Today we are continuing our series called The Kingdom of God is Like. It’s a series all about parables. Parables are short earthly stories that teaching about the eternal kingdom of God. So far, we have heard that the kingdom of God is like buried treasure—which, to be fair, seems like a very flattering comparison.
Treasure is valuable
Treasure is beautiful.
Treasure is worth selling anything and everything to make yours.
Treasure seems like a great comparison for God’s kingdom.
We compare God’s kingdom to a fishing net.
Fishing nets are stinky.
Fishing nets are smelly.
Fishing nets come with those some of those little algae goobers encrusted on around the edge.
It’s not as flattering of a comparison.
Why is God’s kingdom like a fishing net? Before we look at this strange comparison which teaches us some very important truths about God’s kingdom, a prayer: O Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is the truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see; open our ears to hear what you want us to hear; open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. 1st Century Fishing
Jesus’ parable is from the parable-filled Matthew 13. It comes right after the parable of the treasure and stands in stark contrast to it. Remember – each parable emphasizes a different aspect of the Kingdom of God. The parable of the Treasure reveals the value of God’s kingdom; the parable of the net reveals methodology.
Look at what the parable says:
Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. (v.47-48)
Anybody here go fishing? Nowadays fishing consists of packing up a rod and reel, stopping by the local bait shop, picking out a nice, big juicy earthworm (or maybe a wriggly, black leech), then heading out to the local pond, casting, stopping to untangle the line from the tree branch behind you, casting again, watching as your line drifts into the middle of the lake…and then…
And waiting some more.
Eventually some fish grabs the hook, line and sinker.
You pull him in and…
If he’s an acceptable length and weight – you keep him.
If not …plop!
If it’s a delicious looking salmon, in the basket.
If it’s a creepy looking dogfish, not so much.
Back at Jesus’ time, the fishing is a bit different. Fishermen would drag their nets to the shore and paddle to the middle of the lake. Then, they’d toss a weighted net overboard. Then, slowly they’d move along with the waves, while their net dragged against the bottom collecting any and every fish that happened to get in the way of the net. When they’re done fishing, they pull up the ropes, cinch the corners and pull the net up.
But here’s the thing:
Can you tell which fish are bad?
Can you tell which fish are good?
Can you tell which fish are future 5-star restaurant menu items?
And which fish belong on some Discovery Channel documentary on deep sea monsters?
No. It’s too much of a jumbled-up mess!
So…what do the fishermen do?
They take the net back to the shore.
They open the net and begin separating:
Too much like Uncle Joe…
Fishing at Jesus’ time required a lot of sorting. But…
The fish cannot be sorted from the good from the bad while they are in the net; rather they are sorted when the fishing is finished.
II. A Priceless Treasure
But remember – this is a parable.
Parables are short earthly stories that teach about the kingdom of God.
Things are about to get real.
Real and a bit uncomfortable.
Look at the meaning of the parable:
This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (v.49-50)
At first glance, this might seem to be another parable.
The parable of the furnace…
But – let’s be clear: The second half of the parable the part about the blazing furnace and the angels, that’s not the illustration part.
It’s the explanation.
It’s not an illustration, but the reality.
In fact, this parable is all about realities.
Realities that are quite uncomfortable.
(1) Hypocrisy is Real
Because… that dragging net represents the kingdom of God at work. And there is no greater representation of the kingdom of God at work than visible local churches.
In a church, God’s Word is proclaimed.
In a church, people are baptized.
In a church, people celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
In a church, people pool resources to go and plant the Message of Jesus in the Hearts of North Raleigh.
In a church, God’s kingdom is at work.
And when God’s kingdom is at work, it’s like a big old net that collects people of all type and varieties.
Big and small.
Young and old.
Black and white.
Tarheel fans, Wolfpack fans and Duke fans.
But most importantly to this parable…
People that are a part of God’s kingdom.
And people that only look like it.
NOW STOP! Immediately. Because what some of you are about to do is quietly, sheepishly raise your finger and slyly point at someone else here. “Pastor, I think it’s him…”
NOPE. That’s not the point.
In fact, the point is the exact opposite. Because remember – while the net is in use – that is, while the people of God are using God’s Word – it’s impossible to see which are true believers and which are hypocrites.
It’s kinda like trying to identify which fish are good and which fish are bad when they’re still in the net.
You won’t be able to tell who’s a hypocrite and who isn’t in a church simply by looking at them.
You won’t be able to tell most hypocrites simply by looking at them.
But there is one person in the church…
That you should be able to identify as good or bad.
You know you.
You know your heart.
You know if your heart is following Jesus or if this is all just some big show.
Something you do because your parents told you to do.
Something you do so pastor will get off your back.
When it comes to facing the reality of hypocrisy, it doesn’t start by looking into the world…
Or looking into another Christian church…
Or looking at other people in this church…
It starts by looking in your heart.
(2) The End is Real
The second reality has less to do with now and more to do with later.
Take a look at Jesus’ words – This is how it will be at the end of the age. (v.49) He then goes on to describe angels, divine, holy messengers of God – no longer invisible – fully and completely perceptible - picking people up like fish and separating them.
If you are a hypocrite, you need to pay very close attention to this section.
Because, truth is, you might be able to fool other Christians.
You might be able to fool them with a fish sticker on the back of your car and “Christian” listed on your Facebook profile’s religious preference.
You might be able to fool others at church.
You might be able to fool me.
You can’t fool God.
And at the end, you will be separated.
And placed wherever it is you belong.
And can I say something obvious? There’s one place that you don’t want to be your final destiny.
(3) Hell is Real
Look at the description of where the bad fish go:
“The blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (v.50)
Notice. The verbs are present tense.
Notice. The verbs are continuous.
That’s because this is eternal.
Stop – real quick – because the devil is doing everything possible right now to make you say:
“Pastor has gone off the deep end. Pastor is talking all mean like. Pastor is saying thing I wish he wouldn’t.”
I am because I love you.
And I don’t want you to go to this very real and very awful place.
But more importantly Jesus loves you.
After all, look at whose words about hell these are:
The same guy who told the blind guy to see…and he did.
The same guy who told the deaf guy to hear…and he did.
The same guy who told the lame guy to walk…and he did.
