and Bible Studies
Lessons from Villains
Idolatry & Murder • October 7, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Lessons from Villains: Idolatry & Murder 1 Kings 16:28-34; 18:4 28 Omri rested with his fathers and was buried in Samaria. And Ahab his son succeeded him as king. 29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him. 34 In Ahab's time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken by Joshua son of Nun. 4 While Jezebel was killing off the LORD's prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water. Ahab succeeds his father with the kingdom in the best shape in years. He rules for twenty-two years and is condemned as the worst northern king yet. Ahab is accused of four unthinkable sins: (1) marrying the baalist daughter of a baalist king, (2) worshiping Baal and bowing down to him, (3) building a Baal temple in Samaria with its public altar, and (4) making an image of the Earth-Mother, Asherah. Ahab sets up an altar for Baal in a temple he built in Samaria. He is also the first Israelite king to serve Baal himself. Jezebel, who wore the pants in the house, oversaw 400 prophets for Baal. She evangelized for this false god. She also persecuted and killed God’s prophets. The writer concludes this section by providing a few interesting notes about the rebuilding of Jericho. First, two children die in the process, either because there was a vile religious practice of child sacrifice, or as an act of judgment. This happened “in Ahab’s day,” implying that he endorsed this vile religious practice and he sponsored the rebuilding of Jericho as a fortress. This brings us to the second note: Joshua had pronounced a curse on anyone who rebuilt Jericho (Josh 6:26). The writer refers to this pronouncement in the last half of the verse. Who would ever want to defy God’s word and rebuild Jericho? Ahab, the atrocious king. God promised through Joshua that anyone who sought to rebuild it would lose his or her children, yet Ahab disregarded this word. The wickedness introduced by Ahab encouraged a certain man to violate the taboo placed on that city according to Josh 6:26. The facts as stated are only that a Bethelite named Ahiel “built” Jericho. He sacrificed Abiram, his firstborn, in its foundation and Segub, his eldest, at its gates. The foundation sacrifice, revealed by modern archeology, is probably what was involved. The children named were probably infants, dead or alive, placed in jars and inserted into the masonry, propitiating the gods and warding off evil. We must decide what ideas, practices, and attitudes erode, then obliterate, biblical faith. Certainly, some worldviews, lifestyles, theologies, and associations are antithetical to distinctive Christianity. Basically, such attachments deny the uniqueness of God’s covenant with the church, encourage adherence to or worship of other things or gods, or obliterate the authority of God in daily life. Whatever leads one away from clear biblical teaching about the Lord constitutes an opportunity for losing distinctive faith. How wicked do you have to be to offer your own children as a sacrifice to your own prosperity and success in life? Persons who disobey God, reject the covenant, adopt a syncretistic attitude toward their faith, and are ungrateful; contribute to long-term problems in their lives, their family’s lives, and their nation’s life. Modern readers have a hard time accepting the notion that the real fabric of history is not the interplay of economics or the march of national destiny, but the issue of faithfulness to God. Still, many hope that somehow individual and national sin will not lead to tragedy. The books’ original readers needed to know that they suffered for a reason, but their situation was not permanent if they obeyed the Lord in their own era. Today’s reader needs to hear the same message. Notice the last part of 18:4. Ahab had done so much evil in turning to Baal over God and leading the country to follow him with detestable practices. Jezebel was killing off the prophets. Yet, the faith and courage of one may save 100 godly prophets. Who do you want to be like? It’s your choice; faith and courage in obedience to God’s Word or ignore and dismiss God’s Word for what you think is currently best or necessary for success in your life.
Jesus Gives us Choices:
Unbelief or Belief • September 30, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Jesus Gives us Choices: Unbelief or Belief John 10:22-42 Some choices are clear, but some are not clear at all. Jesus makes the salvation choice very clear. I. Jesus makes clear the choice of unbelief or belief; 10:22-30. 22 Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade. 24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." 25 Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one." As He walked, the Jews crowded around Him. Far from their heeding the evidence, their habitual attitude is one of unbelief. Christ’s sheep hear His voice. Eternal life is His gift. Those to whom Christ gives the gift shall never perish. All building from the healing of the blind man and subsequent events, the choice that Jesus is offering has been and still is clear. Jesus gives us the choice of forgiveness, restoration, and eternal life. We all choose belief or unbelief. Jesus has eliminated all reasons for not believing that He is the Son of God who came to offer salvation to humanity if they will believe in Him. But anyone looking for an excuse to ignore Jesus will find one. We can always rationalize what we’ve already made up our minds to do. Those who believe in Jesus enter an amazing security provided by the Father. II. Jesus makes clear the reasons for belief; 10:31-39. 31 Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?" 33 "We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God." 34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'? 35 If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came-- and the Scripture cannot be broken-- 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'? 37 Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. The Jews regard Jesus’ words as blasphemy, and they proceeded to take the judgment into their own hands. In the face of stoning, He quietly resumed the discussion and pointed out that He had shown many good works. What Jesus has done for us in His life, death, and resurrection is the best evidence of all. The miracles of transformed lives still speak loudly today. Jesus exposes the reasons for the unbelief of people. III. Jesus still offers the opportunity for belief; 10:40-42. 40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. Here he stayed 41 and many people came to him. They said, "Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true." 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus. Jesus went away from Jerusalem to the far side of the Jordan, the place where John the Baptist was baptizing at first. If Jesus was no longer moving among the people, the people sought Him out where He was. It is interesting that the reason they gave was the ministry of John the Baptist, whose influence lived on. The result was that many came to believe on Jesus. John’s testimony led these people to seek out Jesus, but faith came because of their contact with the Lord. In the place where we might have thought Jesus would be welcomed, people tried to stone him. Now in despised Perea, people believed in Him. Don’t presume to know who will and will not believe. Everywhere we go, we are to share the gospel message with everyone. Often people will respond who we think would not. John planted the seeds and at times so do we. If they don’t accept Christ when you have a gospel conversation, it may take many conversations. You don’t know what role you play. Just share the salvation offered by Jesus, and let them choose belief or unbelief.
