Loving the Unlovables – Part One

LOVING THE UNLOVABLE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

lovingtheunlovablesIntroduction: This weekend we are starting a new miniseries from the Sermon on the Mount titled – “LOVING THE UNLOVABLES” or “LOVING OUR ENEMIES.” Once again, Jesus is raising the bar of righteousness. He is not satisfied with us just loving our neighbors or friends but now He wants us to love our enemies as well.

Matthew 5 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust…48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Overall Background: Before we dive into this passage and learn how to love our enemies and not hold grudges and show forgiveness and all of that, we need to stop for a moment and read again verse 43“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’” The first half of that verse is not a problem because Leviticus 19:18 says very clearly, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself…” But the second half – hate your enemy – is a huge problem. Where did Jesus get that from the Old Testament? I’ve looked and looked but there is no such verse, “hate your enemy” in the Old Testament. Could it be that it comes from passages in the Old Testament like Exodus 23:22 But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies…” Deut. 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge…He will thrust out the enemy from before you, And will say, “Destroy!” Joshua 10:13 So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge upon their enemies. I can go on and on but here’s one more – Psalm 139 (A psalm of David) 21 Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.”

Several questions come to mind – Is Jesus straightening out the Old Testament? Was God in the Old Testament cruel and Jesus has come to soften the image? Is God schizophrenic? On one hand, He seems to be advocating mass genocide in the Old Testament and, on the other hand, He talks about “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…”

These questions are not just meant to spark some intellectual curiosity. These questions are very important. There are people out there and even here who have a tough time accepting the message of the gospel because of what they find in the Old Testament. Our young people when they go to colleges they are bombarded by statements like – “God of love, huh?!! Are we talking about the same God who demanded the slaughter of men, women, children, and even animals?” And, the worst – “What’s the difference between the Bible and Quran? Both have their holy wars.”

This morning I want us to think. I want us to go deeper and understand the nature and purposes of God. But, you can only go only so far without receiving Jesus as your Savior. It’s the Holy Spirit who helps us to truly understand the Word. Are you saved?

First we’re going to look at the wrong responses and then the right responses.

I. WRONG RESPONSES TO “HATE YOUR ENEMY”

  1. There are problems with the God of the Old Testament.

Some people read the passages where God struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt or Exodus 23:23 where it says, “For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off” and they say, “What kind of a god is this who shows favoritism to one people and kills others. How can we say “God loves the world” and at the same time He killed innocent people?

For people like this it is very hard to argue with them. They do not listen to reason. They just put up simple ideas about Christianity and then proceed to tear them down. The best you can do is pray for people like that so that God will open their hearts and minds to see the truth.

  1. There are problems with the writers of the Old Testament.

Some people read passages like Exodus 15 3 “The LORD is a man of war; The LORD is His name. 4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea” and     Isaiah 42:13 “The LORD shall go forth like a mighty man; He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war. He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud; He shall prevail against His enemies” and they say the human authors could not communicate accurately who God is and what He’s like. They did the best they could but obviously they made mistakes. God is not a man of war. He’s not bloodthirsty. What we need to do is look at the Old Testament through the lens of Christ. He straightens everything out and makes it all about love. They also say that we don’t need to talk about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now we need to only focus on the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament has superseded the Old Testament.

Couple of problems with this view:

  1. The human authors wrote with their personalities and their contexts but the Holy Spirit inspired them. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” If so, then the Bible is inerrant, without mistakes. The problem is not with the human writers but with our lack of understanding today.
  2. If the New Testament has superseded the Old Testament, then what do you do with the Book of Revelation. Rev. 19:11   Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

There are no problems with the God of the Old Testament and there are no problems with the writers of the Old Testament.

II. RIGHT RESPONSES TO “HATE YOUR ENEMY”

  1. God’s standard of holiness is very high.

God is holy and He hates sin. He is the enemy of sin. It’s in His nature to destroy sin. In Leviticus 10 there’s an incident that makes this very clear. Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. Listen to what happened2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. 3 And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy…” The Canaanites became His enemies because they went contrary to His holiness. Hence He set out to destroy them and Israel became God’s instrument to deal with he unholy Canaanites. By the way, take some time to study the passages when Israel fought against their enemies. There was always a consecration and cleansing before God. Many times the ark (presence of the Lord) went before them. They had to do things His way. If not, like Ai, they were beaten.

