The Importance of Pegs

Let Me Be a Peg

There are verses in the Bible which seem so strange to us because we do not understand the culture when they were written. For example, Peter going “up on the housetop to pray” (Acts 10:9) seems so strange until we learn that the roofs of the houses were flat and a vital part of the lives of people in the first century. The same is true when we read about “ pegs ” in the house of those in Bible times.

The work of a peg is significant.

The work of a peg is significant.

In Isaiah 22, we read of two men who are described by God as being “ pegs. ” What possible meaning could this have? To understand this, consider that many of the homes and buildings in ancient times had nothing like we have, when we use closets and cabinets to store our possessions. Their possessions were placed on pieces of wood embedded in the walls of buildings as they were built. Clothing was not strewn on the floor (like we find in some rooms of teenagers today) but were hung on these pegs. Ezekiel 15:3 shows that these pegs were used as a place to hang vessels. They were a vital part of the lives of the Jews but could seem so insignificant and be easily undervalued.

There was an important person named Shebna in the kingdom of King Hezekiah (he is called a steward, a treasurer), who was so evil that God sent Isaiah to deliver a personal rebuke for the evil he had done. He had an important place, but he had failed to fulfill his responsibility. God said of him, “The peg that is fastened in the secure place will be removed and cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it will be cut off” (Isa. 22:25). The peg had failed to fulfill his purpose.

Isaiah then described the godly man who was to replace Shebna. God said He would clothe this man, Eliakim, with the robe which had belonged to Shebna and give him great authority. “The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open” (22:22). Then, he added, “I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, and he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house.”

What can we learn from this imagery? Far too many think that unless the service they render to God is visible and appears important, then there is little they can do for God. Nothing can be farther from the truth. There were important men in that day—the great prophet Isaiah and the godly king, Hezekiah—yet God looked at “ pegs ” and saw how important their “insignificant” roles were in the big picture.

The world may think that only those who are decorated “pillars and columns” are important. It is wrong. God sees the worth of “ pegs. ” God help us to be His “ pegs. ”

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Does God Keep Score?

Does God Keep Score?

Several years ago, I was having a conversation with someone about getting credit for ideas. I mentioned to them that it doesn’t matter to me if I get credit for an idea or not, because God knows who did what and I was content to let God handle such things. This person then wondered whether or not God really credited man with such things. In essence, the question can be framed, Does God keep score?

Does God Keep Score?

Does God Keep Score?

First, we need to understand that God does not keep score in the sense that if we could only get enough points, then we would win salvation. The Bible teaches us that salvation isn’t something that we earn. Jesus said in Luke 17:10, So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. When we do everything that God tells us, we still haven’t earned our salvation. We are still dependent upon Him for eternal life. Salvation is a gift that God gives upon the condition of faith and obedience (see Hebrews 11:6 and Hebrews 5:9). Neither our faith nor our obedience earns our salvation; but God promises to give us salvation when we trust and obey Him. It is the promise of God in which we trust, not in our own faith or obedience. In that regard, God doesn’t keep score because no matter how high a score we get, we’ll never be high enough to earn our salvation.

Second, neither does God keep score as to how long we have been a faithful Christian as if that would make a difference in our salvation. Jesus told the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard in Matthew 20:1-16. In the parable, the vineyard owner agrees with laborers for the same wage though they begin working at different times in the day. At the end of the day, they all get the same pay. The ones who started early complain, saying that they worked longer than the others. The owner asks them whether or not they agreed to that pay. They did, so that is what they got. The lesson from the parable is that salvation is available for all and it doesn’t matter when you started working for God, everyone, whether young or old gets the same pay eternal life and for that we ought to be very thankful. No, God does not keep score in regard to one’s longevity of service in His kingdom.

Third, there is a sense, however, in which God does keep score. In Hebrews 6:10 we read, For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. We learn from this passage that God takes note of those who do good things and He remembers those things. Moreoever, Jesus said, But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal (Matthew 6:20). What are these treasures that we are to be laying up in heaven? He explains in Luke 12:33, Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. When we do good things for others, we lay up treasures in heaven. Are they for earning our salvation? No. What then are these treasures for? There is only one explanation. It is because God wants us to appreciate the results of the good things that we did once we are in heaven. That will be our treasure!

Does God keep score? He doesn’t keep score when it comes to good works meriting salvation. Regardless of how high the score, it would never be enough to earn salvation. However, He does keep score when it comes to having treasure in heaven over which we can appreciate the results of our good efforts. And so John can write, Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward (2 John 1:8). God doesn’t keep score to determine who earned what, but to determine who IS what!

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Marriage and Divorce

The Heart of the Matter… I do

Having looked into the tearful eyes of parents whose children have abandoned the Faith, I have learned there are a million miles between our children “going through the motions” in reference to their spiritual lives versus our children possessing hearts that dictate their actions. In this column, I plan to share with you what I hope to instill in the hearts of my own children and those whom I love.

The Bible does not teach divorce "for any reason."

The Bible does not teach divorce “for any reason.”

It used to be uncommon and unspoken. However, today divorce has reached epidemic proportions. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the ratio of marriages to divorces is 2 to 1. While a husband and wife may vow to love one another in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer, and for better and worse, the reality is that many individuals only stick around during times of wealth, health, and happiness. Many people can remember years ago, when parents in America would often have many children. Today children oftentimes have many parents. Sadly, the concept of commitment has been lost in our “disposable” and “instant gratification” world. There is no doubt that the tentacles of divorce reach deeply inside most—if not all—church families. And those tentacles have caused many problems throughout the body of Christ. While we don’t talk about it much for fear we may offend some, this topic desperately needs to be addressed in order to stem the epidemic.

