God’s Merciful Gift of Wisdom

Christianity is unique among world religions because it does not ask for a man to live a holy life in order to merit reward or eternal bliss.  Instead, Christians live holy lives as a result of the mercy and grace bestowed upon them as Christ abides in them and they in Him.  Eternal life is more than a destination for Christians; it is a quality of life that the world’s religions cannot offer.

Proverbs 1, 8, and 9 contain personifications of wisdom.  A personification attributes personal, human-like qualities and activities to abstract concepts like wisdom.  Jesus Christ is often thought to be wisdom in these passages.  The fact that the representation is female doesn’t prevent us from identifying wisdom with Christ.  Wisdom is a feminine noun in Hebrew; therefore, when a pronoun refers to the noun, translators normally use the feminine form.

Increasingly, people are intensely adverse to having their corrupt behavior identified and confronted.  It’s always been this way.  Extrapolate and explain the consequences of foolish behavior, call for repentance and conversion, and speak firmly, lovingly, and compassionately.  These are our responsibilities as Christians.  But more and more, they are not well-received in our entitled world.  You will be thought as a fanatic but also as very weak-minded and enslaved.  You can feel the sneers and mocking glances.  However, if we must lose the favor of man for the favor of God, then so be it.

What is foolish to people in our lives is wisdom to God.  Nothing we say or teach or promise will persuade men unless the proclamation, teaching, and promises come from the Word of God.  The voice of wisdom is found only in the all-sufficient Word.  It is calling aloud outside and raising her voice in the open squares.  Wisdom and God confront us in Proverbs 1.20-33.  There are two important aspects to this text:

  1. God’s grace comes to those who will receive wisdom.
  2. God’s judgment comes to those who despise wisdom.

Receiving Wisdom

“How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity” (Proverbs 1.22a)?  It’s not only to the willingly naive that the invitation to receive wisdom is given, but to the morally dull and obstinate (the fool).  It’s not only to the naive and obstinate that the invitation to receive wisdom is given, but to the worst of the fools, namely the scorner.  This is the one who delights in mockery, acts with insolent pride (Proverbs 21.24), hates correction and will not tolerate authority (Proverbs 15.12), responds with insult (Proverbs 9.7-8), and will not listen to rebuke (Proverbs 13.1).  You would think that God would not invite these types of foolish people to receive anything but judgment.  However, love and mercy belong to God.  So, God invites them to turn at His rebuke that the spirit of wisdom might be poured out upon them (Proverbs 1.23).  If they will, God will make His words of wisdom known to them.  How much better off we would be, if we allowed words of wisdom from parents, teachers, pastors, and friends to prevail upon us!  But often we think nothing of justifying our foolish actions, multiplying our guilt before God, and turning a blind eye to clearly indefensible thoughts and conduct.  We must turn at His rebuke.

The LORD is gracious to make promises to those who accept His invitation to receive wisdom.  Our weakness in temptation and ignorance of what is right keeps us under the sway of the wicked one.  We hear the voice of the LORD calling us to turn at His rebuke, but we don’t know what to do or how to turn.  Surely the LORD will pour out His Holy Spirit upon our spirit.  He will provide the Spirit of Wisdom and of Grace.  He will make His words known to us.  “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!  Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3.1).  Turn at His rebuke and receive wisdom.

Despising Wisdom

God calls, but what if we refuse (Proverbs 1.24)?  What if He stretches out His hand, the hand of wisdom, and no one regards Him?  What if we disdain all of wisdom’s counsel, and have none of His rebuke?  Then all that is left is not the tender invitation of wisdom, but her laughter at our calamity, her mockery when the terror of judgment falls upon us like a storm or a destructive whirlwind.  This is when distress and anguish comes upon us because we have despised wisdom (Proverbs 1.25-27).

Vengeance belongs to the LORD.  There comes a day when we call on God …on wisdom, but there is no answer (Proverbs 1.28).  We seek for wisdom diligently, but do not find her.  We have despised wisdom, hated knowledge, and do not choose the fear of the LORD (Proverbs 1.29).  We would not have any of wisdom’s counsel.  Instead of turning at wisdom’s rebuke, we despised wisdom’s rebuke (Proverbs 1.30).  Therefore we shall eat the fruit of our own way, a way we have chosen (Proverbs 1.31).  We are filled to the full with our own fancies …our own foolishness.  There simply isn’t any room for God or for wisdom in our lives.

