Week 08

Red Couch Theology Podcast

Sermon Conversations with Alex and Aaron

There’s only so much we can cover in a Sunday morning gathering!
Each week, you’re invited to tune into our podcast at 11 am on Thursdays – recorded (and sometimes prerecorded) for later, online viewing.

What can you expect? Pastors Alex, Aaron and the occasional guest, having a casual conversation diving deeper into ideas related to last Sunday’s teaching.

Ask questions about the sermon series, Sermon on the Mount,
“This Way from the Beginning”
at https://redcouchtheology.com/

by texting 720-316-3893 prior to, or during the “LIVE” podcast.

Blog sites:

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCWnNSTN-6XA7oYy6TBfS0LAxqxPvxVjH

Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guys-drinking-tea/id1616539767

Red Couch Theology Podcast2023-10-28T16:38:45-06:00

Loving Each Other

“It has also been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife is to give her a certificate of divorce’; but I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except on grounds of sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who has been divorced commits adultery.” Matthew 5:31-32 NIV

But to the married [believers] I give instructions—not I, but the Lord—that the wife is not to separate from her husband, (but even if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) and that the husband should not leave his wife. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 NIV

I must admit that I got overwhelmed as I tried to study what scripture says about divorce and marriage from both the Old and New Testaments and from various commentaries on the subject, both historical and contemporary. So I’m going to focus on what I’ve experienced, and what I’ve learned.

I’ve had the privilege as a sound and lighting tech for many years to serve at a variety of weddings, both small and quite large — good memories for me. One definite thing was apparent in all of them: none of the couples took their vows with the idea of divorce in mind. Certainly Phil and I didn’t when we took ours.

Some of you reading this knew and will remember my husband, Phil and me as we have been part of South Fellowship for many years. We got married in 1965 because we “wanted to see each other’s face across the breakfast table for the rest of our lives”. We celebrated our 43rd anniversary three weeks before he died on April 2nd 2008.

Over the years we learned, sometimes easily, sometimes painfully, that being “in love” is very different from loving. The best description of loving is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8  FNVNT (* First Nations Version New Testament)

* Article on First Nations Version in Christianity Today “Native Christians: Indigenous Bible Version Is ‘Made By Us For Us

Love is patient and kind. Love is never jealous. It does not brag or boast. It is not puffed up or big-headed. Love does not act in shameful ways, nor does it care only about itself. It is not hot-headed, nor does it keep track of wrongs done to it. Love is not happy with lies and injustice, but truth makes its heart glad. Love keeps walking even when carrying a heavy load. Love keeps trusting, never loses hope, and stands firm in hard times. The road of love has no end.

As you pray the Lord’s prayer with us this week, think about 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 in light of: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10 NIV

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Loving Each Other2023-10-29T19:14:06-06:00

The Ideal Marriage

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27 NIV

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning–the sixth day. Genesis 1:31 NIV

Jesus introduces a new topic – adultery with, “It has been said, `Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31-32 NIV) Jesus goes into more detail later in the book of Matthew when He was approached by Pharisees who wished to test him.

They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“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. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9 NIV

Once again, the Pharisees were seeking to put a fence around the law, to emphasize what was allowed and what wasn’t. But Jesus demonstrated with His answer, referring to Genesis and the first marriage (Genesis 2:18-25), that His focus was on the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of the marriage bed, and on the lifetime commitment made by a husband and a wife to each other in marriage. Jesus points the Pharisees and His listeners to the beauty and the idyllic state of the first marriage in the Garden of Eden. In this relationship before the fall, Adam and Eve were companions, there was no shame, they had complete honesty (openness) with each other and with God. Jesus wanted His hearers to recognize the ideal in marriage, the high value God places on marriage — instead of looking for the loophole that would allow a man to leave his wife for any reason imaginable.

Think about divorce in our society today. It seems that many people consider divorce an uncomplicated and valid choice over sticking with difficulties in a marriage. Jesus’ answer above leads me to believe that He valued women, valued marriage, and saw it as a lifetime commitment. Christian marriage demands mutual respect, mutual concern and a willingness to act in a self-sacrificing way by both husband and wife. Paul describes this type of marriage relationship in Ephesians 5:21-33. Consider all of these exhortations from scripture, and ask God to show you what you need to see and understand about marriage.

