Friday, 8/18/2017

 

Good Morning, My Friend,

 

Well, we made the plunge. It was not because it was time because I knew that it was time three or four months ago. I just did not have enough time available back there in April to investigate and work through a decision. But, now we no longer have cable TV in our lives and the “bundle” with Time Warner/Spectrum. We also replaced our landline telephone with Vonage. Linda is able to get her Hallmark movies and Hallmark Mystery shows and that is all that is important to our viewing pleasure. I would like to see the Packer games this season and see how that might work into our package with Sling TV (a streaming company). But, it is not that important to me…I have some writing of a commentary that I would like to do! Linda seems to be a happy camper and that makes me a happy camper. We purchased one Roku and the other came with our sign-up with Sling TV. I was able to navigate to get Sling on both televisions…now, that is a miracle. Now we can enjoy saving a few bucks and still get the streaming channels we desire and use our funds for God’s glory in other ways. We appreciated going over the Matt and Krissa’s home to enjoy a meal and the sweet fellowship with the family. We had a great time talking about our lives and their kids… homeschooling, the future, and what God has been doing in their lives. It was a precious time for Linda and me. They then introduced us to Sling TV that they have had for some time…really it was their daughter (4 years-old) who turned it on and was navigating it to her “favorite” show. It is our techy age and the young learn so easily. Anyway, we were sold on switching after viewing their Sling TV selections. God is so good to us!!!

 

1 Corinthians 7:3737 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well.

 

Subject:  Be Steadfast in Heart

 

Are you “steadfast in heart” as a Christian? I means that you are unwavering (remain with an opinion), but not be stubborn. There is nothing wrong with being firmly established in one’s heart about the good things in this life. In this passage, Paul is speaking about engagement, being single or married.

 

Let me divert for a little while if I may (and, I may…smile). Some people think that we are being stubborn (persistent, tenacious, determined) about being a Bible-thumping Christian. That is, we are sold out to the Word of God as being our foundation of our faith in spiritual matters. It is the Bible that becomes our source of knowing who, what, when, and how God created this universe. We are unchangeable about those facts.

 

We are firmly established about the reason why people die…SIN. We understand the origin of sin in this world – Gen. 3. We understand the devastation the worldwide flood caused in Gen. 6-9. We hold fast to the beginning of the nation of Israel and the prophecy concerning their Messiah. We follow the trail of history of this nation under the rule of Judges and later Kings and how the nation was overthrown and placed into captivity. What a sad history for a people who had a top-notched opportunity to have it all!

 

We are unwavering in our understanding and opinion about the man, Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came into this world about 4 B.C. He came to His own people, the Jews, to give Himself for their sins…and the sins of the world. His death upon the cross and the shedding of His blood for our sins was the sacrifice for us to have passage into heaven forever. When we trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, God gave to us the gift of eternal life and wrote our names in the book of life. For this we are extremely thankful and are steadfast, not stubborn. We are convinced!!!

 

Paul speaks about being steadfast (v.37) and the couple who are determined in their hearts to stay engaged and eventually get married do well. Paul is not against marriage, but is striving to help people think through the whole idea of dating, engagement, and marriage as well as living a single lifestyle, should that be the choice. Please be prayerful as the act of marriage is a lifetime commit-ment to each other. God takes that very seriously!!!

 

Committed to Linda,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Thursday, 8/17/2017

 

Good Morning, My Christian Reader,

 

One of my projects last Saturday was to work on a garage window. The house and garage were built in about 1976. The window in the back of the garage is opened manually and has an unusual and inexpensive sliding mechanism to allow the window to swing out. It has been one of the harder windows to open. I always opened it when I spray primed and painted vehicles and other projects in years past. For the last 10 years it has not been opened much. The sliding mechanism became harder and harder to open and close. When we began staining and putting polyurethane on the trim boards, I opened the window and I would prop it open with a stick that I have made for that purpose. After the trim boards were complete, I decided to take out the stick to release the window so that it would close. Well, it just stayed open. I did not mind, but it was this way for weeks. Finally one day I decided to close the window from the outside. It did not go well…I used brute strength and that was not good. I bent the mechanism…now what does one do for a 40-year-old mechanism and would I find one even if searched the hardware store for one? So being a good MacGyver, I went to work with Linda to take out the window and work at refurbishing the mechanism. It was fun!!! It took about 30-45 minutes with a workbench vice, a number of tools and a lot of patience. When it was all back together, it worked just like new. I love the wisdom that God gives to me to do small repairs like that with time and prayer!!! It is FUN!!!

