The Holy Covenant of Marriage – Part 4: Divorce

The Holy Covenant of Marriage –
Part 4: Divorce

And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9 NIV). 

 

If marriage is a Godly uniting of a couple together, then divorce is a secular process to separate what God has united.  The separation is not done with surgical precision and results in a “tearing apart.”   The result is ugly and does not honor God.

It is well known that approximately half of all first marriages end in divorce, and the divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher. I think this is because most marriages involve people that do not understand the Holy covenant nature of their marriage. People cannot put into practice that which they do not understand. If couples did understand the marriage covenant, then they would realize that they should not place each other as number one in their life.  Also, the children should not be number one or even number two.  In a covenant marriage, God is always welcome, always present, and both parties are always seeking His face and place Him above all else.  They place each other as second.  Finally, any children are then third.  Of course, situations will arise in which the children need to become a higher priority, but this should be the exception and not the norm or the marriage will be harmed. 

The Bible makes it very clear that the responsibility of leadership in marriage falls squarely on the husband’s shoulders. 1 Corinthians 11:3 teaches,

 “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.”

If God has created the marriage, then the couple can claim the promise of Romans 8:31. “If God is for us, then who can be against us?”  I think we can insert the word “what” in place of “who” in Romans 8:31 for an even broader understanding of the unlimited power and providence of our God.

Sadly, approximately half of all first marriages and a higher percentage of subsequent marriages end in divorce. God clearly grieves the Heart of God.  The Word teaches in Malachi 2:16, “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty.”

The Bible only explicitly allows divorce for two reasons. Jesus specifically allowed divorce for infidelity. “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9).  Adultery is forbidden by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 13:4. “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4).  In such a case, however, divorce is not mandated or even encouraged.  The Christian spouse should always strive toward forgiveness and reconciliation should be extended and pursued if possible. But divorce is allowed, especially in cases where the sinning spouse persists in an adulterous relationship.

“Paul adds a second exception, in instances where an unbelieving spouse abandons the marriage. This would typically be the case when one of the two partners is converted to Christ at some point after marrying and the other person refuses to continue in the marriage. “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. Yet if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace” (1 Corinthians 7:14-15).

The idea for a couple to become married should be Divinely initiated by God and affirmed by the couple before they proceed with any wedding planning.  If God did not bless the wedding at the beginning and the Holy Spirit was not welcome during the marriage, then the marriage will likely end in divorce because neither party truly understood the Holy covenant nature of the marriage. 

Prayer:  Dear God, We know that your heart grieves each time a marriage covenant ends in divorce.  Help us to live out our wedding vows and to love our wives as You love us.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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The Holy Covenant of Marriage Part 3: Submission and Leadership

The Holy Covenant of Marriage
Part 3: Submission and Leadership

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:24 NIV). 

Perhaps no other Scripture is more misunderstood than the concept of submission in marriage.  Although there is much Scripture regarding marital roles, perhaps none is cited more than Ephesians 5.  It should be noted that the first directive for submission is for general submission to each other.  “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).  This submission is in deference to the ultimate leadership of the husband for the health and harmonious working of the marriage relationship.

One of the more highly debated verses, which occurs later in Ephesians 5. concerns the role of a Christian wife. “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:24).  This Scripture is troubling to many wives and needs further explanation.  Since the best method to understand Scripture is other Scripture, we see that the concept of submission from Ephesians 5:24 is supported in Colossians 3:18-19Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”  This idea is further reinforced in 1 Peter 3:1. “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.”

These Scriptures are often misinterpreted to mean that women are viewed as second-class citizens. However, this is not true.  Scripture states that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23). A good husband loves his wife unconditionally and is a servant leader just like Christ. 

The submission of wives is not like the obedience children owe parents (Ephesians 6:1), nor does this text command all women to submit to all men (only to your own husbands, not to all husbands!). Both genders are equally created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–28) and joint heirs of eternal life (Galatians 3:28–29). Both genders should be equally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14) in their Christian walk with Jesus.

The husband and wife are equal partners but charged with different areas of responsibility.  The husband is asked to love his wife and the wife is asked to respect her husband.  The final directive of Ephesians 5 details the different requirements of the couple.

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33, emphasis added).”   Remember, both are equally called to submit to each other so therefore both are effectively called to love and respect the other.

Equality is an important concept to understand as we probe into marital roles. The equality of the husband and wife is similar to that of God and Jesus.  The Son told us He had equal authority as the Father.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Matthew 28:18).

