and Bible Studies
Thanksgiving • November 11, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
In Christ: Thanksgiving Ephesians 1:15-23 I. In Christ we are thankful that God is at work in the lives of other believers; 1:15-16. There is power in recognizing the faith and love of other believers. It is very easy to be critical of others. Let us thank God in our prayers for the faith and love of God in the lives of other believers. It fights against a negative attitude toward others. We also need to let others know that we are thankful for their faith and the love they show. II. In Christ we can be thankful for the insight provided by the Holy Spirit; 1:17-19a. This is a prayer that believers know the continual revealing work of God’s Spirit, and that they know God. One of our great tasks of life is to know God better. As Christians we have another resource for life other than our 5 senses; our spiritual eyes. It allows us to see life from God’s perspective and to see His Spirit at work. Christian living requires a continual openness to the Spirit and His communication to us. It is not about strange mysteries, but about what we have in the gospel, and about its significance for life. We continually need insight into faith. Our spiritual eyes enlighten us to know the hope we’re called to and to know the significance that God’s call has for our future. Life is not a full glass slowly becoming empty. It is not over at death, not winding down, but winding up. What we do now lives on forever. We look forward to a happy ending with the story of our lives with God. This life is not all I’m going to get. Paul also prays for our spiritual eyes to know God’s incomparable great power. God’s power enables us to live a godly life. The power of the risen Christ is ours to do battle against worry, temptation, doubt, and demonic forces. We have the power to witness, to overcome sin, to live a holy life, to defeat the plans of Satan, and to have great faith for God’s mission. Does your attitude, demeanor, and conversations reflect these realities? Will you choose one other person here this morning to pray this for? III. In Christ we are thankful for the power of God at work; 1:19b-23. Paul goes on to show four areas where that power is manifested: 1) Resurrection: Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we do not have to fear death. Because of the resurrection, life has meaning. It gives us phenomenal hope and power for living a life of service to God. 2) Exaltation: Christ is exalted to the highest position possible. Life’s center of gravity is not earthly life but is in the heavenly realm with Christ and God. 3) Lordship: The power of Christ is far beyond all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in the present age but the age to come. The 5 categories of powers are stacked to emphasize that Christ’s victory over them is total. Who are these powers? They are spiritual beings. They are all subject to Christ. This is the power of the resurrection. The hold of Satan is broken for believers. 4) Headship: God has placed all things under Christ’s feet, appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body. The fullness of Him fills everything in every way. Christ is the head of all things for the benefit of the church. To be Christ centered involves commitment to the church. The church is intimately bound to Christ. He has sent His church into the world to make disciples of all the nations. That is what the church is. Our responsibility is to BE the church, not just to attend one. The church, the body of Christ, is at work in the world. Its ministry and message are the hope for the individual, family, community, and world. It is impossible to live the Christian life without the power of God. Do you ever feel powerless, like you want to obey the Lord, but you just aren't up to the task? In the same way that He raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him in the heavenlies and is going to bring all things in subjection to Him, so He shall raise you up to a new life. Are you thankful that God is at work in the lives of other believers, for the insight provided by the Holy Spirit, and for the continual power of God at work in the world? Will you pray for at least one other believer as well?
