Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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30 Leading with love in Marriage

Ephesians  5:25-26 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.”

Love is not just a principle it is a practice and one of the biggest tragedies in the Christian home today is the failure to demonstrate selfless love.  Husbands are called by God to reveal His love in the home through the vehicle of marriage. Their failure to do so often stems from a basic lack of trust, fear or ignorance to exercise faith in the Word of God. We may want to blame our disobedience and lack of love on our wives but the call to love does is not founded on our wives performance but on God’s plan. This failing to exercise faith in the Word of God is what robs many marriages of the miracle that God intends. Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God, so men I call you to hear His Word to you today, Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Three times in this passage we are commanded to “love our wives” and the Greek reveals that this is agape love. This is sacrificial and selfless love of not based on conditions but God’s call. This is the love based on her best interests, built around her needs not her actions.  A love that is centered on the sacrifice, not self, because those are the actions of Jesus towards the church. What if as husbands we would take the lead and exercise his faith in God’s plan for marriage? Love is the key to being a spiritual leader in the home. Success is not defined by a wife’s submission but a husband’s sacrifice, for a wife’s submission is simply a response to her husband’s sacrificial love for her. A husband who lovingly yields his priorities and goals to serve and sacrifice for his wife is a spiritual leader. Today more than ever marriage is under attack because it is one of the most powerful pictures of God’s love. Where are the men willing to fight for their wife, what if Matthew 20:28 become the standard men carried and the cry we shouted as we battled for our brides: “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Marriage wasn’t just God’s good idea it was His gift and a husband’s love for his wife is not a response but a reflection of his worship because loving my wife should reflection obedience not obligation. God has called us to lead with love, it was Joshua who said, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” He was not only the leader but understood that spiritual leaders serve. As we think of leadership when sin entered the first marriage it was Eve that took the first bite…but God came looking for Adam, he was the leader.

Today we are called to a relationship where we lead first with love, Jesus didn’t wait for his bride to say I love you first He took the initiative. Jesus Christ suffered torture, ridicule, betrayal, and death, all to rescue His beloved, His sacrifice of love provided her with security. Today God is still issuing the same call that he gave to Hosea 3:1 “Go, show your love to your wife.”  Hosea, like us, could object or obey, he could have presented his case and what a case he had, she was a harlot! Yet God called him to lead her with love. Today we honor Christ when we imitating his humility and service in a relationship of love with our wife. As you lovingly practice servant leadership toward your spouse, you will find your deepest needs met.

Have you told your wife you love her today? Better yet, have you showed her?  As you answer that question I want I want you to ponder this one “in what ways did Jesus demonstrated His love for His bride?” Here are a few to ponder and practice:

  • Holiness -Jesus’ highest goal for His bride, the church, is holiness. Every husband should love his wife, not just to make her feel good, but to help her become more like Jesus. When a husband aims to bring both himself and his wife to a greater level of spiritual maturity, together they will follow in the footprints of Jesus.
  • Worth the time – Jesus recognized that every relationship requires constant renewal, refining, and restoration. Every husband and wife relationship demands a continued stream of care. Jesus put forth the effort and if we are going to enter into the sacred contract of marriage we must be willing to expend a great deal of energy.
  • Shared suffering – Jesus assumed similar pains, conditions, and realities with His bride, the church. A great husband is willing to assume similar living conditions, problems, and human realities along with his wife. The husband should not try to live above the everyday realities of his wife, but share what they have in common.
  • Celebrate the Good News – Jesus saw His bride as a means of bringing good news to the surrounding communities. The Lord knew that the good news of forgiveness, eternal life, and abundant life would best be promoted through the life and ministry of His bride, the church. Similarly, husbands and wives make a great promotional team for the presentation of Christ’s life examples and purposes. When a husband and a wife share a ministry of love, reconciliation, and service they drawn closer together as the demonstrate Christ.
  • Value – Jesus saw His bride, the church, as possessing incalculable wealth, beauty, and dignity. Every husband who views his wife as one who is as valuable as precious jewels will cherish her every minute of every day. Seeing your bride as Christ does means seeing the potential not the problems.
  • Investment- Jesus saw to the growth of His bride, the church. The Lord promised, “I will build my church and the gates of hell (All evil opposing forces) will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:18). Every good husband works diligently to build his wife up spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically willing to invest his life in her.
  • Care – Jesus removes diseases from His bride, the church. Every new husband carefully tends to the smallest of colds for his beloved newlywed. However, after decades of marriage many husbands are apt to just tell his wife to take an aspirin and go to bed. Jesus took time to deal with the disease not dismiss it.
  • Protect – Jesus continues to protect, preserve, and prevent harm from coming to His bride, the church. Loving husbands go out of their way to protect their wife from any unnecessary discomfort.
  • Beauty – Jesus consistently admires the beauty and the worth of His bride, the church. A considerate husband is willing to constantly remind his bride of how beautiful she is. The husband’s ministry of affirmation, commendation, and thanksgiving assures His wife of His love.