The trouble I have with the whole “hate your enemy” thing is not that God hated the Canaanite but why did He spare the Israelite! The only answer is His grace.

By the way, Jesus did the same – He confronted the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He cleansed the temple.

  1. God cares about the holiness of His people.

God is not only aggressive in maintaining His standard of Holiness but he wants the same for His people. He did not want His people to fall into the same sin of the peoples around them. Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 20   16 “But of the cities of these peoples which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, 17 but you shall utterly destroy them…18 lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the LORD your God.

Jesus did not lower the standard of holiness. He actually raised it. But unlike the Old Testament where it was external, now it is internal. Matthew 15:19 “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Paul expands on this in Ephesians 6   11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

Hence, we do not fight holy war with the infidels anymore. The holy war is within.

  1. God took all precautions to protect His plan of redemption.

The reason you cannot find “hate your enemy” anywhere in the Old Testament is because it was not about “your enemy.” It was about God’s enemy. The people of Israel lost sight of that many times and they paid dearly. God had a plan of redemption that He promised to Abraham that through him would come the seed. He protected him and Sarah. Then He preserved His people in Egypt. Then He went before His people in the Promised Land. If you remember, when Joshua was getting ready to charge the Promised Land, in Joshua 5   13 “…that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” 14 So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then he told Joshua to destroy all the people of Jericho but keep in mind – Rahab was spared and became part of the genealogy. Why? Because she desired to be part of God’s plan of redemption.

One reason God fought for His people Israel was to protect His plan of redemption. Now the Promised One has come. No longer do we look at others as enemies but as people who need to hear the gospel.

We are not called to hate but to show hope to others.

Colossians 1   21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—

2 questions:

  1. Are you an enemy of God?
  2. Do you look at others as your enemies?

Keeping Your Word

KEEPING YOUR WORD by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

keepingyourword

As you know very well, we are again in our series on the Sermon on the Mount and our message is titled – KEEPING YOUR WORD.

Matthew 5   33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your “Yes’ be “Yes,’ and your “No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

Overall Background: In the passage we just read Jesus is raising the bar on how we make and keep promises. Just like today, people back then made a lot of promises, which they never intended to keep. They had become experts on breaking promises. The Rabbis came up with a whole system that would allow people to get out of their oaths. Jesus told them to stop all this nonsense and let your “Yes’ be “Yes,’ and your “No,’ ‘No.’

People haven’t changed much since then. They still make excuses, look for loopholes, hunt for an escape clause, find some technicality, and do whatever they can to get out of a promise. Gone are the days when a man’s word and a handshake was all that you needed. Unfortunately, Christians are no better. When we break a promise, we even have some verse to go with it!

Question: What kind of a person are you? Do you keep your word to your spouse, children, neighbors, and church family? Are you a promise keeper or a promise breaker? Do you keep your word to God? What promises have you made to God that you still haven’t kept? I believe more promises are broken to God than to anybody else. Or do you hide behind the line – “I’m not going to promise anything?” Are you saved?

This morning we will try to understand the importance of keeping our word, not just to our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, church family, but also to God. 4 things we will try to understand here:

I. HUMAN TENDENCY IS TO BREAK OUR WORD. 

34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.

Background: Some people have misunderstood Jesus’ statement, like the Anabaptists and Quakers. They thought that He was commanding us never to take an oath or make a vow. Not true. To understand what’s happening here, you have to go to the Mishnah, which is the Jewish oral tradition and especially to the Shevu’ot = the section on oaths. According to them, in the Jewish religion, God’s name was very sacred. It could not be used in making an oath. Only the high priest could take God’s divine name and only on the Day of Atonement, all other uses of divine name were blasphemous. If you took an oath with God’s name, it really didn’t count. Now, you could use substitutes known as kinnuyim with alphabets out of God’s name – Aleph-dalet for Adonai and Yod-He for Yahweh. All that would do was create some more technicalities to break a promise. But the people didn’t stop there. They also came up with a lot of innocuous substitutes for God – heaven, earth, Jerusalem, my head, just to name a few. According to these rabbinic interpretations, taking such oaths was not legally binding. So you could swear by all that and then break your vow legally. Jesus exposed their wicked schemes. He reminded them that all these technicalities are wrong because everything belongs to God – heaven, earth, Jerusalem, and my head or your head. In fact, He called all that from the evil one.

