Where do I look to find God in this world of tragedy and pain?
Tragedy and pain are disorienting. We don’t want to experience either, yet life keeps bringing them on. Our egos try to keep our lives tragedy and pain-free. In his book Credo, preacher and writer William Sloane Coffin suggests that we have a God who provides us with minimum protection and maximum support. I agree with him—but I don’t like it. In the face of tragedy and pain, minimum protection from God just doesn’t feel good enough for me. My instinct is to seek—and expect—a spiritual firewall from God. And when I don’t get it, I get indignant, and like millions of others, I shake my fist at the heavens and demand to know why this is happening. I end up looking for a God who will provide protection—and miss out on the God who offers support.
We may want to keep clear of tragedy and pain, but God always moves toward it. Over the years, I have sat with scores of families who have been shredded with grief over the death of a loved one. Especially in the cases of unexpected death, the pain is as deep as it ever gets. In practically every single instance, whenever someone shares a memory, a story—something about the person who just died—people begin to laugh. It’s not nervous laughter, or an exercise in denial, or simply a short break from tears and despair. It is real joy—short-lived, yes, but deep joy for the love that was shared, and will always be remembered. That joy is real; it often surfaces in the midst of tragedy. I can’t say for certain that this fleeting joy is God, but it certainly can be a comfort; and a divine support.
This is a world of tragedy and pain. It is also a world of joy and fulfillment. It is my conviction that God is present to us in both worlds. The question always is how these two worlds can exist at the same time. There is no easy answer. The closest I can come to it in my own experience is that only a world of freedom could create that possibility. How could we choose good if evil did not offer us a choice. Creativity always comes out of chaos.
But to return to our question: It is easy to sense God’s presence when things are going right. But where is God when things fall apart? Do we not find the divine presence in the very place that Jesus found it during his crucifixion? Could there be a greater experience of tragedy and pain than that? God was there in the loving acts extended to Christ by those who loved him and stayed with him to the end. His mother, Mary Magdalene, the disciples—all were there in their grief and broken-heartedness.
In our world of pain, we can find God in the loving acts of those who stand by us. In our illnesses we can be grateful for those of the medical profession who fight to restore our health. They are the instruments of God and through them his love comes. All healing really is divine. In our emotional distresses God comes to us through a friend, a family member, a counselor, or a minister to offer us encouragement. God is there through those who care. In moments of deep need, God comes in a mysterious way to give us courage.
No one escapes the struggles of life. Our goodness or our faith do not make us immune from suffering. God never promised that life would be without its painful moments. We are promised that God will be with us no matter what we face. Someone wrote, “Peace does not come with the absence of troubles, but with the conscious realization of adequate resources.” God can be found as the supplier of all the resources we need to get through life’s difficult moments. We also find God in the messages of hope. This experience of pain will not have the last word. Jesus said to his disciples, “In this world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
The ultimate victory belongs to the power of love. Christ came to bring us that message. Something abides beyond the suffering—the presence of one who has control of the future. The word of hope is that our future is in the hands of God. Love, courage and hope sum up the resources we have to face our personal tragedies and pain.
God does not promise to prevent pain and tragedy. If we are fortunate to live long enough, we will experience and encounter pain over and over again. What God does promise is to be with us through the pain; God promises to give us the power of His presence so that we can cope, so that we can have perspective, so that the pain of loss, of heartbreak, of our own dying does not overwhelm.
Look for God in the person who sits and listens with his or her heart when you need to pour out yours. Look for God in hope that grows out of ashes; look for God in the growth and peace that comes to some who have been through dark valleys. Look for God in the laughs of small children and in the confidence of youth. Look for God in every person who is open to God, everyone who seeks and searches for God; look for God in everyone who asks questions such as yours.
The part of Christianity that is most meaningful to me is the story of the Good Samaritan. Its message speaks of helping those one doesn’t know, maybe those with whom one has never spoken, those who are different from ourselves. There are opportunities to reach out, out of our comfortable lives into those lives of need. At my church, we feed the homeless on Sunday mornings, asking nothing from them in return. These are the ones who are traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. In their faces are pain and tragedy. They are mostly men but sometimes women and children. They have lost hope. Last week the group of homeless was bigger than ever. I prayed for loaves and fishes, Lord let there be enough so none goes hungry. There were 96 meals and exactly 96 waiting to be fed.
There is God in this world of tragedy and pain. I see Jesus in their eyes on Sunday mornings.
Kosovo, Littleton, Oklahoma City – these words bring to mind images of awful human tragedy and pain. Were those victims able to find God in their midst? Where can we find God in this world?
