GETTING SPANKED?!

November 7, 2018

GETTING SPANKED?!

I put a question mark there in case you are trying to figure out what is happening to you and an exclamation point in case you know what’s happening to you.

  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous” (Heb. 12:11a).

  Our Father chastens us “for our own profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness” (Heb. 12:10). We are not chastened because we deserve it, but because we need it. And there is no wrath in His child-training.

Many have the wrong idea of that word ‘chastening.’ We think, perhaps, that it represents God as having a big stick in His hand and knocking us about all the time. You have only to make a mistake and down comes the big stick! That, of course, is a totally wrong conception of the Father, and is not at all what the word means. The word ‘chastening’ simply means child-training, which has to do with sonship. Sonship in our Father’s mind is to have people who are reliable and responsible, who know in their own hearts what is right and what is wrong, and do not have to be constantly told and admonished.

We should always look at our difficulties in the light of this training. It often seems that the life of a Christian is more difficult than any other life, and more troubles come to us than to anyone else. Whether we recognize it or not, these difficulties and troubles which come to us are to train us for something and to develop in us the spirit of sonship; that is, to develop spiritual intelligence and spiritual ability in us.”

One of the main purposes of all the Father’s dealings with us is to bring us into a greater knowledge of His Son. We never know anything about greatness unless we have a great need to know it. Therefore we are brought into situations where we must know something much greater than we already know. This is why our Father brings His children into difficult circumstances—that they may learn how great their Lord Jesus is.

  “Nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised by it” (Heb. 12:11b).

GOD BLESS FROM SCUMLIKEUSCHURCH@GMAIL.COM

Pray for Ronnie R, his grandson 11 has developed serious heart problems

Pray for Robbey H, 50, and having heart complications, also pray for his salvation.

Pray for Terri I, married twice, she is dipping her toe back into the dating pool

Pray for Sherri, our church bad girl, three steps forward, 5 back. Pray she stops before it’s to late.

Heavenly Places

September 21, 2018

  “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2).

  It is sad to have to say that the present-day Church is so earthy that it is of little earthly good. “Sir, we would see Jesus”! (John 12:21). The agony and the ugliness or the old rugged cross is now a golden bejeweled cross. There is no longer in most hymn books songs about the blood or phrases like; “such a worm as I.”

No, we sing praise songs about how great we are.

  The great failure of the Modern Church was in giving up the Apostle Paul. Many pulpits haven’t heard a sermon from the book of Romans in years. Or the second coming of the Lord and how it could be at any moment.

  It is essential that a believer have a clear understanding of his position before the Father—his place in the risen Lord Jesus Christ. This alone will give true peace of mind, joy and comfort of heart, strength for conflict and power for service. We will never be able to properly understand or fill our place for God on earth if we do not realize our God-given standing before Him in heaven.

  And never forget that our place before the Father is His gift, and a gift worthy of the Giver; not a gift according to the measure of our worth but a gift intended to display the exceeding riches of the grace of the Giver. The greatness of the Giver then is the measure of the blessings that are mine in the Lord Jesus Christ, not what I am or what I deserve.

 When you see and stand on your heavenly ground, you come to rest, just as the Father rests. You need not worry—only keep on that ground by your attitude of heart. If you are going to worry—if you must worry—worry lest you get down on earthly ground, for that is the ground of worry. Abide above! Heavenly things are in safe keeping—in the keeping of One who is ‘far above all.’.

  “For ye have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3, ASV.).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember to pray for Gwen and her economic struggles

Continue to pray for Maureen and her shingles.

Dave I, and his battle with prostate cancer.

more than a muscle, part one

September 11, 2018

the bible

I have reported before an excellent book, that alas I no longer own and am still searching for a copy. It was written by the grand daughter of either Keil or Delitzch. She was a psychologist and wrote this little book about the heart, the bible and it being more than just a muscle. I’m still looking for that book, but here are some notes that I have made.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”

(Proverbs 4:23, NIV).

Certainly we live in a consumer-oriented, materialistic, hedonistic society bent on pleasing self. In comparison to some portions of the world, most of us are accustomed to very high levels of luxury by way of our comforts, pleasures, and security. With this has come the prominent idea that happiness comes in accomplishments, in recognition, in material possessions, comfort, and the like. We have come to believe the mistaken (and Satan promoted) notion that if we just acquire certain things, then we can be truly happy and even secure. As a result, people develop their own agendas by which they seek to climb the mountain of success or happiness. Of course, the chosen agendas are very much the product of the mindset of a Wall Street, Madison Avenue controlled society.

As Christians, we may have rejected some or even a lot of these notions. Yet, the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, and because we are all so easily influenced by the world around us, our hearts need guarding.

Scripture clearly teaches us that the real issues of life are spiritual and are really matters of the heart, the inner man. Maybe it’s for this reason the word “heart” is found so many times in the Bible. Because the word “heart” can be translated a number of ways, depending on the context, the number of times it is found varies in the different translations of the English Bible (863 in the NASB, 963 in the KJV, and 791 in the NIV). As these numbers suggest, the heart is a prominent concept and one of the most commonly used words of the Bible. Most of these occurrences are used metaphorically of the inner man. When used metaphorically (depending on the context) heart refers to either the mind, the emotions, the will, to the sinful nature, inclusively to the total inner man, or simply to the person as a whole and is often translated as such. As a simple illustration of how various translations handle the word heart, compare the translation of the KJV in Exodus 9:14, “I will send all my plagues upon thine heart (referring to Pharaoh), and upon thy servants,” with the NASB’s “I will send my plagues on you (marginal reading has “heart”) and your servants.”

The term heart, then, generally speaks of the inner person and the spiritual life in all its various aspects. This multiple use of “heart” along with the way it is used strongly focuses our attention on the importance of the spiritual life. Like the human heart, it is central and vital to our existence.

Because of vast number of passages using the word “heart,” I have focused primarily, though not exclusively, on the Psalms and Proverbs. It is here we find the greatest concentration of uses in this one section of the Bible.

The Purpose and Goal

Enlightenment: First, one goal of this study is designed to show how we can use a concordance to get God’s perspective on a particular subject. A second goal is to help us see afresh how important our inner world really is in terms of our ideas about God, ourselves, and others, and in terms of our motives, goals, and aspirations.

Exhortation: The design here is an appeal for the personal application that we might each deal with the inner life in the light of God’s Word in practical and personal ways.

Encouragement: Another goal is encouragement. We all need to be encouraged to seek God Himself and His resources as we struggle with the various pulls of our sinful natures in the ups and downs of life.

Importance of the Heart in Scripture

As evidenced by the many recurrences, the term “heart” is a very important word because God is so deeply concerned about the inner man or the condition of the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? 10 I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.

These passages teach us that the Lord looks at and searches the heart, the inner person. Why is the heart so important? Because the issues of life—our actions, works, pursuits, etc.—all proceed from the heart (Pr. 4:23; Matt. 6:21; 12:34; 15:18). What we do in word and deed is first of all a product of what we are on the inside.

In His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus spoke strongly against the mere external, performance-oriented hypocrisy of the religious Pharisees. In Matthew 5:17-48, no less than six times He contrasted the mere external approach to the Old Testament Scripture, as it was taught by the Pharisees, with His own teaching which, of course, was accorded with the true design of God’s Word. He did this by the following statements:

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 21-22)

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 27-28)

“It was said … but I say to you …” (vss. 31-32)

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 33-34)

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 38-39)

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 43-44)

What was the Lord showing the people? He was calling their attention to the moral precepts they had been taught by their religious leaders for years, precepts which had their source in the Old Testament Scriptures. But then, with the words, “but I say to you,” He readdressed those same issues as, first and foremost, matters of the heart. This and only this is authentic Christianity. Biblical Christianity centers in an inward, intimate walk with God by faith. Anything else is nothing more than religious hypocrisy.

For instance, Jesus teaches us that adultery and murder begin in the heart. You may not have literally committed adultery, but if you look at a woman or a man with that in view, you have already committed adultery. Where? In your heart! (Matt. 5:28). Our walk with God is always a matter of the heart.

However, as one of the consequences of the fall, people look on the outward appearance. God, however, is always concerned with the heart, with the reality and condition of what is on the inside. Why? Because if the inside of the cup is clean, so will be the outside.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (RSV)

One of the goals of the Christian life is the formation of Christlike character, the character of Christ formed in our lives through the various life changing tools that God has chosen to use:

  • The ministry of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16-26)

  • The truth of the Word (Ps. 19:7-14; 119:9-11; John 17:17)

  • The trials and testings of life (Jam. 1:2-4; Ps. 119:67, 71)

  • The ministry of others as iron sharpens iron (Prov. 27:17)

For these tools to be truly effective, we need personal diligence in honestly dealing with the heart.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Stay tuned for part two.

sex, sex, sex

September 4, 2018

THIS IS RATHER A LONG POST, YOU MAY WANT TO PRINT IT OUT. AND IT IS SAFE FOR WORK. ( I JUST FIGURED OUT WHAT NSFW MEANS)

SEX, SEX, SEX

If you think about it, you will have to agree that sex is a subject frequently addressed in the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New. Though the Bible handles this subject matter much differently than the secular world, it does have much to say on the subject. I can only think of one reason for matters pertaining to sex to be so frequently discussed in the Bible—sexuality must be very closely related to spirituality.

The beliefs and practices of the Corinthian saints seem to vary greatly when it comes to matters of sexual values and conduct. We have already been introduced to the liberal extreme in chapters 5 and 6. In chapter 5, Paul rebukes the church at Corinth for failing to exercise church discipline on a man living in an incestuous relationship with his father’s wife. In the second half of chapter 6 (verses 12-20), Paul confronts those who feel that having sex with a prostitute is not contrary or detrimental to one’s spiritual life. There are those in Corinth whose sexual values are shocking, even to the pagan Corinthians (see 5:1).

In our text, it seems that for some believers spirituality is a pretext for sexual immorality, while for others spirituality means abstaining from sex altogether. In chapter 7, Paul turns his attention to those who seem to regard all sex as dirty, and who therefore advocated celibacy. For those who are single, it means staying single and, unlike today, celibate as well. For those who are married, it seems to mean that these couples should also refrain from sexual relations.

