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!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The God of Coincidence?

Scripture Read: Esther Chapter 6:1-2 During that night the king could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. 2 It was found written what Mordecai had reported concerning Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who were doorkeepers, that they had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.   

Application: What a coincidence! NOT! We really do not realize how much You are involved in the affairs of men Lord. We have bought the Hollywood story that You are involved only in “major” events or in the affairs we ask for Your input. Your Word tells us and demonstrates that You are the Sustainer and Orchestrator of all of our world. That does not mean You make everything happen, but it is clear that nothing happens that You do not allow – including evil – and You are moving in areas we don’t know about or see in and around us. 

You intervene where You desire, You manipulate as You see fit. You are God! How comforting this should be, but some do not desire Your interference, unless they are in trouble, or they are scratching off the numbers of a lotto ticket – then You should be at their beck and call. I remember a person that lost a loved one as thousands do everyday to a disease. Their statement after the funeral was – “well so much for prayer”. They had rubbed their genie bottle but You did not perform the way they demanded You to. You will not be our genie, but You will be very involved when, where and how You decide to. This is comforting to me and I hope to all who read this. You are a “hands on” God. I can trust someone that sacrificed His Son for my life, and so, for me, I am glad You will be involved in my life as You deem best. Yes, I am human and want the genie at times like so many do but I acknowledge my limited finite view of my world. I will let my desires be made known to You as You instruct us to do, but I will defer to Your will. I owe You the honor which is due You – You are God! In this story we can read the end and see in Mordecai’s life, You know when and how to insert Your influence. Haman is ready to do real harm to Mordecai and You oh Lord cause the King to be awake and rehearse the past – where he just “happens” to see that he – the King – owes Mordecai – not Haman – his life. Father open our eyes to see how You are in our lives even when it is not obvious! Thanks Dad for always watching over the affairs of men! 

Meditation Questions: Do you share all your desires with God? Why? If He answers in a way you were not expecting, how do you handle that? Do you believe God has the right to do anything He wants? Why? Why not? What does God mean? How involved is God in your life? How involved do you want Him to be? What have you done about that?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We set our own trap

Scripture Read: Esther  5:11-14 Then Haman recounted to them the glory of his riches, and the number of his sons, and every instance where the king had magnified him and how he had promoted him above the princes and servants of the king. 12 Haman also said, “Even Esther the queen let no one but me come with the king to the banquet which she had prepared; and tomorrow also I am invited by her with the king. 13 “Yet all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.14 Then Zeresh his wife and all his friends said to him, “Have a gallows fifty cubits high made and in the morning ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on it; then go joyfully with the king to the banquet.” And the advice pleased Haman, so he had the gallows made.

Application:  Another step to place your self into “the Haman principle” is feeding and encouraging bitterness in the heart. Remember, Haman does not know that Esther knows of his plans. All the data he has to react on is very positive. The King has favored him and now it appears the queen is also favoring him. Yet still no satisfaction! 

When we become fixated upon something even to the point that it overrides everything else, this is evidence of no anchor. There is only one instance that I have witnessed where this fixation should be, that is when we are fixated on You Lord. Father, when we allow You to override everything in our life, we arrive at the right place. But with anything else, be it good or evil, we place ourselves at risk. How can “good” work like that? When we allow anything ~ our spouse, children or even ministry, to become so important that we become fixated on them instead of You, Lord the enemy will turn them into idols that control us. This turns that which is good into evil. When the fixation begins with something evil we have begun to set the trap of the “the Haman principle”. Bitterness will build against someone, or because of the fact that we do not have what we want. As that bitterness grows everything else – including good things – fade and do not bring our heart satisfaction. This is how a man forsakes the love of his youth and his children for another woman, job, money, or anything he is infatuated with. This is how a woman kills her own child in her womb, because the child will interfere with the life she wants. Like Haman, many believe that if they could just get what they are fixated on – then satisfaction will come. In time “the Haman principle” will be completed and they will find themselves much worse off. The key is to learn to be content in You, Father. As we allow You to satisfy our hearts we will not fall victim to the trap “the Haman principle” sets up. Father keep our eyes fixated on You, and Your hand will protect us from the traps of the enemy.

Meditation Questions: Have you ever placed anything or anyone above the Lord in your life? What did that look like? What did you learn from that? Where do you seek for satisfaction in life? Do you think you are content? If not, why? If so, why? Is there anything you really want but feel the Lord has held it back from you? What have you done with those emotions? Why is this important? 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Roller Coaster should be a ride at a park, not life

Scripture Read: Esther  5:9-10 Then Haman went out that day glad and pleased of heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate and that he did not stand up or tremble before him, Haman was filled with anger against Mordecai.

