Baptism at Singles Retreat - 147 Baptized!!!

*******************Baptism at Singles Retreat 147 Baptized!!! ***********************

* Sharing times in the Word and looking for growth. Let's Commune Together!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Understanding the limits

Scripture Read: Romans 11:28-36 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Application: Mysteries are not something all of us like at times - especially when it comes to the answers to life's deepest questions. Paul makes it clear though in this passage that's the way it is. Can we live with that? Consider ...

Riches -  πλοῦτος ploútos - Paul goes back to the original sense of “fulness of goods,”

Unsearchable - ἀνεξερεύνητος anexereúnētos The exact connotation of the term implies the abandonment of all attempts to solve theoretically the question of what God is doing, so that Paul describes even his own answer as an attempt for which he cannot claim absolute validity.

Unfathomable = Same word[1]

This is a big problem for us Lord – We have moved from being a people that seeks to understand You knowing that the thrill is in the trying. We never will fully comprehend You and we should be ok with that – our joy should come from the little discoveries along the way – getting to know You better each day a little at a time. Instead we have become a people that thinks we can figure You out and explain You in a system which not only we will believe but will fight against others who do not! We will divide the Body over theory! Black and white Biblical doctrine (no human explanation needed)  I will stand firm on and IT will divide – but theory has no power – we empower it and give it a life. Help us Lord to remember – it is always good and right to seek answers about Who You are and think through Your works – but never allow us to think we have arrived. We don’t want our brain to be that small!

Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The tension remains

Scripture Read: Romans 11:22-27 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? 25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” 27 “This is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”

Application: I praise You God for Your Word – We can see clearly in this passage again that free will does come into play. You are not a God of games – Your offers are valid and real. When You say that there is choice if we are honest with Your Word we must accept that no matter how we have tried to develop our own system of theology to try and explain that which is so difficult to understand. If we are honest stewards of Your Word we also know that Your sovereignty remains and election is part of that – we do not understand it – yet it is clear that choice is in that formula. We will let You be concerned with all that Oh lord – we ask You to help us to just take our choices seriously and leave the rest to You. We know that You are so far above what we can understand – thanks for letting us in on some of Your greatness. We love You Dad!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Two sides to the coin

Scripture Read: Romans 11:11-21 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 12 Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! 13 But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either

Application: Whenever we encounter the great mysteries of God’s doctrine we need to be careful to not try and make it fit into some man made “ism”. The “isms” can help us think through these difficult issues but we must remember who made the “ism” and Who made the doctrine. Here is the other side of everything being God’s sovereignty. This is where a complete system of Calvinism breaks down. There is free will here and even Your actions Lord are based in some on the response of the free will creatures. If election were the way Calvinism teaches then why would Paul waste his time thinking of ways to try and get his brethren in the flesh to believe – it would be all determined by You and Paul would need only to follow You and it would happen. But – if You set up conditions that if Paul seeks ways to reach out he will find them – then it affirms how this whole doctrine is a partnership between the Triune God and His creation. Also – Israel was broken off because of unbelief – again a response from You based on an action by a free will creature – I know You know it would happen – You know all – but that does not mean You made it happen. Yes Lord You understand it all and we most likely never will. Even in eternity You still will be the only Infinite one. Lord we can have peace about this because we have Your Word to look at – not man’s ideas. We may still not know how it all works – it is from You and so it is beyond us – but it is clear that Sovereign You are – Yet that does not out rule the fact that You have given us free will and it makes a difference. Thank You for this awesome responsibility – We pray that You help us stand more firm then ever in the commitments we know we should have with You. We love You Lord  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The struggle continues

Scripture Read: Romans 11:1-10 I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 “Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.”4 But what is the divine response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”5 In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. 7 What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; 8 just as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, Eyes to see not and ears to hear not, Down to this very day.”9 And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, And a stumbling block and a retribution to them. 10 “Let their eyes be darkened to see not, And bend their backs forever.” 

Application: The Trinity, Incarnation – 100% man & 100% God, Soveriegnty & Free Will… the list is endless on issues that just boggle our human mind. Father – this is where I guess we all struggle – again I realize that we have no right to demand anything from You – yet it seems You built us this way – How can any have real free choice if Your choice is made already and we really have no say. Again with certain verses it can appear that way – but we must examine all of the Word – especially the work You did in Christ – How can we look at what You did with Your Son without the intention of offering to all and allowing them to make the choice. This is a very difficult issue – in the end we will never fully comprehend this – we must realize that – but we need to see how this impacts our faith. On the one hand if we go in one direction too far - if it is all decided ahead – then we should just feel so humbled – why us? On the other hand we might also feel: what’s the use? It’s all decided for us. We might even think: “What if I am not chosen - what if I have deceived myself?” If we go the other direction too far – it is all up to us – what does that do to our understanding of Your sovereignty? Many in reality believe they are saved by grace BUT that grace was extended to us because we are more deserving or were really seeking You on our own. Lord we do not doubt Your love or integrity – we just struggle with our understanding. The one thing we can understand and hold on to is this: How can we not trust someone that sacrificed His only begotten Son for sinners that were not seeking Him? We should continue to think these issues through – we were made to do that. Help us to continue to seek answers from You. Thank You that no matter how frustrating this is to us – we know we can trust You fully and there is no question about Your love for us.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Does it matter if they hear?