The Corinthian Error and the Culture of that Day

In the matter of sexual conduct, the Corinthians live in a very troubled world, not unlike the world of our own day. The ancient world of Paul’s day has a very distorted view of women, sex, and marriage. A. W. Verrall, the great classical scholar, once said that one of the chief diseases of which ancient civilization died was a low view of women. The Greeks were not known for sexual purity:

Prostitution was an essential part of Greek life. Demosthenes had laid it down as the common and accepted rule of life: “We have courtesans for the sake of pleasure; we have concubines for the sake of daily cohabitation; we have wives for the purpose of having children legitimately, and having a faithful guardian for all our household affairs.”

The Roman sexual ethic was no better:

But at the time of Paul, Roman family life was wrecked. Seneca writes that women were married to be divorced and divorced to be married. In Rome the Romans did not commonly date their years by numbers; they called them by the names of their husbands. Martial the Roman poet tells of a woman who had ten husbands; Juvenal tells us of one who had had eight husbands in five years; Jerome declares it to be true that in Rome there was a woman who was married to her twenty-third husband and she herself was his twenty-first wife. We find even a Roman Emperor Augustus demanding that her husband should divorce the lady Livia when she was with child that he might himself marry her. We find even Cicero, in his old age, putting away his wife Terentia that he might marry a young heiress, whose trustee he was, that he might enter into her estate, in order to pay his debts.

One would hope the Jews would be exemplary in matters of sex and marriage, but this simply is not the case.

In Paul’s day Judaism reverenced neither women nor marriage. “It was Josephus who wrote, ‘The woman is worse than the man in everything’ (Josephus, Contra Apionem, 2, 201). No wonder, in the light of such harsh attitudes, that the Synagogue prayer book has the man offer the daily prayer, ‘I thank Thee, O Lord, that Thou hast not made me a Gentile dog nor a woman.’” In the age of the coming of Christianity, even with Judaism the marriage bond was in peril. So great was its peril that the very institution of marriage was threatened. Jewish girls were refusing to marry at all because the position of the wife was so uncertain.

Even in our own time, the ancient ritual of “female circumcision” is practiced. This surgical procedure (if one dares to dignify it by such terms) is of no benefit to the woman, but imposed upon the female so that she may never have the enjoyment of sex. It seems that in the minds of those men who impose this on women, it is the woman’s place to give pleasure to the man, but never the woman’s place to receive pleasure from the man. Sadly, among pagans and Christians alike, there is a similar (if less brutal) belief strongly held by some today. The man expects his wife to give him sexual pleasure at any time, but he feels little or no obligation toward fulfilling his wife sexually.

Paul’s words concerning sex and marriage were desperately needed in his day and no less needed in our own day. Let us listen to the finest sex education available to men—a word from God on sex and marriage, through the Apostle Paul.

An Overview of the Teaching

of the Bible on Sex and Marriage

Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 are in response to a question asked by some of the Corinthian saints who correspond with him. Paul is required to address a group of Corinthian saints who have adopted an extreme view of sex and marriage. Paul’s words in the first seven verses of chapter 7 should be understood in light of the broader teaching of the Bible concerning sex and marriage. Before devoting our attention to the distorted views of sex and marriage which some of the Corinthians hold, let us remind ourselves of what the Bible as a whole says on the subject.

In Genesis 2:18, we read that God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone: I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Being alone, that is, being single, was not good, and so God created a helper suitable for Adam, a wife to be his companion and counterpart. From the Book of Proverbs, we know that God designed marriage and sex not only as a means for bringing children into this world, but also as God’s appointed means for a man to find pleasure in his wife:

15 Drink water from your own cistern, And fresh water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be yours alone, And not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love (Proverbs 5:15-19).

In the New Testament, we are told that Jesus attended a wedding and then miraculously provided wine when their supplies were exhausted (John 2:1-11). The Apostle Paul assumed that elders and deacons would be married, with children (1 Timothy 3:2, 12). Paul also encouraged younger widows to marry (1 Timothy 5:14). He claimed the right as an apostle to “lead about a wife” (1 Corinthians 9:5). The writer to the Hebrews also held marriage in high esteem, and the proper realm for sexual enjoyment between husband and wife. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

In the Bible, marriage is viewed as the norm, and the single life as the exception. Marriage is viewed as holy, righteous, and good. Those who seek to prohibit marriage as something evil are identified as false teachers by Paul (1 Timothy 4:1-5). When we approach 1 Corinthians 7, we must do so confident that marriage is a good gift from God, a gift many Christians gratefully receive and enjoy.

A Touchy Issue

(7:1)

Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman (NASB).

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry (NIV).

It is generally assumed that the Corinthians wrote a letter to Paul asking his advice on certain matters. Beginning with the statement, “Now concerning the things about which you wrote…” in 1 Corinthians 7:1, Paul continues to go back to their questions (not necessarily in the order they raised them) and to give his answer. It seems good to ask our own question, like the little lady in the TV commercial who asks, “Where’s the beef?” Where’s the question? Paul does not say, “Now concerning the things you have asked,” but rather, “Now concerning the things about which you wrote….” There is a considerable difference here.

Some people ask a question which is not meant to be enlightening. Many questions are asked in a way which cleverly “teaches” the one who is asked or others who are listening. Some seek to undermine the teaching or authority of the one asked. This is surely the purpose of the questions the scribes and Pharisees asked our Lord. But here, we should recognize that we are assuming something not specifically stated. Were the Corinthians really asking Paul questions? And, if so, were their questions sincere?

I raise this issue because of what Paul has already told us in his letter to the Corinthians. There are divisions in the Corinthian church. Various little groups have their own leaders and their own doctrines. Each group takes pride in itself, in its leader, and in the “wisdom” it possesses. Those in one group look down on those in another, because they are not so wise nor so persuasive and powerful, nor well esteemed by the pagan world of that day. One thing many Corinthians share is their disdain for the Apostle Paul. They believe they are wise, and Paul is foolish:

8 You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and I would indeed that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you. 9 For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. 11 To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; 12 and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13 when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now (1 Corinthians 4:8-13).

In the light of Paul’s assessment of his standing in the hearts and minds of the Corinthians given here, it seems we should be very careful about assuming too much when we come to those things the Corinthians have written to Paul. Are they—wise as they are—trying to enlighten Paul? It is indeed possible. Are they writing to Paul as their spiritual father and mentor, wanting to hear and to heed his wisdom? It is not very likely. I am therefore inclined to view their communication with Paul with some suspicion. Paul may very graciously avoid giving us any greater detail than to specify the issues raised by their communication with him, whether rightly motivated or not.

We know from Paul’s words in chapter 5 that when a man is found to be living with his father’s wife, the church does not mournfully exercise church discipline; rather, they become proud (5:2). Some Corinthians are proud as a result of sin and their response to it. When Paul raises the issue of sex and marriage in chapter 7, he is dealing with the opposite extreme in the church … those who have overreacted to fleshly lusts, seeking to overcome them by asceticism. These folks are just as proud of their asceticism as the others named in chapter 5 are of their fleshly indulgence. Perhaps these ascetics have become so smug they assume Paul will applaud them. After all, when it comes to sexual abstinence and remaining single, Paul stands out among the apostles, and among those in the churches (see 1 Corinthians 9:4-5). They may not agree with Paul on many matters, but these ascetics seem to want Paul’s endorsement here. Paul’s words in response to their communication will shock them. They will not get what they expect nor what they want. They will get much more than they asked.

Before attempting to interpret Paul’s words in verse 1, we must pause to point out that the translation of the NIV is inaccurate. The expression, “not to touch a woman,” is a reference to sexual intercourse, not marriage, and thus the NIV is in error when it translates as it does.

The idiom ‘to touch a woman’ occurs nine times in Greek antiquity, ranging across six centuries and a variety of writers, and in every other instance, without ambiguity it refers to having sexual intercourse. There is no evidence of any kind that it can be extended or watered down to mean, ‘It is good for a man not to marry.’

The Corinthian ascetics would not sanction sexual immorality. Indeed, they would not sanction sex. They feel that sex is dirty, whether within marriage or without. This tells us more about the ascetics than it does about biblical morality: “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled” (Titus 1:15). Having concluded that all sex is evil, these folks follow out the implications of their false doctrine. If all sex is evil, then it is evil to enjoy sex in marriage. Husbands and wives should abstain from sex, unless for the bearing of children (if that). And those who are single should avoid the “temptation to have sex” by avoiding and abstaining from marriage. Paul cannot and will not endorse such a view.

What is most impressive in chapter 7 is the gentleness of the Apostle Paul. He is certainly practicing what he preaches. Remember these words Paul wrote to Timothy about dealing with those who are in error:

23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will (2 Timothy 2:23-26).

How easy it would have been for Paul to come on strong with these Corinthians. Instead, he gently seeks to show them the error of their thinking and conduct. He clearly distinguishes between his personal convictions, his counsel (advice), and his authoritative apostolic commands (see 7:6-7, 40). His approach is to introduce the issue at hand and then gently correct the errors. In later chapters (e.g. 8-10), Paul’s initial gentleness leads to a very clear and forceful conclusion.

The ascetics of the Corinthian church have over-reacted to the immorality of that day, concluding that all sex is dirty and should be avoided, even within marriage. When Paul says, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman,” I think he is repeating the position held by the Corinthian ascetics. This was their slogan. Paul repeats the statement, not because he agrees with it in its entirety, but because he agrees with it in part. He will shortly set out to clarify the circumstances in which celibacy could serve a beneficial purpose. I am going to advance to verses 6-9 at this point to suggest just how sexual abstinence could be beneficial. I do this because the main thrust of verses 1-7 is to address the role of sex within marriage. Later verses will expand upon the benefits a celibate lifestyle can produce.

The Benefits of Staying Single

(7:6-9)

6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command. 7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn.