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

The Ideal Marriage2023-10-29T19:08:04-06:00

Speaking into the Culture

32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

In Matthew 5:31-32, Jesus briefly makes reference to his view on divorce. In two short snappy sentences, Jesus tells us that divorce is not a simple no-cost outcome that can be entered into casually. The marriage covenant is serious; so divorce is serious. So serious in fact that Jesus notes whoever divorces his wife causes her to become “a victim of adultery” (Gk. to be debauched / Hb. figuratively, to apostatize). The phrasing is interesting in Greek, Hebrew and English. In Jesus day, all of the power of divorce was with the man. He could decide on this path for almost any reason and, surprisingly to us as we usually consider the first century to be very conservative, divorce was very easy and very prevalent. In fact, as hard as it might be for us to grasp today, women were considered more like property than partners in a marriage.

Jesus speaks into this larger debate in Matthew 19:1-4. He is asked by a group called the Pharisees, whether a woman can be divorced by a man for “any and every reason”. While we might hear this as an isolated question, the first century BC was a”‘high context culture”. This means you could make a reference to the Old Testament scriptures and almost everybody listening would catch that reference. When Jesus is asked. “for any and every reason”, he is being asked to make judgment on a current debate on Deuteronomy 24:1-4. In this passage we read:

If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

This passage was originally written as a case study on the subject of divorce. In an agrarian culture in which she would have no ability to earn her own income, a divorced woman would face a difficult choice: either to return to her fathers house (which was not always possible), or to turn to prostitution to survive. This teaching prevented that circumstance by allowing her to remarry. Unfortunately, it was taken by later generations to mean two things: first, that only a man could choose divorce, and two, it became a debate on what exactly the text meant by “something indecent about her”.

In the generation before Jesus, two rabbis dominated the teaching landscape: Hillel and Shammai both founded rabbinical schools that carried great weight, and they argued back and forth on many points in Torah. Shammai understood “anything indecent” to mean only “marital unfaithfulness”, whereas, Hillel believed the offense could be almost anything. He even mentioned that “burning a meal” could be included as a basis for divorce!! By Jesus’ day, Hillel’s opinion had become the dominant one, causing in part, the easy divorce culture of first century Judaism. By siding with Shammai, Jesus makes sure that women could not be cast aside casually. He tightens the principles around divorce and creates a better future for women, who found themselves on the margins. Noting what Paul begins to teach later Christians, we see how strict the Christian view of divorce would become — a great shift for the age.

So, how else have you seen Jesus speaking for those who found themselves on the margins?

How do you respond to Jesus’ ethics around divorce?

What questions does this teaching raise for you?

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Speaking into the Culture2023-10-30T20:37:07-06:00

Marriage and Divorce Customs

Loving, nurturing family relationships have been highly desired and sought during all human history. Divorce causes multiple reverberations throughout immediate and extended families of the divorcing parties as well as the larger community. It’s also fair to say that marital discord can have similar effects.

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Matthew 5:31-32 ESV

What Jesus says in these verses can seem obscure. Here’s an essay explaining some Jewish customs found in first century Israel that may enhance your understanding of customs around marriage and divorce in Jesus’ time. I will highlight two customs discussed in the article which still exist in parts of the world practicing marriage norms closer to those of the First Century — different than those now held in Western Europe and the U.S.

One custom, prevalent in a little over half of today’s world and held over from earlier times, is marriage arranged by parents of both the bride and the groom. Intermediary agents are sometimes employed to ensure the best match.

To us, it might be surprising that these arranged marriages end in divorce only 4% of the time while the overall Western divorce rate has wavered between 40%-50% in the last few decades. (It might be comforting to know that surveys of committed Western Christians record divorce rates half that percentage.) Some researchers have also observed that a steady increase in cohabitation as a replacement for marriage in Western countries has led not only to a decline in marriage rates but a predictable drop in percentages of marriages ending in divorce.

