Go with God’s Presence

Whatever happens to us, we always believe that whether good or bad we praise and thank the Lord. The Bible says, “Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth.” Therefore, nothing happens to us by chance. Amen. He is completely able and everything is under His full control.

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Into the Word

We are now on the 3rd part of the series “The Great Go-Mission.” We started with “Go with God’s Power.” We learn that this power is absolute and has the full, supreme power and authority of Jesus Christ. It is an expansive power. It has no limits. We also learned that it is an enabling power. As we go, preach, teach and make disciples, God empowers us.

Now, we don’t just “Go with God’s Power” we also need to “Go with God’s Plan.” Going with God’s plan begins by telling others about Christ…taking them into the fellowship of the church…and teaching them to follow God’s way.

Today, we will talk about God’s Presence. We are commanded to “Go…and make disciples of all nations…”. How do we accomplish such an impossible undertaking? The way to address this is with this age-old question: How do you eat an elephant? The answer is: One bite at a time.

So how do we reach the world with the message of Jesus? The answer is: One person at a time? It is one person at a time…in God’s power…in God’s plan…and in God’s presence…Amen.

In this passage, going in God’s presence teaches us three great truths…first…

I. THERE IS CERTAINTY IN THE PROMISE, v.20b.

20b … And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We can mention and cite many names and instances in the Bible where the Lord gave an assurance of His ever presence. When Moses was sent to lead Israel out of Egypt, he received a guarantee from God. God promised to Moses, “I will be with you.” It is the same certainty promised to Jeremiah, when the Lord said, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you.” To Gideon the Lord said, “I will be with you and you will strike them down all the Midianites together.” Mary received the same guarantee when the angel said to her, “The Lord is with you.” The person of Jesus is the living expression of this guarantee, because His name is Emmanuel, God with us. He promised His disciples to be with them, with all of us (followers of Jesus), even to the end of time. This guarantee sustains and refreshes us. It nourishes and strengthens our faith. It gives us hope that the best is yet to come and that God’s will, will come to pass. It also invigorates us to love God more and the people He died for.

Notice the emphatic introduction of v.20b, “…And surely…” Other versions says, “Behold, Look, Lo, Be sure of this…” It means “remember, take note of this, pay close attention, it is sure to happen.” These words gave great assurance of His spiritual presence with His disciples in the execution of the Great Commission until the end of time. It carries the feeling of certainty. That His presence will be with the church as they carry out the Great Commission, until God’s purpose on earth is completed.

It is His presence that fires us up. Even if the people you are discipling are not responding, He is with you. Even if you feel unappreciated and unrecognized, He is with you and His promise is sure as the rising sun. Even if you feel like your expectations in the ministry are not being met, if you feel inadequate in serving, remember that He is with you. It is His promise of His presence that comforts us. Remember that as you serve here in ECMI. Let’s keep serving faithfully, wholeheartedly, despite what we see because the Lord guarantees His presence.

Q. How does the certainty of God’s promise affect your obedience? Where do you go from here? How can you begin “making disciples?” Where do you need to start? Would you obey Him NOW? Second…

II. THERE IS COMPANIONSHIP IN THE PROMISE, v.20b.

Read v.20…“I am with you…” The word “I” is also emphatic. It means “no less than Jesus Himself…” It conveys the feeling of companionship. This promise goes to all who acknowledge God/Jesus, it goes to those who are engaged in the mission of Christ and His church. Jesus did not say, “I am with you only when the church is growing and thriving, when the people are getting saved left and right, when the ministries are great and everything is perfect.” No! God is with us in our successes and failures, in our fears and faith, in our doubts and delights. He is with us! (Say it…)

Jesus’ promises to be with you, is sure. Pray that we will be able to see that He is with us. It is His presence that fires us. It is His presence that moves us forward. It is His presence that keeps us going in our moments of hesitation – our struggles, discouragement, frustrations, and weariness as we live out the Great Commission. Jesus is there! Say it…There is companionship in this promise, “I am with you…” As we go and make disciples of all nations, He has assured us of His almighty power and abiding presence.

What kind of a companion do we have? He is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Lord of all-power and authority. If we go to the ends of the earth…to teach people about Jesus and make disciples, He will be right there with you. Amen! If the drug lords are able to change the lives of people (from better – worse or even worst), how much more with the Lord of Lords and King of Kings – Jesus Christ! (from worse it becomes new…best kind of life). Knowing that you have a constant companion in doing mission (evangelism and discipleship), gives us confidence.

Q. Are you obeying the Great Commission? Or is it the Great Omission? If you are a disciple of Jesus you will be involved in evangelism and discipleship. We have no excuse. A disobedient church is a dying church. The job of a disciple is to be a discipler! A true disciple makes disciples…

“No evangelism…discipleship, no growth, no church, no Christianity”

(Rev. Thomas McCuddy).