The first thing we should observe is that celibacy does have its benefits. When celibacy (abstaining from sex, and thus from marriage) contributes to the cause of Christ, it is depicted positively in the Bible. Our Lord spoke positively of celibacy:

11 But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it” (Matthew 19:11-12).

Paul speaks positively of it as well in 1 Corinthians 9 in reference to his choice and to that of Barnabas also to remain single (1 Corinthians 9:4-6). Finally, in the Book of Revelation we are told that the 144,00 will be celibates:

3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. 4 These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb (Revelation 14:3-4).

When Paul speaks of sexual abstinence and celibacy, he does so in a very carefully defined manner. Notice the qualifications Paul sets down regarding sexual abstinence:

(1) Paul does wish that all of the Corinthians could be single (and thus sexually celibate). Paul indicates his “wish” that all men were as he. It is clear that this could not and should not be. Paul simply desires that men might be free from distractions in order to devote themselves to serving God (see also 1 Corinthians 7:34-35).

(2) Paul does not seek to impose this on the Corinthians; he indicates this is his wish, stated by concession and not as a command (oh, that we might be so honest). The ascetics seem to have imposed their view of spirituality upon all. Paul does not represent his preference as a biblical imperative, but as a personal preference which God has allowed him to express as such. Unlike many of us, Paul carefully distinguishes between those commands which are from Christ, and must not be ignored, and the counsel he offers which men can (and perhaps should) disregard. I am reminded of Paul’s advice to Apollos, which Apollos declined to accept and apply:

12 But concerning Apollos our brother, I encouraged him greatly to come to you with the brethren; and it was not at all his desire to come now, but he will come when he has opportunity (1 Corinthians 16:12).

(3) This distinction between concession and command is not an indictment against the inspiration of the Scriptures, but an affirmation of them. Some might question why anything we find in the Scriptures is less than a command, but this is the very nature of convictions. When Paul indicates that a certain view or preference of his is not by divine revelation, and therefore not binding on his readers, he is demonstrating personal integrity by not trying to give the impression that his desires are God’s desires. By doing so, he also underscores the fact that the rest of the Scriptures are inspired and authoritative:

14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

If any of Paul’s statements are less than a “thus saith the Lord,” we can count on Paul to tell us so.

(4) Paul does not speak of celibacy as a spiritually superior state but as a less distracted state, a way of serving our Lord with greater focus and consistency. The Corinthian celibates surely thought of themselves as more spiritual and were proud of their celibacy. They must have looked down on those who were married. But it doesn’t take a Harvard graduate to recognize that many singles today who know Jesus Christ as Savior are not serving God with the intensity and focus of some who are married and have families.

(5) Paul sees this singleness and celibacy as a matter related to one’s gift and calling. Unlike most students of the Scriptures, I am not saying that celibacy is a spiritual gift. I am saying that celibacy is related to one’s gift and calling. If one were to conclude that there were such a thing as “the gift of celibacy,” it would have to be from this passage, and quite frankly, this passage does not compel one to reach this conclusion. Consider the reasons that there does not seem to be such a thing as a gift of celibacy:

Nowhere else in the Bible is celibacy identified as a spiritual gift. There are several texts in Scripture where various spiritual gifts are enumerated. In none of these texts is celibacy listed as a spiritual gift.

In 1 Corinthians 7:7, Paul does not call celibacy a gift. Paul simply says each one has his gift, “one in this manner, and another in that.” The expression, “one in this manner, and another in that” is unusual, if Paul means for us to conclude that celibacy is a spiritual gift. One would have expected him to say, “one has this gift, and another that,” or something to this effect. Paul seems to be speaking about the manner in which different gifts are exercised and not what the particular gift may be.

If celibacy were a spiritual gift, it differs from all the other spiritual gifts. Every other gift is related to a function. Every other gift can be converted to a verb. The gift of helps entails helping. The gift of teaching entails teaching. The gift of exhortation entails exhorting. Just exactly what does the gift of celibacy do? So far as I can tell, it does nothing other than to prevent one from having sex.

If I correctly understand those who believe celibacy is a gift, then the gift of celibacy is the absence of sexual desire. If not the absence of desire, celibacy is an added measure of self-control. Those whom I have heard speak of celibacy as a gift do not define it very carefully. Usually it would seem as though the one who is celibate is the person who does not desire sex or marriage. I have never met such a person, at least as far as the absence of sexual desire is concerned. There are many people who may not wish to marry, but few of them claim to lack sexual desire. How does the absence of sexual desire (if there is such a thing) minister to the body of Christ? If there were a gift of celibacy, I know of a number of people who are widowed or divorced who would welcome such a gift, but I have never seen it.

I understand celibacy to be the conscious choice to control one’s sexual desires and to remain single so that one’s gifts and calling may be more effectively utilized. Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ. Apostleship, along with other gifts, was bestowed upon Paul at the time of his conversion. It would have been difficult, if not impossible, for Paul to carry out his calling if he had been married and the father of a number of children. Can you imagine a family man going from city to city, living in one home and then another, sometimes being self-supporting, and other times living on the gifts of others? Can you see Paul’s wife and family being cast into prison with him, or being left alone without any support? Celibacy was the ideal state for a man like Paul, who had his gifts and calling. I think that is what Paul means when he says, “… each man has his own gift, one in this manner, and another in that.” We might paraphrase Paul’s words in this way: “Each man has his own gifts and calling, which are carried out in one manner or another, some serving God through marriage, and some serving Him through remaining single.” Some ministries are conducted much better in the context of marriage and the family. Paul would have trouble, for example, showing hospitality. Whether one chooses to marry or to remain single should be determined on how that person’s gift and calling can best be fulfilled. For some, this will mean marriage (and all that comes with it, like the pleasures and responsibilities of sex); for some it may mean celibacy (with the freedom and undistracted life that comes with it).

Staying single (and thus sexually inactive) may be the calling of some. If it is your calling, it is for the glory of God and for the promotion of the gospel. But the single life and sexual abstinence is not the rule, as Paul knows. And so in verses 2-5, we find Paul speaking of the role of sex in marriage.

Sex and Spirituality in Marriage

(7:2-4)

2 But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Notice the three-fold parallel structure in verses 2-4 which stress the mutuality of sexual pleasure and sexual duty:

Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband (verse 2).

Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband (verse 3)

The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does (verse 4).

Paul does not stress the submission of the wife to her husband here, as though it is his role to get pleasure from his wife, and her role to give pleasure to her husband. There is mutual submission here, so that both the husband and the wife are to subordinate their interest (pleasure in sex) to the interest of their mate. Consider the guiding principles for what we might call “Spirit-filled marital sex.”

(1) The norm is that Christians will marry and that as a Christian couple, the husband and wife will enjoy regular sexual relations. The ascetics are absolutely wrong in thinking and teaching that sex is unspiritual and thus inappropriate even within the bonds of matrimony. Consistently abstaining from sex in marriage is not only unnatural, it is unholy.

(2) A healthy sex life is a preventative for immorality. A healthy and pleasurable sex life between a husband and wife is a normal and natural release of sexual tension, and thus it is helpful in the prevention of sexual immorality. Good sex in marriage is not a guarantee that there will be marital fidelity. If one mate is unfaithful to the other, it does not necessarily mean that the offended spouse has failed to satisfy the other. David certainly had enough wives to satisfy his sexual appetites, but he committed adultery anyway. The lusting eye is never satisfied. Nevertheless, Paul speaks of sexual relations in marriage as a preventative for sexual immorality outside of marriage: “Because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.” The ascetics are wrong. To abstain from marital sex proves to be a temptation; to enjoy marital sex promotes edification.

(3) Both husband and wife should eagerly engage in the sexual act as their duty, both to God and to their mate. It is not just the wife who is commanded to give herself to her husband; the husband is likewise commanded to give himself to his wife. In fact, the husband is first commanded to give himself to his wife, and then the wife to her husband (see verse 3).

(4) Both husband and wife should not only give themselves for sex, but each should seek to produce the ultimate pleasure for their partner. Reaching the ultimate pleasure in the sexual union is what best insures against immorality. Frustratingly unfulfilling sex to one partner or the other will also tempt one to be immoral. The “use me” mindset in sexual intimacy falls far short of the mark which Paul sets for us here. The duty of the husband is to satisfy his wife sexually, just as the duty of the wife is to satisfy her husband. This is the best one can do to stay sexually pure and to encourage one’s mate to do likewise.

(5) Neither the husband nor the wife has the authority to deprive their mate sexually. If I have not said it clearly enough, I will say it bluntly here: it is wrong to deprive one’s mate of the pleasures of sexual intimacy. There is nothing spiritual about avoiding sex. I think I should also say that there is nothing particularly spiritual about demanding sex either.

(6) Those Christians who have been forcibly making a celibate of their mate by withholding sex are commanded to stop sinning in this fashion. Paul’s command to “stop depriving one another” in verse 5 strongly implies that a number of Corinthian Christians are already withholding sex from their mates. Paul tells us that withholding sex from your mate is sin, a sin which must be repented of, and a sin which we must correct by obeying our Lord’s command through Paul. Paul spoke of the benefits of staying single by concession, rather than by command. But the instruction to husbands and wives to sexually fulfill each other is a command, not a wish or a suggestion. To refuse to change in this area is to willfully disobey one of God’s commands.

(7) Sexual abstinence is to be a rare and temporary exception to the norm of regular sexual union. There are obviously times when normal sexual relations are temporarily interrupted. In the Old Testament, a man was not to have sex with his wife during her monthly period (see Leviticus 15:19, 24; 18:19). Here, Paul speaks of the temporary interruption of a couple’s marital sex life to facilitate prayer. The reason should be obvious, especially for parents with children in the home. Bedtime seems to be the only “private” time two parents have. This means that besides sleep, closing the bedroom door affords the opportunity to enjoy sexual intimacy; it also affords the opportunity for prayer. Frankly, it is difficult to have both prayer and sex on the same agenda, especially if the prayer is urgent and extended. For a bachelor, Paul seems to understand married life very well.