Another ancient custom that carries over into some arranged marriages is that newlyweds are expected to live in such close proximity to their extended families that constant daily contact is inevitable. This extended family model is one Westerners experience far less frequently.

The U.S. has also been affected by two developments that have widened the gap between us and First Century Judaism in our attitudes about divorce: In 1937 women could file for legal divorce for the first time and in 1969 laws enabling no-fault divorce began to be instituted.

I will end this brief comparison of modern and ancient marriage and divorce customs with a final thought: It’s tempting to equate legal provisions developed by our secular government regarding marriage and divorce with what Jesus says about those subjects. While those government provisions can prove helpful in sorting out a distressed marriage, they may also lead us to discount Jesus’ teachings.

Using the Lord’s Prayer, pray for those you know who have been affected by divorce. Thank God for the godly, healthy marriages you have observed.

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Marriage and Divorce Customs2023-10-29T19:05:57-06:00

Podcast Episode

By Alex Walton, Jessica Rust, & Aaron Bjorklund

In addition to our daily devotional readings we also produce a weekly podcast in which we discuss the previous Sunday’s sermon topic. Over the next few weeks we will be publishing our podcast episode on Friday’s here in the Daily. We hope it blesses you. You can find the episode either on Youtube OR on your favorite podcast platform

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCWnNSTN-6XA7oYy6TBfS0LAxqxPvxVjH
Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/guys-drinking-tea/id1616539767

Podcast Episode2022-10-29T10:50:28-06:00

Our First, Ongoing, and Final Enemy

Earlier this week, people engaged in rituals around Halloween, All Saints Day, and Day of the Dead. What are the origins of these observances? Among other things, they are acknowledgements that every human being must face the power of Death and its accompanying decay. Death frightens and fascinates us. Many trivialize, marginalize, dramatize, and glamorize it. But God gives his perspective and victory over Death to those who trust him.

Here’s part of the Biblical account of how humans first tasted Death.

… just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
Romans 5:12 NIV

This passage refers to Genesis 3 and Adam’s gargantuan opening act of distrust and disobedience, granting Death and decay their power to ravage all mankind from that time onward. This cataclysm was worse than any natural disaster, but then:

…if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Romans 5:17 NIV

If you’ve experienced the power over sin and Death that Jesus Christ provided through HIS death and resurrection – take a moment to celebrate. We were helpless against Death until he provided his way out of the devastation.

But look at King David’s words in Psalm 44:22 NIV

…for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

We battle death and sin daily. Consider the apostle Paul’s counter perspective to trivializing Death, as he declares the value of Jesus’ resurrection life.

If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” I Corinthians 15:32-33 NIV

Paul emphasizes if we ignore the power of Christ’s resurrection and adopt a cavalier attitude toward sin and Death, godly character will be impacted.

As Paul continues this letter, he builds to this massive crescendo:

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:51-57 NIV

Do you love these three words: imperishable, immortal, victorious? They become a part of us as we cling to Jesus. Death and decay brought on by sin are diminished and defanged – Death loses its sting and we have the promise it will be forever banished from God’s kingdom. This is not the case with “the dead” (those who cling to decaying, perishable, worldly systems and false gods).

…and each person [in the group God calls “the dead”] was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:13-15 NIV

Thank God he’s provided our only way to victory over Death in this life and the life to come – the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Think about Death’s final destiny – eliminated from the lives of Jesus’ followers forever. Death will no longer bother us as we revel in God’s full and glorious presence.

If Death seems to hold a winning position in an area of your life, meditate on Romans 6. Ask another trusted Saint to pray that you regain God’s perspective and are able to again rest in the power of his resurrection.

Our First, Ongoing, and Final Enemy2022-10-29T10:39:50-06:00

Our Bodies As “Seeds”

Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.

You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form. You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre-resurrection “seeds”—who can imagine what the resurrection “plants” will be like!

This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!