Here, He is proclaiming His divinity and equality to the Father in this Scripture.  At Calvary, Jesus, while still being equally yoked to the Father, showed His submission to the Father by stating, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Matthew 26:39, emphasis added).  Not only did He die in submission, but He lived and ministered in submission.  “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me” (John 6:38).  Jesus taught that prayer is a form of submission to the Father.  When Jesus gave the disciples the Lord’s prayer, He taught them to pray for God’s sovereign rule (not His rule) by speaking,  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, emphasis added).

It is important to note that the focus in these verses is on Christ because husbands do not “sanctify” their wives or “wash” them of their sins, though they are to do all in their power to promote their wives’ holiness.

The leadership of the husband is defined by Paul not as demanding his rights but rather as laying down his life for the good of his wife (Ephesians 5:25).

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Jesus walked this earth as a servant leader and gave His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45) Jesus is also the head of the church.  Men, your primary church is your family, and you serve as a priest for that family. The right next step after reading this is to joyfully and readily serve, honor, and cherish your wife. 

Sacrificial action is an integral part of the husband’s role as the head of the home. Again, Christ is a wonderful example of this. He demonstrated servant leadership by washing his disciple’s feet. In marriage, being a servant leader means ensuring that the wife’s material, emotional and spiritual needs are met. 

Let me leave you with one final thought.  Men, are you giving mercy and forgiveness to your wife as freely as God has given it to you?  If not, now is the time to start.

Prayer:  Dear God, May we focus our attention on submitting ourselves to You rather than the submission of our wives to ourselves.  Amen.

 

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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The Holy Covenant of Marriage Part 2: Marriage as a Holy Covenant

The Holy Covenant of Marriage –
Part 2:
Marriage as a Holy Covenant

For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31 NIV).

From the very beginning, it was clear that God did not intend for man to be without a partner.  The man, Adam, was made first and then God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).  So, the Biblical roles of husband and wife were divinely created in the Garden of Eden.  Subsequent Scripture provides further guidance for marital roles and expectations (Ephesians 5:22-27, Matthew 19:4-6, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:7, Hebrews 13:4, Isaiah 62:5, 1 Corinthians 7:2–5).

One of the essential pillars of marriage is the concept of “one flesh.”  Scripture teaches us in Ephesians 5:31, “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”  The concept of “one flesh” refers to a new Christ-centered life for each spouse that is Divinely, eternally, and intimately connected to each other and God.  This concept of “new life” is addressed in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here (emphasis added).”  This concept of “new life” is supernatural and is just as hard for us to understand today as it was when Nicodemus visited Jesus at night and was taught a similar lesson regarding new life (John 3:1-21). 

Your church and/or denomination may not recognize marriage as a sacrament, and we can debate if marriage is a sacrament, but there is no doubt that it is most certainly a Holy covenant between husband, wife, and God.  A marriage ceremony is beautiful because it symbolizes new life of two people that are joining their lives together in the presence of God, family, and friends.  The purpose of marriage has been long debated.  Some would argue that it is to provide the husband with “a helper” (Genesis 2:18).”  Others believe it is for both parties to share love and create a family.  I believe the purpose of marriage is for the couple to glorify God in everything they say, do, and dream, and to be living witnesses of sacrificial love, grace, mercy, and justice to everyone, particularly to each other and, if they are so blessed with children, to their children.

Near the end of a traditional marriage ceremony, we often hear the phrase, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” This phrase, drawn from the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:6, reminds us that marriage is a covenant created by God. 

‘Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate’” (Matthew 19:4-6 NIV).

Men, as the Spiritual leader of the house and in accordance with Ephesians 5:22-27 and 1 Corinthians 11:3, you are entrusted with the health and harmonious workings of the marriage. In short, if the marriage fails, you have failed.  You have been given much (authority), so you also have even greater expectations (responsibility).  “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48). Full disclosure:  I was divorced in 2017 after 20 years of marriage.  I did not file for divorce, but I own the fact that I failed but am grateful for the grace and redemption that I have through the blood of the Son. 

You are also responsible for the spiritual health of your wife.  Once again, we return to Ephesians 5 for guidance.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27).

The phrase “washing with the Word” is important to our understanding of this Scripture because it indicates the proper role of Scripture in the marriage.  Only through the supernatural power of the Word can the wife be presented to the husband as “holy and blameless.”  Ritual bathing as a means of spiritual purification (Leviticus 14:8-9, 15:18, 15:5-6) was an important spiritual practice for Jews at the time the Apostle Paul wrote this Scripture. 

