Archive for April, 2012
Now in verse 26, the rhythm of this creation account breaks. If you could read it in the original Hebrew, the writer wanted it to break to show the uniqueness of what it means to be a man or a woman.
Verse 26, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”
God said, “Let us…”
“What do you mean, ‘us’? I thought God was one.”
Well, he is one. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Unity and diversity; three in one, one in three. They are coexistent and coeternal with one another. I’m talking about the Godhead, the Trinity.
We’re made, I’m made, in the image of God. We’re made uniquely male and uniquely female. There is a unique masculine soul and there’s a unique feminine soul. We’re not animals. I repeat, we’re not animals. We’re fully human.
What does it mean to be fully human? We’re made in the image of God. That means we have physical bodies and spiritual bodies. There’s integration with the physical and the spiritual.
The other day a guy said to me, “Hey, Ed, that’s just my spiritual life.”
I looked at him and said, “Like there’s another one?”
Everything is spiritual. Sex is spiritual. My body, your body, is spiritual. We jump on an airplane and we’re flying—that’s spiritual. We’re fully physical and full spiritual. We’re made in the image of God. God sent Jesus Christ to live on planet Earth. He had a body. He died on the cross for our sins and spilled his blood for our redemption. He was buried and he rose again. He had a bodily resurrection. The Church is called the body of Christ. And the Bible says when we clock out, when we go from this life to the next, we’ll have new and resurrected bodies. So, matter matters in God’s economy.
You’re like, “Ed, you’re right. I mean, the words of Jesus are so true.” Others are like, “Wow, that kind of makes me uncomfortable. I want to start locking the doors. I don’t dig that.” Yet, scripture tells us that this unloading thing is going to be totally off the chain.
Look what Malachi says. Malachi 3:10 says, “Will a man rob God?” That’s what God said. And he says, “Well you rob me, but you ask how? Well, in tithes and offerings.” And a tithe is simply 10 percent; it is the first 10 percent that we make. And we’re not giving, we’re just bringing it because remember, it’s already God’s anyway.
Offerings would be over and above the tithes. So “you’re robbing me,” God says, “in tithes and offerings. You’re under a curse, the whole nation of you, because you’re robbing me.” Now that’s interesting because we can either be under a blessing or a curse.
If we rob God and keep the tithe, and spend it on ourselves, we’re under a curse. If we bring the tithe to the storehouse, to The House, we’re going to be blessed. Well let me think, “Do I want to be cursed or blessed?” I’ll take the blessings, and I think you will as well.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this.” This is the only place where God says, “Test me. Test me. Just try it.”
“And see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” How can you not do this? I don’t know. That’s between you and God. I mean, if you have some side deal with God I don’t know.
Just say that over and over and over, because what that will help you to do is it will help you to put your marriage on cruise control. It will help you to just be very apathetic and very predictable as a spouse. And then you crank out a couple of kids. And you’re going to chase the career, Dad. And, Mom, you’re going to sort of orbit your life around the needs of the kids. And then you have marital drift going on.
And when you have marital drift going on and you say, “Hey, it cannot happen to me; we’re not going to have an affair,” guess what? You are setting yourself up for an affair. It’s just a matter of time before you have an affair. It’s just a matter of time before you end up in the wrong bed. It will happen.
So, we need to learn how to do this, okay? How do you have an affair? Well, that’s the first thing you do. You say, “It can’t happen to me. It can’t happen to me. It can’t happen to me.”
Cultivate The Relationship With The Third Party
Number 2: Cultivate your relationship with this third party. Because let’s face it, we’re men and women here. All of us. We’re either a man or a woman. Am I talking too fast? We’re sexual creatures and we’re going to be attracted to members of the opposite sex. That’s just going to happen.
I used to think 24 years ago, before I got married, “Well, once, once I get married I guess I’ll never be attracted to members of the opposite sex.” I really thought that. I was young when I got married. Lisa and I walked down the wedding runner and we went to Hawaii on our honeymoon. One day I saw this girl by the pool, and I was like, “Whoa!” Was something wrong with me? No! We’re going to be attracted to members of the opposite sex.
And like two hours later, it seemed like, she looked back and she said, “I love you, too.”
Well now, we didn’t just say it, we demonstrated it. So we’ve said it a squillion times; we also demonstrate it. We boldly back it up every day of our marriage.
God says he loves you and loves me, but he boldly backs it up. Think about it. God has said, “I love you,” and all heaven is waiting for your response. He’s brought you to this point, maybe to this service to hear this. God says, “I love you.” And he’s boldly backed it up. He’s waiting for your response. What’s your response? Are you going to hydroplane over it? Are you going to reject it? Are you going to do the stiff arm and push-back? Or, are you going to say, “I love you, too”?
