Archive for the ‘Help Line’ Category

Is Jesus God? If you answered with a quick, firm “yes,” read on. Recent polls show a whopping 96% of Americans believe in “God.” Obviously, considering the state of American Christianity, something doesn’t quite add up. Dare we assume that 96% of Americans believe in the Christian God? Do we all have the same “god” in mind when we confess faith?

Now think about the center of Christian apologetics: that Jesus Christ is God. Please don’t excommunicate me just yet, but if you were to ask me, “Is Jesus God?” I would respond with another question. “Which ‘god’ are we talking about?” Most evangelical Christians, when sharing the Gospel, assume that Jesus’ identity is in question, while God’s isn’t. In other words, we think everyone basically agrees with us about who God is, and so all we must do is simply proclaim Jesus’ divine link to Him.

Declaring the divinity of Jesus by stating matter-of-factly that He is God does not really resolve anything until we have painted the biblical picture of the true God. Yet in the past 200 years, fundamentalists and evangelicals have defended Christ’s divinity without stopping to consider how God’s identity is also under attack. Why? Liberal theologians have taught that Jesus was not divine and should not be worshipped as God in the flesh. Conservative Christians have rightly recoiled from such heresy, but while simply affirming Jesus’ deity might stifle the theologians, it provokes a “so what?” from the person on the street.

“Jesus is God” can’t be true until we get past all the other “gods” masquerading under the Christian “God” label. Muslims worship an impersonal, distant “god” (Allah, in Arabic), but is the Muslim-god the same as ours? Most Americans will line up to sing “God bless America.” Yet considering the Deist beliefs of several of our forefathers (and a growing segment of the population today), this Clockmaker-god does nothing more than put the clock together, wind it up, put it up on a shelf, and go about His business or back to His rocking chair. If the god that is in mind is one of these, saying “Jesus is God” is incorrect. Jesus definitely is not that god.

A Christian who knows his Bible and has a clear picture of God can be telling the truth when he says, “Jesus is God”, and at the same time, the person listening (perhaps with a Deist concept of god) may be hearing an outright lie. Jesus’ divinity is not the only issue at stake here; God’s very identity is under attack too.

Some readers might affirm that “Jesus is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” in order to eliminate many pluralistic gods. But where does that leave our Jewish friends, since they would easily affirm the same statement? You might say, “Jews and Christians share the same God! It’s just about Jesus that we don’t see eye to eye.” By saying this, Christians make a glaring misrepresentation of Yahweh – the Great I Am.

God is not God apart from Jesus. It is pointless to try to define the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob apart from Jesus Christ. That is the pluralistic problem plaguing so many Christian factions today. Since you can’t explain the Bible’s God without involving the Trinity, you can never fully explain how “Jesus is God” makes any sense at all.

Since Christians believe in a triune God – Yahweh in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we actually undermine the divinity of Christ by claiming that our God is the same as that of our Jewish friends. As Christians, we believe Jesus is so important that you can’t define God’s identity apart from Him.

So what’s the answer? What can help us get through some of the theological red tape and bring us to the point where we can once again make a firm statement for the Gospel?

Here’s the statement that I recommend you chew on a little bit: GOD IS JESUS. When you see Jesus, you are seeing God, not just because Jesus is God, but also because God is Jesus. Jesus is the One who shows us who God is and what God is like.

Of course, “God is Jesus” is a statement that has its own interesting theological snags. We can start heading backwards by asking, “Which Jesus is God?” since people don’t agree on Jesus’ identity either! Still, I believe we can more easily define Jesus’ identity and how it relates to God’s Person than we can trying to go the other way around.

So, looking ahead for the 21st century, how can we move forward in our Gospel proclamation? Let’s teach people who Jesus is; show them how Scripture describes Him; tell about His atoning sacrifice on the cross; proclaim Him as Lord. Then, utilizing the biblical portrait of Jesus, tell people, “That’s who God is. That’s what God is like! That’s God in human flesh.” You want to know God’s identity? Meet Jesus. God is Jesus.

Written by Trevin Wax. © Kingdom People Blog. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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I’ve been browsing through Randy Newman’s book, Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Your Family Members, Your Close Friends, and Others You Know WellThis is an incredibly important topic as I have come to find it harder to share the gospel with family members as it is with an unknown person in my community. I imagine this is true for most if not all Christians.

In the conclusion of his introductory chapter, Newman provides four steps for sharing the gospel with your family. I thought they were very thoughtful and practical. Check them out.

1.  If you don’t already have one, develop a system for prayer for your family. Perhaps you can set aside a section in a prayer journal.

