Thoughts on A Thursday2020-08-18T13:58:33-04:00

Pastor Ken’s Thoughts on a Thursday

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Hey! Eyes on your own paper!

When I was in middle school I remember hearing this warning escape the lips of more than one of my teachers in the midst of a quiet room full of students taking a test. Usually it was said so sharply that it made me jump and even though I knew I had not been looking in the direction of anyone else’s desk. As a result, I would feel even more compelled to be careful to stare intently at my own test sheet. This happened often enough that even now as an adult, if I have to take a written test of any sort there is a nervousness that I feel connected to making sure no one thinks I am allowing my eyes to wander from my own paper in an attempt to steal someone else’s answers.

Of course the threat of being caught would always deter me from making any attempt to cheat no matter how great the temptation of a better grade. Also, it did not escape me the cruel irony that would exist if I did copy a classmate’s answer only to find out they had gotten it wrong! Topping off the list of reasons not to cheat was of course that I did not want to be dishonest, if I was going to get an ‘A’ or a ‘F’ I was going to own it. While I’m being honest though I have to admit I owned a few too many ‘F’s and not near enough “A”s.

I find that people as a whole have trouble keeping their eyes on their own paper, Apparently Jesus noted this problem as well. Matthew 7:1-5 records what He had to say about it. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

When we judge, we are pointing out someone else’s fault and in that moment have our eyes on their paper. The problem with this is that when we have our eyes on someone else’s paper we no longer have it on our own. When we are not paying attention to what we are doing we do it in error. In other words, I am called to act toward others with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22&23) When I am being judgmental those qualities will not be a part of the result 99 times out of 100. So in pointing out someone else’s wrong…I have become wrong. I didn’t keep my eyes on my own paper and I failed the test.

The connection that Jesus used in this scripture is a woodworking analogy, another area familiar to me. He said, why do you look for the speck (or sliver as some translations put it) in your brother’s eye but don’t consider the plank in your own eye? That question points to an all too obvious conclusion. So, we feel better about our judgmental selves by inserting the following caveat; we are the one with the speck or sliver and it is our brother with the plank, therefore we are right to make it our business to point out their problem to them. Jesus knew what He was saying though. He knew it is probably actually easier to do it the other way around. Have you ever had a speck in your eye? I have. The tiniest of slivers will cause the greatest irritation and you can’t hardly even hold your eyelids open! When will we learn…eyes on your own paper!

When will we learn? The last time I checked there had not been an opening posted for the Holy Spirit’s job. We need to learn to get into our own lane…and stay there. We are not effective at conviction. Why? Because we are not perfect. Anytime we try to convict someone else of their wrongdoing they do exactly what we do in the same situation…they become defensive. It is an instinctual act of self-preservation. While no one likes to be told they are wrong, we like it even less when we are being told by someone we know also has faults and failings. We certainly don’t like being informed of it by someone who, not keeping their eyes on their own paper is failing to inform of the wrong in a wrong way.

I see this take place in marriages almost more than anywhere else. One spouse or the other does not like how they are being treated and so they tell their spouse about themselves. This hardly if never gets the intended result. Why? Because judgment coming from one human being to another is difficult to accept and is hardly ever done with grace, mercy and love. More often than not, we stand in judgment of someone because we are unhappy with their behavior toward us and it has affected us negatively. We want them to stop doing whatever they did that we didn’t like. I get it. In all transparency this happened to me just a week ago. My wife said something I did not like. It didn’t feel good to me to hear what she had to say. So, I judged her for it. I told her all about how I didn’t like hearing that. I explained in a rather negative way how she had not been very positive in the way she had said what she did. I used a tone of voice that was stern and a look that was designed to emphasize the tone. And you know what? In that moment while I had my eyes on her paper, while I was assessing her performance as a wife…I was being a very, very poor husband!