 

1 Corinthians 7:32-3632 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. 36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin.

 

Subject:  Considering One’s Feelings

 

We shall consider verses 35 and 36 in today’s devotional. First consider the context of verses 32-35 as Paul finishes his thoughts in the verses before verse 35. He is writing for the believer’s own benefit or advantage. He does not want to say something that will cause anyone to feel any restraint (restriction, noose, control) upon any person. What he does want to do is promote good (proper, presentable, attractive) order and to secure your undivided (without distraction) devotion (constantly in service) to the Lord (“devoted service to God”).

 

Sometimes a man like Paul or a preacher like myself can become intimidating in sharing even godly advice. We have to be careful that we do not “force” someone to do something as critical as not get married or to marry because it may seem “like the right thing to do” after interacting with another person. Absolutely, it is necessary to put the Lord Jesus Christ first in every decision. Secondly, it is critical to do something of this magnitude willingly and not under compulsion. Every time a pastor or counselor meets a person or a couple we need the help of the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and insight to help them work through their own problem just like a coach.

 

But, there are times we must insist that changes must be made in order to make a situation better for both people in a marriage. The very center of every decision is that Jesus Christ be glorified. One’s heart will show in his or her final decision made with a deep consideration for God in the matter(s).

 

Verse 36 speaks about a man who is engaged to be married to a virgin. As he considers about his relationship, the question of “behaving properly” (dishonorably, embarrassment, shamefully) toward his betrothed (virgin). If his passions for his future bride are strong (v.9 – he burns with passion…sexual arousal), let him do (imperative in the Greek – a command), let them marry! It is not a sin that he has committed. It is better to get married than fall into sin with his virgin.

 

I made my choice 51 years ago,      (and I am glad I did)

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 8/16/2017

 

Howdy, Christian,

 

Last Wednesday the electrician came a day late because of having to spend more time on another project and job. I fully understand…that never happens to me. JJ  Aaron, the electrician came and began working on the electrical plug-ins, lights, and microwave that needed to be installed. He worked until about 10 a.m. when he had to go to another job to meet the electrical inspector for the City of West Allis. He was gone longer than expected and did not get back until sometime in the afternoon. He apologized and continued to work until about 3:30 and said he would be back tomorrow to finish the projects. He came the next day and went straight to work on matters. I had my chiropractic appointment at 11:20 a.m. and stopped off at the Wisconsin Athletic Club to set up a couple appointments for personal training for this week. When I got back home, Aaron was doing well on the projects. As I ate my lunch we began to talk. I asked him about his spiritual life. He shared about his relationship with Jesus Christ and then began to share about how he, his wife and family had moved to a neighborhood and bought a “city house”. They had to fix up the house fulfilling specific issues before it became “their house.” They had moved purposely into a Muslim area of Milwaukee. They moved there to attend a nearby church and to evangelize the lost people without Christ. “Wow!” I thought, “That is great!” As we talked, he shared his vision to reach out to the Muslim’s in his neighborhood and what he will be doing on a special holy day for the Islamic people. It was a special time to hear about a mission journey for this family in our own back yard. May God give us a vision for the lost in our neighborhood. May we reach out and strive by God’s help to touch one or more families for Christ. Are you with me in that endeavor? Pray about this and do what you can in your neighborhood!!! Let us see what God will do for His glory!!!

 

1 Corinthians 7:32-3432 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.

 

Subject:  Divided Priorities

 

Paul has a real desire and wish for the believers in Corinth to be free (without worry) about the concerns of this world. There is enough to be anxious about as we live out our lives, right? Life has its challenges, problems, and obstacles which lead us to worry and become anxious about such matters in our daily routines.

 

But, Paul is speaking about married life and the distress that may come out of that relationship and the family issues. The believing man or woman that is unmarried is focused upon how to please the Lord. The believing person who is married must focus on how to please his or her spouse plus pleasing the Lord at the same time.

