Sunday, November 29, 2015

7 Biblical Statements About Marriage

Note: The following is a message I shared at PPC this morning during a post wedding celebration. 

Everyone has an opinion what marriage is. Every culture has something to say about marriage. The world we live in has a definition what marriage should be. Even among Christ's followers, they have different opinion about marriage.

Book stores are filled with thousands upon thousands of books about marriage. As of November 28, 2015, Amazon has 415,243 books on marriage on sale. That's almost half million books on marriage. Unbelievable! If you read one book a day, it would take you more than one thousand years before you can read them all or if you read 10 books per day, it would take you over 100 years to read.  

Despite all the books on marriage to help couples stay committed, marriage has more problem today than the rest of human history. 

People have many opinion and advice about marriage. As Christians, we should know what the Bible says about marriage. There are very little passages about marriage in the Bible. People elevated the subject on marriage as if it is the center of our being. While the Bible didn't really say much about marriage, whenever the Bible speaks on this topic, it's very straightforward, clear and no beating around the bush! I probably have more than 10 books about marriage at home, but when I was preparing this message, I didn't consult any of them. I chose not to because I want to see what the Bible has to say. Here are 7 Biblical Statements on marriage.

1. Marriage is between a Man and a Woman
God created only the man in the first place. He didn't create them as pair to start with. When Adam was lonely, God said, "It is not God for the man to be alone. I will create a helper suitable for him." Did you notice something? It is interesting that God didn't create another man as suitable partner for Adam. This means the kind of marriage instituted by God is between man and a woman. Let's read the verse. "A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and two shall become one flesh" (Gen 2: 24). God wants Adam and Eve to have Children. Adam and another man won't be able to produce a child.

Marriage between a man and a woman was reaffirmed by Jesus in the New Testament. In Matthew 19:4-5, "He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one’?"

2. Marriage is a choice
For Adam and Eve, it wasn't a choice, it was God's design. But Adam really likes Eve too. Love at first sight. In the New Testament, according to Paul marriage is a choice and singleness is a gift. Paul said, "I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Corinthians 7: 8-9). To the virgins, because of the present crisis I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife (1 Cor. 7: 26-27).

It's perfectly fine to be single. Don't feel bad if you are single. Some people think that marriage is the best. It isn't!

3. Marriage is God's Provision for the Problem of Sexual Immorality. 
"Because of immorality each man should have his own wife and each woman should have his own husband." (1 Cor. 7: 2). The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive one another. (1 Corinthians 7: 3-4). If the following verse is a movie, it would be rated R: In his wisdom, Solomon writes, "Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. (Proverbs 5: 15-19). 

4. Infidelity is Prohibited in Marriage. The Ten Commandments says, "You shall not commit adultery". "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife." "The marriage bed should be honored by all, and the marriage bed should be kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral."  Hebrews 13: 4

5. Marriage is a Lifetime Commitment
Divorce is not God's Idea. Divorce is created by man. Jesus said, "What God has joined together let no man separate." (Mark 3: 9) Paul said, "Are you married? Do not seek a divorce."  (1 cor. 7:27). Wife should not separate his husband and husband should not divorce his wife. A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. (1 Cor. 7: 39).

6. The Husband is Mandated to Love his Wife.  
Husbands love your wife just as Christ loved the church and gave His life for her. How must he love his wife? The answer is simple but difficult. Love your wife like Jesus love the church and love your wife like yourself. (Matthew 5: 25, 28).

7. The Wife is Commanded to Submit and Respect her Husband. 
"Wives submit to your husband as to the Lord." ( Ephesians 5: 22) Wives must respect her husband. 

For marriage to work, there must be a mutual responsibility between the wife and the husband. There is no other way for marriage to work if only one party is doing the job. God's idea is that husband and wife become one.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Turn Your Situation Into a Sanctuary

What doubt, struggle, pain and testing are you going through at this moment? Are you confused? Are you in pain? Are you hurting? Whatever it may be, the best advice I can give you is, Turn your Situation into a Sanctuary. Turn into a place of prayer and worship!