The same guy who told the storms to stop…and they did.
The same guy who told the Pharisees to go ahead and kill him because he would come back to life…
And they did…
And he did.
Jesus has street cred.
Whatever he says will happen, will happen.
And to those who reject Him?
This hell thing?
(4) Good Fish are Real
I’m not gonna lie.
Thus far this is one of the least uplifting sermons of all time.
Because – if we are talking about bad fish – how do you not begin to be filled with absolute fear!
We are sinners.
All of us.
And I am included!
I’m like some ugly carp at the bottom of a mutant ooze infested landfill with three eyeballs where his gill should be.
I’m gross and my sins are gross.
I think -- There is no reason that God would ever want to collect me in his basket and take me to heaven!
Here’s something interesting. When Jesus uses the word “end” here in verse 50, he uses the word: syntelia. That’s a form of the world telos which means: the end.
The end is when judgment will happen.
The end is when God will bring justice against sinners.
Now – here’s where things get really interesting.
Because about a year and a half after Jesus spoke this parable --
Jesus spoke something else.
On the cross.
Right before he died.
Which is the exact same root words that Jesus used in our parable to denote the end times.
IT IS FINISHED.
In other words, judgment has happened! From God’s perspective – Jesus has been judged as the bad fish.
And you – friends—you have been judged righteous.
Think about that!
We are sinners.
We are filled with a yucky past.
We are grody to the touch.
Yet because of what Jesus has done, you have been declared GOOD.
Ready to take home in the take basket.
And understand this point too:
We are not judged by our good merits.
We are not judged by our good deeds.
We are not judged by our good tries.
We are judged entirely by what Jesus did for us on the cross!
And we are judged righteous.
And by faith in Jesus, we are the good fish!
We will not be thrown out.
We will be collected and taken home.
(5) Heaven is Real
Because that’s what the good fish have to look forward to.
This parable just touches the surface of it. It says that the good fish, will be placed into baskets.
But what it doesn’t say is that those baskets have someone’s name written on the handle.
They have someone’s name written in Black, Permanent Marker.
Because the good fish – that is – those made holy by faith in Jesus Christ – will be brought to God’s home.
The kingdom of righteousness.
The home of peace.
And unlike this world --
With danger lurking on every corner…
And predators chasing after us…
And giant waves of life hitting us again and again…
Heaven is peaceful.
Heaven is a place of forgiveness.
Heaven is a place of peaceful rest.
Heaven is yours.
Friends! Praise the Lord for being caught in the net and taken home to heaven. Amen.
Last week we heard God’s call to RETURN to His Way because His Way is Good! This week God calls us to return to Him because He is Faithful unlike any other kind of faithful person ever! Before we dig into Scripture, a prayer: Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see; our ears to hear what you want us to hear and our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. Hosea’s Strange Choice for a Wife
Background of Hosea. Last week we read a section from 2 Kings that took place around 600 B.C. This week we are in the book of Hosea which takes place about 120 years earlier. It also doesn’t take place in country of Judah and Jerusalem, but in a sister country up north called --Israel.
A little bit about the climate of 8th century B.C. Israel. The people had gotten very into worshipping a statue called “Baal.” Baal was a ‘god’ of the neighboring nations. People worshipped Baal in a much different way than we worship the Lord today.
Instead of visiting the temple to worship the Lord, they visited Baal’s temple to worship a statue.
Instead of adopting the Ten Commandments, they had adopted the magical practices of fertility cults.
Instead of being intimate in prayer with God, they were “intimate with Baal” by being intimate with Baal’s shrine prostitutes.
Hmm…Seems like yet another situation where God needs to call his people to RETURN to Him.
Hosea is a prophet.
Hosea works for the Lord.
Hosea goes wherever God tells him to go.
Hosea does whatever God tells him to do.
Hosea is also a single young man.
He is a single young man who understood God’s plan for marriage:
That one man marries one woman and be united to that one woman for a lifetime.
He knew that such unity would be proclaimed via a public marriage ceremony and practice with exclusive intimate relations.
So…I doubt Hosea took marriage lightly.
He looks at ancient papyrus dating profile and swiped RIGHT on the women he was interested in knowing.
He took them out for dinner and watched to see if they ordered a BLT or respected his religious wish not to eat pork.
He made sure to ask them his make or break question: “Do you worship GOD or BAAL?”
And up to this point in his life --- Hosea did not have a wife!
Imagine Hosea’s excitement…when the long arduous process of finding a faithful wife for himself came to an end.
God called out to Hosea.
God had found a wife for Hosea.
God had found the perfect woman for Hosea.
He fell to his knees.
He said, “Yes, Lord! I can’t wait to meet her.”
And the Lord said:
“Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her.” (1:2a)
Would you marry someone who is promiscuous? That’s a kind Bible word from someone who is sexually intimate with lots of people. Would you marry the woman who kisses 12 other boys on your first date? Would you marry the man that has text messages from 6 of his exes on his phone? Would you marry a spouse that made you think: “There’s no way that person will ever be faithful.”
You might date them.
They might be fun.
BUT...! They are NOT marriage material.
Yet the Lord told Hosea told Hosea to seek out a woman just like that.
It wasn’t his bad judgment.
It wasn’t even a few too many gin and tonics in Law Vegas.
The LORD told Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman.
Check out the answer in verse 2:
“For like an adulterous wife; this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” (1:2b)
Hosea’s life is a living, breathing parable.
It’s a lifelong illustration.
It’s a picture of God’s relationship with his people of Israel.
It’s a picture of God’s relationship with his people of the Triangle.
II. The Unfaithful One
What do I mean? Take a look at chapter 2. Chapter 2 gets into the nitty gritty about how the people’s relationship is going with God. Pay attention -- Chapter 2 is going to reference a wife and a husband. At no point is it ever a reference to an actual wife and an actual husband. It is a reference to God as the husband, and his wife as his people. Look at verse 2:
“Rebuke your mother,” and mother is a reference to Israel…God’s wife. “Rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.” (2:2a)
Why would God say that?
Why would God break his covenant?
A new study published in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships surveyed 232 people who had been cheated on. The study showed that those who were cheated reported “experiencing great bouts of depression, anxiety, and distress.” (Psypost.org)
Why is it so damaging? I think the Bible answered that a long time ago:
The Bible says that marriage is a very special relationship.
