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Archive for May, 2011

Why Many People Avoid the Church Today–Divorce and Remarriage


_wsb_226x238_Small Size Jesus Cross with Light behind it

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed seem beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’
“Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.  Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?  Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. – Matthew 23:27-36 (NKJV)

Jesus took issue with the Pharisees because as hard as the law was for the people to follow, they added to it and made it impossible. Yet they themselves indulged in sin and put on the air of being more righteous than everyone else. They loved to stand in judgement of others. As Jesus said, outwardly they appeared to be righteous but inside they were full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.

Jesus came to set people free from religion because of the yoke it puts on people. Religion doesn’t save anyone, it kills and destroys hope while making the self-righteous feel good about themselves because of the power they can exert over others. Jesus said; Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29 (NKJV) In Luke He said; “ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;  Luke 4:18 (NKJV)

In dying on the cross Jesus made it possible for us to find mercy and grace when we mess up. There is no sin too great that He will not forgive with the exception of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Matthew 12:31 In Christ all are equal, whether they be Jew or Gentile, rich or poor or man or woman. There are no second class citizens. But in many parts of the church there are those that have set themselves up as judges and put yokes on others they themselves would not readily carry.

I used to attend a church in a mainline denomination her in Canada. It was the church I had known for most of my Christian walk. I had left for a while because I disagreed with the direction that a new pastor was taking the church in. In the months that followed my marriage started unraveling and my wife filed for separation and divorce. It was not something I wanted and for several years afterwards I fought it in the courts and vigorously sought to reconcile with her to no avail. When I came back to the church I was in my 4th year of separation and had custody of my children. I came back because there was a new pastor and I wanted my children to attend the Christian school they had which I had helped to set up as a deacon before I left the first time.

God had called me into singing ministry many years ago and the calling upon my heart to serve was strong. But in going back to the church I began to hit many walls. Many of the brothers and sisters I used to call friends were distant and even when I asked to usher I was told that I couldn’t and whereas in the past I was always given opportunities to use my musical talent, I was now passed over. One Sunday there was a special communion service where all deacons and elders, past and present were called up to be honoured. I was the only one who was not. I talked with some about wanting to get remarried one day again if I couldn’t reconcile with my wife and was told not to even entertain those thoughts as I would have to stay single for the rest of my life. I felt crushed and wondered where God’s mercy was in all this.

Years before I had a friend who was divorced through no fault of his own. He met someone in the church and they fell in love and decided to get married. They were counselled against it by the church and told that they would not be allowed to marry there. They decided to find another church that would accommodate them. They invited my wife and I and as I was a young Christian I decided that we would not attend because of him being previously divorced. Many from our church decided the same thing and also refused to attend. It hurt them deeply. Here were brothers and sisters that supposedly loved them standing in judgement over them. I have since regretted that decision as very poor judgement on my part.

Divorce is a big problem in the church today and there are those that take lightly the covenant made in marriage. Many divorce simply because “they’ve lost that loving feeling.” or they meet someone else and declare as in the case of Amy Grant that their marriage was a mistake. But there are also those who are victims of divorce. Those who did all they could to hold their marriage together but in the end they lost and they see their ex-spouses marry another partner and seemingly find happiness. Many were married to unbeliever’s or lost their spouse to adultery. They have gone through unbelievable pain and sorrow. When my wife left me and went with another man I felt as if my very soul was being ripped apart. It sent me tail spinning into a period of depression and darkness that only God was able to lift me out of. The last thing these people or I needed to hear is you are no longer worthy to serve in the church or that they need to spend the rest of their lives alone while they see their ex’s remarried and living happy lives. There is something seriously wrong with this picture.

Many churches use 1 Timothy 3:2 to disqualify the divorced and remarried from ministry. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behaviour, hospitable, able to teach. If this was the case then those who have had a spouse pass away would also be disqualified. In reality Paul was addressing the problem of polygamy. During Paul’s and Timothy’s time it wasn’t uncommon for a man to be married to more than one woman at a time.

Is divorce or being a victim of divorce an unpardonable sin that disqualifies you form serving or remarrying again? According to many churches they would say yes. Really? Is that the Word of God or the opinion of man? Lets look at Matthew 12:31; “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Hmm, I don’t see divorce there. Jesus says every sin will be forgiven except blasphemy against the Spirit. In my case I did not sin, my wife divorced me against my will. It was seven years before I granted it to her. Does that disqualify me from serving in the ministry? Romans 11:29 says;  “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” That tells me that no man has the right to suppress the area of service God has called you to unless you are living a life of unrepentant sin.

The bible makes two allowances for divorce. The first is if an unbeliever wishes to leave a believing spouse, that spouse is no longer under bondage and is free.  But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 1 Corinthians 7:15  The second is in the case of adultery. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”  Matthew 19:9

Christians who stand in judgement of those who have been divorced or are victims of divorce and treat them as second class citizens forget one very important thing. Psalm 103:8 says The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. Mercy and grace are two things that are shown to every repentant sinner no matter what they have done. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9. So now if God can forgive and treat us with love and respect why can’t the church?

I have met the most beautiful woman, inside and out, I have ever known. She is a widow and she is everything I have prayed about for years. It is a miracle that God brought us together. We will be getting married in the near future and already there are those who are already lining up to judge us by the fact that I am a victim of divorce. People from outside the church see these things and they ask why they would want to attend a church that stands in judgement and condemns those who through no fault of their own have lost in marriage. They see the lack of compassion. What they need to see is the love of Christ. A love that doesn’t remember our sins after we repent. He sets us back up and tells us to carry on and show the same love and compassion to others that He has shown us. Sadly many forget.

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Promises Concerning Temptation and Attacks From the devil


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No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16

Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

1 Thessalonians 5:22-24

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

James 4:7

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.

Galatians 1:3-4

And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Romans 16:20

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

1 John 4:4

God Promises for When You’re Anxious


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Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Matthew 6:30

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:34

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?

Luke 12:25-26

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6-7

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:1

Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

God’s Promises in Times of Failure


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“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.

John 14:1

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

Isaiah 61:1-3

He heals the broken-hearted
And binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’

Isaiah 41:13

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

So we may boldly say:
“ The LORD is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?”

Hebrews 13:6

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

1 John 4:4

God’s Promises in Times of Depression


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Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 43:5

My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the LORD upholds him with His hand.

Psalm 37:23-24

I sought the LORD, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.

Psalm 34:4-7

“ Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.

Isaiah 49:15

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5

God’s Promises in Fear and Doubt


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Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Isaiah 41:10

For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand,
Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’

Isaiah 41:13

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“ Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.

Isaiah 43:1

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?[a] And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12:6-7

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
“ If you take away the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness.

Isaiah 58:9

God Promises to Meet Our Needs


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And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Matthew 6:25-26

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Matthew 6:31-33

“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.

Deuteronomy 28:1

And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. The LORD will open to you His good treasure,the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.

Deuteronomy 28:11-12

For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. 

Luke 12:30-31

Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.

Deuteronomy 29:9

He has given food to those who fear Him;
He will ever be mindful of His covenant.

Psalm 111:5

If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;

Isaiah 1:19

Ask the LORD for rain
In the time of the latter rain.
The LORD will make flashing clouds;
He will give them showers of rain,
Grass in the field for everyone.

Zachariah 1:9

‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.

Leviticus 26:3-5