Be deeply in debt this Thanksgiving

This Christian lives by grace. The grace of God, simply defined, is unmerited favor. My family and I will “feast” this Thursday. More food will be at table than any of us can consume in a single setting. At the same time Thursday’s sun will set on no less than one billion empty stomachs. I will remind myself and my family at that moment that we have much for which to be thankful.

As a Christian, my debt begins at the cross of Jesus Christ. By grace through faith, my sin debt paid, God’s wrath turned away, no way to repay, my debt. Thanksgiving! But my debt doesn’t stop there.

Every day without exception, God gives, and gives, and gives. If there is anything good in me, it is a gift of grace. Therefore, any act of obedience on my part, any righteous act, comes directly from God’s storehouse. I become, on a daily basis, deeper in debt. To think that I could make any move toward repayment is absurd.

I will complete my days on earth hopelessly in debt to grace. I would have it no other way. To God be the Glory! I should be the most grateful man alive. Thanksgiving!

Biblical Marriage – Session Seven (Teaching Outline)

Biblical Marriage

Session Seven

Relationship: Change, Christ-like Spiritual Growth

Ephesians 5:21-33 

Outline 

In our last session we learned the role of grace in Biblical marriage. As a house can not stand without a proper foundation, marriage must rest on grace or else be subject to the whims of selfishness becoming unstable in all its ways. By grace we are empowered to forgive sin and forbear strangeness in marriage. Like a ship with ballast in its hull, a marriage stabilized by grace can weather the storms of life. Grace allows for the dealing with sin in marriage without dwelling on sin in marriage.

Not only does grace function as the power to forgive and forbear when things are not as we would like then to be, but grace also functions as the power to change so that there isn’t as much to forgive and forbear. Marriage should never be static. The goal is not for our spouse to feel as if forbearance is a permanent ball and chain. The reality of the Gospel is Christ receiving the sinner “as is” by grace through faith. This is a glorious reality. However, it is not the whole of the reality of the New Covenant life. When our text states, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her…”, it speaks of necessary change.

To commit to marriage is to commit to change. In this session we explore the power that grace affords toward change. It is only fitting that the Christian we are most intimate with, namely our spouse, is the primary earthly influence for change in our life by grace.

GRACE, the foundation of change 

I’m in this marriage for the long term, all the way to the end, so…

…please change.

GRACE is:

  • The power to love your enemies (Matthew 5:44)
  • The power to stop sinning (Romans 6:13)
  • The power to call for change (Galatians 6:1)

Pattern for change: 

Christ’s relationship to the church (vs 25-27)

KEY: Christ died to change her.

Husbands changing wives: 

  • Husbands are like Christ; NOT Christ
  • God’s Holiness is the standard; NOT husbands personal preferences
  • Change NOT by oppression, but by sacrifice

Wives changing husbands:

  • Wife submit to husband like to Christ; NOT equal to Christ
  • Seek change while respecting headship
  • Prayer is a request for change
  • Gentle spirit; NEVER nagging

LIFE APPLICATION 

The state of oppression and rebellion is the concrete in which marriage becomes static, stale, and hopeless. 

The state of Grace (forgiveness and forbearance) is the catalyst by which change toward Christ-likeness in marriage is guaranteed; sometimes even immediate change!

Biblical Marriage Homework Session Seven

Biblical Marriage Homework Session Seven 

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12:

Last week we learned that Grace is what marriage is about. This week we examine how Grace is an agent of change. Every Christian is called to a life of sanctification. Simply stated, sanctification is changing from our old selves and becoming conformed to the likeness of Christ.

This idea has everything to do with marriage. A marriage should never be static. So often we read Scripture like 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 and never think about our marriage. However, this passage has everything to do with how you are growing in Spirit and faith in relationship to your spouse. (And everyone else)

Read commentary:

Popular discussions of the “will of God” often center on the major decisions of life. The choice of a vocation, the choice of a spouse, and other pivotal moments in life certainly are times when divine guidance is needed. But seeking the will of God ought not be relegated only to such momentous and occasional events. I sometimes wonder why people would seek the will of God at a pivotal moment in life if they have been ignoring God’s will in their daily lives. Should God speak, would such a person listen? I rather doubt it. One who is not faithful in the small moments is unlikely to be faithful in the great.[1]

 

In verse 1 Paul is urging you to toward something. What kind of lifestyle would you live in your marriage if you were obedient to Paul’s instruction?

 

 

(Verses 2-3) Three questions:

Do you ever consider that God has a “will” for your ordinary every day life?

 

 

 

What is God’s will for every Christian? Are there any exceptions?