III. THERE IS CONTINUITY IN THE PROMISE, v.20b.

Read v. 20b, “…always, to the very end of the age.” Always here means “all the days.” Jesus is with us all the days even to the end of time. He is with me in the pulpit (whenever I preach), in the prison…all the days, every day. He is with us on Sabbath days, week days, holidays, He is with us any day. There will be no such thing as a God-forsaken day and place as long as there is a believer there even if you are alone, Jesus is right there with you all the time.

What a promise to the believer! He promises to be with us all the days when we go in His name to talk about Him. His presence will never be withdrawn. God is not waiting for you in the finish line, He is running with you. There is continuity in this promise, for He said, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” To this truth, I join Matthew in saying, Amen.”

Q. Are you encouraged and excited to pursue mission or are you still disheartened and disinterested? What is your purpose in life? What is the primary focus of your life? If you are in Christ and you say you are a follower then your purpose in life is to make disciples.

IV. What now?

Going with God’s Presence starts with…

  •  BEING

It starts with you…with me…with us!

– Knowing who Jesus is.

And being begins with knowing who Jesus is. Recite Matt. 28:17,

“When they saw Him, they worshiped Him…”

The Lord revealed Himself fully to them. The disciples bowed before Jesus acknowledging His Lordship. That He is the risen Savior, the Son of God, the Lord of Lords. We must believe that Jesus is Lord and that He rose from the dead. The reason He died was to pay for our sins (1 Pet. 2:24). Knowing Jesus is based on faith in Him.

Q. Do you really know Jesus? Is He Lord of your life? If He is truly the Lord of your life then He must be first.

– Knowing who we are in him.

If Jesus is Lord and He died for our sins. Then we should follow and serve our Lord. He came for me/you and so I/we should be faithful to His cause. We are children of God. We are heirs in God’s kingdom. We are servants of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are in Christ and He in us. We are part of God’s family as such there are certain things we need to do.

If we don’t truly understand who Jesus is and who we are in Him we will get tired, we get burnt out. The things we do for Christ becomes a burden. We lose our joy in serving. We lose our sight of the great vision. But if we know that we are part of God’s family and what we are doing is part of being sons and daughters of God, we will enjoy. Our burden becomes a blessing. And serving becomes a privilege.

Q. Are you growing in your understanding of who Jesus is and who you are in Him?

Our being must be established in Jesus. And here’s the secret…recite Jn. 15:4-5, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself…I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Going with God’s presence starts with being and then…

  •  DOING

Now that we are ready…how can we be involved in reaching people for Christ?

– Say your prayers

Who is praying here? I first heard the gospel in 1978 in a bible study at home. I knew then that the word of God had been planted in heart. But it took me 6 years before I finally surrendered my life to the Lord. I knew someone prayed for me. My brother Elmer and Bro. Lito. They never stopped praying for me. It’s about time we do the same thing and pray intentionally for people.

Let’s pray not only for the people around us, not only in our locality, not only those witihin our country, but for all people also because our mission is global! I give you this challenge -pray for one nation every day for one minute. Ask the Lord to open door in these nations.

This is a picture of 10/40 window – located between 10 and 40 degrees North of the equator. It covers part of Asia, Europe and Africa.

Whoever you are? Whatever you do? Wherever you may be? You can pray and start praying now! “It is not about the one praying, but it’s about the ONE answering.” Let Emmanuel become One Church…One for a Nation…One in Prayer!

– Sow (Give)

God is a giver. He is generous giver. He gave us the ultimate gift in Jesus. And generosity reflects God’s nature. When we give to the Lord…when we give to missions we are sowing seeds of the gospel for people. Not everyone can go but everyone can be involved.

– Set out (Go)

We G.O. = Going anywhere…Obeying at any cost. Let’s remember the different nations and we will be praying for them.

We have to work together as members of the body of Christ. In the same way we need others to move the vision of Jesus. We need others to conquer the world for Christ.

The Great Commission is the legacy of the NT church. They worked hard even giving their lives for the cause of Christ that is why the gospel has been viral for the last 2,000 years. We are what we are today because of them. We owe them! I don’t know where you are this morning as far as the Great Commission is concerned. You may have heard of it many times, learned it many times over and over, but how about doing it? Jesus was crucified and has risen from the dead. He is alive and sits at the right hand of the Father. He is with us to the end! He has all-authority and power. Believing and following Him as our LORD is the most important, most urgent, most crucial thing in our lives.

Into Life


God’s Word is loud and clear…ONE person alone cannot accomplish the task of making disciples. We must SHARE the load. TOGETHER we can WIN the world with the message of Jesus Christ. If EACH ONE will REACH ONE, we can fulfill the Great Commission and “make disciples of all nations.” Jesus has ALL-AUTHORITY over all things. This is a good reason to TRUST and FOLLOW Him. His cause cannot FAIL!

Challenge

I’d like to close with this challenge…

A story of a young boy who went into a church one Sunday morning just to get out of the cold weather. He tried his best to sell newspaper but not a single customer has passed by. He entered the church hoping to be unnoticed and sat on the back row. The preacher preached a powerful message about Christ and his love for us and how He died for us. Then at the end of the service they took the offering. The ushers went from row to row until finally one of the ushers came to the little boy and held out the offering plate. The little boy stared at the offering plate after a long pause, he took the offering plate and put in on the floor.