Application: What a sad man Haman was! So full of himself, and controlled by outward circumstances. This is a person that does not have “joy” from within but only emotion from without. His day was going so great because of circumstances he perceived to be in his favor. But the moment those outward circumstances changed he lost all the emotional happiness and was filled with anger. What a roller coaster Lord, and we would be wise to learn from this sad figure of a man. How often do we find ourselves on the same ride? 

The amazing thing is that it can go either direction! We can find ourselves on the mountaintop only to receive terrible news that sends us deep into the pit. Or we find ourselves in the pit to then receive something great and now we are flying high in the heavens! After a while of this kind of living we are fried emotionally and just burn out. This is not what You desire for our life Lord. Yet, can we avoid such highs and lows in real life? The answer to that question is multifaceted but still simple. We need to separate the idea of life, i.e. the totality of our existence, from the idea of emotions, i.e. the moments that make up our life. Because emotions are apart of us, we cannot avoid or change the highs and lows or the good and bad that we encounter. We may get a knock on our door, it is the million dollar sweepstakes and we just won! YEA!!! What a high. The doorbell rings again and it is the Tax Man! BOO HOO! We are down! Stuff happens. We need an anchor for our emotions or our highs will be too high and our lows will be too low. Each dip in the ride will be an earth shattering shock. Great for a thrill ride at a theme park but it stinks in life. If, on the other hand our emotions are anchored in the Joy we have of being in a relationship with our Creator – ups and downs will happen, but now they are governed by our knowledge of You Father. We will not be feel subjected to mountains and pits. It is encouraging at least even in the valley of the shadow of death, it is a mere valley, not a terrifying pit of the unknown. Joy is based on You and flows from within – so outward circumstance may affect us but not control us. Father, do not allow us to be like Haman. Let our heart live in joy of the relationship we have with You, then our emotions will be measured by eternity not here and now!     

Meditation Questions: When you feel down, is there light in that tunnel? Does your life feel more like ups and downs or an adventure with victories and defeats? The last time everything seemed to be going right, then trouble came how hard was it to deal with? What does that show you? The last time you were in a troubled time, then things turned around how relieved did you feel? What does that say? 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A proper appeal requires planning

Scripture Read: Esther  5:1-8 Now it came about on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace in front of the king’s rooms, and the king was sitting on his royal throne in the throne room, opposite the entrance to the palace. 2 When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter which was in his hand. So Esther came near and touched the top of the scepter. 3 Then the king said to her, “What is troubling you, Queen Esther? And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be given to you.” 4 Esther said, “If it pleases the king, may the king and Haman come this day to the banquet that I have prepared for him.5 Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly that we may do as Esther desires.” So the king and Haman came to the banquet which Esther had prepared. 6 As they drank their wine at the banquet, the king said to Esther, “What is your petition, for it shall be granted to you. And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done.” 7 So Esther replied, “My petition and my request is: 8 if I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and do what I request, may the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king says.”   

Application: Again, Esther shows us a very important lesson here on making an appeal in this section. Many times we just rush into a request and because we did not take the time to plan our appeal, the request is lost because of the way we made it. Why didn't she just tell the King what she wanted? Remember, the King favored Haman. Esther, though Queen, was still a woman in this culture, which was not a strong position on it’s own. Esther had been married to the King for at least 4 years by this time, but the King had not called for her in over a month. So the faith she showed to even approach him is a testimony to her character. In this section she continues to show her wisdom that she received from You Lord. She plans her appeal to make sure that the King is ready to listen. That is what we need to do when we are going to make a request that might be a difficult one or might have great ramifications. Making an appeal, the right way takes strategy. Timing is important. When we think through our appeal we need to ask ourselves some important questions like: What do I want? What is my goal? What am I willing to accept, what is my flexibility? What other options are there? What is the bottom line, where must I say no? So often we do not even get to our requests because our approach is so quick that we do not give the person a chance to really listen. I am not talking about “smoozing”, or “buttering someone up”; I am talking about seeking God for wisdom of how to best present the request one may have. Even Jesus did that, notice

Luke 24:13–25 (NASB95) And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. 16 But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. 17 And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” 19 And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. 21 “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. 22 “But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. 24 “Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” 25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!

Jesus knew the “things” that had happened, but by planning how to answer these two, He led with a question so they could open up and contemplate their real feelings on this matter. This prepared them to hear and receive what He would say. Father, we need to slow down and seek Your wisdom when we are trying to get someone’s attention. We cannot just walk up and “vomit” our thoughts on them and expect them to receive it. You can guide us to how to approach individuals in a way that they will at least listen. Lord, help us to commit ourselves to seeking You first before we speak.