There is a very emotional promise of faithfulness at an engagement.
There is a very public commitment to faithfulness in front of family and friends.
There is the physical promise of faithfulness that exclusive sexual intimacy implies.
The promise, the commitment, the exclusivity of intimacy bonds the two together as one!
One incredible being.
What the Bible calls “One flesh.” (Genesis 2)
To break the marriage bond with unfaithfulness is to sever the marriage bond – and leave spiritual, emotional blood of that one flesh all over the floor.
Keep that in mind and listen to God’s heart for those who are unfaithful:
“Rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.
Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and her unfaithfulness.” (2:2b)
It wasn’t God who stopped being a husband.
It was his people.
Let her remove her adulterous look! Because God’s people have been flirtatious. They have been looking for other gods.
“Baal, you are so cute! And not as oppressive as the God of Israel!”
“Asherah pole, you are in style. Not stuffy and old fashioned like the Lord.”
“Dear money, you really care about me and let me do what I want. God is always lecturing me.”
“Oh pornography! You are the best thing for me; so much better than God. I wish I was with you”
“Oh lovely beer bottle. I come to you and you make everything better – unlike God – who makes me feel so uptight.”
“Mmmm. Pride. I always knew that the perfect one for me, is me!”
And these adulterous looks lead to actual unfaithfulness.
It’s not just flirting with the idea of other gods.
But being intimate with them.
The intimate desires of a heart revealed in prayer to Baal.
The intimate time of worship spent in the temple of Asherah.
The intimate trust that all will be ok – placed in a few dollar bills.
The intimate need for value discovered in digital photos where the woman gives you whatever you want when you want it.
The intimate need for comfort looked for in a bottle of PBR – and another 16 or so.
The intimate need for acceptance found in the callous embrace of one self.
Brothers and sisters, this is unfaithful Israel.
Brothers and sisters, this is unfaithful us.
And that’s harsh.
Look at what happens to those who are no longer a part of God’s family. The Bible calls them…
Stripped. Verse 3 says: I will strip her naked and make her as bare as on the day she was born. Because God is the one who brings home the bacon in the relationship with his people. God is the one who provides all the physical blessings! And in the settlement between God and the people who have been unfaithful to him? He gets everything! He gets the house. He gets the home. He gets the clothing. He gets the 401K. He gets the Jaguar. He gets the Xbox. He gets it all, because He is the one who has been providing everything to begin with!
And the unfaithful? They are naked. Everyone can see their sin. Everyone can see their shame. Everyone can see their guilt.
Parched. Verse 3b says: “I will make her like a desert, turn her into a parched land, and slay her with thirst.” For Israel, it meant that God was going to send a drought on the land of Israel. They would no longer receive rain. Without rain, their crops would die. Without crops, they would no longer receive nourishment. Because God is the one who nourishes us all and God stopped nourishing them.
And…So…Consider this: What if God didn’t provide for you? Where would you be?
A soup kitchen?
Eating the old dog food at the bottom of the dumpster behind the local kennel?
TRUTH: If God didn’t provide for you, you would not be nourished.
And why would he provide for those who aren’t part of his family?
And why would He keep the unfaithful as part of His family?
Blocked. Verse six says this: “Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
When I read this verse, I get this picture of this high-ranking jaded spouse. They are high up in government. They have been scorned and publicly humiliated.
And they will get revenge.
They talk to the city officials and make it impossible for their spouse to find a job. They make it impossible for them to find a living. They see to it that – you never work in this town again!
God’s Word says that if you are unfaithful to God, you will be against him.
And He will be against you.
And there’s no way that you will win.
And to be fair, you can turn to your other lovers!
You can turn to money.
You can turn to porn.
You can turn to alcohol.
You can turn to pride.
You can turn to whatever it is that has led you to be unfaithful to God.
You can Look for your lovers…but the unfaithful one will not find them.
Do you know why?
Because these “lovers” don’t care about you.
Not at all.
And you left the only One who did love you to go after them.
(And now…I’m alone.)
The Unfaithful one.
III. The Faithful One
Then…the only thing left…is despair.
Despair and return.
The unfaithful spouse will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.’
I will go back to God.
I will return to my husband.
I will return to the One who really loves me, who always provides for me and who will never leave me!
I will return to the faithful One.
And they return.
And they fall on the floor.
And with tears in our eyes, they beg for God to take us back.
They beg for one more change.
They beg for forgiveness.
Who has been wronged.
Who has been wronged repeatedly
Who has been hurt.
Who has been betrayed by the One He loved most…says:
“I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, In love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness.” (v.19-20)
If you have been unfaithful to God and you seek reconciliation with your faithful husband, hear his promise of betrothal again:
He will betroth in righteousness. Remember earlier when it talked about being without clothes and sin exposed? Not anymore! God covers up your sin and your shame. He clothes you with the impenetrable beauty of His forgiveness and the gorgeous fashion of His righteousness.
He will betroth in justice. He defends his spouse. He brings justice on his enemies. He defeats the devil. He defeats sin. He defeats death for the sake of his beloved wife.
He will betroth in love. Not just emotional, flighty Disney love, but real, tested, unconditional action love. Love that sends him to the cross. Even when we’ve been unfaithful.
He will betroth in compassion. Not lashing out – as would be understandable and as He should – but speaking…With kindness, gentleness, and forgiveness: whispering sweet nothings of HIS divine love.
He will betroth in faithfulness. Never getting “back” at you. Never getting revenge. Never being unfaithful.
Always, always, always faithfully loving you.
Every day of this life.
Every day of eternity.
Friends, hear God’s call to you today. If you have been unfaithful to Him, RETURN. Return to THE Faithful One. Amen.
I don’t know if you saw it in the hallway, but the blueprint for the new school is up. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s looks very cool.
But I’d be lying if I told you it was the first blueprint. There have been quite a few others. This is like draft 12. Walls have been added, windows widened, mini gyms made larger.
Honestly, it probably will change a few more times before all is said and done. Because times changes, thoughts changes, and needs change. Blueprints change.
But what about the family blueprint? For millennia, the family has been focused around marriage.
Should that change?
