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, June 11, 2011

The Presence of the Lord

Scripture Read: Romans 13:11-14 Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

Application: When will the Lord return? That is a question that has been on the mind of everyone that has trusted in Christ from the day the church began. So much written, so many theories and even so many false prophets. Can we know? Yes … not a date, or even His return for us, but we can know that for all of us we will be in His presence within 80 – 100 years! He may return to us before we go through the gate of death, but if not we can know that we will return to Him when He calls for us. How very important and true this section of scripture is. No matter what your personal conviction is about how or when exactly the return of Christ will be – we all must live like it would be today! For death can happen at anytime and then we are in the presence of the Lord. The real issue for all of us is “making no provision”. All of us will trip and stumble into sin – we are sinners by nature, but we do not want to plan to sin. It would be horrible to be in an open sin when He calls for us – either through death or Rapture. This requires a real conscious effort and a disciplined life. Both are things so many of us lack. Father please lead us into this kind of life. We do not want to look back at our failures, for that causes regret. Still we can use that regret to help us resolve what our future will look like. No matter what failures we have had it does not mean we cannot invest the time we have left. Lord God please hear us as we seek to change our lives through Your power in whatever areas need to be changed! Cause us to live as if we were going to meet You today. We love you Lord.

* Meditation Questions: Do I believe I am ready to meet Him? If so – Why? If not – Why? What needs to change? Do I look forward to being with Him just to escape issues here or because I desire to be in His presence?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Not all fire is holy fire

Scripture Read: 1 Tm. 4:1-2 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,

Application: The Body of Christ cannot afford to ignore it’s conscience. The conscience is the gateway to the greatest sensitivity to the Holy Spirit or to the hardening of one’s life and heart toward God. The age we live in is a very dangerous one for those that allow their conscience to be influenced by men’s doctrine instead of the scriptures. Today more believers base their lives on what the newest book for the latest superstar in the church has written. Am I saying other writings are worthless? … Of course not, BUT the question is what place do we give any other teaching, other than that which is from the Bible, as far as authority in our life? The sad truth here is that many of these “so called” super teachers have become so hardened in conscience they would not see what they are teaching as from demons even if a demon showed them. Their conscience can no longer feel the truth. Consider what “seared” communicates:
Seared: καυστηριάζομαι (kaustēriazomai) This rare term, which means “to burn with glowing iron,” occurs figuratively in 1 Tim. 4:2, where false teachers are said to have “branded” consciences. The thought seems to be that they are the slaves of demonic forces. Runaway slaves and criminals were branded in antiquity; also sometimes prisoners of war, workers in the mines and munitions, and army recruits. This practice underlies the metaphor[1]

The words “speaking, having seared, forbidding” refer to the human agents of the seducing spirits. Demons are spirits, that is, free moral agents without physical bodies, and these are the seducing spirits. As to the expression, “speaking lies in hypocrisy,” Expositors says: “The spirits work, and the teachings are exhibited in the hypocrisy of them that speak lies; and this hypocrisy finds detailed expression in regulations suggested by a false asceticism.” The clause could be better rendered “through the hypocrisy of liars.” It connects with “departing from the faith.” That is, these individuals depart from the faith through the hypocrisy of liars, the false teachers. These who depart from the faith have their conscience seared with a hot iron. The words, “hot iron,” are superfluous. Vincent offers, “branded in their conscience.” He says, “The metaphor is from the practice of branding slaves or criminals, the latter on the brow. These deceivers are not acting under delusion, but deliberately, and against conscience. They wear the form of godliness, and contradict their profession by their crooked conduct (II Tim. 3:5). The brand is not on their brow but on their conscience.” These are branded with the marks of Satan (II Tim. 2:26) as Paul was with the marks of the Lord Jesus (Gal. 6:17).[2]

This should be the number one warning to us concerning conscience. The word here means to be branded – our conscience can be branded as a slave to deceit – what a horrible state. Not only do you become a victim of your own lie but you lead others into it with you. Our conscience is so important – we must protect it and keep it sensitive to Him – that is done by living in truth. When we continue to live two lives – one public and one private – One that talks about truth but one that practices lies – we burn a brand in our conscience – killing the sensitivity and leaving a clear sign for the enemy to camp in our life. Stay in the Word and He will be close to you!