Receive wisdom and know the goodness of the LORD.  God is good and only gives that which is good.  If anyone lacks wisdom, simply ask of God and He will give it.  Many of us have been persistent in our disobedience in spite of God’s merciful invitations to get wisdom.  We have squandered days, weeks, months, and even years toiling in our simplicity.  God is patient and longsuffering.  Day after day He renews His merciful invitation to receive wisdom.  But consider those who have lived lives cut off from wisdom because of their sins.  God’s patience must end in our repentance.  Repent today while it is still called to day.

Despise wisdom and know the justice of the LORD.  It is true that God is not willing that any should perish; however, it is also true that all must come to repentance in order to live an eternal quality of life.  God will by no means clear the guilty.  He repays wickedness in this life and in the life to come.  God will do right.  “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10.31).  Receive wisdom and all the promises she affords by the grace of our Almighty Father.

Suns of Righteousness

“Thus let all Your enemies perish, O LORD!  But let those who love Him be like the sun when it comes out in full strength” (Judges 5.31).

Imprecatory prayer is a strange animal.  The Scriptures clearly forbid personal, vindictive prayer.  It would be as difficult to pray an imprecatory prayer as it is to be righteously indignant or jealous with a godly jealousy.  Rare is the individual that could pull it off.  Perhaps Paul prayed this way in 1 Corinthians 16.22:  “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.  O Lord, come!”

Judges 5 contains the Song of Deborah.  She is insightful when it comes to the connection of rebellion with retribution.  She understands the need for justice.  She recognizes the judgment of God as something which is holy, just, and good.  If sin goes unpunished, then God’s promise are compromised.  Therefore, the wicked do not go unpunished.

The verse above is found at the end of Deborah’s song.  It is addressed not to those who hate the LORD, but to those who love Him.  She prays that they would be like the sun when it reaches is zenith or full strength in the sky.  Three aspects of this image are instructive:

  1. The Strength of the Sun – Believers ought to be as the sun when it comes out in full strength.  Proverbs 4.18 speaks of the path of the just and how it is like the shining sun.  It shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.  The sun is most powerful when it shines brightest.  Our striving pursuit for godliness and purity must increase in its intensity.  This lends itself to true power in ministry.
  2. The Benefits of the Sun – Believers benefit this dark world with life-giving light.  Nothing lives apart from the sun.  Even so, the LORD is the fountain of life.  In His light we see light (Psalm 36.9).  It is necessary that we turn men from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to the power of God.  The most beneficial believer is the one who is blameless and harmless.  They are without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.  We must be as those who shine as lights in the world, “holding fast the word of life, so that [we] may rejoice in the day of Christ that [we] have not run in vain or labored in vain” (Philippians 2.16).
  3. The Reflection of the Sun – Believers have no shining righteousness of their own.  They reflect the radiant glory of God’s gifted righteousness for God’s glory.  If the heavens declare the glory of God, then so should we.  We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2.10).  Jesus taught us to let our lights shine before men, that they might see their good works and glorify your Father in Heaven (Matthew 5.16).  But those works are not our works.  They stem from abiding in Him and He in us for without Him we can do nothing.

The Astonishing Authority of Jesus Christ

The Gospel of Mark is very fast-paced.  The urgency and frenetic pace of the life of Christ is communicated by the connective and along with the key adverb immediately.  Jesus’ authority is astonishing in the sense that it is unlike the authority of any other religious leaders.  He can cast demons out of people with a word and all to the amazement of onlookers (see Mark 1.21-28).

The scribes had great authority because they were very learned men.  But Jesus’ authority is greater.  The Greek term for authority in this text points to the supernatural authority which comes from God.  Scribes had authority which stemmed from tradition and learning.  It was the authority of men.  Jesus has authority from His Father in Heaven.  Jesus amazes His listeners in the synagogue at Capernaum that day.  However, the content of His teaching is not nearly as amazing or as astonishing as the Teacher Himself.

Jesus faces the supernatural realm of evil.  He casts the unclean spirit out of the man.  This is a microcosm of the greater struggle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.  The demon cried out, “Let us alone!  What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth?  Did You come to destroy us?  I know who You are – the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1.24)  Jesus has nothing in common with the demon(s).  Yet the demon(s) identify Him as the Holy One of God.  They know the astonishing truth regarding His authority, but those assembled in the synagogue do not yet understand.  Jesus subdues the demon(s) with two very simple commands:  “Be quiet, and come out of him!”  (Mark 1.25)

All of them are amazed or astounded.  What happened that day spreads like wildfire through Galilee.  Jesus’ authority set this man free.  It is important not to lose sight of this fact.