 

What is the godly balance in a marriage regarding pleasing the Lord and pleasing the spouse at the same time? It is easy to become unbalanced and spend more time with one or the other. It is not God’s will that pleasing the Lord by becoming involved in “God’s Work” and making your spouse feeling left out or unloved. Being a husband or a wife is God’s work as well. Being a parent is God’s work and being an employee is also considered to be God’s work. One must choose between the good, the better and the best in each day that is lived.

 

It is better to have a plan for the week to see what your investment of time with each of the areas of necessity and desires of involvement will be. Some people like to “shoot from the hip” and by that I mean they just go with the flow and whatever turns up they will do. Other people are hyper about scheduling. If it is not in the schedule, it does not get done. You may be on one end of the spectrum or the other…some do have a more balanced approach in their marriage and lifestyle.

 

How to be holy or godly in body and spirit in the things of the Lord (v.34) and is important for the unmarried. They do not have to consider another person to divide their time. But, the married person must also place the things of the Lord into their lives and yet put a high priority on the spouse. As you walk in each day, pray for wisdom, for balance, and to please those people who are important in your life. One day we shall all stand before the Lord to make an account of our time and what we did with it. So make each minute count and make some time for yourself as well.

 

Looking for balance,

 

Pastor Les

Tuesday, 8/15/2017

 

Good Day to YOU!

 

On Tuesday of last week I worked on my sermon. I had many things that needed to be done in the ministry, in my personal life, and around the parsonage. I worked on my sermon for Sunday. I fleshed it out so that I can get ready for the Power Point to connect with the people and the message. I had some personal matters that needed my attention. Just when I think that I am finished with a matter another issue needs my attention, another matter raises its “ugly” head and I must take care of that matter. Later that day I had to work on some issues relating to the Licensing and Ordination process for the Grace Gospel Fellowship. Things are moving along quite smoothly and I desire to keep them that way. In the afternoon I worked with the two young grandsons on a few outside projects. They helped me shovel dirt into the wheel borrow as I leveled a small area under the “tree house” on the swing set. This project has sat still for about 3 months. Praise the Lord. I emptied the hardwood mulch that we purchased about 2 years ago…it was decaying at a good pace in the bags and came out black. It is getting ready to be used as nutrition for the plants. We hauled some dead limbs and branches away to the dumpster and finished a few other small projects. I am still waiting for the Geek Squad to come and fix a small leak in our refrigerator. Tomorrow the electrician will be coming (Wednesday) instead of today…I know how projects go with contractors…always more to do or some things just do not go the way one plans them to go. Praise the Lord!!!

 

1 Corinthians 7:29-3129 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

 

Subject: The Most Valuable Priority

 

When you read these three verses most will scratch their heads and say to themselves, “What is Paul speaking about?” This is not an easy passage to interpret and find the meaning of what he is trying to communicate. Let me help you take it apart and bring you to the application of this passage.

 

He has just finished the thought that if one should marry or remarry, one will have worldly troubles and he wanted to spare those people and suggest they not marry. In verse 29 he says, this is what I mean brothers and sisters in Christ: The occasions for these kinds of things has grown very short or is limited (perfect tense – it has been and remains the same).

 

He recommends because of the shortness of time, live as if you had no wife, mourn (weep, lament) as though you were not weeping, and those who are rejoicing (a state of happiness and well-being, being glad) as though you were not rejoicing, and also those who are acquiring by purchasing good as though you did not possess any property. Finally those who are making use of the world as though they had no dealings (being fully preoccupied) with it. The bottom line is that the present form (nature and structure) of this world is passing away (is ceasing to exist).

 

Out of all this, I would ask the question, “What is important to God and what is important about the things in this world?” We live in the physical realm and it consumes us and sometimes to the point that it is the only thing that we constantly think about in life. We may have an intention or would like to get involved in God’s work, but we are just too busy to stop doing what we are doing and cannot break away from all this STUFF.

 

Apply:  The first practical piece of information is time is short. We need to redeem (buy) the time that we have on earth. Today, this hour, now is the only time we are assured of having to live. There is no promise of any more tomorrows no matter how young, strong, or physically fit we are.

 

The second thing is we do not want to put all our time, efforts, and value in the physical things of this world. Yes, even in our spouse, in grieving, pleasures and happiness, and especially in the material things of this world. Those things will all pass away and our focus and true value is found in Jesus Christ and His work. When all is done and you look back over your shoulder, what will last for eternity? May you take to think about it today, tomorrow may be too late.

