Resolve the Crisis in Your Marriage Jesus’ Way

Brad and Anna had a happy marriage. They were both devout believers in Jesus, fell madly in love, and married soon after college. In time, they began having children, were active in their church, and to all appearances seemed to have a peaceful, happy family. 

But something dark lurked in the shadows. Brad had an addiction to porn that he couldn’t shake. Anna didn’t even learn of it until after they were married. Sometimes Brad would talk about it with Anna, but shame kept his struggles mostly secretive. Brad began to lose his resolve to fight temptation and slowly sank even further. 

Throughout their marriage, Anna expressed her support. She prayed for Brad and held him accountable when he asked. She cried to God on his behalf but felt powerless to help him. She urged him to see a counselor, but Brad was a private guy and went to the counselor only a couple times. He began to lie, telling Anna he was doing better. In actuality, his thought life grew darker and eventually he had his first affair with a co-worker. 

Brad loved the Lord, but when the affair started he began to feel more distant than ever from Christ. He felt trapped. That’s when he signed onto a dating app and met a woman he really fell for. The second affair quickly became serious, and Brad’s heart toward Anna grew cold.

By the time Anna knew Brad was in a serious affair, it was too late. Brad pulled away from their church, divorced Anna, left her with the kids, and remarried. 

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Why do believers like Brad and Anna sometimes divorce? Christians really want their marriage to work, and yet the percentage of divorce among believers is virtually the same as among unbelievers. Are we missing something?

Yes. We’re not following Jesus’ path for relational reconciliation. Jesus’ way is very clear: 

Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Matt 18:15-17

If you’re married to a believer, then your spouse is also your brother or sister in Christ, and this passage applies to your marriage.

Most Christian marriages fail because of sin that hasn’t been handled Jesus’ way. Sin is like a deadly cancer that kills marriages when not removed carefully. We must identify sins that are hurting our marriage and go after them.

Start by asking, Is my spouse sinning against me? Am I sinning against my spouse? What commands of Scripture are being disregarded or violated? Start by identifying the sin, along with a verse that addresses that sin. Disciples of Jesus are eager to repent and pursue obedience with all their hearts. 

Look at some of the things that destroy marriages: rage, railing language, not submitting to one another, adultery, being unkind, abuse, unforgiveness, threatening divorce. They’re all sins

One of our biggest mistakes is to tolerate sin in our marital relationship. When we do, we violate Jesus’ command. When our brother or sister—our spouse—sins against us, Jesus commands us to rebuke them (Luke 17:3), and show them their fault (Matt 18:15). To refuse to do so is to refuse Jesus. This is one of the most rampant mistakes in Christians marriages today. Submit to Jesus and stop tolerating sinful behavior in your home. Let’s remove from our marriage any sin that hinders love.

In Matthew 18, Jesus gave us three steps resolving serious problems in our marriage. Let’s look at each.

Step One: Go to Your Brother or Sister

If your spouse sins against you, go first to them privately and tell them their fault. Explain to them the nature of the sin you think they’ve committed against you, hear their perspective on the incident, and then both of you will hopefully be eager to repent of the ways you were wrong. Bring Matthew 18:15-17 with you to the visit so your spouse understands you’re obeying Jesus.

When addressing someone’s sin, be gracious, wise, gentle, loving, kind, and ready to forgive (Eph 4:32). When you bring Matthew 18 to your spouse, you’re not stifling the romance of your relationship but are actually giving the romance of your relationship a basis to thrive. Nothing kills romance in a marriage faster than overlooking cancerous sins that undermine the relationship. 

What if your spouse doesn’t hear you in step one? Then take it to the second step Jesus gave us. By doing so, you’re not dishonoring your spouse but are rather honoring both them and Jesus.

Step Two: Take One or Two Witnesses

Jesus said, “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established’” (Matt 18:16).

Jesus told us to set up a gracious and kind confrontation. Find one or two witnesses to labor with you in helping your spouse find repentance. This is done when your spouse isn’t willing to go with you to consult a pastor or counselor. Jesus is describing something more confrontational than a counseling appointment. He’s describing your taking someone with spiritual authority to your spouse who is resisting repentance.

Be thoughtful about who you take to your spouse. Choose someone your spouse honors for their walk with Christ. That person may have some suggestions to help you walk out the crisis more wisely. When the time is right, take them to your spouse. If your spouse is a sincere disciple of Jesus, they will hopefully be won by the appeals of a wise leader in the body of Christ. 