2.  Begin your prayers for your family with thanksgiving. This may be more difficult for some people than others. Regardless of your family’s well-being, thank God for the family you have and all the accompanying benefits you can identify.

3.  You may need to include prayers of confession as well–confession of your lack of love for your family, your idolatry of control in trying to change them, your reliance on your ability to convict them of their sin instead of trusting the Holy Spirit to do that, your coldheartedness, haughtiness, and self-righteousness, etc. Ask the Holy Spirit to shine his light of truth on your darkness of sin.

4.  If you haven’t already done so, “come out of the closet” as a Christian to your family. Pray for gentle words and a gracious demeanor mixed with bold confidence. . . . Aim for your announcement to be informational rather than evangelistic. You can trust God to open evangelistic doors later.

#3 nailed me.

One thing I might add, especially if you have a large family: look for opportunities in the course of the day when it is not so hectic where you might be able to enjoy a sustained conversation with a family member who is not a Christian. In a large group setting, conversations tend to stay on a superficial level, but if you can get alone with one or two family members for 10-15 minutes or longer, you will have a greater opportunity of magnetizing the conversation to the gospel and how Jesus has changed, and is changing your life.

Chris Russell recently published a blog post called “8 Keys to Knowing God’s Will For Your Life.” That post was directed toward helping believers to figure out the big picture in regard to God’s will. For instance, those keys have much to do with God’s plan for you vocationally, in ministry, and in the important stages of life.

This post, on the other hand, lends help for the “smaller” decisions that we make from day to day.  In order to continue in the middle of God’s perfect will, it is vital that we make right decisions each day and each week. But that is not always easy. As a tool to help you make right decisions from a biblical perspective, I have pulled together 13 questions you should ask when facing a choice. Here they are:

1)  Does God already have a clear teaching about this?

Joshua 1:8
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

If God has already spoken clearly about this, you do not have to wonder any longer. Just do what he has told you.

Simple, right?

Well, the problem here seems to be that most people in our culture today seem to have a fairly low level of knowledge of the Scriptures. They are “low-information believers.”

So, I would encourage you to saturate your mind as much as possible with God’s Word. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. Learn it. Once you have done so, you will be amazed at how much better you are at making good, solid decisions in life.

2)  What do my top spiritual advisors tell me about this?

Proverbs 11:14
Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

It is vital that you surround yourself with godly friends who will be able to speak into your life about life’s decisions. Do you realize that you are basically a composite of the five people you spend the most time with? It is crucial to choose those people carefully. If you don’t have those types of friends, I would encourage you to increase your involvement in church and small groups and ministry in order to establish those godly relationships.

3)  What do authority figures in my life have to say about this?

Titus 3:1
Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work.

(Also see Romans 13:1-7Hebrews 13:17)

God often works through authority relationships in our lives. For instance, it would be extremely rare for the best choice to be something that is illegal. Look at this choice from the vantage point of authority figures in your life, and at least use that as an important reference point for you.

4)  How will this affect me spiritually?

1 Corinthians 10:23
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

There is much more to this life than just earning a bigger paycheck or improving your status amongst peers. When you make choices, make sure you consider how this decision will affect your spiritual development. Will this draw you nearer to God or further from him?  Will this decision interfere with your ability to attend church, maintain godly relationships, or spend time cultivating your spiritual disciplines?  If it harms you spiritually, then I would suggest pulling the plug on that choice.

5)  How will this affect my family? Will this draw us closer to God or further from God?

1 Corinthians 8:9
But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.

Not only must you consider how this decision will affect your own spiritual development, but you must also consider the affects it will have on the spiritual state of your family. Will this help your family to grow in Christ, or will it interfere with that spiritual growth? Will this pull them away from godly friends and away from a healthy, godly church environment? Will this divide your family in any way? Be careful not to make decisions that will cause your family to pay a big price.

6)  Is this going to bring more peace or less peace to my life?

1 Thessalonians 4:11
That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.

Did you know that God actually wants you to have a peaceful life? Of course, this is not the “American way,” but it is definitely an important consideration when it comes to making decisions. Be cautious that you are not stacking your life with more and more “stuff” that will send you over the edge with stress and anxiety. And make sure it is not going to steal the peace from your family as well.

7)  Is this consistent with the way God has wired me?

1 Peter 4:10
As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

God has created you for a purpose, and He has designed you specifically to fulfill that purpose. You are a gifted individual, and His plan will be for you to function within that area of giftedness. When we veer outside of the way He has wired us, we often feel excessive stress, anxiety, and burnout very quickly.

When it comes to making decisions, make sure you evaluate the choice in light of the way that God has designed you. Are you creative? Are you detail-oriented? Are you relational? Are you task-oriented? Are you a communicator? Pay attention to how God has wired you.