Paul sets down some very stringent requirements regarding the cessation of normal sexual relations in marriage. First, the decision to abstain from sex must be mutually reached by the husband and the wife. There must not be a unilateral decision made by one spouse. Second, a cessation of normal sexual relations should only take place for matters of great urgency. I understand Paul’s words in verse 5 to refer to specific, urgent matters of prayer, and not normal prayers. The King James Version may well be the original text, and it includes fasting with prayer.

Third, normal sexual relations should be resumed quickly, so that Satan may not take advantage of their lack of self-control. This statement should have really irritated the Corinthian ascetics, who thought of their sexual abstinence as the epitome of self-control. Not according to Paul! Sexual abstinence did not strengthen these saints in their battle with the flesh and with Satan; it weakened them, and it made them vulnerable.

Unfortunately, I have known of situations in which “prayer” was the excuse of one mate for avoiding sex with the other. Who can be more pious than one who gives up sex for prayer? And who can be so unspiritual as to criticize anyone for neglecting their sex life to enhance their prayer life? It is the ultimate spiritual “lion in the road” (to use an expression from the Book of Proverbs). A “lion in the road” is a compelling reason (excuse) for avoiding what one really doesn’t want to do. If the truth were known, a healthy sexual relationship between a man and his wife may facilitate a richer prayer life. I say this on the basis of Peter’s words in 1 Peter 3:7 “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” Surely “living with one’s wife in an understanding way” includes the sexual relationship. A sexually frustrated and irritated mate is not a good prayer partner.

Conclusion

The church at Corinth did not write to Paul about divisions and factions, about false wisdom or pride, about leaders who looked down on Paul and his gospel. They wrote to Paul about sex, and specifically, about abstaining from sex. They do not want advice from Paul on their sex lives; they only want his endorsement. But if they had wanted advice on matters of sex, do you think they would have expected wise counsel from Paul? How can a man who is both a bachelor and a preacher teach these “worldly wise” folks anything about sex? They must believe they know it all. They may have been the Dr. Ruth’s of their day. But, wonder of wonders, God chose to give the finest sex education available, the best counsel on sex in marriage, through Paul. Once again, the wisdom of God is vastly other than the wisdom of men!

I wish I could have seen the looks on the faces of the Corinthian ascetics as they heard Paul’s response to what they have written. These folks must be so puffed up with pride at their self-control and victory over fleshly desires. While they differ with Paul in many matters, surely they think Paul will applaud them for maintaining that sex is dirty and should be avoided, even in marriage. They do not want Paul’s advice or instruction, only his endorsement. What they receive is something entirely different. Paul agrees that abstaining from sex can be beneficial, but only in the most restricted applications. Instead of applauding them for abstaining from sex in marriage, Paul instructs them to engage in sex with their spouses as a duty. This must not be done with gritted teeth, and the goal of each mate should be to satisfy the other.

The Corinthian ascetics think that spirituality is antithetical to the enjoyment of sex within marriage. Paul wants his readers (which includes us) to understand that spirituality encompasses every aspect of one’s life, including sex. If you are married, have you ever thought of whether your sex life is Spirit-filled or not? You should. Paul is teaching husbands and wives that servanthood is the fundamental ingredient to satisfying sexual intimacy in marriage. How many times have you read these words penned by Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians:

1 If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:1-8).

How often have you considered Paul’s teaching here as governing your sexual relationship with your spouse? If marriage is a reflection of the union Christ has with His church, then how would we think the physical union of a man and his wife is not of great importance to God? True, this is a “private” matter, between man and wife, but why would we think the angels would not be watching and learning (see 1 Corinthians 11:10)? Sex is not “dirty;” it is a gift of God, which is to be enjoyed in the confines of marriage and to portray the most precious “union” of all, the union of God and His church.

God has uniquely fashioned the man and the woman so that they are very different. I do not mean different in the biological sense, but different in their makeup. Husbands tend to respond very quickly; wives are not as quickly stimulated and not by the same kinds of things. I have heard it said by some that men and women are mismatched, sexually speaking. And so they are, by divine design. Sex cannot be mutually satisfying without real love. In this sense, biblical sex is “making love.” And love is manifested in sacrifice. Only as both the husband and the wife sacrifice their own interests (sexually speaking) is the other satisfied. Sacrificial servanthood is the key to Spirit-filled sex.

I want to be very clear here that we are not just talking about some kind of technique, which, if followed, brings maximum pleasure to the one who employs it. The husband should be sensitively attuned to his wife, seeking to bring her fulfillment. But this is not just because it is the way he will find his own fulfillment. Love-making in marriage seeks to bring pleasure to one’s spouse at one’s own expense. There is a lot of talk about “maximum sex,” but sex should never be approached selfishly as the means to the ultimate goal of self-satisfaction. “Taking up one’s cross” applies in the board room and in the bedroom.

In his Epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul specifically deals with sex as a part of the believer’s sanctification:

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).

Sanctification includes the avoidance of sexual immorality (verse 3). It also involves the Christian relating to his or her spouse sexually in a way that is distinctly Christian and not pagan (verses 4-5). It is clear that we may sin in the matter of sex, and that God is the avenger is such cases (verse 7). God has not called us to impurity but to holiness, and this holiness will be evident in the way we sexually relate to our spouse (verse 7). To reject Paul’s “sex education” is to reject the Spirit of God (verse 8).

I am not amazed that the unbelieving world, sex-and self-crazed as it is, finds frustration more than fulfillment in the bedroom. I am deeply distressed that many Christians are living defeated lives in relation to sex. Some are simply not having sex, usually due to the disobedience of one of the two partners, and sometimes due to the apathy of both. Some are engaging in illicit sex, either by means of pornography or illicit sexual unions outside of marriage. Others find sexual stimulation in the workplace by telling off-color stories and by suggestive dress and talk. The latest temptation is “cyber sex,” illicit sex by means of the computer. I don’t think I will tell you all of the ways this can be done. Hopefully, I do not know them. Here is a definite area of danger, and I hope that you can see that it is totally self-serving.

Paul’s teaching in verses 1-7 present us with two apparent problems. First, Paul speaks of marriage and sex as a preventative to immorality: “But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (verse 2). These words seem to suggest that Paul views sex and marriage in a less than noble way. Is sex only a preventative and not a pleasure for the Christian? Paul’s second statement raises similar questions: “Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband” (verse 3). Is sex only a duty and not a delight?

I would say first that in our fallen world and culture, sex is viewed primarily in terms of selfish pleasure. Sex, apart from biblical servanthood, is self-centered pleasure seeking. I would like you to consider sex in the light of the “great commandment” of the Bible:

34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they gathered themselves together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:34-40).

The whole Law can be summed up by two commandments: (1) love God with all of one’s being, and (2) love your neighbor.

How does one love God? Peter tells us how we are to conduct ourselves in relation to God:

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers (1 Peter 1:14-18).

Loving God requires being holy. Being holy means not being conformed to those lusts which once dominated us as unbelievers. Immorality is one of the sins which characterizes the Corinthians (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Thus, the Christian should fervently desire to avoid immorality. And so when Paul speaks of marriage and sex as a preventative for immoralities, why should we think Paul is taking sex lightly? Righteousness is the higher goal, and marriage (and sex) are a means to this goal. Paul does not think little of sex; he thinks more highly of righteousness. Isn’t being godly a higher goal than being sexually fulfilled? The problem is not with Paul; it is with us. We value sex more highly than pleasing God.

The second dimension of the great commandment is that we should love our neighbor as ourself. How does this relate to the subject of sex within marriage? Our wife (or our husband) is our neighbor. We are to love our spouse as we love ourself (see also Ephesians 5:28-32). To do so, we must put the (sexual) interests of our mate above our own. Living by the law of love makes it my duty to sexually fulfill my spouse. Is my duty demeaning, something for which I should apologize? It is my duty to keep the commandments of my Lord. Is this demeaning? Not at all! The goal for which I should strive is to see my duty as my delight. This is the way David and other godly men approached God’s law (see Psalm 40:6-8; see also 119:9-16, 24, 137-144).

I would like to suggest to you that sex is similar to worship. Indeed, in the pagan cultures (such as with the Canaanites in the Old Testament and the Corinthians in the New) sex was a part of worship (see also Exodus 32:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 10:6-8). And no wonder, for making sex a part of worship assured the “worshippers” of instant satisfaction.

I fear that we approach worship in a way that is all too similar to the way many approach sex. Some, who feel like worship does not satisfy or fulfill them, are inclined to avoid it. We evaluate worship more in terms of what we have gained than in what we have given. I would remind you that the operative term when it comes to worship is sacrifice, not fulfillment. I would further say that worship (like sex) is not so much about seeking pleasure for ourselves as it is about giving pleasure to God.

Sexuality and spirituality are very closely related. Paul calls for each of us who knows God through Jesus Christ to elevate our sexuality to the standard God has set, to make sexuality an expression of our spirituality to the glory of God, and ultimately for our good.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

SLOW TRAIN COMING

August 23, 2018

train 1

A very simple and short devotion, God loves you and forgives you. No matter who you are or what you’ve done.  Everybody has screwed up, there’s nobody perfect.

So the bible is the Word of God, God sent his Son, Jesus, to forgive us. Jesus is the only way to heaven.

It’s like a train, God owns it, you have to get a ticket, the tickets are free, paid for by Jesus, the urge, want, need, feeling to get on the train is the Holy Spirit. And the train goes to heaven. No ticket, no ride, no heaven.

The virgin Mary can’t get you in, Mormonism can’t, Muslimism cant’, (hey that word actually passed spell check.) Jehovah Witness, nope, Hindu, nope. None of the “isms” will work. Just faith in the gift that God the Father gave us in His Son.

Cant’ earn it, deserve it, work for it, buy it, nothing gets you on that train bound for glory.

What do you say?

Do you want to go to Heaven?

Than get on board.

Simple.

As Bob Dylan sings “There’s a slow train coming” great song, one of my favorites.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

dark days

August 17, 2018

rainy-sleepy-snoopy-peanuts

“For you have had the privilege granted you on behalf of Christ—not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer on His behalf” (Phil. 1:29, Wey.).

  The Father prepares His sufferers, by means of their sufferings.

