When does God want me to ‘pop the question’?

 

This is a question which men around the world have to wrestle with all the time. Is there a right time to pop the question, is there a set time. Do you get to so many months or years and then that’s when it is acceptable to pop the question. Well I don’t believe that to be the case. I am firm believer that when you know, you know. So for me, when you meet someone for the first time your thought should be “Is this the person I want to marry?” May seem slightly on the forward side but that should be running through your mind. Now you can test this over a number of months possibly a year to see is this the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. I must admit I have aimed this post at men who would be thinking of popping the question but of course ladies you can read this if you are wanting to ask your boyfriend to marry you.

So what criteria are there when considering if you should ask the girl you are with if they would marry you?

1. Do you love them?

This may seem obvious and non-Christians reading this may see this as a criteria for marriage but actually the importance of this is so great. In the book of Ephesians there is a call for men to love their wives as Christ loved the church (husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25 ESV) Now I don’t know about other men reading this who may be thinking about asking their girlfriends to marry them but when you hear what Paul is saying here about the love which husbands should have for their wives it seems a bit daunting. But this is why it is the first port of call in questioning if you should marry the girl you are with. Do you love her? Love her so much you would be willing to give yourself up for her? Now I don’t think this is just that age old “would you die for her” sort of thing but, would you be willing to make sacrifices for her, give things up out of love for her. For example you may be like to go out partying every other night but that means that you don’t see much of your girlfriend, this is not a stable situation to find yourself in when it comes to marriage, so would you be willing to give up in that situation going out every other night and maybe instead only go out once every other week, or so. These are the sacrifices that Paul is talking about here.

2. Are they a Christian?

This is a topic of much debate. I would personally myself feel it most advisable to marry a Christian. I feel this is because of issues such as baptism of children, can the children go to church and so on. Not only this but there can be issues with moral standpoints and views which can lead to if not start arguments or debates. Saying this however Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians says this (To the rest I say (I not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever and he consents to living with her, she should not divorce him….. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know husband whether you will save you wife? 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 ESV).

Now this long passage may look a bit OTT but Paul is basically saying “look you don’t know what could happen with an unbelieving partner, you never know through your marriage they could come to faith” which sounds great because if you truly love someone and they are not a believer why is the thing you want most of all? That they would be saved and know the Lord Jesus as their Saviour.

3. Do they want the same things in life i.e Children?

This is admittedly more of a practical criteria really. But none the less is a very important criteria. The main example I have used for this criteria is children. The simple fact is if one of you does not want children this may lead to regret, anger or resentment. But this can be the same for any issue, such as where you want to live, what your jobs situations are like. This is obviously something which can be solved very easily with a number of conversations. You can easily discuss future plans. Obviously if you were planning a surprise of asking your partner to marry you, then make these conversations discreet but make sure you cover and think of everything.

4. Could you stand living with them?

This is also a more practical criteria. It is easy to thing someone is the most amazing person in the world when you see them for a couple of hours a day. But living with them is a completely different kettle of fish. It may be that they are loud eaters, or they snore or they are messy. Now I am not suggesting that you can not marry them if they snore. But these are things you need to take in to consideration and also have a conversation about. The most important thing to do in this new step forward in your life is to keep talking to each other.

5. Do you really love them?

Now why have I put this point you may be wondering? Well this is because as we saw in our first point you have to love your wife as Christ loved the church. But like at the end of John’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter (Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. John 21:15 ESV) Now Jesus asks this of Peter to make sure Peter is going to be willing to go that extra mile for him. Jesus is testing Peters love making sure Peter is ready to follow Jesus through thick and thin. This is the love you need to be certain you have for your soon to be wife and the love that they equally have for you. Then you will know if you are willing to through thick and thin for each other.

So there we go, we have been through five issues which I feel are grounds to think on when wondering about marriage. Are there more? probably depending on your situation with your partner. Are there less? No, I don’t think so.

I do hope if you are reading this and looking at going into marriage, that God will bless you and your future wife in all that you do together and that you will keep God the creator of marriage in the centre.

God bless
Gareth

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The greatest Christmas present.