8)  Am I paying attention to the risks that are associated with this?

Proverbs 27:12
A wise man foresees evil and hides himself; the simple pass on and are punished.

When making decisions, it is very important to honestly assess the risk that is involved. Sometimes we can become so mesmerized by a “golden carrot” that we overlook the risks that are associated. For this one, I would suggest that you have an outside voice speak into the situation.

In his book Entreleadership, Dave Ramsey says that anytime he has made a business decision that has gone against his wife’s advice, it has cost him at least $10,000. Sometimes others, like a spouse, can see the risks that we overlook.

It is a sign of wisdom to be cautious. Not fearful, but cautious.

9)  Do I have total peace from God about this?

Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Sometimes everything can look right on the outside when I’m making a decision, but there will still be angst within my spirit. I have learned that making a decision without that inner peace is nearly always a mistake. God gives us peace as a protection and a guide. Seek His peace, and be cautious of making decisions that move against that peace.

10)  Are the doors of circumstances clearly open here?

(See Acts 16)

God often works through obvious circumstances. For example, He did that for Paul in Acts 16. In that chapter, Paul and his entourage kept facing closed doors as they were seeking where they were to minister next. And then, one door to Asia flew open while all other doors were closing.

God often directs me more by closing doors than by opening them. But there have been times in my life when I have attempted to force open a door that was not truly open. That never ends well.

It’s always good to look at how God is opening or closing doors in front of you. And while an open door does not always mean that you are to pass through, it is often an indicator that God is at work. Pay attention to open doors, and be cautious of forcing doors open when they are closed.

11)  Is now the best time for this? Could waiting be better?

Ephesians 5:16-17
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Haste does not always produce the best decisions. Sometimes everything might seem right about a choice, but making the decision at a later time might make more sense. This isn’t always easy, because we often want to move forward quickly when we see an opportunity. But sometimes the wiser decision is to slow down, plan more, get more input, and give it more time to develop.

12)  Am I willing to let God close this door?

(Again, refer to Paul’s journey in Acts 16.)

An important element to making good decisions is to make sure that you are completely submitted to God’s ultimate plan for your life. Sometimes we get it into our heads that we want to do a certain thing, and then we struggle immensely when we begin to realize that God may not want us to move forward with that particular choice.

The disaster comes when we place our desire above God’s plan. Let me be clear here. That never turns out well. The best decision you can ever make is to submit your choices to God’s plan and be willing to give up an opportunity when you sense God does not want you to move forward with that decision.

13)  Am I willing to trust God if He asks me to step forward?

Hebrews 11:6
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Closely related to the above question is this: Are you willing to trust God if He asks you to step forward? This is basically the flipside of question 12. It’s important to stop when God says, “Stop,” and it is equally important to move forward when He says, “Move forward.”

Are you willing to do that thing He might want you to do? What if it makes you feel uncomfortable? What if it moves you out of your comfort zone? What if it requires faith?

I can testify to you that the most exciting moments of my life have been when I have submitted to God and stepped forward with Him in faith. I hope you can experience that same joy.

Wrapping It Up

OK, so when you have a tough choice to make, I would encourage you to go over these questions before confirming your decision. Perhaps print these questions out and keep them as a reference point for the future. Talk through each of these questions with your spouse or a friend in the context of a decision you are currently making in your own life. I know of some parents who have used these with their kids to help train their children to make good decisions as well. In essence, these questions can serve as guidelines for helping you and your family make decisions that you will not regret.

* All Scripture quotes are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible

What to Do When You Don’t Feel God

“Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.'” (Joshua 6:2-5)
 
Born in Egypt as a slave and then chosen as the assistant and successor to Moses, Joshua would’ve had a front row seat to all the miracles God performed during the Exodus. The Red Sea parting, manna falling from Heaven, water pouring from a rock — Joshua had seen his fair share of God doing the seemingly impossible. But just as time can prove God’s faithfulness, it can also put your faith to the test.
 
Joshua had witnessed Moses’ obedience over and over again, but as he faced the impenetrable walls of Jericho, this time the obedience was up to him. Joshua was instructed by God to lead his people around the city for seven days. This meant he had to lay his head down six nights in a row with the realization that the walls he had been walking around still stood tall and strong. 
 
There aren’t many details recorded of what went through Joshua’s mind during those seven days, but what is recorded is his steadfast obedience. Surely he fought doubt, but with each day that passed, Joshua continued to lead his people around a wall that showed no evidence of falling.  
 
Like Joshua, you have a choice to make when you don’t feel God. Will you keep walking even though it doesn’t seem to be working? Will you continue to believe God is moving even when the wall isn’t?
 