I believe that if we understand and commit to a covenant marriage, we are joining our hearts together in a supernatural way that only God can orchestrate.  If God created the marriage, then only God should end the marriage so the words “to death do us part” is only true in the physical sense because the marital bond will last for eternity, regardless if one party has been healed into the Church Triumphant.  If God has dominion over death, then death certainly does not have dominion over marriage.  If God has created the marriage, then the couple can claim the promise of Romans 8:31. “If God is for us, then who can be against us?”  I think we can insert the word “what” in place of “who” in Romans 8:31 for an even broader understanding of the unlimited power and providence of our God.

If you are married or engaged, there are a few questions you may want to think about and discuss with your partner.  Do you and your wife or fiancé have the same understanding of marriage?  Are you both praying for yourself and each other?  Do you spend time in Scripture each day?  What role does God play in your marriage?

Prayer:  Dear God:  Thank you for providing us with a helper that is fearfully and wonderfully made.  Help us to understand that each marriage is a Holy covenant with our wife and you.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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The Holy Covenant of Marriage – Part 1: Instructions For Men

The Holy Covenant of Marriage
Part 1: Instructions For Men

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7 NIV).

I have been asked a few times over the years to share my thoughts about marriage.  I have prayerfully organized my thoughts into four blogs.  My target audience is men.  Hopefully any man regardless of his current marital status will find these blogs useful at best or thought provoking at worst.    If you find the blogs helpful, then that indicates that God was at work, and He deserves your thanks, not me.  

Living together as a husband and wife is so much more than residing at the same address, eating at the same table, sleeping in the same bed, having the same checking account, sharing the same insurance policies, and maintaining the same house.  None of these tasks guarantee intimacy.     An intimate relationship is guaranteed when you commit yourself to a life lived in Christ and for Christ and when you treasure, respect, and cherish your union with your wife more than any other relationship (except for your relationship with God) or any other thing (e.g., job, hobby, or possession).

A healthy marriage is contingent upon you choosing to lead by example.  You show Biblical leadership when you prioritize your wife as the most important person in your life behind God.  Listen to your wife.  You show respect by listening.  You affirm her feelings by listening.  You establish and grow trust by partnering with her to work out her fears and achieve her goals.  I think we would have fewer divorces and happier marriages if more husbands focused on the Biblical command to respect their wives rather than demanding their submission.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7).

Intimacy with your wife is so vitally important to a healthy marriage.  You must be committed to maintaining this intimacy and understand that to do so you need to be intentional in helping your wife with her struggles, fears, goals, and pain and accept that some of these issues may have started before you ever met.

During the dating period we want to get to know our partner.  Getting to know your spouse is a lifelong journey and dating after marriage will help you get to know your wife on a much deeper basis than her favorite actress or restaurant.  Always remember that there is no relationship with another human that is more important than your relationship with your wife.  God first, wife second.   

Prayer:  Dear God, Your Word teaches that You sit as a refiner of siler.  Refine us, dear God, and burn away all impurities which separate us from You.  Help us to be men after your own heart.  Help us to love our wife as Christ loved His Church.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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The Darkness Of Spiritual Blindness

The Darkness Of Spiritual Blindness

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11 NIV).

One of the worst things we can say to another person is to call them a liar.  The words sting because they are often perceived as an attack on the character of the accused.  Yes, the words are often hurtful, but they are always true.  Men, each one of us has at one time fallen short of honesty.   Sin entered the world through the lying words of the serpent, and it continues to be pervasive in this now fallen world.

Our natural tendency is to lie to ourselves.  We do this by believing our feelings, which are not always accurate. We believe our thoughts, but they may not be true.  When thoughts and feelings are not true, then who do you think is the author?  Scripture teaches us that our heart is not to be trusted.  “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).  I think we give credibility to certain thoughts and feelings due to our spiritual “blind spots,” which are attitudes or insecurities which we either cannot or will not see.

We all have spiritual blindness which is a spiritual problem.  The first step with any problem is to take it to God in prayer. I am reminded of the story of the blind beggar Bartimaeus who sits by the roadside and calls out (prays) in faith to Jesus to heal him of physical blindness (Mark 10:46-52).

To better see our spiritual blind spots, we should ask for clarity from the One who knows all and sees all.  I love the prayer: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.   See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

(Psalm 139:23-24).  This Scripture is so important because it is teaching us to invite God into our hearts to reveal to us anything that is unclean, which only serves to limit our relationship with Him.

The Psalmist wisely, beautifully, and repeatedly asks God to teach him His ways (Psalm 25:4-5, 86:11, 119:33). The Psalmist is putting into action the teaching of Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

After you’ve asked God for clarity, ask some trusted Christian friends or family for help. Proverbs 12:15 teaches, “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.”  If you think you do not need help and advice from Christian friends, then that in itself is a blind spot and self-deception.   God can speak to you through your friends.  Pray for their tongues and your own ears.