Jesus Gives us Choices:
In or Out • September 23, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Jesus Gives us Choices: In or Out John 10:1-21 I. Some are in and some are out; 10:1-6. 1 "I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. Sheep were commonly herded in to a walled enclosure. There was one gate guarded by a gatekeeper. If a man does not enter the gate in the normal way but climbs over the wall, then he is there for no good purpose. He is a robber. By contrast, the one who enters by the gate is the shepherd. He has the right to enter. The sheep know their shepherd and recognize the call he gives his own. They certainly will not follow a stranger. Jesus’ flock, the church, is led by the good shepherd, Jesus himself. He is warning us about those detractors who damage the flock of God. II. Jesus is the gate; 10:7-18. 7 Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-- and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life-- only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." There is but one door to a fold, and sheep and shepherds alike must enter by this door. There is no other way for them. Jesus provides the door by which the shepherd must enter. If there is one door then people must enter by it or stay outside. Salvation was the purpose of Jesus’ coming. He came that they might have life, and not only life, but a more abundant life. Being the Good Shepherd, He knows His sheep, and His sheep know Him. There is a relationship of mutual knowledge that is not superficial, but intimate. Jesus speaks directly in the first person, “I lay down my life.” He claims authority both to lay down His life and to take it up again. Jesus looks beyond the immediate circle of His followers to “other sheep.” The words look to the worldwide scope of the gospel. Jesus is the only way to God and salvation. Every other message is delivered by thieves who steal the eternal destiny of those they influence. An intimate relationship with Jesus helps us be discerning of those who bring genuine harm. III. Reactions to Jesus; 10:19-21. 19 At these words the Jews were again divided. 20 Many of them said, "He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?" 21 But others said, "These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?" Once more there is division among the Jews over the words of Jesus. John gives us the view of the opposition. "He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?" Others were impressed both by Jesus’ words and by His deeds. A demoniac would not have been able to open the eyes of a blind man. They say what Jesus is not, but they make no attempt to say what He is. The fact that Jesus is the gate and the only way to God and salvation is still a dividing issue in the world today. Jesus’ flock, the church, is led by the good shepherd, Jesus himself. He is warning us about those detractors who damage the flock of God. An intimate relationship with Jesus helps us to be discerning of those who bring genuine harm. In the midst of spiritual and moral chaos, which shepherd do you follow?
Jesus Gives us Choices
Healing Grows Our Faith in Jesus • September 16, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Jesus Gives us Choices: Healing Grows Our Faith in Jesus John 9:35-41 Jesus offers healing of our brokenness. This healing often brings skepticism and persecution from those in our lives. However, healing continually grows our faith in Jesus. I. Healing of our brokenness grows our faith in Jesus; 9:35-38. 35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" 36 "Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." 37 Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." 38 Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. The man evidently recognized the voice of Jesus, for though he knew that Jesus was his healer, until now he had not seen him. The blind man immediately understands that “Son of man”, means “messiah.” He wants to learn who He is, so that he may believe in Him. Jesus discloses His identity. “You have now seen Him” must have meant a lot to the man who had seen nothing until that day. The man’s instant response is “Lord, I believe.” It doesn’t really matter what the others think about Jesus. He will trust Jesus, whatever the cost. Faith is essentially a personal thing. His confession of faith and his worship indicate that he no longer lives in "darkness" in any sense. The fact of his regained eyesight is beyond dispute. He now openly embraces Jesus—a commitment to Him as the Messiah of Israel. The more he learns of Jesus and what He wants, he responds immediately every time. The more we learn of who Jesus is as He heals our brokenness calls for an immediate response as well. Love for Jesus and what He has done moves us to worship Him as our God. We must work to make worship of Christ a priority in our lives. It reminds us of who our Savior is and what He has done for us, and acknowledges that He is God of our lives. He did not know fully who Jesus was until he was told. "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Rom. 10:13-15) II. Healing of our brokenness foreshadows the condemnation of skeptics; 9:39-41. 39 Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." 40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?" 41 Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains. Jesus says that His coming represents a judgment, for all people are divided according to the way they react to Him. The Pharisee’s reaction was an incredulous question: "What? Are we blind too?" It never occurs to them that they of all people can possibly be blind. They understand fully the theological point Jesus is making, and they reject it. The Pharisees doubtless expected Jesus to say that they were blind. Instead He says that blindness would have been an excuse. They were not acting in ignorance. They claim to see. Jesus does not say that they really do see, but that they claim to see. If they really had spiritual sight they would act differently toward Him, yet they are not completely blind. Those who claim to have spiritual sight apart from Jesus will be shown as the blind people they really are. At the close we see the natural conclusion: on the one hand a confession of faith, on the other a plain statement of the condemnation of those who have been resisting the light. The blind man thus becomes a model of every believer who embraces Jesus' lordship and suffers persecution as a result. The Pharisees, by contrast, have come forward to judge both the man and Jesus. But in the end, Jesus judges them. What do you need to do? How do you need to respond? Faith, baptism, membership…?
Jesus Gives us Choices
Healing Brings Skepticism and Persecution • September 9, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Jesus Gives us Choices: Healing Brings Skepticism and Persecution John 9:13-34 I. How have you been healed of your brokenness? 9:13-17. 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man's eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. "He put mud on my eyes," the man replied, "and I washed, and now I see." 16 Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath." But others asked, "How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?" So they were divided. 17 Finally they turned again to the blind man, "What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened." The man replied, "He is a prophet." The man’s statement divides the Pharisees. One group starts from the Sabbath breach. Since the Pharisaic rule has been broken, Jesus cannot be from God. The other starts from the miracle. Since He has performed such signs He must be from God. It is a measure of the Pharisees’ perplexity and division that they ask the man what he thinks of Jesus. “He is a prophet.” We don’t have to know everything theologically about Jesus for Him to work in our lives initially. As Jesus heals our brokenness, our understanding of who He is increases as we get to know him more intimately. The change that Jesus brings to our lives is viewed with skepticism by many, especially those who consider themselves knowledgeable. This provides us the opportunity to share how Jesus healed our brokenness. II. Do those close to you verify the healing of your brokenness? 9:18-23. 18 The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man's parents. 19 "Is this your son?" they asked. "Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?" 20 "We know he is our son," the parents answered, "and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don't know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself." 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, "He is of age; ask him." The Jews still did not believe that the man had really been cured. So, they called his parents. They testify to the identity of the man as their son, and to the fact that he was born blind. In saying “Ask him” they make clear their determination not to get mixed up in the affair more than they can help. Those closest to us are often not as excited as we would think they should be with the healing of the brokenness in our lives. They must deal with their own acceptance or rejection of Jesus. III. Will you renounce that Jesus healed your brokenness? 9:24-34. 24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. "Give glory to God, " they said. "We know this man is a sinner." 25 He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" 26 Then they asked him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" 27 He answered, "I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?" 28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, "You are this fellow's disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where he comes from." 30 The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." 34 To this they replied, "You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!" And they threw him out. Jesus could not possibly have done such a thing; a thing unparalleled in all history, unless He were from God. They pay no attention to the argument. They imply that his blindness was the punishment of sin. They cast him out of the synagogue. They expelled the man from their assembly and from the building in which they were in. It may represent a stronger disciplinary action against him. All are invited to believe. The growing question in the face of all the evidence is “will they believe what they see”? In the face of evidence of God working, will you believe? In the face of evidence in your own life, will others believe? Will we identify with the experience of the blind man or his opponents? We are now invited to participate in this story. It’s about open hearts and closed hearts?