Your faith might be getting put to the test right now, but don’t focus on what hasn’t happened — focus on what hashappened. If you’ve seen God do it before, He can do it again. Obedience is your responsibility; the outcome is God’s. 

Galatians 3:26-27
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Following World War II, there were more than two hundred French soldiers with amnesia who returned to Paris. They had been prisoners in Japanese camps and suffered through horrible ordeals of privation and torture. These men had been so psychologically devastated by their imprisonment that they lost the conscious awareness of who they were and where they had lived before the war.

Most of the soldiers’ identities were quickly established from Red Cross records or with the help of fellow prisoners, but after all known efforts were exhausted, there were still thirty-two men whose existence seemed impossible to trace. Not only were there no records of them, but none of the other soldiers knew anything about them. The doctors who were treating these thirty-two men believed that the chance for recovery would be impossible unless they were reconnected with family and friends.

Someone proposed publishing photographs of the men on the front page of newspapers throughout the country. A date, time, and place of meeting would also be given, hoping anyone having information about them would come. The plan was implemented and French newspapers soon published the pictures, adding that the Paris Opera House would open its doors for the potential identification and connection with loved ones.

On the assigned day, a huge crowd gathered inside the opera house to view the veterans. Every seat was taken and people spilled out onto the streets. Finally, in a dramatic entrance, the first of the amnesia victims walked onto the stage of the darkened room and slowly turned around under the glare of the spotlight, giving everyone a full view. Then, according to instruction, he and the other thirty-one soldiers who followed asked the same pleading question: “Does anybody out there know who I am . . . does anybody know who I am?”

Thankfully, many of the men were soon reunited with their families.

Isn’t this the same question that all of humanity is asking? Sadly, many people have a terrible case of self-imposed amnesia. But this is to be expected from a generation that has stepped back from God’s Word. Sadder yet is the church–professed Christians seem to have forgotten that they belong to Christ.

So who are we? We are called sons of God(Galatians 3); new creations (2 Corinthians 5); children of God and heirs of God (Romans 8). The New Testament is brimming with descriptions of the Christian’s identity in Christ.

Understanding who we are in Christ will cause us to recognize why we are different from the world. The truth is, if we don’t understand what makes us different from the world, we will never be able to make a difference in the world.

We, of all people, need never ask, “Does anybody know who I am?” We are new creatures . . . children of God.

Prayer Point: Thank God for the incredible, life-changing work He has accomplished in your life: through His death on the cross, paying for your sin; through His resurrection, securing for you eternal life; through His mercy, flowing for you every day. Don’t live in a state of spiritual amnesia any longer; instead, meditate on God’s promises on your behalf, and thank Him for who He is molding you to be.

Extra Refreshment: Read 2 Corinthians 5.

Association of Biblical Counselors

by Biblical Soul Care Harvest Bible Chapel

It doesn’t take long to figure out that we live in an angry world. Read the headlines on any given day and you see anger on display in politics, movies, TV shows, and sports. Spend any amount of time in any family and you’ll see anger expressed almost daily. When a day goes by without conflict, it’s a miracle of God. 

Sadly, the church hasn’t exactly been the poster child for pursuing peace and reconciling conflict in a God-glorifying way over the course of church history. Even though Jesus “broke down the dividing wall of hostility… so that we could have peace” (Ephesians 2:14–16), we still quarrel and fight 

It’s inevitable—wherever there are relationships, sinful anger will be expressed. By nature, we’re all selfish. I’m no exception. Cut me off in traffic, I might have some words for you (with my window up, of course). Do something I perceive as disrespectful, watch out! I may get a little passive aggressive and withdraw from interacting with you because I have a heart of fear. If you “reject me,” I get insecure, defensive, and may punish you by holding back.  

See, that’s how deceptive sin can be. It affects our ability to think reasonably and rationally. While I am not immune, I am also certain I’m not alone in my struggle (1 Corinthians 10:13). BUT GOD, in his grace, mercy, kindness, patience, and love has made us alive through the death, burial, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:4–9). It’s only because of Him that I’m pursuing humility and meekness as a way of life. Know this though, humility and meekness are not weakness! They are strength under control, like a well trained war horse (Matthew 5:5). 

As God’s children, we can all make this journey of change together. Here are some things I have learned over the years in my fight against sinful anger. Understanding and applying these truths to your own life will help you overcome sinful anger and see sustained fruit.

1. Anger Has Three Faces: It is expressed primarily in three different ways: 1) explosive and blowing up; 2) stewing, brewing, or silent indignation; and 3) irritability, exasperation or embitterment. Silent anger is just as offensive to God as explosive anger. How are you prone to express your anger? 