Scripture Read: Romans 10:11-21 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. 18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”19 But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says, “I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation, By a nation without understanding will I anger you.”20 And Isaiah is very bold and says, “I was found by those who did not seek Me, I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”21 But as for Israel He says, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

Application: Is it our responsibility to share the truth with those that don’t know it? I guess at the end of the day this question is the one that haunts a lot of us. After all the systematic theories are said and done, argued out, processed and perfected, even in place of scripture sometimes – all of it cannot escape this question. In our flesh we can choose to not care and just hold on to our life – live near our kids and grandchildren, build our empire that has all our family, friends and comforts around us.  Think to ourselves - the rest of humanity can go to hell if they choose, we want our life with our family – and enjoy all the lazy evenings of the “golden years” – if we are honest all of us could see ourselves thinking that way in the flesh – But when we listen with our inner man – this question should possess us. I remember when I left for the foreign field - I thought I wanted to go and preach for all those that do not know You and their need – and yes that is part of it – but not the driving force – for the lost can be so ugly and clearly choosing their own destiny – but You did what You did from love – Your love. We should hate thinking of that sacrifice left untold – it must be proclaimed – Jesus You deserve that. We must share with people how much You love them and the relationship You desire with them. The fact is there are so few willing to leave the oasis on the earth they have made to travel to the uglier places. It does not have to be thousands of miles away. It may be just down the block from our house – but it is out of our comfort zone and the people don’t act, think or maybe even look like us. I know I am afraid of some of the places I have not gone to – but for You I would. Father help us to embrace the peoples and places You are calling us to. Then we will see Your great hand open the doors of the hearts You have prepared. Father – please let our inner man win – We do not desire to stand before You with regret. God we are so weak – Holy Spirit we need Your filling and You controlling us.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Principle of the Fruit

Scripture Read: Rom 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

Application: Is sanctification a natural fruit or and fruit that is produced by both the Holy Spirit and me? What do I mean by this? When we first come to know Christ there are many separations that take place naturally: Most of us stop certain habits that all of society has problems with. The “BIG” social sins. They seem to fall off so easily. We also begin to do things that we did not do before – like read His Word, pray, get involved in discipleship and fellowship etc. These are what I call the natural fruit of sanctification. Our salvation is new and being “born again” is exactly what it sounds like. Everything is new and we sense a new beginning. From that point we see growth happen so fast – then we are pushed back into the real world and the same life we had before we knew Christ. Everyone notices the outside changes that have taken place – but now we start digging for that inner life that the Holy Spirit leads us to desire. Here is where the question arises - at what point does sanctification require more effort from us than the first natural fruit that came right after conversion? This is where we need to understand the fruit principle. If we are not careful we will think sanctification is totally up to us. Yet at the same time we must face that now unless we exert real effort we do not see the sanctification we desire. Here is the principle – just like a actual farmer – he plants the seed – the earth does all the work in make the seed sprout – but the farmer can make the fruit come easier – by how he works the soil. The fruit of sanctification is always the work of the Spirit, but our participation through yielding and meditation is what allows that fruit to mature sooner and deeper.   Father we want our natural desire to move toward You and become separated to You. Help us continue to stay close to You

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Perfection can only be given – never earned

Scripture Read: Romans 10:-10  Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. 2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6 But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation

Application: The issue here is so great – Your standards have never changed Lord – the Law remains the explanation of perfect righteousness – it is what only a person with sin could live. This is where so many miss it, the Law expresses what your righteous standards are but not how to attain them. The Word is clear – the way to attain that righteousness is not possible through our flesh – if we try to attain it that way we must go all the way – which in the end will condemn us because the Law declares that if we cannot keep the whole Law we are guilty of breaking it all – Why? Because the issue of the Law is not a list of “dos & don’ts” it is PERFECTION. So even if we miss it by the smallest margin the point is – We Missed It! The Word teaches us that we attain that perfect stand through Christ – He alone fulfilled the Law and applies Hid perfection to us when we humble ourselves, admit we cannot accomplish this by our works, and trust in His sacrifice on the cross as the payment for our sin. We still “work out” the practical living of our salvation through the sweat of yielding to His Spirit and seeing the righteousness of His law produced in us as we travel this life till we get home to Him. Father – more and more we desire this in our inner man. We want to experience the thrill of enjoying Your righteousness produced in us. Jesus – we do want to be like You – we need to be like You! Help us Lord – Holy Spirit fill us today with You! Control us we pray!