Let me set the record straight, my wife is an awesome wife…but in moments like those she is not married to an awesome husband. It isn’t me who has commanded her to do the things the Bible tells her she should as a wife, those commands come from God. Who do I think I am to grade her on how well she follows God’s commands? I think God’s Holy Spirit can do just fine without my interference. In fact, I know He can. The truth of it is, the only time He has trouble showing her of any changes He wants her to make…is when I have tried to do that for Him and put her on the defensive. Maybe I need to learn to stay in my own lane…maybe I need to keep my eyes on my own paper and I will do better.

The apostle Peter seemed to recognize the necessity (especially in marriage, but in all our other relationships too) of learning to keep our eyes on our own paper as well, you can read about that in 1 Peter 3:1-9

I think we all need to learn to do a better job of this. Am I saying if someone is engaged in destructive behavior we shouldn’t warn them before they run their lives into the ditch? Of course not, that would be unkind, but if we are going to do it right, if it is going to be said in love, and mercy and without judgment…it can’t be about us.

So now, learning to keep your eyes on your own paper so you can get the grade you are hoping for…go be awesome!

The Enemy of Greatness – September 9, 2021

Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…The Enemy of Greatness.

Several years ago, I read the book Good to Great. The Author, James Collins wrote that work to help guide the pathway for good companies to become great companies. In it, he noted several characteristics that good companies exhibited, and when those attributes were traded for a differing one, that change could propelled that good company into becoming a great company. He was able to define several specific adjustments that were common to many if not all of the good companies that became great companies. In his book he pointed out that the one common characteristic that always held companies back from greatness was being a ‘good’ company. A pervasive attitude found anywhere within an organization that some strategy, practice or product was ‘good enough’ always kept that company from becoming great. This discovery became the general theme of the entire book.

Collins wrote; “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”

It’s true…Good is indeed the enemy of great. And unfortunately, as people we all too often settle for good enough. I too have been guilty of saying “good enough is good enough” on occasion. There have been times when I have even counseled others to be ok with good enough. However, if good enough keeps us from achieving greatness, then there is reason “good enough” (pardon the pun) not to allow that to happen.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to come home from a vacation and describe it as only having been ‘good enough’. I don’t want to be forced to ride with someone whose driving is only ‘good enough’. Those things matter, but what about these? Should we settle for a love for our families that can only be rated as ‘good enough’? Is it ok with us if we have marriages that are only able to garner a score of ‘good enough’? Is it satisfactory to say we are ‘good enough’ at being followers of Christ? Should we be satisfied with a prayer life that is ‘good enough’? How about having a ‘good enough’ handle on what God’s word says? Is it ok if we are ‘good enough’ at listening to the persuasions of the Holy Spirit? What would our plight be if Jesus, after being born as a baby in a manger, grew up, had His ministry, but when faced with death on a cross said, I don’t think I’ll go that far, what I have done already will have to be ‘good enough’. I’ll tell you where we would be…lost eternally.

So how do we avoid letting good be the enemy of great in our lives? After all, aren’t we all merely human beings? Don’t we have a propensity toward failure? Yes we are, and yes we do. So what to do? Stop living your life and you’ll stop failing to be great. Notice I did not suggest that you stop living, I suggested that we stop living our lives and instead let Christ live through us. We can try to be like Him, but our human condition dictates we will not meet with complete success…we will not be great at it. If we could, we would not need Him, we would already be…’good enough’. Our Bibles tell us that all have fallen short of the Glory of God.

Galatians 2:20 in the New King James Version offers the answer to just such a quandary. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. We don’t need to figure out how to act great, speak great or look great to be great. Instead, we can recognize that when we choose to abide in Christ and let Him live through us, we decrease while He increases. We move from good to great. If we let Him love through us, we will be great at loving others. If we let Him serve through us, we will be great at serving. If we let Him feed the hungry, heal the sick and mend the broken hearted through us, we will become great at doing those things. If I want to be a great dad, all I have to do is let Christ love and care for my children through me. If I want to be a great husband, All I have to do is let Him use me as a conduit to deliver His great love for my wife to her. If I want to be a great counselor all I have to do is share only the wisdom He points to in His word through the prompting of His Holy Spirit inside of me. If I want to be a great pastor, all I have to do is allow Him to serve and love others using my life. The scripture above essentially says that if I no longer look at my life as mine but rather as His…I can do all of these things, not just ‘good enough’, but in a great way!