Meditation Questions: When you share a request to someone: How much time did you spend planning it? Did you consider all options? Did you consider how the other person would feel? When someone surprises you with a request, how do you feel? Have you ever not listened to a request just because the way it was presented? What does that teach you? 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Faith includes common sense

Scripture Read: Esther 5:1-2  Now it came about on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace in front of the king’s rooms, and the king was sitting on his royal throne in the throne room, opposite the entrance to the palace. 2 When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter, which was in his hand. So Esther came near and touched the top of the scepter.  

Application: Faith is an action word but it also includes common sense. Faith is an action word but it also includes common sense. We need to remember to not become so against works that we do not use the brain You have given us Lord. We do not want to go to where the world goes - “God helps those who help themselves” – This may sound good but it is very flawed because it’s dependence is on self. That is exactly what the flesh wants. We take hidden pride in self-accomplishment and before we know it we think the life we have built was by the power of our own hands, we “helped” ourselves. A slippery slope made of semantics and good intentions. How we allow ourselves those thoughts is beyond me – even individuals that deny Your existence have the life they have ONLY because You have allowed it! They may not see it or refuse to acknowledge it, but truth is truth. So we do not want to enter that way of thinking. However, sometimes we take it to far. When we trust in You, we exercise our faith, we show action, and use our mind to plan our approach to the issue as Esther did. She did not fast and pray for 3 days and then just casually walk into the Kings presence expecting the Lord God to pave the way for her. She took time to dress appropriately and then enter the court and wait, with all of her dependence on You Lord, not the King’s soft heart. Daniel did the same thing concerning the food he ate. He prayed and depended on You Lord, not the king or the servants to change the circumstances so that he could obey the direction You had impressed upon him Lord.

Daniel 1:8–16 (NASB95) 8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials, 10 and the commander of the officials said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has appointed your food and your drink; for why should he see your faces looking more haggard than the youths who are your own age? Then you would make me forfeit my head to the king.” 11 But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 “Then let our appearance be observed in your presence and the appearance of the youths who are eating the king’s choice food; and deal with your servants according to what you see.” 14 So he listened to them in this matter and tested them for ten days. 15 At the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food. 16 So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables.

We need to think the same way, always depending wholly on You Lord, while at the same time being wise in ourselves to think, plan and approach the situation in the best possible way. Father, help us keep the connection of our faith to our mind! 

Meditation Questions: When you step out in faith how much thought have you given that step? Do we have blind faith? If you say yes why? If you say no why? When God leads you to do something do you make a plan? Is there a difference in using common sense in your faith and trying to control the agenda? What is the difference?


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Faith is a decision

Scripture Read: Esther 4:15-17 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.17 So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him.

Application: Faith or resolution, which comes first Lord? Do we make a decision first and then faith takes us through it, or do we trust in You, Lord, first and then find the willpower to follow through is there? Perhaps there is no way to really measure it unless we are You Lord. We are not, so what we should do instead is see how they work in relation to each other so we can do the same.  We see that Esther understands the danger she is in if she follows Mordecai’s request, yet she also understands it was the hand of God who put her in the position she now occupies during the time of this crisis. Add to that what must be a character trait of Esther to stand for what is right and the end result is not surprising. She reaches out in faith to our Lord by requesting all those involved to seek Him in fasting. She shows us an example of her faith through her action. For three days all will seek Your help Lord, then Esther will approach the King. Notice her resolve – much like Daniels three friends:

Daniel 3:14–18 (NASB95)  Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 “Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

This is when we really find out what we believe. When we are in a situation that is clearly beyond our abilities to solve… if we turn to You Lord, and follow through on our commitment, not seeing how our situation will be resolved, our faith in Him is confirmed, to ourselves and to those around watching. Esther is our example of holding onto the mercy of our Lord, counting solely on You Lord, not her position, looks, personality or the King. Showing complete dependence upon You and You alone. There is nothing harder for us to do nor more attractive to our Lord. Father, You love to show us Your great and wonderful deliverance and grace, but we often do not place ourselves in the position to see it. Lord we know You desire us to use our commonsense, getting ourselves into problems because of sloppy living and then expecting You to get us out of it, is not what we are talking about here. When we walk close to You and the path still leads over and off the cliff of safety, that is when we must trust You and watch You take us through. Help us, oh Lord, for we are only clay, we need Your strength in this world we live.

Meditation Questions: When was the last time you believed something from God that only He could accomplish? To you try and see the end of something before you make a decision? What does that say? Are you trying in your own power to believe God? How can you receive power from Him to believe in Him?