And, are you going to demonstrate your love. Because again, what’s the key to walking in the fullness of the unconditional love of Jesus? Obedience. And I’m not talking about a legalistic trip. I’m talking about a love relationship. We live a life of purity, a life of holiness before God. It’s not out of our own strength and power, but because of his grace and mercy. We live it because we love him. We want to access the best for our lives, and the best is when we walk in sync with the Lord, when we walk in concert with him, when we walk in this unconditional, unfathomable, one-of-a-kind love. When we do that, we’ll find ourselves doing things that are just totally supernatural. We’ll feel the supernatural octane in our lives that the world just doesn’t have.
What did Jesus say in John 10:10? “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Maybe in your translation, it says “…to the full.” The word “abundance” in the Greek is pronounced “par-a-soss.”
However, there is one person that can take affirmation and admiration in my life to an HNL: a ‘hole ‘notha level. Lisa. When Lisa affirms me and admires me; when she says, “Honey, I loved today’s message.” Wow, that just does it for me! The power of affirmation and admiration.
Scripture is so cool because it puts it in words that women can understand. Scripture calls words jewelry. You think I’m lying to you? If you have your Bibles turn to the book of Proverbs 25:11. This is the jewelry verse. Ladies, you might use this verse as leverage for your man to buy you some nice jewelry. Check it out. Proverbs 25:11, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”
Bling, bling; ka‑ching ka‑ching.
Study your spouse. Know what puts wind in their sail. A touch, a look, a comment? That’s TLC. We have got to be about affirmation and admiration. Those are some good horses to ride. They will take you to the door of marital fulfillment.
Well, instead of being defensive as we discussed, what can we do or what should we be? How about vulnerability? Say that with me, “Vulnerability.” That’s hard to even say.
Vulnerability and intimacy are intrinsically tied together. We don’t need to be defensive; we need to be vulnerable. When I’m vulnerable with Lisa and when she’s vulnerable with me, we share our fears, our dreams, our successes, our questions, and vulnerability.
Men, we don’t naturally do the whole vulnerability thing, do we? That’s not really in our DNA. Yet, I would challenge you to create venues of vulnerability. You can’t have vulnerability on the fly. You can’t have vulnerability when you’re over committed, over stimulated, and over the top. You can’t have vulnerability when you’re just flying through the game of life. We have to stop and create venues of vulnerability.
There is something that I have learned about getting dressed. You have got to have adequate light to get dressed, don’t you? Have you ever made the mistake of getting dressed in the dark? I have. You know I like to wear the color black. And I have things that are blue and black. Now when I get dressed in the dark, many times I will put on a black coat, blue pants, one black sock, one blue sock. Well, Jesus knew that we need light to get dressed up. He said we should dress up in readiness. The second thing He said was to light up. Dress up and then light up.
We go back to our text in Luke 12. He said be dressed in readiness and keep your lamps alight. Keep your lamps alight. We just got into the lamp thing so let me explain it a little further. Back then, you had a little boat of oil with a cotton wick. You would light the wick, but you would need to keep the boat filled with oil. Also you had to constantly trim and cut back the wick. If you didn’t, the light would go out and the house would be dark. Well the chief servant said to light up, light up, light up. He was not talking about smoking cigarettes. He was saying, keep your lamps going because you don’t know when the head of the household, the homeowner, will come back. Light up.
Jesus often told us to be lights. We are the light to the world. Light dispels darkness. So as I am dressed in readiness, I am also to light up. I am to reflect Christ in everything that I do.
Remember I said that sometimes wedding parties would last for about one week? Well here is what would take place in the Jewish household. The groom would make his way to the bride’s house and they would get married. Sometimes the ceremony would last a pretty long time. After the ceremony, perhaps after midnight, there would be a big parade from the bride’s house to the groom’s house. Fathers, can you imagine paying for this one?
The ten bridesmaids were waiting for the parade. They were getting tired. They had been at the salon all day, getting hair and nails done. Jesus said that five of these bridesmaids were smart because they brought with them lamps and oil for their lamps. But five of the bridesmaids were unwise, let’s call them airheads. They brought lamps but no oil. All of them were waiting for the parade. They must have had a long-winded pastor; they waited a long time. Finally, finally, finally the parade starts. The five bridesmaids who had oil said, “Oh, girl, it is going to be great.” They were into it, following along; they were ready for it. When they got to the groom’s house, they went in and had a great time at the party.