Jesus Gives Us Choices
Part I • September 2, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Jesus Gives us Choices John 9:1-12 I. Jesus offers to heal our blindness; 9:1-7. 1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." 6 Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. 7 "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. Jesus passed by and saw a man blind from birth. He sat at the roadside and begged. No employment, no prospects for marriage, and no social standing. His future was bleak. The man’s plight provoked the disciples into asking Jesus the reason for it. It was widely held that suffering, especially suffering such as blindness, was due to sin. There were difficulties in seeing how a man could have sinned before his birth. It is not much easier to think that a man should bear such a terrible punishment for the sin of his parents. Jesus rejects both alternatives. Suffering is not always due to sin, and this blindness is not the result of sin either in the man or in his parents. It happened so that God’s works might be shown in the man. God had not made the man blind to show His glory; rather, God has sent Jesus to do works of healing to show His glory. Through Jesus, blindness due to living in a fallen world, can still bring glory to God. There is a sort of urgency, and Jesus may well be hinting that His stay in this world is short. We too have an urgency. Night is coming when choices can no longer be made. Jesus took the initiative, for no one asked him to heal this man. He saw him, and He gave him sight. He chose to do this by making clay with his spit, putting it on the man’s eyes, and having him wash it off. Why clay? Why spit? Why wash in Siloam? It may have helped this man to have something that he might do himself to demonstrate his faith in Jesus. The glory of this man's healing stands in stark contrast with the desperation of his condition. Jesus did not simply give him sight, He gave him life. Whatever we’re going through or have gone through, God can and desires to use it for His glory in our life. We are afflicted with a blindness from birth that can only be removed by Jesus. Though Jesus could work in your life with word or deed, He often uses means that we may deem undesirable or require us to do things. He does it in a way that maximizes His glory in our lives and uses it to grow our faith. II. Jesus’ healing effects those around us; 9:8-12. 8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, "Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?" 9 Some claimed that he was. Others said, "No, he only looks like him." But he himself insisted, "I am the man." 10 "How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded. 11 He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see." 12 "Where is this man?" they asked him. "I don't know," he said. The people who had lived near him, and those familiar with him from his begging, are probably singled out as those who knew him best. Their amazement at his cure is expressed in a question, “Is this the same man ...?” The man himself put an end to speculation by saying emphatically, “I am the man.” He apparently knows little about Jesus and expects that his hearers will likewise know little. He speaks of Him as “The man they call Jesus.” Since he speaks of Him as no more than a man, it shows that he has little understanding of his Person. As the chapter progresses we will see how his awareness of the significance of Jesus grows. Once you truly meet Jesus, you are never the same. What do your friends and family know about your interaction with Jesus? Is all that Jesus has done for you part of the stories you tell? The healing that God offers is a choice that we must make.
Building a Healthy Marriage
Make Time (assumptions) • August 26, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Building a Healthy Marriage: Make Time Deuteronomy 24:5 A healthy marriage takes time. It’s crucial to take time to spend with each other. Most of us weren’t just sitting around doing nothing before we were married. Life was busy, but time was purposefully set aside to spend quality time together. After marriage, it can be difficult to keep that same train of thought and intentionality. It is just as significant to make time after marriage as it was before marriage. 5 If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married. Deuteronomy 24:5 A man who has just gotten married was exempt from military duty and all outside community responsibilities for the first year. The concern here was securing the health of newly established marriages and homes. He must invest his energies in establishing a solid foundation for his household. The rationale for this command was so that husbands may devote themselves to the happiness of their wives. You don’t build a healthy marriage on date nights and long weekends, but on intentionally spending time together each day. When we’re married, we spend a lot of time with friends and family, paying bills, taking care of the home, and interacting as a couple. We also spend a great deal of time as individuals in our separate jobs with separate interests. Many of us spend a lot of our time as a mom and a dad, playing with the kids, and enjoying family outings. Most of us spend very little time as a husband and wife exclusively and uninterrupted. This is the root of many of the complaints that couples have. “We just don’t feel connected anymore,” “He/she doesn’t pay enough attention to me,” or “He/she is always mad at me.” This is because among their priorities, spending time alone together is usually last on their list. A benefit to these moments is gaining understanding and demonstrating that we truly care about who they are. We all like to think we understand our spouse. The truth is, there is a lot that we cannot understand without taking the time and patience to learn about our spouse. Everyone changes over time and who we are changes as well. Without daily time you will begin to feel you've grown apart. You need more time together. Recent studies are showing that healthy couples spend 5 1/2 hours a week together interacting. Time on the phone, texting, and family activities don’t count. This is talking and listening - really paying attention to each other. This is where we practice listening to what your spouse is saying and what they are not saying. My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, James 1:19. We must practice listening. Something that will help with this is practicing “active listening.” We do this by repeating what our spouse said in order to get confirmation. For instance, one could say, “This is what I hear you saying - you feel neglected when I watch TV all night.” By repeating, you get to clarify your spouse’s words and intentions. You also show him/her that you are trying to understand. He who answers before listening-- that is his folly and his shame. Proverbs 18:13 Communication is between 60% to 90% nonverbal. This is why it needs to be in person and focused. This is something a good spouse will learn to discern. Study your spouse’s body language and tendencies in order to enhance communication. Assumptions kill a healthy marriage. Have you ever had a plan to spend some time together and then argue or get the silent treatment instead? Each had a different expectation for the time together, and no one told the other. There’s nothing more painful than not feeling heard, understood, or validated in an intimate relationship with your spouse. We then experience failed communication, including frequent arguments or avoidance of each other. Changing communication styles is not easy. However, if you are both willing to commit to your relationship, it’s not only essential, but possible to save your marriage. Purposefully set aside quality time every day - at least 45 minutes a day. It will be awkward at first. It will take more time at first. It will be painful at first, as you deal with things you avoided. Avoid hurtful, defensive, and argumentative comments. Don’t give up when you miss a few days.