Isn’t it interesting that human beings haven’t changed much? We make promises because we like the immediate benefits but when its time to return our end of the bargain, we want to break the contract. Everyday all over the world, promises are made to be broken.

  • A Father promises to play ball with his son if he would only let him watch his game right now. Once the game is over, he is too tired to play ball.
  • One spouse promises the other to do something only if they would do something first for them. Once they get what they want, they conveniently find excuses to get out of keeping their end of the bargain.
  • Young man makes a promise to a young girl that if he would just come a little closer, he will love her forever. Once he gets what he wants, he says “Bye.”
  • Church members make about a million excuses when it comes to doing their ministry.

I can go on and on. Why do we do that? Because we are sinful, selfish, self-centered human beings. We do that even to God! Hosea 6   4 “O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, And like the early dew it goes away. 7 “But like men they transgressed the covenant; There they dealt treacherously with Me.

Application: Are you an honest and forthright person or are you a deceitful and manipulative person? Do people trust you? Are you a person who is known for keeping a promise? Are you always looking for some technicality to get out from keeping your word? Have your broken your promise to God?

II. DIVINE TENDENCY IS TO KEEP HIS WORD. 

Background: The reason Jesus even brought up this matter is because being God Himself, breaking promises goes against everything in His nature. God is a covenant keeping God. Deuteronomy 7:9 “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

  • In Genesis 9:11 He made a vow to Noah and his sons saying, “Thus I establish My covenant with you…never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” He kept His Word.
  • In Genesis 22 God made a vow to Abraham saying, 16 “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you…have not withheld your son, your only son – 17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants…” The book of Hebrews comments on it in Hebrews 6:13 “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself.”
  • Judges 2:1 Then the Angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you.
  • In Ezekiel 33:11 God made a vow saying, “As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live…” Throughout history God has kept His Word.
  • Listen to Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9:4 “…O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments.”

I can go on and on but here’s the point: No matter who has broken their promise to you, you can rest assure that God will always keep His word to you. He will never fail you. He is faithful. Listen to Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Application: Do you trust God? Do you take Him at His Word? Are you living your life on God’s promises? Have you trusted Him with your eternity?

III. GOD EXPECTS US TO KEEP OUR WORD. 

37 But let your “Yes’ be “Yes,’ and your “No,’ ‘No.’

Background: Jesus expects us to be promise keepers.

  1. To our spouses – As a pastor for 17 years, I’ve done a lot of weddings. All of them begin with this statement – Dearly Beloved: We are gathered together before the presence of God and these assembled witnesses to join together this man and this woman in the holy estate of matrimony.” Then we have the exchange of vows – “I promise to take you so and so to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, I promise to love and cherish you.” Then they exchange rings as the sign and seal of their promises. Then I end it with – By the authority vested in me as a minister of the gospel, in the presence of God and these assembled witnesses, it is my privilege to pronounce you husband and wife. What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

What if we take out the name of God from the wedding ceremony? It doesn’t matter. God is a witness every time a man and a woman come together. It is His institution. He will hold you accountable for it.

  1. To our children – When you bring a child into this world, you are entering into a covenant with God to further His plan into this world. Human beings have done a great job in enjoying the pleasure of the moment but they have long forgotten the responsibility that comes with it. Our responsibility is to lead the child in God’s way.
  2. To our church family – As part of the family of God, I am obligated to keep my word to them. If I say, “I will be there,” then I should be there. If I say, “I will serve,” then I should serve. It is a shame when fellow church members cannot be counted upon! By the way, some people try the tactic – “I’m just not going to promise anything” – and this way I don’t have to break any promise. I am more impressed with the man/woman who serves faithfully than with one who claims to know the Bible or theology.
  3. To our neighbors – As a Christian, I am obligated to keep my promises to my neighbors, which includes people next door, people at work, and people in the community, and our nation. When people find out that you are a Christian, they should be doing all they can to hire you. They should know that you are a trustworthy person.
  4. To God – As I mentioned earlier, “more promises are broken to God than to anybody else.” Promises are made on sick beds, deathbeds, during financial struggle and relationship struggles. Sadly, once things get better, people forget God. Psalm 66 13 “I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows, 14 Which my lips have uttered And my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.”