When step two is invoked, many situations turn around and move toward healing. But what should you do if your spouse doesn’t receive this leader? Jesus gave a third step. 

Step Three: Tell It to the Church 

Jesus said, “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Matt 18:17).

When you tell your story to the church, you are asking the church to come to a unified judgment on the matters between you and your spouse. The church stands as a corporate witness before you both, appealing to both of you to receive the judgment of the entire congregation. The witness of the church carries more authority than just one or two leaders. The church’s united witness carries an authority that no true disciple of Christ can dismiss. Our hope in implementing this step is that the sinning spouse will come to their senses, submit to the witness of the church, and repent. 

Bring your appeal to the governing body of your local church, whether elders, pastors, or deacons.

If your sinning spouse is unwilling to go with you, then present it by yourself. This council of leaders will determine the course of action they’ll take in order to pass an informed judgment.  

If your sinning spouse is unwilling to receive the judgment of the church council, Jesus said, “Let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” In other words, he is to be viewed at that point as an unbeliever—someone who has broken faith, is no longer walking as a disciple of Jesus, and needs to be evangelized again. 

I’m appealing to local church leadership councils to hear every case brought to them by their members. Even when cases aren’t handled perfectly, Jesus honors our efforts to obey His process. 

Jesus meant for the local church to serve as a governing body for the health of its members. Leaders in a church court are deeply invested in the health of the church and care deeply for each and every member. The entire process is bathed in the affections and love of Jesus Christ.

It’s time for believers in troubled marriages to use Jesus’ wisdom in Matthew 18 to bring resolve and healing to their home. Jesus’ path seems rather confrontational, however, so why would someone want to invoke His three steps? 

Let me suggest six reasons to do this.

  1. Obedience

Jesus gave us Matthew 18:15-17, not as an option but as a command. He left no room for sins between brethren to fester or be ignored. As disciples of Jesus, we follow His pathway simply because we want to obey Him.

Jesus’ way is a fabulous gift to you. He has provided for the church to cover you spiritually so you don’t have to weather the storm alone. To obey Him is not burdensome. Rather, His way will lift a burden from you. Don’t deny the gracious gift He’s provided for your marriage. Do it His way and He’ll honor your obedience.

  1. Faith

A second reason to follow Matthew 18:15-17 is because we believe in Jesus’ wisdom. He alone is wise. 

The unrenewed mind thinks, “If I follow the steps of Matthew 18 in my marriage, it’ll be blown apart or become intolerable to stay in.” But faith believes His wisdom surpasses ours and produces eternal fruit. 

Some people don’t follow Jesus’ advice here because they feel hopeless about anything changing. In other words, their faith is depleted. Build yourself up, therefore, in your faith (Jude 1:20). Get your eyes back on God and renew your confidence in His ability to heal your marriage. 

When we believe and obey the words of Christ, God steps in! (Because God likes faith.) He makes up for our lack, releases His power, and does amazing things on our behalf that can leave us astounded. 

  1. Peacemaking

When you follow Matthew 18:15-17, you’re being a peacemaker in your marriage. Where anger, resentment, suspicion, frustration, and anxiety have damaged the peace in a marriage, repentance will restore it. 

Outbursts of wrath kill the peace in a home. We must confess such sins so we can see the peace of Christ restored to our home. 

To make peace is to declare war on all the divides and separates.

  1. Protection

When a home is in good spiritual order, it’s guarded by an encampment of angels that circle everyone in the home with safety (Psa 34:7). Sin can compromise that spiritual perimeter around a believing family. Follow Matthew 18:15-17, therefore, to re-establish a spiritual hedge around your home.

Don’t be shocked when your home becomes a battleground. Satan has declared war on marriages and families. The war is real. He wants to break up your marriage and devastate your children. 

Parents, you’re the gatekeepers of your family. Withstand every attempt of darkness to compromise the spiritual security of your home. Do it for the sake of your children.

  1. Love

Another reason to do Matthew 18:15-17 is for the sake of love. Let your love for your spouse and Jesus win the day. When sin has caused a breach in love, go after the breach. You’re not attacking your spouse, you’re pursuing love.

Tackle the issues head-on, early in the journey, to preserve love and restore the romance of your marriage.

