As a result of careful prayer we are shifting our vision to the many aspects of Purity - a heart condition that we strive for - Purity in worshiping God, our daily every day lives, and our relationships with each other.
We have created a online magazine editorial (markedministry.com) and moved some of the relevant devotionals there.
But there is more! Our new online magazine editorial is launching with a show case feature on Cheryl Brodersen. Watch the video interview here: http://markedministry.com/category/show-case/
We so appreciate your readership and we look forward to seeing you on our new online magazine editorial!
Friday, April 17, 2015
The Cross – The Greatest Public Display of Affection
Posted by Sarah
“But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”-Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
When I was in high school, the greatest display of affection was seen during Homecoming, Winter Formal, or Prom. Girls all over campus would gloat over their decorated poster boards, bouquet of roses, or bunch of balloons. If you were a girl on campus you were “loved” depending on the degree you were wooed. The bigger the fuss, the more these girls would parade around campus while the rest of the girls walked around looking like Wednesday from the Adam’s Family lamenting that they weren’t one of the “fussed.”
Yet, this desire is not only sought out in the high school realm, it is also seen in our adult years when it’s time to get married. When the guy proposes on a Jumotron, kneels down in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, writes to a T.V. show to “go big” on the proposal, or has the guts to be vulnerable in front of her closest friends and family, the girl no doubt feels loved when she knows he is declaring his love for her and her alone. But the media also echoes our sentiments in romances our culture considers some of the top “chick flicks.” Movies like Say Anything, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Love Actually (which I am in no way advocating), send ladies heart’s pitter-pattering. Why? Because we want a Say Anything moment when someone professes his love for us boldly, or a 10 Things I Hate About You serenade accompanied by a marching band, or a cute guy to show up at our door with a huge sign expressing his love for us a la’ Love Actually. Whatever the case, we ladies want to feel and experience the love declared to us.
Inside every girl lies the longing for some sort of public display of affection. No, I’m not talking about PDA (public display of affection) that is inappropriate, but a different kind that makes us feel wanted, affirmed and loved. We want to know we matter. And when someone invests in us, we know we are valued creating a confidence in that love and in that person. Somehow our value seems to increase in light of the person pursuing us. If we feel they have worth, their affirmation becomes of very high value to us.
Yet, we forget that that the person we put all that stock into is merely human. Where there are some whose displays of love are conditional and fickle, others whose love is God honoring and sincere, there is only One who can love us fully, completely, and unconditionally. One who is love and displayed the greatest public display of affection in world history. His name is Jesus Christ.
When we our at our worst not wanting anything to do with Jesus, thinking we are “good enough” without Him, and go on our own path without Him, God still loves us. When we are complete messes, unable to give God back any type of love, God wooes and pursues despite our rejection of Him time and time again!
Human loved is flawed and fickle—often based on conditions; but God’s love is unconditional. In the midst of our rebellion, God displayed his deep love for us and declared it throughout history into eternity! He took on our penalty (debt) for everything we did wrong and every way we offended God’s righteous standards so we wouldn’t have to. He publicly hung and suffered innocently on the cross because he didn’t want us to experience the consequence of sin that came when humanity parted ways with God (beginning back in Genesis chapter 3). In this demonstration, he publicly proclaimed to the world and to us that He forever loves us.
Yet, the value is even higher because of the one proclaiming it. If this was a person, it would mean something. (Separate these statements, it is a run-on sentence :) ) Yet this wasn’t any person, it was God! If God of the universe has publicly displayed His love for you, then we must know we have great value and are greatly loved. If we know this and accept this, there is a confidence that rises in us knowing we are wanted by the Author of Love. While experiencing this type of love from a guy is possible, in Jesus it is something we can be thankful for and delight in. We no longer have to depend on guys to give us affirmation or walk around bummed because we are unaware of the deep love at our fingertips. Knowing how much we are loved by Jesus will produce a thrill that surpasses decorated poster boards, balloons, and even roses as we relish in the love God declared for us.
Posted by Devotions at 8:37 PM
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
True Love…? Give Me a Sign!