As I thought about this compelling question, I realized that ideas have come to me from a variety of sources:
- First there was Rabbi Harold S. Kushner’s book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.
- Then there was a homily that Doug Bailey, my church’s rector at the time, delivered on Easter some years ago. “Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again in you, and you, and you,” he said as he pointed to us in the pews. WOW! That thought had never occurred to me before. Christ coming through me to others? Could that be?
- Marcus Borg’s book, The God We Never Knew, helped me more thoroughly comprehend that Easter sermon and helped me grow in the understanding that God is not a judge up in the heavens but is living among and through you and me.
I used to think that God’s presence would come to me like a bolt of lightning and zap me. Now I know that I need to reflect many times each day and take an inventory at the end of the day. How has God tried to touch me today? Was it in a stranger’s smile, a new flower, an e-mail message, scripture, words in a hymn? (During my first Sunday visit to Calvary, I felt God’s presence in all the smiling faces.) Could it be possible that I have helped others know God’s presence today? What might I or could I have done to help God’s presence be felt by others? Could I have done more?
God’s presence may not be packaged in the way we expect. Taking the time to make that mental inventory helps me recognize that presence. I hope it helps you.
In my experience, God is everywhere. On the rare occasions when I’ve been able to focus on Him, I’ve felt His presence. It is amazingly difficult to do. The pressures of work, family, friends, schedules, deadlines, wants, needs, and fears all flood my mind and crowd out God. Sometimes tragedy and/or pain has been the catalyst that allowed me to turn off the noise of my everyday life and focus on God.
When I’ve allowed myself to be open to God, I’ve seen Him all around me. I have seen Him in other people, in acts of kindness, in the faith of another fellow Christian, in my children, and in my wife. I have felt His presence in worship, in nature, in meditation, in scripture, and especially in prayer. My spiritual life sometimes seems like a roller coaster. In times of great despair when I yearn for God’s presence, I often find I’m too busy dealing with the problems at hand to stop and listen to Him. Not that He speaks words; I experience God in a spiritual joy and comfort that is more powerful than mere words. I have found that when I sincerely put God above all else and look He is there.
Sometimes people become disillusioned by tragedy and pain. They attempt to explain it away by saying that everything has a purpose. I like to think that God manifests himself in our solutions. It is our responsibility to make the proper response. Crisis can be opportunity. InSearch for Meaning Victor Frankl refers to the concentration camps stating,
…it is just such an exceptionally difficult external situation which gives man the opportunity to grow spiritually beyond himself…an accomplishment which in ordinary circumstances they would have never achieved.
Based on human potentiality, I firmly believe that everything can have a purpose. Glory be to God.
We look for God in prayer, in close relation with others, and in the church. Most of all we find the face of God in the tears, the hugs, and the words of comfort others bring to us in times of great sorrow and pain. Here we can experience authentic moments of God’s pure and unconditional love.
Infidelity.com reports that 57% of American men and 54% of American women admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they have been in. The same site reports that 53% of American marriages end in divorce and that 74% of men and 68% of women says they would have an affair if they knew they would never be caught. 1 These are depressing statistics, to say the least.
Adultery is not only a sin against one’s mate, but an attack on the sanctity of marriage, and a course of conduct that can cause havoc in many people’s lives.
Adultery is a Sin against God and One’s Spouse
Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary defines ‘adultery’ as: “voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband”.2 It is also known as infidelity. Adultery is not only a sin against one’s mate, but an attack on the sanctity of marriage, and a course of conduct that can cause havoc in many people’s lives. Adultery is also most importantly a sin against God.
Marital failures, and many other destructive conditions, exist because of sin. They exist because humans have decided that their way is better than God’s way. They have decided that fulfilling their desires is more important than obeying and glorifying the Creator/Sustainer of the universe. Nevertheless, the Christian must learn what the Bible says about adultery in order to see it the way God sees it. Only when we change our views to line up with God’s views can we live the full, blessed life He has waiting for us.
In the Old Testament, God Declared Adultery to be a sin Deserving Death
When God set apart a nation to be His special people, He gave them a set of basic guidelines for living. They were the basis for every other law He would give them. These laws were a written record of the way God expects His people to behave. The seventh commandment God gave His people was, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). God knew that the heart of humankind would naturally seek to fulfill every desire it experienced. God gave these laws to make His holy standards clear.
God viewed adultery as being a sin so terrible that it was punishable by death. “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 20:10; cf. Deuteronomy 22:22). If we ever think that God takes adultery, or any other sin, lightly, we should remember what penalties and punishments He assigned to them.
