Many Gifts

What? It is NOT God’s will for everyone to marry (Matthew 19:10-12). Before you get hung up on that, many of you shot hoop in your driveway with the clock expiring and the game on the line only to miss the buzzer-beater. What did you do? You took a knife to your ball and knock the goal down with your parent’s car in a fit rage. NO! You simply restarted the clock and did it over and over and over, one day you’re going to get better, I hope, and well, eventually you hit the buzzer-beater and ran around arms extended as a champion, you heard Dick Vitale say…Oh my, did you see that? It’s a barn burner baby. For others it was the kick, the jump, the walk, you got the best interview. You were supposed to be LeBron or Wilt, Brady or Montana, You were the next Walter Cronkite. 

Perhaps you may have even dropped out of school like Peter Jennings, but the big break never came. Life has a plan and the disciples realize Jesus is saying marriage is a lifetime commitment and say in Matthew 19:10~The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” (ESV) Listen as Jesus responds Matthew 19:11~But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. (ESV) So, for some, it is a spiritual gift. Those given the responsibility of marriage are expected to accept and adhere to what the Bible teaches about it. Likewise also about celibacy.

Jesus then gives some various reasons a person might remain single by identifying three types of eunuchs. Let’s break down what Jesus is teaching us. Matthew 19:12a~For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, (ESV) This refers to those who are born impotent. Second,  Matthew 19:12b~…and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, (ESV) This refers to eunuchs who were usually slaves and served in government, having frequent access to royal women. 

Third, Matthew 19:12c~…and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven…(ESV) This refers to those who choose to remain single so they can serve God more effectively. This means that it is not God’s will for everyone to marry. Sadly, many single Christians are pressured by other believers to find someone to marry. I have a friend named Tim. He is single feels that this is what God has for Him in life. He is open to marriage if the Lord brings him someone, but he will not settle. Every time he moves for his job, he battles being single because people feel the need to mix in and even ask, What’s wrong with you? Singleness is mistakenly viewed by some as spiritually inferior or second-class citizens of heaven. That is simply not true according to the apostle Paul. Listen to what this spiritual giant writes about his own singleness in 1 Corinthians 7:7~I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. (ESV)

Paul is referring to the gift of celibacy or singleness. This is a spiritual gift that God gives to some. The Bible doesn’t teach celibacy is better than marriage. For example, 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. (NIV) Moreover, the Lord says in Genesis 2:18~Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (ESV) Referring to the permanence of marriage and celibacy Jesus says Matthew 19:12d~…Let the one who is able to receive this receive it. (ESV) This means we must put aside worldly opinions and receive, or accept, what the Bible teaches. Now the question arises: What do I do if I am guilty of a non-Biblical divorce? Our answer is found in 1 John 1:9~If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  (NIV) 

Confession is admitting our sin is indeed sin, and not just a mistake, a blunder, or someone else’s fault. When we confess, we own what we did and God is faithful, He is reliable, and will do as He promises. God will forgive, which means to send away our sin, so it never returns. Then He will cleanse totally removing its stain. There is nothing the blood won’t cover, be it an unbiblical divorce, a struggle in singleness of a hardening heart. This is what it means to be washed in the blood of the Lamb. It is God’s absolute forgiveness. (Revelation 7:14)

Today I ask: are you living the life God gifted you? Put your life, your marriage, your singleness under the blood and live whole-heartedly for God. Jeremiah 31:34~No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (NIV) You don’t suffer from spiritual sclerosis, just take a trip to see the greatest heart doctor there is, Jesus. I believe He has an appointment just for you, right now.



Lord of Peace

In Matthew 19 Jesus is speaking to all believers about the permanence of marriage. While teaching the Pharisees, Jesus brings up Deuteronomy 24:1-4, and since you have read your bibles, I don’t need to share here, do I? In Divinity circles (those working towards becoming fully divine) this passage is called this the Liz Taylor Clause. A lovely actress who got lots of press late in life over her penchant to marry and divorce. She had 8 marriages in total to 7 different husbands. So Jesus, what do you say about to Ole Mo giving a certificate of divorce? 

Matthew 19:8~He said to them, “Because of your hardness (σκληρο sklēro) of heart (καρδία kardia) Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning, it was not so. (ESV) They were suffering from spiritual sclerosis, a hardening of their hearts. Translated as hardness of heart it is (σκληροκαρδία sklērokardia) in the Greek, which gives us both cardiac and sclerosis, which means a hardening of the tissue. In other words, Jesus is saying the provision for a divorce was a concession; and does not reflect the will of God. 