In and of ourselves we aren’t really even ‘good enough’, never mind great, but when we choose to allow our great God to live through us, we begin to resemble the greatness of Him. We are not here to reflect the world around us, that wouldn’t even be ‘good enough’ when it comes to fulfilling our purpose, we were created to reflect our great creator. Each week I end my podcasts by encouraging you to “Go be awesome!” I say that because though in the flesh we don’t even measure up to ‘good enough’ when we are born of the Spirit, live by the urging of the Spirit and rely solely on the empowerment of Christ living inside of us…the result is not ‘good enough’ it is great…it is awesome!

So now, understanding that all things…even greatness…are possible through Christ strengthening you…Go be Awesome!

 

Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…The Right Stuff

In 1983 a new movie hit the box office entitled The Right Stuff. The film was all about the race into space, and man’s desire to walk on the moon he had been staring at in the night sky for eons. That is the way it is with mankind, we desire to go farther, faster and higher than we ever have before. The drive to do so is fueled by our desire for greatness. On some levels we all desire to be seen as great at what we do, and it never hurts our egos to hear we have the right stuff.

Every day mankind is in the race to become faster, better, smarter than we were the day before. On an individual basis we may be trying to work harder so we will be noticed and get that promotion that pays more. When we make more money we can drive a newer car, live in a better neighborhood, or send our kids to a more prestigious university. As a people we have been racing daily toward faster technology, better medicine, and things like energy independence. Sometimes we are even looking to the stars to see what new discoveries might be right there on the horizon just like in the movie I mentioned a moment ago. We do all of this in the name of progress.

There is value in progress, I’ll be the first to admit it. Make no mistake, I like many of the things progress has brought to my life. I am glad I can find out almost anything I am wondering by simply saying to my phone, “Hey Google…”. I like that I can heat a cup of cold coffee in about 60 seconds in the microwave. I am especially fond of indoor plumbing, something my own grandparents lived without at times. The problem with progress is that it can make us feel smart. What I mean by that is that it can begin to create the illusion that we know what is best and are capable of making it so. When this happens we begin to think we know what is right for us…and more dangerous yet, we think we are the determiners of what is right and wrong. We become our own authors of our own morality. It is the progressive thing to do.

The obvious problem with that for anyone who thinks about it for more than a second is that eventually in all of our progressiveness no one can deem something to be wrong because it might be determined to be right for someone else. When you follow that logic (or lack of logic) the following thinking can and does ensue; Stealing is ok as long as you don’t take too much. Killing is ok, as long as there is a good enough reason for it. Deeming some of God’s created people more valuable than others is ok if it serves your purposes. Allowing same gender couples to redefine marriage is ok if it will keep people from protesting angrily. Even choosing to ignore the gender God lovingly gave you and trading it for an imagined identity is ok if it makes you feel like you are in control. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:12 …But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. This is the way of humankind. When we try to circumvent God and His statutes because we find them too restrictive, all we have left to use as a standard for righteousness is us. And as Paul said, when we use ourselves as the standard, we have no understanding of the truth.

So what is the answer? Be courageous and stand for The Righteous Stuff. “But wait pastor Ken, won’t I be setting myself up for ridicule and risk being ostracized by those around me?” Yes, you will, and you might even face some forms of persecution for your stance. Why? Ultimately because you will not be standing for what you think as the opposition is, but rather because you will be standing for what God thinks, and people who want to write their own rules have great difficulty even acknowledging there is a God who has already authored the only righteousness that exists.

In Matthew 5:10-12 it is recorded that Jesus said Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. His disciple Peter echoed that in        1 Peter 3:13-17 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

As I said before, if the suffering were only because you thought differently and were standing in the way of someone’s desire to do their own thing, it might not seem worth it. However, righteousness is not your thought, it is God’s. It is a far different and better thing to ‘take one on the chin’ for what God thinks than simply for what you might think. Jesus went on to say; Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who went before you. Interestingly enough the apostle Peter also chimed in on this same additional thought. 1 Peter 4:12-14 reads, Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing has happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.

