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Archive for May, 2012

I cry out to God Most High,

to God who fulfills His purpose for me. (1)

Parents lose control of their children at conception!

Long before the terrible two’s, the trying three’s, and those testy teen years, parents should realize that their children have a will and spirit they cannot control.  Parents who believe they can control their kids are engaged in wishful thinking.

It is equally foolish to believe you are in full control of your life.  There are hundreds of outside factors and forces that influence your life every day.  You cannot control them.

This is why I have chosen to ask God to fulfill His purposes for my life.

Life has become simpler, less frustrating, and more productive since I yielded my illusion of control to the reality of God’s sovereign purpose for my life.

Yes, I still dream of greener pastures.  Yes, I still discuss with God how He could make things a little bit better.  Yes, I still make plans for my future.

When you become a disciple of Jesus you give up your independence!

I believe this is why most people reject Christianity.  It has nothing to do with Darwin, Big Bang,  clean living, or an enlightened way of thinking.  It all has to do with the battle of the will.

Too many Christians make an unsustainable deal with God:  “Give me what I want God and I will give You what You want!”

God does not answer to us!

God’s plans are better than mine.

Best yet, He can make them happen.  As the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, He is in full control.

I like that.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (2)

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  1. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Psalm 57:2.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jeremiah 29:11.
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Jesus breathed on them and said, 

“Receive the Holy Spirit.” (1)

I am poised to blow by Pentecost.

I have too much to do to sit around and wait for the Holy Spirit to come to me.

When Jesus died, it was 3 days before He was resurrected.  By then, his disciples were back fishing and the women were gathering burial spices.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, he told the disciples to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

They burned oil for 10 days while gathered in an Upper Room praying and waiting for the Holy Spirit to come.

Imagine a Pastor today inviting all the members of a congregation to come to worship on Sunday and stay for 10 days, praying and waiting for something to happen.

I can imagine the Pastor praying for a hospital emergency by the second day.  It would give him an excuse to leave the sanctuary, abandon the time of prayer, and get on with ministry.

Who has time to wait 10 days for God, for Jesus, and for the Holy Spirit?

Christians today are action oriented.  

Sitting and waiting and praying and waiting and sitting and twiddling thumbs for a day or two, muchless ten would drive us all insane.

Hmmm ….

No wonder the church has so little to offer the world.

Perhaps I need to join Edwin Hatch in his prayer song:

Breathe on me, Breath of God; fill me with life anew;

Breathe on me, Breath of God, until my heart is pure;

Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am all yours. (2)

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  1. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), John 20:22.
  2. Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace : 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1990), 156.

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Your Best Love, 5

Song of Songs 1 and 2

(selected verses)

Scripture Reading

Solomon’s Song of Songs.

Let him kiss me for his love is more delightful than wine.

Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;

your name is like perfume poured out.

No wonder the maidens love you!

Take me away with you—let us hurry!

I rejoice and delight in you;

I will praise your love more than wine.

I liken you, my darling, to a mare harnessed to one of the chariots of Pharaoh.

Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels.

My beloved is a bouquet of wildflowers

picked just for me from the gardens of God

How beautiful you are, my darling!

Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.

How handsome you are, my lover!

Oh, how charming you are!

My lover spoke and said to me,

“Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.

Flowers appear on the earth;

the season of singing has come,

the cooing of doves is heard in our land.

The fig tree forms its early fruit;

the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.

Arise, come, my darling;

my beautiful one, come with me.”

Preaching Notes

I.  Quick Review of Sermon Series

A. 1st 2 Weeks – The Attitude of Marriage

B.  3rd Week – The Five Tasks of Marriage

C.  Last Week and This Week – The Emotion of Marriage

II.  The Song of Solomon

A.  Read Chapter 4:1-5 (stop at 3rd word)

B.  Did not know stuff like this was in the Bible

C.  Background on Song of Songs (Solomon)

Not God focused

Rather reality of God’s plan and/or creation

D.  Romance and physical intimacy as critical emotional aspect of marriage

Part of God’sPlan

Teachings in today’s sermon – focus of Song of Songs

E.  Last week Love as 1st or 2 primary emotions of marriage

Love is not the anchor or foundation of marriage

Rather it is the root of all life in marriage.

F.  Romance and physical intimacy is 2nd primary emotion of marriage

Romance and physical intimacy – a unified emotion

With 2 variations in manifestation

Romance – the dance – the love song

Physical intimacy – the unity, the two becoming one flesh

III.  “Romance and physical intimacy is the flower of marriage”

A. No one admires or smells leaves and stem of a flower

B.  The flower/blossom is source of fragrance and beauty of plant

C.  The blossom draws the birds and the bees

D.  Without the blossom, a flower is no more than a weed

The weed may endure, because of the root of love

But will do so without beauty or value

E.  These same trues hold for a marriage

Without romance and physical intimacy

A marriage becomes bittersweet, cold, and lonely

IV.  Both Husband and Wife need Romance and Physical Intimacy 

A.  Romance and physical intimacy – fulfills 3 critical need in relationship

For men  is key source of admiration

For women is key source of adoration

For both a critical source of affirmation

B.  One emotion, emotive reality

Cannot have one without the other

Truth is:

Without romance, women are not drawn to physical intimacy

Without physical intimacy men are not drawn to romance”

Reality is:

