Monday, May 26, 2014
This message was given on May 25, 2014 at First Baptist Church of Oakland Park Florida from the text James 1:13-18.
Monday, May 19, 2014
My message, "Power to Endure and Mature - Understanding & Responding to Trials," an exposition of James 1:1-8,12, given at First Baptist Church of Oakland Park Florida on May 18, 2014 on YouTube.
My message, "The Sanctity of the Unborn," given at First Baptist Church of Oakland Park Florida on May 18, 2014 on YouTube.
You may view fifty seven PowerPoint slides that accompany this message via Microsoft OneDrive at here.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
(I had the privilege to officiate the wedding of my son Christopher and his wife Paola on Sunday (May 11) in Winter Haven. Here is the message I brought, followed by a blessing I was asked to give Christopher on behalf of his mother and I. Paola's parent's, Drs. Roberto and Lyvan Cabrera each gave a blessing to Paola later in the ceremony.)
Think of marriage as a triangle. A triangle with two equal sides connected at the top, like an isosceles or equilateral triangle you studied in your sophomore geometry class.
Jesus Christ is at the apex, the top of the triangle, while you, Christopher, the husband and you, Paola, the wife, are in the two corners at the base of the triangle.
Both of you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, pictured by the two sides of the triangle connected at the top. At the same time you live in relationship with each other, pictured by the two corners connected by the base of the triangle.
Let me make three applications from this illustration. First of all, Jesus Christ is the key to fulfillment in your marriage. Therefore, make Christ the head of your marriage. In other words, let Christ be your first love.
For years I have been praying a very specific payer for my children with regard to their future spouse. "Lord may they find their fulfillment first and foremost inYou."
Why have I been praying that prayer? Because it is from our relationship with Christ that every other need or desire in life will be met. Our love relationship with Christ will ultimately shape every desire, ambition or hope we ever have.
And I believe that one of the reasons we have seen the hand of God bring the two of you together, is because both of you have put your relationship with Christ ahead of your desire for each other.
But today is the beginning of a new life, life in the triangle! And just as in the courting or dating years, there is the temptation to find fulfillment in another person than the Lord, that same temptation can follow you into marriage.
Please don'tmisunderstand me. You should and will find fulfillment in each other. That is built into God's design for marriage. After all, after creating Adam the Lord said, "It is not good for the man to bealone." In other words, the Lord recognized as far as Adam was concerned someone was missing! The Lord continued, "I will make a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18) And He created Eve from Adam's rib. And the Genesis account says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh."
That's the beauty of marriage. You become one flesh, sharing an intimacy that is not just physical but emotional, and spiritual - the bonding of two people into one. And of course that will bring fulfillment to your marriage relationship.
Back to the triangle. Notice secondly, as each of you move up the sides of the triangle, growing closer and closer to the Lord, you inevitably will grow closer to each other. The distance between you narrows. As you find fulfillment in the Lord, you will find greater and greater fulfillment in each other.
That being said, even in marriage, there will be the temptation to seek your fulfillmentin Paola or in Christopher rather than Christ. Remember the triangle. Jesus Christ remains at the top of the triangle, seeking to have first place in your lives, yes, even before your spouse.
And here's why that's so important. Inevitably there will be occasions, or even seasons of your life together, where the road gets rough, times when you respond in sin to each other rather than with the gospel.
When your spouse disappoints you, when you feel he or she has failed you, remember life in the triangle. When your fulfillment is in Christ your joy will not depend on your spouse treating you right. Your fulfillment in Christ will allow you to love them and forgive them even in their sinful treatment of you.
Back to the triangle one last time. Thirdly, the closer you draw to Christ, the more you become like Christ. I'm sure you understand why this can be so valuable in marriage. Just a few weeks ago, Pastor Brian Brookins said, "Eventually you know your spouse in a way you don't want to."
So growing in Christlikeness will bring God's grace into your marriage perhaps when you are most aware of your own sin and selfishness.
The Apostle Paul put it this way, writing to the believers in Galatia, "I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you." (Galatians4:19 ESV) or "until Christ is fully developed in you..." (NLT).
What does that look like? I think part of the answer is found in the next chapter, verse twenty-two. As you think ahead to your life as husband and wife, and the challenges that will invariably come your way, listen to what Christ wants to form in you.
"..the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Notice it is the fruit of the Spirit, Spirit with a capital "S." This is what Christ grows in our lives as we yield to His Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is perhaps the greatest gift God can give to a husband and wife.
Remember the triangle. The closer you come to Christ you will find fulfillment in Christ and each other. The closer you come to Christ the closer you come to each other. And the closer you come to Christ the more you become like Christ. May these three truths enrich your marriage. Remember the triangle.
I have been asked to bring a word of blessing to Christopher from his mother and I.
Christopher, as you join Paola in marriage today, a new home is being formed. And as you take your position as the head of this home, I want to bless you with these words from King Solomon, as recorded in Proverbs 3:1-12.
A numberof years ago I encouraged you to memorize these verses. I know of no other passage in Scripture that covers as many contingencies of life as these verses do. Each instruction is followed by a promise that can be applied to most every challenge you will face in your new life as a husband and head of your home.
Instruction regarding God's Word in your life, "My son, do not forget my teaching, butkeep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.
Instruction regarding your character, "Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man."
Instruction regarding your relationship to the Lord, "Trust in the Lord with all your heartand lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight."
Instruction regarding your relationship with sin, the flesh and the world, "Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and shun evil." Paul told Timothy to flee - run from youthful lust. "This will bring health to your body andnourishment to your bones."
Instruction regarding your material possessions, "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing,and your vats will brim over with new wine."
And finally, instruction on how to respond to the Lord's discipline, "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in."
We love you son. Lord, fill Christopher with your Holy Spirit. May He walk humbly before You and his wife Paola.