The little boy then did something very unusual. He slowly looked up and said Sir I don’t have any money. I haven’t sold a single newspaper today, but if Jesus did all that the preacher said that He did to me, today I want to give my life to Him. He then stepped into the offering plate and said “Today, I give myself to Him.”

Will you give yourself for the cause of Christ? Will you join Him?

 

 

This message entitled “Go with God’s Presence” based on Matthew 18:18-20 was prepared and delivered by Rev. Gernan Villegas at ECMI Makati last March 12, 2017. It is third in a series entitled, “Great GO-Mission”. It has been slightly edited for publication purposes.

 

 

 

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Go with God’s Plan

ECMI Senior Pastor Gernan Villegas

Matt. 28:18.

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Jesus has ALL authority and power over everything in heaven and earth – Satan, demons, angels, government, nature, etc.; and even over every moment of every life that has been or will be lived.

And this is the basis of the Lord’s command…make disciples.

The Great Commission does not begin with man’s efforts or intentions. It starts with the Lord Jesus.

Jesus is all powerful and has absolute power over everything. He is supremely positioned to call us to the task.

This is important because we need to understand Who He is that is calling us. He is the basis of our authority and source of our power. And since He has all authority we should obey Him but not only that, since He has all authority we also have no need to fear when we obey Him.

No matter how He leads us, where He leads us, when He leads us, no matter what the situation or circumstances are – He is in total control. He has all authority and is worthy of our full and total obedience. His power and authority must be the driving force of our mission because we are incapable of accomplishing it on our own.

We do not go out into the world to share Jesus with our own authority and power. We go on the authority and power of Jesus!

Let’s read together Matt. 28:16-20 together…

The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Today, we talk about His plan. God doesn’t just tell us to go with His power, He tells us also to go with His plan.

What is God’s plan for making disciple? Three simple things…first…

• TELL, v.19a.

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,

There are many ways or methods of sharing the gospel. I remember when I first joined ECM in 1990 we went and visited homes in the barangays of Poblacion, Bel-air and San Miguel Village as part of our (house-to-house) evangelism effort. We distributed gospel tracts and bibles. We also shared the gospel of Jesus. Some welcomed us, but others would not even entertain us. In spite of that, we were able to harvest souls for the Lord.

Learning from that experience, I believe one of the most effective ways of sharing the gospel is to love first. You must make the love of Jesus known through you because love builds relationship.

I remember one on my friends named Jun. Right now, I’m praying and working hard to be a friend and blessing to him. I won’t be surprised if one day we’ll see him here, joining and becoming part of our worship service. Why do I think so? Because by then, I will have established a relationship of care and concern with this person.

So what are we to do in order to establish relationships? We can…

• Talk about Jesus, Acts 1:8.

Acts 1:8 (NIV)
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

If we are to go out and be Jesus’ witnesses, then we need to speak. Can you imagine a “witness” who just sits and does not even talk? A silent witness is not a good witness. Witnesses are expected to give an account…so naturally, they have to talk. You might say “Pastor, I’m not a preacher…or an evangelist…I’m not good at speaking. I’m just an ordinary Christian.”

Yes, you may be “just an ordinary Christian”, but every Christian, regardless of age or ability is commissioned to go and make disciples. As a matter of fact, the entire church is called to missions. We have to go and tell people what Jesus did on the cross – He died for you. We have to go and tell people the gospel of Jesus. We have to talk about Jesus:

• At all times.

v.19 says, “go.” The Greek word for “go” is a present participle which means that it is suggesting continual action. In other words, the word “go” is better translated “as you are going.”

It does not really matter what your actual profession is, as a Christian, your primary purpose is to make disciples. If you are a doctor, “as you go”, your primary purpose is to make disciples. As a student, or even as a teacher, your primary purpose is to make disciples. We are to make disciples at all times. Not once, not twice, not sometimes, not occasionally…but at all times!

• TAKE them in,

v.19b. baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

When a person is baptized, he/she joins the fellowship of the church. Baptism is the way we are initiated into the new community. We need to love people and give them a community. We need to take them in. We need to keep them.

• Connect them to the church.

God did not intend for His children to live as individual islands of faith, but rather as a community of believers, interrelated with each other and part of something much bigger than themselves. That “something” is the Church.

• Connect with them.

Make them feel that they are now part of the family of God. Build relationships with them: care for them, support them, affirm them. Help them grow in the faith. Listen to them, understand them. Model a life of faith and dependence on God. Be a stepping stone and do not be a stumbling block to the new converts. We do not want to lose the harvest…we intend to keep them!

Q. What are you doing today to keep the harvest?

Part of God’s plan is to tell people about Jesus, to take them in, and then to teach and disciple them.

• TEACH, v.20a.

