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Tag: trust

Faith in the Face of the Furnace

The English language is always changing! Every year, new words and phrases are added to our vocabulary and old ones are dropped out. For example, in 2019, the Webster’s Dictionary added over 600 new words & phrases. Some of these were words like:

Screen time: We’re certainly getting a lot of that these days

Go-cup: That’s just a disposable cup that would hold your coffee or other drink as you take it ‘to go’ from a resturant

Detectorist: one who uses a portable metal detector as a hobby to find lost coins and artifacts and such…

Double-dipping: You’d think that one would have been the in the dictionary already, but that was new for 2019

Chai Latte: We apparently talk about those enough to warrant an entry in the dictionary.

And I would guess that most, if not all, of those terms are familiar to you – that’s why they’ve been added to the dictionary. Everybody uses those terms and phrases.

Of course, in the 2020 edition of the Webster’s Dictionary, there will be a whole new set of words to be added.

Words like:  Coronavirus, Covid-19, Social Distancing, Self-isolation, Flattening the curve,

These are all terms that we’ve all come to know very well in just a very short period of time. And hopefully, these are words that will drop out of use just as quickly! I think we’re all looking forward to the time when no one needs to use the terms ‘self-isolation’ or ‘social distancing’ anymore.

But this morning, and actually for the next few weeks, I want to talk about three other words. These three words have been around pretty much forever – and according to the Bible – they will continue to be around pretty much forever.

You see, I was reading 1 Corinthians chapter 13 this week – which is often referred to as the ‘love’ chapter of the Bible. It talks about all the things that love is – love is kind, love is patient, love is not proud, love is not jealous – all those things….

But at the end of that chapter – there is short little verse that just seemed to catch my attention this week. It goes like this in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verse 13:

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What God Has Called Us To Do

With everything that has been happening in the last couple of weeks, I’ve wondered whether we should continue our study in the book of 1 Peter or if we should re-adjust our focus to something else. And I am still considering that for the weeks ahead, but for this week anyway, I do want to continue in 1 Peter. 

However, as we’ve just finished up chapter 2 last week, our next passage in chapter 3 is Peter’s instructions for how husbands and wives are to relate to one another. And if you’ve looked at this passage, there are some pretty controversial things written there so I want to be careful that I present this passage in a way that is accurate and consistent with what the rest of the Bible says. I don’t want to say things or not say things simply because they don’t fit our modern cultural expectations. So that’s going to take a little bit of extra study on my part.

However, with the craziness of this week, I’m simply haven’t had the time for that extra study, so for today, I want to skip down just a little bit for now to a passage that is a little bit more straight forward – and we’ll come back to this passage later. I want to look today at 1 Peter chapter 3, verses 8 to 12. And this I think is very applicable to all of us – especially in light of all that’s going on in our world over these past weeks.

So let me begin by reading these verses to you: Peter writes in 1 Peter chapter 3 starting at verse 8:

8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. 10 For the Scriptures say,

“If you want to enjoy life

    and see many happy days,

keep your tongue from speaking evil

    and your lips from telling lies.

11 Turn away from evil and do good.

    Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,

    and his ears are open to their prayers.

But the Lord turns his face

    against those who do evil.”

1 Peter 3:8-12

Now again, I’ll remind you why Peter is writing this letter. You’ll recall that Peter addressing Christians who are living in exile – some them literally exiled from their homes because of persecution – But all of them living in exile as Christians in an unbelieving world. As citizens of the Kingdom of God, we pledge allegiance to different King and we live under his authority and His rule. 

The values and priorities and practices of those in the kingdom of God are often very different from those in the kingdom of this world. And so these Christians to whom Peter was writing, were living very differently from the people around them. And because of this, many around them began to view these Christians with a great deal of suspicious – as if they were some strange cult or something – and therefore, the Christians at that time began to face increasing hostility.

