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!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Facing reality now is much wiser than later

Scripture Read: Esther 4:1-2 When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly. 2 He went as far as the king’s gate, for no one was to enter the king’s gate clothed in sackcloth.   

Application: How honest are we about life? Many do all they can to keep any uncomfortable situations or even thoughts far from them. This passage is a great illustration of what many people do in life to avoid the reality that life has. It was against the law for anyone to come before the King with sadness or mourning. The King insulated himself from anything that might make his life uncomfortable. He kept his entire life sanitized from anything in the world that he did not like. All the people around him were pleasant to look at, no handicapped individuals or individuals with birth defects. The whole area was full of people that were there to bring delight to the King. He even had input to him controlled. No one could come before the King unless they had been called. Kings were known for killing the people that brought bad news. They killed the messenger if they didn’t like the message. 

Many of us live this way today. We do all we can to not face the harsh realities of a fallen world. This is one of the reasons Jesus said it was so hard for the rich to be saved. They are not greater sinners than anyone else – but they have so much ability to keep their life in a chosen comfort zone, and keep themselves distracted from the unpleasantness of this world. Many, even lead causes and take comfort in the fact that others are the reason for the problems. They say “we” are polluting the world and destroying it – while their lifestyle uses 10-20 times the world’s resources that any one middle class person does or 100 times more than the average person in a 3rd world country uses. We all are in danger of doing this in various ways. We avoid dealing with the deaths of people we know because it brings the reality of our own finiteness to the surface. We focus at the crimes or failures of others – which distracts us from owning up to our own failings. Father – teach us from this King – he lived in a make believe world. To live well for at most 100 years and then to spend eternity separated from You is a terrible reality. Give us the courage to be real now and answer life’s most important questions: Why are we here; What is the purpose of life and what will happen to us after our body has ceased? This is reality and can lead us to the best future reality. Thanks Lord!

Meditation Questions: When uncomfortable thoughts enter your mind what do you do with them? How often to you think about y0ur future and consider what it will be? Do you put off dealing with difficult issues or situations? What did you think about the last time you attended a funeral? When someone tells you bad news how do you treat them? 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Not being shy about our faith

Scripture Read: Esther 4:1 When Mordecai learned all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city and wailed loudly and bitterly.

Application: This passage should cause us to step back and reflect on several issues concerning our walk with the Lord. I realize that those of us that live in countries where the citizens have rights can vote and even run for office there is a balance that must be maintained between our faith and our actions. Each believer must come to their own conviction of how involved they become in the affairs of this world. Trying to compare what we should do in our present world based on the previous governments in the scriptures is not realistic. 

Monarchies did not give the believer the same stewardship that we have if we live in a society where freedom, democracy and citizenship responsibilities exist. That having been said, this passage still speaks volumes concerning certain universal truths that we need to deal with. Mordecai turned FIRST to who he knew. Why? He had connections to the King through Esther. He could even try to bring to the King’s remembrance about his part in saving the King’s life. No, not him, he set the example that we should all follow. He turned to God. Tearing his clothes, putting on sackcloth and ashes was a very clear statement to God about the situation. This is what we need to do Lord – come first to You. You may lead us to some human help – but is our confidence in them or You? Too many in the Body today turn to political answers first. That exposes where our faith is. It takes real faith to turn to You first instead of grabbing control of the situation and trying to intimidate, compensate or communicate an answer to the situation. As I said, there is a balance; You may lead us to a government person, or a judicial solution, but our confidence should be in You first and only. We also need to see that Mordecai was not private about his statement of faith. Everyone that saw him knew he was turning to You in sorrow. Far too many times we do not share with others because we are afraid of what will happen. Will they think we are silly? Maybe what we desire is not Your will, when the solution comes out different, we are embarrassed – like we have to apologize for You. Lord, this keeps us children in our faith. We need to stand as adults in front of the world and help them see that believing in You does not mean You are not God. So many think that because we are Your children we now call the shots – some even teach that! How tragic. We need to come to You first and believe that You will do what You deem best – we have the privilege of sharing our desire in the matter – but as adults we understand that we do not see what You see or think like You think. True faith is believing in You even when we don’t get what we want or when Your answer is something we cannot understand. Dad, help us to turn to You first!