 

 

 

It’s Christmas time again, it comes around every year, shops are packed with people, Christmas music playing everywhere and TV channels taken up mostly with Christmas films. Then someone comes along and makes a video or writes a blog saying:

Put Christ back into Christmas.

Save Christmas!

In this post I am, in a way, asking for those things… but I am not here to attack the commercialisation of Christmas. Instead, I will try to make clear some truths about Christmas. That, yes indeed we want Christ back in Christmas, but not just little baby Jesus meek and mild. We need to think of Jesus as Lord and saviour, King of kings.

I will base a lot of this post around the verse:

 
 
1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV)

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost

 

Yes Jesus did come as a baby but we cannot and should not stray away or dwell on that which will take us from the real reason of Jesus’ coming and that he was to be a sacrifice, as a sacrifice for our sins, so that in his coming he would save all those who trust in him. We must remember this “oh so familiar story” of a child being born in Bethlehem but see it as the coming of a king, The King of Kings, the coming of The Lord of the Earth, the one who would come and save all those who believe in him. We must stick to this, we must not stray or focus for too long on little baby Jesus, but see what this whole event points to…

It points to the child who is a king.

It points to a child who will become a sacrifice.

If you are reading this and you are a non believer you may be sat there wondering, “What is this guy going on about?” But I am saying that to a non -believer Christmas is a time of a hope, that because we are all sinners and we all mess up, that God did not just sit back and watch us destroy ourselves but instead gave us hope.

Hope in Christ…

 

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

This child mentioned in this passage is the hope of our salvation, this child is Jesus, prophesised 400 years before Jesus was born. At Christmas time, at the time of Jesus’ birth he had the expectation of being the messiah/ the saviour resting on his shoulders. 33 years later at the cross Jesus has the sins of the whole world upon his shoulders. So that all those who trust in him will be saved. God gave this the greatest Christmas present, this amazing gift of mercy and forgiveness out of love for us.

 

John 3:16 (ESV)

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

So to sum up if you are a believer reading this, stay steadfast and firm to this truth, that Jesus’ coming was the beginning on the steps towards salvation. But don’t sit back this Christmas, tell people about God’s greatest gift, this Christmas share this gift with others, tell others of the love that Christ has for them. If you are a non-believer reading this, please trust in the hope found in Jesus, trust that in him your sins are forgiven. In Jesus you are saved.

Trust the hope of Christ this Christmas.

Have a blessed Christmas.

Gareth

 

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I Could Do A Better Job Than That!

We can not avoid in the news today yet another disaster. Another killing. Another case of child abduction or abuse. This can and does put people off the idea of God. It is easy when you see these things to wonder “if there is a God, why is he idly  watching by? letting these things happen?”

The answer to this is Sin.

The effect of sin is bigger than the damage it has on humans, but also its impact on creation. We live in a fallen world. A world which could be perfect but because of sin is marred.

So where did this all start then, well in Genesis 3.

 

Genesis 3: 17-19

17And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

In this passage then the key verses are 17-18. Because of the sin of taking from the tree of knowledge which God told Adam and Eve to not take from, God cuts them off from all the potential knowledge and power of the tree but also because of their sin informs them that certain things will not work in creation as well as they had done before “The Fall”. When God created the world he declared it good having made it perfect. But now, “Post Fall” the world is not so good, the word used in verse 17 “Cursed” meant the ground was now not considered good but instead fallen, broken.

The way to imagine all this is that now the world is sick from sin. It needs to be given a cure to the disease of sin.

Sin is the cause of all the pain and suffering, all the natural disasters, Pre-fall there is no sign of hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis and suffering and death. It is only after sin entered the world that the world becomes broken, becomes fallen and imperfect. Soon following the first sin is the first murder, so powerful is influence of sin.

So the reason for all the shocking things that we see on the news are because of the fallen world we live in, because of the sin of our first parents Adam and Eve.

But does this mean God has done nothing about it?

No… Quite the opposite.

 

 

Romans 8: 18-23

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

 

God had a plan. A rescue plan for creation and for us. One in which he would give his only son up for us and creation.  God saw the effect and damage that sin had on the world. To tackle the infection of Sin, God sent his only son to be a sacrifice for our sins. He came to make us and the world right with him. Jesus came to take away the power of sin by dying on our behalf.

