submission to God


Love for God is not independent from him


1 Corinthians 11:2-16

Why this sudden concern for hairstyle?

In the New Testament, the emphasis is on the heart rather than the exterior (Mark 7:20-23)

Paul is also concerned for the heart condition of wives participating in church services

Their participation in “prayer and prophecy” is assumed and encouraged

This was revolutionary compared to Jewish synagogues where women were not even full members

However, it appears some wives were taking this freedom a step further

The phrase head uncovered is literally: “having down from the head”

There is historic evidence for this being hair bound up on head, or a cloth covering

Once women were married, they kept their hair bound up – it was a cultural norm

For a wife to ‘uncover’ her hair in public was a declaration of her independence

Why were wives doing this while speaking in church service?

We have already seen the Corinthians had a high view of their spirituality

We will see in coming chapters they took pride in how their spiritual gifts we were used during services

Hair ‘uncovered’ declared:  I have independent authority straight from God

Paul responds by presenting a big picture view of ‘headship’

Paul brings up headship in v3 before he identifies why he does in v5

Lets us know all that follows is about Christ more than dress code


Paul points are strikingly current for us

1.  God’s design promotes dependence not independence

v3 gives a 3-fold list of headship with women in the middle of the list to show it is not demeaning of them

Headship is a statement of hierarchy and it implies submission

Both concepts are repudiated in our culture as being archaic

But the inclusion of Christ in this list clearly shows that is not God’s perspective

There is a hierarchy with the triune Godhead: Father – Son – Holy Spirit

The Son serves and glorifies the Father; while the Holy Spirit was sent by and glorifies the Son

v7 God created humanity in his image, which means we reflect his character

This includes embracing the concepts of authority and creation order (vs 8-10)

If women (or men) push off their headship – they reject God’s order

The women who did this, dishonored their ‘head’ – their husband

In that culture, a head covering was a ‘symbol’ of role acceptance (v10)

When we exalt our independence, we denigrate God’s order

Why does v10 add ‘angels’ to mix?

They are messengers of God’s glory

Paul also cited angels in 6:3 which shows that our obedience is part of the big picture of God’s reign

2.  God’s design brings completion not ‘contention’ (v16)

Paul shows that submission doesn’t mean we are being devalued (vs 11-12)

Men and women are interdependent, one is not better or more valued

Ultimately, we are all fully dependent on and submitted to God

As believers, we embrace God’s order because we trust him

  • Wives submit to imperfect husbands
  • Children honor imperfect parents
  • Church members submit to an imperfect local church

We have ample reason to trust that God’s goodness is built into his design

Each of our roles contains a God given ‘glory’ in it (v7)

This idea of glory means there is completion and joy when we accept it

Jesus himself submits to the Father to complete the gospel plan (1 Corinthians 15:28)

If we throw off God’s design all that’s left is brokenness

3.  Gender distinctions are God-given and shouldn’t be blurred (v14)

Homosexuality was prominent in ancient Greece and Rome

So, Paul uses the principle of God’s design to address blurring gender distinctions

It is another example of how we must not join the world in discarding God’s order

4.  Our cultural choices should always be God-honoring (vs 13-16)

Every culture expresses itself in ways that communicate values

Great Commandment people avoid choices that (1) dishonor God, or (2) weaken our testimony

Questions to ask ourselves:

  1. Do we dress to please people or God?
  2. Do we adorn ourselves in ways that are meant to demonstrate a rebellious attitude?
  3. Does our behavior flow with the world more than with God’s Word?
  4. Do we have attitudes that are dismissive of God given authority and institutions?

These questions are really about our love for God. We cannot love him and dismiss his design for us or this world


We generally think, “In control = good”, and “out of control = very bad”!

Who really likes to feel that people and circumstances are out of our control.

Yet, life not only is out of our control, it is rather important for us to recognize this fact.

When we think we “are in control” or if we live trying to “be in control”, that is actually a bad place to be.