Building a Healthy Marriage
Do Your Part (selfishness) • August 19, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Building a Healthy Marriage: Do Your Part Colossians 3:12-17 12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:12-17) These verses are listed right before the description of specifics for husband and wives. We have a high position as the people of God, and as husbands and wives. God considers these to be very important positions that He has placed us in. We are to treat each other with compassion and kindness. Compassion is having your heart move for what your spouse is going through. Kindness is doing something about it. Humility and gentleness mean not always getting your way, letting others shine, not pushing your ideas to the top, and not being overly aggressive and abusive in manners or language. We must be patient.Our time table is not always the standard. Bearing with each other is overlooking small matters of disagreement. Ask yourself “so what if I win?” We forgive each other because God has forgiven us. Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is a choice, a decision. Since God requires you to forgive, it is something you can do. Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin. Love keeps all the other characteristics in proper perspective. Love is putting the needs of someone else above your own. Letting "Christ's peace rule" refers to the idea of arbitrating our hearts. The peace of Christ should arbitrate in our hearts. Potential disruptions are then headed off at the deepest level. Peace is seeking the good of the other. Paul tells us that the "word of Christ dwells" when our teaching and admonition is based upon Jesus himself and not on what we think is right. Our instruction and admonishing must be given in "all wisdom", thus given with tact. Teaching and admonishing are part of a life of thankfulness that overflows into songs of joy and praise. If Christ is glorified In everything we say and everything we do, then God is pleased. Everything we think and do should be done as representatives of Christ. It must infiltrate every aspect of our lives whether, husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, employee, employer, customer, or salesperson. Maintaining harmony in marriage has been difficult since Adam and Eve. Two people trying to go their own selfish, separate ways can never hope to experience the oneness of marriage as God intended. 6 "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 7 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." (Mk. 10:6-9) Selfishness is possibly the most dangerous threat to oneness in marriage. It affects how we talk to each other, how we divide responsibilities in the home, how we resolve conflicts, and even how we spend our time. Marriage offers a tremendous opportunity to do something about selfishness. Through principles taught in Scripture, we have learned how to set aside our selfish interests for the good of each other, as well as for the profit of our marriage.Together you should be better, stronger and more effective. 11 In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 When we’re so focused on what our spouse is not doing, we fail to realize that we have stopped as well. If you can’t serve your spouse, then you really don’t understand what serving is.
Building a Healthy Marriage
Fix the Foundation • August 12, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Building a Healthy Marriage: Fix the Foundation I. A Healthy Marriage is God’s Plan; Genesis 2:24 We want marriages that are healthy, not simply existing. God wants successful, healthy marriages and has provided us the principles that are necessary for it to happen. 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24) Marriage is the first institution designed by God. It is meant to be a blessing. It is a means for God to work in you. It is not about what you get. We are to base our views of intimacy and marriage on godly principles, not the values of a sinful, fallen culture. II. The Way a Marriage is Started Sets the Foundation; Hebrews 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (Hebrews 13:4) How do we honor marriage? By obeying God’s plan for marriage. How a marriage begins is often quickly ignored; however, it greatly affects the health and longevity of a marriage. 3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. (Ephesians 5:3) What are some factors that the Bible says are faulting foundations? Sexual intimacy before marriage, even if it’s with the person you marry weakens the marriage foundation. From the beginning, the Bible consistently states that this level of intimacy is intended exclusively for the marriage relationship. A husband and wife build trust and respect when they both survive the struggles of self-control. This intimacy prior to marriage prevents communication skills from developing. Love is a decision, not a feeling. Intimacy prior to marriage fools a person into thinking they love someone. True love will always lead to commitment. Living together, even if it’s with the person you marry, weakens the marriage foundation. Contrary to the belief that living together before marriage will improve future marital stability, those who live together before marriage have higher separation and divorce rates. Creating boundaries and sticking to them by not living together, nor being intimate, teaches skills necessary for a successful marriage. It teaches how to come to an agreement and work together on issues like finances, children, etc. It often causes one of the spouses to have to “police” the other in certain areas. 3 It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; (1 Thess. 4:3-5) We seem to believe that private behavior stays private and that we can make unbiblical decisions with little consequence. However, consequences arrive eventually. God has a plan for your marriage to be healthy no matter how it may have begun, even if you married someone you should not have married. III. No Matter How It Began, God Offers A Path to a Healthy Marriage; Acts 3:19 If we think we're getting away with private sin, we're not. Scripture is clear: "Be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23). There is no statute of limitation on the effects of sin. However, God has a plan and solution to deal with sin. Satan loves to tempt us to sin, then uses the consequences of our sins against us. He wants these consequences to devastate us and the people of God as much as possible. God can forgive our sin, but he cannot reward us for it. Every moment we spend in disobedience is a moment we cannot get back. Getting married doesn’t automatically fix it either. We tend to think that the ceremony fixes everything. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Acts 3:19 Repentance and God’s forgiveness can rebuild a faulty foundation. Spend time as a couple asking for His forgiveness and let Him put you on a solid foundation.
So what, if I do what I want?
Hope is Offered • August 5, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
So what, if I do what I want? Hope is offered Ezekiel 11:14-25 I. Some see God’s chastisement on His people as total abandonment; 11:14-15. 14 The word of the LORD came to me: 15 "Son of man, your brothers-- your brothers who are your blood relatives and the whole house of Israel-- are those of whom the people of Jerusalem have said, 'They are far away from the LORD; this land was given to us as our possession.' When Ezekiel and others were taken to Babylon, not everyone was taken captive. Those left in Jerusalem concluded that it was the exiles who were under judgment, and thus the land belonged to those who remained. When we live as we want, we too think the consequences that come are signs of God’s abandonment. Thus, we are justified to live as we want. II. Even when we suffer for doing as we want, as God’s children, God does not abandon us; 11:16. 16 "Therefore say: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.' Expulsion from the land of Israel should not be interpreted as alienation from God. God promises to be for the exiles what the temple has been for them in Jerusalem. We can learn much while in exile about God; His expectations, and His love for us. How we live matters; our obedience matters. III. God desperately wants to gather His children back to Himself in their total obedience; 11:17-21. 17 "Therefore say: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.' 18 "They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. 19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their vile images and detestable idols, I will bring down on their own heads what they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD." The judgment had been the work of God himself, so the deliverance will be the result of His own direct intervention on their behalf. After the people have been regathered, He will grant to them the land of Israel. Ezekiel describes the renewal in terms of a heart transplant. The only solution for people like this is replacement with a sensitive and responsive heart. They too must abandon their abominable ways, lest God bring their conduct down upon their own heads. Spiritual renewal is achieved not by human effort, but by a transforming act of God. Education, economic development, and the renovation of political structures may ameliorate the symptoms of a fallen humanity, but they cannot resolve the fundamental human problem — a heart that is hard and disposed against God. We don’t need a new anything or more of anything, but we need a new heart. We need a heart transplant toward the new covenant through Jesus Christ. The true follower of Christ will be characterized by obedience. Do not take the promises of God for granted. IV. We must tell the story of what God has revealed to us; 11:22-25. 22 Then the cherubim, with the wheels beside them, spread their wings, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. 23 The glory of the LORD went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it. 24 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the exiles in Babylonia in the vision given by the Spirit of God. Then the vision I had seen went up from me, 25 and I told the exiles everything the LORD had shown me. When the details of this vision were completed, the prophet witnessed the departure of the glory of God from the temple and the city, to the mountains east of Jerusalem, which is the Mount of Olives. Ezekiel shared the entire experience with the exiles. We must tell the story of what God has revealed to us in His Word and through His Spirit. Though judgment is coming for sin and rebellion, God offers hope and salvation for those who will respond and receive a new heart through Jesus Christ.