Adultery is not just an outward action
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). This tells us that adultery can take place within the heart [mind] and is just as sinful as an outward act. The sin of the mind may not affect as many other people, families, and friends as the outward physical act, but it is still a sinful affront to the holiness of God. This applies to the prevalence of pornography in our culture. Often claimed to be a ‘victimless offense’, the damage pornography does to the heart of the one involved in it, and often to those around him/her, can be just as devastating. Pornography and adultery often go hand in hand.
Adultery can keep you out of the Kingdom of God
In First Corinthians 6:9-10, the apostle Paul lists some sins that, if continued in without confession and repentance, will prevent the practitioner from entering God’s kingdom, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God”. Included in this list is the sin of adultery. This further emphasizes how serious God views this sin. He knew the devastating effects adultery has on individuals and families and He wanted to protect us from that heartbreak. He still feels the same today.
David and Bathsheba: A Biblical Case Study of Adultery
Second Samuel 11-12 tells the story of how the great King David, of whom God called, ‘a man after my own heart’ (Acts 13:22; I Samuel 13:14), committed adultery. There are several lessons that should be learned from this story.
1. No one is immune to temptation.
When King David was a child, he slew a giant. Then God chose him to be the second king of Israel. The Bible also says that David was a mighty warrior (I Samuel 18:7-8). However, he still fell prey to the fleshly temptation of lust. We must never think we have reached a station in life, or a spiritual condition, where we can no longer be tempted to sin. We must always stay in a close relationship to God, so that He strengthens us to resist temptation. We are never strong enough on our own. No matter who we are.
2. Stay in the will of God
“In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem” (I Samuel 11:1).
Second Samuel Verse 1 says that it was, “the time when kings go out to battle”. However, where was David? He had stayed behind. He was not where he was supposed to be. Instead of being with his men in battle, as was customary and appropriate, David was indulging in some inappropriate leisure time activity. Many times, we are most vulnerable to temptation when we have strayed out of God’s will.
3. Do not let sin dwell in your mind
As David was idly walking around on his roof, he saw a woman named Bathsheba bathing. Instead of turning immediately away, fleeing sexual immorality (I Corinthians 6:18), and seeking the face of God, he lingered and let sin take hold of his heart. Once the sin in his heart had taken hold, he acted upon it, sinned with Bathsheba, and she became pregnant (II Samuel 11:2-5). If we allow sin to linger in our thoughts it will inevitably take root.
4. Do not try to cover up sin; repent and seek God’s forgiveness (II Samuel 11:6-13).
David tried to cover his sinful behavior by bringing Bathsheba’s husband back from the battlefield. David hoped that Bathsheba and her husband would sleep together and everyone would believe it was this marital union that resulted in Bathsheba’s pregnancy. However, Bathsheba’s husband refuse to lay with his wife while the other men remained on the battlefield without him. It seems that Bathsheba’s husband had more morals than King David did in some matters.
Although David could have confessed and repented at this point, he decided to try another cover up. He had Bathsheba’s husband sent back into battle, placed on the front lines, and then abandoned to face death at the hands of the enemy. King David had Bathsheba’s husband murdered in the hope of covering his own sinful behavior. An important lesson to be learned from this is that one sin leads to another, oftentimes worse, sin if the sinner does not confess to God and repent of the sinful conduct (Romans 6:19).
5. God Will Even Forgive Adultery.
Second Samuel 12:1-15 tells us that Nathan, David’s beloved friend, confronted David with his sin. The mighty Kind David’s heart was broken when he realized how he had sinned against God and grieved God’s heart. David repented, asked for God’s forgiveness, and was forgiven.
Today, God offers that same forgiveness. When one comes to faith in Jesus Christ, by confessing and repenting of his or her sin, God is faithful to remove the guilt, shame, and future penalty that sin carried with it. By committing one’s life to Christ, a person becomes a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17), no longer helpless to resist temptation, but empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
This forgiveness is reiterated in the New Testament by Paul, writing to the Corinthians. Recall the verses mentioned earlier in I Corinthians listing some of the sins that will prevent one from entering the kingdom of God. Paul did not leave the Corinthian Christians without hope. The next verse says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:11).
Whether the sin is adultery or something else, Jesus Christ has paid the price for our forgiveness by His death, burial, and resurrection. No one has sinned too much or too long to be forgiven. The offer of salvation is for everyone (John 3:16) who is willing to confess and repent of his or her sins and turn their lives over to the Almighty Creator, Sustainer, and Savior of the world.