Today we’re going to examine that very question. In order to do that we’re going to need to take a look at the original blueprint found in God’s Word. Take a look at Genesis 2.
I. Where is the Original Blueprint from?
A long time ago, there was a man. He was a healthy man. He had toned muscles. A solid bone structure. He had a keen amount of self-awareness and an incredible occupation as a gardener.
He was also only one day old.
Hours earlier Adam had been created by God. God had used his hands to pile up some dust. Form together some feet. Carefully shape the abdominals. Pinch out some arms; add a head; place the appendix in the perfect spot and carefully define his eyebrows.
Then, God smiled and breathed. When God breathed, he breathed a breath that only God, the Creator can breathe. He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
Suddenly, the clay figurine was alive. Alive and human. He quickly became aware of his surroundings. He noticed the beautiful hanging leaves of the weeping willow. He smelled the beautiful aroma of the daffodils. He saw the gleaming red of cardinals darting from branch to branch. He investigated the little creatures that were crawling beneath a log. He looked up at the giant, glowing ball in the sky and thought, “How wonderful this world was."
It was an incredible, wonderful, big world for him to explore...
God had an idea. He would parade being after being, animal after animal in front of the man. The man would give the animals names and, if he found one of special importance, he would select that being as his partner in this world.
The man agreed and suddenly the very first parade in the history of the world was in action. (Only without the giant SpongeBob balloon). In walked alligators and aardvarks, zebra and wombats. Adam looked at swarms of bees, packs of piranha’s and a pride of lions. He rode on the horse, threw a ball for the dog, and avoided the house cat.
The man gave them all names. Sea horse for the horse that lived in the sea, flying squirrel for the squirrel that flew, and hippopotamus – for that big old creature that kind of looked like it “potamus”sed when it walked.
But, of all the animals that he saw that day and all the names that he came up with, there was one name that the man never used:
The Creator knew this. He had known the whole time. Now the man knew too. He was missing the perfect partner. A being to challenge him. A being to intelligently talk with him. A being to share the adventure of life with him.
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then, the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man. (Genesis 2:21-22)
God brought the woman to the man. The grand finale. As Adam woke up from the divine dose of anesthesia, he blinked.
What was that beautiful creature in front of him? Her eyes were more beautiful than the flowers. Her smile radiated more beautifully than that giant orange orb thingy.
The man spoke, the very first love poem ever spoken:
“This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.” (Genesis 2:23) Look at the end of this love story. “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
Marriage. It’s the original blueprint.
But you might be thinking: “Pastor, c’mon. This is a myth. This isn’t real. It’s a made up story like Dr. Seuss or something.”
Look at what Jesus thought about this. “Haven’t you read, 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.’” (Matthew 19:4-5)
Does that sound like he treated it as a myth to you?
In fact, he’s using that verse of the Old Testament – that verse from Genesis 2:24 – to argue with the religious leaders of his time what God’s original design for marriage is.
And if you are thinking, “But why should I trust Jesus?” Allow me to give you his credentials. He knew how to bend the elements and walk on water. He knew how to control the weather and stop storms. He knew how to reduplicate matter at an alarming rate by feeding over 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and two fish. He knew how to cure the deadliest of diseases simply by speaking. He knew how to cure the most handicapping of paralyses simply by touching. He cured death when no one else ever has. He promised his disciples that he would die and come back to life…and he did.
I know many of you trust him for salvation. Do you trust him for the marriage blueprint?
Because if Jesus is right, then marriage is not just some evolved social contract that slowly came into being over time. Nope.
Marriage was invented by God.
That’s important to remember. Because Americans bristle at the sound of marriage.
It’s the Ball and Chain.
It’s a prison.
It’s signing your death certificate.
But...that can’t be true. Not if God invented it. Because we’re talking about God here. Not just God – but the name used to define God here is very specific. It’s YAHWEH. That’s important, because it’s the name of the covenant God. It’s the name of the God who promised to send a Savior. It’s the God who kept his promise and sent a Savior. It’s the name of the God who loved his beings so much that he would never, ever give them anything bad.
A while back the preschoolers were in charge of drawing a picture of a house. Let me tell you, as nice as those pictures were, if you followed those blueprints – the house would be a disasters. Windows as big as each room. A room made of squiggles. No door to be found anyway. Sitting on top of what appeared to be a jagged cliff.
God’s not a preschooler. His marriage blueprint comes form a loving heart and an all knowing mind.
II. Examining the Blueprint
Keep that in mind. Let’s look at that blueprint. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.”
Now if you have been paying attention to life within the last couples hundred years, you’d notice that society has kind of reinvented that. They’ve kind of written that statement. In a three different ways.
This is the easiest one. God said that marriage is for “a man and his wife.” How many people is that? Simple math says two. One man and one wife.
Take Sister Wives. Have you ever seen it? It’s a reality show all about the Browns – Kody, the husband, and Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn. His four wives. Guess what? It doesn’t always go well. There’s a lot of jealousy between wives. They all vie for his attention and fight for time with him. Go figure, huh!?! Julianna thinks it’s hard enough to get my attention when a Packer game is on.
Having more than one spouse or polygamy is not godly. It’s simply not a part of God’s blueprint.
And…I don’t think that any of you are struggling with that. You only have one spouse – and most of society agrees there is only two names on the marriage certificate.
But this also means that there should be only two names enjoying the perks of marriage. There’s only one other name that you sleep with, one name that you flirt with, one name you are intimate with. There’s only one other person you should be staring at without clothes on!
Don’t let society fool you. The blueprint needs to remain the same to be a godly marriage. Marriage and all of its perks need to be between two people.
Now that’s the least touchy. Let’s jump to the most touchy.
“A man…will be united to his wife.” Wife is a Hebrew word that refers to the female person in a spousal relationship. It means a woman.
And notice that it stopped there. There aren’t any other caveats. No footnotes. No other options. It doesn’t say “A woman …will be united to her wife,” nor does it say, “a man will be united to his husband.” That’s not a part of God’s original blueprint.
Still the Supreme Court has now ruled that it is legal for same sex couples to get married in America. State governments are not allowed to withhold that social contract from them. Fair enough.
But if the government has changed the definition of marriage, does that mean God’s definition has?
