Friday, May 23, 2014

Daniel 12

Daniel 12:3 (ESV)

[3] And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

 

To live wisely and to turn many to righteousness, that is what Israel was called to do. That is essentially the call of every believer. That is not substantially different than, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Mt 28:19-20)  He didn't say, "Live comfortably," or "Live peacefully," or "Live happily." He said, "Live wisely." Yes, God is the God of all comfort, but the purpose of our lives is not simply to live comfortably. Yes, God is the God of peace, and we find peace in him, but that is not the purpose of our lives. Yes, God is a God of joy and he often surprises us with the gift of joy in the midst of our darkest hour. But finding joy is not the purpose of our lives. We are called to live wisely, turning many to righteousness. That is how Jesus lived, and that is ultimately the purpose of our lives for the few short years we live on this planet.

 

We won't figure everything out. We won't understand every intricacy of the scriptures. We won't solve the problems of the universe. But we do have the option of helping change lives for eternity. Daniel has just been given a revelation that he does not understand. What is he told to do with it? Is he told to spend his life trying to understand these mysteries? No. He is told, "But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days." (Daniel 12:13) In other words, "Don't spend your life trying to figure out these mysteries. Get on with living wisely and turning many to righteousness."

 

At some point we have to ask ourselves what our lives are about. What are we trying to build? In the end the only things that won't burn are the lives we have touched with the gospel. Do your job. Raise your children. Help the poor. Enjoy what God has given you.  But ultimately, live wisely turning many to righteousness.

 

Father, I acknowledge that I have wasted too many days and even years of my life running after things that have no eternal value. Today may I give my life to eternity. Teach me what it means to live wisely.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Daniel 11

Daniel 11:27 (ESV)

[27] And as for the two kings, their hearts shall be bent on doing evil. They shall speak lies at the same table, but to no avail, for the end is yet to be at the time appointed.

 

Daniel 11 is a fascinating chapter because when it was written it was prophecy. Today it is history. I have read incredible historical accounts that exactly align with this chapter, but they happened after Daniel's time. That tells us at least two things: God knows the future; Prophecy can be interpreted literally.

 

Liberal theologians have suggested that because Daniel 11 is so historically accurate Daniel could not have written it. They reason that because of its accuracy it must have been written after the fact. If you do not believe in a personal God that interacts with humanity then their conclusion would be the only reasonable explanation. If you believe in a God who is real and interacts with humanity, but somehow cannot know the future, then you must conclude either that God is a really, really good guesser, God manipulated people in very specific and inconsequential ways in order to make his prophecy come true, or it was written after the fact. If, however, you understand God to be real, personal, and all knowing, past, present and future, then you have no problem accepting the idea that God revealed these things to Daniel before they ever happened.

 

Not only does God know the future, but God's prophecy are often very specific. Even as believers who take the Bible as the inspired word of God we have a tendency, when we don't quite understand, to generalize. The common phrase is, "Well, it's prophecy." That means that because it is prophecy it is therefore somehow less literal. Catastrophic prophecy is somehow interpreted as meaning big but generic problems. "He was bruised for our transgressions" was fulfilled literally. Jesus was actually bruised for our transgressions. "two kings … shall speak lies at the same table, but to no avail," was fulfilled literally. It actually happened. Prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled will be fulfilled just as literally as prophecy already fulfilled. We can trust the scriptures.

 

We live in a time characterized by "wars and rumors of wars." These are uncertain times. Uncertain times are frightening. The good news is that we serve a God who is never surprised by the future. He knows the end from the beginning, and we are in his hands. Bad things may happen, but nothing can touch us without going through his hands first. Nothing can touch us without God's abiding presence in our lives to walk us through it. Living for eternity means understanding that there is more to this world than this world. In the darkest times we need to set our eyes on Jesus and know that he is the light.

 

Father, I confess that there are times when this world seems more real to me than you do and my faith falters. Thank you that you are bigger than my faith. Today I choose to trust you.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert

Friday, May 16, 2014

Ephesians 5:33

Ephesians 5:33 (ESV)

[33] However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

What does it mean for a wife to submit to her husband? I believe there are three words that help us understand what biblical submission is. The first is willing. Ephesians 5:22-24 and Colossians 3:18 instruct a wife to submit to her husband. The word submit is a military term that means to place yourself under someone's authority, or to rank yourself below someone. A lower ranking soldier might be smarter and have more natural ability or potential than an officer who outranks him. This is not about value, intelligence or ability. It is simply about rank. A wise superior officer will listen to and take into consideration the wisdom, experience and intelligence of those he outranks, but ultimately the decisions belong to him or to those above him in rank. Unlike the military, the husband is not given the right or authority to demand or enforce his wife's submission. In the case of marriage it is a submission given freely and willingly.