One of those bad things is that we mix up the role that belongs to us with the role that belongs to God. We are terrible at trying to be God (despite the fact that we work at it rather frequently).

My friend, Ricky Alcantar from Cross of Grace Church in El Paso, Texas wrote this article on facing the reality of it being good to know life is out of our control, “Fear Not, The Universe Is Wildly Out of Your Control”.

This is a healthy and restful lesson to learn.


‘What are your Kingdom responses?’

Matthew 7:13-23

Jesus is bringing the Sermon on the Mt to a conclusion through a series of contrasts that reveal which kingdom we love and live by


There Are Two Gates For Life (vs 13-14)

One gate is wide and easy

It has a wide gate – because people can choose any option they want

It is easy to take – you can keep life as you want it

The other gate is narrow 

It is narrow – because it declares life is through Christ alone (Acts 4:12 and John 3:36)

It is hard – because we must drop our own claims of rule and ownership

These gates not merely ways through life, they are ways to eternity

Jesus describes two eternal destinies

 (1) One is called life, because it gives all God created living to be

(2) Other is called destruction. We don’t cease to exist, but it only leads to wrath and the loss of all that is good

If you are thinking, ‘How dare you be narrow or judgmental’

How dare we water down what Jesus said?

How dare we ignore the means God has mercifully provided?


There Are Two Influences In Life (vs 15-20)

One influence is false teachers in the church

They wear sheep’s clothes which makes them dangerous

If we are not rooted in God’s Word, their teaching sounds good

But their teaching produces ‘diseased trees’ (v17)

The other influence is faithful teachers who let God’s word be itself

Faithful teaching is when we lay out what the Bible says rather than trying to put truth in it

Faithful teachers are like healthy trees who produce good fruit

Jesus is warning us that there are consequences to who we listen to or read

We don’t want a critical spirit, but we must be discerning

We need to look at what teaching will lead to, what fruit does it produce:

Does it produces character like that of Christ who loved the Father fully?

Does it emphasize what God emphasizes, or does it follow human agendas?

Does it exalt Christ’s kingdom, or does it focus us on our success?

Does it have a gospel agenda for people, or does it use them for gain?


There Are Two Claims of Discipleship (vs 21-23)

Jesus warns against false disciples in the church

These are people who are active in church, think they are Christians, and others probably agree

What is missing? They don’t carry out ‘the will of the Father’

This is not a secretive will of God that they failed to grasp

They refuse to obey what the Bible clearly declares (Luke 6:46)

This kind of mistaken identity is not rare

Many are in Churches that never challenge them with the clear gospel

Others only have the benefits of the gospel emphasized to them. They were never confronted with repentance or the Lordship of Christ

Some appear rooted, but eventually they refuse to ‘do’ what God clearly says

We cannot tag who will or won’t be in heaven, but neither should we close our eyes to false hopes for heaven

How can we give gospel care to one another, if we ignore the failure of “Christians” to obey Christ?


Why Does Jesus End His Sermon This Way?

1. Because it is important

Everyone has a soul that lives forever

We are all accountable to God for how we respond to his word

Jesus makes these contrasts, because they are real problem in the church

2. Because it is needed

We tend to be confused about priorities. Our priorities should be based on the seriousness of consequences

Jesus’ purpose is not to make us doubt our salvation; it’s to have us all examine the foundation and the fruit of our salvation

How do we live?  What choices we are making?

3. Because he is merciful

A common distortion about the Bible is that Jesus in the New Testament has a different perspective from God in in the Old Testament

Yet the Old Testament is no less concerned with grace and Jesus is no less concerned with judgment

Jesus’ warnings are a form of grace and protection

It is a blessing to be awakened before disaster strikes
Jesus lets us know in v23, there is a point when it’s too late to respond correctly

This moment is not too late



Andrew Murray wrote,  

“Jesus lost nothing by giving his all to God”




Do you believe this?  I mean do you really, truly, think this is absolutely true?

