Baptism at Singles Retreat - 147 Baptized!!!

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

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Freedom is to be enjoyed, not abused.

Scripture Read: Romans 14:19-23 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. 21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
Application: How free are we? God did not give clear directions on each specific area of our lives. He gave principles that cover how we conduct our lives, but leaves us to decide many of those specifics to us. What we do with that freedom makes a strong statement about our maturity. Many times we “tear” down what God has built – what does that mean?

Tear - καταλύω katalúō; From the basic sense “to put down,” “to destroy” in various contexts (Mk. 14:58; 2 Cor. 5:1; Gal. 2:18). It can also have the nuance “to frustrate,” as in Acts 5:38–39 A second meaning is then “to invalidate,” e.g., the law in Mt. 5:17.[1] To render vain, deprive of success, bring to naught. to subvert, overthrow. 1b1a of institutions, forms of government, laws, etc., to deprive of force, annul, abrogate, discard.[2]

This is speaking of our liberty and the use of it in the Body of believers – We are not to ruin the work of God in someone by our sloppy handling of liberty – It is wrong for our freedom to cause the growth in a young believer to spiral downward. At the same time this passage can be very important to us. We are told very clearly that when it comes to areas of our life that the scriptures gives no specific commands, we need to make sure we have an understanding for ourselves what God wants us to do. What freedom. No “one size fits all”. God makes liberty based on the individual and His call for that individual. Everyone of us need to take the time to examine our life and see what God has freed us to do. Our liberty is a stewardship, not a right. Thanks Dad that You chose to allow us such freedoms. So may false beliefs tell their followers what to do in every facet of their life, even how many times to pray or what to eat or drink. You have not done that Lord – You leave that up to us to decide. AMAZING! A God that trusts His followers! You are incredible Lord! We love You!

* Meditation Questions: When was the last time you thank God for your liberties? When you decide you can do something that someone else in the Body cannot do – how does that make you feel? What does that say?  

[1] Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1995). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (544). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
[2] Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the text of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Freedom can destroy

Scripture Read: Romans 14:13-18 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. 14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.

Application: This passage has so much great teaching on liberty and the freedoms God has given to us. Yet, to have an honest approach to liberty we must face the warning that is plainly stated here. We must ask ourselves the question … when it comes to my freedoms do I sound like Cain? “Am I my brother’s keeper?” According to God – YES! We are responsible to conduct our life in a way that will protect our brother if at all possible. The word “destroy” is not a light word to use:  

Destroy - ἀπόλλυμι apóllumi - To destroy, cause to perish, Spoken of eternal death, To lose, be deprived of, Spoken of those who wander away and are lost [1]

This is a much stronger word than I had anticipated. I was sure that this was a mild form of the idea of destroy – but it is not – it is the word used to mean that terrible end or loss. God views the destruction of my brother’s conscience as a pretty serious offence. This is serious because we are messing with the eternal investment of my brother. If how we live in front of our brother causes him to fall in his walk and lose some of his eternal investment, God states that we will be held responsible for our part in that. This really should be a slap in our arrogant face when we cling to our liberty as a RIGHT and think less of the weaker brother because his faith does not give him that freedom. “He’s just hung up” we say, forgetting that God is the One that gives each of us different freedoms in our conscience. The scriptures detest legalism and gave no honor to the Pharisees, but we should be troubled just as much by Believers that – with almost a rebellious tinge – brag about their freedom and flaunt it in front of all. This should not be. We are to prefer each other OVER our rights. Lord help us to manage ourselves only and not look at everyone else – that is not our job. We really need your help Lord in this. Thanks!

* Meditation Questions: When was the last time I re-evaluated the liberties I have? Do I give my freedoms to myself? If someone states a liberty issue I can enjoy is wrong how do I react? What does that show? If I know what I am doing is no sin but might be hurting people watching me what do I do? Why?

