Celestial Marriage

Saturday, July 23                               

God has given us built-in truths concerning celestial matters.  One of these is the marriage relationship, which is analogous to the relationship between Christ and the Church.  The Bible speaks of the Church as the bride of Christ.   Human marriage helps us to understand that relationship.  Just as human marriage is built on love and mutual and enduring care, so it is with Christ and the Church.  And just as man and wife produce new physical life, so does the union of Christ and His bride produce new spiritual life.  If we as Christians do not reproduce ourselves, it’s like a married couple without progeny.  There’s another truth revealed here.  The union of Christ and His bride, the church, is a permanent relationship.  The union cannot be broken.  Paul makes that clear in Rom. 8:35-39.  Nothing on earth or in the celestial realm can break that bond.  In like manner, a husband and a wife form a union that should never be broken—in this life.  A divorce does not reflect the eternal bond between Christ and the Church.  Analogies break down when carried to extreme, and this one does, too.  1) A human marriage is not continued in heaven—simply because we move from the physical realm into the celestial realm.  2)  When a marriage is terminated by death, re-marriage is acceptable.  3) Because of our sin nature, God has allowed divorce in certain situations.  None of this eliminates Biblical truths concerning the responsibilities of marriage.  Our marriages should reflect the caring, loving relationship that exists between Christ and the Church.  And we should be producing spiritual offspring.

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Chance Encounters

Friday, July 22                                   Chance Encounters

Tom Thieme:   “What a distraction is to one person is a ministry opportunity for another.”  The encounter with the Canaanite woman was one of them.  The disciples considered the woman a distraction.  Jesus didn’t.  This was fairly common in Jesus’ ministry.  His first miracle came about because there was a lack of wine at a wedding.  John 2:1-11.  There is the encounter with the Samaritan woman in John 4:1-42.  The disciples were more interested in getting something to eat.  Note vv. 8, 27, 31-34.  There was the woman who interrupted Jesus when He was dealing with Jairus, whose daughter was dying.  Luke 8:43-48.  This was a distraction, but she was healed just by touching Jesus’ garment—and Jairus’ daughter then died.  And that was part of Jesus’ agenda, too.  When Jesus arrived at Jairus’ house, he was scorned by the wailing crowd.  To the amazement of all, the girl was raised from the dead.  There are many other similar encounters.  In fact, most of Jesus’ miracles were the result of seemingly chance encounters.  We all know they were not.  In fact, they were probably all foreordained before the world began.  John 9 tells of the healing of the man that was born blind.  The disciples questioned Jesus as to whose sin brought about the blindness.  Jesus’ answer:  “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”  This was no chance encounter, nor were the other encounters.  All were designed by God to reveal the Messiah and to bring about redemption.  We can learn something here.  There are no chance encounters.  Every one of them is an opportunity.  We need to have that mind set all day every day.

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Humility, Persistence, and Faith

Thursday, July 21                  

In a sermon, Tom Thieme spoke about the Canaanite woman who pleaded with Jesus to heal her daughter.  Mt. 15:21-28.  After the woman pleaded for mercy, Jesus said nothing until His disciples wanted to send the woman away.”  Then Jesus said “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel (referring to the Jews).  The woman was not to be put off that easily.  She knelt before Jesus and said “Lord, help me.”  Jesus answered “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”  Still persistent, the woman said “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”   Tom’s comment here is right on.  “Jesus did not commend her for her humility or for her persistence, but for her faith.”  She accepted her role as a “dog”—that’s humility.  And she was obviously persistent.  But it was her faith that caused her to be humble and persistent.  Knowing the heart of the woman, Jesus knew all along what He would do.  The dialogue was no doubt more for the disciples than for the woman.  Besides humility, persistence, and faith, there is another lesson here.  Note that despite Jesus’ negative remarks, the woman never ceased to call Him “Lord.”  No matter the circumstances, no matter how negative things appear to be, He is Lord.  The disciples needed this and would desperately need it later.  And because this dialogue is recorded in Scripture, it is for us, too.  When life seems dark and dreary, He is still Lord.  Our job is simply to submit.  Let Him be Lord.

Thursday, July 21                  Humility, Persistence, and Faith

In a sermon, Tom Thieme spoke about the Canaanite woman who pleaded with Jesus to heal her daughter.  Mt. 15:21-28.  After the woman pleaded for mercy, Jesus said nothing until His disciples wanted to send the woman away.”  Then Jesus said “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel (referring to the Jews).  The woman was not to be put off that easily.  She knelt before Jesus and said “Lord, help me.”  Jesus answered “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”  Still persistent, the woman said “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”   Tom’s comment here is right on.  “Jesus did not commend her for her humility or for her persistence, but for her faith.”  She accepted her role as a “dog”—that’s humility.  And she was obviously persistent.  But it was her faith that caused her to be humble and persistent.  Knowing the heart of the woman, Jesus knew all along what He would do.  The dialogue was no doubt more for the disciples than for the woman.  Besides humility, persistence, and faith, there is another lesson here.  Note that despite Jesus’ negative remarks, the woman never ceased to call Him “Lord.”  No matter the circumstances, no matter how negative things appear to be, He is Lord.  The disciples needed this and would desperately need it later.  And because this dialogue is recorded in Scripture, it is for us, too.  When life seems dark and dreary, He is still Lord.  Our job is simply to submit.  Let Him be Lord.