…and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

There is a heavy burden in my heart to make disciples. After all, we have what it takes. God has equipped us to carry this out. All we have to do is to take this to heart.
Jesus said, “make disciples”. He did not say that we are to make church members, religious people, and good people. He said to make disciples.

Do we really love the Lord? If we say we do, then why are we not telling others about Jesus? Why are we not making disciples? If we are not discipling others our model becomes broken. Are we committed to Jesus’ church? Are we committed to the vision of Jesus? Then we must make disciples.

How do we make disciples?

• Instruct them in the Word.

At its core, discipling is teaching. We teach them the very word of God. We teach all the words Jesus taught his disciples. Our teaching is both corporate and interpersonal. In our church we have adopted the three strands of discipleship. We call it:

Celebration (Disciples of Jesus meet together in order to worship the Lord and participate in the full expression of the local body of Christ. Coming to church every Sunday is very important because we worship the Lord together. Worship is not an option! Worship must be primary! If you have other things to do set them aside and make worship a priority.

Cell (this is the nurture group this size allows for teaching, discussion and sharing); and

Core (this is the place where intimate sharing and personal ministry happens).

The best approach is an optimal combination of all three methods. And we only have one book as our basis for teaching…we call it – the Bible.

Q. Do you give time to be equipped so that you may equip others?

• Invest in them,

1 Thes. 2:8.

“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well…”

Paul in his great love for the Thessalonians shared not only the message of Jesus Christ but also his own life (his innermost being). Now that’s investment! Investment is life on life. We nurture the person we disciple. Investment involves a long-term commitment. Each of us, regardless of our maturity level, should continue to be discipled as well.

Q. How much of yourself is invested on discipling others?

• Impact others.

Instruction from the Word and investing of life will lead to growth. Growth leads to impacting others.

Who was the Great Commission intended for? The disciples.
What was Jesus commanding them to do? To make disciples.

In other words, the discipleship process is not complete until the disciple has further established other disciples. We call it – discipling disciple.

Q. How much of the life of Christ in you is passed on to others?

IV. What now?

For the last 46 years (ECMI was founded April 1971) what we are today, how we got here is all by the grace of God. We have pursued the vision of Jesus through thick and thin…in sickness and in health…Our task as His followers/disciples is to help other people become followers of Jesus as well. We have kept this in our hearts and we are committed until the end. That’s the heart of Emmanuel!

What are we going to do about it?

PRAY more…together!

We need to pray more. We need to pray together! And as we pray together, we need to ask the Lord to do what He has to do. We then ask that this, will be done.

Matthew 9:36-38 (NIV)

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Only “the Lord of the Harvest” can call laborers out into the harvest field. Bt we must pray for those laborers that He calls. We must pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send our workers into the harvest field. Pray for ourselves and each other as we go out to spread the good news. Pray MORE! Pray TOGETHER!

PREPARE more!

We need to be very intentional in preparing ourselves so that we’ll be ready to step with Him in this God-sized task when He says “GO.” The truth is, no matter what is going on in your life right now, – busyness, workplace issues, financial shortages, relationship concerns… whatever it is, the reality is that you are still here and God is not done working in you and through you. You are still here because God wants you to accomplish your mission of leading more and more people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and making them disciples as well.

 PRACTICE more!

The entire church is called to mission. God’s people are never a “sit and wait” people. We are called to be a “go and tell” people. We must push ahead for more of what Jesus desires for us and His church. So as we, pray more…prepare more…we must practice more. And as we practice more we need to GO more…SAVE more… and DISCIPLE more!

Into Life

Going with God’s plan begins by TELLING others about Christ…TAKING them into the fellowship of the church…and TEACHING them to follow God’s way. God calls us to GO: ANYWHERE…at ANY COST. The key to GOING is G.O.D.!

Love GOD…the Greatest Commandment
Love OTHERS…the 2nd Greatest Commandment
Make DISCIPLES! the Great Commission

Everything we do must come from this three. Our love for God will move us to love others and loving God and loving others will get us to make disciples. Go and make disciples is not something we have to do…this is something we get to do…We just have to come alongside God.

Challenge

The Great Commission – go and make disciples. We have a great commander – the Lord Jesus Christ who has all authority in heaven and on earth. And He gives us a great challenge – To be a great soldier of the cross of Jesus! A soldier understands that he has a mission. A soldier understands that he has a commander. Soldiers take orders…soldiers serve…soldiers sacrifice. They give themselves to the cause to make a difference. A true soldier of Jesus is a disciple maker.

Are you willing to BE what the Lord wants you to be;
to DO what He wants you to do;
and to GO where He wants you to go…at any cost?

I challenge you today…be a soldier of Jesus. Will you stand today and say, “count me in Lord, I’m stepping up.” I want to make a difference because I want to live my life with a purpose…fully and abundantly.

This message, “Go with God’s Plan”, based on Matthew 28: 16-20, was prepared and delivered by Rev. Gernan Villegas at Emmanuel Church Ministries International at Makati last Sunday, 12th of March 2017. It is part of the Great Go-mission Series. This was slightly edited for publication purposes.