 

I close with a short poem I heard 45 years ago and many times after that first time. It says, “Soon one life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Think about that in regards to all the tomorrows you live!!!

 

Preparing for eternity,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Monday, 8/14/2017

 

Good Monday, to YOU!

 

It was six months ago that Linda went through a bout of pain from her hip to her foot. It moved from the hip and eventually down to her foot over a period of 2-3 months. At times it became nearly unbearable and then she would not have any pain at all. It would be in the hip and then in the calf muscles, and it would focus on one part of the leg and then be from her hip on down to the ankle again. It took about 15 visits to the chiropractor over a period of that time before it was completely gone. At times she would limp and it would be difficult to walk and at other times it would seem like nothing was wrong at all. It was called a virus by our chiropractor and he predicted the “viruses” move throughout the time as he worked on her left side. Well, I think I have what she had. It is very painful but on my right side. It is beginning in the upper part of the hip and yesterday I could barely walk without limping. The pain was nearly unbearable at times. Linda messaged the back hip area before I headed out to a Bible study and it really helped. But one-half hour later it began to flare up. I limped back home. I put ice on it twice last night…at bedtime and then when I got up for my devotions. This morning (Tuesday) it is sore and the pain is there. Wednesday I went to our fantastic message therapist but it did not help the condition. I went to our fantastic chiropractor on Thursday and he told me I had a virus in the stomach. He pressed down on every area of the stomach causing great pain. I went home feeling much better. After using the restroom two hours later, I felt like a different person. I am writing on Sunday evening and I think we have conquered the problem of the back and hip. All glory goes to the Lord!!!

 

1 Corinthians 7:27-2827 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.

 

Subject:  The Pain of Remarriage

 

There is pain in being single, there is pain in being an athlete, and there is pain in marriage, but there is even more pain in most second and third marriages, especially when small children are involved. Paul is writing to “cause someone not to be troubled” (spared – v.28) in marrying after a divorce.

 

Paul states that if one is bound (tied, restricted) to a wife, (an imperative – command coming) do not seek (to look for a way) to be free! In other words, do not get a divorce! When one is married, you are glued together by God when a couple take/make vows before God and witnesses. God does not take marriage vows lightly, but sees them as lifetime commitments to each other. Yes one is bound, tied, and even restricted by the marriage.

 

I am sure you understand the binding that the marriage vow makes in a couple’s life, but how is it restricted? When a couple marry, both the husband and the wife are controlled and constrained by the other. There is a limit as to what one can do as the husband loves his wife and as the woman submits to the husband. It is not like being single and having full reign on your own personal life. There are unwritten regulations or structured plans that are squeezed into the marriage relationship.

 

When a husband learns to love the wife as Christ loved the Church or as a man loves his own body, he understands that he becomes focused on how to please his wife. When a wife learns to submit to her husband in a godly manner, she freely allows him to take the leadership role in the marriage. There are times that the husband “demonstrates love” by responding to the wife’s wishes and there are times the wife “submits” to the husband’s leadership or decision. That is the way God has set up marriage to be “perfect”.

 

Paul continues in verse 27, “Are you free (loosed from control) from a wife (divorced)? The command is not to seek (try to find) another wife.” However, what if you are divorced and burning with sexual passion or find that you cannot live as a single person? Paul continues, “But if you do marry (enter into a marriage relationship) you have not sinned (engaged in wrongdoing) and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly (fleshly & physical) troubles (afflictions, distresses) and Paul wants to spare you of that (v.28).

 

Remarriage is acceptable for two reasons:  1) For abandonment by the spouse or for 2) the act of continuous adultery (not just a one-night stand). To marry again after a divorce has taken place, from my point of view, is acceptable, but be aware of the potential troubles that may come with the new marriage relationship, with the many challenges of children from the previous marriage, or from the jealousy of the connection with the past “ex” wife or husband. There are many problems that can arise from a divorce but are at times multiplied after a remarriage.

 

So, be careful, be cautious, and count the cost before taking that step to seek another spouse and before taking the step of marriage. It should be carefully and prayerfully considered. There will be troublesome times coming if you make the commitment to remarry.

 

Because I love you,

 

Pastor Les

 

Scripture is from the ESV® Bible  (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.