So what, if I do what I want?
Judgment • July 29, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
So what, if I do what I want? Judgment Ezekiel 11:1-13 I. When we do what we want, we have a false sense of security and control; 11:1-3. The quotation signifies an arrogant smugness of the newly rich. They have not only taken over the positions evacuated by the deported nobility, but also confiscated the property of the weak in the city. “Will it not soon be time to build houses?” The statement reflects a complacency and smugness characteristic of those who think they have everything under control. They felt in control and secure in their sin and rebellion. When we live as we think best, picking and choosing what to obey and when to be committed, we have a temporary sense of control and security. We also tell ourselves, it will be fine. It will work out. It’s pride that tells us it will all work out for the best, even though I don’t fully obey God. II. When we do as we want, no matter what we tell ourselves or others, God knows exactly what is going on and what’s in our minds; 11:4-6. The leaders’ conduct has violated God’s laws so flagrantly that they have no grounds whatsoever for their confidence in their security and their invulnerability. God declares that His gaze penetrates the human mind, and that He is aware of the motives underlying the leaders’ smugness. God charges the leaders of the people with a crime that disqualifies them from any claims to protection: they have filled the city with corpses. They simply eliminate anyone who stands in their way. God knows the true motives of people who claim to live Christian lives, but in reality, do what they want. When we live by doing what we want, people become obstacles to overcome, instead of those to serve and share the love of Christ with. III. When we do what we want, judgment comes so that we may know that God is Lord; 11:7-13. God challenges the leaders’ claims by cleverly redefining the terms meat and pot. Whereas the upper crust had claimed to be the prime cuts of meat securely stored away in a safe place, God announces that the leaders are in fact butchers who have made stew out of the people. These verses elaborate on how the leaders will meet their fate. Their victims may be the stew today, but they will suffer that fate tomorrow. Then they will acknowledge Yahweh, against whom they have rebelled. Pagan standards rule Jerusalem. When the sword comes they will also gain a new recognition of the activity and identity of Yahweh. 12 And you will know that I am the LORD, for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you." Even as Ezekiel is prophesying, Pelatiah dies. The prophet immediately grasps the significance of this event. The death of Pelatiah is a harbinger of what is to come. Ezekiel expresses his own horror at God’s judgment. The death of Pelatiah is significant for Ezekiel personally, because in this, his status as a prophet of God is confined. Ezekiel proclaims this message to the elders assembled in his house in Babylon. If God will destroy Israel for their sin, is our sin any less that we deserve exception? God has been patient with us as a nation, but for how long? God has been patient with you, but how long will this hold out? The judgment of God can come as quick as a lightning bolt. Verse 12 is one of the clearest verses about God’s intent when we are conformed to the standards of those around us. How are you different from your friends, neighbors, co-workers, or family who do not know or serve Christ? What are you putting your security in when you live as you think best over what God demands? It often becomes the very thing God uses to judge you. God knows us, loves us, and wants us to repent. He does not enjoy punishing and destroying. If we choose to continue to live as we want, ignoring or adjusting what God demands, our fears will come true. What will it take for you to realized that God is in control, and what He says goes?
So what, if I do what I want?
Departure of Blessings • July 22, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
So what, if I do what I want? Departure of Blessings Ezekiel 10:1-22 I. If we do what we want, we should expect judgment from our holy God; 10:1-2. The appearance of the throne-chariot is announced. The creatures, which He had referred to vaguely as “living creatures,” in Chap. 1, He now recognizes as cherubim. The cherubim appear at various places in the Old Testament as servant/worshipers of God and guardians of His holiness. They were associated with the movement of God. The creatures moved about with the aid of wheels. By associating the scattering of the coals over the city with Yahweh’s abandonment of Jerusalem, the vision provides a vivid picture of the city’s spiritual and, ultimately, physical fate. If we choose to do what we want instead of what God commands, we should expect consequences in this life. II. The presence of the glory of God demands purity and purging to produce holiness, instead of doing what we want; 10:3-8. One cherub gave live coals to the man, who then departed. Fire represented a purification and purging by God. The most severe aspect of God’s judgment was His absence from among His people. Of course, God’s presence had never been confined to the temple. Rather, the temple was where He made Himself known in blessing and received the worship of His people. Just the same with Newton’s third law: when we live as we want, the presence of the glory of God demands purity and purging to produce holiness. III. If we do what we want, the departure of God’s blessing is based on God seeing and know all; 10:9-17. The sound of the wings suggested readiness to move with the glory of God. The “eyes” were a reminder of the omniscience of God. Judgment, which was to include the removal of God’s glory by the wheels, was based on His omniscience. He sees all things and knows all things. One day every individual will stand before a holy and righteous God who sees and knows all things. Everyone will give an account for all of life. Because He is all-powerful, there is no court of higher appeal. If we do what we want, the departure of God’s blessing is based on God seeing and knowing all. We can fool many, but we can’t fool God. IV. If we continue to do what we want, the glory and blessings of God continue to move way; 10:18-22. The second phase of Yahweh’s staged departure from the temple is described. The glory, having moved from above the ark of the covenant to the threshold of the temple, now moved from the threshold to the cherubim and then to the east gate. This would have been the entrance directly in front of the temple that went out into the Kidron Valley. This move to the east gate anticipated the departure from the temple complex and from the city. The chariot provides the means whereby God will abandon His temple, by which He declares the termination of His special relationship with Jerusalem and with His covenant people. God withdraws from unholy worship. We cannot come before the Lord any way we choose. God demands holiness of those who would approach Him. God is long-suffering with us as He was with Israel, but He ultimately withdraws when His call for righteousness is ignored. There was no physical manifestation of the Lord's presence in the second temple to match that at the dedication of the first temple. In Jesus is also the coming of the glory that Ezekiel looked for. John says: "We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth". With the coming of Jesus there is a fundamental redemptive-historical change in the manifestation of God's glory and presence. In the New Testament, the temple has taken human form in the body of Jesus. In Him, God's glory lives among us. Herod's temple, for all its outward glory, is an empty shell, abandoned by God and now simply awaiting its destruction by human hands. If we continue to do what we want, the glory and blessings of God continue to move way. Ezekiel's message should underline for us the essential importance of personal and corporate holiness.
So what, if I do what I want?