In fact, remember that passage from Matthew? Jesus affirmed marriage to be between two different genders. That’s huge! Because he’s the one who rose from the dead. He’s the one who promises us forgiveness of sins. He’s the one who we believe will take us to eternal life.
Shouldn’t we also believe him on marriage?
In light of recent horrible, tragic events in Orlando, please allow a caveat.I am not telling you to shoot people who disagree. I’m not telling you to attack them. I’m not telling you to bomb them, hurt them, harm them, or even call them names. I am not advocating violence in anyway – nor is Jesus.
But I am saying that God hasn’t changed the blueprint.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.” It doesn’t specifically state a length of time. But because it doesn’t specifically state a length of time, the implication is that there isn’t set period of time.
Jesus himself affirms this in Matthew. He says, “Two become one flesh. One God has joined together let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:6)
In fact, that’s the very reason the Pharisees were talking to Jesus in the first place. They wanted to know if God was cool with them separating from one another for any and every reason. “Because I’m bored.” “Because it’s not as romantic as it used to be.” “Because I like someone else.” “Because we grew apart.”
Jesus’ answer? No. Unless it’s because of (1) sexual unfaithfulness – which is basically divorce or (2) abandonment – because if the person just gets up and leaves you, it’s kinda hard to stay married to him – unless your marriage has already been physically broken up, then Jesus isn’t cool with divorce.
You might be asking Why?
I went to kindergarten in Minnesota. In kindergarten, we had one hour recesses. I remember spending an hour making a snow fort. It had tunnels. It had windows. It had a kitchen and a video game room. It was good work.
Then, the bell rang. The class bully immediately started trashing it!
I was upset. He destroyed my work.
If you break apart your marriage, God will be upset. You destroyed his work. Unlike me as a kindergartner, God doesn’t do meh work. God’s work is wonderful. You’ll have destroyed his wonderful work.
It'll hurt much more than God. In fact, God isn’t issuing this command to stay married because he wants you to suffer. No way. He is issuing this command because he doesn’t want you to suffer. He wants you remain one flesh – not to rip apart and cause all kinds of spiritual and emotional bleeding.
That's why he put this blueprint into his Word. Because The Word of God endures forever! (1 Peter)
And thank God it does.
Because we’re human. We’ve completely messed this up. God gave us a blueprint – he asked us to follow it – we’ve messed it up. No one has a perfect marriage – and because of that – you’ve probably seen the results of messing this up:
Tears. Wall of tension. Kids locking themselves in their room. Trust evaporated.
Is there any help?
Check out Ephesians 5:31-32 “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.
How cool is that? Jesus says that he is the groom and you are his bride. A bride he was willing to do anything for in order to keep you married to him.
And I do mean anything. Things like:
Jesus died to make you one with Him – you and Him – completely together in righteousness.
Jesus’ resurrection was your wedding day – the day he took you, his beautifully robed bride to be his forever.
Jesus made that promise to you – intimately – to make his love for you and no one else.
Jesus promises to be with you forever and let nothing get in the way.
It means He forgives you.
Knowing that Jesus has made us his forever and living in His forgiveness for messing up the blueprint…what now? Two things:
But our love is strong.
That’s not love! Love is an action. God is love. Love is following God’s will for marriage. Love is doing what God does and being faith forever.
Instead of discouraging, encourage. Encourage friends to be married. Listen to their struggles; offer Godly advice. Recommend a good book. Pray for them. Give them an anniversary card.
Model a good marriage.
Because we need it. There’s enough Kim Kardashians in this world. Young married couples need good role models to follow. In fact, if you’d be willing to help us out here at Gethsemane – mark it on the connection cards. We’re starting up a new marriage mentors program. If you’ve been married for 10 plus years – write your name down and I’ll get into contact with you to serve as mentors for some younger married couples. They need help in this sin-filled world.
2. Focus on your Own Marriage
This is key. Too many Americans focus on so many other things first. Money. Fame. Their career. Even their kids. Marriage is one of the last things.
In fact, there was a recent study in which over 65% of millennials (I just fit into this category) stated that Marriage is not as important as other things.
Don’t listen to that message. If you are married, your spouse is the number #1 non-God thing that is in your wife. Put it on your To-Do-List. I know fixing the sink, getting little Johnny to karate, and working is important but if “Strengthen my marriage” isn’t on your list, you’re aiming to fail. You’re forgetting the most important thing.
Don’t forget. Because God didn’t forget you. In his marriage to you he put repairing your relationship with Him as number 1. He lived for you. He died for you. He rose for you.
He made you a part of his blueprint. Make him a part of your family blueprint. Amen.
Have you ever seen Let's Make a Deal? On the show, a contestant is called to the stage. Wayne Brady offers a nice and shiny package. He says, “It could be a nice new watch or some diamond jewelry. Pick this box. Trust me.”
But not so fast. The musical leader holds up a crisp, new envelope. He tells her, “It could hold a gift card, plane tickets, a check for a thousand dollars. Pick mine. Trust me.”
She turns them both down.
Because the voice over announcer has offered her what's behind curtain number three. He promised her that when she uses the prize she’ll have "a party on wheels." Could it be the new convertible? “Trust me.” The announcer says.
She does. The curtain opens and it’s…it’s…a donkey wearing a sombrero on roller skates.
Life is kind of like that isn’t it? We are constantly having to evaluate whom we should trust. It’s not an easy question. Banks send emails telling you to trust them with your mortgage. Diet plans advertise that you trust their plan to make your body slim. If you’ve dated lots, perhaps you’ve heard someone sell themselves. “I’m a really good person. I’m great fun. I’d be the perfect mate. Trust me.”
In John 4 Jesus met a woman with trust issues. Listen to how he helps her figure out where to put her trust. Then, consider how putting your trust in the same place is of great benefit!
I. The Problem with Trusting Worldly Things.
Jesus was on a long journey from Judea to Galilee. This is before cars so it’s fair to assume he and his disciples had walked quite a distance. Therefore, it’s no surprise that he got tired. Unfortunately, there weren't any Waffle Houses along the way for him to rest at. So he sat at the edge of a well while his disciples went into town for some food.
While he was a waiting, a woman approached the well. She began lowering her buckets to draw some water. As she working, Jesus asked her, 7 "Will you give me a drink?"