 

The second word is respect. Ephesians 5:33 instructs a wife to "see that she respects her husband." Obedience without respect is not submission. On the other hand, it is possible to disagree and appeal a decision and still be respectful. Biblical submission is not unquestioning obedience, but it is always respectful.

 

The third word is discernment. The same Greek word for submit is used in Romans 13:1 and 1 Peter 2:13 where we are told to submit to the governmental authorities over us. Throughout Acts we see the Apostles speaking respectfully to the authorities, but we also hear them say, in Acts 5:29, "We must obey God rather than men." Submission requires the discernment to know when those in authority have overstepped their bounds. Ultimately obedience to God supersedes obedience to any human authority.

 

Submission then, whether we are talking about submission in marriage or in any other human relationship, requires a willing heart, a respectful demeanor and a discerning spirit. Father, forgive me for the many times I have failed in all three of these areas. May my life reflect a solid faith in your sovereignty that allows me to have a willing heart, a respectful demeanor and a discerning spirit. May I lead, those over whom you have given me responsibility, with a spirit of humility and a wisdom that comes from above.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Submission

Colossians 3:18 (ESV)

 [18] Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

 

Last week the sermon addressed what it means for a husband to love his wife. This week we want to tackle an even more difficult question. What does it mean for a wife to submit to her husband? Before we can address what submission is, we probably need to first define what it is not. Too often in the name of biblical submission horrible things have occurred in marriage and gone unchallenged and unquestioned. That is why it is so important that in addressing what biblical submission is we need to remember what biblical love is. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. Christ does not put harsh and selfish demands on the church. Yes, he calls her to sacrifice, but always for her own good. His goal, in Ephesians 5, is to present her to himself "in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." It is in that context that we ask what submission looks like.

 

The first thing we must understand is that submission does not view as women as an inferior part of humanity. The very nature of creation debunks that idea. Men and women were created in the image of man. Woman was designed from man's side, not from his head or his feet. Woman was designed to be a helper in the role of Creation Overseer, being perfectly matched to man. She was not designed as his servant. She is not less intelligent, less creative, nor less capable. Women are different from men, but they stand as equals uniquely designed in the image of God. So, submission is not, nor does it imply, inferiority.

 

Secondly, submission does not necessitate unquestioning obedience. Romans 13:1 instructs believers to, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." The words, "be subject" are a translation of exactly the same word Colossians uses when it tells wives to "submit" to their husbands. Yet Peter and the other Apostles said to the authorities, "We must obey God rather than man." (Acts 5:29) In other words, submission never necessitates unquestioning obedience. A husband is never given the authority to demand that his wife do anything illegal, immoral or unethical. There are other commands in scripture that supersede the command to submit.

 

Finally, submission does not require a woman to meekly accept abuse. As we look throughout the scriptures we see several appropriate responses to the possibility of physical harm. The only one I can think of where someone had the ability to avoid physical harm and yet willingly suffered it would be when Christ went to the cross for us. Responses to the threat of physical harm included an appeal to the one threatening, prayer and calling out to God for protection, hiding, and fleeing. Yes, there are times when God calls individuals to give their lives for their faith, or to suffer for their faith, but he also often provides a way of escape, and when he does so there is nothing spiritual about suffering needlessly. God has not given a wife as property to be used and abused, but as a helper perfectly designed to walk alongside man. When men treat wives as property there is nothing biblical nor commendable about enduring it if the abuse can be avoided.

 

Biblical submission is not inferiority; it is not unquestioning obedience; it is not meekly accepting abuse. That is what biblical submission is not. But, what is it? That's a question for another day. I hope to follow this up tomorrow with a discussion of what biblical submission is. In the meantime let us commit to the following: 1. Pray for those in abusive situations. 2. Help those in abusive situations. 3. Never take advantage of any position of authority God may gift you with. Positions of authority are for the purpose of serving, not being served. 4. Prayerfully consider how you might serve, protect and encourage those who are being or have been abused.

 

Father, forgive us for how we have treated women and those in vulnerable positions. Forgive our nation. Forgive our churches. Forgive me. May we see women through eyes of respect and honor.

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Rejoice in your wife

Proverbs 5:18 (ESV)

[18] Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth,

We have all heard the sayings "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," and "familiarity breeds contempt." If these are true then marriage is the one relationship in which contempt can grow more easily than love. In marriage we see each other warts and all. We experience each other's frustrating, irritating and/or downright disgusting habits.  We wake up with bad breath and hair standing on end. We can easily become disgusted with the smallest differences like squeezing the toothpaste, dumping out a glass before putting it in the sink, or where you put your empty hangers. In the grand scheme of things we all acknowledge that these things are of no significance, yet they can easily irritate us like a pebble in our shoe.

