Our world is spinning out of control
wrong is seen as right
and the pressure is on.
We as Christians are called to hold to the truth, to love as Jesus did, and to
shine as lights amidst a crooked and depraved generation.
There was a time in our culture when the marriage bed was seen as sacred,
and virginity before marriage respected.
Now I am told that this generation of believers are often “sexual atheists,”
shunning God’s standards for purity.
Likewise, just ten years ago,
most opposed gay marriage,
but today, in America, according to John Stonestreet of World News,
6 out of 10 approve of gay marriage,
and many who claim Christ are following in their steps.
God’s plan is like a beautiful river bringing life and joy.
But when God’s plan for sex and marriage is broken,
that beautiful river exceeds its boundaries and brings a flood of death and grief.
This week we will talk about how Christ would have us respond
to those with whom we disagree, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We will also see how the Song of Songs exalts
the beauty of God’s plan for marriage and the marriage bed,
looking particularly, this week, at why God calls for celibacy outside of marriage.
You may wonder what in the world this has to do with our summer theme of finding Jesus in the Old Testament and in life.
Hang on, it will become clearer next week when we go more deeply into why God
calls for one man and one woman for marriage.
Unless we as believers understand and hold to His plan,
then our salt has lost its saltiness, and it is good for nothing.
We will begin our discussion this week with how to approach those with whom we disagree
with love and grace.
There was a time in our culture when it was considered noble to listen respectfully to our opponents.
In the Lincoln-Douglas debates, they called one another “my honorable opponent.”
They didn’t interrupt.
They didn’t demean or demonize their opponent.
We are to be good listeners, and gracious.
We are to take what is said before God and sift it before Him, in case there are kernels of truth.
We must repeat back the arguments of our opponents to them
so they know how carefully we listened and heard!
Then, and only then,
can we dismantle their argument with truth.
And we need to begin with the body of Christ.
On a personal note, thank you to all who prayed, who wrote reviews of He Calls You Beautiful on websites, who passed along my Facebook posts and videos — I am so grateful for your support! And I know our Lizzy has good news, and those on our Facebook post have seen it, but I’ll let her be the one to share here when she gets her breath.
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
Monday-Wednesday Bible Study
2. Read Proverbs 18:13
A. What does this say?
B. Why do you think this is true?
C. How do you know when someone has really listened to you?
D. How might you specifically apply this with those with whom you are close, yet disagree?
3. What do you think Jesus means by Matthew 5:13?
4. One of the reasons that God calls us to be celibate outside of the marriage bed is because it foreshadows a mystery. What is that, according to 2 Corinthians 11:2?
5. In The Song of Songs, though she fantasizes about her wedding night before it happens, she does remain a virgin. Some have been confused because her fantasies are so real. Yet she keeps saying she is “faint with love,” and that Hebrew expression only occurs in the absence of a lover. She is longing for him, longing for the day when her fantasy can become reality — which it does, after the wedding. Read Song of Songs 3:11. What is happening here?
6. Song of Songs 4 is the wedding night:
A. He is her husband now, and he calls her his bride for the first time.
How many times does he delight in this name in Song of Songs 4:9-12?
B. In this passage, he refers to her as a garden locked up which is now open to him and flowing with streams of water. What do you think this means?
7. God does not hold a double standard. It is not only the woman who is to honor the marriage bed by being pure and faithful, but the man. How does God tell the man to guard “his streams” in Proverbs 5:15-20?
Last week my friend Linda Strom and I worked together on an exciting project. Discipleship Unlimited iis having fantastic success in helping women in prison come to Christ, be discipled in Christ, and then through the power of Christ, when they are released, stay out of prison and live in a way that glorifies God and helps themselves, their families, and the world. Right now they are filming testimonies from their graduates who are making it on the outside to show to women on the inside to give them hope. One of the women so touched my heart when she talked about the challenge of living a celibate life on the outside. She is waiting for God to bring her a husband, but she wondered: “Where is he? Is he crawling from Africa?” Yet she is determined to live celibate. Why? Because she loves Jesus, wants to please Him, and doesn’t want to quench His presence, which she says is “absolutely better than anything.”
This is the truth to which we must hold, whatever idol tempts us. For you it may not be sexual temptation, but the siren call of control, comfort, or security outside of Christ. We may manipulate, overeat, or endeavor to pile up riches. Yet this is the truth to which we as believers are called:
9. There are warnings to those who cave in to temptation and promises to those who overcome them. What warning or promise do you find in the following?
A. 1 John 1:7
B. 1 John 2:4
C. 1 John 2:5
D. 1 John 3:24
4. What is John’s final warning in 1 John 5:21?
5. What temptations do you fight and need prayer for? (Let us pray for one another as we read their answers.)
6. How can your “fight” give you empathy for those who fight disordered sexual desires?
One of the many consequences of sex outside of marriage is abortion. Last month, surprisingly, Google had Stephanie Gray speak at their conference. She is a highly articulate Canadian who shows us how to talk to others about abortion with love and truth.
7. Share your comments and thoughts on this talk.
8. What is your take-a-way and why?