The woman herself was astonished, 9 "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How is it that you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
In other words, she was annoyed by what she perceivedw as an arrogant Jew! "You Israelites are so hoity toity. You always act like you are so much more religious than us. Now you are claiming to have a better grasp on water than us too? Do you have some kind of special filter? Did you give it some kind of ‘holy blessing?’ You do realize that the water you are badmouthing comes from one of your own -- the patriarch Jacob himself! Think twice before speaking again, sir.”
Jesus replied to the hostility with an explanation. 13 “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
In doing so Jesus exposes the first problem with trusting earthly things. They don't satisfy the body!
Take the substance in question. Water. Science tells us that water quenches our thirst, but only for so long. Even if you buy the water for $10 at Whole Foods and the label claims to have bottled this water from the top of a hidden spring on Mt. Everest… you will be thirsty again.
It’s not just thirst. A delicious BBQ (Western or Eastern depending on your taste) satisfies hunger, until you’re hungry again. A Starbucks Blonde Roast makes you feel more awake, but eventually it’ll wear off and you’ll need it again. If you have a pain in your elbow, the Tylenol works until it’s effects wear off.
Earthly things only can be trusted as temporary, quick fixes to our bodily needs. They don’t last.
The woman at the well knew this. That's why she replied, almost sarcastically, "Sir, give me some of this water, so that I don't have to keep coming back to get water to drink."
But Jesus didn't keep this conversation at surface level. "Go and call you husband and come back." He told her.
You can almost see her begin to fidget. "I don't have a husband," she said.
Jesus replied, "You are right in saying that you don't have a husband. The fact is that you have had five husbands. What you have just said is quite true.”
Jesus isn’t saying this to make her feel bad. He simply wants her to realize that her trust was again in the wrong place. Because earthly things –and people-- don't satisfy the heart.
There's a longing in humans to be loved, treasured, and accepted. To be whole. Obviously this woman wanted that. Five times she thought she had it! Five times she trusted men to bring it to her. Five times – they didn’t give it. Whether it was unfaithfulness, physical abuse, verbal abuse, or just plain being too busy with work to be together…each time she trusted a man to love her and that trust was broken.
Now? Now she was with a man who hadn’t made any marriage promises of commitment and sticking through the tough times to her. Instead, he basically had given her the watered down promise of, “I like sleeping with you. I promise to stick around as long as that it entertaining. Trust me.”
The saddest part? She was so empty and broken that the reigned intimacy of uncommitted sex helped her forget about the void in her heart.
Are we so different? We desire to love and be loved by spouses, children, and friends. We trust people! We give our hearts to them. Then kids tell us that they hate us. Spouses shout at us to sleep on the couch. Friends betray us!
It’s why earthly things—even people—don’t really satisfy the heart!
Ashamed of the sudden change in the conversation, the woman changes the subject. “Our father's worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that he place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."
Jesus kindly responds to her question. "A time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
Jesus was pointing out that it didn’t matter where they worshipped. The earthly action wasn’t that important at all. What mattered was a true spiritual relationship with God.
And in bringing this up, Jesus exposes one last problem with trusting earthly things. They don't satisfy the soul.
Ever feel really Christianity? You go to the Christian book store. You buy a few nondescript Christian items: a cross necklace, a Jesus candle holder, a few devotionals with cool looking covers. You pay for them and walk out with your head held high! Your soul feels close to God as you rock out to Chris Tomlin on the drive home.
Then, you enter your house. The kids have left a mess. You lose it. And after letting out a few choice words, you’re back to feeling unsatisfied in your soul. Apart from God.
These failures in human things to satisfy and keep promises leave us with a dark void in our hearts. Then, just like the woman who kept trying man after man after man, we get caught in vicious cycles of trusting untrustworthy things to satisfy.
Perhaps you could list a few examples. Perhaps you are living a few examples:
*Beer after beer after beer till the stress is gone. But then it comes back. And this time with a headache. We drink another beer to cure it.
*Pornographic photo after pornographic photo. A high. Then this shameful feeling that can only be erased by another pornographic high!
*Money, money and more money. You finally get enough and buy a nice HD TV! You start watching shows about people’s relationships. It reminds you that your relationships are lacking. The problem? You probably just need more pixels. Better get more money.
*Success. You work hard for it. You crave recognition. You work all the time and have no time for God. No time for family. But an employee of the month pin! Until...People don’t appreciate me as much as they used to. I want that “appreciated feeling again.” Time to put in 90s hours this week again.
*Gossip and more gossip. It makes you feel better. Whenever you start to feel bad about something you have done, you go find your friends and repeat this process until you feel better again.
Here's the bottom line: Earthly things do not satisfy. There is not a single earthly thing worthy of garnering our complete trust to give us eternal, unending, complete, total and real satisfaction.
II. Jesus' alternative.
Ever been on a diet plan? Some diet plans you drink shakes. These are the healthy alternative to a normal unhealthy meal. Less calories all the vitamins. Unfortunately, none of them taste like Doritos, so…I haven’t tried them.
Jesus has an alternative that offers completely, total, eternal, unending, real satisfaction. He mentioned it throughout our lesson. Listen to what he said about it:
#1 -- It is eternal. Jesus said, "whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst." This means that Jesus' alternative doesn't run out when you get to the bottom of the can. There isn't a monthly fee to keep it going. It doesn't become diluted over time. It doesn’t lose its effectiveness.
#2 -- It is personal. Jesus said, "It will become in him a spring of eternal water." This isn't something that works for some people and not for others. It isn't some uncaring inanimate object that is only after your money. It isn't some uncaring animate person who is only after his own selfish desires. It is for you.
#3 -- It is truth. Jesus said, "true worshippers worship in spirit and truth." Jesus' alternative isn't some half-truth combined with a lie to make it sound more enticing. It isn't some phony idea concocted to play on your desire to be whole in order to make money. It isn't just true for some and not true for others.
#4 -- It is satisfying. It doesn’t do half the job. It doesn’t require you to finish the job. It satisfies. Completely. Always. Every time.
What is Jesus' alternative?
The woman had an idea. In verse 25 she told Jesus the truth that she did know, "The Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to me." Jesus didn't correct her. He just revealed something to her that he had kept hidden from many.
"I who am speaking to you am he."
