dead because he’s a skeleton, Achmed responds, “It’s a flesh wound.”
  • When Dunham inquires as to how he died, Achmed explains his incompetence with explosives, by saying that they both suffer from “premature detonation.”

Achmed went to a Doctor for an examination. The Doctor examines Achmed and says it looks like he has scoliosis, and orders an X-Ray. Achmed says, “why don’t you just take a Polaroid?”

Paul wants us to see the Polaroid of our Body the way God Sees it: And He wants us to answer this question – Who’s Got  Your Body? Paul presents foundational truth about our body and we must allow that truth to replace our experience.

Whatever contradicts the truth of God’s Word is to be  regarded as the Devil’s Lie, not because it may not be in itself a very real fact to our senses, but because God has stated a greater fact before which the other must eventually yield. Nee NCL p 75.

The body (flesh) is sin’s special sphere of operation. Man is a slave to sin because his body is sin’s puppet. The moment the body is disengaged or disemployed from sin, we cease to be sin’s slave. Our body is liberated from sin’s power and influence. The old man is crucified to release the body from the dominion of sin. With sin’s partner, the old man, crucified, and the new man taking its place, sin’s power over the body is broken.

Let’sl look at what God wants us to do with this body, this flesh. He wants us to believe what His Word says is true. If you recall, we looked at Romans 6 verse 6 and discovered that is our old man was crucified with Christ. Then we looked at Romans 6:11 and saw how we are to count (or reckon) on our old man being dead. The Christian life is not to be a life of following rules, or fleshly struggling to overcome sin. The Christian life is lived in the Grace of God and in His power. God has provided our deliverance rom sin, not by abolishing it, not by removing our flesh, but by removing the old man!

Now we continue on in Romans starting at verse 12, and we discover a new command:

1. COMMAND…

(6:12) Believer’s are commanded to not let sin rule over their bodies. This is a forceful command.

  1. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Romans 6:12

1. We Must Not Let Sin Reign

(basileuetō): have authority, rule, control, occupy, hold sway, prevail over him. The present tense is used, so the idea is a continuous attitude and behavior.

  • “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Cor. 15:34).
  • “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

Our bodies are dying (mortal-thnetos). Our bodies are unemployed (body of sin annulled Rom 6:6)

2. We Must Not Obey (To yield to a superior command or force) sin in its lusts (epithumiais).

The word means strong desire or craving and passion. The pull of sin is sometimes strong, very strong. All men know what it is to lust after things, after more and more, whether it be money, property, security, position, pleasure, fun, or fleshly stimulation. The true believer must not yield to these pulls. He must not let the lusts of his eyes and flesh rule and regulate his mind and behavior. He must not let lust order his life. He must not obey sin in its lusts, in its cravings and desires and passions. He must resist the lusts of his “mortal body.”

  • “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29).
  • “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:13).
  • “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14).
  • “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2).

2. PRESENT…

vs 13: Present yourselves to God

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Romans 6:13

1. (6:13)  Body is an instrument (hóplon)

The body is not the source of sin, but the Bible says and man’s experience proves that the body is the instrument of sin, the organ which sin uses to manifest and satisfy itself. But Romans 6:6 says our body is unemployed, it is annulled, put out of action when it comes to the power of sin. Now our bodies are free to be instruments fit for the Master!

2.  (6:13) We Must Not Present The Members Of Our Body To Sin.

The word “present” (paristēmi) means to offer; to put at the disposal of; to give; to grant; to turn over to. Some translations use yield, but that implies a passive action. The idea is much more active in its intent. You are to present your bodies to God as instruments for His use. The believer is not to allow the members of his body to be instruments or tools of unrighteousness. If he takes a member of his body and uses it as an instrument or tool of unrighteousness, he sins.

“Do Not Present” is in the imperative, which means it is a command, a command in the present, which means we must always be aware that we do not present ourselves as instruments of sin. Therefore, we must be vigilant in watching who we serve.

But the “present yourselves to God” is in the aorist tense, which means a onetime action that you make. It is not something you do over and over. Just as the golden vessels were presented to the Lord one time, just as Samuel was presented by his mother one time, so you must at one time present your members unto God, for Him to use as He sees fit. God will then be responsible for your body. From that day we must watch who we are yielded too, and lest we forget, God will constantly remind us.

3. We Present Ourselves To God.

Note a significant fact: in the Greek this is not written in the present tense, but in the aorist tense. This simply means the believer is to make a one-time decision for God, a once-for-all dedication of his life to God. We do not just yield- that has the idea of ‘passive surrender’! No, we actively present ourselves to God as His New Creation!