Lessons from Villains:
Defiant of God • November 4, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Lessons from Villains: Defiant of God 1 Kings 22:1-40; 2 Kings 9:1-37 I. God’s Word comes true; 1 Kings 22:1-40. Ahab solicits help from Jehoshaphat, king in Judah, to recapture Ramoth Gilead from the Syrians. Ahab has waited three years for the Syrian king to make good his promise to restore Ramoth Gilead, but Jehoshaphat wants a word from God before proceeding. 1 Kings 22:6-8 Ahab has all sorts of prophets at his disposal. Jehoshaphat seems unconvinced by the prophets’ unanimity and requests another opinion. 1 Kings 22:15-23 These are not faithful prophets of the Lord, but court prophets on the king’s payroll who live to please him. Micaiah tells Ahab that he will die if he goes to battle. As he is sent to prison, he warns Ahab that he has spoken the truth. With such warnings made and with Ahab’s past experiences, Ahab is responsible for his own decision. Syria’s king orders his soldiers to focus on killing Ahab. At first, they chase Jehoshaphat, the only one dressed as a king. The Syrians realize their mistake, however, and stop chasing the wrong monarch. They seemingly have no one to pursue. 1 Kings 22:34-40 Just when it seems that Ahab will escape, an archer shoots an arrow at random that hits and mortally wounds Ahab. When the army goes home, they park his chariot, and the dogs lick up his blood. This event has not been a random death in battle. Ahab could not hide from the results of his own decision. God’s word to him, that he rejected, has come true. Ahab ultimately is judged as a man who heard from God, yet did not act on what he received. With Ahab, we learn the incredible foolishness of rejecting God’s Word and the absolute certainty of God’s judgment. Allow his story to lead you to repentance. Trust in Christ before payday comes for you. You cannot hide from the consequences of your decisions. II. God finishes all that He promises to do; 2 Kings 9:14-37 When Elijah departed the earth, he left a few things undone that Elisha had to finish. Thus, Jehu must become king, Jezebel must die, and Ahab’s descendants must perish. 2 Kings 9:14-15 Since he was wounded, Joram went to Jezreel to recover. A lookout sees Jehu coming with troops. The lookout finally identifies Jehu, but Joram still does not know why he has come. 2 Kings 9:22-26 Joram decides to go meet Jehu himself. They come together at Naboth’s Vineyard. When Joram turns to flee, Jehu shoots an arrow through his heart. Jehu orders his chariot officer to throw Joram on Naboth’s field, and reminds him how they heard Elijah’s prophecy ten years earlier. 2 Kings 9:30-37 Jezebel puts on makeup, fixes her hair, and waits for Jehu by her window. She does these things to look like, and die like, a queen. She is determined to die as the great Queen she considers herself to be. She then insults Jehu by calling him Zimri, the short-lived usurper of Elah’s throne. Jehu wastes no time. He identifies some eunuchs willing to betray her and orders them to throw her down. She lands in the street and dies when horses trample her. Jehu goes to eat. He orders some men to bury her, but they find nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands. Dogs have eaten the rest of her. Jehu kills Ahab’s family in chapter 10. Someday the wicked will be justly punished. Someday those who are in Christ will see the Savior in glory. In His grace, God has given you the opportunity to choose. Jesus warned us that those who try to save their lives for themselves will lose it, but those who lose it for Christ’s sake will gain life. Living for yourself and your prosperity has consequences for you and those around you; eternal ones. Like Ahab and Jezebel, God has given and is giving you opportunities to experience His grace and forgiveness. What are you doing with those opportunities? Will you repent and follow Jesus or live a defiant life?
Lessons from Villains:
Self-Consumed • October 28, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Lessons from Villains: Self-consumed 1 Kings 21:1-29 I. Selfishness leads to other sins to avoid; 21:1-16. Ahab desires to buy Naboth’s vineyard, a property located close to the palace in Jezreel. He selfishly wants to build a vegetable garden close to the palace. Naboth is theologically motivated, not financially motivated. His God was not money but Yahweh. Naboth knew the Old Testament understanding of land—that land ultimately belonged to God who gave it to the families. Naboth knew that selling the land wasn’t an option and that established laws kept the land in the families. Ahab should have been out caring for the nation; instead, he is pouting in his bedroom. Beware of the self-centeredness of Ahab. If God ever gives you influence, remember why you have it. It isn’t to satisfy your selfish desires. It isn’t to trample on others or glorify yourself. You have influence, so you can bless others. Jezebel tells her husband to act like a king. She then promises to show him how a real monarch gets what he or she wants. Jezebel now assumes Ahab’s role, his authority, and even his name. She concocts a plot against Naboth’s life. The people take the innocent man and stone him to death. Ahab does nothing to check his wife’s scheming or even to express disapproval of her deed. Once she hears Naboth is dead, Jezebel commands Ahab himself to take possession of the murdered man’s land. He dutifully follows her orders, having seen how to be the kind of king Jezebel respects. Ahab and his queen have added murder, stealing, false witness, coveting, and oppression to their already serious religious sins. Naboth could have been richer. He could have perhaps negotiated a bit more