  1. Preservation

A final reason to obey Matthew 18:15-17 is to avert divorce and preserve your marriage. I consider this the greatest benefit of following Jesus’ counsel. When we resolve conflicts Jesus’ way, our courage can save the marriage. Passivity is deadly, but courage is redemptive. Doing it Jesus’ way doesn’t guarantee that your spouse will be won to the wisdom of Christ, but it provides the best chance of saving the marriage.

I’m presenting this message to militate against divorce and to fight for marriage—your marriage. 

We have a vision—for radiant wives who are nurtured and loved by their husbands, for respected husbands who demonstrate integrity in business and family, for upright children who establish healthy families of their own, and for grandparents who glory in the legacy they grant their descendants. It’s a vision worth fighting for. 

If we’ll fight for our marriages Jesus’ way, I’m persuaded many marriages like Brad and Anna’s can be saved, reconciled, and restored to health.

This blog post is adapted from Bob Sorge’s new book, STUCK: Help For the Troubled Home. For information, visit bobsorge.com/stuck.

 

Get Control Then Lose Control

EXPLORING WORShIP bLOG (2)Through their leadership style, some worship leaders maintain such a high platform profile that they actually distract people from worship. It’s hard to see the Lord when the leader is so large. I believe worship leaders can provide clear leadership while also seeking to be invisible before the congregation. How? By setting their focus on the Lord. When worship leaders engage with Jesus, the eyes of the people are naturally lifted to Jesus as well.

I’d like to present this dictum to worship leaders: Get control then lose control. Let me explain.

Get control. Exercise your strongest leadership at the launch of the worship service. Step up and take charge. Call the people to praise. Encourage and provoke with cheerful optimism. Lay hold of the meeting and gather the room. Sensing your confidence, the people will relax and follow.

But then, lose control. At some point in the worship service, take your foot off the gas, release your ability to muscle the meeting, and decide in your heart to give room to the Holy Spirit. It’s fairly easy to take control of a worship service; it’s threatening to our insecurities to surrender that control to the Spirit’s lead. Why? Because we don’t know what He’ll do with it. And yet, this is where worship leading becomes most effective and where running with Jesus becomes most adventurous.

An enthusiastic leader might be able to stimulate an enthusiastic praise service, but no human is capable of empowering people to worship. Only the Holy Spirit can unlock the heart. This is why we lose control to the Holy Spirit. We give Him room to move on hearts in ways we can’t accomplish even with our best leadership skills. If we insist upon holding a tight rein on the entire worship service, we can miss the sovereign move of the Spirit.

As long as we maintain control of the worship service, we’ll have a human-directed service. When we surrender our control, we open to the possibilities of a Spirit-led worship service. Notice that I didn’t say we’ll have a Spirit-controlled service. Why not? Because the Bible never talks about being Spirit-controlled. It speaks of being self-controlled and Spirit-led. The Holy Spirit will never try to control us but will graciously lead us in worship when we move over and give Him the driver’s seat.

The Holy Spirit never controls people, and neither should we. To get control means, therefore, that worship leaders don’t take control of the people but of the meeting. And to lose control means we give control of the meeting to the Spirit’s lead.

Some worship leaders today don’t let go the reins of the worship service until the tick of the clock indicates we’re done. But I’d like to advocate for an intentional letting go in order to make room for the Spirit. The Holy Spirit won’t impose Himself over our leadership; He waits to be invited in.

How can worship leaders lose control?

Ask. Stop and ask the Holy Spirit what He’s doing in the moment.

Withdraw. Pull back from the microphone and give the Lord room to move in a way we hadn’t planned.

Wait. Before moving straight into the next song, pause and wait upon the Lord.

Bow. When a worship leader goes to their knees, it signals a dependence on God and a reach for more of Him.

It’s threatening to the ego to lose control because, if the Holy Spirit doesn’t step in and help in a way we can identify, we can appear to be aimless and incompetent in our leadership. Worship leaders are always putting their pride on the altar. We’re willing to look bad so the Holy Spirit can have His way.

We don’t know everything God wants to do in worship, and rely upon the Holy Spirit from start to finish to accomplish what He alone can do. The potential of worship is as limitless as God Himself. Only God knows what He can do when we surrender to His leadership. Let’s give Him room to work “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20). That awareness may one day lead us to say something like this: “Let’s take a little more time to enjoy the Lord’s presence as we sing this line again. It’s possible that God is doing as many things in this room right now as there are people. Let’s take the time to allow Him to complete His work in our hearts.” God is always doing more in corporate worship than leaders realize or understand. So get control and then lose control.