When you internalize the Word of God, you have authority to set yourself free from sin and its deadly effects.  You also have that same authority to help and confront others.  When we bring the Word of God against the evil of this world, we need to remember that this evil-infused world doesn’t like to be disturbed.

Not all people are demon-possessed or even as immoral as they could possibly be.  This is evidence of God’s grace and mercy in restraining evil and the evil one.  But all evil is confronted the same way.  It is met head-on with the authority of God’s Word.

When Jesus speaks, hope flourishes.  No one is past hope.  The Word of God can penetrate the hardest heart.  Hardened people may think themselves to be bloodied, unbowed, unbroken, and condemned; but the authority of Jesus Christ indicates hope for the worst among us.  Jesus’ astonishing authority can change you with a word today.  He will quiet your soul and set you free.

Jesus’ Authority to Call

Jesus called the disciples to Himself with the words, “Follow Me.”  Rabbis and scribes didn’t call their protégées when Jesus lived.  Instead, their followers latched onto them.  Also, Jesus didn’t say, “Let’s follow God together.”  Instead, He beckoned them to follow Him.  Jesus didn’t require His followers to be learned theologians and apologists.  Everything they needed to learn and do would come directly from Him.  All they needed to do was follow.

Jesus said that He would make His followers fishers of men.  They would become something they were not.  They would begin a lifetime pursuit.  This journey would be slow, painful, and full of misunderstanding.  It would be fraught with danger and suffering.  However, Jesus as the Suffering Servant, would show His disciples the way.  He would set the standard for His followers.  He exemplified astonishing authority while maintaining a servant-minded example (Mark 1.16-20; 10.45).

Jesus called more than one follower or disciple.  Many would join Him beyond the twelve apostles.  These followers are the men and women who became the living stones of the Christian church.  They rested upon the Cornerstone who Jesus Himself.  Jesus poured Himself into them.  His teaching permeated their lives.  Their doctrine was the doctrine of God.  As such, we build upon their ministry today.

You read the way Jesus called His disciples in Mark 1 and your tempted to think, “Wow!  Just like that! They drop everything, give up everything, and follow Jesus?!”  How can this be?  Maybe they should have come up with a back-up plan in case things didn’t go as planned.  There were no miracles, no preaching, no casting out demons.  There was only this abrupt command and call: “Follow Me.  Leave your nets.  Leave your fathers.  Follow Me!”

What have you left behind to follow Christ?  Have you obeyed the authority found in Him?  There is great eternal value when you line up under His authority and become His disciple:

  • A full, abundant, and satisfying life as Jesus reveals more of Himself daily
  • Transformation into what the Father desires
  • Unifies you with other believers through winning and discipling souls
  • Differentiates you from other believers through the Father’s gifts bestowed only upon you
  • Helps you to see how you must abandon the idea of putting anything or anyone before the Father

And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.” (Mark 1:16–20)

Reign by Receiving

Some time passes between Mark 1.13 and verse 14.  Perhaps Jesus was returning from a journey to Judea (see John 3.22-36; 4.1-3).  After John was handed over, Jesus comes to Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.

Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1.14-15)

The Kingdom of God is at hand.  One cannot enter this kingdom yet to come in his own strength.  He must receive its King.  The new birth will be required for entrance.  We reign by receiving.

The mystery of the kingdom of God is revealed to those who believe (Mark 4.11).  It is present with power during the transfiguration of Christ.  It is revealed to few who really understand it during Christ’s earthly ministry.  It will manifest itself in the future.  Those who will reign with Christ the King are ever-increasing as the Gospel is sounded and people receive Jesus Christ as Savior and as King.

  • It is the Kingdom of God not man. It consists of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14.17).  As co-heirs of this kingdom, we have our King dwelling within us at present.  This kingdom is the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God.
  • It is the Kingdom yet to be established at the time of Christ and a Kingdom yet to come in a literal fashion. The Jews were waiting for it.  It was near them and they were unaware of it.  It is the Millennial Kingdom of Messiah.
  • It is the Kingdom appointed to those who repent and believe the Gospel.
    • Repentance is changing one’s mind.  It is turning from one’s  self-righteousness and self-dependence to the righteousness of Christ our King.  This is the One with whom we shall reign.
    • Repentance includes an element of turning from our sinfulness generally …of seeing the end of ourselves. But turning from sin patterns in our lives follows the great turning from self-dependence.
    • Belief is a trust in Christ alone for eternal life. Belief and repentance are tightly intertwined concepts.