Then, ask the One to change you that can truly change you.  Jesus identified himself as “truth.”  “I am . . . the truth” (John 14:6) and told us, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). The closer we are to Jesus, the more your life will be filled with truth and freedom. One fruit of this intimacy is we will be less vulnerable to negative thought and feelings as we walk in the light of God’s truth. God’s truth helps us to understand in our minds and believe in our hearts who we are and Whose we are.

Jesus said in John 9:39, “I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”  Those who admit their need for His grace and favor, are those who will be granted true and eternal sight.  Bartimaeus asked in faith for sight and our Lord honored that petition due to his faith.  However, Scripture warns us about our perils of our tendency to be “stiff-necked,” which means obstinate and difficult to lead.  (Exodus 33:3; Deuteronomy 9:13; Nehemiah 9:16; Acts 7:51).   Some may have great knowledge about Christ (John 5:39-40), but they are already dead and will not find the “narrow gate” (Matthew 7:13-14) because they never knew Him (Matthew 7:21-23).

If you do not know Christ, then invite Him into your heart today.  If you do know Christ but are struggling with negative thoughts and feelings, follow the three- step plan above and yoke up with other members of the Body of Christ.  He is worthy, and YOU are precious in His sight.

Prayer: “I  will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise Your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise You and extol Your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom” (Psalm 145:1-3 NIV).

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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  • Evangelism Begins With Discernment


    Evangelism Begins With Discernment

    Evangelism Begins With Discernment
    “Calling the Twelve to Him, He began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits”  (Mark 6:7 NIV)
    Evangelism is typically defined as the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness.  Many Christians are uncomfortable with active engagement in evangelism because they do not consider themselves a preacher and are too timid to engage in personal witness. The gift of evangelism is directly from Christ:  “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers.”  (Ephesians 4:11).You may not be called to pastoral ministry…
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  • Is Your Burden Too Heavy?


    Is Your Burden Too Heavy?

    Is Your Burden Too Heavy?
    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”  (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).Many of us carry heavy burdens due to a wide variety of physical, mental, and spiritual reasons.  The burden can cause us to ache at the deepest level, our soul.   At this point two conclusions can be drawn: (1) the burden is not from God…
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  • Doubting Your Doubts


    Carve Out Space For Quiet Time To Ask God And Await An Answer

    Doubting Your Doubts
    “The world’s sin is unbelief in me” (John 16:9 TLB).I have always been more interested in the root cause of a problem rather than dealing with the results of the problem.  As Christians we talk a lot about sin, particularly the separation of the sinner from God and the forgiveness of sin due to the blood of Jesus for those that repent and earnestly seek His face.However, I wonder if we truly understand the basis behind our sin.  Some would argue that the root cause is a desire to live in the flesh, pursue our own desires rather…
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Where Are You On The Road From Capernaum to Cana?

Where Are You On The Road From Capernaum to Cana?

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14 ESV).

It has often been said that two things are certain in this life – death and taxes.  I would add one more to the list – problems.   We all face problems in life that are too great for us alone to handle.  I do not  know your particular story but I do know that each reader is in one of three seasons in life:  (1) in a storm, (2) exiting a storm, or (3) preparing for the next storm. 

The Bible documents many examples of people with faith bringing their problems to Jesus.  One of my favorite stories regarding faith is minimal in length but enormous in its impact and is found in John 4:43-54.

A man identified as a royal official from Capernaum left his hometown and approached Jesus in Cana. “Come heal my son” the man asked Jesus.  The man must have had faith to leave his town and seek out Jesus.  Our Lord responded to the man and said the boy would be healed.  The man then began his trip back to Capernaum. While the man was on his way, some of his servants met him, with the news that the son was alive and well. The good news from the servants was met with a good question from the father:  “What time did he get better?” The reply was “One o’clock.” This was the very time Jesus had spoken the word.  His word was powerful, effective, and immediate. 

Scripture teaches of the power of the laying of hands on the sick (Luke 4:40, Acts 6:5-6, 8:14-19).  However, in this instance our Lord performed a double, long-distance healing. The miracle was not just in the life of the boy but in the saving faith of the entire household.