 


This blog is adapted from chapter eight of Bob’s just-released book, EXPLORING WORSHIP, THIRD EDITION.

 

 

Look Three Directions in Worship

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Some churches are highly interactive between worshipers in their worship services while other churches prefer to go vertical and focus only on Jesus. Some might argue that one model is to be preferred over the other, but I argue for both. In fact, I see corporate worship looking in three directions: up, around, and within.

My model for this comes from the worshiping seraphim at the throne of God. Here’s how John described their worship: “The four living creatures,each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:  ‘Holy, holy, holy,  Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’” (Rev 4:8).

The seraphim are preoccupied first with God. They gaze unceasingly upon His holiness as they worship. What a fabulous occupation!

Secondly, the verse says they “were full of eyes around,” so while worshiping they are also looking around at all the sights of the throne room.

Thirdly, the verse says they were “full of eyes…within.” Part of their gaze in worship is inward.

Just as the seraphim look up, around, and within while they worship, so do we.

UP

Our primary focus in worship is to go vertical and gaze in amazement upon the Lord. We bless Him and minister to Him (1 Pet 2:9). We bask in His presence and encounter Him personally. We talk to Him and He talks to us. We’re entirely distracted by the glory of who He is, and are careful to let nothing distract us from the privilege of standing before Him and pouring our affection upon Him. Worship isn’t worship unless we first of all look up.

But worship doesn’t stop there. It also looks around.

AROUND

Corporate worship doesn’t block out everyone else and everything else that’s around us, as though to pretend no one else is in the room with us. Rather, congregational worship is delightfully aware of the other worshipers in the room. Worship brings us together in true spiritual unity. Worship services actually give us opportunities to minister to one another. We speak truth to one another in the lyrics we sing (Eph 5:19). We encourage one another to magnify the Lord together (Ps 34:3), and we advertise the fame of His name with our songs.

But worship doesn’t stop there. It also looks within.

WITHIN

Corporate worship does things within us that catch our attention. We find ourselves liberated on the inside to exalt Him with greater abandonment. We find ourselves becoming better equipped to express the true feelings of our heart to Him. As we magnify His greatness, faith fills our hearts and surges within. We realize that the holiness of God is actually bringing us into holiness as well. Our hearts open in preparation to receive the preaching of the word. It’s amazing, while you’re worshiping, to look within and actually see the ways He’s changing you into the image of Christ.

When you join God’s people in exalting the name of Jesus, therefore, let your heart go in three directions. Set your eyes fully on Jesus; enjoy your brothers and sisters who are worshiping with you; and delight in the good things God’s doing within you.

Look up, look around, and look within.


This blog is adapted from chapter six of Bob’s just released book, EXPLORING WORSHIP, THIRD EDITION.

 

Entropy

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The dictionary defines entropy as a gradual decline into
disorder. The word points to the tendency of everything in the
universe to ultimately die and become inert. In other words,
everything in our world constantly tends to deteriorate and break
down.

Our cars are always breaking down. Our houses will never
maintain their condition unless we repair things as they break, touch
up the paint, and replace worn carpets. Our muscles want to atrophy,
our physique wants to soften, and our minds want to grow lazy.
Everything in life is always deteriorating.

The same tendency happens in our spiritual lives. It’s so easy
to become cool, distant, and disengaged in our relationship with
Jesus. Have you ever felt like everything in life is conspiring to
squeeze out your connection with Jesus? I know how you feel. If we
don’t devote ourselves intentionally to prayer, our prayer lives can
easily fall into disrepair.

No matter how long you’ve known the Lord, your spiritual vitality
can deteriorate. Even the most mature believers among us must fight
to hold onto everything they’ve gained in Christ.

My point is this. If your walk with Jesus has lost any of its
vibrancy and fervency, you’re not alone. This temptation is common
to all believers.

Holding to our first love is something we must sign up for.
Again. And again. Sometimes we need to re-up and step back into a
passionate pursuit of Christ.

I’ve written a book designed to help believers with this. RESET
is written to help believers put behind them everything of the past,
step into a new day, and jump-start their prayers lives.

Is it time to reset your prayer life? If so, I hope this resource is a
strong help: PrayerReset.com

It’s time. Gather a group of friends and do a #PrayerReset
together. God bless you!

5 Ways to Awaken Your Spiritual Vitality

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For a vine to produce succulent grapes year after year requires constant dressing. The vine must be pruned, fertilized, protected, watered, and harvested. If the vinedresser gets negligent or lazy, the health of the vine suffers.