Without both, each one dies and so does the marriage

C. How Much is Needed

A Grandmother’s advice to her Granddaughter

Relationship Studies

My counsel – both needed in some degree/form everyday

D.  When romance and physical intimacy is missing

Two key realities replace them

Seeking to replace

Bittersweetness with sweetness

Cold with warmth

Loneliness with companionship

E.  1st Replacement is fighting

The 3rd source of intimacy in relationships

F.  2nd Replacement is a replacement relationship

Work or hobby

Addiction or obsessive/destructive behavior

An affair or inappropriate relationship

G.  Both of these replacements will, in time,

Destroy the blossom and kill the root

V. Guidelines for Romance and physical intimacy in marriage

A.  Romance communicates your desire for your spouse

Simple or elaborate, yet personal and genuine expression

B.  Physical intimacy is communicates your unique unity with your spouse

Meaningful touching, coming together

C.  Joe Hackney flowers for Bess

Once a week

Variations with simple note

After stroke

Significant source of encouragement for Bess’ week

Alway in eyesight, fresh in memory

After death

Provided for continuance in his will

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Life is full of sore testings of our willingness 

to follow the Good Shepherd. (1)  

The greatest of these testings is forgiveness.

We have a limited understanding of forgiveness.  We believe it is grace to be offered only after confession and regret have been spoken.  We believe forgiveness is necessary and possible after only after someone has apologized for hurting us.

This is not God’s way.  

Scripture reminds us that God chose us, loved us, and forgave us while we were still yet sinners. Paul reaffirms God’s love for us and His way of forgiveness in Romans 5:8:

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (2)

This is where God’s way tests us.  

We believe that forgiveness is an earned grace.  

Instead, God’s forgiveness is an unearned grace.

Even if we understand the meaning of this truth in our heads, our hearts find it to be alien material.  This is why we have a hard time forgiving others, extending to them the unearned grace of forgiveness.

We cannot offer forgiveness as unearned grace by our own strength.

If we are to be obedient to God’s way and offer others forgiveness as unearned grace, we need God’s help, His strength.  We need Him working within us.

My Jesus is dwelling in me; and now I have only to let Him work there to will and to do of His good pleasure, in order to experience all the glorious fullness of His mighty salvation! (3)

Let Christ Jesus reign within you.  Only then will He be able to rule all the motions of your heart.  Only then will extending forgiveness as unearned grace be possible.

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  1. Quote of J. R. Miller found in Samuel G. Hardman and Dwight Lyman Moody, Thoughts for the Quiet Hour (Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998).
  2. he Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Romans 5:8.
  3. Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life : The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

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Everyday Realities

Acquaintance

Acceptance

Trust

Friendship

Joy

Sin

Hurt

Anger

Pain

Lead to Everyday Choices

Forgiveness

Blame

Confession

Rejection

Repentance

Revenge

Forgiveness

Enmity

Grace

Hatred

Restoration

Loss

Healing

Death

A New Beginning

The Dead End

Acceptance

Trust

Friendship 

Joy 

Sin

Hurt

Anger

Pain

Time to choose, again

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It’s not perfect!

That critical inner voice haunts me each time I step back and examine my work.  

Nothing I do is perfect.  

Moments after sharing my work with the world, I see the imperfections of my labor.  

It is easy for me to spot the flaw in my sermon, just preached.

Grammatical errors and misspellings leap from the computer screen after posting my daily devotionals.

The imperfections only become clear after my work has been birthed and put out for all to see.

I do not need any critics to help me see the flaws in my efforts.

This is why Jesus’ admonition disturbs me:

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (1)

This is one command, I am destined to never fulfill.  I will never do anything perfect.  Everything I do will be flawed.

Yet, I refuse to be content with imperfection.

What am I to do? 

I pray.

“Help me Jesus!”

He does.

Thanks be to God!

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  1. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Matthew 5:48.

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“He turns rivers into a desert,
springs of water into thirsty ground.”  
Psalm 107:33

“The burning sand shall become a pool,
the thirsty ground springs of water.”  
Isaiah 35:7

Water and thirst are powerful images repeatedly set in contrast in the Bible.

God is the source of all water.  He can give it, as He did on the second day of creation, and He can take it away, as David affirms in Psalm 107.

We have no control over when it will rain and nourish the earth and when drought inhabits the land.  This is a reality for Christians and atheists.  Rain is out of our control.

Thirst is a physical and spiritual reality in our lives.  Physical dehydration will zap the body of strength and is frequently the cause of headaches, illness, and death.  Without water you will die.

Thirst is also a spiritual need.  This is why God invites us to come to Him to relive our thirst.  In Isaiah 55:1 God invites us to come to Him with this invitation:
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters.”

When Jesus met the woman at the well, He knew her thirst was deeper than her dry mouth and throat.  She was faint because her soul was dying for more, yet all she knew to do was to draw from an earthen well.

Jesus said to her in John 4:13-14

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

I grew up in Florida in a home which was not air conditioned.  At an early age, I learned the necessity and the ability to drink copious amounts of water everyday.  I still regularly drink a gallon of water everyday.

My wife is amazed at my ability to drink so much water and, if necessary, to drink 24 ounces in less than a minute.  

When I am physically faint and thirsty, I know what to do.

I know many Christians who are always spiritually thirsty.  

They only take in God in tiny sips, an ounce here and there.  They are never spiritually satisfied because they have never learned to take in God in large gulps.

Are you thirsty?

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