  “I believe in perpetual favor with God, but I do not believe in unbroken sunshine here. On the contrary, ‘we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake.’ I say this that you may not think it strange when the collar which you have rightly accepted becomes trying or difficult to you; for surely if it be service it must be so; the servant must be more or less a sufferer.”

  “The Lord grant you to be so assured in heart of His interest in you, that daily you may more and more answer to His pleasure; and not be in any way cast down because you apparently do so little. The fragrance of His name is a crown of glory to the greatest invalid.”

  “‘Unto you is given on the behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake’ (Phil. 1:29). Yea, ‘if we suffer, we shall also reign with him’ (2 Tim. 2:12). The gracious gift of suffering is as distinct and specific a gift as any other of God’s gifts. But this gift transforms the blessed recipient more surely perhaps than all the others into resemblance to Himself, and is for this fellowship, the highest, greatest, noblest of them all.”

  “We naturally shrink from trials and sorrow, but when we find ourselves enjoying the resources that are in our Father, to which our trials have caused us to have recourse, we remember no more the path of affliction which led us thereto.”

  “The child of God is ever in the light, though not always in the sunshine.”

  “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him” (2 Tim. 2:12).

How different a message than what we hear from our popular authors and TV talking heads, that because they are false messengers. It will always be our lot to suffer sometime in some way. Think how oft you pray when in pain versus that shiny day.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

There is a phrase that just drives me nuts, “the heart wants what the heart wants” supposedly meaning that we are incapable of resisting this undeniable pull.

If we believe that than we are no more than rutting animals, incapable of any discernment or will power. And without any moral compass.

In both the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT) the word “heart” is used to refer to the whole of the innermost part of the human, NOT merely the emotions.

Culturally

However, in the twenty-first century English the word “heart” is used to express the emotions as an individual compartment of the inner part of the human.

It is common for Americans to divide humans into the physical and the metaphysical.

While this is a widespread insight, the way most Americans compartmentalize the internal (metaphysical) aspect of humans is diverse from many other cultures.

We Americans tend to see people as having two separate parts, wherein one part is the emotions, which we refer to as the heart, then a brain, which houses the mind.

The Bible does not divide man so easily – it focuses on all three making up the whole of a being – this is Biblically called the “heart.”

Biblically

When both the Old and New Testaments speak about the heart, it never means merely human feelings (emotions).

The Biblical word “heart,” is the inner aspect of a man, made of three parts all together, with the primary part: the,

1) Mental Process, which is the major part (where action & reaction take place), which is to lead a person in their life.

2) Emotions (which only process as reaction), as icing to enrich our lives.

3) Will, the seat of the will (discretionary, volitional, decision-making) where decisions are made between the rational and the emotive.

 The following excerpts, though thorough, are by no means exhaustive. 

Strong’s Dictionary

According to Strong’s, the Hebrew word lebab (3824) is rendered: “heart” (as the most interior organ); “beingthink in themselves,” “breast,” “comfortably,” “courage,” “midst,” “mind,” “unawares,” and “understanding.”

Strong’s Greek Dictionary, states that the Greek word kardia (2588) is rendered: “heart,” i.e. (figuratively), the thoughts or feelings (mind); also (by analogy) the middle.1

Ed Bulkley

According to Ed Bulkley, in his book, Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology, the Scriptures use at least four terms to describe the immaterial part of man: the heart, soul, spirit, and mind.  The descriptions and functions of these aspects of man seem to overlap.

Bulkley states:

The biblical term heart (lawbab or lebab in Hebrewkardia in Greek) is the clearest summary of the innermost center of the human being.

Perhaps the closest psychological term to the heart is the ego, the Latin word for “I,” borrowed by Freud to denote the “self.”

Peter describes the inner man as “the hidden man of the heart” (I Peter 3:4 KJV), or the “inner self” (I Peter 3:4 NIV).  It is the center of one’s being(Proverbs 4:23), where he believes and exercises faith (Luke 24:25; Romans 10:9,10).  It is the location of the human deliberation, where wisdom is employed.

Understanding is said to be the function of the mind (Job 38:36), yet the connection to the heart is undeniable.  The heart is where a person discerns the difference between right and wrong (I Kings 3:9).

Finally, Bulkley says, the heart is the center of courage, emotions, and will.

Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

The heart is the center of man’s character – who he really is (Matthew 15:18).

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).2 

Vine’s Old Testament Dictionary

According to Vine’s:

The Hebrew word Lebab (3824), rendered “heart” is the seat of desire, inclination, or will and can be the seat of the emotions.  The “heart” could be regarded as the seat of knowledge and wisdom and as a synonym of “mind.”  This meaning often occurs when ‘heart” appears with the verb “to know,” “Thus you are to know in your heart...” (Deut. 8:5, NASB); and “Yet the Lord hath not given you a heart to perceive[know]…” (Deut. 29:4, KJV; RSV, “mind”).  Solomon prayed, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad...” (1 Kings 3:9; cf. 4:29).  Memory is the activity of the “heart,” as in Job 22:22: “…lay up his [God’s] words in thine heart.”

The “heart” may be the seat of conscience and moral character.  How does one respond to the revelation of God and of the world around him?  Job answers: “…my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live” (27:6).  On the contrary, “David’s heart smote him…” (2 Sam. 24:10).  The “heart” is the fountain of man’s deeds: “…in the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this” (Gen. 20:5; cf. V. 6).  David walked “in uprightness of heart” (1 Kings 3:6) and Hezekiah “with a perfect heart” (Isa. 38:3) before God.  Only the man with “clean hands, and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:4) can stand in God’s presence.3

Vine’s New Testament Dictionary

According to Vine’s:

The Greek word kardia (2588), rendered “heart” (English, “cardiac,”), is the chief organ of physical life (“for the life of the flesh is in the blood,” Lev. 17:11), occupies the most important place in the human system.  By an easy transition, the word came to stand for man’s entire mental and moral activity, both the rational and the emotional elements.

 In other words, the heart is used figuratively for the hidden springs of the personal life.  The Bible describes human depravity as in the “heart”, because sin is a principle which has its seat in the center of man’s inward life, and then ‘defiles’ the whole circuit of his action, Matt. 15:19, 20.  On the other hand, Scripture regards the heart as the sphere of Divine influence, Rom. 2:15; Acts 15:9….

The heart, as lying deep within, contains “the hidden man,” 1 Pet. 3:4, the real man.  It represents the true character but conceals it (J. Laidlaw, in Hastings’ Bible Dic.).  As to its usage in the NT it denotes (a) the seat of physical life, Acts 14:17; Jas. 5:5; (b) the seat of moral nature and spiritual life,the seat of grief, John 14:1; Rom. 9:2; 2 Cor. 2:4; joy, John 16:22; Eph. 5:19; the desires, Matt. 5:28; 2 Pet. 2:14; the affections, Luke 24:32; Acts 21:13; the perceptions, John 12:40; Eph. 4:18; the thoughts, Matt. 9:4; Heb. 4:12; the understanding, Matt. 13:15; Rom. 1:21; the reasoning powers, Mark 2:6; Luke 24:38; the imagination, Luke 1:51; conscience, Acts 2:37; 1 John 3:20; the intentions, Heb. 4:12, (cf.) 1 Pet. 4:1; purpose, Acts 11:23; 2 Cor. 9:7; the will,Rom. 6:17; Col. 3:15; faith, Mark 11:23; Rom. 10:10; Heb. 3:12.  The heart, in its moral significance in the OT, includes the emotions, the reason, and the will.3

Holman Bible Dictionary

Holman gives the most thorough explanation concerning the definition of the English word “heart,” when it states:

The heart is the center of the physical, mental, and spiritual life of humans.  This contrasts to the normal use of kardia (“heart”) in Greek literature outside the Scriptures. The New Testament follows the Old Testament usage when referring to the human heart in that it gives kardia a wider range of meaning than it was generally accustomed to have.

First, the word heart refers to the physical organ and is considered to be the center of the physical life. Eating and drinking are spoken of as strengthening the heart (Gen. 18:5; Judg. 19:5; Acts 14:17). As the center of physical life, the heart came to stand for the person as a whole.

The heart became the focus for all the vital functions of the body; including both intellectual and spiritual life. The heart and the intellect are closely connected, the heart being the seat of intelligence: “For this people’s heart is waxed gross … lest at any time they should … understand with their heart, and should be converted” (Matt. 13:15).

The heart is connected with thinking: As a person “thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). To ponder something in one’s heart means to consider it carefully (Luke 1:66; 2:19). “To set one’s heart on” is the literal Hebrew that means to give attention to something, to worry about it (1 Sam. 9:20). To call to heart (mind) something means to remember something (Isa. 46:8). All of these are functions of the mind, but are connected with the heart in biblical language.

Closely related to the mind are acts of the will, acts resulting from a conscious or even a deliberate decision. Thus, 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give.”  Ananias contrived his deed of lying to the Holy Spirit in his heart (Acts 5:4). The conscious decision is made in the heart (Rom. 6:17). Connected to the will are human wishes and desires. Romans 1:24 describes how God gave them up “through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies.”  David was a man after God’s “own heart” because he would “fulfill all” of God’s will (Acts 13:22).

Not only is the heart associated with the activities of the mind and the will, but it is also closely connected to the feelings and affections of a person. Emotions such as joy originate in the heart (Ps. 4:7; Isa 65:14). Other emotions are ascribed to the heart, especially in the Old Testament.  Nabal’s fear is described by the phrase: “his heart died within him” (1 Sam. 25:37; compare Ps. 143:4). Discouragement or despair is described by the phrase “heaviness in the heart” which makes it stoop (Prov. 12:25).

Again, Ecclesiastes 2:20 says, “Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labor which I took under the sun.” Another emotion connected with the heart is sorrow. John 16:6 says, “because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.” Proverbs 25:20, describes sorrow as having “an heavy heart.” The heart is also the seat of the affection of love and its opposite, hate. In the Old Testament, for example, Israel is commanded: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbor, lest you bear sin because of him” (Lev. 19:17RSV).