Well, the five airheads, said, “We have no oil!” And they tried to make it to 7Eleven to buy some oil. But all the stores were closed. When they got to the groom’s house they said, “Sir, sir open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.” Then Jesus said, “Be on alert then for you do not know the day nor the hour.” One more time I ask you, are you dressed in readiness? Are you ready? Are you prepared for the rapture?
Maybe, just maybe, you can see yourself on one of those canvases. Or maybe you see some emotion. Or maybe you’re looking into the eyes right now of someone who has hurt you deeply. Maybe you think about an ex spouse, or maybe you’re thinking about a parent or a grandparent, an uncle, an aunt, a son, a daughter, a teacher, a coach. We’ve all been betrayed.
He was betrayed. He was the apple of his father’s eye. He was taken advantage of. He was pushed into a pit. He was bound in chains. He met a couple of common criminals, one made it, the other didn’t. Because of his suffering a nation was saved.
Who am I talking about? Well, a lot of you are going, “I know who you’re talking about, and you’re talking about Joseph because we’ve been discussing Joseph recently around here.” You’re exactly right. I’m talking about Joseph, that Old Testament figure.
But I’m also talking about another man, Jesus. Because Jesus’ and Joseph’s lives sort of intersect. There are a lot of similarities. There are some analogies that need to be lifted off the page of scripture and downloaded into our lives. Think about Jesus. Just for a second think about Joseph. They were both very familiar with people they trusted who suddenly turned on them.
Betrayal happens during those decisive moments, doesn’t it? Think about your life. Think about your existence. When success happens, when you’re blessed, when you’re on the receiving end of the favor of God, usually sniffing around that blessing is a betrayer. A betrayer comes at those crucial moments.
A gentleman walked in who was employed at this place and he looked at me and the Bible and asked what I was doing. I replied that I was studying for a talk that I was going to give about what God and the Bible says about the end times. He replied that he did not believe in the God of the Bible but that what I was doing was fascinating. I asked him to tell me about his worldview and about his life. I asked whether he considered himself a skeptic or a seeker. He said that he was kind of open. I said that if he was I had a book to recommend for him. MERE CHRISTIANITY by C.S. Lewis. I told him that it is a little book that would rock him. He asked if I minded sending him a copy and I promised to do that.
He walked over and sat down at a table about 10 feet away from me. I continued to study. I felt the Holy Spirit of God saying to me, “Isn’t it wild? Here you are talking about the second coming of Christ and here you are ready but seated at a table 10 feet from you is a skeptic who is not ready.” How many of you would consider living the rest of your life naked? Any takers? “I am just going to do life nude, at the office, at the golf course, the health club. I don’t like clothes.” That would be ridiculous. That line of thinking would be crazy, yet we rub shoulders with so many people who are living life spiritually naked, without clothes on, without readiness. And they are missing what the Lord has for them.
Jesus must have loved talking about weddings. In Matthew 25 he used another illustration to talk about the end of times. He used this wedding picture. He said that there were ten bridesmaids waiting for a wedding parade.
Look at what we try to do here. We try to communicate our vision, to give the vision before the people and get your vision before your spouse, before your family, before your co-workers. You see, in the midst of your problems, communicate that vision. It’s vital. It’s important. You know what Proverbs 29:18 says? “Where there is no vision, the people will perish”. If you don’t have vision in your life, you’re regressing, you’re falling away. Your character is crumbling. Finally, the third thought…you’ve got to complete it. I’m talking about concrete steps to complete your vision. Write it down. Outline it. “What’s it going to take for me to get through this problem? To get out of the mud? What’s it going to take in regard to my family, my spouse, my co-worker, this church?” You see? Write it out.
Most of you don’t realize this, but I have very poor eyesight. The other day I was having an eye exam and I had my contacts out, didn’t have my glasses on and I could barely even tell if there were dots on the little eye chart there. But then the eye doctor put these contacts on, beep, beep, everything became clear. You see, my vision is distorted because I have an astigmatism. Spiritually speaking, our vision has been distorted and blurred because of sin, right? We can’t really see with great vision, with great clarity, until we receive the grace of God, until we get right with Jesus Christ. Then He says, “I want to give you my contacts. I want to give you my glasses, the perfect prescription for you”. We put them on. Bong! There’s the vision! There is the vision! But the problem is most folks are running around, “No, no, no God. I don’t want your contacts. I don’t want your glasses. I can strain. I can see, God” and wham, we’re falling here, wham, falling there.
I want to be a person of vision. I want to be a person like Jesus Christ because when Christ looked at my life and your life, He looked at me with vision. Folks, buy into this vision. Communicate it, cast it, complete it and you’ll understand the joy and the freedom that Joshua and Caleb had.