It is a heartbreaking thing to have friends and family members who are going through divorce. Maybe you and your spouse are the ones considering a divorce and are looking for help. I hope that the information in this article can be a help to you or your friends.
If you are going through a strained relationship you may find the stress and emotional anguish difficult to bear. There are long-lasting and far-reaching effects that need to be considered before making life-changing decisions. However your ability to think clearly and rationally about the future is often clouded by the emotional trauma you are experiencing.
The information in this article is intended for Christian couples that are struggling with non-life threatening relationship issues. If you are in an abusive marriage where one of the spouses, or worse yet, children, could become physically harmed then you should get the law involved in protecting the family.
Laying aside physical abuse and unrepentant sexual immorality, let’s look at 5 tips for Christians who are considering divorce and see if God can help you find a way to save your marriage. Because you are reading this article I assume you have some desire to keep your marriage together. I trust that you will seriously consider your alternatives and use these suggestions to bring your spouse close to you once again.
There are long-lasting and far-reaching effects that need to be considered before making life-changing decisions.
Please pray. Don’t neglect this. Pray that God will give you wisdom in your relationship (James 1:5). Pray for your spouse. Pray that God will give you love for him or her again (1 Corinthians 13). If you don’t maintain your relationship with a perfect and loving God during this critical time, what hope do you have for maintaining a relationship with a spouse who is an imperfect sinner like yourself?
You may find that it is hard to pray right now. Reading your Bible may become very difficult. Rarely do marriages struggle where only one partner is to blame for all the problems. It may be true that your spouse carries much of the fault, but your bitterness and pride is probably what is hindering you from wanting to even talk with the Lord. Are you afraid that He will show you sin and improper behavior in your own life?
During this time of great difficulty you should actually pray that God does reveal your faults. You absolutely cannot change your spouse. Only God and your partner can do that. You should pray for them, but spend more time praying that God will change you and make your relationship with Him stronger and better. As a result of building a better relationship with God you will invariably build a better relationship with your mate.
What brought you two together 10 years ago? What was the big attraction to him or her when you first started dating that summer? Those qualities are probably still there you just have to look for them. It is possible that he or she has changed since those innocent days. Why? Is it because you have changed in such a way that you no longer bring out those qualities in your spouse? Maybe you have nagged them so much to change through the years that when they finally did, you buried that quality you fell in love with.
I am reminded of a cartoon I saw recently where a young couple fell madly in love. After they were married she nagged him to change the style of shirt he wore. He did. She complained about the way he wore his hair. In an effort to please her, he changed that too. She asked him to change various things about his actions and appearance. He continued to change for her sake. In the end she filed for divorce stating that he was no longer the man she fell in love with years before.
The cartoon was written to comically illustrate what happens to many couples. But you may feel a twinge of guilt if you are the one who coerced your mate into making changes they did not want to make.
Try to remember those early days when you first fell in love. If you built your relationship on the right things then those qualities are still inside your spouse. However, if you built your relationship purely on a physical attraction you have to remember that you don’t have the body of a 20-year-old any more either. Jumping out of one relationship to find another physically attractive person will end the exact same way.
Find, or bring out again, the qualities in your spouse that you loved so much. They are still there. You had the power to reveal those before you were married, you can do it again.
Though we say it all the time, you did not really “fall in love.” You grew together in a relationship. Your love was planted, grew and blossomed over time. You also don’t fall out of love. It is crazy to think that you do. If you no longer have the love you once had for them it is because you have made decisions that have pushed you to growing out of love, not falling there.
Be the Kind of Person You Want to Live With
Have you stopped to consider how you are acting towards your spouse? If he or she acted like you are acting towards them, would you want to be married to you? You should model the type of behavior you expect. I know this is the type of thing parents are told in relationship to their children, but you should act properly toward you spouse as well. Do you go to church on Sunday with a smile, a Bible and all your memory verses learned and then can’t wait until you get out of the church parking lot to start yelling at your spouse? You may put up a nice front with other people, but your spouse has to live with you.
Ephesians 5:22-33 are probably not your favorite verses in the Bible at this time of your life. It commands husbands to love their wives. Wives are told to submit to their husbands. Both of these statements are not conditional on the other person’s actions. Wives should submit whether their husband loves or not. Husbands should love whether their wife submits or not. Don’t look at what your spouse’s responsibility is, focus on what you are to do. Men, become the husband that loves in such a way that your wife wants to submit and reverence him. Ladies, become the wife that makes it easy for your husband to love because you are living in obedience to the commands of God.