Application: Are you a promise keeper to your spouse, children, church family, neighbor, and to God?

IV. THE HOLY SPIRIT ENABLES US TO KEEP OUR WORD.

Let’s recap – human tendency is to break promises, divine tendency is to keep promises, but God expects us to keep promises. What should we do? God understands our weakness. Hence, Jesus sent us His Holy Spirit. He is the encourager. His job is to do through us what we could never do by ourselves. His task is to make us faithful when we surrender to Him. Listen to Galatians 5   22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. This especially helps when the other person does not keep their end of the bargain.

Do you have the Holy Spirit? Are you saved?

Keeping Intimacy in Marriage Part Four

KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 4 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

intimacy4Today we are in part 4 of our miniseries KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE.

Matthew 5 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Overall Background: So far we laid out the foundations of marriage. Now we are ready to look at adultery. By the way, the word adultery does not come from the English word “adult.” It actually comes from the Latin word “adulterare,” which means to alter or corrupt. It is a combination of “ad” (towards) and “alter” (other). Adultery means going towards the other person. Sometimes “adulterare” also means “to pollute.” Hence, adultery is the pollution or corruption of marriage. With that in mind, listen to verse 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ As you know, this is the 7th of the 10 Commandments that God gave to his people. It comes right after murder and right before stealing. God took the sin of adultery very seriously. How seriously? Listen to Deuteronomy 22:22 “If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of them shall die—the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall put away the evil from Israel.” God considered adultery such an evil that it had to be destroyed in order to protect His people.

Now someone may say – “That’s just the Old Testament, the law. The New Testament is all grace under Jesus.” What did Jesus say? Listen to verse 28 “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Meaning: In God’s sight, it’s not just the act but even the thought of adultery is just as bad. As I said before, let me say it again – Trusting Jesus as your Savior does not absolve, exempt, or release you from obeying God’s commandments. In fact, Jesus makes it even harder.

Question: What do you think about the sin of adultery? Is it a big deal to you? Keep in mind – we’re not just talking about the act but also the thought of adultery. By Jesus’s standards, are you innocent or are you guilty of this sin? Without the grace of God and the help of the Holy Spirit none of us can stand before God’s standards. You cannot have the Holy Spirit unless you are saved. Are you saved?

This morning we’re going to look at the account of Potiphar’s wife and Joseph and try to understand how adultery is subtle and how you can take steps to safeguard your marriage. Married or single, this message is important for all of us.

I. THE SUBTLETY OF ADULTERY 

Genesis 39:1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.

Background: You know the account of Joseph’s life. His brothers were jealous of him and instead of killing him, they sold him to the Midianites/Ishmaelites who brought him to the slave market in Egypt, where an officer of Pharaoh, an Egyptian named Potiphar, bought him. The Bible doesn’t tell us why Potiphar bought him. Unlike his brothers who worked in the field, he was probably just a frail lad. Maybe, Potiphar saw his tear stained face. Maybe, he saw his innocence and his helplessness. Maybe even Potiphar’s wife was with him and she saw the far off look in his eyes and she felt sorry for this poor Semitic boy and wanted to help him. What’s next? 3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. Joseph was a hard-working, honest young man, who had God’s hand on him. Maybe that’s why Potiphar moved him into his house. How much did he trust him? Listen to verse 6 “…he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. Joseph was successful but success always comes with a cost. Any time you begin to rise in influence, power, and blessing, watch out. As long as you were on the ground, you were not a target. Now that you are standing up, you’ve become a target.