However, the boy eventually died. The life-giving miracle of Jesus was short-term, but the faith-giving miracle of Jesus was eternal and will continue serve to draw His children near to Him until He returns in final victory. The entire household believed in Jesus, and this resulted in everlasting life.   At the beginning of this post, I wrote that as Christians we can really count on two things – taxes and trouble.  Jesus has providence over life and death.  The Apostle Paul knew this when he wrote, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).  Jesus acknowledged that taxes are inevitable.  “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s (Mark 12:17).  Jesus also recognized that we would all face problems, but He gave us a powerful encouragement!  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Let’s return back to our from journey Capernaum to Cana.  The father likely thought he was walking the road to Capernaum all alone. Quite the contrary.  Our Lord had supernaturally gone ahead (Exodus 13:21) into the nobleman’s residence and not only healed the son, but also won the hearts of the entire household. The father’s prayer was answered in a manner greater than he had requested or expected because he claimed the promise of John 14:13 and received favor. “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

All prayers are answered.  The answer may be yes, no, or not now.  Some are answered while we walk this fallen world, but others are saved for when we are healed. 

Your prayer will receive an answer.  So, what is the lesson for us regarding the road from Capernaum to Cana?  For me, this story urges me to keep walking and believing in our God who is our “ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Ever present. That’s the message of this miracle, and that’s the message of the Gospel.

This life contains many, many walks from Cana to Capernaum, journeys between prayer offered and prayer answered.  Jesus promise to the boy’s father is a promise for us also.   I have lots of people that I want to talk to when I am healed and join the Great Cloud of Witnesses.  I want to thank this man for inspiring this verse: “The man took Jesus at His word and departed” (John 4:50).  May we be so wise and blessed as to go and do likewise.  

The journey is completed one step at a time.  The race is never won until we get off the starting block.  Place one weary foot in front of the other. Jesus has spoken!  He promises provision and protection far better than anything secular of this fallen world.  If you feel you are an outcast, receive His living water.  If you are tired, take refuge in His arms.  If you have sinned, return as modeled by the prodigal son.  Nothing can separate you from the love of God that is revealed to us in Christ Jesus.  Your debt is cancelled.  Your sins are forgiven.  Victory is now!  The victory is in Jesus!  He is the life, the truth, and the way. 

Prayer:  Dear God:  Thank you for the encouragement we receive as you read Scripture.  Forgive our impatience as You walk with us between prayer and provision.   Help us to always have at least a mustard seed of faith even on our darkest days and may we never forget the power of that seed.  Amen

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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  • A Spiritual Health Check-Up – How is Your Discipleship?


    A Spiritual Health Check-Up - How is Your Discipleship?

    A Spiritual Health Check-Up – How is Your Discipleship?
    “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2 NIV).
    Our health is very important to us.  Many of us try to watch what we eat and try to exercise.  We go to the doctor each year for a flu shot and an annual check-up.   There has been an increased awareness in recent years regarding the need for mental health awareness.   Our mental health is related to our physical health.  I wonder if we…
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  • A Holy Calling


    A Holy Calling

    A Holy Calling
    “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12 NIV).There are many examples in the Bible of God calling His people.  He called out to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, and to Samuel in 1 Samuel 3, and Elijah in 1 Kings 19.  These are all great stories of God seeking out His people in spite of their fear or inability to recognize His voice.  God later walked the earth in the form of Jesus and continued to…
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  • Living Your Faith


    Living Your Faith

    Living Your Faith
    “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2 14-17)
    I think I can speak for most of us when I say that we typically have an easy time…
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The Ministry Of Listening

The Ministry Of Listening

To answer before listening– that is folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13 NIV).

Most men like to take action to solve a problem.  We tend to jump in and begin formulating a solution before we have even heard the entire story.  Fixing a problem is great but before it is fixed, it needs to be felt.  I think God wants us to feel the pain before we fix the pain. 

Have you ever been just seconds into a conversation about a problem and say, “I know how to fix this.” But that’s not loving. It has been said that people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.  You show that you care by listening.  People want to feel heard. They want to feel loved. They want to feel understood.

As men we want to fix problems, and that is fine, but we need to first consider the feelings behind the problem.  Perhaps our desire to fix someone else’s problem is also due to a need to shift the focus to ourselves?  Philippians 2:3 warns, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”  This is a matter of the heart and only you and God know what is truly in your heart. 

How did Jesus respond when He encountered people with problems?  His typical response was to listen.  One of the most well-known Bible stories is when Jesus raised His friend Lazarus from the dead.  When Jesus hears that His friend Lazarus is sick, Jesus takes three days to travel to see him.  This is noteworthy because the trip should have taken less than a day. By the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus is dead, and his sisters are grieving and tell Jesus that if he had come sooner Lazarus would not have died.