Remember when you actually communicated with one another and didn’t yell? I know you may be saying that you really can’t remember the last time you communicated. But there was a time that you did. Otherwise you would not have gotten married. As a dating couple you looked forward to dropping off your little brother so you could be alone with the one you loved. Your friends from high school and college, whom you vowed you would never abandon, got ditched as soon as your spouse came into your life. You found ways to be together so you could talk even when you didn’t have time in your busy schedule.
You may be finding ways to avoid one another lately. Do you take the long way home from work so you don’t have to face the tension? Remember it takes two people to argue. If you will just admit you are sorry for the way you have been acting you could diffuse some of the tension. There is no reason for you to pretend the sinful actions of your spouse don’t exist; however, you can admit your own pride and faults. You may find that your arguments will cease as soon as you take the time to tell them you are sorry.
Attack the problem together. Don’t try to win an argument just to have another notch in your belt. You can both win if you will try and solve the problem together and stop trying to have a better argument than the other person.
It is said we communicate on five different levels. The first is casual and trivial things. This includes the weather, bus schedules and sports scores. Secondly we move to factual information. This is when one person dispenses information like at a lecture. There is usually little passion and the parties are emotionally disconnected. When you move to the third level you are talking about ideas and philosophies. You begin to share things that open you up to being vulnerable because the other person might disagree with you. When you begin to share emotions, dreams and fears you have moved to the fourth level. This is where couples get to in their conversations before they get married. They may or may not move to the fifth level which is a state of total and absolute openness where everything is shared.
Where are you in these five levels of communication? Have you begun to slip backwards on the scale? If you are having trouble in your marriage you may be back to level two or one. Open yourself up and work towards sharing some dreams again.
Live Pleasing to the Lord
Your relationship with God should be your first priority. I know this goes hand in hand with the first point about praying, but this is so critical. When God is first in your life He will help you work out your other priorities. Live a life that is pleasing to Him and He will help clear up your emotion-filled mind so that you can see things from a higher perspective.
If you are in tune with the Lord and your spouse is in tune with the Lord, then you will be in tune with one another. Just because people are Christians does not mean they will never disagree with one another. However, if they will both live in agreement and obedience to the Lord, then they will be in agreement with each other. The Jesus in you will not fight with the Jesus in your spouse.
Your marital problems should be seen as a spiritual issue. You may see your anger over your spouse spending too much money at the grocery store or working too long at the office as a physical one, but you should consider it a spiritual battle to be fought together. Ask the Lord to help you both stand together and attack the problems in your marriage.
If you are not willing to take your marital problems to the Lord then you are admitting that you are part of the problem and not willing to find a solution. Admit that to God and your spouse. Ask forgiveness from your partner and God. Then between the three of you I am certain a solution will present itself.
Have you and your spouse come back from marital problems? Please share in the comments below how God gave you victory. I know this type of topic can be very emotional to discuss. If your marriage ended in divorce anyway, please keep your comments spirit filled. It helps no one to be unkind in a discussion like this.
The earliest use of the English word “marriage” dates back to the 13th century . Marriage by God’s design is the union of one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18). Some say that it is the ceremony (wedding) that makes the man and woman married; God’s word tells us that it is the joining of flesh that makes the marriage (Genesis 2:24). Here are twenty great Scripture quotes about marriage.
Hosea 2:19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.
God’s Plan for Marriage
Genesis 1:27-28 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Let marriage be held in honor among all
Genesis 2:21-25 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Malachi 2:14,15 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.
1 Corinthians 7:2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
Hebrews 13:4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
Children Given for Marriage
Genesis 29:22,23 So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her.
Judges 1:12 And Caleb said, “He who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give him Achsah my daughter for a wife.” And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, captured it. And he gave him Achsah his daughter for a wife.
1 Samuel 17:25 And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.”
1 Samuel 18:20,21 Now Saul’s daughter Michal loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. Saul thought, “Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time, “You shall now be my son-in-law.”
Popular Bible Marriages/Weddings
Genesis 24:67 Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
1 Samuel 25:40-42 When the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, “David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife.” And she rose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, “Behold, your handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” And Abigail hurried and rose and mounted a donkey, and her five young women attended her. She followed the messengers of David and became his wife.
Ruth 4:13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the LORD gave her conception, and she bore a son.
Esther 2:16-18 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.
Luke 2:4,5 (KJV) And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
John 2:1,2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.