2. Anger Hurts Relationships: You choose who is on the receiving end of your anger because anger is a perceived threat to something you hold valuable. The problem is we can go a whole day at work being “nice” to our co-workers only to lose it at home with those closest to us! We tend to take it out on those we are called to love the most. Who has been on the receiving end of your anger the most?  

3. Anger is in the Bible: The Bible has a lot to say about anger. From the beginning in the garden all the way to the end; man’s anger is expressed by rejecting God and pursuing his own way (Romans 3:10–18). Yet man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteous purposes (James 1:19–20). While God too can be angry, it is never sinful (Psalm 7:11John 3:36Romans 1:18). Actually, compared to the offenses He must suffer, He is very “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6Psalm 103:8). Does your anger accomplish God’s purposes? 

4. Anger Put Jesus on the Cross: Did you know that the anger of man and God’s wrath for all our sins culminated onto Jesus when he went to the cross to pay the penalty for sin (Acts 2:22–24)? He satisfied God’s wrath and allowed man to express their anger towards him at the same time—man rejecting God and God loving man in the very same event in history. How often do you reject God in your anger by not doing what He calls you to do? 

5. Anger Is Covered by Christ’s Blood: The blood of Christ is sufficient to cover your sinful anger. No matter what wrath has protruded from your mouth or what you’ve done physically to harm others or yourself, you can be forgiven and walk in newness of life. Anger is a sin, but the death of Christ is payment enough to cover it. If you have died with Christ, you can become a different person (Romans 6:5–11). Do you believe and live as if your anger is covered by the blood of Christ or do you act like His blood isn’t sufficient? Why or why not? 

6. Anger is a Life-dominating Sin: Just like any other “addiction,” we become enslaved to anger. It temporarily satisfies our sinful desire and flesh, yet we feel guilty and ashamed when we give full vent to it. It’s a vicious cycle of self-destruction. Are you stuck in a vicious cycle of anger? If so, you can be set free (1 Corinthians 6:9–11).  

7. Anger is an Expression of False Worship: Like all other “addictions,” anger has false worship at its core. When you express your anger sinfully, ask yourself, “What am I not getting that I really want or that I’m willing to sin to get?” Your answer will reveal what you’re living for in that moment. Something else has captured your heart more than God, and you’re seeking a false refuge; that is idolatry. What’s captured your heart more than God?

8. Anger is Often Just a Fruit: It usually has fear at the root and more specifically, it is the fear of man. While anger may be all we can see at times, at the heart of it is a fearful, insecure, unsafe, untrusting heart looking for something from man that only God can satisfy. Learn to love God more with reverent awe and fear because then you’ll learn to need people less. Remember that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18) and that you are perfectly loved by your heavenly Father. What are you really afraid of deep down in the innermost being of your heart?

9. Anger Can Be Righteous: Ephesians 4:26says, “Be angry and do not sin.” You express righteous anger by becoming angry about what angers God. Jesus died not only to free you from sinful anger but to enable you to be angry with God not at God. Is your anger expressed righteously or sinfully? How can you tell? Would others say the same?  

10. Anger Must Be Surrendered: The only way out is to surrender your anger to God. Do not control or manage it in your flesh. Let the Spirit move you to action or bring you to brokenness. God is the judge, not you or me (James 4:11–12). Are you ready to step down from the throne of your mini judgment seat and allow God to be God? Remember, “vengeance is mine,” says the Lord (Romans 12:18–21).   

Are you ready to humble yourself in your broken state and surrender your sinful anger to God? Know that He will give you grace in your time of need (Isaiah 66:2b2 Chronicles 16:9James 4:6). So, if you are ready, repent, ask God and those you have offended to forgive you, and walk in victory over the sinful anger that’s held you captive for so long.

Stephen Altrogge

We all know that we’re supposed to pray. We all have our own prayer “tactics,” such as prayer lists, prayer apps, prayer walks, prayer meetings, praying out loud, writing down our prayers, writing down the prayers we say out loud, and saying out loud prayers which have been written down.

In spite of all these tactics, I believe prayer is THE MOST underrated spiritual discipline. The simple fact is, I take prayer for granted. Because Christ has opened the way into the Holy Places, I can pray freely at any time of day. I can pray in the car, as I’m working, and while I’m watching my kids. Being able to pray so freely is an incredible, wonderful blessing. I think, however, that the freeness with which I can pray causes me to take prayer for granted.

Think for a moment of all that takes place when I pray.