Jesus’ delay might seem callous at first glance, but God is love and not callous.  He doesn’t want to simply heal Lazarus. He wants to raise him from the dead to show His divinity.  Jesus already knew the solution before Lazarus even got sick.  Jesus was not unconcerned about their pain. When He sees others around Him crying, He weeps with them.  Yes, Jesus knew the solution to the problem.  However, He stopped to share their grief to show that He cares before He implements a solution.  He was present in the moment and listened.  This is how a real man handles a problem!

You may know the solution, but you need to hold off. If you’re going to be a good friend or husband, you’ve got to listen to the feelings behind the story and enter into that person’s pain.

I find it interesting that as Jesus was arrested one of His disciples drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the guards from the Temple (Luke 22:47-52).  Perhaps Jesus healed the ear because He knew that the ear was essential for its owner to hear His call in the future?  Jesus said in Matthew 11:15, “He who has ears, let him hear.”  Before the gospel can be lived or told, it must be heard.  Jesus did not come to call the righteous but rather sinners to repentance.  This includes temple guards, you, me, and all of our fellow sinners. 

You have probably heard it said that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.  Did you realize that your ears are an instrument for healing?  There is healing that begins when someone starts sharing their pain with you.  So please do not disturb the healing process by rushing to implement your solution.  Listening is showing love.  Listening is modelling Christ.  Listening is ministry.  I love the motto of the Kairos prison ministry teams – listen, listen, love, love.  Amen?

Prayer:  Dear God, Thank you for our ears and the ability to hear our brothers and sisters as they communicate their problems to us.  Grant us wisdom and discernment to actively listen and engage in their lives.  I pray that all solutions that we formulate are done so in tandem with You, to glorify Your name, and be a testimony to Your love, grace, and mercy.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Thank you for visiting. We trust that you have enjoyed reading our articles.

Liked this post?

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  • Self-Control Can Vanquish Weakness In Trying Times


    Self-Control Can Vanquish Weakness In Trying Times

    Self-Control Can Vanquish Weakness In Trying Times
    “A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11 NASB).The Bible teaches us that self-control is essential to living a Christian life. We must exercise our self-control or we become controlled by our weakness. Whether it is food, alcohol, drugs or pornography, the enemy knows our weakness better than we do and will encourage us to go to it rather than to God in times of need. Our lives can soon be dominated by our weakness and we are living completely in the flesh rather than in the…
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  • Carve Out Space For Quiet Time To Ask God And Await An Answer


    Carve Out Space For Quiet Time To Ask God And Await An Answer

    Carve Out Space For Quiet Time To Ask God And Await An Answer
    “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24 NIV).If you are like me, you enjoy a quiet and peaceful evening to rest and renew yourself. Noise fills our days from the time the alarm clock goes off to evening commute home. There is something special about quiet that appeals to many of us. Below are five benefits…
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  • Five Challenges Facing the Church Universal


    Five Challenges Facing the Church Universal

    Five Challenges Facing the Church Universal
    “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought”  (1 Corinthians 1:10 NIV).
    Every church is the Holy House of God. However, the real church is the people and not the building. Therefore, each church has challenges that it must overcome to be successful. The church universal is a blessing from God. The Holy covenant of marriage is applied…
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Choose Humility, Not Pride

Choose Humility, Not Pride

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor” (1 Peter 5:6 (NLT).

Pride is perhaps the most serious of the seven deadly sins from Scripture.  It is the most demonic because by its very nature it is a rejection of God.  Pride is a gateway sin for many men because it is the root cause of other capital sins.  Pride is terrible motivator and will lead to a terrible outcome.  Proverbs 16:18 warns, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

One of the most important but also most difficult things we can do in life is an honest self-examination.  The Psalmist taught us how to do this by writing, “Search me, God, and know my heart (Psalm 139:23).”  If God performs the search, then our job is to ask for revelation and discernment of His search by listening to the still, silent voice. 

God will search us and reveal our prideful sin (and all other sins) if we humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways.  Then, He promises to hear us from heaven and forgive our sin (2 Chronicles 7:14). 

Pride is a serious sin and our response is even more serous because it has eternal consequences.  If we remain prideful, the result is death because the wages of sin are death.  If we repent, then the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). 

Our repentance must be sincere.  We must actively choose humility.  We have the gift of free will to either use wisely to honor God or poorly to be spiritually dead until physical death. 

I love Joshua 24:15 because it boldly declares a choice that honors God.  “ But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”  As you read your Bible you will notice that you are never told to pray to God to make you humble.  God wants you to choose humility. 

