Splitzville—Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce

How to have a successful marriage — teaching by Jesus

September 26, 1999

MARK 10:12

O.T. Lesson   Deut. 24:1-5
N.T. Lesson   Eph 5:21-33

Jesus was confronted by the Jewish leaders about an argument that was going on in theological circles about how difficult divorce should be.  The Hillel people would sanction divorce for anything — the Shamai only for sexual infidelity.  So it didn’t matter what Jesus said, he would be politically incorrect.      They asked the question on the basis of legality — so Jesus addresses it from that side, then goes on to discuss what God’s design really was, what he had in mind.

The Apostle Paul sets a base of love for the relationship- God’s kind of love.  I Cor.13:4-8a, I Cor.7:12-16, and Eph. 5:22-33 describe what love really is; the issue of people who are married but one of them is not a Christian; and the basic pattern that marriage is — an earthly demonstration of the relationship between the Church and Jesus himself.

So what are some handles on how we can have successful marriages?

THE GREAT COMMANDMENT becomes the basis — Loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Being God-oriented helps us not be self-oriented.      (See Mark 12:30,31)  In Deut 6:5 the word love should be seen in the context of “To make one’s choice in”.  Romans 12:1 says “Present your self to God as a living sacrifice”.   I Cor 10:13 says that God will never saddle you with an impossible load.  He will be there to help.

Successful marriages are based on what we contribute to the relationship rather than what we get out of it.  When our focus is on Jesus and serving and pleasing Him, we will have marriages that will reflect that truth.  John 13:34,35 indicates that Christians’ relationships will be the criteria of the society around being influenced by the Good News of Jesus.  This includes singles.  The integrity and sincerity and fidelity of their relationships to other believers is as crucial as anyone else.

Will you commit yourself to God to follow through in your relationships based on His rules?

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”   II Chronicles 7:14.  “When you seek for me with your whole heart I will let you find me” Jer 29:13b,14a.

©1999 D. H. Friesen

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Challenges by Jesus and his cousin John

It is not religious performance and self oriented self- sacrifice that God wants from us

September 19, 1999
MARK 6:7-8:26

O.T. Lesson : Deuteronomy 1:6-8
N.T. Lesson:  Colossians 2:6-19

The Good News [Gospel] is that the Creator of the Universe has personally invaded Planet Earth. That God or some higher being exists has been known for millennia — every society, every culture has had an awareness of divinity.  What to do with it is another matter.  But that he has entered our existence — that He has made himself available and that he is on our side — that is news, Good News!!

It’s exciting, and Mark wants the message out NOW!! God wants to bring about a reconciliation between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man.      Jesus came to set the pattern for how we can access God’s mercy and grace.  He gathered a dozen men from a cross-section of society and gave them a message and power to do the work necessary to get people to listen and follow.

The introductory event was John the Baptizer preaching in the wilderness challenging people to leave behind their evil and immoral behaviour  because God’s kingdom was coming.  Herod the tetrarch of Galilee [the son of the King Herod who tried to kill the baby Jesus] was fascinated by John and his message, had a problem because john was on his case because  of the immorality of his divorce and remarriage, to Herodias his brothers wife.  Herodias gets a rare opportunity  and engineers John’s untimely death.

Jesus goes on to take up the challenge where John had left off, challenging the religious leaders to put their ‘money where their mouth was’.       Jesus had authenticated his ministry with some rather amazing feats, and the leaders were feeling ‘the heat’ to keep up the image of respectability of religious leadership.  At every step Jesus demonstrates his own integrity and ability, and right to behave as he has.

Where the religious leaders claimed the right to define true spirituality, Jesus turns people back to the Word of God.   “It’s what comes out of a person pollutes; obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealing, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness – all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution” [7:20-23 MSG]

The religious leaders wanted signs and wonders to ‘ooooh’ and ‘aahh’ at but Jesus wanted people to “see’ with their spiritual eyes the truths of the Word of God and put their faith in what he was going to do on Calvary.

It is not religious performance and self oriented self- sacrifice that God wants from us.  God loves you and is at work around you.  He is pursuing a loving relationship with you that’s real and personal.  He is inviting you to join him.  Will You?  Will you accept His Lordship in your life, NO STRINGS ATTACHED?  TODAY?

©1999 D H Friesen

Jesus: Liar, Lunatic or Lord

September 11, 1999

Mark 8:27-9:32

O.T. Lesson  Isaiah 55: 1-7
N.T. Lesson  Hebrews 4:12-16

Jesus makes the issue of how we view him, important.  He does not as yet specify what difference it makes, but at this point in his ministry with his disciples, he challenges them to begin seriously thinking about who they think he is, and he will be using that to help them respond to what he has in mind for them to do.

Jesus had performed numerous miracles- healing from disease, sickness, and casting out evil spirits, even raising people from the dead.  Twice he had calmed stormy seas and twice fed multitudes of people, once 5000+ and another time 4000+. Now he asks, “Who do the people say that I am?” And they have an opportunity to think through the options.  Then he asks the critical question:  “Who do you say that I am?”

There are only two basic alternatives — his claims were false or true.  If false, it is either a case of he knew it or he didn’t.  If he deliberately misrepresented himself he’s a liar, a hypocrite, perhaps a demon and definitely a fool, because he died for it.  If he didn’t know then he was sincerely deluded or a lunatic.       If on the other hand he is who he claimed to be, then he is the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed one, God’s remedy for sin, and our Saviour and the LORD.  We have to make a choice either to ignore him or embrace him and serve and obey him.  The Apostle John wrote in John 20:31,  ‘These have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you may have life in His Name.’

Jesus attempted to encourage his disciples by letting them in on a meeting with Moses and Elijah up on a mountaintop.  When they got back down they were faced with the ‘real world’ of a demon-possessed boy the others had not been able to help.

It is work being what God wants us to be.  Taking up your responsibilities and serving- in the workplace in your neighbourhood and with your family and friends will take sacrifice, but it is the only way that we can adequately show that God has done a work in our lives.

Josh McDowal writes: ” The evidence is clearly in favour of Jesus as Lord.  However, some people reject the clear evidence because of moral implications involved.  There needs to be a moral honesty in the above consideration of Jesus as either a liar, lunatic or Lord and God.”

©1999 D.H. Friesen