Greetings In The Name of the Lord:
Ephesians 5:21-24 (NLT)
21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
In this Sunday’s message we are continuing our look at Love and Marriage from a Christian perspective. In doing so we need to deal with the issue of submission. Unfortunately this is a topic that is most often misunderstood both outside and inside the church. The following story gives one of those misunderstandings. Jill Briscoe had this to share about what submission is not. “Stuart and I brought our families and religious heritages to our marriage. My father, a quiet, gentle man, considered himself head of his home: protector, defender, and provider. My mom was a sweet, Scottish- born Presbyterian. She believed in the sovereignty of God and her husband. My father adored my mother, put his considerable business assets into her name, and looked to her to raise the children. When my sister came of age, my father supported her when she became an excellent car mechanic and raced cars. Eventually she took her place at his side as partner in his successful car business. Stuart’s family was strict, conservative evangelical. His father was an elder in a small local assembly of believers, and he took seriously his responsibility to rule the household well. He considered himself the authority in his family, while his wife, a bright, articulate, efficient lady, considered herself in subjection to her husband in everything, carrying those convictions to her dress, her hair style, and silence in the presence of men at the church.
Newly converted at a college in Cambridge and having just been introduced to Stuart’s family, I remember wondering greatly about this amazing mode of doing things. I sensed an unconscious frustration of unexplored desires and frustrated gifts in my mother-in-law. It was as if those gifts sat meekly inside her heart with eyes downcast and wearing a hat. In that moment as a new believer, I believe I stumbled on an important truth of what submission isn’t. Submission isn’t sitting down on the outside while you’re standing up on the inside” (What Submission Isn’t,” Jill Briscoe, “Hilarious Hupotasso,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 117). Something that we should notice about what Paul wrote to the Ephesian Church. He says we should “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” We need to submit to one another because submission has to do with mutual respect and not keeping some under our thumb. It’s not about lording it over someone; rather it is about showing the proper respect to one another because of our reverence for Christ and his Word. Once we figure that out we begin to submit out of love and not out of force.
Greetings In The Name Of The Lord:
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT)
1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.
3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Recently, a sweet lady in my congregation asked me if I would preach a sermon series on marriage and relationships in preparation for Valentine’s Day. In keeping with that request, and accompanying that series, I decided to give some thoughts here on that theme. Former First Lady Barbara Bush said, “As important as your obligation as a doctor, a lawyer or a business leader may be, your human connections with your spouse, your children and your friends are the most important investment you will ever make. At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal, but you will regret time not spent with your spouse, your children or your friends” (Barbara Bush, 1994 Commencement Address, Wellesley College, quoted in Current Thoughts and Trends, January 1995, 12). It is hard to stay in love with someone that you do not make your highest priority. The Apostle Paul teaches us that love is the highest of all gifts and virtues, and therefore, the foundation of all relationships. We can get so caught up in our busy lives that we forget to show love to our spouse by giving them the quality time that they deserve. Making your spouse the most important person on your list of priorities ought to be something we strive for every day. This is exemplified by our relationship with the Lord. We show our love for the Lord by spending time with him in prayer, reading Scripture, and attending church. Consequently, we show our love for our spouse by spending quality time with them. To all you married folks, when was the last time you had a date night? If you want to keep the fire burning you have to put some wood on the fire!
Greetings In The Name Of The Lord!
John 15:13 (NLT)
13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Now that the Christmas season has past and all of the Christmas decorations are put away, we turn our attention to Valentine’s Day. This is a day were we celebrate the gift of love, both in a romantic way and in a general way to one another. In keeping with this theme I came across this story of ultimate love I wanted to share with you. It was February 1941, Auschwitz, Poland. Maximilian Kolbe was a Franciscan priest put in the infamous death camp for helping Jews escape Nazi terrorism. Months went by and in desperation an escape took place. The camp rule was enforced. Ten people would be rounded up randomly and herded into a cell where they would die of starvation and exposure as a lesson against future escape attempts. Names were called. A Polish Jew Frandishek Gasovnachek was called. He cried, “Wait, I have a wife and children!” Kolbe stepped forward and said, “I will take his place.”Kolbe was marched into the cell with nine others where he managed to live until August 14. This story was chronicled on an NBC news special several years ago. Gasovnachek, by this time 82, was shown telling this story while tears streamed down his cheeks. A mobile camera followed him around his little white house to a marble monument carefully tended with flowers. The inscription read: IN MEMORY OF MAXIMILIAN KOLBE
HE DIED IN MY PLACE.
Every day Gasovnachek lived since 1941, he lived with the knowledge, “I live because someone died for me.” Every year on August 14 he travels to Auschwitz in memory of Kolbe. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). What a great illustration of what Jesus has done for us in dying on the cross in our place. Whether the love be between a husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, or just between friends, this is the foundation that we must build upon.
Greetings In The Name of the Lord:
1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)
7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
When God looks at the human heart, he knows what he’s looking at. 1 Samuel 16:7 suggests that we don’t and can’t, even when we look at our own hearts. The results of not seeing the heart for what it is can be disastrous. An Illinois man died waiting for a donor kidney a month after his transplant operation was halted when doctors found a Chicago organ bank employee sent a heart to the downstate hospital by mistake. The patient was in the operating room May 12 undergoing surgery when the mistake was discovered. Doctors closed the man’s incision and he died Sunday still awaiting a replacement kidney. “They got him ready for surgery, took him in to the operating room, did the incision, got all his nerve endings prepared, and when they went to open the box, it was a heart. They had labeled in wrong,” Daniel DeVore Jr., a friend of the deceased patient told Wednesday’s Chicago Sun-Times. A spokesman for the Regional Organ Bank of Illinois said, an organ-recovery coordinator mislabeled two organs. The kidney should have gone to Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Ill., and a heart to a Chicago research laboratory. The surgeon called the organ bank but the lab had already opened the package containing the kidney and it was no longer suitable for transplant. John Sherman, 31, who had been waiting for a kidney for 13 years, went back on the organ waiting list. DeVore said Sherman was crushed and devastated by the mix-up. He died during the weekend.
We can take two things from this story. First, only God knows the human heart, and therefore, only God is capable of seeing what is inside someone else. So we shouldn’t suppose that we know them at that level because only God can. Second, since God knows what is in our heart we cannot hide anything from him. We may be able to hide it from others, even those close to us, but we cannot hide it from God. Since this is the case we should seek not to discern what others are at the core, but rather ask God to reveal to us what we are like at the core.