 

Proverbs instructs men to rejoice in the wife of their youth. I don't believe that instruction becomes any less important when it is the wife of our old age. Men, we need to learn to intentionally rejoice in our wife. Women, it is no less important that you intentionally rejoice in your husband. If we think for a bit about what hinders this in our relationships we can perhaps discover some tips for learning to rejoice in our spouse. Several things come to mind as I think this through, but let me mention three.

 

First, what we focus on is what we see. Most of us have had the experience of driving with a smudge or squashed bug on our windshield. If we are focused on the road the smudge on the windshield can become almost forgotten, but if we focus on the smudge pretty soon it is all that we see. It becomes an irritating force in our life that is almost unbearable. We have to stop and clean the windshield. Even when it is clean we think maybe we can still see it. That smudge has become our focus. In the same way, an irritating habit can become almost uncontrollably irritating if we are focused on it. But, it can become inconsequential if we learn to focus on the good things in our spouse instead of that one irritating habit. If we are to rejoice in our spouse then we need to learn to intentionally remind ourselves of all the good, commendable and positive qualities of this person we married. We need to learn to shift our focus from the negative to the positive.

 

Second, what we look at shapes our perception. That may sound similar to that last paragraph, but I mean something different by it. Pornography, glossy, polished, staged photos or videos of "beautiful people," and fantasy drummed up in fiction and imagination all work to build in our minds unrealistic expectations that no human can possibly meet. A photo of a desert can look lonely and enticing, but what we do not see is the slum to the photographer's back, or the crowds and buildings just outside the frame of the shot. An airbrushed photo is always more perfect than the actual person. Pornography is fiction of the most destructive kind because it builds in one's mind unrealistic expectations of what a spouse should be, do or look like. What we see shapes our perception and therefore our expectations. Discontent easily creeps in. The world likes to tell us who the most beautiful or desirable person in the world is, but even the most beautiful person is never always beautiful. Even the most desirable person is never always desirable. We need to avoid and reject the lies these images try to sell us. We need to stop exposing ourselves to the lies, recognize them for what they are, and learn to see the beauty in each person, and especially in our spouse.

 

Finally, we need to recognize that when we are centered on ourselves everyone will sometimes disappoint us and no one will always make us happy. Self-centeredness will destroy a relationship in a heartbeat. Unfortunately most relationships are started selfishly. We meet someone who excites us, or interests us, or makes us feel special in some way, and we think that we are in love. We can't stop thinking about them and we can't bear to be apart from them so it must be love. What we don't realize is that what we are experiencing is much more closely aligned with lust than love. It is about me. Love is about others. In marriage two self-centered individuals will ultimately clash. It is possible to rejoice for a time in an individual who is subservient and who simply acquiesces to our every whim and desire, but even that will usually turn to contempt. What God designed marriage to be is a partnership, not a servant/master relationship. If I am to learn to rejoice in my wife then, I need to be more concerned about her than I am about myself. That is love.

 

Focusing in the good rather than the bad, rejecting the lies of the world and intentionally looking for the beauty in our spouse, and focusing on serving rather than being served will go a long way toward learning to rejoice in our spouse.

 

Father, I confess that I have not consistently done this, but I desire to. Would you quickly bring these truths back to my mind when I begin to wander. Thank you!

 

By His grace,

Rick Weinert


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Husbands love your wives

Colossians 3:19 (ESV)

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

 

What does it mean for a husband to love his wife? How might a wife answer that question differently than a husband? Is it possible that husbands who think that they are loving their wives are not treating them in a loving manner at all?

 

The ESV follows up "love your wives" with "do not be harsh to them." The NAS translates this slightly differently. It reads, "… do not be embittered against them." The difference lies in how the Greek is understood and translated, but the bottom line is the same. Being harsh with our wives often results from being embittered against them. So in order for a husband to love his wife he must first learn how to deal with his own emotions. He must first recognize the lies he has believed that led him to frustration and bitterness. Angry, bitter, hurt and frustrated people tend to treat others harshly out of their own hurt. What does it mean for a husband to love his wife? It means a great deal more than this, but it does mean that he learns to deal with his issues before God rather than taking out his bitterness on her, even if she seems to be the source of that bitterness. As believers we are not to grow bitter toward our wives or be harsh toward them.

 

How do you do that? It seems to me that the first step would be to identify the priorities and rights that you believe have been violated in your life that leads you to bitterness. Identify the lie beneath those hurts. Acknowledge them to God and ask for his peace. Then, begin to transform your attitudes and actions by embracing the truth instead of the lie. Transformation does not start with trying to change behavior. It starts with identifying and rejecting lies and believing truth. Romans says it like this:

 

Romans 12:2 (ESV)

[2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Father, I admit that it is far too easy for me to become self-focused, believing lies and developing expectations that my wife could never possibly meet. Forgive me. Today may I walk in truth and love my wife as you have loved me.

 

 

By His Grace,

Rick Weinert


Isaiah 50

Isaiah 50:4-7 (ESV) The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him w...