A similar attitude, bitter jealousy, is described in James 3:14 as coming from the heart. On the other hand, love is based in the heart. The believer is commanded to love God “with all your heart” (Mark 12:30; compare Deut. 6:5). Paul taught that the purpose of God’s command is love which comes from a “pure heart” (1 Tim. 1:5).

Finally, the heart is spoken of in Scripture as the center of the moral and spiritual life. The conscience, for instance, is associated with the heart. In fact, the Hebrew language had no word for conscience, so the word heart was often used to express this concept: “my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live” (Job 27:6). The Revised Standard Version translates the word for “heart” as “conscience” in 1 Samuel 25:31 (RSV). In the New Testament the heart is spoken of also as that which condemns us (1 John 3:19-21).

All moral conditions from the highest to the lowest are said to center in the heart. Sometimes the heart is used to represent a person’s true nature or character.  Samson told Delilah “all his heart” (Judg. 16:17). This true nature is contrasted with the outward appearance: “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7 RSV).

On the negative side, depravity is said to issue from the heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Jesus said that out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness,  slander (Matt. 15:19). In other words, defilement comes from within rather than from without.

Because the heart is at the root of the problem, this is the place where God does His work in the individual. For instance, the work of the law is “written in their hearts,” and conscience is the proof of this (Rom. 2:15). The heart is the field where seed (the Word of God) is sown (Matt. 13:19; Luke 8:15). In addition to being the place where the natural laws of God are written, the heart is the place of renewal. Before Saul became king, God gave him a new heart (1 Sam. 10:9). God promised Israel that He would give them a new spirit within, take away their “stony heart” and give them a “heart of flesh” (Ezek. 11:19). Paul said that a person must believe in the heart to be saved, “for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Rom. 10:10). (See also Mark 11:23; Heb. 3:12.)

Finally, the heart is the dwelling place of God. Two persons of the Trinity are said to reside in the heart of the believer. God has given us the ernest of the Spirit in our hearts” (2 Cor. 1:22). Ephesians 3:17 expresses the desire that “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” The love of God “is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:5).4

Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Easton’s states:

According to the Bible, the heart is the center not only of spiritual activity, but also of all the operations of human life.  “Heart” and “soul” are often used interchangeably (Deut. 6:5; 26:16; compare with Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30, 33), but this is not generally the case.  The heart is the “home of the personal life,” and hence a man is designated, according to his heart, wise (1 Kings 3:12, etc.), pure (Ps. 24:4; Matt. 5:8, etc.), upright and righteous (Gen. 20:5, 6; Ps. 11:2; 78:72), pious and good(Luke 8:15), etc.  In these and such passages the word “soul” could not be substituted for “heart.”

Easton’s goes on to say, the heart is also the seat of the conscience (Rom. 2:15).  It is naturally wicked (Gen. 8:21), and hence it contaminates the whole life and character (Matt. 12:34; 15: 18; compare Eccl. 8:11; Ps. 73:7).  Hence, the heart must be changed, regenerated (Ezek. 36:26; 11:19; Ps. 51:10-14), before a man can willingly obey God.  The process of salvation begins in the heart by the believing reception of the testimony of God, while the rejection of that testimony hardens the heart (Ps. 95:8; Prov. 28:14; 2 Chr. 36:13).5

Elwell’s Theological Dictionary

Elwell’s states:

The Hebrew and Christian views on the nature of man were developed in a religious setting: there is no systematized or scientific psychology in the Bible.  Nevertheless, certain fundamental conceptions are worthy of note:

  1. In the OT there is no very marked emphasis on individuality but, rather, on what is frequently now termed corporate personality.  Yet

  2. A. R. Johnson has shown that a fundamental characteristic of OT anthropology is the awareness of totality.  Man is not a body plus a soul, but a living unit of vital power, a psychophysical organism.

  3. The Hebrews thought of man as influenced from without, by evil spirits, the devil, or the Spirit of God, whereas in modern psychology the emphasis has tended to be placed on dynamic factors operating from within (though at the present time, fresh interest is being evoked in the study of environmental forces as factors influencing human behavior).

  4. The study of particular words in the OT and NT affords a comprehensive view of the underlying Hebrew and Christian conceptions of man.

The OT English versions of the Bible, several Hebrew expressions are translated “heart,” the main words being leb and lebab.  In a general sense, heart means the midst, the innermost or hidden part of anything.  Thus,the midst (or heart) of the sea (Ps. 46:2); of heaven (Deut. 4:11); of the oak (II Sam. 14:18).  In the physiological sense, heart is the central bodily organ, the seat of physical life.  Thus, Jacob’s heart “fainted” (Gen. 45:26); Eli’s heart “trembled” (I Sam. 4:13).

However, like other anthropological terms in the OT, heart is also used very frequently in a psychological sense, as the center or focus of man’s inner personal life.  The heart is the source, or spring, of motives; the seat of the passions; the center of the thought processes; the spring of conscience.  Heart, in fact, is associated with what is now meant by the cognitive, affective, and volitional elements of personal life.

The book of Proverbs is illuminating here: The heart is the seat of wisdom(2:10; etc.); of trust (or confidence) (3:5); diligence (4:23); perverseness (6:14);wicked imaginations (6:18); lust (6:25); subtlety (7:10); understanding (8:5);deceit (12:20); folly (12:23); heaviness (12:25); bitterness (14:10); sorrow(14:13); backsliding (14:14); cheerfulness (15:13); knowledge (15:14); joy(15:30); pride (16:5); haughtiness (18:12); prudence (18:15); fretfulness (19:3);envy (23:17).

The NT word for heart is kardia.  It, too, has a wide psychological and spiritual connotation.  Our Lord emphasized the importance of right states of heart.  It is the pure in heart who see God (Matt. 5:8); sin is first committed in the heart (Matt. 5:28); out of the heart proceed evil thoughts and acts (Matt. 15:19); forgiveness must come from the heart (Matt. 18:35); men must love God with all their heart (Matt. 22:37); the word of God is sown, and must come to fruition, in the heart (Luke 8:11-15).

Paul’s use of Kardia is on similar lines.  According to H. W. Robinson, in his book “The Christian Doctrine of Man,” in fifteen cases heart denotes personality, or the inner life, in general (e.g., I Cor. 14:25); in thirteen cases, itis the seat of emotional states of consciousness (e.g., Rom. 9:2); in eleven cases,it is the seat of intellectual activities (e.g., Rom. 1:21); in thirteen cases, it is the seat of the volition (e.g., Rom. 2:5).  Paul uses other expressions, such as mind, soul, and spirit, to augment the conception of man; but, on the whole, it may be said that the NT word Kardia reproduces and expands the ideas included in the OT words leb and lebab.6

Harris’s Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament

Harris’s states:

lebab is rendered heart, understanding, and mind (also used in idioms such as “to set the heart upon” meaning “to think about” or “to want”).  Concrete meanings ofleb referred to the internal organ and to analogous physical locations.  However, in its abstract meanings, “heart” became the richest biblical term for the totality of man’s inner or immaterial nature.

In biblical literature, it is the most frequently used term for man’s immaterial personality functions as well as the most inclusive term for them since, in the Bible; virtually every immaterial function of man is attributed to the “heart.”

By far the majority of the usages of leb refer either to the inner or immaterial nature in general or to one of the three traditional personality functions of man; emotion, thought, or will.  Thought functions may be attributed to the heart.  In such cases it is likely to be translated as “mind” or “understanding.”

To “set the heart to” may mean to “pay attention to” (Ex 7:23) or to “consider important” (II Sam 18:32).  Creative thought is a heart function.  Wicked devices originate in the heart (Gen 6:5).  The RSV translates “which came upon Solomon’s heart” as “all that Solomon had planned” (II Chr 7:11).

Wisdom and understanding are seated in the heart.  The “wise heart” (I Kgs. 3:12; RSV, “wise mind”) and “wise of heart” (Prov 16:23) are mentioned.  This idiom can be so strongly felt that “heart” virtually becomes a synonym for such ideas as “mind” (II Chr 9:23; RSV) or ‘sense” (Prov 11:12; RSV).  The heart functions in perception and awareness as when Elisha’s heart (i.e. Elisha’s perceptive nature; RSV “spirit”) went with Gehazi (II Kgs 5:26).

As the seat of thought and intellect, the heart can be deluded (Isa 44:20; RSV “mind”).  The heart is the seat of the will.  A decision may be described as “setting” the heart (II Chr 12:14).  “Not of my heart” expresses “not of my will” (Num 16:28).  The “hearts” of the Shechemites inclined to follow Abimelech (Jud 9:3).  Removal of the decision-making capacity is described as hardening the heart (Ex 10:1; Josh 11:20).  Closely connected to the preceding is the heart as the seat of moral responsibility.  Righteousness is “integrity of heart” (Gen 20:5).7

The New Testament Word Psyche

According to Vine’s the NT word psuche (5590), which can be translated “soul,” or “life,” is rendered “heart” in Eph. 6:6, “doing the will of God from the heart.”  In Col. 3:23, a form of the word psuche preceded by ek, literally, “from (the) soul,” is rendered “heartily.”

See the following (RV) Scriptures: Col. 3:12 (NASB, NJ); Philem. 7, 12, 20 (NKJV, NASB); 2 Cor. 3:3 (KJV, NKJV, NASB, RS, AS); Eph. 1:18 (AS, RS, NASB); Heb. 8:10, 10:16 (RS, AS, KJV, NKJV, NASB); Luke 21:26 (KJV, NKJV); 2 Cor. 7:2 (KJV, NKJV, RS, AS, NASB).3

Conclusion

Hopefully from the plethora of references cited, it is beyond dispute that when the Bible refers to the heart it is not referring to the emotions solely.  While the emotions are a blessing of God, that lend exuberance and passion, both in the negative and positive aspects of sensation; they are never meant as the sole device of discretion.

This is the place of the seat of the will, but always according to the intellect in response to what God has said.  And while we should consider the emotions in any decisions we make, this is always in a subservient role, never taking preeminence.

There is an abundance of references to the heart as having the lead role in decision-making.  Both the Old and New Testaments present the word “heart” as always used to include the mental process (rational and reason), and the will(volition), as well as the emotions.