In the same way, for our heart to be healthy and alive in Christ requires constant attention. The neglected heart begins to shrivel and die.

Jesus addressed this issue in a letter to the church at Sardis. At one time they had been spiritually vibrant and were known as a revival center, but through neglect they had shriveled and were dying.

Here’s Jesus’ letter to them:

Rev. 3:1 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, “These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: ‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Rev. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.’”

If you’ve known Jesus for a long time, you know there are times when we’re tempted to relax in prayer. We might have a name for being spiritually vibrant, but that vitality can easily fall into disrepair. Our reputation can outshine our reality.

When things are dying, what should we do? Jesus’ letter to Sardis contains five injunctions—five ways to renew our spiritual vitality. He told them to watch, strengthen, remember, hold, and repent.

1. Be watchful. Be attentive to your spiritual health. Take your own temperature. Scrutinize and evaluate your heart condition. Evaluate your current ability to see and perceive. Are you able to see your true spiritual condition, or are you self-deceived? How is your faith and love? Do you still weep when praying the word? Take candid stock.
2. Strengthen. Strengthen those things in your heart which still have some life. Expose the cooling embers to the Holy Spirit’s breath. This will take time, energy, and effort. Just as a muscle is strengthened through exercise, our heart is strengthened through spiritual exercises in the word and prayer.
3. Remember. Remember the joy you had in the past in times of special devotion to Jesus. Review your journal. Remind yourself of the things God has spoken to you in years past. Renew your vows.
4. Hold. Hold fast to the things you’ve received from Jesus in the past. If they’ve been slipping from your grasp, rise up and lay hold. Again. Renew yourself in the precious promises you cherish. Refuse to relinquish or lose anything of those good things which you’ve received from Jesus.
5. Repent. The main idea in repentance is changed behavior. Don’t just nod compliantly and affirm your desire for renewed passion. Change. Actually change. Actually do something. You know what you need to do. Now do it.

Recently, I wrote a book entitled, RESET: 20 Ways to a Consistent Prayer Life. I tried to make it relevant and helpful to new believers. To my surprise, however, seasoned believers have also been strengthened by the book’s message. Who isn’t tempted to relax and neglect prayer?

Perhaps this blog is coming at just the right time for you. Is it time to reset your prayer life? Listen to Jesus’ counsel. Watch, strengthen, remember, hold, and repent.

For more information, go to PrayerReset.com.

3 REASONS TO BE LOYAL

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Loyalty is a glorious, godly quality which is rightly to be celebrated. That’s why I’m glad it has taken a more prominent place in the minds of Americans today. Misconceptions about its true nature abound, however. Loyalty that is coerced or required is not loyalty but servitude. I’d like to use this brief post to identify the three things upon which loyalty must be built.

Before I get to that, though, I want to point to three things that loyalty is not based upon. First, loyalty is not expressed in silent acquiescence. It’s bold enough to disagree with a leader and speak the truth when necessary. It’s not loyalty unless it’s willing to confront. Silent submission isn’t loyalty, it’s foolishness.

Secondly, it’s not romantic unrealism. It doesn’t have an unrealistic view of a leader’s greatness. Loyalty actually sees the weaknesses, quirks, and foibles in a leader, but is willing to stay because of a fundamental conviction about the leader’s integrity, proven effectiveness, and favor under God.

Thirdly, it’s not unqualified allegiance. It doesn’t say, “I’ll follow you no matter what you do.” Loyalty is conditional. Only dogs give unqualified allegiance.

Yes, loyalty is conditional. It has a very concrete, substantial basis which must not be violated. Why, then, would someone be loyal to a leader? For three reasons.

1. Humility. Humility earns our loyalty because it’s realistic and wise. When you see a leader walking in authentic humility before God, you’re safe to give your heart.

2. Truth. Loyalty devotes itself to a cause where truth is valued and preserved. When you find fierce adherence to the truth of God’s word, it’s safe to give your heart in loyalty.

3. Righteousness. When a leader is walking in blamelessness and purity in his or her personal life in moral areas such as sexuality and financial integrity, then join the team and give your heart to the cause.

Leaders who display these three qualities are following in the legacy provided by our Master, of whom it says, “In Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness” (Ps 45:4).

If a leader becomes arrogant, or abandons truth, or compromises his or her righteousness, gather your stuff and move on. The only reason to stay is if that leader repents and returns to these three values.