 

 

 

Is this “will” of God in daily life more or less important than “major” (one time) life choices?

 

 

(Verses 4-6) Two questions:

 

How would you be treating your spouse if you were living in “passion of lust” like the Gentiles? Who would be the “center” of this relationship?

 

 

 

How would you be treating your spouse if you were living in holiness and honor? Who would be the “center” of this relationship?

 

 

(Verses 7-8)

 

If we are withholding grace from our spouse, who are we fighting with, our spouse or God?

 

 

(Verse 9-12)

 

Let’s say today your marriage is doing very well; you are loving your spouse and extending grace and your spouse is happy. Have you made it? Can marriage now ride life out in status quo? Should tomorrow be filled with more grace?

 

 

 

[1] D. Michael Martin, 1, 2 Thessalonians, vol. 33, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 121.

Biblical Marriage – Session Six (Teaching Outline)

Biblical Marriage

Session Six

Relationship: Forgiving and Forbearing

Colossians 3:12-19 

Outline 

In the first five sessions we explored God’s glory reflected in Biblical marriage. Marriage is not man’s idea, but God’s. God made marriage part of the creation events. From the beginning, marriage has a clear purpose. The Apostle Paul makes clear the purpose in his letter to the Ephesians stating, “This mystery is profound, but I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Marriage will portray Christ’s relationship with his bride, the church. On the stage of life, each husband represents Christ and each wife represents the church. This profoundly shapes the way we understand headship and submission. As husbands and wives, we must accept our divine calling in this one flesh relationship, not just because it’s best for the marriage, but because the Gospel is at stake.

Even though God’s design for marriage reflecting the Gospel is perfect, the actors engaged in the play are not. No matter how much we desire to image the perfect love of Christ in our marriage, often we fail. This is the reason marriage is based on grace. “As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”(Colossians 3:13) In other words, take the forgiveness that we have received by the death of Christ and freely give it to others; specifically, husbands to wives, and wives to husbands.

No one is naïve enough to think their marriage will be perfect to the end. We are sinners married to sinners. Therefore, this session examines the need for forgiveness and forbearance by grace.

The Foundation of Marriage:

GRACE  (Colossians 2:13-14, 3:13)

The Practical Aspects of Grace in Marriage:

  • There is going to be conflict based on sin in marriage, we need to forgive sin and forbear strangeness, and sometimes you won’t even agree on which is which;
  • The hard, rugged work of forgiving and forbearing is what makes it possible for affections to flourish when they seem to have died;
  • God gets glory when two very different and very imperfect people forge a life of faithfulness in the furnace of affliction by relying on Christ.

You and your Spouse have worth:

Colossians 3:12 –

Chosen – the apple of God’s eye

Holy – set apart for God’s purpose

Loved – God is for you and not against you

Value and worth solicit a response: 

Colossians 3:12 –

Inner response – compassionate heart

Outward response – kindness, humility, meekness

Being a person with Patience: 

Colossians 3:13 –

Forbear – endure strangeness

Forgive – freely or graciously give

LIFE APPLICATIONS

We don’t know what our spouse will be like in 35 years. Our HOPE is based on this: we are chosen, holy, and loved. All things God works for our ultimate good.

In the “Garden of Marriage”, learn to separate the flower bed from the compost pile. Spend more time among the flowers.

 

Biblical Marriage Homework Session Six

Biblical Marriage – Session Six Homework

 

Read Matthew 5:43-48

 

Can this passage relate to your relationship with your spouse?

 

 

Specifically, can you relate verse 46 to your relationship with your spouse?

 

 

In verse 48, how is Jesus instructing us to love our spouse (and others)?

 

 

Paul states in Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing out of vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

 

Question: Do you love your spouse expecting (deserving) something in return?

 

It has been said that the foundational definition of manipulation is “giving to get”.

It has been said that the foundational definition of honor is “giving, demanding nothing”.

 

Loving your spouse because they are making you happy is a sure sign of manipulation. Loving your spouse in spite of their attitude toward you is a sure sign of honor.

 

Check your love for your spouse by the following list. Place a check mark by the attitude you have right now regarding your love for your spouse.

 

Attitudes of Honor                                                    Attitudes of Manipulation

You belong to God                                                     You exist to serve me

You’re made in God’s image                                      You’re an object

I give without expecting a return                                I give to get what I want from you

I want you to be successful                                        I need you to make me happy

God is using you to make me like Him                       You’re the problem

I’ll love you even if you don’t respond with love      I’ll love you as long as it “works”

 

Pray that God would help you in any area where you placed a check mark in the manipulation column.