What happens next? 6 “…Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph…” Typically, Potiphar’s wife is portrayed as a loose, immoral, and manipulative woman. In my opinion, I don’t think it began that way. That phrase – “And it came to pass after these things” – means that it was not immediately that she went after him but over time something developed. Initially, she probably felt sorry for him – poor kid trying to make a living, far away from home, has nobody. She saw watched how hard he worked and how honest he was and her heart went out to him. Maybe, she must have talked to him about his life back home. Maybe, she must have talked to him about her life and marriage. Day in and day out, she was alone with him and one day “she said, ‘Lie with me.’”

Peter Rutter in his book “Sex in the Forbidden Zone” notes that when two people work together in a setting where there is trust and understanding, they begin to develop a sense of closeness, comfort, and even completeness in each other’s presence. Sex is the ultimate form of intimacy. That’s why in time this growth in intimacy can actually lead to sexual desire. In other words, when you work in a close setting with someone, in time it can lead to something more.

Illustration: Unfortunately, I heard about adultery at a very early age. It was in the late 70s when the hippie movement was going on. Some young people got saved and we’re going from place to place preaching the gospel. When they came to our city, we set them up in a big guesthouse and the families in the church took turns providing lunch and dinner for them. It was awesome. One day I had to take some food to the guesthouse and as I was walking by one of the rooms, something caught my eye that did not look normal even at the age of 6-7. There were several guys in that room but I noticed that one of the ladies from the church was in the room, sitting on the lap of one of those young men. I knew who she was. She was one of my friend’s moms, an active family in the church. Later on it all came out and it was bad. It hurt the family, the church family, the young men, and even the testimony of the church before the community.

Adultery is subtle. There are predators and serial cheaters out there but many times that is not the case. Adultery is the result of working in close context over an extended period of time with someone other than your spouse. As a married person, no one should occupy the place of closeness that belongs to your spouse. As a single person, beware if anyone married is putting you in a place that should be occupied only by his/her spouse. That’s why a married man can never be best friends with a single woman and a married woman cannot be best friends with a single guy.

Application: Who are you close to who is not your spouse? Has the Holy Spirit brought someone to your mind? Are you talking to this person about things that you should only be talking to your spouse about? Are you the target? Are you the tool of the enemy?

II. THE CONVICTION AGAINST ADULTERY 

Gen. 39:8   But he refused and said to his master’s wife,

Background: Joseph did not have to fumble and stammer about why he could not indulge in adultery. He had already worked out his reasons. Meaning: He knew this day was coming and he was prepared. Listen to the 3 reasons that he gave:

  1. It is breaking my master’s trust.

“Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness,

Joseph knew that Potiphar had been good to him and he could not do this to him. We’re living in an age when people do not have a sense of honor and loyalty. They don’t stop to consider what their momentary decision would do to their family.

Illustration: One afternoon there was a knock on our door. It was one of the ladies from the church. She was crying. I’ll never forget the look of emotional pain and betrayal in her eyes. I called my mom and dad and they sat and talked with her. Again, later on it came out that she had caught her husband cheating on her. It was very sad. Again, it affected that family, the church, and the testimony before the world. I’ll never forget the look of pain and shock and betrayal in our eyes.

  1. It is a sin.

“…How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin…”

Joseph did not call it an affair or a mistake or a one-night stand. He called it sin. We’re living in an age when people call sin by every other name but what it is.

  1. It is against God.

“…How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Joseph was more concerned about the law of God than the law of the land. He knew that one day he would have to stand before the “judge of all the earth.” Listen to Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

Question: What convictions do you have in your life? Do you have to wait to decide where you stand on a temptation? Have you set up some safeguard in your marriage? “I’ve never cheated on my wife/husband” Have you thought about it in your mind? Job said in Job 31:1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?” What covenant have you made with your eyes?

III. THE ESCAPE FROM ADULTERY 

Genesis 39 10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. 11 But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, 12 that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.

Joseph did not stop to pray and discuss and reason. He ran. There is a time to talk and then there is a time to run. For a Christian it is time to run from sin and to the Holy Spirit.

Does that mean that everything works out perfectly? Probably not. Joseph had to go to prison. But listen to verse 21 But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

Application: What do you believe about adultery? Do you have biblical convictions? Do you have the Holy Spirit? Do you know Christ as your Savior

Keeping Intimacy in Marriage Part Two

KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 2 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

intimacy2This morning we are in part two of our miniseries from the Beatitudes titled “KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE.”