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord,  I will be joyful in God my Savior." Habakkuk 3: 17

Here is an example of who turned his situation into a sanctuary. The prophet's prayer is a declaration of his faith in God regardless of the future circumstances. Habakkuk lived before the destruction of Jerusalem and the 70 years captivity of the Jews in Babylon. The prophet's prayer prophetically describes the future destruction and captivity. Yet, he still hopes and rejoices in the Lord his God.

I'm not going deep at what the text means but let me touch the surface. The tragedy of the situation is beyond compare. Nebuchadnezzar sieged the city of Jerusalem for two years to starve the people to surrender. During the siege there's starvation of young and old and Cannibalism of children. Then, the destruction of the temple and eventually the nation as young men and women carried into exile. 

Turn your hardest moment and your deepest struggle into a place of prayer. The best place to be during those moments is in the presence of God. There is nothing more comforting than knowing that you are in God's presence. Turning our situation into a sanctuary demands faith, which only object is God. Confidence in God does not minimize our pain nor erase the problem of the moment. Rather it brings peace in the midst of a difficult situation. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Outlasting The Storms of Life

Message Preached at PPC
By Greg B. Fernandez Jr. 

How many of you experienced violent storms at sea? If you haven't none of us here will fully understand the context by which the Apostle Paul went through or what the disciples went through, along with Jesus. Let me take you to a few scenes in the Bible where people experienced violent storms.

There are two passages I want us to look at. The crossing of the sea of Galilee by Jesus and his disciples and the the voyage of Paul to Rome with over 276 people. First, we will look at the voyage of Paul to Rome. Turn your Bible in Acts chapter 27.

At first I thought of a title Peace in the Midst of Storm, but the topic assigned to me this Sunday is Trusting God in the Midst of the Storm. When I studied the passage, however, I decided to change the title slightly different. The topic I would like to unpacked today is Outlasting The Storms of Life.  As storm of life does not last; but we must outlast it. If we don't outlast the storm it can destroy the very foundation where we stand.

When the storms of life hit, that's when you will discover the level of your spiritual maturity. You will never know how strong your faith is until you go through a period of trials. What is a storm of life? A storm of life is (1) anything that threatens our safety. (2) Can be a situation that could endanger our lives. (3) Storms of life could be an adversity, it could be a natural disaster, a tragedy or a terminal illness, etc.

In this world, we will go through storms of life. how we react in the storm is important. In the passage that we read, we saw how Paul responded in the storm. What made Paul so hopeful and peaceful a midst the raging waters at sea? When all hope for survival is gone, what kept Paul so peaceful and hopeful?

Four Tips How To Outlast The Storms of Life

1. Use Discernment Wisely 
Paul said, "Sirs, I perceived that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship but also our lives. But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said."  (Acts 27: 10-11)

There are two voices here? Which one is right? Who has the best discernment of the situation? Sometimes disaster or problem can be avoided if we practice the power of discernment. In this story, if only the centurion had obeyed Paul's discernment of the situation, they could have avoided the storms. Many young people today are in so much trouble because they had not listened to the advice of their parents. Many people today faces consequences of their own choices simply because they had not God's command.

God has given us the ability to think for ourselves and find solutions to our problems. How did Paul use discernment?
(1) Before they hit the storm, Paul knew the problem it's dangerous to continue the voyage (v10).
(2) After Paul assured the people of their safety, he told them, "We must run aground on some island" (v.26)
(3) When the sailors attempted to escape, Paul told the centurion and soldiers, unless these men stay in the ship you cannot be saved. In other words, Paul was saying don't abandon the ship. (v 31)

All of these tell us that faith in God does not negate personal responsibility. In the storms of life, doing your personal responsibility is necessary. Do what's needed to be done and don't sit waiting for the waves to drown you to death.

2. Trust God's Promise Completely
When we are face to face with insurmountable problems, trusting God's promises is not easy. Often, instead of trusting the His promises, we spend time worrying about our problems. We'd rather trust our own ability and common sense to solve our problems than to spend the battle on our knees.While it is important that we find solution to our problems, it is indispensable that we trust God's Word for us.