Preparation is over, and the earthly ministry of Christ begins in earnest. Mark 1.1-14 teaches us that repentance gives way to identification through baptism.  Temptation follows us, but our lives proclaim the very dedication and consecration that drives us toward the Kingdom of God.  We will reign in this kingdom by receiving.

The Temptation of Jesus

Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him. (Mark 1.12-13)

Note the first word of verse 12.  Mark uses his signature adverb, immediately.  This is a fast-paced portrait of Christ.  The temptation by Satan highlights the humanity of Christ.  He will be tempted and succeed where Adam had failed.  Satan is the great adversary of man and God.  Satan stands opposed to the plan and purpose of God.  Therefore, Satan tempts but God tests.  The Son of God was manifested for a significant purpose:  To destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3.8).  R. A. Guelich wrote:

The contrasting disobedience of Adam and the obedience of Christ occurs in the familiar passage of Rom 5:12–21 (cf. Luke 3:38; 1 Cor 15:22, 45–49). Whereas Adam succumbed to his tempter resulting in hostility within creation and hardship in his own life, Jesus overcame the tempter, restored harmony within the creation, and lived by God’s sustenance as a sign of the new creation. Jesus is the second Adam, the obedient one.[1]

R. K. Hughes aptly points out that Heaven had opened and now Hell opens. Satan tempts Jesus for 40 days. Israel lingered in the wilderness for 40 years, Moses was upon Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, and Elijah was led to Mount Horeb for 40 days and nights.  The wilderness was a place of testing (God) and temptation (Satan) in each case.  Would Israel remain faithful?  They ultimately were not faithful.  Jesus succeeds where both Adam and Israel failed.

It’s important to mention that God ministered to Jesus through the angels.  He did so throughout the testing/temptation and not just at the end of it (imperfect tense of ministered).

Jesus was tempted.  People wonder how He could have been tempted since He was God.  My answer is always the same:  As God, He could not have been tempted; as man, He was tempted.  R. C. H. Lenski wrote:

The greatness of the strength tested changes nothing about the reality of the test to which it is subjected. The strain applied is just as real when the strength endures it as when the strength is too weak to endure it. Jesus as the Stronger stood unmoved under all the force that Satan, the strong one, could bring to bear against him. Was it possible that the Stronger should go down before the strong in a test of strength? Thus the test or temptation was real in every way and no illusion. [2]

It is because of Jesus’ strength that we can endure our own temptations.  We can choose the way of escape.  We do not have to sin.

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)

[1] Guelich, R. A. (2002). Vol. 34A: Word Biblical Commentary : Mark 1-8:26. Word Biblical Commentary (39). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[2] Lenski, R. C. H. (1961). The Interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel (61). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House.

When a Man Loves a Woman

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5.25) …So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church (Ephesians 5.28-39) …Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5.33).”

The companion passage in Colossians 3:19 says, “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”  So even though a wife should respect her husband, a Christian husband’s responsibility before God is especially characterized by sacrificial love.  The love in these texts is explained in 1 Corinthians 13:

“[The husband’s sacrificial] love suffers long and is kind; [His] love does not envy; [His] love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [The husband’s sacrificial] Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13.4-8).”

God’s Perspective on Love

  1. Love is unconditional.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Matthew 5:44 “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.”

  1. Love is sacrificial.

John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

1 John 3:18 “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

  1. Love is loyal.

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

1 John 2:15 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

So, husbands must love unconditionally, sacrificially, and loyally.

Biblical Principles on Loving Your Wife

  1. God commands it in a descriptive language.
  2. You must love her continually (Present Tense).
  3. You must love her actively (Active Voice).
  4. You must love her as an act of your will (Imperative Mood).

“We have a picture of the perfect partner, but we marry an imperfect person. Then we have two options. Tear up the picture and accept the person, or tear up the person and accept the picture.” [J. Grant Howard, Jr.]

  1. Love her as Christ loved the church and give yourself sacrificially to her.
  2. Give up what you want for what she wants.
  3. Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for you.
  4. Love your wife and do not become bitter toward her.

Colossians 3:19 “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”

  1. Bitter means resentful (sour stomach, harsh).
  2. Be tender with your voice.
  3. Be gentle with your actions.
  4. Build up with your life.
  5. Put courage within her.
  6. Love your wife and purposefully nourish and cherish her.
  7. Provide what is necessary for her to grow.
  8. Treasure her and treat her tenderly.
  9. Love your wife fervently and never allow your love to grow cold.
  10. Love demands actions and emotions.
  11. Love demands care and affection.
  12. Love never fails and guards against unforgiveness, anger, or apathy.