So the next time you are having a conversation with someone and your spirit inside of you is in turmoil, don’t try to see how you can fit their ignorance into your faith, determine to be ready to give a kind and gentle, but unwavering answer as to why you believe in The Righteous Stuff. If it doesn’t seem to go well…no worries, it actually did. God cannot and will not be in your debt. He has promised that your reward from Him will exceedingly outweigh any persecution you have endured for Him.

So now, determining to always stand for The Righteous Stuff. For Christ’s sake…Go be awesome!

I-d-o-l worship vs. I-d-l-e worship – August 26, 2021

Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…I-d-o-l worship vs. I-d-l-e worship.

 

Daniel Chapter 5:1-31 is where we read of the mysterious finger writing on the wall. The account from the book of Daniel in the New Living Translation begins as follows: Many years later King Belshazzar gave a great feast for 1,000 of his nobles, and he drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking the wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver cups that his predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. He wanted to drink from them with his nobles, his wives, and his concubines. So they brought these gold cups taken from the Temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. While they drank from them they praised their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. Suddenly, they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on the plaster wall of the king’s palace, near the lampstand. The king himself saw the hand as it wrote, and his face turned pale with fright. His knees knocked together in fear and his legs gave way beneath him…the rest of the chapter completes the account and I would encourage you to read it.

As I was reading this chapter it got me thinking about how such an archaic, seemingly specific to that situation, act of God can be applied to us today. While it is an incredible account from the Old Testament, one many Sunday school lessons for children have been written about, what is the message contained within for us to consider. Almost immediately the title for this podcast came to mind, and the rest just seemed to follow.

Belshazzar the son of the great Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, knew what his father’s life had been like. Nebuchadnezzar is to my knowledge the only example we have in scripture of a true case of narcissism that was turned around. Nebuchadnezzar loved himself above all else. He thought he was the best, strongest, mightiest, wisest ruler to ever walk the face of the earth. He gave no credit to God for the fact that his entire kingdom had been given to him with the express purpose of God using his strength to bring judgement upon the Israelites for their lack of acknowledging God. (It seem both he and the Israelite people had the same problem) As we read in the previous chapter of Daniel, the result of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and self-love (one of the defining characteristics of narcissism) was that he went crazy and crawled around on all fours eating grass and living in the fields without shelter for seven years! It was not until he was humbled and finally admitted that God was greater than he was and deserving of everyone’s honor that his sanity returned and his kingdom was restored to him.

Even though Belshazzar his son was fully aware of all of that, he too chose to elevate himself above God by using sacred goblets taken from the temple in Jerusalem to use during his drunken orgy, but he also chose to worship other gods at the same time. The result of this careless action was the hand of God wrote a warning to him on a wall with all of his guests witnessing it with him. The message; MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN God has numbered the days of your reign, and brought it to an end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Your kingdom is divided and given to the Meads and the Persians. (Daniel 5:25-28) That very night, Belshazzar was killed and King Darius of the Meads took over his kingdom.

I-d-o-l worship vs. I-d-l-e worship. This scriptural account gives cause for us to see that both are deadly. Belshazzar’s thinking was that the goblets were only wine glasses made of gold. However, he knew where they had come from. He knew they had been consecrated to the God of the Israelites. He also knew who God is because he was aware that his father Nebuchadnezzar had been forced to finally humble himself before God. His arrogant use of the goblets for a sinful debase party was an act of utter nonchalance to the highest extent. It was i-d-l-e worship. We must never trivialize the things God says are sacred. His word, His Son’s sacrifice, His church (the people), marriage…etc. When we take the things God holds dear and make them meaningless we are walking on very thin ice. Will God forgive someone who does these things and genuinely repents? Yes, ask the apostle Paul about that. But those who choose to do it as a way of life, and have no heart to do otherwise…they are in extreme danger!