GOD HEARS

But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. (Psalm 4:3)

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. (Psalm 5:3)

Holy smokes! When I pray, the Lord himself, Yahweh, the King of Kings, the commander of the armies of Heaven, hears me! The God who crushed the Egyptian army and humiliated the prophets of Baal, hears when I call to him. I’m not speaking empty words into a void. I’m not simply talking to myself. This is not the power of positive speaking. When I call, God hears.

GOD STRENGTHENS

O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:17–18)

Not only does God hear me when I pray, but he also strengthens me. In the midst of affliction, when I barely have the strength to call out to God, he hears me and strengthens me. He imparts real spiritual, emotional, and even physical strength to me. Prayer connects me to the infinite strength of God.

GOD BLESSES

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)

God is eager to bless me. Just as I am eager to give good gifts to my kids, God is eager to give good gifts to me. When I pray, God unleashes blessings into my life. I realize that sounds terribly Joel Osteen-ish, but it’s not. It’s God’s word. God will give me good things when I pray to him. He will bless me and pour out his incredible riches into my life.

GOD ACTS

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (>James 5:16–18)

This passage is meant to encourage us that God does real, incredible things in response to my prayers. When Elijah prayed, God actually altered weather patterns! When I pray, God does real, amazing, incredible things. He changes circumstances. He softens hearts. He intervenes with financial provision. He brings reconciliation. Prayer brings the Almighty God into the mundane details of my life.

Given all the astonishing things that happen when I pray, why do I treat prayer so lightly? That’s the big question we all need to answer.


Stephen Altrogge serves as a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church. Find out more at The Blazing Center.

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Question: 
I have been dating a wonderful man for two years. We are both very serious and involved with our relationship and have spoken about marriage favorable. However, today’s view of marriage seems to teach that marriage is based on your happiness and can be temporary. I’m worried that I’m not prepared for how God wants me to view marriage. What does the Bible say about marriage? Answer:
Before we dig into several aspects of marriage, it’s important to start with the Biblical definition of marriage. Marriage was instituted by God in the Garden of Eden at the time of man’s creation as a union between man and woman (Genesis 2:18-24). 

Facts the Bible Tells Us about Marriage:

  1. Marriage is an indissoluble relationship except on the highest grounds (Matthew 19:9).
     
  2. Monogamous relationship between husband and wife as stated in the original law (Matthew 19:51 Corinthians 6:16).
     
  3. Husband and wife are equal before God (Ephesians 5:29-311 Peter 3:7).
     
  4. The relationship is to reflect the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).
     
  5. Husband is the loving head of relationship and wife is subordinate (1 Corinthians 11:8-91 Timothy 2:13Ephesians 5:21-33Colossians 3:191 Peter 3:1-6).
     
  6. The relationship is fruitful (Genesis 1:28a).

In summary, we can see that marriage is an intimate and complementing union between a man and a woman in which the two become one physically, in the whole of life. The purpose of marriage is to reflect the relationship of the Godhead and to serve him. Although the fall has marred the divine purpose and function of marriage, this definition reflects the God-ordained ideal for marriage from the beginning.
To read more on the Biblical definition of marriage, read our comprehensive, in-depth commentary at: BibleStudyTools.com’s dictionary reference for marriage

love bears all things

Biblical Marriage as a Witness and Example

“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another” (John 13:35). Marriage is a significant institution by which a lost world can see Christianity in action. Marriage is the most intimate of human relationships in which husbands and wives learn to model Christ’s love. Marriage is the 18-year training ground for children so that they can also love “one another.” Marriage provides a unique opportunity to reflect Him as a couple. Marriage provides a platform for accomplishing God’s intentions for mankind.
Read more at: A Biblical Perspective of Marriage

How is the Bible’s view of marriage different than what the world says? 

 

Lie 1:  “If you’re not compatible, you may have married the wrong person.”

God’s truth says that marriage is a covenant relationship. Once you choose to marry, it’s no longer up for debate as to whether your spouse is the “right one.” Marriage makes them the right one, for it’s a commitment before God. It’s never to be based on shifting feelings, but a choice every day to love the spouse you’ve chosen to marry. In a world that often prefers to “trade in for an updated version,” this truth doesn’t make sense. But according to God’s Word it’s very clear.

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”(Mark 10:9)

Lie 2:  “If you’re not happy, don’t stay in an unhappy situation. You deserve more.”

For many of us, marriage can tend to bring our selfishness out like nothing else. We want our way. We insist on our rights. We want our spouse to make us happy, and right now! In the midst of demands, we’ll never be free to truly love and serve one another. Our focus will tend to be one-sided – our side – and what we want. Yet God’s goal for marriage was not just to “make us happy.” The truest picture of marriage is that it symbolizes the love of Christ for us.  And His desire for us all is that we be made more into the image of Himself.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

Lie 3: Marriage is a 50/50 relationship.” 