And I can imagine, that without the support and care of the others in their church family, these Christians would feel very much alone. Some of them were physically alone – without their extended families nearby to support and encourage them. Others may have felt spiritually alone – perhaps being the only Christian in their family or their circle of friends. To these people living in exile – whether physically or relationally – being cared for and loved by their church family was extremely important! And so that’s why Peter writes these words in verse 8.

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Submission Equals Trust

Last week, we waded into a potentially controversial topic. You see, for the past several weeks, we’ve been talking about the church in your house. That church being, of course, your family.

When we started this series, we noted that “church” is not just a building or an event – but it’s people. The church is the family of God. And anyone who has put their trust in Jesus is part of that family.

That means, that if your family is part of the family of God, then your home is really like a little mini-church. There is a church in your house – and each person in your house has a role to play in that church. So what are those roles?

Well over the course of these past few weeks, we’ve spend quite a bit of time looking specifically at the roles of husbands and wives in marriage and we’ve discovered that God has actually designed our marriages to be modelled after Christ’s relationship with his church. 

We’ve discovered that husbands are to play the role of Christ – and we are to do for our families exactly what Christ has done for us.  Not that we can die on a cross for the forgiveness of sins, but we are are to love our wives with that same self-sacrificing love that Christ demonstrated for all of us. Likewise, wives are to play the part of the church – relating to their husbands in the same way as the church relates to Christ.

And this is where the potential controversy comes in. In describing this role of the church as it relates to Christ and the role of wives as they relate to their husbands, the Bible describes this role as one of submission. Ephesians 5:22 says…

22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24

Now in our modern North American culture of 2019, this idea of wives submitting to their husbands often comes across as a very negative thing. Many would say that it is demeaning to women – that it robs them of their true value and worth and degrades them as second class citizens.

But that understanding of submission is not at all what the Bible teaches. In fact, I would argue that Biblical submission actually goes the opposite way – it actually affirms the incredible value and worth of women. 

Think of it like this: It’s kinda like how the president of the United State puts his trust in his secret service body guards. To a certain extent, the president places himself under the care and protection of his body guards. The president is the important one – and those bodyguards affirm that because they are willing to take a bullet to keep him safe.

Well, in Biblical submission – the husband is the bodyguard. God has entrusted him with the job of keeping her safe. In fact, the definition that we’ve been looking at for headship is this:

Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christlike servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home. ~ John Piper

The husband is the bodyguard. That’s why the Bible tells husbands to love their wives like they love their own bodies! We are to be willing take a bullet both figuratively and literally for our wives. We put her good ahead of our own!

Of course, this is exactly what we see Jesus doing for us. He took the bullet – he died on the cross for our sin so that we could live. Why? Was it because he thought we were worthless and second-class citizens? No way! He did that because of how valuable we are to him. Ephesians 2:4 says…

4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians 2:4-5

Jesus took the bullet for us because he loved us sooo much! When we accept Christ as our Lord and saviour – when we willingly submit ourselves under his leadership, under his provision, and under his protection – that doesn’t de-value us in any way. It’s actually the opposite – what Christ has done for us affirms how valuable we are to God.

So when it comes to our roles in marriage, in the same way, I think submission only affirms the great value and worth of our wives.

For a woman to willingly submit to her husband means that she knows without a shadow of a doubt that he loves her like crazy – and that he will sacrifice his own good for her good! When she places herself under his protection and provision and leadership, that’s a huge responsibility for him! For him to take on that responsibility, he has got to think the world of this girl!

Biblical submission in marriage should only affirm the incredible worth and value of our wives.

But that being said, that’s not always what we see in the world around us, and it’s not always what we experience even in our own marriages.

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The Joy of the Lord

We’re going to pick up our story today in Genesis chapter 21 – hopping over chapters 19 & 20 – but I would certainly encourage you to go back and read those chapters sometime this week – that will help you fill in the blanks of the story yourself.

Now while you’re turning to Genesis 21 in your Bibles, let me give you just a really quick summary of the story so far.