The other thing Belshazzar was found guilty of was I-d-o-l worship. Not only did he take the things that were God’s and treated them with no respect, He openly worshiped his own gods, and thereby robbed God of His deserved worship and adoration. We like to think that I-d-o-l worship is a thing of the ancient past, or that it is only practiced by indigenous peoples of third world countries. If only this were so. I think there is more I-d-o-l worship in our great country than anywhere else on the planet. God requires the highest standing in our lives, it must be reserved for Him and Him alone. If God is not first place in our lives then something or someone else is, and that is I-d-o-l worship. I think we are also guiltier in our country perhaps than anywhere else on the globe of I-d-l-e worship. We do not as a people give the things God says are holy near the respect they deserve. Until we become humbled as a nation and seek God in all that we do, we are destined for further problems. 2 Chronicles 7:14 in the New King James Version reads as follows: If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

As a country, as a people, as individuals, I think it worthy to consider the account found in Daniel chapter five. I-d-o-lworship or I-d-l-e worship, both are epic failures as people to bring the glory and the honor deserved to…and reserved for…the One True God.

So now, making certain to give God all of the honor and respect He deserves as our God and King…Go be Awesome!

Hi this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Happy Anniversary to me!

Yes, today is my anniversary. On this day twenty-one years ago I married my lovely bride Lynn. I make this shameless plug not because I want everyone to know my personal business…I am not that guy. I tell you this because I love my wife immensely, and since this is our anniversary, I find my thoughts on this Thursday to be firmly fixed on her. God has blessed us and our marriage and I am incredibly fortunate to have her as my wife. She is absolutely the best, and anyone who knows us…knows I am the luckiest!

When I think of our twenty-one years together and look back at the sunny August day it all began, the theme that breaks through all of the bright memories of that day are the promises we made to God and to one another. Promises are a weighty thing. They are more than words. When it comes to nuptials, they are conditions we willingly place on ourselves for the duration of our time on this planet. As people we all fail to keep our promises perfectly. No married person among us could say that we have cherished our spouse with every thought, action and word in every moment of every day since we married. There is only One who always keeps His promises.

So what are the promises made to us by our God who likens Himself to being our groom and us His Bride?

He promises to always want to hold our hand. Isaiah 41:10 says: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Just a few verses later in verse 13 He says; For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you. God reiterates that promise in Psalm 37:23-24: The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. I don’t know about you but it is almost too wonderful for me to consider that if I will only walk by His side and choose to position myself close to Him…my God always desires to hold my hand.

He promises to be a source of unending peace. Isaiah 26:3 says of God; You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. In John 14:27 Jesus made this awesome promise to us regarding peace; Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. In John 16:33 Jesus went on to promise; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Our groom has in fact through His resurrection conquered everything…even death! Everything in heaven and on the earth has been placed under His authority. There is tremendous peace that comes from recognizing that we are loved and cared for by the One with supreme power over all. Because of that, Paul was able to go on to write in Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

He promised to always be there for us. Deuteronomy 31:8 says; The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Exodus 14:14 tells us; The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. Isaiah 43:2 encourages us that no matter what this life may throw at us, no matter what trouble may be on the horizon, our groom will be right there with us through it all; When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Psalm 23:4 continues that theme, there the Psalmist makes it clear that;  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Finally, one of the promises of God that I love so much, one that is an encouragement of His ever presence with me is found in Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. No matter what God asks of us He has promised to always be there for us every step of the way!

Why?

He promises that He loves us! Psalm 86:5 says; You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Isaiah 54:10 Says of His great love for us; Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Centuries later Paul wrote of our groom’s love for us in Ephesians 3:16-19 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. God promised that He will always love us. We know that love to be true as Paul wrote because while we were yet sinners, not caring at all for Him, Christ died for us. Jesus substantiated that by saying that it takes tremendous love to be willing to lay down one’s life to save another…exactly what He did for us!