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I Do, Take Two

Pastor Gernan and his lovely wife Marissa share highlights of their courtship and early years of marriage

Marriage is a lifetime commitment.

 The Bible teaches us that love is enduring. It is a lifetime commitment.  Love always hopes, perseveres, trusts. It does not give up…

I do…take two!

 

Now, just three things…first…

 TAKE ONE: I Do

 Ephesians 5:31-32

31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[a] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

  Take one…the man and the woman says “I do…” for the first time.  Try to visualize your own wedding day.  The groom anxiously stands waiting at the altar for the bride to walk down the aisle.   What goes through his head ?  There are mixed emotions. He is excitedly leaving his single life behind. He experiences  overwhelming joy.

“I do” is the promise of love. By coming into the altar, the man and the woman declare their intention before God to give themselves to each other. God joins them as husband and wife into one-flesh union. When the couple says, “I do” they are saying “I do promise to live in covenant with you – to commit myself to you”.

Marriage begins with a statement of intention, but good intentions do not make good marriages.

You can promise your spouse the world before the wedding, but it is what you do after that wedding that makes or breaks the marriage. You have to give yourself to the marriage. You have to give yourself to your spouse.

God appointed men to lead their families. As head of the family, we are to take the lead. We must be the covenant initiator and as such, we assume greater responsibility for seeing it fulfilled. God initiated covenants with Noah, Abraham, and David. He is the covenant keeper. God is committed to us as His people.

The pronouncement of husband and wife at the end of the wedding ceremony is more than a change of name. It is part of the “I do.” The “I do”, from this time on, take my stand to be your husband/wife”. But it takes two people, both the husband and the wife to keep this promise.

 

 TAKE TWO: I Still Do, 

 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 

 Take two…the husband and the wife says “I still do” once again before God. “I still do…” is the progress of love. After years…and many years of being together the husband and the wife renew their vow to keep on loving each other ’till death do they part. And only death can separate the two.

 In verses 4-7, the apostle Paul gives us a vivid description of Biblical love. We learn what love is, what love is not, and what love does.

Let’s take a look at the inspired picture of love. I want us to personalize it by inserting our name in place of the noun “love” to see whether we somehow satisfy the given description.

Ready?

 ( Your name)  is patient, ( Your name)  is kind. ( Your name)  does not envy, ( Your name)  does not boast,  i( Your name) s not proud.  ( Your name) does not dishonor others, ( Your name)  is not self-seeking,  i( Your name) s not easily angered, ( Your name)  keeps no record of wrongs.  ( Your name)  does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. ( Your name)  always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

So how was it? Did you even come close? Of course not! It’s a very high standard. It’s a standard we can’t achieve on our own. But by the grace of God, we can exhibit these traits in increasing measure.

 The key to a successful, satisfying and sustaining relationship is God.

Without God there is no us!  I believe it is God all the way from start to finish.

 

 IT TAKES THREE: I Always Will, 

 

 

 1 Cor. 13:8a. True love never fails. “Piptei” in Greek literally means “falls or collapses.” Love never folds under the most severe and intense pressure. It never throws in the towel. It perseveres to the point of death. Love is constant and steady. It does the “God-pleasing thing” all the time. Love never fails. It shall endure forever and ever.

True love is permanent! And since love is permanent, it ought to be important to us. Love has to be taken seriously. What makes marriage like heaven? The answer is – It is LOVE! Do you take love seriously?

               But love between the husband and the wife will not stand alone. It takes three to stand. It takes two to make a marriage, but it is better if it takes three, when that third partner in a marriage is Jesus! Who else can forgive all wrongs we do to each other every day? Who else can give us the strength to forgive each other, as God has forgiven us? Who else can put respect in the heart of the woman, so that she submits to her husband, as the Church submits to Christ? Who else can put love in a man’s heart and in his actions other than Jesus, who loved us,and gave Himself for us.

It takes two to make a marriage, but three is better, when that third person is Jesus!

Love without Jesus is nothing. It will always fall short. Love with Jesus will never fail. It always was, always is and always will.

True love is a covenant because it is a relationship of commitment. When a day comes when you are in conflict with each other, and you will fight with each other,  remember that in your marriage, you are keeping a covenant.  Jesus stands in between to give us the strength to forgive each other. When you are tempted to look at another woman, remember that marriage is a covenant of love. When you are tempted to look at another man, remind yourself that marriage is a covenant. When that day comes when your wife is no longer as lovely or as sexy as she used to be, remember marriage is keeping covenant. When the day comes when your husband is not as exciting as he used to be, remember marriage is keeping covenant.

                On our own, our love for our spouse may always falter. We need the love of Jesus to respond supernaturally, in love.

 It takes three!

What now?

  • ACT the way love acts.

Love is alive when it is patient. Love is alive when it is kind. Love is alive when it is not proud. Love is alive when it is not rude. Love is alive when it cares. Love is alive when it acts.