Posted by Michelle
“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.”- Ephesians 5:25 (NLT)
True love is a concept that we get introduced to relatively early in life. In fact, the idea is hard to escape unless you’ve lived under a rock and haven’t seen a Disney princess film. We love the idea of true love because it is supposed to be a love that is destined and will be lasting. The struggle, of course, is finding your true love, or knowing if the love you are experiencing is in fact true love.
True love these days seems allusive, and many give up entirely on finding that kind of love with someone. For the rest, it merely becomes a high target to aim for, but they expect that they will have to settle for less. If only there were obvious signs like white stallions and beams of light from heaven! Wouldn’t our love lives be so much easier? Sadly, we don’t get signals like that, but we do get some hints from the Bible about what real love is.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT), Paul tells us that, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
That kind of love sounds like a tall order! But is finding true love any easier? In fact, I believe that for true love to be as destined and lasting as it claims to be, it needs to be all those things that Paul mentions. God’s truth and love is still the same today as when that verse was written. Can you imagine experiencing that kind of love with someone else and receiving it in return? At this point some of you might be wondering whether or not I’ve actually talked to another living person or live on a cloud. Of course we are not perfect! We are human and even the most mature and Christ-centered relationships are not going to portray this kind of love 24/7. But, when both parties actively want to show God’s kind of love to each other, then it happens more often than not. In a relationship, I want my significant other and I to be able to bring out the best in each other. If you think about it, the best parts about our selves are the traits that are most like Jesus. So… we would be bringing out Jesus in each other!
Now that we have seen a snapshot of what God’s version of true love can be like, I want to mention what true love should not be. It is not selfish, controlling, or intimidating. Shakespeare and Hollywood has made the idea of love being “us against the world” really glamorized and popular. This is the kind of love between couples that dramatically defies parents and family concerns, or overcomes obstacles like inconvenient girlfriends or spouses. They make money-making plots, but in real life, that kind of love can get pretty exhausting and lonely - not to mention potentially damaging. Honestly, girls, there will be times when you have absolutely no idea what is going on inside your significant other’s brain, and you will need a supportive, listening ear from a friend or family member. Who doesn’t occasionally need some wisdom and advice, especially from someone with a clear head and Godly council?
So, does true love exist? I think it can. With God’s leading, I know that we can be in relationships where each of us shows the kind of love that is always patient, always kind, and doesn’t find fault in the other. That sounds like a pretty great recipe for love that lasts forever if you ask me! So hold out, girls, true love can be awesome when God is the one writing your love story.
Posted by Devotions at 10:01 PM
Friday, March 20, 2015
A Dangerous Affection: Christians Dating Non-Christians – Part 1
Posted by Selma
What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? - 2 Corinthians 6:15 (LVG)
What does the Bible say about Christians dating non–Christians? You might say to yourself: What’s wrong with that? I’m not hurting anybody? I might be able to help them or I could change them but the bible clearly states according to 2 Corinthians 6:14 in the LVG, “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?”
God’s Word gives us several examples of Bible characters that dabbled in relationships with non-Christians and the problems it caused.
Let’s talk about some. For instance, Moses marries a Midianite (She is an unbeliever who doesn’t believe in the same God) woman named Zipporah (her father is Jethro the priest of Midian). Here we see the problems that can arise in the event that you would marry a non-Christian.)
Moses (a Hebrew) and his wife disagreed on circumcision with their son Gershon and she got angry. Zipporah calls Moses “her husband of blood” because she wants to follow the Midianite custom. This attitude is typical today when a person marries another person who believes differently and are not a born again Christian. When they have children they have problems deciding how to raise their children and deciding which religion their children shall be raised up in. Later we see Moses married an Ethiopian woman in Numbers 12:1-12 and Moses’ brother Aaron and sister Miriam speak against Moses because they didn’t approve of Moses choice for a second wife as she was not of the same faith.
Abraham and his barren wife Sarah (Who believed in Yahweh) have an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar and ask her to become a surrogate mother for them. Abraham marries Hagar (Genesis 16: 1 – 6) and Hagar conceives. She then becomes arrogant, flaunting this in Sarah’s face and causes much pain. Hagar ends up despising Sarah and Sarah who is so frustrated banishes Hagar with child. This is a classic situation that happens a lot to a lot of girls in broken relationships where the girl gets pregnant and the guy leaves. Drama unfolds because the girl finds out the guy was married or that guy has another child from another mother and they complicate things (for example: arguing over how they want more time spent with their child over the other, sorting out holidays, demanding money, not spending enough, and looking at what the other child has, child support issues, etc.).