Luke 10:27 “So he answered and said, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”

1 Peter 4:8 “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’”

Practical Pointers

  1. Stop whatever you do that disappoints, frustrates, or angers your wife.
  2. Repeat the first works principle (Rev 2:4-5).

Revelation 2:4–5 (NKJV) — 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

  1. Demonstrate your love so that she actually feels loved.
  2. Know Christ as your Savior.
  3. You must love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.
  4. Christ desires a holy and pure church.  Godly men desire holy and pure wives.
  5. Christ desires a glorious church.  Godly men desire glorious wives (women who reflect the righteousness of Christ for the glory of God).
  6. You love your wife by nourishing or feeding your wife. In other words, you supply for her what is needful to live.
  7. You love by cherishing or tenderly caring for your wife.
  8. God created the woman to be the responder. Your wife will respond favorably to nourishing and cherishing activity from you.

Practical Nourishing and Cherishing:

  • Help her to know and fear God.
  • Help her to respond correctly to problems (Gal 6:1).

Galatians 6:1 (NKJV) — 1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

  • Help her by praying for her each day (several times).
  • Help her by providing physical/verbal encouragement.

Proverbs 15:17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.

  • You must love your wife not hate her.
  • Prosperity cannot make up for a distant, cold attitude (Song 8:7).

Song of Solomon 8:7 (NKJV) — 7 Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.

  • Ways in which hatred can manifest itself in a  marriage:
    • She doesn’t live up to my expectations. This is especially true when it comes to intimacy.
    • She doesn’t love me with the same intensity that she once did.
    • Your career becomes all consuming and there is no time for your wife.
    • You fail to lead in the loving way Christ expects (doormat, take advantage of).
    • You use sharp, harsh, or bitter language.
  • There are things you do and say that make your wife feel unloved. You must identify those things.
  • Realize the deep trench of unpleasant circumstances that you dig when you are unloving.
  • You must choose to love your wife.
  • When your wife knows that you love her, she will feel safe, cared for, and become the comfort God intends her to be for you.
  • It is difficult to love your wife at times.
    • She may choose the wrong time to resolve a family problem.
    • She may let her emotions rule her problem solving patterns.
    • She may struggle with a particular sin over and over again.
    • She may not wear her hair the way you like or cook the meals you enjoy.
    • However, you must love your wife and she should not think otherwise.

Ways that cause your wife to feel loved:

  • Help with household work.
  • Spend quality time with her.
  • Intently listen to her when she speaks.
  • Provide for her needs physically and spiritually.
  • Write her notes of encouragement.
  • Plan weekends away for just the two of you.
  • Take her out on a date.
  • Go for a quiet walk together.
  • Buy flowers, a small gift, or clothing for her.
  • Enjoy sports or recreation together.
  • Share your thoughts about God’s Word.
  • Work on projects together.
  • Plan a family night.
  • Tell her you love her.
  • Hold her hand in public.
  • Surprise her with something special.

Proverbs 31:28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.”

Praise your wife.

  1. In your eyes, she excels them all.
  2. Be genuine and praise will have a dramatic impact.
  3. What three characteristics can you praise her for?
  4. When are you going to praise her?

Sacrifice for your wife.

  1. How do you demonstrate the depth of your love for your wife?
  2. The husband demonstrates sacrificial love when…
  • Her needs come before his.
  • He gives up doing what he wants to do in order to do what she wants to do.
  • He puts her before all others and before all activities.
  • “He plays hurt.” (Going out even when you’re tired, etc.)
  • What sacrifice do you need to make right now for your wife?

God commands it and Christ demonstrated it – you must do it! You must love your wife continually!

If you can do something once, you can do it over and over again. Since God commands you to love your wife, you must be able to do so.  You must love her continually at all times! Husbands, you must love your wives!



