The Great Paradox of Divorce

As you know if you are regular here, I am a lawyer. On occasion, I volunteer for the local bar association’s program to provide legal advice to those who cannot afford it. As part of the program, I field calls from people asking questions touching on various areas of the law.

This is a change for me because I am a trial lawyer, specializing in trying employment law cases. What amazes me each time I volunteer is the sheer number of callers seeking legal advice regarding obtaining divorces. It is literally every other call. I always pass the call on to another lawyer because it is not my field of law and because I don’t want to participate in putting asunder what God has joined together.

It would be easy enough to scoff at the world and the fact that those who reject God and talk so romantically about visualizing world peace, and imaging a world without religion can’t even get along with those they vowed to love forever, but Christians fare only a little better.

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How the Church Prevailed Against the Gates Of Hades

The Gates of Hades, Caesarea Philippi, Israel

Jesus, Peter and the crew were in Caesarea Philippi, a city in the northern part of Israel, and Jesus decides to give the boys a pop quiz. Jesus asks them who they think He is. Peter answers correctly. Then Jesus says,“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. Matthew 16:18.

Now we can leave for another day the 500 year old controversy about whether the rock on which Jesus says He will build His church is Peter or the revelation of who Jesus is; instead I want to focus on the second part of what Jesus said.

In February 2010, I was in Israel and visited Caesarea Philippi , where I was surprised to learn that there, in the first century at the opening of a cave was a pagan temple. The opening of the cave was referred to as “The Gates of Hades.”

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Skillful at Work; Useful to God

My mother has not walked in over a year. She has been in a wheelchair, the victim of severe arthritis and a fall that broke her hip. The pain was so persistent and severe she could not sleep at night, and over the last week she told me three times she just wanted to die.

The orthopedic surgeon in Indiana told her there was nothing he could do for her. She would not walk again, and her pain would only get worse.

But on Tuesday, I watched her take her first steps in more than a year, and by Wednesday, the pain-inspired frowns and forced smiles she had worn for the past year had been replaced with a joyful smile, and the ebullient attitude of one who had begun to live again. This transformation happened because an orthopedic surgeon in Houston, Texas was skilled enough to do what many other good orthopedic surgeons could not—perform hip replacement surgery on an 86 year old with a fused, severely arthritic hip.

Ezra returned with a group of Jewish exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem under the imprimatur of Persian king, Artaxerxes, where God would use him to restore the Jewish religion in Judah. While Artaxerxes gave Ezra permission to lead, the Bible makes it clear the Lord was behind it and that He chose Ezra “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra 7:9-10. In other words, the Lord chose to work through Ezra because Ezra had developed the skills necessary to make himself useful to God.

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An Implication from the Resurrection

“Whatever your mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” “You can achieve anything you want if you believe in yourself.” “You can be whatever you want to if you put your mind to it.” We’ve all heard these sayings, and they make people feel good. Unfortunately, none of them are true. 

There is, however, a truth hidden amongst these facile, feel-good statements. While it is not true that what you believe can make everything achievable, it can certainly make anything unachievable. For example, if you think something is not possible, you might not even try, or if you try, you might give up prematurely because you think further effort is futile. What you think is possible matters.

In his letter to the Roman Christians, the Apostle Paul said:

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8:11-13. Paul is reminding the Roman Christians that because the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead resides in them, even though they are living in bodies marred by the effects of the Fall of Man, they can put to death sin in their life. This is not a statement proffered by a motivational speaker but one guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus. 

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On Palm Sunday and Cleansing the Temple

Palm Sunday is the celebration of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. See Matthew 21:4-13. Jesus had recently raised Lazarus from the dead, and the word of His miraculous powers had spread. People were convinced Jesus was the king the Scriptures had promised would liberate them from the Romans and restore the kingdom of Israel.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the people waved their palm branches and worshipped Jesus, calling Him the King of Israel in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy. See Zechariah 9:9. The religious leaders asked Jesus to correct those worshipping Him, but Jesus refused because the people were correct: He was their King, He had come to establish His kingdom, and He was worthy of their worship.

I’ve stood on that path leading up to Jerusalem, just under the walls of the city, and as I stood there I realized just how bold Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was. There would have been Roman soldiers stationed on the walls as Jesus rode into the city being hailed by the people as their new king. It was gutsy. It was bold. But it was entirely appropriate. Jesus was the King of kings, even over the Romans.

For the people watching these events unfold on Palm Sunday, it must have been very exciting. They must have thought Jesus was going to topple Herod and then take on the Romans.  A man who could raise another man from the dead was certainly capable of all of that. They must have tingled with anticipation of how Jesus would use His power to assert His kingly authority.

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