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

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Abiding in sin is not abiding in Him

Scripture Read:1 Jn 3:6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

Application: This is the kind of scripture that really shakes a person up. None of us are perfect, yet we know that the scriptures make a point many times that an evidence of our salvation is a new relationship to sin. Is it possible that we can reach a place where no sin takes place in our life anymore? The key here is … found in the context of “abide” and “sins”. In the original it is easier to see but if you place this verse in context of all teaching on this from the Word it is still clear. A clear explanation is given by an old commentary and so I will share it rather than me trying to use my own words:

The words “abideth” and “sinneth” are used here to designate a certain class of individual. Character is shown by one’s habitual actions, not the extraordinary ones. The tense of the verbs is present, the kind of action, continuous, habitual. Thus, “every one who habitually is abiding in Him,” is a saved person, and, “every one who habitually is sinning,” an unsaved person. A Christian as a habit of life is abiding in fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Sin may at times enter his life. But sin is the exception, not the rule. The unsaved person as a habit of life sins continually. “Sinneth” is present in tense, continuous action being indicated. The person who is abiding in Christ is not habitually sinning. The child of God as a habit of life, does righteousness, and sin is not a habit with him. John is not teaching sinless perfection here. Vincent says: “John does not teach that believers do not sin, but is speaking of a character, a habit. Throughout the Epistle, he deals with the ideal reality of life in God, in which the love of God and sin exclude each other as light and darkness.” He does not deny that a Christian sins at times. Indeed he admits the possibility of sin in the Christian’s life in 1:9, and forbids sin in 2:1. What John denies here is that a Christian sins habitually. He denies that the life of a Christian is wholly turned towards sin as is that of the unsaved person.
He asserts however that “Everyone who keeps on continually sinning, has not seen Him neither known Him.” This is an unsaved person. The verbs “seen” and “known” are in the perfect tense, implying that he has neither seen nor known God in times past, with the present result that He is still invisible and unknown to him. The particular word for “see” here means “to see with discernment.”
Translation. Everyone who in Him is constantly abiding is not habitually sinning. Everyone who is constantly sinning has not with discernment seen Him, nor has he known Him, with the result that that condition is true of him at present.[1]

If a believer looks at the majority of their day is it typified by sin or by fellowship with the Lord. While I am working are my thoughts full of sin or am I fellowshipping with the Lord. It is clear that humans will always fall so short of God – many of our sins are not even conscious – God is perfect, we are far from that. Our sin nature and the way we live will be with us until we are with Him. Most believers I know have certain weaknesses that follow throughout their walk with God. Some are more apparent than others – so from the external view their sin may be minor or not at all to others – but in reality they have the same battle as every human – just at another level. When I look at the lives of many of the great church leaders – real sin was in there – so are only a handful saved? It is clear from scripture that this has to do with the overall essence of one’s life. Which would still allow for certain sins to be a constant thorn in one’s life. In other words – the constant sin that John is talking about is that most of our 24 hours each day is filled with things that are against God – versus – the fact that a particular sin keeps resurfacing in a person’s life. Let’s take profanity – you may never completely kick that but your whole life is mostly about doing what You want Father – this is not a person in continual sin – even though there is a habitual one in his life. Every time a child of God sees a victory over a habitual sin some other will surface. The difference is the sins become less intense, further apart, and more private. Drunkenness is replaced with gossip. Profanity is replaced with critical spirit. We also do not sin consciously as much. In other word we don’t plan to do what is wrong – we find yourself more tripping into sin than running eyes wide open into it.

* Meditation Questions: How much of my day is spent in sin? In Repenting? Do I enjoy my life with Christ and is it a burden? Do I have vice sins in my life – the same sin day after day? What am I doing about it? Am I open to God leading me to victory? At what cost?

[1] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (1 Jn 3:4–6). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The true positive confession

Scripture Read: Romans 14:11-12 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.” 12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God

Application: This passage brings home the most sobering fact of life. In the end, no matter what we have believed, no matter the philosophies we have bought into or the theories we have embraced, we will all face the Truth. Is it right to claim this using the Bible? I don’t think that matters…The issue that is raised is valid no matter where it comes from. No matter anyone’s belief in the end we will all have to face the reality of Truth. If Buddha, then we will all have to deal with Nirvana. If Islam, we will be judged by the Koran. The fact is in the end, only one belief is right and all the rest are wrong! Even Paul stated that “if” Christ has not raised we are to be pitied - 1 Corinthians 15:13–19. I am one of those that absolutely are convinced Christ is the Truth and I am filled with both joy and sadness from this passage. Why do I say this? Consider: “Praise” -  exomologeō (ἐξομολογεω), “to acknowledge or profess from the heart,” thus, in a context like this, “to make a confession to one’s honor, hence to praise” (Vincent).  “Give account” - dōsei logon (δωσει λογον). The phrase was a common way of referring to an account in a ledger which a bookkeeper enters (Robertson).[1]