* Meditation Questions: How often do I reflect on my spiritual life? How often do I try to justify things I have done that are wrong? Do I have someone in my life that holds me accountable for how I live and what I believe? When I read a new book and find that it sounds like truth – what is the first thing I do?

[1] Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1995). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (423). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
[2] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (1 Ti 4:1). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

When freedom is really bondage.

Scripture Read: 1 Cor 8:12 And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

Application: Years ago I taught against legalism, by teaching what the scriptures state about our  liberty. I hate legalism because it chokes growth, judges people based on externals and leads believers to a religion, not a relationship. Today I continue to teach on liberty, but for a different reason. The church has swung too far in the other direction. Our liberty has become our right and we don’t care what damage it does to others. I still hate legalism and always will, but we in the Body of Christ must not use our liberty as license to sin or destroy our weaker brothers. This is the stewardship of liberty that God has put on us – but because we have decided that we have the right – many in the Church ignore this verse today. For many they turn their liberty into a bondage – we have to have our right no matter the cost to anyone else – including Christ. We say to ourselves - if what I am doing causes my brother a problem – that is his problem. Is that the lesson of Christ? Is His example one of selfish intent? How tragic that we can trade the fruit of eternal love for our temporal rights. Yes, we should resist giving in to the Pharisee that wants to bring our freedom under his control. But we should not forget that all of our liberties are a stewardship. They are not our rights but our responsibility. We need to weigh all the cost and issues that come into play. Just because I can do something does not mean God wants me to. It all depends on what God is trying to achieve in our life at the time. We should rejoice in our liberties and enjoy them, but we should never destroy believers that may not have the same faith to do what we do. God help us to love our brethren more than what we want!
* Meditation Questions: When you don’t get to do what you want to do, how does that affect you? What does that say? If you know a freedom you have would hurt an immature believer will that change whether or not if you do it? Have you taken every liberty you have to the Lord and seek His blessing?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The stain can remain

Scripture Read: Titus 1:15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 

Application: There is nothing worse than that dirty feeling we have after we have come to our senses and realized we have been in sin. I say that because if we claim to belong to You, we, in the inner man, really desire not to sin. So when we give into the flesh I believe it is as Paul states: He is doing the very thing he hates! So why would he do it? It is clear that when this is happening Paul – the new man – is not in control so he does not follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. Even though he remains a child of God when he awakens to the fact that he allowed the old man to be in charge, the taste of that sin can remain. If not careful we can behave like people who have not been made pure. The taste of sin is worse to those who have tasted forgiveness. Consider this word:

Defile: μιαίνω miaínō; To stain with color, to tinge, pollute, defile.

What a very descriptive term, for that is what unbelief does to the soul – it stains it – so does our sin. So many times we convince ourselves that this moment of sin is only a moment, but we deceive ourselves because sin leaves a stain. Yes it is true that Christ has removed all of that in the eternal perspective for those that have placed their trust in Him, but we need to realize that the “here and now” will continue to carry those feelings of being unclean and defiled. That’s why after a person has sinned, confessed and repented he or she can still feel dirty. What about 1 John 1:9? It is so important and even though it is true, it does not remove the fact that when we sin many times the feeling of the stain takes a while to go away. Yes, God is faithful and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness, but that does not guarantee that I will “feel” clean. I was deep into porn at one point in my life, I have repented and He cleaned me immediately, but if I am not careful I can easily bring it back to my memory and be affected by it again, or if I see a picture of a woman who reminds me of something I saw, I can feel dirty again and ashamed. We are in part emotional creatures and emotions don’t disappear just because we intellectually know something as a fact. This is why living close to God is so important. Trying to survive off of a decision made some time ago will not do it. Your emotions will become an enemy of your soul. Moment to moment living with Him renews your emotional bank consistently, so you will be able to shut down the past emotions the enemy tries to attack you with. A moment is not usually a moment – many times the stain Lasts a long time!