Destruction • July 15, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
So what, if I do what I want? Destruction Ezekiel 9:1-11 I. If we do what we want we will encounter God’s agents of judgment; 9:1-2. Then I heard him call out in a loud voice, "Bring the guards of the city here, each with a weapon in his hand." And I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. They came in and stood beside the bronze altar. Ezekiel heard God call for the guards of the city to come forth with their weapons. While they were called men, it becomes clear that they were more than human and were divine messengers or angels. These angels came to dispense judgment and God’s wrath. God has and will use agents of judgment for those who do what they want, by rejecting, or making adjustments to His Word and commands. II. God marks those for salvation; 9:3-6. Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the LORD called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side and said to him, "Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it." As I listened, he said to the others, "Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple. God’s judgment was always tempered with mercy. The man in white linen marked those who were grieved over the sins of Judah. These were spared and became a remnant of hope for future restoration. All those without the mark are to be slain. In judgment, God plays no favorites and gives no exemptions. No one who is guilty will be spared. Judgment included God’s own people; it began in His sanctuary. Are you marked for salvation or for destruction? As followers of Jesus, there is no eternal judgment, for Jesus paid the price for our sin. However, there may be loss of eternal rewards and temporal judgment. Are you marked by your grief and mourning over the detestable things that are in our lives? God still offers mercy considering His current and coming judgment through Jesus Christ. Are you marked with the blood of Christ? III. God brings judgment to those who live as they want; 9:7-11. Then he said to them, "Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go!" So they went out and began killing throughout the city. While they were killing and I was left alone, I fell facedown, crying out, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! Are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?" He answered me, "The sin of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice. They say, 'The LORD has forsaken the land; the LORD does not see.' So I will not look on them with pity or spare them, but I will bring down on their own heads what they have done." Then the man in linen with the writing kit at his side brought back word, saying, "I have done as you commanded." During the carnage, Ezekiel is left alone before the Lord. His plea for mercy showed how deeply he felt the needs of the people. This vision of judgment and death aroused the compassionate heart of the prophet. The Lord points to the depth of the abominations and sin of the house of Israel and Judah. The land is full of bloodshed and the city full of injustice. When it appears that all hope is gone, suddenly the priestly figure with the writing kit reappears, saying, "I have done as you commanded". We are not told how many he has marked. There is shelter from God's destruction for those who are willing to take refuge in obedience. But on this occasion, it seems that those being saved will indeed be few. Are you like Ezekiel, broken over the coming destruction in the lives of those who live as they want, or like Jonah, mad that destruction is not coming quicker? What does destruction look like? When we live as we think best, doing what we want, our lives become increasingly defiled and useless to God. This is a vision; the six guards probably represent the six invasions of Nebuchadnezzar and the eventual destruction of Jerusalem by his armies. Destruction sometimes involves God allowing the natural consequences of our sin to play out, but sometimes He intervenes directly. There is coming a final day of judgment and destruction for those who never responded to God’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.
So what, if I do what I want?
God Sees • July 8, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
So, what if I do what I want? God Sees Ezekiel 8:1-18 I. Visions from God; 8:1-4. The prophet is shown four scenes of increasing abomination, with the offense to God being greater as the scenes in which they take place move nearer to the center of the temple. Our Lord is God; therefore, everything we do or don’t do matters to Him. He takes it very personal. II. Image of Jealousy; 8:5-6. His tour begins with a vision of an “idol of jealousy" at the north gate of the city. This seems to have been an idol in the shape of a human being, perhaps the Canaanite goddess Asherah. This was put there by Manasseh, removed by Josiah, and put back. Our God is a jealous God; therefore, everything we do or neglect to do is a direct statement on God’s character. Any other allegiance highly offends Him. What does it matter? God considers doing what we want over what He wants as infidelity. God demands pure devotion to Him. III. Worship of Animals; 8:7-13. Next, the divine guide brought Ezekiel to the entrance of the court, where he saw a hole in the wall. Ezekiel dug and enlarged the hole. Behind it he discovered the door to a secret chamber. To his shock and surprise the men inside were worshiping idols in various kinds of animal forms. These elders find justification in the belief that the Lord does not see. One of their number is Jaazaniah, the son of Shaphan—and shockingly associated with a family that was prominent in the reforms of Josiah's days. In light of what they saw as God's abandonment of them, they felt justified in pursuing other deities who might help. Far from the Lord's having abandoned them, it is they who have driven the Lord away. What does it matter? Nothing in life only affects us. God sees all and is affected by all we do or neglect. Nothing you do, or think is secret. One day all will be revealed. There is always the voice of the evil one telling us that God is not doing all He could to help and bless us; therefore, we’re justified in doing what we want. But, it is our neglect of God that causes us to feel abandoned by God. IV. Weeping for Tammuz; 8:14-15. Worse still is the sight of women weeping for Tammuz at the north gate of the temple itself. Weeping for Tammuz was a Babylonian ritual, marking the death and descent into the underworld of the god Dumuzi, whose mythological course of death and return was thought to be parallel to the annual rhythm of nature. The act of mourning was believed to counteract the loss of power of new life, thus hastening the return of fertility. What does it matter if I get upset, cry, stress over things that I feel will or would have helped me in life? It offends God, who is in control. Weeping, mourning, and getting upset over the wrong things is offensive to our God, who knows our hearts. We cry over things that should appall us, and fail to shed a tear over what breaks the heart of God. V. Worship of the Sun; 8:16-18. The final and supreme act of idolatry takes place within the inner court of the temple itself, where Ezekiel sees twenty-five men turning their backs on the temple and prostrating themselves to the east, in worship of the sun. They will receive what they deserve as the Lord deals with them in His wrath, neither pitying nor sparing. He will be deaf to their loudest cries for help. Where do you go when you need rest, guidance, stress relief, or to get answers …? An attitude of “what does it really matter”, “what’s going to happen”, “I’m not hurting anything”, is really a direct insult to our God. It says to Him “what are you going to do?” or “I’m not afraid of God, I can do what I want.” What has moved into your temple? What in your life has displaced God? What will incur God's anger and discipline? You displace and remove the holy, then when trouble comes cry out for God. But, you have removed Him from your worship.