What the Earthly Marriage Symbolizes
Isaiah 54:5 For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
Ephesians 5:23,24,32 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Revelation 19:7-9 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
Revelation 21:9-14 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed—on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Christian Quotes About Marriage
“Marriage is an exclusive union between one man and one woman, publicly acknowledged, permanently sealed, and physically consummated.” ~ Selwyn Hughes
“The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union.” ~ C.S. Lewis
“A man doesn’t own his marriage; he is only the steward of his wife’s love.” ~ Edwin Louis Cole (Ed Cole)
“God created marriage. No government subcommittee envisioned it. No social organization developed it. Marriage was conceived and born in the mind of God.” ~ Max Lucado
“Fifty-fifty marriages are an impossibility. They do not work. They cannot work. In marriage someone has to be the final decision maker. Someone has to delegate responsibility, and God has ordained that this should be the husband. ” ~ Wayne Mack
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
The Holy Bible, King Jame
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT GOTHS
However, in one sense, all sins can be said to be equal, because all sins have the same punishment if there is no repentance and forgiveness – hell.
The Bible also condems cross-dressing.
See, this is another reason why God hates Goths so much. He finds it quite repulive that grown men wear lipstick and dress like sick side-show freaks. And by this passage, God is not only condemning Goths, but all Lesbians and feminists too. Lesbians and feminists are a mystery to me. They hate men so much, so why do they dress like us?
A “goddess and/or a horned god”? Is that supposed to be a good thing? Or does it sound very foolish?
Nevertheless, her advice to me was “I appreciate it that you don’t do it again” – which virtually guarantees that not only will I do it again, I will do it again and again in the hope that people who are involved in evil witchcraft wake up and repent, if and while they still have time.
What is “Wicca”?
Wicca, or wikke, is an old Anglo-Saxon word that is the origin of two better-known English words, wicked and witch. Those aren’t “my words,” they are reality.
What the Bible says, and warns, about witchcraft are also not “my words,” they are God’s Words. Those who choose to ignore or defy the Word of God have only themselves to blame for what God is going to do to them if they do not repent.
What the Word of God, not me, says about witchcraft during Bible History:
“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire [see Where Is Hell?], or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto The Lord: and because of these abominations The lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12 KJV)
“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Exodus 22:18 KJV)
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” (1 Samuel 15:23 KJV)
Witchcraft is among the numerous forms of grievous evil, that, if unrepented of, will result in the loss of salvation:
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21 KJV)
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” (Revelation 21:8 NIV)
“Blessed are they that do His Commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs [God’s term for unrepentant homosexuals], and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” (Revelation 22:14-15 KJV)
God condemns witchcraft and sorcery because it involves blatant idolatry and paganism. Sometimes it even includes outright worship of Satan, making it extremely vile and wicked in God’s sight, as His own Words make plain. Those who seek to obey The Lord, those whose salvation is important to them, should have absolutely nothing to do with it.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT TATTOOING AND PIERCING
The Old Testament law commanded “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28).
Also “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
In relation to tattoos and body piercings, ask yourself if you can honestly, in good conscience, ask God to bless and use the particular activity for His own good purposes?
An important Scriptural principle of the Bible is that we must conduct every act of our lives so that it pleases God.
We need to remember that our bodies, as well as our souls, have been redeemed and belong to God. Although 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 does not directly apply to tattoos or body piercings, it does give us a principle,
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
This great truth should have a real bearing on what we do and where we go with our bodies. If our bodies belong to God, we should make sure we have His clear “permission” before we “mark it up” with tattoos or body piercings.
What the Bible says about Worship
What Does it Really Mean to Worship in Spirit and Truth?
“But Daddy, I just don’t want to go to church! It’s no fun. It’s boring!” “Well, I’ve just lost interest. I don’t get anything out of it. It doesn’t do me any good to go anymore.” Have you ever heard something like that from your children or other Christians? Have you ever felt this way? Do you feel this way right now? Is there a spiritual emptiness inside of you that you just can’t fill. Is there something missing in your relationship with God? Do you feel like you’re just “going through the motions” when you go to church? If you can see yourself right now in any of this, let me assure you that those feelings are not unique to you; they are experienced by most, if not all of us, from time to time. But there is a “balm in Gilead” (Jer. 8:22), and that balm is worship in spirit and in truth. When Jesus conversed with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, He revealed to her an eternal truth that every true worshipper of God must understand. He said: “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:23-24). I believe with all my heart that when we really come to understand what that really means, we will have found the antidote to the spiritual emptiness that we all too often feel in our lives. To do that, however, we must answer three questions.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WORSHIP?