The Bible says, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor” (1 Peter 5:6).  As Christians we want to be more like Jesus each day.  Humility is a God-like feature because Jesus identified himself as “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29).

There is a big difference between pride and humility.  Pride is when you accept credit for things that God and others did through you or for you. Humility is not thinking of yourself as inferior.  Philippians 2:3 describes humility.  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” 

Many teachings of the Bible are contrary to our self-serving, secular lives. For example, the last will be first and the first will be last.  Also, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).  Be humble.  Be exalted.  Be blessed.

Prayer:  Dear God:  When we live in the flesh, we walk using our eyes and do what is right in our own eyes.  Help us dear Lord, to always seek first Your Kingdom and Your righteousness.  Thank you for loving us, walking with us, and being the Light that we so desperately need.  Please continue to shape us as you are the potter and we are the clay.  We could not be in any better hands.  Amen

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Thank you for visiting. We trust that you have enjoyed reading our articles.

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  • I Can’t Get No Satisfaction


    I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

    I Can’t Get No Satisfaction
    “He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what He does”  (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV).
    “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was a song by the English rock band The Rolling Stones, released in 1965. The lyrics refer to secular frustration and commercialism, not Christianity.  However, there is a message in the song that has been true since the book of Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon around 935 BC.  In many instances, we cannot get satisfaction, at least not…
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  • Obstacles to Joy


    Obstacles to Joy

    Obstacles to Joy
    “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”  (John 16:33 NIV).
    We all have stress and anxiety.  These are obstacles to the happiness that we all seek.  I think what is important is how we deal with these obstacles.  A little bit of stress is natural and no problem.  It can be helpful and protect us from dangerous situations. Regardless of the source of our stress, we as Christians have a proven method to rid ourselves of it but it takes courage…
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  • In Search of Wisdom



    In Search of Wisdom
    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10 NIV).
    If you are reading this, you are older today than you were yesterday.  However, just because we are older does not necessarily make us wiser.  Not everyone grows wise with age, but everyone does grow old with age.  It is important to note that we should all show respect to our elders, regardless of their level of wisdom.However, I think society tends to confuse wisdom with age.  However, a person can be old and not necessarily be very wise.  Education is fine…
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What is in Your Heart – Envy or Contentment?

True Confession of the Heart: My Hatred Is Strong

What is in Your Heart – Envy or Contentment?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV).

Hebrews 12:1 teaches us that God has prepared a “race” for each of us.  To me, this means we each have our own unique life.  We don’t all have the same race, experiences, joys, and failures but we each have a unique race.  God has a plan that He wants us to pursue that is better than any plan we could dram for ourselves.  We need to be persistent and focused to live into His plan.

However, we tend to compare ourselves to others, and if they appear to be ahead of us in the race, we become envious.   This could happen if our neighbor gets a new boat, a family member wins the lottery, or a coworker gets promoted.  We tend to shift our attention away from our own race and become preoccupied with someone else’s race.  These are all distractions to our real purpose – understanding and living out God’s will for our own lives.

Henry David Thoreau was an American naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher.  He wrote in the book Walden that the “mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”  My readings and understanding of Thoreau indicate to me that he had a deep appreciation of nature but his relationship with God was hindered due to the rigid nature of Christianity in New England.  I suspect that he himself led a life of quiet desperation, as do many men today, because they do not follow the greatest commandment in the Law as spoken by Jesus.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).  Apart from him we can do nothing (John 15:5) but we also have nothing which to me is the very essence of quiet desperation.

I enjoy watching horse races and have noticed that some horses wear blinders (also called blinkers) next to their eyes when racing.  The blinders are usually made of leather or plastic cups placed on either side of a horse’s eyes – attached either to a bridle or to an independent hood.  Many racehorse trainers believe that blinders keep horses focused on what is in front, encouraging them to pay attention to the race rather than to distractions such as crowds.  I wonder if envy would gain much traction in our human hearts if we kept our focus what is in front of us.

As I think of envy, my mind goes to the story of the vineyard workers (Matthew 20:1-16).  A group of workers were hired at the start of the day and agreed to work for a denarius, which was a typical daily wage. Different workers were hired throughout the day for an unspecified wage.  At the end of the day, those hired last, who worked the least number of hours, received the same pay as those hired at the start of the day, who worked a full day.  Those that worked a full day for the same amount of money as those that worked less than a full day were angry.

The response of the landowners is a great lesson for us all when it comes to envy.  The landowner responded, “I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.  Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”  (Matthew 20:15 NIV, emphasis added).