Leaders, give us three reasons please to be loyal to you. Demonstrate an unbending commitment to truth, humility, and righteousness.

This post is adapted from Bob’s book, LOYALTY: The Reach of the Noble Heart. You can find it at https://oasishouse.com/collections/bobs-books/products/loyalty-the-reach-of-the-noble-heart

THREE REASONS TO TEACH ON THE FEAR OF THE LORD

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What is the fear of the Lord? Consider this definition: A trembling zeal to obey every word of His mouth. It’s a treasure He gives His favorites (Isa 33:6).

The fear of the Lord was a powerful component in the atmosphere of the early church in the book of Acts. It preserved the integrity of the church in an era of explosive growth. In contrast, we don’t hear much about it today.

Why do we tend to minimize or overlook teaching on the fear of the Lord? When we neglect it, it’s for all the wrong reasons. It’s time to dig up this doctrine, dust it off, and equip today’s believers and also our own children in this essential ingredient to a healthy Christian walk.

I’d like to suggest three reasons to teach the fear of the Lord to this generation.

  1. We don’t understand it as we should.

Some people have a skewed concept of God. For example, some think of Him as such a merciful and gracious heavenly Father that there is nothing in Him His children need fear. On the opposite extreme, others have been put off by the caricature of a God who is always in a foul mood and looking for ways to punish His enemies.

If the fear of the Lord causes you to back away from Him, you haven’t been taught in the true fear of the Lord. Taught properly, it draws us forward into His heart. Those who truly tremble before Him run into His arms, wrap themselves around Him, and in awe and reverence cling to Him for their very lives.

There is no contradiction between His fear and His goodness. They actually go together. Hosea showed us that when we understand His goodness, it sets our heart to trembling (Hos 3:5).

Somebody needs to say it to this generation, “Never fear the fear of the Lord!” Let’s show them how to run into it and wrap their arms around it. It’s the wisest thing they’ll ever do (Pro 9:10). It’s safe, clean, and it endures forever (Ps 19:9). We need to teach this stuff.

  1. Since Jesus taught it, so should we.

Jesus delighted in the fear of the Lord (Isa 11:3). In His teaching, He laid open the profound paradox that is found in Exodus 20:20. He began by charging us to fear God: “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:5). But then two verses later He said, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7). He said, “Fear Him! Do not fear therefore.” He taught that we are to fear—and not to fear—both at the same time.

Do I fear God? Of course not! He’s my Father! I run into His arms with brazen boldness because of the blood of Jesus. I can interrupt any conversation He’s having because I’m His son and have constant access to Him. But do I fear God? I’m terrified of Him! He’s a consuming fire, His name is Jealous, He chastens His children, and He holds me accountable for my attitudes and actions.

I fear Him, therefore, and I don’t fear Him. This is the fear of the Lord as Jesus taught it. And those who teach in their Master’s shadow will also proclaim this important truth.

  1. The benefits of the fear of the Lord are too marvelous to forfeit.

I like to listen to podcasts by Christian leaders, but I don’t remember hearing a podcast on this topic. Is it just that I haven’t found the right podcasts? Or are we generally quiet on topics that would awaken believers to the benefits of fearing the Lord?

For starters, here are some benefits:

  • God remembers forever those who fear Him (Ps 103:17).
  • He lavishes blessings (Ps 112:1), mercy (Ps 103:11), and sustenance (Ps 111:5) on those who fear Him.
  • He dwells with those who tremble at His word (Isa 66:2).
  • His fear enables us to become partakers of His holiness, and produces in our lives the fruit of righteousness (Heb 12:10-11).
  • The fear of the Lord releases grace to serve a God who is a consuming fire (Heb 12:28-29).
  • It empowers obedience (Pro 16:6).
  • He tells secrets to those who fear Him (Ps 25:14).

When you are teaching people in the fear of the Lord, you are engaged in one of the highest privileges available to God’s servants.

22 WAYS TO FIND JESUS IN THE BOOK OF JOB

Jesus in JobSome people struggle with the book of Job because, when they look at the life of Jesus, they can’t find anything in the ministry of Jesus that corresponds to Job’s story. They decide, therefore, that they can’t find Jesus in the book of Job. But I think they’ve stopped just short. They should have gone a bit further and looked at His cross. Because when you look at the cross, you find all kinds of similarities to Job’s experience.