The presentation of your life to God is to be sincere and genuine—a one time decision. You are to yield yourself—your body, your life, all that you are—to God; and your decision is to be a permanent, one time decision.

We present our members to God as instruments of righteousness. Turn the members of your body over to God: your eyes, ears, mouth, tongue, hands, feet, mind—all your members. Every part of your body is to be given over as an instrument or tool to do righteousness.

Present to God as one who has passed from death to life. God doesn’t want the old man, God wants our new life! Our flesh is unemployed, so He wants to employ it, but We must consciously present it to Him!

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

3. LEARN…

(6:14-15) Sin does not dominate true believers. We are under grace and not under the law.

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Romans 6:14-15

1. Struggling to Keep the Law is an act of the Flesh

The believer is constantly aware that he fails and comes short of the law. He struggles and strives, wrestles and grapples, works and labors to obey; but his experience is full of tension and pressure, disappointment and discouragement. The person under law never lives a victorious life, for he is constantly coming short of God’s glory and perfection. The defeated Christian is relying upon his flesh and self-will to overcome sin.

  • This is not God’s Way!

God’s way is the power of His Grace!

  • “For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (Psalm 38:4).
  • “For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me” (Psalm 40:12).
  • “For I acknowledge my transgressions and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).

2.  We Are Under Grace, Not Under Law.

God is not a legal judge hovering over you to punish you every time you sin by breaking a particular law.

What does being under grace mean? It means that the believer accepts the grace of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ. The believer accepts the righteousness, the sinless perfection of Christ as his own righteousness. The believer identifies his life with the life of Christ,

God counts the faith of the believer as the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

  • How do we keep from serving sin and from living under sin and from displeasing God?
  • How do we live under grace day by day?
  • How do we live under God’s favor all of the time?
  • How can we please God and receive His approval and acceptance?

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31

We must constantly keep before us the glorious truth that we are under God’s grace.

God is our Father, and we have become true children of God’s. We are only accepted and beloved in Jesus Christ. We abide in Jesus Christ. As long as we abide, we bear fruit. If we fail to abide by faith, we do not bear fruit.

We have need of daily cleansing. There are presumptuous sins, there are sins of omission and commission. Jesus said we will need our feet washed as we travel this earth. Sin will be around us, but sin does not have control over us.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

3.  Are We Allowed To Continue In Sin?

Can we sin and sin and keep on expecting God to forgive and forgive? Scripture shouts: God forbid! Then Scripture argues that a true child of God must not continue in sin. Why does the true child of God not sin? Why does he keep away from sin?

⇒  Because the grace of Christ indwells us!

“For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee” (Psalm 5:4).

⇒  Because we turned to God in order to get away from sin and its shame and destruction.

He did not turn to God in order to have the freedom to sin, but to be set free from the enslavement and habits of sin, to break the bondage and consequences of sin.

  • “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death” (Romans 6:21).
Sin is not to dominate the believer

We as Children of God must learn something: sin will not and does not dominate the true believer. There are three reasons.

1.  God is not a legal judge hovering over the child to punish him every time he sins by breaking a particular law. The child is not under such frightening dominion.

2.  God is a gracious and loving Father. He cares and suffers long with growing children. When His child falls into sin, God is long-suffering, ever willing to forgive His erring child—if the child will only come and ask forgiveness and turn from his sin (Luke 17:3-4; 1 John 1:9).

3.  God is a teaching Father who disciplines. He exhorts His child not to fall into the dominating trap of sin (cp. Hebrews 12:5-11; 1 John 2:1-2).

The truth of our NEW LIFE in Christ is that we live in and experience the power of grace!

4. KNOW

vs 16: Know that you can only serve one master

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16

1.  You Can Serve Only One Master, Sin Or God.

The word “servant” (doulos) means slave. A person is either the slave of sin or of God, and there is a very simple test to tell which master a person serves. Do you yield to sin, that is, serve sin? or do you yield to God, that is, serve God? Either sin is your master or God is your Master. You either yield to sin or you yield to God. This does not mean that you become sinless and perfect, but that…

  • you do not plan to sin.
  • you depend upon the life of Jesus
  • you diligently seek to make God the Master of your life by obeying Him.
  • you study God’s Word so that you will know His commandments and can obey Him.
  • you walk in open confession before God, talking to Him all day long, ever gaining an unbroken fellowship with Him as the Master of your life.

2. You walk in the flesh, or you walk in the Spirit!

You either walk by sight, or your walk by faith!

  • “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 .
  • “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34).
  • “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).
  • “While they [the carnal or fleshy] promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage” (2 Peter 2:19).

5. REMEMBER…

vs. 16-17 Remember your decision to obey

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. Romans 6:17-18

1. Remember Your Decision. You Chose Righteousness.

  • Note the stated fact: believers “were the servants of sin.”