Meditation Questions: When you face a mountain that seems so big you could never conquer it, what do you do? What does the word impossible mean to you? When you have to trust the Lord, do you make sure no one else knows it? What does that show? How can we help our friends see how God works in our life? 

Monday, September 5, 2011

The enemy’s real target

Scripture Read: Esther 3:13-15 Letters were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces to destroy, to kill and to annihilate all the Jews, both young and old, women and children, in one day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to seize their possessions as plunder. 14 A copy of the edict to be issued as law in every province was published to all the peoples so that they should be ready for this day. 15 The couriers went out impelled by the king’s command while the decree was issued at the citadel in Susa; and while the king and Haman sat down to drink, the city of Susa was in confusion.

Application: The damage that evil and hasty decisions make! An entire city sent into confusion because of one man’s hatred and another man’s sloppy stewardship of his authority. It is true that no man is an island; no one really lives to himself or herself. A Creator that will call for an account of the stewardship of the life He endowed that person with touches everyone. Right there we see that not one person is alone in life. What we do affects our Creator. Yet another reality is behind the scenes that is much more sinister and has wreaked havoc on humanity since the creation. There is another individual that always has an interest in every person – not because of them – but because God loves them. The enemy of man’s soul and his workers are always looking for individuals they can use to bring destruction. One single man’s hatred can be used to fuel a forest fire that destroys so much. Hitler is an example! One leader’s sloppy use of authority can allow great sorrow to fall on a whole land. Think of the ambassadors from the USA & England that tried to appease Hitler and failed to exercise the authority needed to stop him before he began. The enemy loves to grab one little individual and empower them to accomplish great evil. We need to keep that fact close to our heart when we feel hatred or when we are given authority. We are told to be angry but not sin. When anger escalates to hatred, God still desires to walk us through our hatred and produce mercy, forgiveness and love. He desires to teach us to use our authority to bring Him glory, others joy and bring ourselves to His peace and approval. Father thanks for this great story of Esther – there is so much to learn and grow from.

Meditation Questions: Have you ever seen someone used by the enemy? Have you ever felt the enemy used you? How? Have you ever hated someone? What did that feel like? How did it affect you? What can we learn from hate? How does God produce unconditional love in us?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Manipulation is wrong but still not an excuse

Scripture Read: Esther 3:9-12 If it is pleasing to the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those who carry on the kings business, to put into the kings treasuries. 10 Then the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 The king said to Haman, The silver is yours, and the people also, to do with them as you please. 12 Then the kings scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and it was written just as Haman commanded to the kings satraps, to the governors who were over each province and to the princes of each people, each province according to its script, each people according to its language, being written in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the kings signet ring.   

Application: There are some real sobering truths the Lord has for us here. The evil that is in the heart of man is shocking, yet we know except for Your grace any of us could do things we would consider outrageous now. Your salvation changes everything we think, judge and value. I dont know what I would be like right now if I had not been redeemed by Your Son. All of us should contemplate this truth. It is also amazing how the enemy works behind the scenes. Only Mordecai offended Haman, what does a little Jewish boy or girl have to do with that? Yet, the entire Jewish population was the target, to be wiped out for the personal offense of one mans to another. The enemy must do anything to crush the seed of the Messiah so he fills Hamans heart with a hatred that makes no sense. Another step in being trapped by the Haman principle is to manipulate the authority needed to accomplish your agenda. Haman presents the Jews as a people that are a threat to the King not as a group that offends Haman personally. This is common among leaders even in churches, where people manipulate leaders to turn on their Pastor. I have personally seen this in the market place. Often half-truths are shared to people in authority that will be used to hurt the individual that did nothing to the person in authority. The sad truth that we also see is the danger of misusing authority. The King may give Haman his ring and then try to wash his hands of the blood much like Pilate but that will not stand before You, oh Lord. We who are in authority take on the responsibility of all the ramifications of everything we approve of or enable action toward. You, oh Lord, hold the person in headship responsible for what they do or allow to be done. Father protect us from being unwise as this King, when we give someone permission to use our authority, let us make sure we know what we will held accountable for.

 Meditation Questions: What do you think manipulation means? Have you ever tried to get someone to do something because you wanted it? Why? How do you feel when someone tries to trick you into doing something you would not have done on you own?
In the end, no matter the reason, who do you believe answers for any decision or action you make? Why is this question important?