This means that Jesus’ alternative was none other than himself! There is only one worthy of full, complete and real trust is Jesus! Because he is the only one who fully, completely and really satisfies all our needs!
Jesus is eternal. His love burns as strongly for you as when he died on the cross to take away all of your sins, will never fail. It will always be true no matter what time of day it is or how often you have turned to it. It is a bubbling spring...always overflowing for you.
Jesus is personal. He knows who you are. He cares specifically for you. He knows when you have been abused. He knows when you have struggles at work. He knows when you struggle with dark, dark thoughts. He knows you and still he promises to you that "Surely, I will be with you always to the very end of the age." (Mt. 28) "Whoever believes in me will have eternal life." (John 3:16) Even…”Your sins are forgiven." (Lk. 7)
Jesus is truth. Miracle after miracle after miracle. Seen by thousands of people. Proving his authority to make the claims that he did. He told the blind to see, they saw. He told the lame to walk, they did. He told the dead to rise, they did.
He said that he would die. That he would stay dead three days. That he would then rise from the dead, completely well, all on his own. He didn't lie then and he doesn't lie now.
Jesus satisfies. It doesn't matter what kind of emptiness you are feeling, Jesus’ love satisfies. If you struggle with finances, his heavenly riches fill your pocket. If you struggle with emptiness, his relentless pursuit of you fills you with love. If you have been hurt by a relationship, Jesus’ love reminds you that there is one who will never hurt you. In fact, who was hurt by you and for you! And you are satisfied.
Brothers and sisters, do you know what the woman did after Jesus talked with her? Scripture tells us that she left her bucket behind and ran to tell her friends!
That’s pretty neat. Suddenly, finding Jesus her Savior, her earthly needs were no longer important. All she needed was this love of Jesus. She ran to her friends to spread this message!
Do the same. This Easter – spread the message of Jesus. Tell your friends about the one who completely, fully, and absolutely fulfills all their needs. There’s no one better to place your trust!
The other day I went to Starbucks for a coffee. When I entered the store, there were about 10 people in line. My first thoughts were “Ugh! No way!” But I really wanted my coffee to I stayed in line. Good thing too. At least two people in front of me got sick of waiting. They turned around and left. One muttered something about "the cashier needing to get his act together.” The sad part? It took me all of 5 minutes to get my coffee. 5 minutes.
We aren't very a very patient people. Whether it's waiting in line for coffee or waiting in the car for our spouse to finish getting dressed or waiting on our coworkers for completion of a project or even waiting for the signal that to tell us we now have 10 seconds to get across Falls of Neuse, we get very impatient.
Now let's talk spiritual things. It's been 2000 years. 2000 some years since Christ promised to return.
Do you ever get sick of waiting? Tired of doing Christian things for a Christ that doesn't seem to return? Do you ever begin to think: there's no reason, no purpose? In a little bit, I'm going to be handing out invitations to our Christmas service. Your first reaction might be: “NOT AGAIN! There's no point. Jesus won't be coming back any time soon. Why the urgency!?!”
To those who would be waiting for his return, Jesus said, there was a man of noble birth. Noble has the idea of 'well off.' We might think “Upper class.” Perhaps someone who owns one of the 2 million dollars homes right on the golf course behind Falls of Neuse.
The man has noble ambitions. He wants to be named king. Maybe, we could think of a county commissioner. Or member of the school board.
The only difference is that this wasn't a democracy. That's why he needed to travel to a distant country. He needed to get approval from the higher ups. Perhaps he already knew these people, perhaps not. Either way, he was planning to go and make his case for being appointed king of the region.
While he's gone, he doesn't just want his household and business to stall. So he appoints servants to take care of his profit. Each one of them a mina. Ten in all. He tells them, ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
Does that sound familiar? Can you think of anyone else who left to be appointed king, but before he left entrusted to his servants the very work that he came to do?
Matthew 28:19 “Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (like a king) He continued, “Go and make disciples of all nations” (do the work I've been doing. Continue my business) Do this by “Baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and by teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
The master of this parable then is Jesus. The one who own the Kingdom, the power, and the glory!
People of course react in different ways to Jesus' kingship.
1. SPITEFUL ATTITUDE.
The first attitude is very sad. Look at verse 14“But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ " Think of a group of protestors marching around a government building with signs that say: “Down with the master!”
People usually don’t do that with Jesus today. Instead, they write blog posts and magazine articles about why following Christ and his directives makes you a bigot, an idiot, and an old fashion jerk!
Have things really changed all that much from the Pharisees who wanted Jesus dead? Don’t people still wish for the idea of Jesus to be dead?
Still...the Pharisees couldn't stop Jesus from rightfully taking his place at God's right hand. Neither could these angry protestors stop the master from being made king. He returns.
And just like anyone who makes it to the top, he turns and brings vengeance against all those who hated him. Just peek at verse 27: " '27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’ ”
If that's you, you don't want Jesus to be king. If you refuse to listen to what Jesus has in mind for your life, watch out! Because he threatens to give you what you want -- a one way ticket out of his kingdom--only, it may not be the way you desire.
2. FAITHFUL ATTITUDE.
Remember the master had entrusted his money to his servants. He wants to check on on his business. He decides to stop and see how they've done.
The first servant was faithful. 16 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ Maybe, he made some good trades on the stock market. Perhaps he invested in an up and coming Nazarene carpentry business. Whatever he did, however he did it, he was faithful. He worked hard and it paid off. Not just in multiplying his master's money by ten, but in impressing the king. He says, “17 “ ‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ "
Then, there's the second servant,. “Sir you mina has earned five more.” His mastered answered, “You take charge of five cities.”
It’s like the McDonald's manager who goes away for a month only to find that when he returns, the restaurant is running properly. Napkins are in order. Customers are happy. The restrooms are up to date. Quarterly sales have gone up! He’s pleased and he now trusts the faithful workers he had put in charge.
Jesus is the same way. He is pleased with those who faithfully do his work. He will be happy to find us happily using his gifts of Word and Sacrament to strengthen the faith of his people and multiply his kingdom!
But is that really the servant that we are best represented by? There's one more servant whose attitude seems all too familiar.