You used to yield to sin, all kinds of sin ranging from…

language and media
⇒  immoral thoughts to adultery.
⇒  simple thoughts of pride to drunkenness.
⇒  simple acts of selfishness to stealing.
⇒  self-centeredness from eating to what you buy and what you do.
⇒  hurting and using people

You obeyed God! Not in your flesh, not just obedience to a bunch of rules, but you obeyed from your heart!

  • “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment” (1 John 3:23).
  • “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

2. Note The Result: We Are Freed From Sin.

They are counted righteous by God, not sinful. God sees believers as righteous people, not as sinners. Therefore, believers are freed from sin and its consequences. God does not charge believers with sin; He does not lay sin against them. Believers are freed from the accusation of sin, and they shall never be charged with sin. God has freed them from sin through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (cp. Romans 8:33-34).

We become the servant of righteousness. Once we truly know God’s glorious love, we are driven to serve God in appreciation for what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. We are driven to be the servant of God by living righteously and godly in this present world.

6. DO…

I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. Romans 6:19-20

1. Do Serve God With The Same Fervor That You Served Sin.

Your body was a slave to sin because your old man was very much alive. All the old man could do was influence your body to sin. Sin held sway over our old man, so our dress, our attitudes, our speech and our thoughts all give way to the bondage of sin. Our thinking gets so upside down that we think everything we do is OK! We ‘justify’ ourselves, our actions, our attitudes and our words. But we are enemies of God.

Sin always produces more sin. As Romans 1 illustrated, sin is a downward spiral that results in our world being turned opposite of what God’s view is. Sin enslaves. Sin becomes a binding chain that produces habits that we simply ‘tolerate’ and even accept. “iniquity unto iniquity” – Iniquity issuing in an abiding iniquitous state

2. Present Your Members As Slaves To Righteousness That Work Holiness

“Let righteousness work holiness” (hagiasmon). The word means sanctification or holy. The believer is to yield the parts of his body to serve righteousness, and he is to let righteousness sanctify him more and more. He is to live righteously and become more and more holy like God.

When you served sin, you were free from righteousness: you were not credited with righteousness. You did not have the opportunity to live righteously before God. But now you have obeyed God; you have believed. Now you have the opportunity to live righteously, so begin to serve God with the same fervor and energy with which you were serving sin. Let righteousness enslave you and become the bondage and habit of your life.”

  • “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14).
  • “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
  • “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24).
  • “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:2-5).
  • “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
  • “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2).

7. QUESTION…

What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. Romans 6:21-22

1.  Question if there is any fruit in sin. (Of Course Not!)

The true believer is ashamed of his past sin.

  • “And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10).
  • “And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens” (Ezra 9:6).

The fruit of sin is death. The fruit of sin is not good; there is nothing good about it. Sin corrupts, destroys, and dooms all who seek its fruits. This should always be remembered by men.

David struggled with this:

Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Psalms 73:12-19

2.  Real Fruit Belongs To Believers Who Are Slaves Of God.

We are “set free” from the corruption of sin by justification in Jesus Christ. Through the blood of Jesus, we are justified in God’s sight. We are declared as righteous as Jesus Christ because we are IN Christ the glorious love of God. We now owe our new life to God himself. Our members are His, set apart as Holy just as the Temple vessels were.

We now bear the fruit of that leads to sanctification and eternal life.

  • “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
  • “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
  • “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).
  • “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (1 Thes. 3:12-13).

Bearing The Glorious Hope And End Of Eternal Life.

  • “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
  • “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together” (John 4:36).
  • “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

8.  CONSIDER…

v 23: the wages of sin vs. the gift of God, of eternal life.

Death (thanatos): the basic meaning of death is separation. “Death never means extinction, annihilation, non-existence, or inactivity.”

Sin deserves death for two very clear reasons. Sinners Live their lives without God, so they will Live their Eternities without God.

1.  Sin ignores and denies God

  • Acts against His nature.
  • Acts in the interest of man.

2.  Sin is rebellion against God.

  • It is rejecting God, ignoring God, disobeying God, denying God,
  • It refuses to Give God His proper place in our life.

They have no part of God.  They are to be banished from God’s sight.They are to be separated from God’s presence forever. They will experience the wrath of God that Jesus experienced for them on the Cross.

As a laborer receives his wages, so sinners shall receive their wages. Each and every day you ignore God and refuse Jesus Christ, you are storing up God’s wrath upon your life. Just as it would be unjust not to pay the laborer, it would be unjust not to pay sinners for their work.