Jesus came to make us and creation righteous. Righteous meaning right with God.

In the passage above we see that as we look and long for the return of Christ, the one who has taken the punishment for our sins, so does creation, it “waits with eager longing”. Creation looks for a release from the bondage of sin just as much as we do.

Does all this mean then that as soon as you become a Christian there is no suffering in your life and in the world around you. Well no. Until Christ returns again there will be death, and there will be natural disasters and famine. But when Christ comes again and we are taken to Heaven we will be in a place of no more tears and no more sorrow. 

 

 

Revelation 21:1-4

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

This glorious picture of what life will be like when Christ returns, shows us that there is hope. There is hope and an end to suffering. We know that through Christ and only through Christ can the world be healed more importantly only through Christ can we be forgiven “healed” of our sin.

God bless.

G.

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A marriage that glorifies… and a marriage that offends…

Over recent years the gift of marriage has been disregarded or neglected by modern society. This is by either people deciding not to marry, or infidelity, money problems, abuse in the relationship or people rushing into something they don’t fully understand. This statistics say it all really:

Latest statistics (published December 2012) estimate that 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce.

This simply is not the way marriage, a gift from God was meant to be. Marriage was a gift from God to us, a gift which we are to use to glorify God. The key problem lies at the fact more and more the world drifts further away from the God ordained marriage of the Bible.

We are going to look at firstly how it is God ordained and secondly how people have drifted from it.

Genesis 2:18-25

18Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called Woman,

because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

This is the creation of Eve the first woman and this is Adam’s reaction to the blessing of Eve’s creation. He rejoices at the fact they came from one. One became two. This fantastic way of creation that God chooses to do, is symbolically put back together in verse 24-25. These verses are based on and are all about marriage, this shows firstly Marriage is between a man and a woman and can only be between a man and a woman, because this is how God created marriage to be. This quashes the opinions that marriage can be between two people of the same sex, that is going against the creational ordinance that God put in place for marriage. So a factor in the destruction of marriage is the people that try to make it something it isn’t and never was intended to be.  But that marriage means more than is sometimes seen in the 21st century, where it might just be the joining of two people who haven’t tested the waters, instead its for two people who feel a deep love for each other. Marriage is the reconnection of a man and a woman together as one. A sign of God’s awesome power in creation and his sovereignty.

So these verses show that marriage is an ordinance put in place by God, at the start of creation. He made man and woman this way, and he made marriage to bring them together as one, and because this is God’s creational order we can not go messing around with it.

Lets now see how in some ways people are drifting from what marriage originally was made for by God.

1 Corinthians 7: 10-11

10To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11(but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

The way that people have drifted in relation to this passage, is that people are to quick to divorce, instead of seeing divorce as a last resort. They instead marry with the thought “well if it doesn’t work out, I can always divorce.” Which is the wrong thought to have when going into marriage, in fact when entering into marriage, divorce should not even be in your mind. Now i know there are perfectly justifiable reasons for divorce I.e. infidelity, abuse. But in all other situations in marriage you need to work through it and let divorce be the last resort not the first port of call. Through perseverance through trials you find you are more suited to marriage than you previously thought, but if you jump ship and divorce you can find yourself having missed the opportunity to solve the problems.

1 Timothy 3: 2-4

2Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,

The reason for quoting this passage, is for part of verse 2. This passage is calling for husbands to be the husband to one wife. Which in this modern culture is seeming to be ignored on a more prolific basis.

25.4% of married men and 18.3% of married women and have cheated on their current partners at least once.

Most affairs start in the work-place – 38.8% of women have an affair with a work colleague in comparison to 30.7% of men.

These statistics are shocking to look at, when you see how high the figures are, you see there is a problem of infidelity in our culture, and it seems to be accepted as life now. It seems to be condoned instead of being condemned. This needs to be cracked down. You need to see that the Bible calls for monogamy from all marriages. The reality is, that this not only offends God, because of the complete disregard for his gift or marriage but also breaks the heart of the people who are cheated on.