Acts of love add value to whatever it touches. It enriches all that it touches. What acts of love can you practice today?  Here are some suggestions, you may wish to consider:

  • –  Hug and kiss each other before going to work.
  • –  Send a text message mid-day just to see what he/she is doing.
  • –  Compliment your spouse in front of your children.
  • INVOLVE Jesus in your marriage.

Marriage is first and foremost a spiritual relationship. It works best when two people are connected individually to God, and then as couples, are connected to Jesus. It also works when they walk with Him, obey Him in Scripture, and pray together as individuals.

You ignore the very God who created marriage and the only One who can help make it work, when you push the spiritual dimension to the side.

Only the great power and loving grace of Jesus Christ can make you truly love. I encourage you to make Jesus a constant companion in your relationship. Invite Jesus in your marriage. Are you asking God to guide, protect, save and prosper your marriage?

  • Love NOW!

 Marriage is an action word. It is always urgent because you have to give effort and seriously act on it. Actions tremendously impact feelings.

As pastors, we do counseling. Sometimes couples would come in and say that their marriage is dead.  But I would say something like this,

“I want you to go back home. Try to display a “behavior of love” towards your spouse.”

And the usual response would be,

“Pastor, how can I go home and act like I’m in love when I don’t feel anything?”

And I would tell them,

“Just go and act loving to your spouse. Say words of love to your spouse. Do acts of kindness. I want you to allow those actions to pave the way for love…”

Actions determine feelings…

Jesus didn’t tell us just to love one another. Jesus said,

“Love one another as I have loved you.”

Love with the love of Jesus. Love now, not later!

 

Into Life

For most marriages, it only takes TWO, a husband and a wife. But for a CHRISTIAN marriage, it takes THREE. It takes a husband, a wife, and it takes JESUS. Make sure JESUS is in your marriage. I do, take two…takes THREE!

Since love is from God,

such love never fails

 

As we close this series, my prayer for us is this –  May we have more love for our spouse, more love for God’s Church, more love for one another…and more love for Jesus!

 

 

 

This message based on 1 Corinthians 13:8  was prepared and delivered by its Senior Pastor Rev. Gernan Villegas at Emmanuel Church Ministries International in Makati last Sunday February 26, 2017.  It concludes the February 2017 series entitled, “Be My Valentine”. This was slightly edited for publication purposes.

 

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Will You Marry Me?

 

biblical design for marriage

Pastor Gernan preaching on the biblical design of marriage

Marriage is a beautiful thing.

It is one of the greatest gifts God ever gave to man.

But, it is truly beautiful when it operates as God intended it to be. Marriages do not run on auto-pilot; they require attention and hard work. There are so many things to learn about it as we go through the various life phases. If single, and planning to get married someday, Biblical truths are needed to help make wise decisions. If married already, one needs to know these in order to enhance, to enjoy, to guard, and to value the relationship with the spouse. On the other hand, if you have no plan to get married you still need to know this, in order to minister others.

Based on an article published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer last March 27, 2011, the rate of marital annulments for the last 10 years was at an alarming 40%! That translates to about 22 annulment cases being filed daily. That to me, is very alarming! So, what went wrong? I’m sure this is not how God intended it to be. Again, marriage is a beautiful thing. I have been married for 11,781 days and 9 1/2 hours but I would say I’m still learning, for there are still a lot of things I have yet to learn. As husband and wife, Marissa and I are also still learning.  Today, we are “co-learners” with you.

Many say that in romantic relationships, there are 4 kinds of rings:

 

  1. Promise ring (pre-engagement)

  2. Engagement ring (promise to marry)

  3. Wedding ring (marital commitment)

  4. “Suffer-ring” (enduring trials and hardships)

 

Today, we endeavor to break that cycle and alternatively replace them with the promise ring, engagement ring, wedding ring and “fulfillment” ring.

 

 

Into the Word   

 

So, let’s see what the Word of God has to say from Genesis 2:18-24,

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature,that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam[a] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

 

Contextual Background

 The setting was the Garden of Eden. Sin had yet to enter the world. If you read through the first chapter of Genesis, you see that God had just finished the work of creation. As He evaluated his work, He announced that it was good!  Everything He created was good!

And then in Genesis 2:18…we read something different, the Lord said, “It is not good for man to be alone…” God saw that even though Adam lived in paradise, he was lonely.  Adam was then the king of creation yet something was lacking. Eden,in all its perfection was inadequate to satisfy his emptiness within. From this, we delve into three Biblical truths about marriage. These are important for us to learn in order to value our marriage.

 

  1. MARRIAGE ORIGINATES FROM GOD, v.18a.

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone…’”

The most foundational thing we see from the bible about marriage is that it is God’s doing. It originates from God Himself. Marriage came before the church…it came before the government. Marriage is…

 

  • It is God’s idea.

It is God-given, God-planned, and God-ordained. It is therefore, a good thing in spite of all the struggles and sacrifices it entails. It isn’t all happiness.  There are many problems. We must realize however, that problems are temporary. In spite of all the pain and heartaches, marriage is a good thing and its goodness will always stand because God authored it. What we have to do is to go back to the author of marriage and follow the owner’s manual.