As I’ve pointed out before, the key issue in the whole story of Abraham is the issue of descendants. Namely that Abraham had none. One of the first bits of information that we read about Abraham was that his wife Sarah, had been unable to become pregnant. And of course, this is a big deal for any family, but it was particularly an issue for Abraham’s family because God had specifically promised to Abraham that his descendants would grow to become a great nation and they would inherit the land of Canaan or as we often call it “the Promised Land”. God was going to bless all of Abraham’s descendants and they in turn would be a blessing to every family on the earth.

However, through most of our story, Abraham has been childless. Several times God has appeared and reaffirmed his promise to Abraham – but by the time Abraham was 85, he still had no child on the horizon. So Abraham and Sarah decided to be proactive and help God out a little bit. They decided that Abraham should have a child with Sarah’s servant, Hagar. This was culturally acceptable – but was certainly not what God had in mind. The problems and the discord that this caused in the family became evident almost immediately. As soon as Hagar was pregnant, Hagar treated Sarah with contempt and Sarah treated Hagar so harshly that she ran away even before the child was born. Thankfully, God intervened and Hagar returned to Sarah and Abraham – and in due time, Hagar had her baby – little Ishmael.

Well, for many years, Abraham raised Ishmael as his dearly loved, one and only son – the son that he presumed was God’s promised child. But when Ishmael was 13 years old God appeared to Abraham and again reaffirmed his promise that Abraham would have a son – and that son would be born from Sarah – even though she was now 90 years old. God further clarified that Sarah’s son, Isaac, would be the one whom God would bless and would cause his descendants to grow to be a great nation – they would inherit the promised land, and they would be a blessing to every family on earth.

Of course, this was exactly what God had promised 24 years earlier – God’s plans had not changed even though Abraham and Sarah had not been careful to follow his plan. Despite their lack of faith, God remained faithful and today, we finally get to the part of the story where God finally does exactly what he said he would do for Abraham & Sarah. So in Genesis chapter 21, verse 1 we read:

The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would. Genesis 1:1-2

I love how this chapter starts: The Lord kept his word. He did exactly what he had promised. Despite the impossibility of it all – (considering that Abraham and Sarah were well past the age of having children – Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90) – despite the impossibility of them having children, God kept his Word.

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Trusting a Person – Not a Plan

Last week Jesse and Greg gave us a fine demonstration of a three-legged race. With a little duct tape to ensure they were perfectly in sync, they made their way across the stage – and believe it or not, they did it without disaster. I guess they’ve known each other long enough and worked with one another often enough to successfully journey together and travel in sync without tripping each other up.

And all of this was an illustration for us of what our walk with God sometimes looks like.

Now of course, we don’t have duct tape to keep us perfectly in sync with God as we attempt to walk with Him in our day to day lives – but that’s the goal. To walk in sync with God – to follow his lead, to do as He does, and to stay close by His side as we journey through life together with Him.

But without that duct tape, it seems we often get out of sync with God. We drift away, we do our own thing – and as often happens in a three-legged race – before we know it, we find our selves flat on our faces.

But the good news is that we can learn to walk with God with minimal faceplants. And the key word there is “learn”. It doesn’t come automatically. It takes time and practice to learn to consistently walk with God. Thankfully, God is incredibly patient with us – and He leads us gently, always encouraging us to get up once again and have another go at it – just to take it one step at a time.

And fortunately for us, God has also given us some great teachers too. We can look to the pages of Scripture to find many examples of men & women who – over a lifetime – learned to walk with God and so we can learn from their examples. One of those great examples, as I mentioned last week, was Abram.

Now Abram was a guy who didn’t start learning to walk wth God until he was about 75 years old – which seems really late in life, but considering that he lived to be 175, he still had about 100 years to practice and learn how to walk with God. So I think Abram’s 100 years of experience can offer us a lot to learn from. And so for the next several weeks, we want to take a look at Abram’s life – leaning from his example as he learned to walk with God.

Now last week, we saw Abram’s very first steps of faith. While he was still living with his father, Terah, God appeared to Abram and told him to leave his homeland and his father’s family, and to go to the place that God would show him.

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