Divorce is a testimony to man’s hardness of heart, which is a result of sinfulness. The hardness of heart refers to prolonged, unconfessed sin that makes the divine plan for marriage impossible. Irreconcilable differences or no-fault divorces come because of hardness. When an adulterous husband or wife has a hardness of heart, they are insensitive to the sin of adultery. Therefore, God makes a concession and reluctantly permits divorce. The Bible shares only three biblical reasons for divorce: Adultery, Abandonment, and Abuse. To delve deeper go look at Matthew 5:31-48. 

Seeking to clarify the intent of the command about divorce, Christ Jesus continues in Matthew 19:9~And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality (πορνεία porneia), and marries another, commits adultery. (ESV) The word (πορνεία porneia) translated sexual immorality or fornicate means any form of forbidden sex. In its broadest sense, adultery refers to sex with anyone except your spouse. This includes homosexuality, bestiality, and incest. The Greek word (πορνεία porneia) refers to a persistent, unrepentant lifestyle of sexual immorality, not just a one-time act. A one-time moral failure is not a basis for divorce. Christ Jesus is not encouraging divorce; He is allowing it in the case of an unrepentant spouse. 

Regardless of the circumstances, God never encourages divorce because His way is always reconciliation. Remember Paul’s words to the people of Rome in Romans 12:18~If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (ESV) JB Philips takes his rendering a little more strict saying, As far as your responsibility goes, live at peace with everyone. When that is not possible, divorce may be the only option, but it must be biblically based. 

Divorce is God’s concession for those who are innocent. For the Bible teaches God hates divorce. Malachi 2:16~For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel, and him who covers his garment with wrong, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously. (NASB) The NIV says divorce does violence to the one we are to protect. Divorce hurts, it creates emotional scars that never go away, especially for the children. I can’t tell you how many adults have told me that decades later, they still have pain over their parent’s divorce.

Is there a place in your life where you have a longterm pain? If so, I want you to honestly go before the Lord and ask Him for help. I want to encourage you to not hold anything back. What we want is for the Lord to heal the hurt and alleviate the pain. Yes, there will always be a scare, but we can have the victory the Lord promises us in scripture. Understand, like with all healing, it may take time and require more than one trip to the Lord in prayer to process your pain. But know that God will WAR for you, because God is: Willing, Able, Reliable=W.A.R.



5…David —Confessions of a King — No More Tears — 1 Samuel 23-30…Handout

Ever get down or depressed? Everyone does, it is one of the chief _______ hazards of the Christian life. The reason is Christians are the ______ people who know the difference between the way the world is, and the way it ought to be. When we get down and depressed we often cry out as in Psalm 22:1~My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from _______ me…(NIV) No More Tears: Research,________

1) Research the Cause (1 Samuel 23-26) Research is a ___________ investigation. 2 Timothy 2:15~Study to shew thyself approved unto God…(KJV) On the journey through life and faith, we can feel as though we are on a _______ coaster ride. David’s life reveals___causes for his depression. Cause #1—Difficult________. 1 Samuel 23 shares how David goes to help the people of ______

What do we do when we learn people are against us? 1 Samuel 23:9~When David learned that Saul was _____ against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod.” (ESV) David seeks the Lord to understand how to proceed. We too must learn to seek the Lord when we need direction for proceeding with difficult people, lest we get down and fall into depression. Later David will again be betrayed by the _______. These two betrayals, Keilah and the Zephites set the stage for David’s depression. While hiding in a cave David has an opportunity to take Saul’s life. How do we respond to a situation where we can eliminate an adversary?   

David cuts Sauls garment in a moment of opportunity and then hears the Lord. As he shows Saul the cut cloth he _____ with his face to the earth in reverence. His repentance allows the Lord to work. 1 Samuel 24:16~As soon as David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and _______. (ESV)
 
Cause #2—________ of a mentor or loved one. The death of this great man of God (Samuel) and ally of David is one of the most traumatic events in David’s life. Know that our strength is in the Lord, and He will never leave you or forsake you.
 
Cause #3—_______ Like all of us, David feels that he deserves respect. The question is how do we respond when people don’t show us what we feel we deserve? Though we may have the power to behave badly, God expects more from us. Allowing God to work David is met by Abigail. A wise woman who pays him great respect. Shortly after her gracious gift, David will _____ her. It creates a problem in David’s life. For God’s standard has always been ___________, not polygamy.

2) Reflect on the ____________(1 Samuel 27-29) David has a problem that won’t go away. Depressed, David begins to _______ God’s promises and thinks to himself that God will allow Saul to kill him. David again heads to Gath where king Achish gives him _______. A city in southern Canaan David uses for ____ months. (27:1-7). From Ziklag David attempts to hide, lying and________ everyone, which deepens his depression. When we are depressed, it is very _______ to look for relief in all the wrong places. David feels the weight of a spiritual crop. Hosea 8:7~They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind…(NIV) Take-A-Step: _______________________________________________