If the answer is yes, then how will it affect your today?

What will God receive from you that has been withheld?

Your time, your giving, your attitude, your forgiveness, your coveted sin, your praise, your relationships, or your cherished plans?

Whatever God receives from us, He already deserves.

There is no better way for life to be used then for God to have it all.  Do we really think our holding onto some is better?!

But there is also the reality that God will not be indebted to us. He will reward us forever far beyond all sacrifices made.

How much of you does God have?


Is the Great Commandment Worth It?  

Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me the Father will honor him (John 12:25-26)

Following Christ makes life full because we are with him! (v26)

We all struggle with spiritual distraction

A basic benefit of serving Christ is that he is always in view

We know we need to improve our focus putting God first

When life revolves around the Great Commandment we replace our distractions with following

How amazing, that God wants to be “with” us

We never have to convince God to walk with us or care about us (John 14:3, Romans 8:38-39)

God came to us in Christ, in order to make the way wide open

Christ is always accessible to those who serve him (Hebrews 4:14-16)

When we act upon putting Christ first, our relationship with him becomes more interactive

However, our heart must serve not simply our actions

We don’t want to fall into the trap of going through the motions of serving

This is why I encourage believers to see themselves as worshippers; this keeps our heart lifted before God

There is no greater waste than to exchange more of God for more of the world

What is so good about more focus on Christ in our day?

We will be more often touched by the beauty of his character

He is perfect, so we can rest in all he is doing

He understands us fully, yet loves us completely

He is never flustered or worried; he is always in control

He is good in all that he is and does, which means good (not necessarily easy) will fill our day

We all want to be with certain people; why would Jesus not top our list?

When we serve Christ, we are part of what he is doing

Everything we can accomplish is limited, flawed and temporary

But what Christ accomplishes is glorious, whole and eternal

When we live for the Great Commission, our small actions become part of something huge

This is true when you work with children’s ministry, participate in a small group or share your love for the gospel with people

The most lasting benefits come in Jesus service, because what he does lasts

Anything done apart from God, grants meager benefits (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11)

We don’t truly understand what a full life is until we are being used for Christ

Even difficulty is received in peace if we see God in it

The greatest benefit of serving Christ is to be “honored” by God (v26)

We don’t know much about our future rewards and honors

God’s eternal rewards are beyond the experience of this world

So what can we say about God “honoring” faithful servants?

Whatever it includes, only God is capable of it

We will be no less overwhelmed by that honor than we are now by his grace

We will be able to enjoy it more than what we enjoy from him now

Look to the person and kingdom that is worth “giving our all”

Recognize this world is not our kingdom (John 18:36)

Are you using up your attention and energy by fighting to hold onto a kingdom here?

Let’s come to our senses if we are foolishly living for ourselves (Luke 15:11-20)

No one loves you like Jesus and no one can fill your soul like him

How Do We Decide Which Activities Are Acceptable? Part 2

Yesterday, we saw that choosing what is acceptable for a Christian is not as easy as finding a dividing line we can always use; such as never go to R rated movies, but G rated movies are okay.  The problem with finding a dividing line is that everything in the world is corrupted by sin – including G rated movies. Here are some thoughts to guide us.

1  Replace our focus on external rules with a focus on responses of our heart

“What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23

Rules are limited in their application, and they do not deal with the core issue.  God is interested in our heart condition.   We could watch only G movies and be stimulated in many fleshly ways such as lust, envy, pride, or apathy.

Wise decisions about what is acceptable are based on how the activity fits scripture and affects our heart.

Some decisions do have a clear biblical rule: premarital sex is always wrong.  But in most activities the answer can change according to the person and circumstance.  Dancing can be an appropriate or a poor decision, based on who we are dancing with and how it affects our heart (and hormones).