Samson (Nazirite) in Judges 14 sees a Philistine woman from Timnah and marries her to be his wife. This disobedient man and woman chaser sought to please himself instead of God. He said in verse three, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.” Notice in his eyes, he sees - Samson is lusting. In Judges 14:15, the Philistines threaten Samson’s wife to “Entice her husband to explain Samson’s riddle” (i.e. extravagance was offered if someone could solve the riddle). In the end, the Philistines end up killing her and her father (Judges 15:6).
Samson then in Judges 16:1-31 sees a Philistine harlot in Gaza and sleeps with her. Here again he makes a poor choice and today others fall in this category as well resulting in STD’s, unwanted pregnancy, or abortion. Later he meets another Philistine woman named Delilah who he falls in love with. He’s blinded by this woman’s looks but what he doesn’t realize is she is helping cooperate with the leaders of the Philistines who were seeking to capture him. In verse five, leaders tell Delilah to “Entice him, and find out where his strength lies, and by what means we overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”
Lots of Christians go seek out what appeals to their flesh (out ward only) without seeking the Lord first and like Samson get burned and deeply hurt by the non-believer. A Christian who doesn’t have their walk in Christ together (i.e. going through the motions) is another potentially pitfall. The most common tactic the devil uses to tempt and trip you into falling into sexual compromise. Samson needed to recognize he had a weakness for women and should have fled these women altogether.
The Israelites in Numbers 25: 1-18 speaks about the consequences of intermarriage and how it incurred Gods wrath. The Israelites remained in a place called Acacia Grove and the people began to commit harlotry with the woman of Moab. They stumbled the men and invited them to the sacrifices of their gods and they ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal and the anger of the Lord was aroused. This happened because they trapped the men in sexual immorality and false worship.
This is why it is not good to date a non-believer who believes in a different god. You may think it can work or that you can convert them and everything will be cool. It doesn’t work that way and the devil uses it to pull you away from Christ and gets you entangled into their beliefs. In Ezra 9 and 10 the leaders came to Ezra the scribe and reported that both the leaders and people of Israel had failed to remain separate from the gentiles (non-Christian) who lived in the land. The Jews were marrying the pagan people – (a practice that the Law of Moses prohibited (Exodus 34:16 and Deuteronomy 7: 3).
Avoid dating anybody who doesn’t believe in or love Jesus Christ. Avoid dating anyone who has not asked Jesus into their lives to be their personal Lord and Savior. He needs to have his own personal testimony (this is how he became a born again Christian and the transformation that took place) or he will be someone who will pull you away from your relationship with Christ. However, if the other person you are dating is not a Christian, be careful that he does not just tell you what you want to hear. Lots of guys you first meet will say anything to date you! You might ask, “But how do I know?” Satan is a liar and counterfeiter (John 8:44). He will make men seem to know how to say all the right things just to get you caught.
Through these examples, I hope that you can see that even thousands of years ago, Christians struggled with the same temptation of entering into a relationship with a non-believer. I pray that God will allow you to think about some of these stories so that you might avoid a dangerous affection.
Posted by Devotions at 3:03 PM
Friday, March 13, 2015
50 Shades of No Way
Posted by April
“...I have loved you with an everlasting love; with unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” -Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)
Dear Sisters and Friends:
Please know that I have prayerfully considered what has been put into this posting. The purpose of this article is not meant to condemn readers of the books or squash creative and expressive writing. My article does not seek to promote censorship, feminist ideologies, or even my own “agenda.” No! I have come to specific conclusions based on facts. Facts gathered from psychologists, national foundations, stories from survivors of abuse--and most importantly--the Bible. This posting focuses primarily on educating females about the dangers of believing the untruthful lies promoted by Fifty Shades, understanding what a true healthy relationship should look like, and to encourage the restoration of sexual dignity, self-respect, and a true understanding of love--specifically Jesus’ love. May you be encourage and blessed.
There has recently been quite a media storm surrounding the newest blockbuster hit Fifty Shades of Grey. With such an attention-grabbing theme, it is apparent that our culture has come to embrace the literary characters of this novel and their story.