Envy can be defeated once we begin to discover and pursue the unique purpose that God has for our lives. We can then be released from the tyranny of always having to be best.  Life is simpler when our focus is on growing closer to Christ each day and bring others to Him rather than trying to outcompete others.  Each day I want to see more Jesus in me and less of me in me.  Some days are more successful than others.  My success is largely determined by how I honestly answer and respond to two questions.  What baggage am I carrying that I need to release, and what spiritual practices do I need to improve?  These two questions will help us all to successfully run our own races and claim the peace that transcends all understanding.  Be blessed as you bless others.

Prayer: Dear God, Help us to avoid distractions that take our focus away from you and your plan.  Help us to always embrace your sovereignty and providence.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

We welcome your comments below.

Thank you for visiting. We trust that you have enjoyed reading our articles.

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  • Anger Can Be Good


    todd shupe

    Anger Can Be Good
    “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back” (Proverbs 29:11 NLT).  Many people think that all anger is bad or sinful.  We tend to associate anger with a loss of control, shouting, and aggressive behavior.  However, anger can be good and only becomes sinful when it is expressed in an inappropriate way.  There is nothing wrong with anger if it is properly directed.  We are taught, “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26).  We are less likely to model Godly behavior, and sin, if we are controlled by our anger rather than we control…
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  • Boundaries Benefit All


    Boundaries Benefit All

    Boundaries Benefit All
    “Moses’ father-in-law replied, What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (Exodus 18:17-18 NIV).I just finished reading a book called “Boundaries” by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  It is a New York Times Bestseller and has sold over two million copies since it was first published in 1992 and then revised in 2017.  This is a Christian book that uses appropriate Scripture to help readers take control of their lives by learning when…
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  • Who Is Responsible For My Salvation?


    Who Is Responsible For My Salvation?

    Who Is Responsible For My Salvation?
    “So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God” Romans 14:12 (NIV).Throughout the Bible we are encouraged whenever possible to live in peace with our neighbors.  For example, Scripture teaches us to live in harmony (Romans 12:16), carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and help others in need (Deuteronomy 15:11).   Godly living calls us to turn the other cheek and returning evil with love.  We have the ability, and the Christian joyful obligation, to positively impact each other’s spiritual lives.  There is certainly strength in numbers.  You may recall the Scripture…
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The Greatest Threat To The Church Is…

The Greatest Threat To The Church Is…

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others” (Matthew 6:5 NIV).

I think when most people think about threats to the local church, they think about declining membership and attendance and associated financial issues.  Yes, it is true that many small churches have closed or will close in the near future due to insufficient membership and finances.  However, in the book The Myth of the Dying Church by Glenn T. Stanton, the author presents a strong case that churches that are offering Biblically-based teachings and programs are thriving and those that have drifted away from the Bible are hurting. 

I don’t consider church membership or finances to be the biggest threat to the church because I know the Church does not need our money.  Of course, the local church needs money to operate, but the Church universal is the bride of Christ and wants for nothing. 

The Church universal comes alive when it is actively engaged in evangelism in accordance with the Great Commission.  Evangelism of new members is hurt by the hypocrisy of existing members.   I understand that there would be no need for the church if we did not sin.  The cross would have no meaning if we were without sin.  The problem occurs when men attend church on a regular basis and do not live out what they hear on Sunday mornings.  It is easy to fool your pastor, family, and friends with regular church attendance, clean clothes, and a warm smile.   However, if you are living a lie, it will eventually become known.  Luke 12:2 warns us, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.”  You can fool other people, but they will not judge you on the day of your death.  Matthew 6:4 tells us that our Father “sees what is done in secret.” 

Men are visual creatures and as such some men struggle with perversion in their private lives.  They may appear as a “great guy” in public but are slaves to filth and obscenity in private.  These men commit adultery, rape, view pornography, sleep with prostitutes, and are spiritually perverted.  These men do not honor their own bodies.  More importantly they do not honor the women in their lives, and they certainly do not honor God.   The Bible warns us against sin of this nature.  “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.   Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

These men can not lead their family to Christ because they themselves are separated from Christ due to unrepented sin.  The blood of Christ will forgive us our sins but there must be confession and repentance.  The Bible teaches, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).   Now, if we do not confess our sins, He will not forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Men that are living in unrepentant sin are already dead.  God hates sin. We may be very strong and healthy physically, and yet be spiritually dead, which is far more serious.  The right next step could not be clearer.  Confess your sin to God and repent.  Chose life everlasting. Chose Christ.  Chose wisely. 

Prayer:  Dear God, Pour out your Holy Spirit on us and search us for anything that separates us from you.  Help us to break the chains of sin and death and chose a life in you which is everlasting.  Amen. 

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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