If we are serious about Christ, we will avoid anything that gets in the way of honoring Him

2  Eliminate the category of neutral from our thinking

When we divide activities into godly – neutral – ungodly; we squeeze God out of most decisions.  We consider the vast portion of life as neutral, meaning we can decide whatever we want. That perspective makes us managers over most of our life.  One of the great compromises among Christians is to live in the half-hearted land of neutrality; where we act as if God has no concern or opinion over what we are doing.

There are only two categories of activity: what is in submission to Christ and what is withheld from Him.  An example of what might be considered neutral is reading.  Reading is a decision of content and time.  We can misuse even a good book, if reading leads to avoiding responsibilities or ignoring our family.

If we are serious about Christ, we will want everything under His rule

3  Fill our life with God

I use an easy to remember three part focus:  “Now God – All God – Wow God”

Filling my life with God always begins now.  Whenever we think we need to complete something else first, we don’t get it!  We are always in the moment God wants most from us.  Faithfulness now is our greatest possible priority

All the doors of our life are open for God to enter in and do what He wants.  This removes any “yes, but . .” responses to God.  When all our life is given to God, then all our life will be used well!

I never want to get over the wow of God working in and through me.  How amazing, that our life has intersected with the holy and glorious God!

If we are serious about Christ, we will want our life filled with Him

4  Fall in love with Christ

Love for Christ makes submission a joy rather than a burden    

“This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” I John 5:3

When we love Jesus, our heart tells us to do all that we can to please him.  The Bible says David was a man after God’s heart.  What helped David to be an extraordinary lover of God?  David was an extraordinary worshipper of God!

If we are serious about Christ, we will be ardent worshippers



II Corinthians 8:1-7 ‘The Grace of Taking Part’      

As individuals, we should not be satisfied with less than full maturity.  In the same way, a church should not be satisfied with less than full involvement of its members

The involvement God wants, is that we give ourselves to him 

The motivation of these believers was to honor God. That led them to become involved in God’s purposes around them. v5 “. . they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us”. This should be the heart we want, “Lord, here I am, please use me”!.How do we “give ourselves to the Lord”?

  1. Tell God that is what you want: this requires a prayerful dialogue with him
  2. Discover God’s heart for you; this requires consistent reading of his word.  Each day ask God to show you his heart is what you read. Think how meaning life will be, if we are living God’s heart
  3. Make God’s agenda more important than your own; this requires becoming a worshiper who continually exalts God   

When we give ourselves to God, he gives us grace to be used. 

In verses 8:1 and 8:6-7, Paul refers to their giving as a grace that God works through them.  In chapter 9:8-11, he expands this principle to all areas of ministry. God wants us to bring all we are to him, so he works through us in al situations

Our involvement should have two ingredients

The first ingredient is to be joy.  We see this quality in 8:2, 8:4 and 9:7

We should be joyful because this involvement not in human endeavors. We are taking part in what God is doing!

We tend to think of joy as a bonus item; a good thing, but not essential.  Yet joy is the fruit of the Spirit, which means it is essential to godliness. 

Joy comes from seeing the wonder of God and knowing that he is using us for his glorious purposes

Joy deeply affects the way we give ourselves to God: It affects the vitality and attitude of our service; it affects the believers who serve with us; and it affects the unbelievers who observe us.

The second ingredient that should be in our involvement is generosity.  We see this in 8:2, 8:3, 9:8, 9:11 and 9:13.

Generosity is when we freely do our best, rather than the least we have to do.  The point is not to squeeze generosity out of us, but to have God grow generosity in us.

We all recognize that we are generous to what we think is important.  So what brings generosity out of you?  Are you generous to your desires or to God?           

If the idea of becoming more committed to God is stressful you, you need to reassess your heart for God.  What do you think should bring joy – more of your own desires?

Our life potential is a God issue.  How much of us does God have?  What do we want most out of our life?  Do we want the effectiveness of our life to be defined by our potential, or by what God will do through us?