Matthew 5 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Overall Background: “You have heard…‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Before we can unpack this passage, we need to lay down some foundations regarding marriage. Last weekend we laid down the first layer of foundation that, at its core, marriage teaches us about God. Through marriage we understand God’s image, through marriage we receive God’s gift for companionship, and through marriage we encounter the great mystery of the relationship between Christ and the church. But all of that is marriage as it relates to God, just the first layer of the foundation.

This morning we will look at the second layer of the foundation, which is marriage as it relates between a man and a woman – two individuals created in the image of God, basically the same in many ways and yet polar opposites in others. Who is superior? The man is infinitely superior to the woman in being a man and the woman is infinitely superior to the man in being a woman. They’re both wonderful but different.

Would you agree with that statement – “Men and Women are different”? In 1992 a book came out titled “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Gray. Nobody could have predicted that this book would become a best seller. It went on to sell over 9.5 million copies! Why? Because it attempted to answer one of the greatest questions of all times – how to understand my husband or my wife? That is a tough question! Illustration: Once upon a time a man was walking along the beach and came across a bottle in the sand. He pulled out the cork and out came a genie in a cloud of smoke. This is just a story. To thank the man the genie offered him one free wish. “Well,” said the man, “I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii, but I’m afraid to fly and just thinking about going by ship makes me queasy. Would you mind building a road to Hawaii?” The genie said, “Man, that’s a lot of work. I’ll have to build pilings going down to the ocean floor and bring in tons of material and concrete. And the distance is over 2000 miles. Do you have another wish instead?” The man thought for a second and then said, “I’ve been trying to understand my wife. What makes her laugh and cry and what makes her mad? Do you think you help me figure out my wife and how she thinks?” The genie said, “Would you like the highway to be two lanes or four?”

We joke about it but in many homes it’s not a laughing matter. Those very differences that at first seemed so attractive, cool, and cute become in time so annoying, frustrating, and “so not worth it.” Nobody gets up one morning and decides – “I think I’m gonna cheat on my spouse.” It’s the consequence of months and years of failing to understand the opposite sex, appreciating the differences, and working through the problems. Let me ask you some questions: How do you see your spouse? Do you understand and appreciate the differences? Or do you see your spouse as a strange creature? Do you see your spouse as God’s gift specifically designed for you? Do you see your spouse as your enemy? Are you saved? You need Him in your marriage.

This morning we will try to understand how men and women are different. But first, let me make it clear that what I am sharing is generally true. There are men out there who can sew and knit and there are women out there who can kick my tail.

  1. Different Physically

Men are generally stronger than women. On an average, men are 10% bigger than women with 20% more body mass. Men have 90% greater upper body strength and 65% greater lower body strength. On an average, a man is stronger than 99.9% of women. Why did God make man this way? Listen to Genesis 2:15 “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” Adam’s job was to provide for Eve and protect her. Hence, men build muscle easily, bruise less easily, and have thicker skin and thicker skull. They have broader shoulders and stronger bones. They are able to throw things farther. They are built for physical confrontation. That’s why men love aggressive sports and movies. Ladies – no matter how much you try to change him and put him in a tutu, that’s not how God has wired him.

How about women? Because women, on an average, are smaller than men, they have less blood flowing through their system than men. On an average, women have about 0.875 gallons of blood while men have 1.5 gallons. Also, the erythrocyte density (Red Blood Corpuscles) is about 20% less than men. What happens when there is a drop in the temperature? The women’s body is so designed that blood flow to the skin and extremities shuts off and is directed to the vital organs in order to maintain their core temperature at 37 degrees. (If temperature falls below 35 degrees, it can cause hypothermia.) Why all this? God has placed this protective mechanism in women so they can protect their unborn children and family. That’s why a woman’s core body temperature on average is 0.4 degrees higher than a man’s body temperature but their hands and feet are freezing cold! On an average, it is 2.8° lower than man’s hand temperature.

For e.g. During the winter Nicole will often tell me – “it’s cold!” Then she’ll stick her hand on my face – “Feel this!” And in bed – she’ll stick her feet on me! It’s like a block of ice!