3. LAZY ATTITUDE.
20 “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. Literally, in the Greek, the word means “face cloth.” A handkerchief. What you are supposed to keep in your front pocket and pull out in the middle of hard work to quickly wipe your brow from hard work. Instead of wiping the sweat off of his brow, this servant simply hid his money inside it.
Listen to his reasoning: 21 'I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
I find this reaction so paradoxical. If he was afraid of the man, because he reacted violently to those who didn't do work, why then didn't he do work?
It's like the football player who is afraid that his coach will be upset that he didn't work out all summer, so he decides to not work out? Or the employee who knows that his boss will be upset if he doesn't do complete any reports while he's away on a conference call—so he surfs Facebook?
What the servant was really frightened of was not the king. It was of what might happen to him while he worked. He might get tired. He might get trouble from others in the business world. He might fail!
And what are we really frightened of?
If we were really frightened of Jesus, if we really respected Him, if we really knew he was in complete control—then wouldn't we be making use of each and every opportunity to grow in his Word? Wouldn’t we make sure never to miss inviting a friend to church? Wouldn’t we boldly and courageously tell our friends and family about our faith in Jesus? Wouldn’t we confidently put “Christian” down as our religious affiliation on Facebook?
But we're more frightened of what others might do to us, “I can't do a family devotion tonight at dinner, because my kids would rather watch TV. I don't want to upset them.” “I can't get my kids to Sunday School early, because they might throw a fit!” “ I can't give an invitation to church to my coworker, because they might (gasp) give me an annoyed look!”
How sad that we are more frightened of this world, than we are of Jesus!
Listen then to how the master treats the servant who didn't do anything: 22 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? 23 Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’ 24 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ "
Lord, may it never be! We have been unfaithful. Forgive us!
And God does.
According to 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Again, in Psalm 33:4 He is faithful in all he does!” (Psalm 33:4) In 2 Timothy 2:13 “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself." God is so great that in spite of our unfaithfulness, he still gets the job done.
A lot of people are unimpressed with our government right now. They can’t seem to get the job done. They can’t seem to come to an agreement and properly run this country.
Jesus. He died. He defeated sin. He saved you and me and he did it without anyone else’s help! He did it at great cost to himself! He died. He gave up his life! He gave up his kingdom, his power, and his glory in order to save you.
It worked. Remember he's king, he can do what he wants. This is no more evident than we he showed that he ruled over death and came out of the grave!
This means something very specific for you. Jesus forgives you for your unfaithfulness in studying his Word. He forgives you for your lazy attitude toward the sacrament. He forgives you for not immersing your children in the word as you should. He forgives you for not sharing his Word.
Brothers and sisters, why wouldn't you want to serve this king? Serve him by putting the mina he has entrusted you to work!
You might ask? What minas has the master given me?
Well, everything. And we could get into specifics: artsy, musical, sporty, outgoing nature, money. Certainly, it’s true. God wants us to use our resources faithfully to further his kingdom.
But today let’s focus on the one mina that we all have in common. The most powerful mina of all.
Put the mina of God's Word to work it in your own life (kinda like investing it) so that you might grow in faithfulness! This, by the way, is why church attendance is so important—There you have the Word of God spoken, sung, and the Sacrament.
Put the mina of God's Word to work with others. Share the message of Jesus with your children by telling them a Bible story before bed. Bring them to Sunday school. Take them to church.
Put your the mina of God's Word to work outside your family. Invite your friends. Invite your coworkers. Pray for friends. Pray for coworkers. Tell friends about Jesus. Tell coworkers about Jesus.
Put the mina of God's Word to work, because when you do so, God is at work!
And he is faithful. He is powerful. He is king of all. He doesn't get tired or weary. He never leaves.
He will return! He will faithfully hold us in faith, so that when he returns he will forgive us our unfaithfulness and warmly turn to you to say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Well done." Amen.
Father's Day is tomorrow.
For some, it means a round of golf hitting the ball not so hard so that dad still thinks he has it. It means grilling four separate types of meat on the grill. It means taking the tour of dad's workshop (for the fourth time this year) and commenting on just how nice that birdhouse looks.
In other words, it is a time of thanksgiving for dad.
But this is not true for all of us.
Because some will spend tomorrow without any idea who their dad is. Others will be wondering where dad is. Still more will spend tomorrow remembering dad's drunken rage, his unfaithfulness to mom, even his lethargy toward being a parent.
In other words, it will be a time of sadness.
Is this the norm? Everyone celebrates Mother's Day, but Father's Day?...Divorce. Premarital impregnation and abandonment. Irresponsibility. Drug use. Alcohol abuse. These things have ruined dads. Ruined relationships. Ruined Father's Day.
This is sad.
This is sin.
But even if you won't be fishing tomorrow with an earthly father figure, please don't let Father's Day be a sad one.
Because you do have the best dad anyone could ask for.
(And I'm not talking about your earthly dad, no matter how wonderful he was...)
I'm talking about the One who is always there for you. The One who always listens. The One who always loves you. The One who disciplines, but only with your best interests in mind.
The One who saw you grow up. Who loves you at the present. Who has a wonderful future in mind for you.
I'm talking about the One who gave up the only Son who perfectly loved, listened to, and obeyed Him. The One who gave up this model child for you--his stubborn, rebellious, wayward child, the one that doesn't listen--just so that one day you might come home.
I'm talking about the One who never gives up on you. Who always chases after you. Who holds you tightly in his warm embrace.
I'm talking about God.
Your heavenly Father.
Give thanks tomorrow for any earthly father figure that you have been blessed with, but don't forget about your Heavenly Father either.
He'd love to have you chat with him. Look through the family history with you and remind you of how much he loves you.
Maybe you could even go to his house!
However you celebrate, may your day be blessed as your remember your fathers and your Father.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, Father's Day is tomorrow. For some of us it is happy, for others it is sad. Today I am reminded of the joy that I do have in having you as my Father. Forgive me for the rebellion I have had against you my heavenly Father. Thank you for always being kind, for always being loving, for sending Jesus, your son to die and rise against in order to save me. Thank you Dad for your true love. May I always reside in that love. Help me meditate on that this Father's Day. And I thank you for the father figures you have given me in this life. Be with them. Bless them. Raise them up to be true leaders, fathers who train with God's Word and love with God's love. Amen.