Final Definition

Personally, I believe the best definition of heart, is the focus and determination of the mind, and the response of the emotions.

The Bible never instructs us to be led by our emotions, but rather by our minds.

It is with our minds that we focus our attention and choose to obey God, and it is those actions that first are decided with our mind in consideration of what we focus on – that is what God holds us accountable for.

There is a great book written by a German woman the grand daughter of one of the great theological writers ’which one I don’t remember; Keil and Delitzsch, I’ve read this book several times but no longer own it, as when I gave my 25, 000+ books to a university. But it was a great book on the wholeness and soundness of a psychology that binds the heart of God and the mind of Man. And as God works in both our heart and mind we become one (more like him). If you have a copy of this book I would love to borrow it from someone.

Touch my hand and you’ve touched my soul, romantic words, not really, a divine reality of why we must protect the treasure, the divine creation that is God’s. We are a divine temple created by God, to be filled by His Holy Spirt. A Hebrew would say; “if you touched my heart, you’ve touched my sou. So what we do morally affects our relationship of heart and mind and soul with God. Therefore we need the Christian God to be our moral compass, to give us a godly heart, a loving heart, and be loving people.

Guard your treasure.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

ARE WE THERE YET?

June 25, 2018

  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet. 5:6).

  The Blesser sends trials because the trials are blessings. Most covet the “blessing” of having the trial removed.

 I find the brightest summer is when the winter has been longest and most severe. The wheat, the best grain, passes a winter in the soil. The bud, the blossom, or fruit, most fragrant of Christ, is the one which nobody knows what it cost me but Himself; and where one had hardly noticed it; like the beautiful wild flowers in the meadows, contending with bushes and briars, to shed their fragrance on the unthankful or unthinking traveler going by.

I think we are sometimes ready to say to the Lord—Could you not have taught me without subjecting me to so much sorrow and humiliation? The answer I have had is, You could not be effectually taught any other way. The Lord knows the nature of the obstacle in me which He has to overcome: a less efficient hand might think that it could be dealt with in some other way.

A weakness be it bodily or otherwise, is sometimes allowed to continue in order that there may be dependence, and when there is dependence, the weakness becomes a gain; the grit—the trying thing—is superseded by a pearl of great price.

  “The God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect [mature], establish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Pet. 5:10).

Yet, though he slay me (Job) are you there yet.

Please continue you keep my wife, Sharon in your prayers, it’s going to be a week of tests and doctors wagging their chins.

Pray for Connie W. she wants to stay married and work things out.

Pray for Bob C, just lost his wife of 38 years.

Praise from Marilyn A, all her tests came back negative.

Pray for Midge, a dear saint in the Lord for many years, and this last year has been the worst trial of her life. The pain is robbing her of a victory. We pray she feels encouraged by all our prayers.

 

THE BREAD OF LIFE

What do people all over the world spend most of their time and energy doing? What are the barest necessities of life? Food, shelter and clothing. We spend most of our waking hours working to obtain these necessities. But of them all, food is the most important. Physical hunger is so consuming that we cannot think of anything else until it is satisfied.

Jesus used the legitimate cravings of the body for food to describe a deeper hunger the hunger of the soul for God and the longing for eternal life. And He demonstrated vividly His ability to satisfy that hunger forever. The disciples had been on the road with Jesus for over 2 years. They had heard His teaching and seen His miracles. He had been training them and now it was time to send them out in teams of two.

Luke 9:1-6

Do you see what He did? He delegated His power to them to do the same miracles he did. But He also sent them out by faith. They were to take nothing for their material needs. They were to trust God to supply their needs through other people day by day.

Can you imagine how excited they were when they returned? They had cast out demons and healed many sick people. And all of their personal needs had been supplied. What an experience!

Mark 6:30-32

Rest and refreshment. Time to be alone with Jesus. Time to relax and shareand be restored. How important that is for all of us. Have you ever had an exciting and productive experience and when it was over, there was a letdown? This is the remedy. Time alone with the One who made you fruitful and gave your life an impact.

Mark 6:33

The people ran around the northern shore of the lake and when the boat landed at Bethsaida, there was a large milling crowd waiting for Jesus. They wanted to see more miracles. This certainly was an interruption in His plans, was not it? How would Jesus react?

Mark 6:34

He welcomed them and had compassion on them. They were like sheep with out a shepherd. That does not mean much to us today, because very few of us have flocks of sheep. But a sheep without a shepherd has a very short life span. On its own a sheep cannot find safe pasture to feed on or still pools of water to drink. It cannot clean itself, defend itself or find its way home. Without a shepherd a sheep is totally helpless and hopeless and in peril for its life.

Jesus had come to be their Shepherd. So He healed their diseases and taught them God’s Word. This was what they needed most.

The hours went by as the crowd listened attentively. But the disciples began to worry about some practical matters. This was a very large crowd, 5000 men plus women and children; over 10,000 people. There were no Krogers or Tom Thumbs, and no Holiday Inns. How could these people be fed and find shelter for the night? They had better tell Jesus to quit preaching and send them home.

Mark 6:35-36

They were right to be concerned, but they had the wrong solution. The answer for anyone’s need is not to send them away from Jesus but to send them to Him. He is the only One who can meet any need we have, physical or spiritual.

But Jesus really surprised them with His answer:

They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat. (Matt. 14:16, NIV)

Who? Us? Surely Jesus did not expect them to buy bread for a crowd like this. Now remember, they had just come back from an extended tour during which all their needs had been supplied as God had motivated others to share with them. Surely they should have considered the supernatural in their equation. But they did not. Are we not like that? We do not remember God’spast provision when faced with a new crisis. Our faith for the new trials we face in the future will remain sturdy if we deliberately remember God’s provision in the past. Each experience should build on the last.

The disciples looked at the impossibilities, not at Jesus’ proven ability. They looked at their own inadequate finances and not at His limitless resources. They looked only to their helplessness and not at His power to work through them. Jesus was giving them the opportunity to be part of a great miracle, the only one that is recorded in all four Gospels besides the resurrection. He wanted to use them and all they could think of was their checkbook balance.

Are they really so different from us? God gives us a challenging child to raise, a difficult marriage, a job that stretches us, a family of origin that was unhealthy, an illness that saps our strength, finances that end before our expenses do. And we look at our inadequacies and poverty and say, “How can I do this? Surely God, you do not expect me to get through this.” And that is true.

He does not intend for you to find the strength you need from within yourself. 2 Co. 1:9 tells us that these things happen so that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God.

Mark 6:38

John tells us that a boy gave his lunch to Jesus: his five little barley loaves and two small fish. I wonder as the disciples went through the crowd asking for food, if there were others who had food but hung on to it selfishly. This little boy gave everything he had to Jesus and Jesus accepted his gift and used it. I think that children still respond this way to Jesus. That is why we must not wait till they get hardened and unbelieving as adults are before we tell them that Jesus loves them, died for them and wants them to trust Him. In fact, Matt. 18 says that adults must come to Christ humbly as little children do.

Mark 6:39-41

The crowd was now seated in orderly groups on the green grass. Jesus stood before them, took the tiny little lunch in His hands, and looked up to heaven. He thanked God and then divided the loaves and the fish. The disciples stood before Him with their empty baskets and he started putting bread and fish in each one. Before their astonished eyes the bread and fish just kept on multiplying till all of their baskets were full. Then they turned and distributed the food to the crowd.

I believe that even as the people reached in and took as much as they wanted, that the bread and fish in their baskets never ran out. Jesus took what was given to Him and multiplied it to feed all of these people. He used the little boy’s lunch and He used the disciples to meet the needs of over 10,000 people. You see, He never expects our resources to be adequate. He just wants us to give what we have and what we are to Him and He will multiplyour resources and use us to feed those who are dying of spiritual hunger all around us. But of course, the catch lies with us. How much will we give Him of our resources and ourselves? What was the result?

John says “Everyone had as much as they wanted.”

Mark 6:42

They all ate and were satisfied. Is not that the way it always is with Jesus? Just as He satisfied their physical need, He is the only One who can completely satisfy our spiritual hunger. This does not mean just the initial act of receiving Him as our Savior. This means that our spiritual life is sustainedand constantly renewed by Him alone.

John 6:12-13 (NIV) When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”

We never come to the end of what He wants to give us. He supplies more than enough. He came to give us an abundant life, not just mere subsistence. Nothing wasted: always enough for us to share with others. (One way to measure this is to see what God does with our money when we give it to Him. There is always enough there.)

As wonderful as this story is, there is significant meaning behind it that the Gospel of John goes on to explain. This miracle, in contrast to the others affected everyone there.

John tells us the crowd was so excited by this miracle that benefited all of them that they wanted to take Jesus by force and make Him King. This was not His timetable for that, so he withdrew from them and went back to Capernaum. The next day the people found Him there.

John 6:25-27

Jesus knew that they were there to get their stomachs full every day. That is how shallow their interest was. But he used their desire for food to teach them that He could give them something permanent-eternal life.

John 6:28

No different than millions of people today. They were so sure that if they just knew that special formula of works they could do, then they could do it and earn eternal life. Jesus answered them in words that could not be clearer.

John 6:29

There is only one work that will give you eternal life and it is not a work at all. It is simply to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. And God will give eternal life as a free gift.

To show you how materialistic and obtuse they were, listen to their next demand.

John 6:30-31

What miraculous sign will you do for us? Incredible! These were the same people who had all been fed just the day before. Now they challenged Him. They really meant, Moses gave our forefathers manna, bread from heaven, for 40 years. Can you top that? We will follow you if you feed us every day like you did yesterday! Jesus’ answer to this arrogant demand was very revealing.

John 6:32-35

Jesus here makes the first of seven claims about himself in John beginning with the words I Am. Surely this should have reminded them of the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush, I AM WHO I AM. He is the Bread of life, (bread that is living/or gives life). Really saying to them: Do not compare me to Moses. Compare me to the manna. The rest of his conversation with them shows how God was giving them something greater than the manna that He sent their forefathers every day but Saturday for 40 years in the wilderness.