In fact, if sinners did not receive their just punishment, it would be the most gross injustice to His Son, Jesus Christ. Why? Because God would be saying to His Son; your death didn’t mean a thing. Your pain, your suffering, your very life was all a waste. When you experienced Hell for the sake of sinners, it did not mean a thing, becasue I’m going to let them into heaven anyway! Ghastly thought!

Sinners must receive their just wages. Sinners must die; They must be banished forever from the presence of God.

  • “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
  • “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15).
  • “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thes. 1:9).
  • “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. (Ezekiel 18:20).

3.  The gift of God is eternal life.

Note that eternal life is not the payment of wages. A man cannot work for and earn eternal life. It is the gift of God, and it is only through Jesus Christ our Lord

  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
  • “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).

Have you Presented Your Body to God?

Consecration begins when we realize the old man is dead-knowing, reckoning, presenting.

When we know our old man is crucified, then we reckon ourselves dead to sin, and alive unto God. Giving myself to Him naturally follows, for we realize that my newness of life is based upon His resurrection, and indeed my very life is in Him! When we realize that Jesus is our very life, then we naturally give Him everything!

Unless I pass through death, there is nothing to consecrate to Him, there is nothing God can accept, for God has condemned my old man to the cross.

Consecration (presenting) means that I consider my whole life as belonging to Him.

Money in my pocket -if it is mine, I can do whatever I want. If it belongs to another, then the money is in my trust, and I cannot buy what I please.

How many of us realize that because Christ is risen, we are alive “unto God and not unto ourselves.

We belong to another, and we dare not squander a cent of our money, a second of our time or any of our mental or physical powers on anything other than what the Lord wants!

What is Holiness?

When we give ourselves wholly to Christ, that is holiness. We do not become holy by the eradication of something evil within. We become holy by being separated unto God! We have gone to the Cross and discovered not only must we kneel at the feet of Jesus and let His blood cover our sins and cloth us with His righteousness.

Our Journey does not end there, it only begins. For the next step is to join Him on the cross and realize that our old man was crucified with Him that we should no longer serve sin. Once we know that our old man was crucified, we count on it, we reckon it to be true in our life.

Then we present ourselves to Jesus. We don’t give Him any of the old man, that is dead. We give him our unemployed body, our hands, our feet, our face, our self, and we say, put these to work as you see fit. All the old Jim Tompkins is dead, and the life I now life is Jesus living through me.

I give myself to you alone, with my one desire being to know you and to walk with you on the course you have chosen for me. I want nothing for myself! I want everything for God!

Then you can say with Paul, I have finished my course (2 Tim 4:7)

You can say “I know that the will of God is good and acceptable and perfect for me!” (Rom 12:2)

  • How can a tailor make you a suit without the fabric?
  • How can a builder build you a house without the building materials?

We cannot expect the Lord to live out His life in us if we do not give Him our lives in which to live!

Will you present yourselves to God?

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God-Centered SpouseDo you remember what is was like to “fall in love”? Even the wisest man that ever lived, Solomon, could not understand how a man and a woman fall in love:  “There are three things that are too hard for me, really four I don’t understand: the way an eagle flies in the sky, the way a snake slides over a rock, the way a ship sails on the sea, and the way a man and a woman fall in love.” Proverbs 30:18-19 (NCV)

While we may not understand why certain people “fall in love”, we do understand why people “fall out of love.” Because of trials, wrong priorities, selfishness, needs go unmet and two people who were once falling toward each other “in love” are falling away from each other in either hatred or indifference.

Helen Rowland states: “When a girl marries, she exchanges the attentions of all the other men she knew for the inattention of just one man.”

Mudpreacher and lydia datingI remember the first time I ever laid eyes on my wife to be. I was in charge of a freshman reception and was chatting with the incoming freshmen. It was outside, late August, and I was naturally checking out the incoming freshmen girls. I turned around and noticed this shy gal with the sweetest smile and expression. I went over to talk with her and her friends, but there was just something about her that grabbed my heart. She had the sweetest spirit of any girl I had ever met. Well, it wasn’t but a couple months and we were engaged, and marriage came within nine months of our meeting. (Just a coincidence)

We were flying back from our honeymoon and this guy next to me asked if my trip was business or pleasure. I said pleasure, I’m on my honeymoon. He looked at me, mystified, and said, where’s your wife? I said, a couple rows back, cuz they couldn’t get our seats together. We were still at the gate and he said, I’ll be happy to change seats. I said, “Naw, that’s ok, we’ve been together all week.”

Hopefully you can remember those days when you excitedly ran to meet your future wife or husband. You may have even met them at the door wrapped in Saran Wrap, or with a sexy nightie. But soon those days melt away to kids and diapers and headaches. If you’re lucky the kids still come to the door to excitedly greet you. But after they get older, hopefully your dog comes and greets you, wagging his tale. But once he gets too old, you are pretty much on your own.