The context here is really the key to what kind of praise this is. This is not the heart-felt expression of joy – it is the sober reality of having to be totally honest with our God – which is a form of praise. It establishes Him as right and pure in His judgments – again not because He needs it but because that is the Truth no matter how we feel and this it is the way it is. All the games will be over, no more rationalizations, excuses, or lies to ourselves. This should fill us with joy because we will be excited to stand before Him face to face accepted in Christ. Realizing all the hope we have had is now sight. Yet, there is a real sadness in this verse because many who will be making this confession will be doing it when it is too late. There are those that try to teach that it is never too late – even famous individuals. The Word makes it clear they are wrong. Even if they are great speakers and can convince many to follow them – the Word states they are wrong! The Truth is truth – not open for change because it is inconvenient or not popular. We have this vapor called life before we enter eternity. As we are when our spirit leaves our body, that is how we will remain for all of eternity. Nothing to me is more scary, yet nothing more freeing. Just to agree with God that He was right in all of it. I could not live it nor attain it myself.  Only because of the blood of His Son am I accepted. Dad, we need not fear this moment, because we are safe in Christ. Help us to live as conscious as we can that this day will come. Lord – whatever time we have left, PLEASE enable us to invest it all. We love you Lord and want to anticipate this time, not to dread it.

* Meditation Questions: Have I already agreed with Who God claims He is in the Word of God? If not - why? What am I doing to find out what I really believe? Is my faith, mine or do I believe what I believe because that’s what someone else told me was true?

[1]Wuest, K. S. (1997, c1984). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament  : For the English reader (Ro 14:10). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The freedom not to judge!

Scripture Read: Romans 14:1-10 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2 One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3 The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. 7 For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8 for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

Application: The greatest cause for harshness and lack of real spiritual maturity is how we handle liberty issues and legalism. Legalism is what filled the hearts of the “seminarians” that called for Christ’s death. The Pharisees were so full of pride they could not see their own sinfulness. Are we called to judge in anyway what others in the Body do? Consider …

Judge - κρίνω krínō -To separate, distinguish, discriminate between good and evil, select, choose out the good. In the NT, it means to judge, to form or give an opinion after separating and considering the particulars of a case. This does not imply flabby indifference to the moral condition of others nor the blind renunciation of attempts at a true and serious appraisal of those with whom we have to live. What is unconditionally demanded is that such evaluations should be subject to the certainty that God’s judgment falls also on those who judge, so that superiority, hardness and blindness to one’s own faults are excluded, and a readiness to forgive and to intercede is safeguarded. The emphatic way in which Jesus extended the law of love in this direction has far-reaching consequences. It means that the Church cannot practice discipline with merciless severity (2 Cor. 11:24). It means that the Church cannot take up a hard, contemptuous and supercilious attitude towards those whom it regards as sinners. It means that Church discipline must make predominant, if not exclusive, use of means which promote edification and pastoral care. Precisely the unreserved seriousness with which the community takes the concept of judgment in the Gospel is that which enables it to overcome a mere legalism in its religious and moral life.[1]

The context of judge is really key. We are to discern right from wrong, without attributing motives. We are also to spend most of that energy looking at our own heart, not everyone else. Obviously when black and white sin is committed in the church, leaders need to take proper, Biblical action in love and hope of restoration. The issue that constantly is abused is liberty and this is where the greatest chance for real maturity exists. This is the stress in real liberty. The person that can enjoy a particular freedom should not feel lifted up or more spiritual,  if they feel they are, then that exposes they are not! Yet the person that cannot in good conscience participate is an issue of freedom should not look down on the one that can participate, and think themselves more spiritual, if they do feel that way, they are not! We are to stand firm on what is right and wrong with the black and white God has given us from His Word! Yet, even then we cannot attribute motives. When it comes to liberty though, there should be no agenda – this is a true mark of maturity – it is between God and that fellow believer. – and we should  respect everyone else with their conscience before God. Thanks for this freedom Dad! Uou truly are incredible with the liberties You have offered all of us as Your children!

* Meditation Questions: What do I think is the difference between black & white teachings and liberty teachings? What do I feel when I see someone sin? What do I feel I see someone do something I think is wrong? What do I feel when I see someone not doing what I think they should be doing?