If Job’s early success corresponds to Christ’s earthly ministry, his trial corresponds to Christ’s death, and his restoration corresponds to Christ’s resurrection.

I decided to start collecting similitudes between Job’s ordeal and the cross of Christ. My collection continues to grow, but here are some ways to see Jesus in the book of Job.

1. In the book of Job, the most upright man on earth (Job 1:8) suffers the most of anyone on earth. That definitely reminds me of Christ’s cross.

2. Trembling with pain, Job cried, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there” (Job 1:21). That statement describes Jesus perfectly, who died naked on a cross.

3. Job was so disfigured by his sufferings that his friends didn’t recognize him (Job 2:12). Similarly, Jesus’ “visage was marred more than any man” at His execution (Isa 52:14).

4. Eliphaz taunted Job to call out to God for help (Job 5:1). And they said of Christ at His death, “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him” (Matt 27:43).

5. Psalm 22 is a messianic psalm about Christ’s sufferings. Some of the things said by the Messiah in that psalm remind us of Job’s speeches. For example, consider this comparison.
“They gape at Me with their mouths, like a raging and roaring lion” (Ps 22:13).
“They gape at me with their mouth, they strike me reproachfully on the cheek, they gather together against me (Job 16:10).

6. Job cried out, “O earth, do not cover my blood” (Job 16:18). We are grateful today that the earth didn’t cover Jesus’ blood, but that it speaks before God on our behalf.

7. Job bemoaned, “Why do You hide Your face, and regard me as Your enemy?” (13:24). This reminds us of Jesus cry on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Both Job and Jesus asked the why question.

8. In the hour when Job needed his friends most, they failed him. Same for Jesus. At His arrest, His friends forsook Him.

9. When you look at the source of Job’s trial, you realize Job was attacked by people, by Satan, and by God. And when you look at the cross, you realize that Jesus was killed by the same trilogy. He was crucified by people (the Roman soldiers and Jewish leaders), by Satan (who entered Judas Iscariot, and who filled the Jewish leaders with envy), and by God (who gave His Son for us all).

10. Job’s best friend, Eliphaz, became so frustrated at Job that he leveled concocted charges at his friend (Job 22:6-9). Similarly, Jesus was falsely accused by false witnesses at His trial before the high priest.

11. Job was raised up from his sufferings when He interceded for his friends. (Job 42:7-10). And Jesus was raised up as our great Intercessor, Heb. 7:25.

12. When God accepted Job (42:9) He raised him up; when God accepted Christ’s sacrifice (Rom 4:25) He raised Him up.

13. In the bitterness of his soul, Job cried, “He destroys the blameless and the wicked” (Job 9:22). And when you look at the three crosses on Golgotha’s hill, you’re looking at the death of both the blameless and the wicked.

14. Job and Jesus are both cornerstones. As the first book of the Bible put on paper, the book of Job is the cornerstone of the edifice we call Holy Scripture. And Jesus was called the cornerstone of the church (Ps 118:22; Isa 28:16).

15. In placing the book on Job’s story as the cornerstone of Scripture, the Holy Spirit put in place a foundation stone that was pointing ahead to the cross of Christ. Job was the first signpost of Scripture to the cross.

16. Job had to endure horrific suffering in order to qualify as the cornerstone of Scripture; and Jesus had to endure an agonizing death in order to qualify as the High Priest of our confession and as the cornerstone of the church. Suffering qualified both of them for a greater rank.

17. God said this to Satan about Job: “You incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:30). Job did nothing wrong to deserve his suffering. Nor did Christ. He was a blameless sacrifice.

18. Job spoke of his sufferings as labor, Job 9:29. And Christ was said to labor for our salvation on the cross, Isa. 53:11.

19. In order for men of all ages to gain consolation from Job’s example, Job had to suffer in every major area of life (family, relationships, finances, livelihood, and physical health). And in order to save sufferers of every generation, Christ had to suffer in every area of life.

20. Both Job and Jesus suffered in the will of God (1 Pet 4:19).

21. Job said, “He did not hide deep darkness from my face” (Job 23:17). And Scripture said of the Father that He “did not spare His own Son” (Rom 8:32).

22. Furthermore, I see Jesus in the book of Job when Job said, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5). Referring to the Father, John said that “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18; 1 Jo 4:12). Therefore, it seems evident that when Job saw God, he saw Christ. It was Jesus Christ Himself who interrogated and exonerated Job in Job 38-42. With the words of Jesus Himself quoted in the last five chapters of Job’s book, His presence in the book seems clear and undeniable.