For e.g. Even at church – women are cold and the men are hot. Why? Because we are built that way! Ladies – “Yall can put on a jacket but what’s the alternative for men? Sit in their underwears!” Why do I flail my hands and vary my tone? To keep the men awake!

What else? Women have a softer skin than men. They have a thin layer of subcutaneous fat (under the skin) that keeps their skin feeling softer and smoother. Any wonder, a baby cries and dad picks him up and he/she cries even more. Then, mom picks him up and he/she stops crying and looks at the dad! What the baby is saying is she feels more comforting! But, because of this thin layer of celluloid it’s easier for women to gain weight and harder to lose weight. Men – be understanding.

What else? Men have a lot of energy but women are built for the long run. Why? Men have to finish their task in daylight but women have to take care of their children and family all day and all night. Men – be understanding and don’t say your wife is lazy.

Knowing all these physical differences, how should be we behave towards each other? Listen to 1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” Meaning: Ladies – you are called the weaker vessel. That does not mean “lesser.” Let your husband be the man that God has designed Him to be. Husbands – knowing that women are weaker than us, be understanding towards your wife and honor her. What if you don’t? God will not listen to your prayers.

Application: Men – are you treating your wife with understanding? Are you treating her with honor? Women – are you trying to make your husband something he is not? Do you respect him?

  1. Different Psychologically
Men and women brain 2013 study

Men and Women Brain Study 2013 (Credit: Ragini Verma, PhD, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

A human brain has a right hemisphere and a left hemisphere. Right brain – imagination, intuition, feelings, non-verbal communication, etc. Left Brain – Logic, analysis, linear mathematics, sequencing, facts, etc. Men primarily use the left side of their brain while women use both. People have tried to dismiss that for some time but in 2013 researchers at the University of Pennsylvania published a major study using a technique called diffusion tensor imaging which confirmed that there is big difference in the way men use their brain and women use their brain. In studying about 1000 brain scans they noticed that there is greater neural connectivity from front to back within one hemisphere in males that facilitates connectivity between perception and coordinated action. On the other hand, the wiring in females goes between the left and right hemispheres, which facilitates communication between the analytical and intuition.

This is what it means – because of how men are wired, they are task oriented, avoid their feelings, and focus on the facts and because of how women are wired, they are better at intuition, remembering things, sharing their feelings, and emotionally involved. This is why – Men cannot multitask but women can. Nicole has to constantly tell me to stop and look at her. Women have better intuition than men. So many times she has told me “I don’t know what it is but there’s something not right about this person.” How? They are picking up information from the left and the right brain.

What else? On an average, men are more practical and women are more sentimental. In order to protect and provide for the family, men had to be more in touch with facts. In order to nurture and comfort the children, women had to be more in touch with their feelings. Hence, men are more pragmatic and women are more romantic. Nicole often tells me – “You used to be so romantic back we were dating. What happened?” “I had a goal to marry you. Mission accomplished.” Men – we need to show romance even though we have our wives now. Ladies – please be patient with the men. They’ll try harder. Listen to Colossians 3   18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Every week Nicole and I take time to go on a date. I’m very busy and so is she but this is our way of meeting each other’s needs. She listens to my facts and I try my best to be romantic.

Let me make a quick point here – there’s an application here for the church. This is why the Bible always has male leadership in the Temple and in the church. Because when it comes to spiritual truth men are better at following facts. “Thus says the Lord.” That’s it. Women, on the other hand, are willing to say – “Do what makes you happy.” “God understands your heart.” By the way, there is a difference between male heretics and female heretics. Male heretics – there is no God or Jesus is not God’s Son or the Bible has mistakes. Female heretics – “there are many ways to God” or “we should not judge anyone.” But what would happen if the church was nothing but men? We would kill each other! It’s women who create opportunities to fellowship.

  1. Equal Spiritually

Even though men and women are different physically and psychologically and even though we have different roles in the home and the church, we have the same equal standing before God. Both men and women are sinners in need of a Savior and Jesus is the Savior for all. When we receive Him into our lives, we become one in Christ.

Listen to Galatians 3 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Are you saved? Is Christ at the center of your home and your marriage? Today you can invite Him and He will bring wisdom and grace and patience and compassion and all the things that you need.

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