Jesus People Skills
Able to Defend Your Faith • June 24, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Jesus People Skills: Able to Defend your Faith John 8:48-59 48 The Jews answered him, "Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?" 49 "I am not possessed by a demon," said Jesus, "but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." 52 At this the Jews exclaimed, "Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?" 54 Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." 57 "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!" 58 "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. The Jews accusation that Jesus was a Samaritan points to Hisnegligence in the observance of Judaism. He is observing only those parts of their religion which the heretical Samaritans observed. His refusal to agree with the Jews that they had an exclusive right to be called Abraham’s children may be the point. They may be saying, “You are no better than a Samaritan!” If that was not enough, they accuse Him of being demon-possessed, that He is controlled by a demon, and is working to glorify Satan. The devil is His master. They attack the heart of who the Messiah would be. Jesus ignores the charge that He is a Samaritan (wasn’t much of an insult to Him anyway), and quietly denies that He has a demon. Jesus refused to debate name calling; it was just a distraction. He stresses that it is His practice to honor His Father, which is as far removed from demon possession as is possible. Name-calling and insults for refusing to agree with a particular group is a common response to Jesus and His followers. In defending your faith, don’t get distracted from the gospel message because of being called derogatory names or insults. They moved from name-calling and insults to questioning His motives as being self-centered. Jesus is not concerned that people should give Him the glory that He is due; God is looking after that. Having your motives questioned as being self-serving is a further distraction from the gospel message. We just point people to God’s motives in the gospel. The Jews are ready to classify Him as a demon-possessed Samaritan. Yet, it is His word that everyone must keep to enter life. “He will never see death.” Death comes to all. What, then, does it mean that Jesus can deliver other people from death? Clearly it means a claim to superhuman power. Again, Jesus points the attention back to God the Father. His identity is based upon the One who sent Him. He is not out to glorify Himself. “My Father, whom you claim as your God, will glorify me.” He makes the connection even more clear. Their God is His Father, who glorifies Him.Yet He is not really their God at all. Now Jesus returns to the case of Abraham. Abraham rejoiced at his “day.” The Jews were being false to their great ancestor. “The day of Christ” points to the second coming and to the incarnation. Among the Jews the idea that Abraham looked forward to the day of the Messiah and rejoiced in it was not strange. The climactic point in this chapter is Jesus’ affirmation, “before Abraham was born, I am!” “I am” is a reference to His eternal being. He says “I am,” not “I was.” It is an eternity of being, not simply being that has lasted through several centuries. The Jews could interpret this only as blasphemy. Therefore they took up stones to stone Him. They were incensed. So they took the law into their own hands. He was concealed by Another, and so passed out of the Temple. Many still question the identity of Jesus. Maybe by outright denying that He ever existed, or that someone with the name Jesus existed and thought He was God. Others say that Jesus was a moral man, who lived a good life, setting good examples for us to follow. For some He is just a legend. Others say that He was God but deny His identity by how they live, reducing Him to someone like us, or down playing His role in our lives. We do not compromise, hide, water-down, or are intimidated by anyone. Our defense is Jesus as the way to live. Is Jesus greater than all other paths to God, eternal life, and fulfillment? Yes, He is!
Jesus People Skills
Know Who People Really Are • June 17, 2018 • Craig Montroy
KNOW WHO PEOPLE REALLY ARE – John 8:31-47 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 1. Abide means to continue believing what I said and walk in obedience to the truth. 2. You are not passing the test of true discipleship. 3. What have I said? 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 1. I’m my own man. 2. I will live life my way. 3. My personal habits are my own business. 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” 1. I know who you are. 2. You are deceiving yourselves. 3. Your actions do not match who you claim to be. 4. Your father is not my Father. 39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” 1. I have special heritage. 2. I know what it means to follow God. 3. I have my own freedom! Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” 1. What are the results of your works? 2. What do you know of truth? 3. You have made up your own rules. 4. Your treatment of others is evidence of your true nature. They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 1. We are righteous. 2. We are not idolaters. 3. We are spiritually superior to others. 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” 1. Where is your love for the Father? 2. My words are offensive to you. 3. If you knew the Father you would know me.
Jesus People Skills
Speak the Truth • June 10, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Jesus People Skills: Speak the Truth John 8:12-30 I. Truth comes from God, our Father; 8:12-20. 12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." 13 The Pharisees challenged him, "Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid." 14 Jesus answered, "Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me." 19 Then they asked him, "Where is your father?" "You do not know me or my Father," Jesus replied. "If you knew me, you would know my Father also." 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come. Jesus’ opening words, “I am the light of the world,” are very impressive. The follower of Jesus “will never walk in darkness.” Far from being confined to darkness they will have “the light of life.” He is quickly challenged. Jesus appeals to the Father and Himself, and there is no other to whom He can appeal. The Jews prided themselves on their knowledge of their God; Jesus tells them they have no knowledge of Him at all. Jesus is the light to truth. He has provided all the proof we need. He wants to guide you to the truth of God. If you want to know God, you must know Jesus. Choose to know Jesus as Savior now, or face Him as Judge later. II. Truth is we’re all destined to die in our sin; 8:21-24. 21 Once more Jesus said to them, "I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come." 22 This made the Jews ask, "Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, 'Where I go, you cannot come'?" 23 But he continued, "You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins." Jesus began by telling the Jews that He will leave them, and they will not be able to follow Him where he goes. The crowd concludes that Jesus must be going to His death. Jesus will indeed die, and this departure will be a return to His Father in heaven. They, however, will die in their sins. There is only one way of avoiding this fate; by believing in Jesus. Otherwise, we too will die in our sins; the worst thing that could happen to anyone. III. Truth is found in pleasing God; 8:25-30. 25 "Who are you?" they asked. "Just what I have been claiming all along," Jesus replied. 26 "I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world." 27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." 30 Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him. The crowd misses the point altogether. He is not a man with religious insight (from below, from the world), but God's Son (from above, from heaven). This prompts His audience to ask, "Who are you?" "Just what I have been claiming all along." But this sort of insight is beyond their grasp. Jesus goes on to point out that He has many things to say “about” (not “to”) them, and that these things concern judgment. But the right place and the right time to say such things are not yet. In the first section the discussion concludes with speculation about Jesus' capture. Now we have a description of some who believe. These two reactions parallel what we observed elsewhere in the Gospel where Jesus' audience divides: Some completely oppose Him, while others are receptive and welcoming. You can’t speak the truth, until you know the truth. When exposed to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to God and eternal life, some are receptive, and others oppose until they die in their sins. With a gospel conversation, we are communicating the truth; truth that connects us to our Creator, our purpose, and how not to die in our sins.