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My Home

Wednesday, July 20                           

Pastor Doug:  “We need to declare to the world by the way we live that we do not belong in this world.”  Have you ever met someone for the first time and quickly concluded that you were talking with a Christian?  I have done this on a few occasions.  It’s hard to pin point what it is that gives you a clue.  It might be a calm expression, a peaceful countenance, maybe the way a person responds, either by word or by action.  Once in a while, I get bold enough to ask “Are you a Christian?”  And we often end up talking about spiritual things.  Likewise, it’s not too hard to recognize a person that is not a Christian.  It might be just a facial expression, or it might be a surly or unpleasant attitude.  In reality, it might be a Christian that is in a sour mood.  I guess we all could identify with that.  But the point is that every time we “rub shoulders” with someone, we send out an aura of goodness or evil.  When I fail to measure up to the Christian standard of peace, contentment, love, caring, trust, and honesty, I have no opportunity to bear fruit for the Lord.  This may not sound like a big deal, but it’s a big deal if a person bound for eternal damnation doesn’t hear the gospel.  This needs to be front and center for us all the time.  This world is not my home and I need to broadcast it—loud and clear.

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Reservoirs and Channels

Tuesday, July 19                    

Salvation is much more than a “fire escape.”  Yes, we escape the eternal fire of hell, but if that were all that mattered, God would likely not leave us in this “foreign land.”  He would just take us to heaven.  When we are rescued from the bondage of Satan, we become servants of God.  We were bought with a price in order to serve God.  We are to be God’s witnesses to the ungodly, so that they, too, can become children of God and witnesses of His grace.  The Bible expresses this in terms of the grape vine.  Jesus is the vine and we are the branches that transmit the life giving nutrients to produce “fruit” for God.  This has been termed by some as “channels of blessing,”  which conjures up the use of pipes or channels to move water to where it is needed.  Warren Wiersbe in his book “On Being a Servant of God” has a lot to say about channels of blessing.  One of them is “We are channels of blessing, not reservoirs.  A reservoir stores up water.  The water is only useful when it is transferred to fertile land where seeds are planted.  Too many Christians store up an immense amount of  Biblical knowledge without ever using it.  Storing up knowledge does not “produce fruit.”  By the way, channels come in different sizes.  You might want to meditate on that.  How much of a channel am I?  How much of a channel are you?  Our reservoir of knowledge needs to be used.  Paul did a good job doing that,  So did Warren Wiersbe.

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Incomprehensible Love

Monday, July 18                                

I have been puzzled for years over some Biblical truths.  I accept them because I believe the Bible is inspired and reliable, but it doesn’t mean I have answers to these puzzling questions.  I don’t understand why God allowed sin to enter this universe, apparently by Satan and other fallen angels first, and eventually Adam and Eve and the entire human race.  Why was Satan allowed into the Garden of Eden?  Why are all descendants of Adam and Eve born with the sin nature?  How can a multitude of people languishing in hell for eternity be a victory for God?  And I have a few other questions, too.  These questions have been rumbling around in my brain for some time, and I’m still groping for answers, but maybe I got a little enlightenment awhile back.  I got to thinking about the company of saints as depicted in Heb. 11 that will exist for eternity as trophies of God’s grace.  Will that company of redeemed believers be so valuable to God that all these other issues are of no consequence?  If so, we far underestimate the value that God places on that company of believers.  We are cherished beyond our comprehension.   If I’m on the right track, it’s awesome!  His love for me is way beyond my understanding.  The result is a new view of how much I owe God, a greater feeling of gratitude, a new motivation to worship my loving redeemer, and the motivations to serve Him, to please Him, to get rid of sin in my life.  What an awesome thing to be a part of that company of saints!

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Three Verities

Sunday, July 17                                  

Hebrews 11 is a much loved passage—and for good reason.  The entire gospel message is graphically revealed here.  The writer of Hebrews did not write chapter 11 just to tell us about the sufferings of God’s people through history.  The theme is not trials and tribulations.  It is not WHAT happened.  It’s WHY it happened.  All those heroes of the faith knew and embraced several truths.  1. God exists.  2.  He is holy.  3. God created man with the capacity to make moral choices.  4. He also made man to be eternal.  5. There are two kinds of eternity—heaven and hell.  6. Sin canceled the option to go to heaven.  7. Man is helpless to do anything about it.  8.  God provided a way out by sending His son to pay for our sin (not fully understood by the O.T. saints).  9. The gift of redemption is received only by faith.  10.  It is a certainty, although it hasn’t yet happened.  11.  So is hell—for the unredeemed.  All this is groundwork for Heb. 11.  The three “verities” mentioned by Paul in 1 Cor. 13 are all represented here.  God’s LOVE is demonstrated by the cross.  Redemption is received by FAITH.  A future home in heaven is as sure as God is holy.  God cannot lie.  It will happen.  That is HOPE.   A beautiful chapter!

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