and worked his way up the royal ladder. But Naboth lived by the word of God. This is the only time we hear him speak. He simply says, “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” We see in Naboth an example of a person being persecuted for righteousness’ sake. In Ahab and Jezebel, we see the nature and destiny of those who inflict such injustice on them. We must be willing to suffer for the sake of righteousness. Will you lose financial opportunities for God’s Word? Will you die to follow God’s Word? II. God denounces selfishness (payday someday); 21:17-29. Ahab is enjoying the herbs from his vegetable garden, and Jezebel is probably planning her next scheme. But then someone appears. Elijah is back! Ahab now calls him his “enemy” and demonstrates his self-centeredness. Elijah responds much as he did in the earlier encounter, claiming that he has only pursued Ahab because of the king’s evil deed. God instructs the prophet to expose Ahab’s sins of murder and stealing and announce to the king that dogs will lick up his blood where dogs had drunk Naboth’s blood. His wife will die for her sins. In fact, dogs will eat her, which was a fate worse than Ahab’s, for it implied denial of a decent burial. Quite unexpectedly, Ahab humbles himself, which is his most positive act in the book. God forgives him and postpones the judgment on his family, which demonstrates the Lord’s grace and mercy. It has always been the Lord’s desire to turn Ahab’s heart. Why did God wait so long? God pronounced judgment, but what of Naboth? The mystery of God’s timing in judgment appears throughout scripture. Judgment may be delayed, but it is never cancelled. How can we escape God’s just judgment? We need a substitute. That’s what we have in Jesus. God provided the righteousness we need in Him. Judgment will fall. Either Jesus takes your judgment, or you will face it. We cannot hide from God. He knows our sins—in thought, word, motive, and deed. We have one solution: in Christ we are safe. In Christ we’re righteous. In Christ we’re loved. In Christ we don’t have to fear impending judgment. In Christ we have power to stand up for the oppressed, and we look forward to our future reward in His kingdom. Jesus’ enemies conspired against Him too. They falsely accused Him of blasphemy, mocked and beat Him, and eventually took Him outside the city to kill Him (Heb 13:10-13). Jesus' blood speaks a better word than the blood of Abel and the blood of Naboth (Heb 12:24), for their blood cries out for vengeance, but Jesus' blood cries out with forgiveness to everyone.
Lessons from Villains:
Pride, Evil Partnerships • October 21, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Lessons from Villains: Pride, Evil Partnerships 1 Kings 20:1-43 I. We all get demands for surrender; 20:1-6. Israel’s old foe Syria rouses itself again. Fully armed and accompanied by a coalition of thirty-two kings, Ben-Hadad attempts to capture Samaria. Ahab agrees to give money, women, and children in return for a retreat. Because of continued humiliating demands the Israelites decide to fight rather than surrender. A war Israel seems destined to lose appears to be inevitable. How easy is it for us to play Ahab? It takes Spirit-filled courage to stand up against bullies who want us to compromise biblical truth. The spirit of Ben-Hadad is at work in the world. We will be tempted not to view sin as wickedness, to be silent in evangelism, not to treat marriage as a holy covenant, and not to insist that Jesus is the only way to salvation. In moments of timidity, let us look to God, who alone is sovereign, for strength and power to do and say what is right. II. God’s mercy extended to us in the calls to surrender; 20:13-14, 22. Consider the grace of God here. The word of God came to Ahab. Did he deserve such a gift? No. This was grace. And how will the battle be won? Yahweh will hand him the victory. Could Ahab have defeated such a multitude on his own? No. This is grace upon grace. Notice also the purpose of God’s grace: “That you may know that I am Yahweh.” Israel wins the battle, though Ben-Hadad manages to escape. Another prophetic word tells Ahab the enemy will regroup and strike again in the spring. Ahab had only received opposition from the prophets, but in this passage, he hears the promise of victory. What did Ahab do to experience victory? Nothing. Throughout Scripture we find that “salvation is from the LORD.” While we were perishing, God intervened and won the most important victory in the most unlikely way-through a cross. III. God offers to defeat our enemies; 20:28-30. This is the third time so far that God has sent His messenger to Ahab. Syria must learn the Lord exists everywhere and controls all terrain, so Israel will defeat the larger army again. The Lord is portrayed here as sovereign over all matters in all nations. Israel’s victory is so complete that Ben-Hadad is forced to flee and hide from Ahab. By now Ahab should know who his God is, who God’s messengers are, and who his enemies are. Unfortunately, he remains oblivious to the implications of what he has seen and experienced. The God of the Bible is Lord over all things, and we should seek to place the totality of our lives underneath His rule. We shouldn’t live with a distinction between our secular lives and our spiritual lives. Submit your private life, public life, church life, dating life, financial life, family life, work life, and recreational life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Seek to glorify Him in every way. IV. Pride can steal our victories; 20:31-34. Ben-Hadad pleads for his life and his request is granted. Inexplicably, Ahab makes a treaty with this long-term foe who has twice sought to devastate