Studies show that married couples spend an average of just 27 minutes a week actively communicating.

I’m not talking about, Honey, what do you want for dinner? You respond “Ugh” They say OK. That doesn’t count.
I’m talking about meaningful shared conversation.

Most of us fall in love, and if we are not careful, we let trials, selfishness, neglect, anger, problems lead us to fall out of love.

Two Stumbling Sinners Falling Toward God and Each Other

We need to realize it’s ok to stumble, it’s ok to fight, it ok to have struggles in your marriage, as long as you are falling the right way. Falls are inevitable, but we can take some steps that will enable us to control the direction we fall.

Just as my wife and I fell in love rather quickly, the danger is always there that we fall out of love. We learned that love is not a passive emotion. God intends us to actively engage in love, to be purposeful with our love, just as God actively uses marriage to accomplish His purpose for our lives. God wants our marriage to be much more than polite “civil” arrangements. He wants us to be dynamically involved with Him in allowing this marriage to make us more like Jesus Christ.

If you have stopped moving toward your spouse, you have stopped moving toward God. The opposite of “agape” love isn’t hate, it is “apatheia” which is no emotion, indifference, apathy. If you are not purposefully moving toward your spouse, you are indifferent toward your spouse. To make matters worse, if you have stopped moving toward your spouse, your love for God is lacking. God has inextricably combined our love for our spouse with our love for Him.

DIFFICULT FOR MEN

communication difficult for menThis active moving toward your spouse is more difficult for men.

1. Men Are Less Communicative

  • We think warm and fuzzy thoughts about our wife
  • We have trouble expressing those thoughts
  • Men do not realize the damage they do by simply staying quiet

2. Men View Independence As Sign Of Strength And Maturity

  • We must be willing to stand alone
  • God is always moving toward people
  • To flee relationship is an act of cowardice
  • Easier to get someone young
  • Maturing relationship challenges his authority and power
  • We sulk when we don’t get our way.
  • We can’t take the “give and take” of a real relationship, so we pour ourselves into our work and play.

God calls men to centrally move toward your wife. This moving toward your wife is what will mold you into the image of Christ.

There Will Be Emotional Highs and Lows

Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time) wrote a little poem which expresses what many couples feel at one time or another. She directed this toward God:

Dear God,
I hate you.
Love, Madeleine

Her love for God is the foundation of her hate. Even though she hates Him at the moment, she says she still loves him. Even in the moments of anger, betrayal, exasperation and hurt, we are called to pursue this person, to embrace them and to grow toward them.

WE EACH MUST INITIATE INTIMACY

annie hallMarriage is much more than “I agree to never have sex with anyone else.” Marriage is a GIFT of SELF that goes way beyond sexual fidelity. You can have a great marriage in the eyes of the world by doing many external deeds of love, but all the while you are holding back the most precious gift-your inner self. That gift must be consciously and continually given through communication.

Verbal Communication

You need times of communicating, not just through raised voices. You each need to learn how to accommodate your spouse and their particular communication skills or lack thereof:

From Annie Hall: Alvy addresses a pair of strangers on the street:
Alvy Singer: Here, you look like a very happy couple, um, are you?
Female street stranger: Yeah.
Alvy Singer: Yeah? So, so, how do you account for it?
Female street stranger: Uh, I’m very shallow and empty and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say.
Male street stranger: And I’m exactly the same way.
Alvy Singer: I see. Wow. That’s very interesting. So you’ve managed to work out something?

Physical Communication

While men certainly need to discover the importance of nonsexual touching, most wives discover that if a woman is not pursuing her husband sexually, just about every other movement toward her husband will go unnoticed.

“A wife may demonstrate her love in many ways, but it is often negated by her rejection or lack of enjoyment of sex. You may be a great housekeeper, a gourmet cook, a wonderful mother…but if you turn him down consistently in the bedroom oftentimes those things will be negated. To a man, sex is the most meaningful declaration of love and self-worth” (Love that Lasts, p 152). Men and women just have a totally different view about the importance of sex:

In the movie  “Annie Hall” you see a split screen with Annie and Alvy both in conversation with their respective therapist:

Alvy Singer’s Therapist: How often do you sleep together?
Alvy Singer: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.
Annie Hall’s Therapist: Do you have sex often?
Annie Hall: [annoyed] Constantly. I’d say three times a week.

Now communication either verbally or physically is not the focus of this message. (THANK GOD)
What I do want to emphasize is this, communication is important to please God and see Him working in your marriage.

