Valentine’s day: a day of love.

Valentine’s day. What can you say really. Fluffy teddies with love hearts everywhere. Every husband or boyfriend believes he has become Michael Buble with their song writing skills. But should Christians celebrate it? Is there anything to celebrate?

I am going to stick my neck out on the line and say that it is ok for Christians to celebrate it. It is a day of celebrating love between two people. It is  a day where married couples may snuggle up on the sofa and remember the day they pledged their vows to each other. It is a day of being thankful for the love that couples share. Now the problem is, how much do we celebrate? Is it right for Christians to be buying love hearts and buying a tonne of Chocolate?

We have to make sure we are only celebrating the love not idolising it.

In the Bible love is a gift from God. Our love for each other, our partners and spouses is a reflection of that love. We need to remember that love comes from God. So on Valentine’s day we should remember to thank God for the love we share. Then we remove the risk of idolising love. I think because of the reason that love is a gift from God and bearing in mind Paul says we have nothing if we don’t have love it is right that we give thanks for it. The joy it brings, the happiness it brings to peoples life’s. So we should give thanks thanks that God has given us love.

The day could also be a reminder especially those who are married to think over their commitment to their partner. To think if they love their spouse as the Bible calls them to love, to love self-sacrificially, giving all to their partner. In doing this also praising God that He has blessed them with the love that they share with each other.

So I hope whatever you are doing for Valentine’s you are thanking God for those you love in your life and those who love you, remembering that the love that you share is a gift from God. You are blessed.

I hope you have enjoyed this short message on Valentine’s day.

God bless,

Gareth

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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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