CFCB Scripture Reading Challenge (#1)

Over the next 100 days, the congregation of Columbus First Christian Baptist is engaging in a Scripture reading challenge. We are using the Essential 100 reading guide by the Scripture Union. I am going to write a daily devotion that goes along with each of the readings. There are 50 Old Testament passages and 50 New Testament passages. I will share the passage for that day and my personal observations.  This purpose of these devotionals is to help the people at CFCB see the Scripture a little clearer and to invite others to join in on the readings as well.

Read Genesis 1:1-2:25

Creation, communion with God, and companionship with others are the topics covered in the first two chapters of Genesis. We start by reflecting on creation, a hotbed issue in society and the Church. Personally, I am a young earth creationist and also believes that science fully informs that direction of my faith. However, whatever your theologically bent is here, creation is beautiful. I remember in a trip to the western states that we had an opportunity to view the Grand Canyon. It was breathtaking. The world that God created is amazing. From our own bodies to the smallest single-celled creature. Psalm 19:1-6 speaks of the beauty of God’s creation. God’s presence is clearly seen in the intricacies of the created world.

God created humanity in His image.  There are so many avenues that we can travel down and explore exactly what the “imagio dei” (image of God) means to us.  However, it enough in this writing to note that God loves us and we are created with freedom of will to love Him back.  First John 4:19 reminds us of this simple truth, “We love him, because he first loved us.

God not only created in us the capacity to have a relationship with Him, but he also created us to have a relationship with others.  The depths of this first relationship is wrapped around human companionship.  I am very thankful for the companion that God placed in my life.  This reality may not be the case for everyone.  However, God has created us for in a web of relations, from which we are able to draw strength and receive encouragement.  So, we do thank God also for all those around us that support us and sharpen our character and faith as well.

The Water in Your Marriage 

My wife and I recently celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary.  We had courted several years before we were married.  In our marriage, we have experienced many beautiful moments and challenges.  Three children, a few pets, and plenty of adventure have blessed us in our journey together.  I love her more and more each day (I know that is mushy).

It is interesting is that there is a common misconception that marriage for Christians is no different than unbelievers.  The caveat to the stats is that those Christians most likely to end their marriage are nominal believers.  Meaning, they may identify as Christians but do not actively participate in the faith.  Recent research (click here) showed that “Catholic couples were 31 percent less likely to divorce; Protestant couples 35 percent less likely, and Jewish couples 97 percent less likely” (Stetzer, 2014).  The pastor’s marriage has also been seen as difficult. However, Barna research showed “Most pastors – 96 percent of whom are married – are satisfied with their relationship with their spouse” (2017)

Periodically, I speak with new and veteran couples about their relationships.  When the conversations turn toward my wife and my experience, I share my life verse for marriage.  It came from King Solomon when he was teaching his sons how to live well.

“Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.” -Proverbs 5:15

Chapter five is one of the few chapters were Solomon seems to focus on one subject.  Yet, a significant portion of all his teaching centers around purity and faithfulness to your spouse.  He geared his instruction toward his sons specifically and his children in general, however, I believe what we see in this passage is helpful to both husbands and wives.

After a simple reading, we quickly note that Solomon is encouraging fidelity.  In light of the whole chapter, the challenge is put forward to be faithful in your relationship marriage.  You will be tempted to stray, but the end is filled with pain.  Remaining faithful in the good and bad has its own reward.  To understand that reward we need to dig a little deeper.

We understand the need of water for the body, and this is why Scripture is full of references to spiritual water for our souls that only Jesus can provide.  Solomon in another place of Proverbs wrote, “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country” (25:25).  Water refreshes and satisfies.  Marriage is provides the same thing.  To demonstrate this, Barna Research found that 75% of women say their marriage is their strongest form of social support by helping them be satisfied with life, understand priorities, be the best person they can be, set healthy boundaries, live out purpose, and connect to a community (2017).  When we enjoy those intimant moments and conversations we share only with our spouse, we are refreshed and deeply satisfied as our reward.  To be unfaithful will corrupt the waters of our marriage.

Still, there is one more thing that stands out to me in this passage about marriage.  Solomon is keen to use specific words to separate cistern from well.  In the Hebrew, the word he used for cistern (בּוֹר bôwr) can also be translated as pit or well.  Also, the word chosen translated for us as well (בְּאֵר bᵉʼêr), can be translated as a pit.  I like to think that Solomon is demonstrating to different containers for water.  Wells and cisterns both hold water, but, they receive their water in various manners.  A well receives its water from an underground source like a stream or lake.  Well water springs up from itself.  Cisterns, however, must receive theirs from an outside source above the ground.  Typically, brought in by a water truck.  

What I hear Solomon saying, be faithful and enjoy your marriage by pouring your life into your spouse.  The picture is we view self as a well and our spouse a cistern.  If we do not pour our love, energy, time, and focus on our partner, they will dry up.  We will no longer be satisfied with them, and we will try to wander and find other sources to quench our thirst.  Being faithful is also about being intentional.  To have a great marriage, you must continue to invest in your spouse, even after you have said your vows.

References

Barna (2017) The State of Pastors: How Today’s Faith Leaders are Navigating Life and Leadership in an Age of Complexity.  Barna Group

Stetzer, Ed (2014) Pastors, that divorce stat you quoted is probably wrong.  http://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/163047-pastors-that-divorce-stat-you-quoted-is-probably-wrong.html