  • Some of you men may say “Why should I talk to her or be affectionate when she never wants to have sex?”
  • Some of you women may say “Why should I have sex when he never talks to me or shows me he cares for me?”

The question you should ask is how can I keep moving toward God when my wife or my husband is causing me so much pain or frustration or problems. The answer will be found in how God wants you to keep falling toward your spouse when you want to do the exact opposite.

Typically a marriage book will say “Well you have to do A if you want to get B! Husbands, if you do this it will get her revved up and jumping into bed. Here is the point-if marriage is about making God happy, it involves a lot more than going to sleep with a smile on your face. God wants to use your marriage for your spiritual benefit and growth. It’s all about God remember?

MARRIAGE METHODS

Differing Approaches to our Spouse1.Self-Centered

  • Withholding Approach –Selfish, moving away, marriage is more about getting what you want
  • Wanting Approach – Basically self – centered; you realize to get what you want, you have to give a little. So you move toward each other, but you still guard yourself. Marriage is a continual process of give and take, but the intimacy is on a constant roller coaster.

2. Spouse-Centered

This is the Willing Approach. You have given your marriage to God and you realize that your spouse is important to you, right or wrong. So you pay her attention, you focus on her needs, you treat her with love. She does the same for you. It’s not always perfect, but for the most part you are willing to honor your spouse.
You can still fall short of spiritual intimacy and growth.

There is a spiritual discipline that you must consider following. It is the:

3. God-Centered

This is the Waiting Approach. You add another dimension to the willing approach. You consider God as you seek to love and communicate with your spouse. In fact, God is the very reason you fall toward her, communicate with her, have physical relations with her. You treat your relationship with your spouse as you do God. No matter what God does good or bad in your life, He is God, and you owe Him your undying devotion and attention. No matter what your spouse does or says, they are your spouse, and you owe them your undying devotion and attention. Wait means “To wait or to look for with eager expectation”

The waiting approach applies if both spouses are moving toward God, or if only one is.

  • Psalms 25:5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
  • Psalms 33:20 Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.
  • Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
  • Hosea 12:6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.
  • Psalms 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

A Christian is never dependent upon the response of others to grow spiritually. He is looking to God and waiting expectantly Our relationship with God is dependent only upon our heart decisions. If you have truly given yourself to God, you will want to give yourself to your spouse. If you are holding back areas of your life from God, you will hold back parts of yourself from God.

The WAITING APPROACH TO MARRIAGE

Waiting Approach to Marriage1. God’s Will and Pleasure is Supreme
2. God uses your marriage and your spouse to refine you into likeness of Christ
3. Just as you keep moving to God, you must keep moving toward your spouse by giving yourself (whether they do or not)
4. You look to God with expectation of His provision and power in your marriage.
5. You Forgive your spouse
6. You Serve your spouse

Fellowship with our spouse that mirrors our fellowship with Christ is one which acknowledges our sinfulness and embraces His forgiveness. The challenge is not to keep on loving the person you thought you married, but to love the person you did marry! (A Sense of Sexuality, p. 197)

Falling Forward will always involve Forgiveness

Marriage must have forgivenessThe Prodigal God showed us that while the Father let the son go, he was constantly looking out for the return, so that He could fall forward upon the neck of his son. We can’t depend upon someone else to determine what we do. God was actively seeking the lost when He sent Jesus to this earth. We often use our spouse’s sin to pull back, to hold back to Withdraw. We all sin, so even in our sin we should fall forward into the arms of God and the arms of each other.

A Stonemason was charged with inscribing a headstone for a woman’s husband. He inscribed the husband’s name and this common phrase: “Rest in Peace”
A few months later the wife discovered that her husband had been unfaithful. In a fury she returned to the stonemason and had him add these words to the gravestone:
Rest in Peace…
Till we meet again.

None of us got married for the reason “It gives us an opportunity to forgive!” But we certainly must…

How to Build a Forgiving Spirit into your Life

1.See Yourself as God Sees You – A Stumbling Sinner

Spirit of ForgivenessTo constantly be moving forward to God means we must be continually forgiven. To see that same spiritual growth in our marriage, and to move toward each other, we must also practice forgiveness. We do so by realizing our need for forgiveness on a daily basis. We must see that sin is anything that we do without dependence upon God. We don’t hold up God’s Law to our spouse and say “How Could You!” If anything, we hold up God’s Law and say forgive me Father, I am unclean. I have no right to condemn.

Romans 3:20 (NIV) Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

The law wasn’t created by God for two spouses to hold each other up to an impossible standard with which they can beat each other over the head. A “self-righteous” spouse is an obnoxious spouse, even though they are momentarily blameless. Eventually the spouse will slip to. The worst thing you can do is to hit your husband over the head with a Bible Verse.