To sum up marriage needs to be taken seriously, it needs to be a step taken by people convinced that they have met the person not that they can live with, but the person they cant live without. Marriage should glorify God, it should point people to him in the love that you show for each other. It should be an act of grace which people see the Lord Jesus Christ in. Your marriage should glorify God, not offend him. If you are a Christian i plead that you take this Biblical argument to keep marriage pure seriously. Pray for your countries government that they will keep marriage between a man and a woman, instead of “trying to find equality”.

I hope this post helped clarify a few things for you.

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God bless.

Gareth

Marriage is not for me: It’s for Jesus!

I was struck recently by a blog that was trending on social media, about a man who had blogged on his revelation that marriage was not for him but instead it was for his wife and future family.

This seems like a romantic gesture which may make us thing “awww isn’t that sweet”. But the reality of marriage is far greater than romantic gestures. We get a sense in the New Testament that the Love between married couples should be deep and profound, but in looking a little more depth we find that the love involved in marriage is a deeper much more beautiful truth.

We are going to focus on the passage found in Ephesians chapter 5:

22Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

This passage which so often can be mistreated, missused or even ignored is a beautiful statement of what marriage should be.  We find in this passage, in Verse 22:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Now how many of you stopped reading right there, because that sounds terrible? Why should a wife submit to her husband? Why should she give into him as the leader?  Well that is looking at it in the negative light as is seen so often because of those who claim to be Christians who misuse this verse as an excuse to abuse their wife’s. Well this verse does not condone violence if anything later on in these verses it basically condemns that sort of behaviour. Instead the explanation of the submission that the wife should have to the husband is explained in these verses:

23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

So verse 23 suggests that the husband is the head of the family, this is a creation institution, pointing back to the time of Adam and Eve, but the key verse that defends the biblical submission of the wife to the husband is mapped out in Verse 24. If the husband is the head, that means he is like Christ (verse 23) so because of the that the wife is like The Church (verse 24). This means the Church seeks to serve and submit to Christ. Any Christian out there part of the Church wants to glorify Jesus and serve him in everyway they can. So the wife should be willing to do this because this is like Paul saying, “Look, what you do for your husband should be a mirror of what you do for Christ in the Church.” You want to serve Christ in the Church and from that should be an overflowing to serve your husband as you serve Christ. All of this is to point people to Jesus. In 1 Corinthians Paul states that if a wife who is a believer has an unbelieving husband and serves him in Biblical submission, it will help point him to Jesus. Now, I am not suggesting for a moment this means the wife does not have to love her husband. That is nonsense. Paul also says in 1 Corinthians that if you do not have Love you are useless, “like a clanging cymbal”. The wife needs to have love for her husband, so through that love she will understand the need to submit to her husband.

So that’s the verses about the wife sorted now we look at the husband.

25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

So now having seen the wife’s submitting, the men reading this may think they have it easy. But I assure you the men do not have the easy task of these two commands for marriage. To truly understand the enormity of the husbands tasks we need to go back to the Greek.

25 Οἱ ἄνδρες, ἀγαπᾶτε τὰς γυναῖκας, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν καὶ ἑαυτὸν παρέδωκεν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς

This may look confusing but trust me this will help explain a lot of things. The word used in this command for love is  αγαπε (ag-a-pae). Two variants of this word come up in this passage. The first is the love that the husband should have for his wife, and the second is the love that Christ has for the Church. Now there are a number of words for love in the Greek language. But here Paul uses the same word. This means that husbands need to love their wife’s in exactly the same way as Christ loves the Church. What does that mean?  Well I’m sure all of you reading this know that means that like Christ who loved the Church so much he came and he died on the cross so that those who believe in him will be forgiven. Which means husbands need to love their wife’s self-sacrificially, being willing to give all they have for their wife’s. This may sound like romantic love, the kind that makes you all warm and fuzzy inside, the kind which makes a good movie. But actually this love, this example of Love that we have for one another can point people to the most amazing, perfect and awesome example of Love that has ever been shown. That is Jesus. Through His sacrifice on The Cross for those who believe in Him. As the well known verse from Johns Gospel says:

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

So please let us see that marriage is about love yes! But Love of Biblical proportions. A love that has lead to the salvation of all who trust in Jesus.

My prayer is that your marriage, your future marriage will not only model this but also that you will come to know( if you do not already) the amazing love, the perfect love which Christ has for you!

God Bless

Gareth.

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