There will always be differences because God has made us unique individuals. There will always be different mindsets and different ways of doing things. Constantly remember that married couples were joined by God. Therefore, God will always be there to help you iron things out. Marriage has great challenges but it can also be a great blessing if done in God’s way.

  • It is God’s design.

His Word provides us the principles we need for a satisfying marriage. Since God designed marriage, it takes three to make a good marriage: God, the man and the woman. And your marriage should reflect…the character, purpose and intention of God.

  • It should reflect the character of God.

God is Holy. Holiness means “sacred, set-apart.” Set apart from evil, wickedness, etc. If you are married today, your marriage should reflect sacredness, holiness in your relationship. You do not fool around because your spouse is your only one! You give full love, loyalty, truthfulness to your spouse because that is consistent with the character of God. If you are single today and you plan to get married someday, keep yourself pure and remain pure. Your decision today will make a great impact tomorrow.

Another character of God is being loving and caring. When was the last time you showed affection, kissed or said I love you to your wife? It adds not only sweetness, it also adds value to your relationship.

  • It should reflect the purpose and intention of God, Gen. 1:27.

In verse 27, we see the design/intention,

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

The original design of God for marriage is for male and female. That’s the design. Let us not move away from what God designed marriage to be. Today’s norm would say, as long as we love each other…it’s okay. As long as we don’t hurt anybody or step on anyone else…it’s okay. But that is not what God said. No! That is not according to God’s design. When that happens, there will be troubles. There will be no blessing from God. It is not in line with God’s marriage.

The problem is we insist on what we want and are in effect saying,

“Lord, you are wrong! I love him/her!”

Whenever we veer away from the design and purpose of God for marriage, we get into trouble.

2. MARRIAGE IS ORCHESTRATED BY GOD, vv.18-23.

 

  • God planned a bride for Adam, 18b.

 

It was God from the beginning. God planned a bride for Adam. Read v. 18b,

 

“I will make a suitable helper for him.”

 

God decided to make a suitable helper for Adam. I want to clarify the word “helper” here. The word is not intended to be demeaning. It does not refer to someone who cleans the house, prepares the meals, washes the clothes and dishes. No, it’s not! In the Old Testament,  the word “helper” is used of God Himself as a “helper.”

In Ps. 46:1,

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

It literally means someone who supplies what is lacking in another person. In other versions the word is “complement” (one who will enhance your mate). In other words, God created Eve to do what Adam could not do by himself. That is why God designed the marriage relationship. Husband and wife both need each other. Each of us need someone to share life with. We need someone to talk to, to listen to. Marriage is meant to be a shared companionship between husband and wife. As they walk through life side by side, hand in hand, they share everything together.

Recite Gen. 2:18…Don’t miss that central truth and all important statement.

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

  • First insight: God Himself will make a being perfectly suited for you.

      God made Adam out of the dust (Gen. 2:7).Why didn’t God make Eve out of the dust? Why did God make her from Adam’s rib? I believe God wanted to show Adam that his wife was part of him and equal to him. She was taken from his side so that he would protect her and keep her close to his heart. Not only that…

  • God provided a bride for Adam, 19-21.

 Read Genesis 2:19-21

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature,that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.

Have you noticed a sudden interruption in the verses that followed? What was God’s purpose? God was preparing him for marriage. He was teaching him to be a leader and a lover. God brought all the animals to Adam to name each one of them – giraffe, gorilla, pig, crocodile… and the list goes on.  Adam named them one by one. But still, verse 20 says, “…no suitable helper was found.”

Verses 21-22, “So the Lord caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”

God caused the man into a deep sleep. This means that it was not Adam who finds his mate, but God Himself. The Lord orchestrated everything. And so God performed the first surgery. Adam’s deep loneliness was perfectly addressed by a woman created by God. It was God who provided Adam’s bride. Eve was the perfect will of God for Adam and Adam was perfect for Eve.

  • Second insight: God can be trusted to provide the right mate at the right time.

“You don’t give your heart to anyone. Give your heart to God first.”     -Atty. Aldwin Salumbides, broadcaster 702 DZAS.

  1. For the single men/women: Are you worrying about your future mate? Regardless of your age, the Lord can be trusted. He provides the right mate at the right time.

 

  • God presented a bride for Adam, vv.22-23.

From verses 22-23,

“The man said, ‘This is now the bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

This was the first “boy meets girl” story ever in history. It was a celebration for Adam. Verse 23 is a poetic exclamation in Hebrew (admiration, excitement). The first 3 words “This is now” actually means “This is it.”   It’s like – Wow! She’s the one! Finally, thank you, Lord! Imagine this scene:  Adam was elated to see someone so similar yet different from him. She is beautiful. This is love at first sight. The Lord is orchestrating. Adam rejoices in God’s provision for his need. And God performed the first wedding ceremony as He presented Eve to Adam.