Here’s what I intend on teaching my children about divorce.
A good marriage is one of the richest blessings you will ever know. It is an institution that was formed by God (Genesis 2:22-24). While we pray that you are able to experience it one day, we want each one of you to realize that you do not have to be married or be a parent to serve God faithfully. Consider for a moment all of the Biblical examples of faithful individuals who were single or barren/childless (e.g., Paul, Dorcas, King David’s wife Michal).

Believe it or not, your mother and I have been praying for you and your future spouses (and even their parents!) since before you were born. This topic is so crucial that we believe the time to start teaching you the importance of marriage and relationships is not when you are a teenager, but rather from your toddler years on up. Aside from your decision to be a Christian and your relationship with God, there is nothing more important on this planet. This special person will either  help or hinder your journey to Heaven. Our prayer is that your mate will be a strong Christian who can help you in your spiritual journey. We hope that as you grow and mature you will select someone with which to spend your life who has similar values and priorities..
Make no mistake about it, good marriages take a great deal of work. You won’t receive a “how-to” book along with your marriage certificate. This is one reason it is so important to keep your marriage God-centered. The relationship you see daily between your mom and me did not happen overnight. We have been together through good years and bad. We have had to learn how to communicate effectively with one another, how to fight fair, how to compromise, and how to let our words be reflected in our actions. With each happy memory and each trial, our relationship has deepened and grown. However, even after being married as long as we have, we still have to invest time and energy into our marriage. That is why we try to regularly have “date night” without any children present—to reconnect, rekindle, and grow our own relationship.

Your mother and I have a rule that divorce “is not even an option.” We made this pledge to one another very early in our marriage, and it has been comforting during times of trial. The Bible is clear that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Never forget that God joins you together with your mate (Matthew 19:6), and His original intention was that man and woman remain married until death (Mark 10:2-9). Study carefully Matthew 19:8, where Jesus explains that while divorces were permitted because of the hardness of their hearts, but “from the beginning it was not so.”

Keep your marriage intact and avoid divorce! Invest time and energy in one another. If you feel things are spiraling out of control talk to your parents, preacher, elders, or godly friends. (Don’t confide problems to a friend of the opposite sex, as that can often lead to danger.) Find a happily married, faithful couple with whom you can spend time and glean wisdom. Take time to find activities that both you and your spouse enjoy, and do those. Be willing to compromise. And do your best to never take your spouse for granted. The Bible is the best source for how men are to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25) and how wives are to treat their husbands (Titus 2:4-5; Ephesians 22-23). That’s a whole different topic!

In Matthew 19, Jesus outlines the only allowance for divorce and remarriage—sexual immorality (verse 9). That’s it. Divorce and remarriage is not allowed simply for irreconcilable differences or because one party is no longer happy. Many people have tried to manipulate this passage to find exceptions or make loopholes. In fact, many men with advanced degrees have desperately tried to argue that they possess a “newfound wisdom” about what this Scripture actually means. But as we have taught you from childhood, you don’t need advanced degrees to understand the important matters of the Bible. God is able to effectively communicate His plan on marriage and divorce.

Never change your views on Biblical matters simply because it has become personal. Remember, God is immutable (Malachi 3:6)—He and His Word do not change. It is usually the case that those trying to conjure up “exceptions” to Jesus’ teaching on marriage have personal stakes involved. For instance, maybe their children, other relatives, or friends have divorced for reasons other than sexual immorality, and they want to find a way for them to remarry. But the Scriptures are clear.

Many try to offer excuses to justify divorce and remarriage such as, “One party was not baptized at the point of marriage,”, or “Children are involved,” or “The original intent was not for a biblical permanent marriage.” They use mental gymnastics to find loopholes between Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 7:10-13. Remember, these commands were written to believers and unbelievers, thus baptism does not alter an adulterous marriage. Notice that 1 Corinthians 7:10 clearly states: “Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.” The decision to marry is important and should not be entered into lightly, or because of temporal lust. Your mom and I agree that rather than jumping through hoops and rearranging the original intent looking for a “way out” years later, your time would be better invested in creating and building a healthy marriage that includes God.

This is why trust is so vital in a marriage. Go the extra mile and give your spouse information as to where you will be—don’t leave them wondering. Post a copy of your wedding picture or vows to your computer. Keep that golden band on your finger as a constant reminder.

On the day your mom and I said our wedding vows the man who baptized me read a poem that I want to share. It’s titled “Marriage Still Takes Three” (author unknown). I look forward to reading it at your wedding one day in the future.

I once thought marriage took
Just two to make a go,
But now I am convinced
It takes the Lord also.

And not one marriage fails
Where Christ is asked to enter,
As lovers come together
With Jesus at the center.

But marriage seldom thrives,
And homes are incomplete,
Till He is welcomed there
To help avoid defeat.

In homes where Christ is first,
It’s obvious to see,
Those unions really work,
For marriage still takes three.

Love, Dad
P.S. While you may not welcome the idea, your mom and I really like the idea of “prearranged marriages,” so we are happily accepting applications from faithful parents of children your age.

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