MANNA

JESUS CHRIST

Picture

Reality

Sent by the Father

Sent by the Father

For All

For all

Bread from Heaven

True bread

They had to pick and eat

We have to believe

They hungered again.

We will never hunger

Physical/temporal

Spiritual/eternal

They died

We live

Picture

Reality

The manna was just a picture of what Jesus Christ would be when He came to earth. He is the reality.

Sent by the Father.

Over and over Jesus states that the Father sent Him to give eternal life to everyone who believed in HIM.

For ALL

Just as the manna was for all the 3 million people of Israel. Just as the bread and fish were for all the 10,000 so Jesus Christ was sent for all the people in the world.

Bread from heaven/True Bread from heaven

The manna was bread from heaven. Ex. 16:4I will rain down bread from heaven for you. But Jesus was the genuine, real Bread from heaven. Six times in this chapter alone He claims heavenly origin.

They had to pick and eat. We have to believe

The manna did not keep them alive just by being on the ground. They had to eat it. It is not enough to know that Jesus came into the world, that He did miracles and that He died for sins. We each personally must put our faith in Him. That is why He kept using terms like eating, drinking, coming to Him. They all involved an act of the will to believe in His Person and His work.

They hungered again. We will never hunger or thirst

They picked the manna every morning for the day. They ate breakfast each day from it. After a few hours they were hungry again and had to eat again and the next morning had to gather it again. Jesus claims to completely satisfy the hunger of the human heart for God forever.

Physical-Temporal/Spiritual-Eternal

The manna kept them alive physically for 40 years in the wilderness. Though it was bread from heaven, its purpose was earthly and temporal. Jesus is the One Who gives life to our spirits, eternal life. Eternal life is a new quality of life as well as quantity.

They died/We live

The wilderness became one vast cemetery. The manna was just food for their bodies. Jesus gives us eternal life for our spirits now and resurrection for our bodies when He returns. Then we will be with Him in heaven forever.

Now He explained how He was the Bread of Life.

John 6:51-54

This bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. (NIV)

Can you imagine how repulsive this was to the Jewish mind? Blood was forbidden and human flesh! They missed the point entirely.

You see, again here that Jesus used material and physical things to explain spiritual truth. He used physical digestion to illustrate the process of faith. When you eat food, your body digests it and assimilates it and the food actually becomes part of your body. Jesus was telling them ahead of time that He would die for the world. That death and resurrection is an historical fact. But it does not apply to you unless you believe that Jesus Christ died in your place and you receive Him by faith. Eating and drinking are just another way of explaining what it is to believe. When you do that He comes to live in you and you live in Him.

Gal. 2:20 (NIV) I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

This means that He not only gives us eternal life when we initially trust Him, but He actually lives in us. He is our life. He exchanges our sinful, failing, inadequate life for His holy, powerful, fruitful life. He gives us the strength to endure suffering, He continues to change us and bring us to maturecharacter. In using the term Bread of life, Jesus is really saying that He alone is all that we will ever need to have eternal life, to know God, to be kept secure, to experience resurrection.

What was the result of this revealing discourse with was preceded just the day before by a spectacular miracle that illustrated it so powerfully?

John 6:60-66

REJECTION! It was a hard teaching to them to “eat flesh and drink blood.” Even though Jesus explained that He was talking about spiritual realities, not literal flesh and blood, they did not believe. And these uncommittedfollowers left Him.

Can you not hear the pathos in His voice as He turned to the Twelve?

John 6:67-69

FAITH These men did not understand everything Jesus said and did, but they trusted Him and were committed to Him. This sequel to the great miracle tells us something important. Miracles do not necessarily produce faith.That is why it is so important not to be presumptuous and demand of God that He do something spectacular for you to believe. Jesus Christ has already done everything miraculous that needed to be done for us to believe that the Father sent Him to reveal God to us and to give us eternal life. There are only two responses we can have to the claims of Christ.

Belief or unbelief. This applies to our daily walk with Him as well as our initial birth into God’s family.

What does Jesus reveal to us about God, our Heavenly Father?

  • That our Father’s heart is moved with compassion for us as we wander in our hopeless, lost condition.

  • That our Father knows both our physical and spiritual needs and provides for both.

  • That our Father is not impatient with us even when He knows our motives are self-serving.

  • That our Father will multiply what we give Him and use us to have an eternal impact on those around us.

  • That our Father will put us in situations that stretch our faith.

  • That our Father supplies abundantly, not skimpily.

  • That our Father always knows the degree of our commitment from the start.

  • That our Father sent Jesus to give eternal life to all who believe in Him. This is the only “work” we can do to be saved. We cannot earn eternal life by our own efforts.

  • That our Father gives us to Jesus and he will never drive us away. We are safe forever.

  • That it is our Father’s will that believers have eternal life and resurrection.

  • That our Father requires that we make a decision. We can choose to not believe in Jesus Christ. But there is no other way to God.

  • That our Father provides for our spiritual life to be sustained daily by “feeding on Christ.”

Are you feeding on Christ? How?

Matthew 4:4 (NIV) “Man does not live on bread alone…”

Reading His Word, obeying it, talking to Him, depending on Him and letting Him be our life. Jesus is the one who gives us the strength to face the trials and inequities of life. He is the One who gives us joy that is unrelated to our circumstances. He is the One who will take us all through this life with all of its uncertainties and then take us to be safe at home with Him. He is the Bread of Life and all we need.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The next thing that we need to do if we’re going to have a successful argument—we need to deal with one problem at a time and deal with problems as they come up. Now the Bible says, “Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath.” Many of us used to collect trading stamps. (I’m showing my age here) You used to go to the store and they give you these stamps after you buy something, the more you buy the more stamps you get, you put them in a little book, and then one day you go down and redeem them for anything the store carried. You collected enough stamps you could come out with new lawn mower or a new food processor.

 What you do is you just put them in the book. Now that’s the way a lot of marriages do. Your husband hurts you—you put it in the book. Say something else, late for the dinner—put it in the book. Forgot your anniversary—book it in the book. You don’t deal with those things as they come up and then one of these days, there’s an explosion. She comes in to cash all her stamps. I mean all at one time, or he comes in, and you wonder why, when did all of this happen? How did all of this happen?

You have failed to do what the Bible says to do and that is to deal with these things as they come up, when they’re small, when they can be dealt with. Trading stamp is not so big. It can be dealt with, but not the whole book all at once. “Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath!” Stick to the subject. Know what it is. Don’t attack one another; attack the problem. Deal with these things as they come up.

(ok this is one giant pun) But you can lick the stamps, not the whole book. Deal with it when it comes up. This is why your church needs to do a seminar on Temperaments. If you understand your spouse’s temperament. The moody person that it’s always their fault, or the person who has no problems, it’s always ‘you’. Or how about the emotional handwringer it takes two days put them back together again or the let’s write this down and draw a chart to solve this.

None of these are wrong, but opposites attract and we need to know the emotional IQ of our spouses and how the God given temperament is a double edged sword it works great when the person is walking with God. But oh boy, when it’s the carnal nature leading the way watch out.

Homework assignment, seriously, read Tim LeHaye’s book on temperament and the book ‘please understand me’ these are great books and will help you as a spouse and as a parent.

Next learn to negotiate. Don’t get in a win-lose situation. Rather than having a war where both husband and wife lose, have a negotiation where both husband and wife win. Let both save face. Give in. Adjust. Compromise. Be gentle. Jesus does that. Jesus said, “I have many things to tell you; you’re not able to bear them.” He knows what we’re able to do. Learn not just to force your point all the way down to the bitter end.

And if you are one of these dim witted cavemen that with a bible in one hand and megaphone in the other yelling “submit” the bible says you have to submit woman. Well let me ask you one question Capt. Grunt, what have you sacrificed for your wife lately?

Golf on Saturday, out with the boys Friday, spending to much on toys, you know the big boy toys.

How about blessing your wife, do you touch her (non sexually) at least 10 times a day. How about kissing (non sexually) 10 times a day, holding the door open for her. Telling her how beautiful she is, saying thank you for dinner. No sniping and rude comments. You’d be surprised how the relationship changes.

Next, know how important this is, pray, pray, pray, pray and pray some more. It’s amazing how prayer will help you through these things. Sometimes Sharon and I will be in a disagreement. We’ll be sitting there at the kitchen table. It will get tense.

And she’ll say to me, “Greg, you’re wrong.” “Not me.” “Yes, you’re wrong.” “No, I’m not wrong.” “She says, you are wrong, but I can’t prove you’re wrong because you can talk better than I can. But I know you’re wrong.” I say, “No I’m not wrong.” “You’re wrong.” It gets tense I say, “Well let’s just stop for a while.” I go in my study and try and prepare a sermon. Ha. Try to read. Try to do something else. I can’t do it. So I say, “Lord, did you see what went on in there?” He says, “Yeah, you were wrong.” “Me?” “Yeah, you. You were wrong.” “Okay, Lord.” I have to go back, “Honey, I was wrong. Forgive me.” She says, “I forgive you.” We hug and kiss. Make up. Prayer will do that, friend. You be honest with God. Honest with God. Just honest and let God speak to you. And friend if you’ll do these things and they’re so simple, but so real, your marriage can be a marriage that can stay together as you have that commitment. That communion. That confrontation. All sheltered over with His great love. Would you pray for your home right now?

Which brings us to the most awkward thing I ask couples to do, kneel down next to the couch at least once a day and hold hands and pray together. Trust me the first few times it is going to feel weird and you might think your prayer didn’t go past the ceiling. But keep at it for at least 3 months and then you’ll see that time will become the most precious time of each day.

PS, no self-righteous, talking down to prayers. Husbands pray first, and the wife. You’ll be amazed what love and forgiveness, harmony and closeness develops.

Ding. This round is over.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember pray requests and comments to email address, ALSO IF WE NEED TO TALK BECAUSE YOU CAN’T FIND A GOOD CHRISTIAN COUNSELOR EMAIL ME YOUR PHONE NUMBER AND THE BEST TIME TO TALK.