It is evident that the book-to-movie adaptation has reached an all time peak, topping a gross total of 405 million dollars within the first four days of its international release. Besides theaters, thousands of people have flooded bookstores, online retailers, and outlets to grab a copy of the romance tale between the fictitious characters Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. But what about this book has drawn such a crowd? I mean, all romance stories deal with the same basic principles of attraction, a budding spark, obstacles to overcome, growth and love--all things which this book has. But why has our culture, especially women, been drawn to this series?
Although you may not like the answers to this question, I ask you to think deeply about what I am going to say: This series is attracting because it fulfills a picture of what society has painted as forbidden, but meaningful love while adding a sense of edgy, risky sex that captivates us. Plain and simple--this series gives us something that we desire or are lacking in own lives. Whether it is a sense of fulfillment from a relationship, the desire to express ourselves, to feel worthwhile, or even to have the ability to change someone we love, this series provides it all.
What most women do not understand is the dangers in using this storyline as a platform to base their intimate (emotional, physical, and psychological) interactions. Furthermore, most of these women cannot foresee is the harm and injury that will come if we allow the values from this book to penetrate our lives, our youth, our expectations in the bedroom, our thoughts, and our perspective of love. When this happens, we start the process of a downhill decent.
As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, the research and information I used to shape my concerns was drawn from other articles and websites. I highly recommend that after reading my post you use these resource to guide your own research about what the experts say about 50 Shades of Grey and the principles it promotes: Pastor Shawn: http://www.pastorshawn.com/50/, National Foundation for Exploitation: http://endsexualexploitation.org/fiftyshadesgrey/#talking_points). Essentially my greatest concerns over this series hinges mainly on three main aspects, two of which are focused on our social and cultural values, while the third--and most important--aims to discuss the deepest aspect of our relationships.
Theses points are that Fifty Shades of Grey:
1. Falsely depicts degradation as empowerment
2. Glamorizes and encourages physical, sexual, mental, and emotional abuse, while exploiting females and sex
3. Undermines God’s ultimate framework of sex and love
1. Falsely depicts degradation as empowerment.
At the opening of the first book, we find a young, college-age female who is gentle, shy, intelligent, but naive about the world; she has yet to discover herself. Anastasia, by society’s standards, is budding and about to enter into the prime of her life. Seemingly she represents what many females identify with: a woman full of possibilities, but who is too “grey” and unimportant to be seen as worthwhile by her surroundings. It isn't until she meets Christian and experiences her first sexual encounter and loses her virginity that Ana begins to find herself. Doors to a dream job open, her material desires are fulfilled, and Ana’s sex life is becoming a driving force--she has officially become an empowered woman.
But is this really the case? As Ana’s story progresses, the books offers up the idea that by embarking on an atypical relationship with Christian, she has some how broken out of societal expectations and found a passionate and deep love. Her new found sexual experience has supposedly awakened her. The book would have you believe that even though at moments she desires a “vanilla” relationship, her new found freedom through Christian has helped to embolden from her prior mundane life. But in reality, if Ana’s situation were real, this would be far from the truth.
Ana’s relationship is not defined by freedom, nor by female power. It is marked by abuse and degradation. Throughout the story she is forced to submit her independence and personal will in an effort to please Christian while she is beaten, humiliated, and manipulated. Her attempts to be herself and her desires for a real relationship are mocked, and hinted as plain (vanilla). Her desire to have a family is even frowned upon as she finds herself pregnant in the last book and seemingly happy--that is until Christian rejects the idea of the child because it might cut into his time with Anastasia.
What type of empowerment involves this kind of treatment? How can we say that this book speaks to a new of kind of passion? Can we say that Anastasia is a heroine or that she is a worthy female role model? No!
When we critically inspect the true personal and relational qualities of Anastasia we find a desperate, confused, love-starved, shamed victim. Her actions are not empowering, freeing or independent. Her relationship with Christian does not bring a new level of self-reliance or even sexual aptitude. What she gains from her relationship is baggage, scars and a devalued sense of self-worth. In reality, her experience would be called sexual and physical abuse; and outside of theaters we would encourage anyone to escape from such a tormented relationship. It is so disappointing to see how a false sense of freedom is what has been promoted by these books, instead of lamenting the fact that a human being is duped into finding her self-worth in sex and an abusive relationship.