There are many, many promises from God’s word toward us…His bride. There would be no way in this format for me to offer but a small spattering of them as I have done. It is good to know however that He promises to always hold onto us. He promises to give us peace, because He also promised to always be right there with us. How can He make such Promises? Because He has promised to us his great and unending Love. In contrast, His promises kind of makes the promises I made to Lynn twenty-one years ago seem kind of feeble. So what does He require of us in response to those awesome promises? It’s simple really. Give everything we have and are to Him so He can give all He has to us!

So now, basking in the promises your groom has made to you, walking ever close by His side…go be awesome!

Mirror Mirror on the Wall who is the Most Holy of Them All – August 16, 2021

Hi this is pastor Ken and this is my Monday Marriage Message…Mirror, Mirror on the Wall Who is the Most Holy of Them All

Genesis 1:26,27 reads; Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Last week I spoke about the truth that God wants us to experience a oneness in our marriages that is much like the oneness shared within the Trinity. I spoke of the imperative existence of oneness in our marriages, and the fact that it isn’t simply a desirable augmentation when possible, but rather a position that God intends all marriages to operate from. Today I want to speak with you about the Second truth I want to glean from this scripture – “In our image and in our likeness.” The intent of God was to create of every marriage an entity that reflected Him in all of its ways. His desire was that people would recognize that likeness is exclusive to the rest of creation, and was purposed so they could commune together in perfect harmony. God has many qualities and characteristics that He desires to see reflected in mankind so that both…might fully recognize the special nature of the relationship of man to God and God to man.

The stated intent of creating mankind is that mankind reflect the creator. I will draw your attention in the coming weeks to the fact that marriage is an integral part of the creation account. As such, the marriage of a man to a woman is intended to further the understanding and capability to accurately reflect God. It is most important that we understand we are created to reflect God in both His image and His likeness. This alone is enough to keep theologians busy for their professional careers trying to fully understand it and convey to us its truths. Obviously then, I will only brush the surface of its meaning and will do so in the simplest of terms.

God is many things…countless are His attributes. In our fallen state we cannot begin to know who He is and how He operates in His entirety. God’s word tells us in Isiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. Therefore, we are wisest to admit that we cannot know even a fraction of what we are created to reflect, yet we would be foolish to allow that to make us believe ourselves unable to do what we were created to do. In other words, though we will be finding out the depth of God’s character and attributes for all eternity, we are responsible to begin emulating each one of them as they become known to us.

What we can know is the nature of God…that He is Holy. His holiness has some defining parameters. Holiness will not allow for sinful action. In fact, the opposite of any sin you can name is holiness. The opposite of a liar is not an honest person, it is holiness. The opposite of a thief is not a preserver, it is holiness. The opposite of a cheater is not a faithful person it is holiness. Therefore, we can know that we are to reflect only those things which are holy. God’s word says as much in 1 Peter 1:15,16 But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” It is interesting to note that this scripture is not the overbearing, impossible command that it is sometimes mistaken for. Rather the connotation is actually that of God attempting to draw us into becoming like Him in order that we might be in right relationship with Him, just as a man might attempt to woo the object of his affection. From this we can extract two things. First that we are called to ensure that our actions do not violate the holiness we are to reflect. Sinful actions never reflect the image and likeness of God. Second, holiness is possible. God does not give us instructions we cannot practice. Notice I did not say perfect. In this life we are being perfected so that in the next we can be presented to Christ as a perfect bride without spot or blemish. (Ephesians 5:27) We must practice reflecting God’s holiness both as individuals and as a part of our marriages if we are to fulfill His purpose for our creation.

Questions to Answer:

  1. Do you agree that the creator gets to determine the purpose of the created?
  2. How do you each think you do at recognizing the necessity to be reflective of God in your everyday lives?
  3. How can you be reminded that your words and actions must reflect the nature of God?

Actions to Take:

  1. Tell your spouse one area you see where you feel they do a good job of reflecting God.
  2. Thank your spouse for being willing to allow God to take control of their life in that area.
  3. Pray that God will help you see the areas He wants you to reflect Him better.

So now, determining to reflect God in every way possible, go be awesome!

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