Why Jesus Was Baptized

It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1.9-11)

Mark mentions three significant signs attending the baptism of Jesus:

  1. The Parting of the Heavens – the heavens parted in the sense that they were torn open. After centuries of waiting, Jesus had come as the superior revelation of God.  God parted the Red Sea (Exo 14.21), Moses split the rock (Isa 48.21), and the Mount of Olives will one day split in two when Jesus returns (Zech 14.4).  Later in Mark, we learn that the veil of the temple will be torn in two from top to bottom (15.38).  The rending of the heavens and the rending of the veil reveal that Jesus is the beloved and only begotten Son of God!
  2. The Descent of the Dove – The Amplified Bible states that the [Holy] Spirit like a dove came down and entered into Jesus. The idea is that Jesus was filled and equipped for His earthly ministry at His baptism.  Genesis 1.2 states that the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters just prior to creation.  He hovered in the sense of brooding, even as a dove.  Here, the dove is brooding over Jesus.  This is preparation for Jesus’ new creative work in the hearts of men.
  3. The Voice of the Father – Psalm 2.7 states, “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’”  Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of Israel’s OT concept of sonship.  As the beloved Son, we remember the sacrifice that the Father makes in giving Him to the world (John 3.16).  God did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all (Rom 8.32a).  Jesus is the eternal Son of God.  Mark 1.1 has already affirmed that He is the Son of God.  As the Son of God, He is well-pleasing to the Father.  He does not begin to be the Son of God at the baptism, but rather He begins His ministry as the suffering servant at His baptism.

You may wonder why Jesus would need to be baptized.  Mark does not say, but when John objects in parallel accounts, Jesus asked him to permit it to be so to fulfill all righteousness (Matt 3.15).  Jesus did not need to repent because He was without sin.  However, His baptism identified Him with us.  We must repent because we have sinned.  The only answer to our dilemma is that Jesus identify with us.  He did this.  The baptism of Christ points us to the cross of Christ.


Jesus connected himself with all of John’s baptisms and we connect ourselves with His life’s work when we are baptized.  Our baptism truly pictures what has happened when we repent and turn to Christ alone for eternal life.  Baptism does not save, but it does indicate that we choose to identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior!

Power in Preaching

Many preachers want to stay away from what they call negativism when they peddle their message of prosperity.  Their desire for health, wealth, and the best life now has led them and their followers to a place where God is absent and hope is lost.  The sad part is that they often do not even know it.

Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to [John the Baptist] and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1.5-8)

The verbs in verse five along with the word all communicate the idea of a steady stream of people from Judea and Jerusalem going out to John for baptism.  The baptism was evidence of the fact that they had repented.  The confessing of their sins means that they acknowledged the sin in their lives.

John’s baptism was unique.  He preached judgment and condemnation upon the hypocrisy and sin of the Jews.  This led many of them to repent.  Negative aspects like judgment and condemnation need to be preached to bring hope.

Mark 1.6 parallels Elijah described in the same fashion in 2 Kings 1.8.  Since Elijah is the quintessential prophet, this descriptor of John indicates his office as the last of the OT prophets.  The rustic dress and diet of John set him apart from the religious leaders of the time.   The streams of people coming to him are a harbinger of the fulfillment of God’s promise for Israel.

R. K. Hughes writes, “John’s dress and lifestyle were a protest against the godlessness and self-serving materialism of his day. It amounted to a call to separate oneself from the sinful culture, repent, and live a life focused on God.”[1]

  • John lived a life of repentance.
  • John’s devotion was without compromise.
  • John’s preaching was fearless.
  • John’s humility demanded that people look to the One coming that was mightier than he.

When John preached, the truth was poured through his character, desire, and whole being.  The Word of God came through him.  This is the power of John the Baptist.  If we will allow the truth of God’s Word to completely dominate and saturate our lives, we too can have great power in our ability to witness.  The baptism of John demanded that his followers identify with the way being prepared for them!

[1] Hughes, R. K. (1989). Mark : Jesus, servant and savior. Preaching the Word (21). Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books.

Handling Unmet Desires

ben-and-jerry-s-ice-cream-33721845-1280-1596One of our biggest problems in life is our desire for pleasure (James 4.1).  These desires wage warfare within us.  Not all these desires are sinful.  What do you do when a powerful longing or desire remains unfilled in your life?  Do you bury deep down inside?  You’ll never stop desire by trying to shut it down.  I stood for five minutes in front of the ice cream options at Lucky’s yesterday.  Desire was present.  I assure you!  I didn’t buy any ice cream, but my desire for it didn’t go away.

God uses our desires to draw us close.  “LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear” (Psalm 10.17).  Jesus expressed His mourning for an unmet desire when He looked at Jerusalem and longed to gather the people inside the city to Himself (Luke 13.34).  He wept over Lazarus in John 11.  He wept even though He knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead.  You can mourn over a loss and still be faithful to God.  Simply realize the loss tests your resolve to go to Christ.