Until we understand what worship is, the cure for the “worship weariness” that sometimes invades our souls will forever elude us. In his Hebrew-Chaldee lexicon, Gesenius says that the predominant Hebrew word for “worship” (shachah) means: “to bow oneself down, Isa. 51:23….to sink down, to be depressed….to prostrate oneself before any one out of honour….Those who used this mode of salutation fell on their knees and touched the ground with the forehead….” (Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures, pp. 813-814). In their Greek-English lexicon, Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker say that the predominant Greek word for “worship” (proskuneo), like the Hebrew, was “used to designate the custom of prostrating oneself before a person and kissing his feet, the hem of his garment, the ground, etc.; the Persians did this in the presence of their deified king, and the Greeks before a divinity … (fall down and) worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to, welcome respectfully….” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, pp. 716-717). Our English word “worship” is derived from “the Saxon/Old English word ‘weorthscipe’ or ‘weordhscipe’, which means ‘worthship’ or worthiness.
This connotes actions motivated by an attitude that reveres, honors, or describes the worth of another person or object” (ISBE, Vol. 4, pp. 1117-1118).
Do you see the emphasis in all those definitions? It is not on the worshipper but on the One who is worshipped. Worship “is an exercise of the human spirit that is directed primarily to God; it is an enterprise undertaken not simply to satisfy our need or to make us feel better or to minister to our aesthetic taste or social well-being, but to express the worthiness of God Himself….To worship God is to ascribe to Him supreme worth, for He is uniquely worthy to be honored in this way….” (ISBE, Vol. 4 p. 1131). John MacArthur, Jr. is absolutely correct when he says: “That consuming, selfless desire to give to God is the essence and the heart of worship. It begins with the giving first of ourselves, and then of our attitudes, and then of our possessions — until worship is a way of life” (The Ultimate Priority, p. 14).
The emphasis in true worship is on giving, not receiving. Those who complain that the singing is uninspiring; the sermons are dry, dull, and dusty; and the service is boring, etc. often do so, I’m convinced, because they have missed the fundamental essence of what worship is all about in the first place. I fear that the microwave mentality of our convenience-crazed society has crept into the souls of Christians to such an extent that we want a “fastfood faith” and a “remote-control religion”. Now, I am certainly not defending sloppy singing, sorry sermons, or shabby services, but when it comes to this thing called worship, if we are thinking more about me, myself, and I than we are about God, we have gotten the cart before the horse, and things will never be what they ought to be until we change that.
The emphasis in true worship is on giving the best we have, not the left-overs. All throughout the Old Testament, God demanded the very best from His people: the firstlings of the flock, the firstborn of man and animal, the firstfruit of the harvest. When the site and the sacrifice were offered to David free of charge so that he might appease the wrath of God, because he had presumptuously numbered Israel without God’s approval David said: “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing” (1 Sam. 24:24). The heart that says: “Let’s worship God, but let’s do it as quickly, conveniently, cheaply, and effortlessly as possible” does not understand the very essence of what true worship is all about. If God would not accept “the leftovers” from His people in the days of the prophets (Mal. 1:7-8, 10; cf. Amos 5:21; Hos. 6:4-6; Isa. 1:11-15), He will not accept anything less than the very best that we have to offer Him today.
It is only when we come to realize that worship is a selfless act of giving and when we give selflessly to our God that worship will be the meaningful experience for us that we and God want it to be. This is one of the great paradoxes of the spiritual life. Just as we must lose our life to find it (Mt. 10:39), and hate our life to keep it (Jn. 12:25), and humble ourselves to be exalted (Mt. 23:12), so we must give of ourselves completely and totally to the worship of God to receive abundant spiritual blessings in return. It was Jesus our Lord who said: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Lk. 6:38). No wonder Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), for it is only in giving that we really can receive. At the end of a worship service, the questions that each of us should ask are not: “Did I enjoy it?” or “Did I get anything out of it?” but rather “Was God pleased?” and “How did I do?” The person, whose primary concern is “What’s in it for me?” (Mal. 3:13-15), does not understand what worship is all about.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WORSHIP IN SPIRIT?
Since Jesus said that true worshippers will worship God in spirit, it is absolutely imperative that we understand what that means. But before we talk about what it does mean, let’s consider several things that it does not mean.
It does not mean worship that is necessarily “spirited” (i.e. enthusiastic, excited, etc.). I say that because the “mood” of worship will be dependent upon the attitude of the heart. At times the heart will be joyous and excited as was the case when Miriam and the women of Israel worshipped God following their deliverance from the Egyptian army (Ex. 15:20-21). At other times the heart may be sorrowful and subdued as surely must have been the case when David worshipped God following the death of his infant son (2 Sam. 12:19-20). In these two examples of worship, the “mood” was very different, but the worship was acceptable in both cases.