2. The book glamorizes and encourages exploits physical, sexual, mental, and emotional abuse.
You do not need to read the series to know that sex and intrigue have been splashed throughout out the storyline. The trailers for the movie alone provide us with this emotion. On the screen you see a flash of a beautiful young woman who looks quiet and simple. She appears isolated, meek and inexperienced. Then flashes an incredibly good looking man. He is rich, powerful and alluring. His presence emits an enigmatic nature that is attractive. The relationship begins. Their passions collide. The sex is steamy. Despite the obstacles and Christian’s unique way of expressing his love, they both seem so happy. It is a Fabio Lanzoni or Jake Gyllenhall love tale!
But this tale has been dramatized by the author, Hollywood, retailers for their benefit. But, the truth and consequences of such a relationship as Anastasia and Christian’s have been hidden for your benefit. A study in the Journal of Women’s Health showed that, “one-third of women who read Fifty Shades were more likely during their lifetime to have a partner who shouted, yelled, or swore at them and who delivered unwanted calls/text messages. They were also more likely to report fasting, and using diet aids at some point during their lifetime. At least 65% of these women reported binge drinking in the last month and to report using diet aids and having five or more intercourse partners during their lifetime [all of these results were compared to women who had not read the books]” (Altenburger, Bonomi, and Nemeth, pg.720).
This study concluded also by saying that, “problematic depictions of violence against women in popular culture such as in film, novels, music, or pornography create a broader social narrative that normalizes these risks and behaviors in women's lives. Our study showed strong correlations between health risks in women's lives including violence victimization and consumption of Fifty Shades, a fiction series that portrays violence against women. Likewise, if women read Fifty Shades before experiencing the health behaviors assessed in our study, it is possible that the book influenced the onset of these behaviors by creating an underlying context for the behaviors.” (Altenburger, Bonomi, and Nemeth, pg.720)
The facts do not stop with just abuse. Multiple studies have been conducted which show the exploitive nature of Bondage Discipline Sadism and Masochism (BDSM) and its physical, emotional, psychological wearing. (Click here for resources: http://endsexualexploitation.org/fiftyshadesgrey/). Actions such as these go deeper than minor and temporary hurt to experience pleasure. These scenarios tend to suck in already needy and attention-craved individuals and exploit their pain for the pleasure of others. Men most often become abusive aggressors who use this need for attention to manipulate sex out of their victims. Anastasia’s story is a paragon of this type of situation.
The premise of these books and movie offers us a society--and more importantly as women--nothing of value. In fact, this story line does not even offer us a sense of entertainment from a “guilty pleasure” prospective. Sadly, instead it gives us a two-fold picture of what our society has come to expect from relationships, and in-turn, what type of treatment we should expect from that relationship. It leaves me wondering what are we telling our daughters and the upcoming generation by watching and promoting movies such as these? How can we desire a higher and healthy standard of sexual and overall living if we are glamorizing a series which does the opposite?
3. Undermines God’s ultimate framework of sex and love.
From a social and cultural perspective this series poses a threat to how we view our relationships and others. However, from a Christian perspective, these books are even more dangerous to our community because of what they offer. You see not only do they suggest things that are abusive, exploitive and dangerous but they also undermine the ultimate framework for sex and love set up by God.
In the book of Genesis, chapter two, God shows us his master plan and context for sex. We read that God brought Adam and Eve together. He blessed their marriage and that gave them the right of sex. One specific verse clearly tells us that, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25, NIV). It is in the context of this situation, a true marriage, which God has brought together and blessed, that God’s plan of sex and love is complete.
We find that in this type of godly relationship there is no shame and degradation, and there is no deceit or abuse. Instead there is beauty and security. Their passion and love for each other was blessed because God formed and fashioned these individuals and brought them together.