Read Acts 27: 21-25
Here is an example of how to trust God's promise in the storms of life. Paul believed and trusted the Word of God spoken him completely. He believed God will fulfill His promise. His faith is focused on what God told him.

Let us read the story of how Jesus calmed the sea. In Mark chapter 4, we find the story of experienced fishermen fighting for their survival in the midst of the Sea of Galilee. After Jesus taught the people all day, Jesus said to His disciples, "Let's go across to the the other side" (Mark 4: 38). The sea of Galilee is 21 km in length and 13 km width. This means that to get to the other side of the lake, they must cross 13 kilometers of water. If you are in the middle of the lake, do you think you can swim at least 6 kilometers?
 It does not matter what obstacles or difficulties are on the way. When Jesus said, let's go to the other side, he spoke the word of truth and promise. Jesus wasn't planning on drowning in the sea but to get to the other side safely. When the disciples are about to drown, they failed to trust the words of Jesus because of the challenge of the moment. Many times our circumstances can overwhelm us greatly that we failed to believe the promises of God for us.

3. Stay Out of Fear Immediately
It's natural and normal to be afraid but don't stay in fear nor live in fear. What you are afraid off controls your life. That's why if people can make you fearful, they can control and manipulate you. Fear has the power to paralyze us. Fear stops our progress. Fear blocks opportunities. Fear destroys us. Fear has the potential to destroy our future if not overcome. Here is a statement that can make us secure in every circumstances of life: Don't fear the storms of life because you will not die until your mission on earth is done. If God has missions for you to accomplish, He will make it sure you are safe until they are fulfilled.

Let's read verse 23-24 again. Paul Said, "For this very night there stood before me an angel of God to whom I belong and worship, and said "Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold God has granted you all those who sail with you." God is saying, Paul, you cannot die here because your mission is not over.

Acts 23: 11 says this, "The following night, the Lord stood near Paul in said, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome". When Paul and others are in the middle of nowhere and all hope for survival is gone, God appeared to Paul and reassured him that he will fulfill His promise.  Sometimes, when the storms of life hit us, we may lose our possession but if we still have breath and us, there is hope.

Fear is in opposition to faith. Every time the disciples face with threatening situation Jesus comforts them and said don't be afraid! Do you remember the story where Jesus walked on water and so did Peter? Every time the disciples were afraid Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith. Every time the disciples failed to do things, Jesus rebukes them for not having enough faith. It seems that we couldn't accomplish great things without faith!

Only faith in God had kept Paul hopeful in the midst of the storms. Paul eventually died in Rome, but not in the storms.  He died after his mission is done. According to tradition, Paul was beheaded. How we die is not really important to God, but how we fulfill your missions is.  

4. Speak Hope to Others Boldly
Paul had encouraged the people constantly. "I urge you to take heart for there will be no loss of life among you but only of the ship." (v 22) Read again in verse 33-36. Paul encouraged them to eat some food because they will not die and they were all encouraged. We are not alone in this journey of life. In the storms of life, we need to offer hope and encouragement to others. The storms of life had caused other to be discouraged and gave up the faith altogether. Unless we offer hope to people, they will all drift away and be lost in the raging seas of trials. Look around you, there are people even in this room who need encouragement. One of the best weapons Satan uses against Christians is discouragement. It is important that when our fellow believers are in the midst of a storm, we must come alongside and encourage them.
Back to the scene in the Sea of Galilee with Jesus and His disciple. Because of Jesus presence, the disciples were secured in the midst of the storm. Remember this: your safety is secured only where Jesus is. Your security is found in no one else save Jesus Christ. If Jesus is in the boat you can absolutely relax in the midst of the storms of life. Are you facing doubts and worry? Jesus is in the boat. Do you have financial needs? Jesus is in the boat.  If you are in a storm today, think about this: your situation is not your conclusion. Your circumstance today does not determine your tomorrows. Today let us allow Jesus to rebuke our storms of life. I challenge you to let Him calm your raging seas. By His power we can outlast our storms!

God, we thank you for the storms we are facing. Because we are with you, we are safe a midst  our raging seas. Today I speak faith to your problems. I rebuke the financial storms you are facing, be calm in the name of Jesus.