Christ is your example of servant leadership. When the disciples had a recurring problem with questioning who’s in charge, who’s the greatest, and who’s second in command, Jesus taught them by becoming a lowly servant and washing their feet (John 13:1-15). Then he said “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them” (John 13:17). Today would you lead with love, would you wash your wife’s feet?

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29 Life of Love Part 2

Ephesians 4:2-3  Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

Last time we saw that the real battle is over relationships, how we live is the fight beginning with humility moving to gentleness which is connected to:

•             Patience

Be patient with each other or bearing with one another in love. Often we will pray for patience yet in reality it is the outflow of the attitude of humility (putting others before ourselves) coupled with the action of gentleness (power under control). Patience removes the word “but” from our vocabulary, the word we use to defend our impatience and lack of tolerance. “But if you knew how annoying they were.” “But she did it first!” “I would, but you don’t understand how I have been wronged.” Jesus reflected humility, gentleness and patience with the woman He healed with the bleeding issue in Luke 8:42-48. Having secretly touched him she was physically healed yet Jesus stopped to talk with her, why? For 12 years the law had declared her unclean leaving her relationally isolated, alienated from love, her illness didn’t just leave her with a physical burden, she was financially bankrupt and emotionally broken. What she needed wasn’t just physical healing but someone who would give her the time of day and touch her emotionally empty life. What did Jesus need? To get going so he could see Jairus’ sick daughter who was dying. Whose need was more important to the Savior? The Savior saw her need and served her need before His own and He did it with gentleness. Jesus attitude of humility tied to the action of gentleness reflected patience with the people around Him. The very pretext for these traits is that there is something or someone to be patient towards, we don’t have to bear with those who are easy to get along with. I don’t have to be patient with a person who does what I want them to do. God is not going to pat me on the head for my ability to respond well to others who walk in a manner worthy of his calling. Adding to the call we are challenged to be patient and bear with each other “in love.” I can exercise patience when not caught off guard, and if the humility part doesn’t trip me up then the “in love” part usually does. The truth is that patiently enduring the annoying traits of others often builds up our sense of superiority. But to be patient in love and humility means I actually have to care about others; I actually have to regard their interests as greater than my own. I actually have to love them, even to the point of being thankful for the opportunity to show loving patience. I actually have to see such opportunity to practice patience in humility and gentleness and love as opportunity to walk in a manner worthy of my great calling. Often our agendas and sense of importance leave us blind to the need of those around us. Yet Jesus surrounded by the crowd with the pressures of time and expectation not only felt the touch of the woman but had time for her.

•             Unity

The final admonition, “being eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. This is what the Apostle Paul has been leading up to, and one could say, what the whole epistle is about, unity. We can see hints of it in chapter 1 in what is said about Christ: “to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (v. 10). Chapter 2 reminds us of the wall of hostility being broken down between Jew and Gentile in Christ: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (vs. 14-16). How eager should we be to maintain unity? Consider what Jesus prayed for in His final recorded prayer to God the Father: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:20-23). He said that the world would take notice based on the unity, the oneness that we demonstrate. The cross not only reconciles man to God it also reconciles man to man. Today there are many who say but Christians can’t even get along so why should I believe? How can we bear witness to such work if we will not demonstrate it? Unity matters, we have to be eager and exercise, today we are not eager for unity and we do not want to exercise humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance in love. So how do you measure up? If these verses present the traits of walking in a manner worthy of your calling, do you feel like you are walking the walk with all humility and gentleness; with patience and bearing with another in love; eager to maintain the unity of the faith in the bond of peace? What an immense  calling, one in which we can feel pretty small as we measure ourselves against God’s standard. We must remember that the key to our calling is humility, when you are humble, you don’t feel threatened, so you are able to exercise gentleness. Through humility, you are not encumbered with pride that keeps you from being patient with others. Because of humility you understand that you are as messed up as anyone else so you see the need to bear with the faults of others. Humility allows us to get out of the way instead of trying to get our way. What about you do you desire unity will you respond and lead a life worthy of your calling?