It does not mean worship that is “spiritual” (i.e. better-felt-than told). Nowhere does the Bible depict worship as some kind of mysterious, esoteric, intangible experience that one cannot understand or explain to other people.
It does not mean worship that is miraculously Spirit-inspired. Although the term “spirit” (pneuma) is used in this way in the New Testament (1 Cor. 14:15), Jesus was not using the term like this in His conversation with the Samaritan woman. I know that because all true worshippers must worship in spirit (Jn. 4:24), but even in the first century, when miraculous gifts were available to the church, not all Christians were Spirit-inspired (1 Cor. 12:29-30); therefore, worship in spirit is not some kind of miraculously Spirit-inspired worship.
I believe that worshipping in spirit refers to worship that emanates from the spirit of man. Paul said: “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son….” (Rom. 1:9). Because God is Spirit (Jn. 4:24), the true worshipper will worship God with that part of himself that is made in the image of God — his spirit. In other words, worship must spring forth from the inner man, and this inner man, the spirit, includes the intellect (1 Cor. 2:11), the emotions (Mk. 8:12; Acts 17:16) and the will (Mt. 26:41).
True worship then is worship from the inside out. In reaction to dull, routine, lifeless, boring worship services, many who yearn for a more meaningful, gratifying religious experience, are crying out that we need more emotion, more feeling in our worship to God. I do not necessarily disagree with that assessment, but there is a real danger in trying to produce with external techniques that which must emanate from the heart. Robert Turner was correct when he said: “Often our efforts to “improve” the worship are only efforts to regulate the form, and have little or nothing to do with improving the hearts out of which true worship must come. Some react to the “cold formality” of worship by proposing bizarre emotion-stirring props. What is more “artificial” than lighting effects, “mood” music, or tricky little antiphonal songs that force participation upon some person who could not be moved by the love of God. How is the “hypocrisy of traditional services” helped by providing a better mask — an emotional screen — that can not take the place of genuine worship….Improving the worship is part and parcel of the whole job of turning people to God, getting them to partake of the divine nature. It is not the “service” that needs changing, it is the people that must be changed — to new creatures, truly converted. These will worship God acceptably” (“?You Know What?,” Plain Talk, 9:1:7). To solve the problem of habitual, routine, formalistic, ritualistic, worship with external techniques (gadgets, gimmicks, and games) is to use a Band-Aid when what we really need is open-heart surgery.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WORSHIP IN TRUTH?
Jesus also said that the true worshipper will worship God in truth. There can be no doubt, that this means that acceptable worship will be circumscribed by the precepts of God’s word. When Jesus prayed to the Father on the night of His betrayal, He said: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). Since the very beginning of time God has revealed His will concerning the kind of worship that He will accept from His creation, and He has repeatedly judged those who failed to worship Him according to His word. Therefore, the only way that we can acceptably worship God today is to worship Him according to His word.
That means that we must worship the right object — God, not men (Acts 10:26), not idols (1 Jn. 5:21), not demons (1 Cor. 10:19-22), not angels (Rev. 22:8-9), not Satan. Jesus said: “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Mt. 4:10).
That means that we must worship in the right form. Jesus condemned the worship of the scribes and Pharisees as vain, because they taught the precepts of men as though they were the doctrine of God (Mt. 15:7-9). Paul described the worship of some at Colossae as “will-worship,” because they were basing it upon the philosophies and traditions of men (Col. 2:8-10, 16-23).
When we come to truly understand what it really means to worship….God….with our spirits….in truth, above everything else God will be pleased, and that is the most important thing, but our lives will also be transformed. May God help us all to be the true worshippers who will worship in spirit and in truth.
From Expository Files 2.11; November 1995
Take the road that leads to heaven.
The Bible is our road map…
God says you cannot make it on your own.
|“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)|
God says we can’t work our way to heaven.
|“For by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, It is the gift of God, not by works, so no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9)|
God says the road without Christ ends in death.
|“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death… For wide is the road that leads to destruction, and many travel it.” (Proverbs 16:25;Matthew 7:13–14)|
God says you need to turn around because you’re headed the wrong way.
|“But, except you repent, you will all likewise perish.”(Luke 13:3)|
God says there is only one way to heaven.
|“Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, except through Me.”(John 14:6)|
God says you need to yield and place Christ in the driver’s seat of your life.
|“But as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name.” (John 1:12)|
If you want to take the road to heaven and avoid the dead end road that leads to hell, pray this prayer:
“Lord Jesus, I am a sinner, I believe you died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins and rose again from the dead to give me eternal life, and a home in heaven. Come into my heart Lord Jesus, forgive my sins. Be my Lord and Savior.”
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