Marriage in today’s post-modern context has become an incredibly contentious issue. It stirs the whole gamut of emotions. Some will be angry that for so long it has been so exclusive and restrictive. Some will be disillusioned by it through the pains of separation. Some will be so excited by the thought, having dreamt of their fairy tale ending for as long as they can remember. And some will be joyful being those “lucky” enough to have made it. It is a shame that anything more than 7 years seems to be celebrated as a victory for the so called life-long marriage. Whether it is the rate of divorce, the stain of domestic violence, the controversy with same sex marriage and not to mention the countless stories of unfaithful partners, hollow relationships and broken homes. Marriage has truly fallen on hard times. But this is not what God intended for marriage nor is it how he sees it.
Marriage is from God and for God. It is part of God’s good creation purposes from the very beginning in Genesis 1 and 2. Before any man or woman could invent this idea of marriage, God already had it in mind. God saw that with all the beautiful things he had already created, the man alone was not one of those things. Something was missing. The man needed a helper. And of everyone and everything that it could have possibly been, that role was given to none other than the woman. You see for all the help another creature, another angel, even another man could have been, it was a woman that God saw as fitting and good for the man. This should be humbling for men to know that they are not sufficient in it of themselves for the task and furthermore that women above all else are to be treasured, cherished, appreciated as uniquely able to help fulfil God’s good purposes. And if this is true in the general sense for men and women, how much moreso in the specific sense of marriage.
It is God who brings the woman to the man in marriage and it is together that the man and the woman live out the created purposes of God. Different gifts but the same goals. Their marriage centred on God and the stewardship of God’s creation. The goal of marriage was much more than self-fulfilment, self-satisfaction and self-centredness. The goal of marriage is not to find another person who loves you more than you love yourself. To find this person that will encourage your selfishness. Rather, the goal of marriage was to take care and to work the metaphorical “garden” that God has provided to you as he did from the very beginning to Adam and Eve.
The secret to marriage is not so much about staying in “love” as it is about staying in Christ. For in Christ, not only will you find a steadfast love that transcends so much of what defines our post-modern Hollywood notions of romantic love but in Christ you will also find the power to love – especially when you are not in love or when the other is so undeserving of love. This is what it means to be the Bride of Christ - to know the uncompromising, unwavering and unconditional love of Jesus the groom for us even while we were still fighting him with every bone in our body. It is only when you experience the incredible love of God in this spiritual marriage that our earthly marriages can begin to follow and reflect the magnificence that marriage is meant to be.
Genesis is the backdrop for the whole bible. It is the book about origins and it also provides the foundation for many of the great themes and doctrines that run right throughout the Old and New Testament.
A correct/biblical understanding of Creation and Genesis is fundamental to our Christian belief & how we live because Genesis is not just a story of the past, it is about you and I in Creation. Above all, it is about the Gracious & Merciful God reaching out to us and drawing our attention back to Him through His creation.
Moses did not write Genesis as a scientific book but to remind the Israelites that the God now guiding them towards the Promised Land-is the same God whom their forefathers worshipped and believe as the God of all Creation, the God whom they must also worship likewise, and NONE other.
His powerful opening sentence is a precise and a concise statement of fact.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (1:1) declaring: God exists, God creates, the whole universe came about by a deliberate act of the Creator and all this creation happened at some point in time-in the beginning.
The Evolutionists demand scientific evidence for the Biblical Creation account, but they are still unable to produce conclusive scientific evidence for their numerous missing links.
Some are attempting to harmonise the Bible with the modern “scientific” theories.
But for all Christians, there can be no neutrality when it comes to acknowledging Christ as Saviour and Christ as the Creator. To deny Him as the Creator is to deny Him as the rightful ruler and judge of this universe and to diminish the full glory and honour that our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon Him.
The Creator has a claim on the creation. He is the intelligent and the intentional designer. It was planned even before the foundation of the world (2Tim 1:9). When God spoke, creation happened. And so there is purpose and meaning in life, for all life came from Him.
As Isaiah (45:18) reminded us: “...it is you who created the heavens...it is you who fashioned the heavens and made the earth,..it is you who formed it to be inhabited AND you alone is the Lord and God and there is NO Other! The Apostle Paul could testify to this, “Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature, namely his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” (Rom 1:20)
Look at the eclipses, said Charles Spurgeon (English preacher). “They are a part of God’s Plan in Creation and this is how God governs the earth.” All things that God has created, whether they be light or whether they be dark, have a sermon for us. God will continue to reveal Himself to us today through His Creation, in every circumstance, be it in sunshine or in thunderstorm.
Is it right for you to be so angry that you wish you were dead? What would you die for?
4 But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
4 But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
5 Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city.6 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die,and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
God would rather die than live while his people die.
1) God has a great message of salvation.
When Jonah obeyed the calling of God, he did exactly what God commanded him to do. He preached God's message of judgement to the great city of Nineveh. Unless they repented from their evil and wicked ways, God's destruction would come on them. In our time, when God calls us to preach / share the Gospel of forgiveness, would we obey like Jonah? It's a solemn challenge to us. It's a life and death matter.
2) Obedience Honours God
The message Jonah preached was a power-packed and life changing message. All the Ninevites repented, including the King. They fasted, out on sacked cloths, sat on the sand, and called on Jehovah God. They turned from their evil ways. The preaching of the Gospel has brought mass conversions among many nations and tribes. I have witnessed the power of the Gospel and the working of the Holy Spirit at Billy Graham crusades where tens of thousands have turned to Christ.
3) The Gospel is the Power of God unto Salvation (Rom 1:16)
When we present the Gospel, we can have confidence in the power of the Gospel and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. It's not dependent on our ability and persuasiveness to convert people. I like to use the Word in a simple pattern so they can understand the message of God. I need to make an effort to remember relevant Bible verses to present the Gospel.
The following pattern of verses have given me confidence:
*Jn 3:16 - That God so love the world (include the hearer)
*Rom 3:23 - All have sinned (because of sin, we need a saviour)
*Rom 6:23 - The wages / result of sin is death, but gift of God is eternal life.
*Rom 5:8 - God demonstrate His love towards us. Christ died for our sins.
*1 Jn 1:9 - If we confess our sin, God is faithful to forgive us our sins.
*Jn 1:12 - As many as receive (trust) Christ Jesus, He gives the right to be a child of God.
*Rev 3:20 - Jesus stands at our heart's door and knock: He comes in when invited.
In my many years of experience of presenting the Gospel to relatives, friends at golf, a university, various churches, local and overseas, I have seen the Holy Spirit transformed lives. I have no doubt the Spirit would do the same for you as a partner of the Gospel.
4) ESCCC have prayer and giving commitment to:
Please give generously and pray fervently to all our committed Overseas Mission bodies.
Pastor Kim Bew Lim