Some have supposed that the cross rendered the book of Job obsolete and no longer relevant for our lives. To the contrary, the cross confirmed the glory of Job’s story and emphasized its relevance for New Covenant believers. Every time you read the book of Job, I hope you are now able to see more and more of Jesus in that marvelous book.

To go deeper in the book of Job, see Bob’s book on Job here, click here.

NEW FILM: SONS AND BASTARDS

This book this film is based on celebrates God’s goodness to chasten. It will help you make sense of inexplicable trials, strengthen your resolve to endure, and reveal how chastening can qualify us for a higher entrustment in the kingdom. By the time the story’s written, you’ll be healed and trained for greater service.

Bob’s book on this important topic is available here: http://tinyurl.com/hj2zhl5

Director, Editor, Sound Designer – Joel Sorge
Teaching – Bob Sorge
Original Music – Caleb Culver
Director of Photography – Chris Commons
Assistant Camera Operator – Lydia Anderson
Vocal Mixing – Zane Callister

THE RIGHTEOUS ARE LIKE A TREE

TREE

The righteous are likened to trees in several Scriptures, and specifically to a palm tree in Psalm 92:12, “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”

Palm trees grow in tropical climates, under conditions that would be deadly to some types of trees. But that which is deadly to another is life-giving to a palm.  In fact, the hotter it is the more the palm seems to flourish. The righteous flourish in heat—that is, in times of distress, trial, and persecution.

One of my favorite passages that likens believers to trees is Psalm 1. Look at verse one.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.”  The progression of walk, stand, sit points to the manner in which sin can progressively snare the soul.

We are not to walk “in the counsel of the ungodly”—which reflects ungodly values.  You talk about your marriage to somebody at work, and he says, “I wouldn’t put up with that, if I were you!”  The counsel of people in the world will always reflect their ungodly values.

We are not to stand “in the path of sinners”—which is a reference to ungodly morals.  It may be seem relatively harmless, on the surface, to join the men at work for a “guy’s night out,” but it’s dangerous to stand with others who are sinning, even if you are not sinning directly yourself.

And thirdly, we are not to sit “in the seat of the scornful”—this speaks of ungodly attitudes.  If we hang out with people of the world, we’ll begin to talk like them, and even think like them.

The psalmist proceeded to describe the godly man who avoids all that other stuff:  “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (verses 2-3).

The godly man, the verse says, is like a tree.  When I think of a tree, I think of the following qualities:

1. Fruitful in season.  

The man of God goes through seasons.  Just like in the created order, we experience spring, summer, harvest, and winter.  Not all of life is characterized by harvest.  There are also dry seasons, cold seasons, damp seasons.  But the godly man progresses normally through all the seasons of life, and has a consistent history of fruitfulness at the right times.

2. Strong in dry times.

The man of God doesn’t always look good.  In winter, he may lose his leaves.  But mark this:  in the drought of summer his leaves never wither.  Grass nearby is parched and yellow, but the godly man is green and verdant—because his roots go down into the riverbed.  He has tapped into the lifesource of the Holy Spirit, and when others are withering, he is refreshed from a hidden water source.

3. Stands out as a landmark.

Trees are often used as landmarks because they stand tall against their surroundings.  Similarly, the godly man rises in stature and stands tall above the others who surround him.  Among the employees, he is exemplary.  He is an example to his family.  His life is noticeable, compelling, and noteworthy.

4. Unmoved by storms.

Like a tree, the man of God is shaken at times by the winds of life.  Difficulty might leave him really rocking.  But he’s never uprooted and moved.  He has longevity because he’s deeply rooted in the grace of God. Long after others have been moved off by this or that, he continues to stand, strong and stable.  He’s a pillar in his community because he has not succumbed to the popular temptation to pick up and move to another state at the first whiff of adversity.

5. Provides shade for others.

Because of the qualities of Jesus that radiate from the godly, he or she is a source of refreshing and relief to others.  A tree doesn’t have to try to provide shade, it just happens.  In the same way, the godly refresh the hearts of others continually and effortlessly.

6. “Whatever he does shall prosper.”

That is both a promise for the tough times, and a reality that will inevitably manifest.  He is blessed because he has found a place of special affection in the heart of God.  And in the final analysis, that is the ultimate reward of the godly:  the smile of Jesus.