Sermon Summary: Some in the Corinthian church had accepted a false ascetic teaching of depriving themselves of pleasurable material experiences in order to make themselves more spiritual. These ascetic beliefs lead to abstinence which for the married lead to frustration. Sexual immorality became common. Paul clearly rejected this false teaching and re-established the God ordained principles of marriage. Physical intimacy in a lifelong, monogamous, heterosexual marriage is to be enjoyed and is a means of protecting the marriage from Satan's attacks. Our culture faces differently misplaced perceptions of sexual ethics which swing toward liberalism. Anything goes so long as everyone consents. This too has lead to a breakdown of marriage and the family. In Ephesians 5 we see that the union of one man and one woman in marriage hides a metaphorical truth about Christ and the church. A distorted view of marriage therefore leads to a distorted view about God and his purposes for mankind. The ideal marriage, however, as revealed in scripture, is a picture of Christ's authority, unconditional love, mercy, affection, and commitment to His people. Our faithfulness in the church to model these qualities in marriage is a strong testimony to the world of the glories of Christ.
While mankind was created to be in communion with God and others, it is our interactions with friends we find to be the most gratifying of relationships. Often, it is our friends who really know us, who we share the most intimate of details with, and who know our greatest successes and flaws. True friendship goes beyond sharing a common history and common interest. We see through these verses in Proverbs the importance of the company we keep and of their ability to influence us. We see descriptions of who a true friend is, and how we can be a true friend to others. True friends run to help in times of distress. They are present through the joyous times and the lonely times. They share one another's burdens. They spur each other on in righteousness. They edify through encouragement and are not afraid to rebuke one another when needed. A true friend is involved in the life of another such that their presence and speech are a source of healing.
Proverbs shows us the foolishness of earthly possessions and money. What God truly values are matters of character: righteousness, wisdom, instruction, integrity. The cravings of material wealth are never quenched, they never satisfy, they do not profit our soul. Instead, we are called to set our eyes on godliness and to be content with little. In so doing we will be equipped to give generously and steward honorably which is a hedge against the temptation and snare of worldly riches.
In Malachi 4, when God’s people question His goodness, righteousness, and justice he answers by revealing his wrath and grace. This coming Day of the Lord will be terrible and severe for those who reject Jesus, yet for those who trust and follow Him it is a day of hope and anticipation. God calls us to prepare for the final judgment by believing, obeying, and persevering.
The measure of God's love for His people is expressed through the adoption of sinners into his family to be called children of God. This relationship provides eternal security and great hope for Christians today as we anticipate the appearance of Christ. Until that day, we are called to live righteously and reflect the character of Jesus.
Despite Joseph's servitude in a land far from home, Egypt, he was not alone. God made his presence indisputable by divinely blessing his work for Potiphar, his master. Through these successful times and promotion God strengthened Joseph's faith such that when temptation came from his master's wife, he responded righteously. But his obedience to God ultimately resulted in his imprisonment and suffering. Despite Joseph's circumstances, Genesis 39 clearly shows that God was present with him, sustaining him, and working for his good. God was active in Joseph's life as he is active in our lives today. This chapter is an encouragement for Christians to acknowledge the many undeserved blessings God has given us, and to look at trials as opportunities for equipping and maturity.
Isaac's miraculous birth to Abraham and Sarah was the fulfillment of a promise made by God 25 years earlier. But Ishmael, Abraham's firstborn son through Hagar, stood as a threat to the infant's inheritance. The expulsion of Ishmael and Hagar left Isaac's right to the inheritance uncontested. God demonstrates his faithfulness to all of Abraham' s family, and to us, through the fulfillment of His promise, His inheritance, and His provision.
In our passage today we see that God had well planned intentions for man and woman when he created them. His careful thought and design of mankind reveals his purpose for us as well. God has expectations for us because he has designed us to specifically accomplish his purposes. God intentionally created us to serve and obey Him with integrity.