In knowing this, we as Christians should NOT be consuming something that honors the complete antithesis of what God has created and blessed. Moreover, we also should not be reading books and watching a movie that provoke and promotes sexually explicit acts, thoughts, images and all forms of sexual immorality. Scripture again tells us:
“Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes, these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God,”
- Ephesians 5: 3-5a (NLT)
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things”
- Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Furthermore, we are to avoid principles and things which glorify a sexually immoral lifestyle:
“It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality” –
-1st Thessalonians 4:3 (NIV)
These verses alone clearly prove that Fifty Shades of Grey is not an acceptable choice of media or literature to put into our thought life. As a Christian and lover of Jesus, I would say that we have no business reading these books or watching this movie. There is not an ounce of worthy or justifiable fiber of this series that a Christian can apply, use, or enjoy in their personal life.
But amongst the darkness of this discussion, I have good news! Jesus has provided us something more beautiful and passionate then Fifty Shades. He has given us His love story. He has given a tale of true love which He wishes to impart to each and every one of us, His precious children. Christ does not reject, hurt or injure us. No, he was injured for us! He took on our sins because He loves us and calls us to a life of purity and beauty. We do not need to be defined by our relationships, by how beautiful or sexy our world tells we need to be. Our identity is found Christ. So I encourage you to throw away that which does not edify, glorify, or even give you a healthy perspective. Instead, turn to the man who says that,“...I have loved you with an everlasting love; with unfailing love I have drawn you to myself,” Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT).
Posted by Devotions at 9:59 PM
Friday, March 6, 2015
The Folly of the Forbidden
Posted by Sarah
“And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph…”. - Genesis 39:7 (NKJV)
He’s your co-worker, one of the Dad’s at your child’s daycare, youth pastor, professor, guy you sit next to in class, someone in your inner circle, one that you see frequently at the gym, drummer in the band plastered on your wall, or the person that brews your coffee everyday. He’s attractive…He’s wonderful…he’s off limits.
Instead of turning your eyes elsewhere when you hear those curse words fly out of his mouth, catch a glimpse of a wedding band, or get introduced to the girlfriend at his side, you begin your quiet pursuit. You convince yourself your fantasies are harmless. You take extra time primping to be in his presence and pick out just the right outfit to get his attention. You thrive on conversations here and there. And while he might be way older, taken, or completely contrary to what you believe, you settle for the cheap thrills from the bits and pieces of him. You silence the warnings inside and succumb to secrecy. The taste of forbidden fruit has held you captive and now it’s inescapable.
Potiphar’s Wife is no stranger to many girls who catch a glimpse of beauty but go too far when they try to pursue someone who is clearly forbidden. Her affair began when twenty-something Joseph entered her world after being employed by her husband. Considered “handsome in form and appearance” (Genesis 39:6) and the son of the exceptional beauty Rachel, he was stunning to behold. Yet the line was crossed when this woman’s thoughts were cultivated into an unhealthy appetite and turned into action (Genesis 39:7).
The two were completely different. Joseph, was a Hebrew who worshiped Yahweh (the one true God) while Potiphar’s Wife was a married Egyptian women who didn’t know Joseph’s God. For Potiphar’s Wife, Joseph was clearly forbidden on the basis of adultery which was punishably by death in ancient times (Bad Girls of the Bible). Yet for Joseph, the relationship was forbidden not only because it was morally wrong but because it committed an even greater offense – disobeying God.
Although the story is centuries old, the temptation is still the same.
Over and over women have fallen into different forms of forbidden romantic relationships. These include:
• Those who are inappropriate for your age (John 16:13, NKJV)
• Men who are married or are in a relationship (Proverbs 5:22, 6:32; Matthew 5:28; NKJV; Hebrews 13:4, NIV)
• Someone who doesn’t believe what you do (2 Corinthians 6:14, NLV)
• Women (Leviticus 18:22, TLB)
Now why are these forbidden in this first place? Is God a “kill joy” or Someone that is constantly telling us do’s and don’ts. I say He is neither one of those. Think about the original woman known as Adam and Eve. God said they could eat and roam His beautiful garden freely but He warned them to not eat from the one tree that had the potential to seriously harm (destroy) them (Genesis 2:16). God wasn’t saying, “Don’t eat this because I just don’t want you to have it…MUH HAHA!” No! God said (paraphrase) “I love you enough to give you good options, to warn you of what’s not good for you because I don’t want to see you get hurt, and to let you make a choice.” God gives us better options that will bless us and pale in comparison to what we think is good.