Marriage takes two people, fully committed, choosing every day, to love and cherish. 50/50 will never be enough to see you through the toughest times. It’s only half effort and it seeks to compare what we’re doing with the other, always needing to check to see if they’re keeping up with expectations. This isn’t what God intends. His plan is covenant relationship, centered in Christ, loving through Christ; that is what will carry us through both good times and bad. It will take full effort of 100/100 to have a strong relationship which will thrive over time. 

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)
Read more at: 10 Lies the World Tells You About Marriage

BibleStudyTools.com: This Powerful Video of the Love Chapter Gave Me Chills from biblestudytools on GodTube.



What does the Bible say about sex in marriage?

In this over-sexed and under-loved world, people are looking for the real deal, the secret to lasting love with a vibrant sex life. Because of this pursuit for a purer passion, the most asked question we get when it comes to Red Hot Monogamy is, “What is okay with God?”

First and foremost, sex is for marriage. Ephesians 5:31-32(quoting Genesis) “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3–8 reinforces this with the reminder,“It is God’s will that you keep away from sexual sin as a mark of your devotion to him” (1 Thessalonians 4:3, GW).

For married couples, God gives only a few clear commands on what is and isn’t permissible with the gift of sex he created. Instead of a list of “no-no’s” let’s look at his guidelines in the affirmative:  

You can say YES if you:

Yield to one another. Everything done is agreed upon. The goal in intimacy is unity. In Red Hot Monogamy we look at the 8 areas of intimacy and give tools to build intimacy in each area. Colossians 3:1 encourages: And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. If you love, you will want to talk through and agree on expressions in sexuality.  

Extend it in love. No one should ever feel forced or coerced in sex. The sex acts should reflect love, not demean or inflict pain. Sex is a relationship to be protected not a person to exploit. Hebrews 13:4 reminds: Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled.  

Secure it with privacy. Sex should only be you two alone. Your marriage bed is yours and yours alone (no other partners, no pornography, no mommy porn, no fake imitations of body parts). Why settle for anything fake when you can create the real thing live and in person? When it comes to grey areas, things not specifically forbidden, applying 1 Corinthians 6:12 is a smart choice: 

Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power. 
Read more: Married Sex – What’s OK with God?  



Does the Bible say there is one specific person for us to marry?

There is nothing in Scripture that suggests there is just one person we’re ‘supposed’ to marry. Proverbs 31 urges young men to be guided by a woman’s faith and character in making their choice–there is no mention of second guessing some divine destiny. In 1 Corinthians 7, the apostle Paul tells women (widows, in particular) to seriously consider singleness, but assures them the choice of whether to get married is up to them, and then specifically says women can marry “whomever they wish” as long as their potential husband is ‘in the Lord.’ (v. 39) If the Bible explicitly says, ‘it’s your call whether or not to get married’ (a sentiment Jesus echoes when he says some “choose” to become eunuchs–celibate–in Matthew 19:12, with emphasis on the word “choose”) and it’s entirely your choice as to who to marry, why should your subjective feelings and reasoning override living by the truth of Scripture?

 

There is, quite frankly, nothing in Scripture that ever tells us it is our sworn duty to marry one particular person. Whether we marry, and who we marry, are spoken of in Scripture as part of God’s “permissive will,” something he allows us to choose.
Read more at: No, God Didn’t Tell You To Marry Your Spouse

love and marriage - better things ahead



Quick Reference Bible Verses About Marriage

1 Corinthians 7:1-40 – The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife….

 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

Ephesians 5:21-23 – Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church– for we are members of his body.“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. 

Proverbs 18:22 – He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.

Hebrews 13:4 –  Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 

Genesis 2:22-24 – Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. 

Proverbs 21:9 – Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife. 

Matthew 19:2-9 – Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” 

Proverbs 19:14 – Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.

Read More Bible Verses About Marriage at BibleStudyTools.com.


Related Articles about Marriage 

40 Powerful Blessings to Pray over Your Marriage

5 Things a Wife Needs (But Doesn’t Know How to Ask For)
7 of the Greatest Needs of a Husband
20 Scriptures to Strengthen Your Marriage
20 Reasons Marriages Fail (Even Christian Marriages)
God’s Three Purposes for Marriage
12 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married


This article is part of our larger Spiritual Life resource meant to answer your questions about the Bible, God and the Christian faith. Visit our most popular questions on “What does the Bible say about…” questions answered by well known Christians and theologians to find more inspiration. Remember that as you read these articles, the Holy Spirit will give you understanding and discernment to make the right decision for your walk with Jesus Christ! If you know others struggling with these faith questions, please share and help others discover the truth on these controversial topics. 