Ahab and his people. Pride can steal away the victories that God wins for us. Partial obedience is still disobedience. V. Ungodly partnerships have consequences; 20:35-43. Ahab does not realize he is pronouncing judgment on himself when he exacts judgment on a presumed soldier. Only God can balance judgment and mercy. Judgment always begins with God's own people. The message of the church must point to its own need for repentance. If Christians are honest, they have much for which to repent. Their values do not suggest that their lives are committed to seeking first the kingdom of God. Grace and mercy are implicit in the story. Ahab not only fails to seek divine guidance, he appears to resist it each time it is given. His failure to pass God's judgment on Ben-Hadad is fatal. He responds to the announcement of his own judgment with anger and resentment; to his own demise and that of his nation. Grace is amazing because God shows it to those who don’t deserve it. Ahab and Ben-Hadad are living illustrations of how not to live. They show us what “the fear of the Lord” doesn’t look like. Drunkenness, greed, violence, injustice, and faithlessness is not how you should live your life. The saddest part of the chapter is that God actually showed grace to these men, yet they still refused to see the Lord for who He is and submit to Him. Jesus lived a sinless life and gave His life for sinners like these men. Look to Him for salvation. Look to Him as your example of how to live a humble, others-oriented life. Look to Him for power to do justice and show mercy. When you’re confronted by God’s Word, you can respond with faith and obedience or walk away resentful and angry.
Lessons from Villains:
Refuse to Change • October 14, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Lessons from Villains: Refuse to Change 1 Kings 17:1-19:2 I. God judges evil actions; 17:1. 1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." (1 Ki. 17:1) Baal worshipers believed that their storm god made rain. To refute this belief Elijah states that Yahweh is the one who determines when rain falls, that Yahweh always lives, and that Yahweh is not afraid to challenge Baal on what his worshipers consider his home ground. Ahab and the northern kingdom will be punished so they can recognize that Yahweh is the only true God. God still promises to judge selfish, evil actions. He judges us, our families, and nations when, like Ahab, we put our prosperity and success above everything else. God still brings drought to our lives to get our attention and remind us that He is God and the true provider of all good things. II. God gives opportunity for repentance; 18:1, 16-21. 1 After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: "Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land." (1 Ki. 18:1) 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, "Is that you, you troubler of Israel?" 18 "I have not made trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "But you and your father's family have. You have abandoned the LORD's commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table." 20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." But the people said nothing. (1 Ki. 18:16-21) Ahab blames the drought on Elijah. He states that Ahab’s family’s commitment to Baal has forced Yahweh to withhold rain, thus proving the Lord’s power over the storm god. Now Elijah suggests a contest to determine who benefits Israel and who troubles the land. Ahab apparently is satisfied with the odds and expects this to be an excellent way to rid himself of this troublesome prophet and Yahweh’s worshipers at the same time. People like to ride the fence, keeping their options open for what will benefit them most. God has dramatically defeated all other religious practices with His mighty acts; culminating in the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ, and raising Him from the dead. We are given a choice of who or what is the most powerful influence in our lives. III. We choose what to do with God’s offer of repentance; 18:39-46, 19:1-2. 39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The LORD-- he is God! The LORD-- he is God!" 40 Then Elijah commanded them, "Seize the prophets of Baal. Don't let anyone get away!" They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there. 41 And Elijah said to Ahab, "Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain." 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. 43 "Go and look toward the sea," he told his servant. And he went up and looked. "There is nothing there," he said. Seven times Elijah said, "Go back." 44 The seventh time the servant reported, "A cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea." So Elijah said, "Go and tell Ahab, 'Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.' " 45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 46 The power of the LORD came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel. (1 Ki. 18:41-46) It looked like everything was going well and everyone, including Ahab, would now repent and follow Yahweh and Him alone. 1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." (1 Ki. 19:1-2) Ahab apparently goes home and complains, whines, and cries to his wife about what happened. He does not go home and repent and set things right with God. Jezebel swears by the “gods” that Elijah will die. God continues to offer us the opportunity to repent and turn to Him, even in our worst rebellion. God has done so very much by sending us Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and His Word in the Bible. It’s up to you to decide how you are going to respond to God’s offer of repentance.
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!