A study of Philippians 1:3-8
My first pastor, Clifford Dartt, entered heaven a few months ago. Even though I told him often, I wish I could tell him again how much I appreciated his ministry. And I wish I had a better understanding of how deeply he served when I sat under his ministry.
The Grace of Life
“May you rejoice in the wife of your youth.” (Proverbs 5:18, NIV)
Several years ago, I made one of the best choices of my life: I decided to ask Royale to marry me. Wonderfully, she said yes and we began our preparations for marriage.
Over the years, we’ve learned some practical lessons that have made our marriage realise the kind of blessing marriage is meant to provide: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord. ” (Proverbs 18:22, NIV)
Here are some of those lessons:
Love God more than your spouse. Royale and I love our marriage, but we don’t make an idol of it or each other. God has granted us life together for a time, and part of that relationship means we have a responsibility to shape and nurture each other’s spirituality. Marriage is a wonderful realm to mature as a believer and we’ve learned that as we each grow closer to God, our marriage grows all the sweeter.
Sanctify the everyday. Building a marriage isn’t all about special dates, holidays, or purchases of precious metals or gems. It is about day-to-day honouring God through obedience to His command for each partner to act in selfless sacrifice. Ephesians 5 provides all the details: husbands sacrificially love your wife just like Jesus loved the church and gave Himself up for her; wives respond in godly submission to your own husband.
Keep short accounts. To no one’s surprise, Royale and I don’t always act as we should. And we have learned just how deeply those acts of disobedience can hurt each other and chip away at our marriage. And so, we’ve been long committed to addressing our wrongs against each other as quickly and completely as possible. We learned early on that God says, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Eph. 4:26). Keeping short accounts mean no developing anger or bitterness; and forgiveness means no harbouring past wrongs and using them as weapons in future arguments.
Accept your spouse’s weaknesses as a place to serve. Being human and sinful, Royale and I each have weaknesses of personality, habit, ability or moral strength. We don’t have it “all together.” And this is where love in marriage needs its closest application. When we see any weakness in the other, God’s love helps us to step in and shore it up. We take care not to fall into the trap of expecting or demanding unattainable perfection.
Make the marriage your relational priority. God calls each marriage to develop its own unique identity and bond: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). What does this mean? It means Royale and I don’t make other relatives more important than us, other friends more important than us, or me more important than us.
Protect your union. In a sex-crazed culture, Royale and I are committed to guarding the treasure of marital love God has given us and we’ve established several practical guides that assist us. We’ve realised that God’s ways are best and since He places a high value on purity in marriage, then so should we.
Cherish your love. When Royale and I married, we were reminded that our life together would be short: “till death do us part.” Knowing that hasn’t cast a dark shadow over our marriage. Rather, it has helped us see each day as special and one to enjoy. Little things in life carry greater weight when lavished with gratitude and appreciation. We find our marriage bonding and building day by day through a shared joke or experience, a kind gesture, an act of service, a tender moment, a talk or walk, or a wonderful storehouse of other things.
We are heirs together of the grace of life (1 Peter 3), meaning we’ve both been brought together to live our days in a union blessed by God’s favour. If you’re married, I pray you can say the same. And if you aren’t married, learn these (and several other) lessons, as they all have application in your relationships.
Twenty-seven years ago, Royale and I said, “I will” and “I do.” Today, we still do and will do, by God’s grace. What a lovely twenty-seven years we’ve enjoyed together! I’m more excited about our marriage now than I could be that first day—I didn’t know then how wonderful it would be.
Satan works on the human heart in order to keep us away from salvation.
Second Corinthians 4 demonstrates the intentional and active involvement of spiritual forces, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
Satan works in two main ways. First, he does all to keep people from salvation, joining forces with the world, which he energizes, and the flesh, which he tempts, to keep eyes off the excellences of knowing Jesus Christ.
But if he cannot keep a soul in bondage away from grace, he then tries to keep a person away from enjoying the grace of Christ.
And a main way he does that is to disturb a person’s spiritual joy by perplexing the heart with doubts about salvation. If he cannot keep a person from salvation, he’ll do all to keep them from thinking they have it.
Now, there is a real and holy fear that must be welcomed. It is the kind of turmoil that comes when God first convicts a person’s conscience about his or her sinfulness. A healthy despair comes when one feels the reality of God’s wrath and displeasure, especially when mixed with a sense of one’s own inability to do anything to satisfy and appease God.
The Bible is full of examples of people caught up in anguish over their sin. Peter grieved after realizing his betrayal of Jesus when asked about their relationship. Paul was struck to the heart when he faced the reality of his sin. And the Philippian jailor cried out for deliverance.
Such fear is good and often comes in order to humble the heart and cause a person to seek salvation in Jesus Christ.
In God’s order of working, He sends first the spirit of bondage to fear, before he sends the spirit of adoption to enable a man to cry, Abba, Father.
This fear, and trouble of conscience that arises from it, is good and leads the way to true peace.
Next time, we’ll talk about another type of healthy fear. But before we do, let me ask this:
Do you see the awfulness of your condition without Jesus Christ? Do you think a holy God will blink at your behavior and let that pass without calling you to account for your neglect of Him and disobedience?
I urge you to give your full attention to this. Don’t rest until your heart comes to fear judgment, and then comes to rest in the freedom of forgiveness through the judgment Jesus Christ bore on the cross.
In order to assist you with understanding these things better, read this short article:
Got $10 to invest? Put it into some books that will reap the riches of eternity.
Skill set is a shadow in comparison to the real driving need of a church in their leader. What churches need much more than they imagine is a man who walks with God, speaks for God, listens to God and demonstrates the life of God.
12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.