[1]Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964-c1976 (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (3:939). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The strain of waiting and anticipating

Scripture Read: Rom 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Application: What a combinatio of thought – TO wait …. Eagerly – one holding back, the other pushing forward to see. This is what is being communicated here. Consider …

Wait Eagerly - ἀπεκδέχομαι apekdéchomai; to expect, look for. To wait for, used as a suitable expression for the Christian’s hope which includes the two elements of hope and patience (Rom. 8:25). In Rom. 8:23 the obj. of this fut. expectation is the huiothesía, the adoption, as will be realized in the redemption of the body (Rom. 8:19; 1 Cor. 1:7; Gal. 5:5; Phil. 3:20; Heb. 9:28 [cf. 1 Pet. 3:20]).[1] In the NT Paul has apekdéchomai for expectation of the end (Rom. 8:25). This expectation is focused on the transformation when the adoption enjoyed by faith will be manifested with the resurrection (8:14, 23) and creation will reach the goal for which it, too, is waiting (8:19). This consummation will come with Christ’s return, so that Christ himself is the content of expectation (Phil. 3:20). He is so as the hope of righteousness (Gal. 5:5). On the basis of the gospel that is already received (cf. déchomai), apekdéchomai thus characterizes Christian life as one of expectation of the great climax which gives not only this life but also the whole of creation its meaning.[2]

After doing a quick word study of “wait” both in the Hebrew and Greek there is a clear context to the meaning of this word – It carries with it the idea of humbling yourself, being patient, and having an anticipation. This word is complex in it’s depth and processing. The emotions felt here in some ways conflict with each other yet also compliment each other. It is humbling to put your timing on hold and wait on someone else’s timing – in this case God’s. It requires patience to be on someone else’s time table – in the midst of all this emotional restraint is the anxious emotions that drive anticipation. To process this can be quite confusing. We are telling our emotions to cool it while at the same time we want our emotions to get excited about what is about to take place! Yet this complex mixture of emotion is essential for us to keep our focus on what You want us to Lord. We need to see that You will return in Your time and we should be about the business that any ambassador would be doing – preparing for Your arrival. We do that, not by selling our stuff, moving to the mountains and sit around waiting for You. If we are focused we are using our days to pray for and live like Christ in front of those that still have not embraced the relationship You are offering them. Meanwhile, at the same time, in our heart a longing anticipation to be with You is growing. This keeps us ready for Your return which places the edge we need to live in this evil world. Those that think they have plenty of time often fall victim to the rationalization sin will afford them. They do not live close to You and can become shipwrecked in their faith. Father we want to wait for You in a way that glorifies You. If we are not careful we can either be frustrated with Your timing or become complacent drifting away from You and we lose the anticipation of seeing You move at Your perfect time. Holy Spirit help us learn the balance!  

* Meditation Questions: Do you look forward to rapture to get away from this world or to be with Him? Can it be both? If so how should it be split? Are you backing into heaven (away from hell) or are you running toward it? (Toward Jesus) Are you living everyday hoping He comes back that day? What does that say?

[1] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
[2] Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1995). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (147). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Patience can be a heavy weight

Scripture Read: Rom 15:1-6 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. 2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” 4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Application: - There is nothing harder to do sometimes then show patience. The interesting thing about real patience though is that it does not only convey the concept of waiting – yet many times that is all we allow it to mean to us. Notice the synonyms used for this word: endurance; staying power; tolerance; lack of complaint; persistence; fortitude and serenity. This world carries a lot with it. It deserves to be a part of our thought process in this passage. For it was the patience of Christ that led Him to do what He did for us. Patience translates into much more then just waiting - it can even include the idea of carrying someone else's load. Getting involved intimately with a person can be painful & frustrating. If we are truly going to be patient with them – we may be required to do more then just wait for them to come to where they should be. We may have to go to them and help carry their load to where the Lord desires them to be. This is a must in true discipleship. A discipler is not someone that stands by yelling out marching orders to his disciples and expects them to follow. Life is more complicated then that. A discipler will do what is necessary to help his disciple to grow – that patience may mean getting down in the dirt and helping his disciple carry his or her load. It can be a very heavy load, but remember He is there carrying it with us! That soul is worth it! Jesus, thank You for Your patience toward us. Burden us with that same love for others!

* Meditation Questions: Do you get frustrated when other believers do not seem to grow as fast as you think they should? When you see someone struggling with a sin what do you feel? What does that say? When someone uses the excuse that something is too hard for them, what do you feel? What does that say?