Jesus People Skills
Love the Sinner Not the Sin • June 3, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Jesus People Skills: Love the Sinner not the Sin John 8:1-11 1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." These men are making a legal charge. They possess the evidence the law requires to convict the woman. The law required strong testimony from two witnesses who saw the couple in a sexual context. The two witnesses had to see these things at the same time and place so that their testimonies would be identical. The law also expected that if a person witnessed another about to commit a sin, compassion required them to speak up. These witnesses stand silently, neglecting their moral obligation to give guidance to the woman. They apparently wanted to catch her and use her. The oral law in Jesus’ day specified that an unfaithful fiancé should be stoned, but wives strangled. In the present passage, the woman therefore must be engaged. But if so, where is her fiancé? If they were caught in the act, he was caught too. The accusers have permitted him to get away. The irony for women historically is that men have sinned with them—and then later accused them of sexual misconduct. Jesus responds with his often-quoted statement, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." This does not mean that this woman's accusers must be sinless or morally perfect in order to bring charges against the woman. In such a case, accusations would be impossible at any time. This is simply a direct reference to Deuteronomy 13:9 or 17:7, which says that those who witness a crime and bring home a successful accusation must be the first to stone the victim. But then the accusers must engage in self-examination. Women who transgressed social mores could find themselves in legal jeopardy much more quickly than their partners. Jesus may thus be cutting through the double standard to force the men to reflect on their own hypocrisy. Jesus resumes his writing, and the religious leaders begin departing one by one. John pictures one teacher departing, who is then followed by a succession of people eventually walking away, so that the accusers arrayed against the woman crumble bit by bit. But in the end, Jesus and the woman are left alone. Eventually you and Jesus stand alone to deal with how you dealt with your sin. Jesus straightens up and speaks to her for the first time. His questions do not imply that the woman is innocent since he warns her to cease a sinful life that has been her habit. Jesus' final words again do not imply innocence but reflect his sovereignty to forgive sin. Sin was not treated lightly by Jesus, but sinners were offered the opportunity to start life anew. Through the story she moves with shocking speed from death to life. This morning whoever you are and whatever you’ve done or are doing. Jesus offers forgiveness you to just as he did this woman. His words are the same. I don’t condemn you. I offer forgiveness if you put your faith in Jesus and ask for His forgiveness and repent or stop sinning. Jesus never offered forgiveness to those who planning on keeping on doing what they were doing. We as followers of Christ are called to live the sinner and point them to the forgiveness Jesus offers them without condoning, accepting or diminishing the sin. Our culture believes that to live the sinner you must accept their sinful lifestyles and choices. That it is impossible to live the sinner and not the sin, but this is exactly what Jesus did and still does through his body. The solution to the habitually sinful, the sinful lifestyles of someone in your life: Overlook or accept the sin. Condemn and reject the person. Love them and point them to forgiveness in Jesus, while never accepting or condoning the sinful choices.
Children of Promise • May 27, 2018 • Ryan Robertson
Family Perks: Children of Promise Galatians 4:21-31 1. Salvation does not occur because of us, but because of God. (vv. 21-23) 21 Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says? 22 The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. 23 The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. As we wrap up our series on family perks we look as Paul tries again to show the church in Galatia that they are no longer slaves, but children of God… Children of Promise! Up to this point in history every religion had a works aspect as part of their beliefs in order to get to God. Now that God has come to us through Jesus Christ, we no longer have to work to get to Him. This was revolutionary, but hard for many to grasp in the early church, as well as the church today, as they tried to hold on to the idea that people have a role in their eternal salvation. To help illustrate this issue to the church, Paul decides to use a story that everyone would remember: the story of Abraham and his two sons. 2. When it comes to salvation it's either God or God plus something. (vv.24-27) 24 These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. 25 And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery to the law. 26 But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother. 27 As Isaiah said, “Rejoice, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into a joyful shout, you who have never been in labor! For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who lives with her husband!” When we look at salvation we can either look at it as God alone or God plus. We either trust God fully in our salvation, or our faith is in God plus something. Paul talks about God’s promise to Sara and Abraham in the same light as God’s promise to those who are lost. God made a promise to Abraham that He would have a child, but he and Sarah thought they needed to help God. They decided to let Abraham have a child with the servant Hagar. This caused many problems that we are still dealing with to this very day. God is faithful, and if they would have put their trust in Him alone, a lot of heart ache would have been saved. Even after being on the earth almost a century Sarah gave birth just as God promised. In this same way, God will save whoever calls upon His name. It doesn’t require them to perform a certain task before; it doesn’t require you to say some special words exactly right; it requires nothing except God. When we try to add to the saving Grace of God, we don’t add anything to salvation, because if we do we take away the amazingness of Grace. Less is more. 3. STOP! Just let God be God. (vv.28-31) 28 And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. 29 But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit. 30 But what do the Scriptures say about that? “Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” 31 So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman. We as Christians are children of promise (just as Isaac was to Abraham and Sarah), not children of any work of any man. We are not born again by any human effort, but by the work of Jesus on the cross. Just as Abraham was told to get rid of the human effort (the slave and her son), we are also called to lay down everything we try to add to salvation (legalism), and let God be God, let grace be grace, and embrace our title as the children of promise.
Slaves No Longer • May 20, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Family Perks: Slaves No Longer Galatians 4:8-20 I. We were all in slavery; 4:8-11. 8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God-- or rather are known by God-- how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. There were two religious dimensions of the Galatians religious past: they did not know the true God, and the gods they did know were not gods. Despite having received the knowledge of God, they had reverted to their former ways. They had converted wonderfully because of Paul's preaching, but now they were turning back to those weak and miserable principles. What is revolutionary here is that Paul considers moving into Judaism (observing special days and months and seasons and years) as nothing other than a reversion to paganism. For Paul their move from idolatry to Christianity and now to Judaism is no different than a venture back into "idolatry" or "paganism." He had worked hard on the Galatians' behalf and for the gospel. There is great heartache and fear that come when a believer wavers, stumbles, and even falls away. Whatever leads one away from sole reliance on Christ, whether based on good intentions or depraved desires, is not Christian and therefore condemned. Every human being is captive to the “element principles" in some way, and is only set free by Jesus Christ. We are continually tempted to go back to old patterns of behavior, attitudes, ways of thinking, lifestyles, and coping mechanisms. II. Don’t sell yourselves into slavery again; 4:12-20. 12 I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. 13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. 14 Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15 What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them. 18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. 19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you! Most likely Paul means something like: "Become like me by freeing yourself from the law of Moses. I became like you Gentiles when I abandoned the law, accepted that I too was a sinner, and then turned to Jesus Christ.” Paul reminds them of how they had previously responded to him, in the hope that they will repeat it, abandon going backwards in their faith, and once again align themselves with the gospel. His illness did not bother the Galatians. They looked beyond it and saw in Paul's preaching the truth of God because his message was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. In fact, they received him as if he were an angel, even more, they received him as if he were Jesus Christ himself. Paul says they were so receptive that they would have given their eyes to him, had they been able to. Reminding the Galatians of their former commitment and friendship to him makes the present situation unbearable for Paul: "What has happened to your joy?” and "Have I now become your enemy?" Paul contends that the Judaizers were zealous to win them over. They wanted to alienate them from Paul, so that they may be zealous for them. Paul now interjects that it is good to be zealous if one is zealous for God. It is for no good, however, if one’s zeal is contrary to the gospel. And their zeal ought to be expressed for God always, and not just when Paul was with them. Paul now senses that their “zeal for the gospel" has declined and needs to be rekindled. He wanted the Galatian converts to grow in the Spirit until the image of Christ was formed and transformed in them. Paul must now "again" go through the process of leading them to the faith they once embraced. He wants them to grow into Christ-likeness. The world is full of things and opportunities to pull us back into slavery and its principles, therefore rendering our lives ineffective. We have Jesus as our model with examples in the Bible and other believers who are living in the freedom of Christ. Our old lives, as well as legalism, seek to put us in slavery again. God has given us His Spirit to empower us to live in accordance with the gospel that we have accepted.