Ko Ma SiNo One

The birth of Ko Ma Si emerged after praying with Jeremiah 32 : 27 (“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?) From this scripture, the chorus flowed and God’s masterpiece came to life!

The inspiration for Ko Ma Si came from a desire to appreciate God for the amazing gift of Jesus.

Ko Ma Si serves as a musical reassurance that if Christ could go through everything for us on the cross, whatever anyone is going through is nothing before Him.

It is our prayer as the Lifepointe Band that when people listen to this song and download it, they will reflect on the love and the mighty things Jesus did for them.

With faith, we believe this song will give someone out there hope…
Truly there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

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Tips to a brighter Relationship
The wise couples (you know the ones that most people say “they were meant to be”) turn into wine and keep on getting better with age. Yet, lots of relationship fade away after the excitement phase is over and separate themselves like oil and water.

If you want your relationship to have the long life it deserves, have a look at our 10 things to do for a brighter relationship.

1. Have a positive attitude towards life

Everyone wants to be around cheerful people that seize the moment and take the best of everything.

A constant attitude of dissatisfaction, complaining and nagging — attracts negative emotions creating a terrible mood, and implicitly creating bad relationships between people.

Having and keeping a positive attitude towards life makes you a more attractive partner while at the same time, makes you a happier person overall.

2. Love yourself

Your partner doesn’t want to be the object of your sacrifices. He wants you to be happy with him just as much as he wants to feel good with you.

You both need to be pleased and fulfilled with your own individualities in order to be able to draw the same emotions in your relationship. And, more importantly, you need to preserve your own personality above and beyond the things you’re doing to please the other person.

3. Pay attention to your partner’s wants and needs

Men and women are different and inherently share different perspectives on relationship and what makes them happy in life. Acting controlling and trying to change your lover around to like the things that you do and undertake the actions and reactions you see as righteous — is an instant major turnoff for your partner and extremely frustrating for you.

4. Show admiration and gratitude

If you are in a relationship with someone — it goes without saying that you appreciate them for a series of qualities, the way they treat you, how they make you feel etc.

The key here is to REMIND your partner CONSTANTLY just how much you admire the things he/she does for you and the way those makes you feel.

5. Be careful with words

“Words cut deeper than swords” is more than just an idiom. It is a universally valid truth.

You cannot take back an offense, an insult, a humiliation, a lie or any verbal abuse. No matter how much you’ll excuse yourself after the storm has passed. It will irreversible linger in the back of your partner’s head and “scar” her/his feelings or opinions about you.

6. Show respect

Any kind of healthy relationship needs to be built on mutual respect.

Respect is multi-leveled and shows that you have common-sense and value the person for what they are and stand for. Therefore, you need to respect them verbally (see item 5), you need to respect their opinions and decision even when you don’t agree with them, you need to respect their friends and family even if sometimes it’s just for the single reason that “they come with the package”.

7. Be empathetic

We all go through stressful periods, have bad days and lazy moments and get affected by various factors which alter our spirits and self-worth. Having someone besides you who accentuates your awful mood rather than ameliorating it — is even worse.

So, try to cheer up your other half when they’re down, accept that your partner might be upset by something that does not impinge on you (and vice-versa) and show them compassion. Bear in mind that once in a while, we all need some time alone.

8. Make memories together

There is nothing that brings you two closer than going through happy, adventurous and also less joyful experiences together. Try to make an effort towards taking some trips, lessons (dance/music), doing whatever you find exciting and fun (scuba-diving, camping, participating in a contest) as long as you do them TOGETHER.

Take a lot of pictures and souvenirs to reinforce your good times and to remember that blissfulness, if and when things become tedious.

9. Fight routine

Sometimes, life just seems too demanding and tiring to find the time, patience and will to fight daily routine. Still, as I said previously, memories are what make your connection deeper and more meaningful. Sitting in front of the TV the whole afternoon and ordering dinner every evening is not too much of an experience.

10. Spice up your love life

Routine is again a turnoff when it comes to your most intimate moments. Once again, being adventurous and open to trying new things can make a huge difference.

You need to constantly find new ways to appeal to your partner’s senses and outreach his or her desires.

Try new positions and / or locations, anticipate the moment (through messages, notes, phone calls) and value foreplay in order to relate at a deeper emotional level. Dare to dive into each other’s fantasies and be that person that he or she never had and never wants to leave.

There’s nothing wildly spectacular about the pieces of advice shared throughout the article yet that’s precisely the reason why they work — always! They fit with any person and any type of personality, it’s what people in successful relationship do, and what keeps them in those relationships.

So, are you ready to brighten your relationship with these 10 easy and natural things?