Yet, like Eve we too take the bite of forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6). Why? Like a child who is told “No” for good reasons by their parents, the child insists on doing the wrong like eating five candy bars or sticking a finger in the electrical socket. In our twisted fallen nature, we want what isn’t good for us, we are curious, it excites us, and we enjoy a challenge. Yet, we cannot touch fire without getting burnt. Forbidden fruit, while shortly pleasurable (Hebrews 11:25, KJV), like sugar, will always leave us dissatisfied in a pile of disastrous possibilities like pregnancy, a broken heart, loss of virginity, tainted reputation, guilt, humiliation, addiction, STD’s, and the list goes on.
Before we are quick to judge Mrs. Potiphar, we need to check ourselves (Psalm 139:23-24) Have we ever fantasized or lusted over someone forbidden? Have we ever “conveniently” run into this person to chat? Have we dressed to get a head turn? Have we schemed to get their attention? Have we hid our actions?
This forbidden person is not our property but someone else’s. We need to realize affairs begin in the mind and adultery is committed there. What we think is “harmless” or “hidden” is not only harmful for us, the person we pursue, but also others who are innocent.
So when someone catches our eye, we must be careful to guard it as both Potiphar’s Wife and Eve (Genesis 3:6) were lured by it. Like Joseph, we can honor God when we are faced with temptation and turn in a new direction with God’s help (Genesis 39:8, 10, 12). We can acknowledge the beauty God created and bounce our thoughts in a new direction by thanking God for who we have or the one we will have someday. In the safety of His boundaries, we can taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).
Posted by Devotions at 1:33 PM
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
What makes love “Love”?
Posted by Renee
“If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”- 1 Corinthians 13:3-8 (ESV)
February, in my family, is a month filled with celebrations: my mother’s birthday, my parents’ anniversary, my aunts’ birthdays, Valentine’s Day… and let’s not forget the ever important President’s Day weekend! I love the month of February, but then again, I love a lot of things. I love chocolate, and Pooh Bear, and Europe, and vintage furniture and—you get the picture. In reality, I probably use the word “love” a little too liberally at times.
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and gush about the latest and greatest thing that I love, but in the process of doing that, I end up making the word “love” cheap, which takes away the value of whatever it is I am admiring. I’m not necessarily a huge fan of Valentine’s Day (although I do appreciate flowers and chocolates) but the holiday does make me reconsider what love really looks like. Is love really having someone to take you out to a nice dinner once a year? Is love really a deep affection for somebody else? Is it more? Is it less? Is it real? What does it look like?
1 Corinthians 13 gives us a fabulous definition of what love is: Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud or rude… and the list goes on and on. Honestly, it puts me to shame. There are days when I think I’m doing a great job at all of this, and then I’ve ruined all my feeble attempts by the time the next day rolls around.
In 1 John 4:8 the Scriptures say that “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Think about that for a moment. That tiny word “is” changes everything about the way we should view love. Love isn’t just a characteristic of God; aka—God isn’t just “loving;” God IS love. God defines what love is and what love should look like. Just look at 1 Corinthians 13 and you can see that God’s character matches up with the characteristics that describe and define love. The entire Bible proclaims this and points to the amazing reality that God IS love and God IS just… God IS. And because God IS—we can BE. We don’t have to prove ourselves. We don’t have to try and convince the world that we are worthy of being loved, because our identity should be founded in God who IS love. And He has already called us worthy—He has already demonstrated and proven His great love for us. Think about that—He PROVED that He loves you!
Because of this, every day is an opportunity to fall deeper in love with who God is; every morning is an invitation to join an amazing adventure. In addition to all of this, every time you read the Scriptures, God is inviting you to join Him in an astounding love story—an unparalleled romance that reflects and reveals the deep, real, and intimate ways He thinks about you.
So the next time you find yourself thinking about love, or Valentine’s day, or maybe just wishing that someone would show up at your door with a fresh bouquet of roses—remember that God loves you and He is continuously showing you how deep and high and wide is His love for you. So bask in His presence and let Him restore your soul and show you what true love really looks like, so that you in turn can go out and love others the way He has loved you.
Till next time friends,
Posted by Devotions at 8:58 PM