2.Realize to Withhold Forgiveness is to Invite the Cancer of Bitterness into Your Life and Marriage.

Hebrews 12:12-15 (ESV)Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

Focusing on the sin invites a cancer into your life. God says to lift your hands and strengthen your knees and make straight paths, so you can be healed. To not do so, to not forgive, to not seek holiness, you are blocking God from your heart. Instead, bitterness will crust and harden your heart, it will spread, and it will bring more trouble into your life and those around you. This is especially true if you are in a second or third marriage. If there is still unforgiveness from those prior marriages, you are bringing bitterness into your present marriage.

Shoah is a documentary film on the Holocaust. In one scene the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising talks about the bitterness that remains in his heart toward the Germans. “If you could lick my heart, it would poison you!”

3. Forgiveness invites God’s Healing Into Your Marriage and Life

James 5:16 (ESV) Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Example of Forgiveness

How Can I ForgiveGary Thomas tells of Melissa and Bryant, who after 25 years of marriage began facing a severe problem. Melissa discovered Bryant had been cheating on her. She had contracted an STD. Melissa remembers the day Oct 16 1997. She went totally numb. She tried to find answers from the Bible, but she could find none.

To compound the problem, Bryant was pastor of the church they attended, and Melissa sang on the worship team. To her horror, she remembered she was to sing this Sunday at a special service in which most of Bryant’s family would be there. One of those people was her unsaved brother-in-law who was dying of lung cancer.

Surrounded by Bryant’s family, Melissa led the worship team and listened to her husband preach. Then she watched as their brother-in-law came forward and received Christ as his Savior. She thought that even though her pain was devastating, it wasn’t bigger than God.

She remembered looking at her husband and saying “I know I have to forgive you and I’m going to. But she was not flooded with a great sense of forgiveness. She was confronted with the truth of having to forgive.” Forgiveness was the only way she could stay right with God.

In the months that followed Melissa was constantly confronted with forgiving her husband. She learned that there had been more than one affair, and she knew she was in her rights to kick Bryant out of her life. But she said “Forgiveness was the harder option, but I never felt in my heart that divorce was the right thing to do” “I’ve always lived my life by conviction and the harder road is not something I’m afraid to take.” I’ve learned that even when you are in great pain, we’re not excused from considering others and from carrying out our call to witness to God’s faithfulness.”

Melissa told Gary that forgiveness kept bitterness and anger at bay. It saved her marriage, brought Bryant around and moved Melissa many steps closer to more fully modeling the person of Jesus Christ. Melissa took the bitter juice of her marriage and by offering that to God, made spiritual honey in her life.

We love the sinner but hate the sin. Except when it comes to our spouse. Yet, turn the tables around and we love ourselves in spite of our wretched sin. We learn to forgive ourselves to maintain our own health, So why not our spouse?

“As an old man, Bill, looking back on one’s life, it’s one of the things that strike you most forcibly–that the only thing that’s taught one anything is suffering.  Not success, not happiness, not anything like that.  The only thing that really teaches one what life’s about–the joy of understanding, the joy of coming in contact with what life really signifies–is suffering, affliction.”Nearer, My God: An Autobiography of Faith by William F. Buckley, Jr. (Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1997) p. 211; quoting Malcolm Muggeridge.

(This accords with the ancient Greek proverb “pathein mathein”–“to suffer is to learn” and calls to mind that most mysterious of NT verses, Hebrews 5:8, “Though a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered.”)

A God-centered spouse who practices the Waiting Approach:

  1. Waits Upon God
  2. Gives YourSelf By Communicating
  3. Forgives Your Spouse
  4. Waits Upon Your Spouse by Serving

The Waiting Approach requires you to actually wait on your Spouse. You become a servant of your spouse.

Falling Forward will always involve SERVING

Marriage is about becoming a servantThe essence of our falling forward toward God, toward our spouse is found in Phil 2:
Philippians 2:1-8 (NIV) If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 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!

Most marriages begin by bringing certain things to the table:

  • Wife brings her body, her admiration, her dog, her funny personality, her debt, her money, her organizations skills, cooking abilities…
  • Is my wife attractive to me, will she take care of me, wash my clothes, feed me, take care of the home, keep it nice, look good when we go out…
  • Husband brings himself, his career, money, strength, confidence, hopes, dreams, debt, money, endurance, strength, cooking abilities…
  • This is why we marry: Can this guy support me, would he make a good father, do I find him attractive, will he make me feel special and loved.

If you keep expecting from your spouse, you will keep going through those withholding – wanting – willing cycles. Eventually you either get too hurt, or too tired or too anything. You end up leaving because your found someone else that meets your expectations better, or you end up settling, living as individual people separated by a wall of politeness and preoccupation with what you want to do.