We follow this sequence in Scripture: The First Adam received life, the Last Adam is a life-giving Spirit. Physical life comes first, then spiritual—a firm base shaped from the earth, a final completion coming out of heaven. The First Man was made out of earth, and people since then are earthy; the Second Man was made out of heaven, and people now can be heavenly. In the same way that we’ve worked from our earthy origins, let’s embrace our heavenly ends. 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 MSG

In my backyard I have an area committed to feeding “my” outdoor wildlife. Each morning I check the bird feeders, put fresh water in the birdbath, and scatter birdseed for the ground feeders and in-the-shell peanuts for the squirrels. As the weather gets cooler, the population increases. This morning there were 11 squirrels and 10 crows having breakfast in the area. The smaller birds usually show up later.

Each summer, some of the seeds sprout and sunflowers appear in several places, and peanut plants show up in some planters where squirrels have buried them. I know what the dead seed looked like, and I rejoice to see the live plants even though I didn’t intentionally plant them.

Paul tried to explain via diverse ‘parallels’ and ‘sketches’ what takes place when a dead human body becomes a resurrected body. For those of us who haven’t seen the resurrected Jesus, it is hard to imagine what it will be like. Paul concedes that what he wrote is only an approach to the mystery and that we need to keep in mind that we will then be alive forever.

For me, I cling to what Jesus said that is recorded in John 14, as well as John’s reminder in 1 John 3. I’ll be praying for you this week as you read the scriptures and devotionals and wrestle with the mystery of resurrection.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3 NIV

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know when Christ appears, we all be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2 NIV

Our Bodies As “Seeds”2022-10-29T10:16:28-06:00

Jesus’ Resurrection Conquers Evil Forces

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:13-15 NIV

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. I Corinthians 15:20-26 NIV

October brings many gruesome and scary decorations into yards in America. In a way, it can be a reminder to us that the evil we see in the world is not simply from people making poor choices, but that humans are influenced by evil forces, authorities, powers – then they make poor choices and act on them – this causes much of the evil in our world.

As Christians striving to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus, what can we do? Where can we gain encouragement in this struggle against the evil forces at work in our world today? First, we need to recognize that Jesus’ finished work on the cross and his resurrection has defeated death, Satan and his demons. Revelation 20:4 “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.” We know the ending – death and Satan will be destroyed forever. Second, though we have struggles in our everyday lives that can involve these evil forces, we have a power that is indescribably more powerful than anything Satan can produce.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13 NIV

In the next few verses of Ephesians 6 Paul gives details of exactly how we can stand firm in our daily struggle against the evil forces in our world. Read Ephesians 6:10-18. Take note of how we can engage in this battle, the actions we can take – notice the power of the Holy Spirit in our prayers. Paul tells us in Colossians 2:15 that Jesus has triumphed over the evil forces in our world, the battle has been won, and we need to remember and live daily in the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection. C.S Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters is written from the point of view of a supervisor demon instructing a novice demon on how to influence Christians into being ineffective in their spiritual walk. It reveals the subtle ways evil forces can influence our thinking and therefore our lives. Spend some time this week reading and studying Ephesians 6:10-18, or reading The Screwtape Letters.

Jesus’ Resurrection Conquers Evil Forces2022-10-29T09:36:18-06:00

Christ Is Alive – Therefore, We Come Alive

16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

I’ve been leading worship for most of my life. I have had the opportunity to lead the music on Easter Sunday for about 12 years. I studied theology in college. Still, with all that exposure to the ideas surrounding the resurrection, I missed some of its significance until about five years ago. I don’t recall if it was a sermon, a podcast, or simply scripture reading, but I remember suddenly realizing Easter wasn’t just a celebration of Christ’s resurrection. It is also a celebration that we too will rise again one day.

In verse 23, Paul tells us that Christ is the “firstfruits.” Jesus made the way for all of us to rise again one day. That is why death no longer has a sting. Not even death can overcome God’s forgiving love and our adoption by him. Death is dead. Resurrection isn’t just a thing that happened to Jesus; it is a thing that is promised to each of us who follow him. We, too, will rise again. It truly is good news! I don’t know about you, but that changes my thoughts about Easter. It changes the way I feel about those who have died during my life.

Take a moment to listen to this song:  Glorious Day. Remember that these words are both metaphors and reality. He makes dead things come alive in your heart, but one day he will make your physical body come alive again.

Christ Is Alive – Therefore, We Come Alive2022-10-28T19:58:45-06:00
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