Third insight: Involve God!

Take time to seek and ask guidance from the Lord. Pray and ask God because He orchestrates everything! God is actively at work in your life. Out of the 9 billion people in the world, God reserved the best for you. Marriage is not done by trial or error. It must be God’s perfect choice! So if you are single today, take your time. Involve God! He orchestrates. If you are married and your relationship is not doing good. Involve God. Ask God for help. What do I do, Lord? And then act on it.

 

III. MARRIAGE IS BECOMING ONE-FLESH, v.24 cf. Matt. 19:4-6  

 It is joined by God.

Read v.24,

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

The marriage of Adam and Eve was the first wedding ceremony. Marriage is God’s doing from start to finish. Marriage is not a man-made thing that we can throw away whenever we like. From the story of Adam and Eve we learn God’s plan: One man, one woman joined in marriage for life by God.

It is primary.    –     (For this reason a man will leave) =the highest kind of relationship after God).

It is permanent.    (and be united to his wife) = your mate is for life)

It is exclusive.     –   (monogamy is God’s design)

It is intimate. -(they shall become one flesh…sexual union) relationship.

God joins the husband and the wife into one-flesh union and the world does not understand that true sense of what that actually means. That is why the world treats marriage so casually. It is so sad to know that even Christians annul their marriages.  When things are tough and rough it is so tempting to just break up and walk away from it all, rather than ask God to help and do something to save it. The world treats marriages as some mere form of pleasure and convenience. Marriage has become so unsuccessful because we have not worked it out according to God’s design, boundaries and standards.

  1. Have you thanked God for the partner He has given you? Most of the time we look at this negatively. We failed here. God gave Eve to Adam to nourish, to build, to take care of, to cherish, and to watch over. God designed marriages, including yours!

Remember Verse 24: 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Marriage is becoming one-flesh. What is the heart of marriage? Love and loyalty that comes from knowing, trusting and following Jesus.  There is a deeper dimension to this.

  • It is a covenant

The heart of marriage is a COVENANT. Marriage relationships must be built on covenant commitment not just on feelings. Romantic love is important but the foundation of marriage is a covenant commitment. The heart of marriage is a covenant! It is a covenant before God.

Covenant commitment is what holds a couple together through ups and downs. Annulment, legal separation, or divorce must not be in our vocabulary. “They shall become one-flesh…till death do us part” (part of the vow…) points to marriage as a sacred covenant rooted in Eph. 5:31-32,

31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[a] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church

“For this reason…This s a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church.” In other words marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant commitment to his church (Christ is the bridegroom, the church is the bride). “Husband, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” (Eph. 5:25). Christ gave the ultimate sacrifice by giving his own life. Christ gave everything for her bride. “Till death do us part…as long as they both shall live” is a sacred covenant promise. Christ will never leave His church!

The good of the relationship is more important than the individual need. I call it the “we-not-me” attitude. We submit to one another for Christ’s sake and for the covenant relationship. The “we is more important than the me.” This will not be easy to follow because we are all selfish individuals. What do we do then? We turn to God and work it out. With God’s help you can overcome. If you’re hurt, your priority is your relationship – it’s covenant relationship. You forgive because your relationship is more important that your personal feelings. You want to bring glory to God!

  1. What now?

Take care of the woman/man God gave you. Take care of the relationship according to Ephesians. 5:15-17,

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

  • Walk wisely.

     Walk wisely…carefully…accurately in your relationship. We cannot leave the marriage relationship to chance. We must make wise decisions and seek to do the will of God. We must go back to the author of marriage and follow the author’s manual.

 

  • Opportunities – make the most of them

     Life is short and so make the most of every opportunity. Make the best use of opportunities

God gives us. Opportunity to love, serve, sacrifice. Remind yourself  always…it’s a covenant relationship.

 

  • With God – everything and anything

     Marriage originates from God. He is the initiator. He is actively involved in your marriage from beginning to end. Marriage must be founded, grounded and constructed in God! Always…with God! Never…never…never take away God in your relationship. It must be a triangle relationship.

 

Make sure Jesus is there

A little boy sat through a Sunday School class and learned about the time Jesus went to a wedding and turned water into wine. “And what did you learn from that story?” asked the father. The boy thought for a moment and answered, “If you’re having a wedding, make sure Jesus is there.” Put Jesus at the center of your marriage and no matter what else happens…it will succeed, satisfy and save the marriage.

Into Life

A healthy, heartily, and heavenly marriage is the WORK and WALK of a lifetime with a GOD-CENTERED relationship, a WE-NOT-ME attitude and a COVENANT-KEEPING commitment – just as God designed it. Don’t just GROW OLD but GROW-UP in your relationship.

This message based on Genesis 2: 18-24, was prepared and delivered by its Senior Pastor Rev. Gernan Villegas at Emmanuel Church Ministries International in Makati last Sunday February 19, 2017.  It is third in a February 2017 series entitled, “Be My Valentine”. This was slightly edited for publication purposes.

 

 

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