A God-Centered Spouse keeps falling toward God and that spouse He brought into your life. You don’t fall away, you fall toward.

  • Forgiveness is a must to keep the hurts from piling up and building that wall of separation.
  • Servant hood is a must to keep you falling toward your spouse.

SO we must learn to ask ourselves: How can I serve my mate? Most people do not enter into marriage with the idea of becoming a servant. It is demeaning to women, and emasculating to men.

Why is it empowering to give yourself as a servant to our Lord Jesus Christ, and yet demeaning or emasculating to give yourself to your spouse as a life-long co-servant? To fully sanctify the marital relationship, we must live it together as Jesus lived His life-embracing the discipline of sacrifice and service as a daily practice. In the same way Jesus gave His body for us, we are to lay down our energy, our bodies and our lives for others, especially our spouse.

Instead of “will you do this for me”
“Will you accept what I want to give?”

You become consumed with how well you are carrying out the duty of serving your spouse.

SERVING YOUR SPOUSE

Serving Your Spouse1.Serving Because God Lives Within Me

1 John 3:16-18 (ESV) 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.

2.Serving Because I Want God To Live In Them

John 3:17 (NIV) For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

  • Serving not because they deserve it
  • Serving regardless of reciprocal treatment

3. Serving With A Willing Spirit

Eph 6:6,7 doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men (your spouse)

  • Dutiful isn’t necessarily beautiful
  • Beauty of God is reflected in our attitude and Spirit
    • Verbal expressions –sigh, puff of exasperation, rolling of eyes, hunched up shoulders, the headache grimace, grunting when I have to do something.
    • Expressed attitudes reveal a self-serving spirit, a wanting spirit, a selfish spirit.

4. Serving in Practical Matters

a.Time & Money

  • Quarrels over money reflect a demand to “own” our own life rather than serve each other with our money, our things and our existence.
  • How much am I willing to sell my marriage for-30 pieces of silver?
  • Ask, how does spending this money serve my spouse?
  • Am I putting money before my spouse?
  • Same applies to our time and the things we use to occupy it.
  • Am I spending time to serve my spouse?

b.Sex

In 1958, when Player won his first tour event in Kentucky, he was asked for his reaction to a new Callaway driver he had helped develop and used during the victory. “Like a fool, I said that if I had to choose between the driver and my wife, well, I’d miss her,” Player recalls, laughing. “A week later I’m at the next tournament in Oregon and I walk in the (hotel) room and there’s my driver on the bed with a negligee wrapped around it.

  • Sex brings a husband and a wife under tremendous relational power.
  • Sex can cure everything from depressions, to migraine headaches, although those usually keep you from wanting sex.
  • Sex between a husband and wife can be a powerful experience in serving.
  • Likewise it can reveal the lack of serving.

The problem with illicit sexual behavior – sex between other people besides a married husband and wife, is it focuses on getting. Sex becomes the preoccupation, rather Than the needs of the spouse. Each spouse should constantly be asking:

  • Is sex something I’m giving or withholding
  • Is sex something I’m demanding or offering
  • Is sex something I am using as a tool of manipulation or as an expression of generous love?
  • If God looked at nothing other than my sexuality, would he consider me a mature Christian or as a near pagan.

God-centered Spouses see God in every aspect of their marriage.

See God in Your MarriageForgiveness and Serving-two powerful results of focusing our lives on God. When our spouse errs, hurts, even abuses us, we forgive for Christ sake who loved and gave himself to us. This forgiveness is not dependent upon anything our spouse does. We must not allow any bitterness or resentment or hurt or pain get in the way of our relationship with God. We must not allow our partners sin build a wall of bitterness on our heart.

Serving is the way we see God in a more powerful way. We need to see Him in our lives, or else we won’t have the strength or the spirit to serve. We must see that by serving our spouse, we are serving God, and God will use this to open our spouse’s heart to God. We must see the importance of service in every aspect of our marriage – money sexual relations, spending time. Marriage and the willingness to serve will bring the reality of the cross to your life.

Do you see the face of God in your spouse? Do you see God as your Father-in-Law, watching the way you regard his son or his daughter.

Servant LeadershipJesus knew that the time of His death was near. He also knew that none of his disciples would stay with him. He knew Peter would deny Him, Judas would betray Him. Yet Jesus went one by one and washed their feet. Do you think he really rubbed Judas feet till they hurt? No Jesus washed each one as if he was washing the feet of His Father. He wanted God to be so much in their lives.

Becoming TotallyMarriedAre You Falling Toward Your Spouse? Or Are You Falling Away?