* Meditation Questions: When was the last time you felt dirty? What did you do about that? What do you do when you feel separated from the Lord? What do you think it takes to separate you from Him? Why do you think this way?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Appealing to the judge within.

Scripture Read: 2 Cor 5:11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.
Application:  Here again our conscience plays an important role with both God and man. Not only should we hope that we will keep a clear conscience with both – but it is where we appeal to be properly judged. God – Who is the only one with a pure conscience knows who we are in reality. He knows us better than we know ourselves, which is scary but at the same time reassuring. We do not need to play any games with Him and even if we do they won’t work – He knows who we really are. On the other side is man – and our greatest hope should be that those we reach and teach will see the real person we are from the deeds that we live. We have to face the fact that some will never give us a break because their problem is with the Lord, not us. We cannot allow those to affect us. But to those we work with that desire to be honest, conscience is a key! They know deep inside their soul who we are. That is the true impact we should desire to have on them. Not a moment – but a clear life evaluation of who we are based on what they know is the truth. This even over rules the hidden weaknesses we all have that they do not know about. If we have a secret motive, it will come to light and they will sense it. However, if our motive is pure – then even if we fail to be all that we should be – they will sense who we are and that our love is sincere – that will make the difference.    
* Meditation Questions: If you spent a day with someone and could not speak a word – what message would your actions give him or her? Do you lay your motives before the Lord each day? Do you have people that disagree with your beliefs but are still friends? What does that say? Finish this: People can deny what I say, but cannot deny what -

Monday, June 6, 2011

Being careful not to trip

Scripture Read: Acts 24:14-16 “But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; 15 having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. 16 “In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.

Application: The Word makes it clear in so many places that our relationship to God and men is connected. We cannot live only toward one. Paul sets a goal here that we all should consider and take steps to see produces. Consider …

Blameless - ἀπρόσκοπος apróskopos - from the priv. a, not, and proskóptō (, to strike at, to trip. Not taking or giving offense; not stumbling or falling. [1]

 Not to trip – this is a good visual of what is expressed. We must keep our conscience from tripping. This applies to our relationship with both God and man. Perhaps the Lord emphasizes this because it is more difficult to see our trip before God because He is invisible. It is much more apparent when we must keep our conscience from tripping against men. Everything is seen and felt. This is an important goal – If we can keep a clear conscience before men, which will require us to yield for God’s sake on things even when we are right, then we will be well on our way to keeping our conscience clear before the Lord.  God has made us connected to Him and men, which in the end makes it easier for us to gage our walk with Him. If we are loving men, we love God.

* Meditation Questions: Do you see loving God different than loving men? Jesus compared the two is Mark 12:28–34, what did He say? Does blameless mean perfect? What areas of your life right now are not blameless?

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

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Getting inside

Scripture Read: Heb 9:8-9 The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9 which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience,

Application: Notice – the outward cannot really satisfy the inward. All the offerings done by men could only clean the outside of the cup. This really is true – no matter how many works we do and outward disciplines we live – in the end my conscience is the issue. That is at the core in our walk with You. Even though we may have seen a tremendous victory dealing with a habitual sin – my conscience is still under attack due to memory, or desires that try to take us back. No matter how well we control the outside – if we do not see Your work inside our conscience remains unsatisfied. Hopefully, we do sense the clear conscience of eternity, but we desire to also sense that inside now Lord. This can be so frustrating! Even when we are being disciplined and not yielding to sin, if our “want to” has not changed our conscience will sense that inside and the outcome will be frustration. Surely – if we could find how to allow You to empower us to not only change our habits, but change our “want to” when it comes to that habit – then our conscience would also find satisfaction. Lord please help us to give this to You. We really want the life we know we can live – the lazy flesh one is so easy but not satisfying at all. Lord fill us with Your power!! 
* Meditation Questions: When I see a habitual sin broken in my life, what do I replace it with? Do I have someone in my life that gets to look at my insides? Am I honest with God when I really don’t want to change something in my life? What does that show? What difference will that make?