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!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Becoming less as we become more

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 1:15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

Application: Father, in this little passage, one of the greatest examples of what kind of growth in character we should see in our lives as we walk with Christ, is modeled. This is Paul at the end of his life. He has gone through countless trials, many life threatening, and full of suffering. He has traveled the world, making disciples and seeing the good news of the gospel spread to everyone. When I think of what it would be like to spend a week with Paul, I know one of the most obvious things I would notice would be his lack of sin. Paul was such a mature and godly man, I am sure I would be very convicted about my own life. So here is Paul, what all of us would agree must be a very godly man, yet look at the estimation he has of himself. “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” 

Paul saw himself as the worst sinner of all! The more he grew and became intimate with Jesus Christ, the more ungodly he realized he actually was! It is clear this was an out-showing of the fruit from his growth in knowledge and understanding of Christ. In 55 AD he had written the Church of Corinth and stated: 1 Cor. 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. “The least of the apostles” clearly humble, but just to be an Apostle, wow! Then in 60-62 AD he wrote the Church of Ephesus and stated Ephes. 3:8  To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, Here, he was less than the least saint – after years of growth he still saw himself as less. Now we find him in 67 AD he has suffered more and continued to grow in godly character, but he says he is the Chief of Sinners! The closer he got to Christ, his estimation of himself became less. This is spiritual growth, becoming more Christ-like, yet seeing yourself as the sinner you are. Not being puffed up from holy living and bragging about it. Father, true spiritual growth involves becoming godlier while at the same time becoming more humble. Others will only notice this, not ourselves. If we notice how humble we are becoming – WE ARE NOT humble! Father, create in us this same desire Paul had, forgetting ourselves and just pursuing You!

Meditation Questions: How godly do you think you are? Do you ever compare your spiritual life to others? What does that say? Have you ever been listening to a message and you keep thinking that “so & so” should be here? What about you? Did God want you to hear the message? Did you get it or were you too busy thinking about how someone else should be there? When was the last time you did not consider yourself when involved in ministry? Did not think how it would affect you, benefit you, or make you look? What does that show?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The seed is Yours, the response is ours!

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 1:12-14 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.  

Application: Paul understood how he was so undeserving of the mercy shown to him, and that not only was he eternally delivered from sin and guaranteed to be with God in heaven throughout eternity, but God was so gracious that He has chosen to use Paul for His kingdom. This gives Paul the opportunity to experience several things in his life. First, he can now sense complete fulfillment in his life because he is able to sense the purpose of his existence. When we come to Christ that horrible emptiness of purposelessness  disappears. First, we were made to commune with our Creator and experience life with Him. That comes at salvation. Second, Paul is being given time to invest for eternity. Salvation is free for us, but rewards in heaven are not. God could have saved Paul and taken him straight home. Instead, He has allowed Paul to live and use his life as an investment to glorify God. The last phrase in this section can be confusing Lord. 

What does Paul mean by “with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus”?  Doesn’t it require faith to enter into a relationship with Christ? Is Paul stating that even that faith came from Christ? The answer is yes and no. It would not be honest to say that man has no faith in him, unless he is a Christian. Your Word, oh Lord, states that You have placed the knowledge of Yourself in every man’s heart, so a seed of faith in You exists in all humans. However, until Your Spirit stirs that faith, humans will not seek you. Lord,You state if the Son of man be lifted up You will draw all men to You. We may not understand exactly how this works, but we can be assured that when a person is confronted with the Truth that You exist, they have inside themselves that seed of faith You placed in them. If they hearken to the Truth and respond, as Paul did, then Christ brings the maturing of that faith and love in the relationship He enters into with that person. A clearer rending of this verse is found in the NET Bible:

1 Timothy 1:14  and our Lord’s grace was abundant, bringing faith and love in Christ Jesus.

The seed of faith came by You, and when we respond to You, Christ brings salvation which includes the mature faith and love for You. Like babies, we begin with a very innocent faith and love. In the relationship that faith and love remain innocent, but become mature. We learn to trust You in everyway, in spite of trials, and we learn to love You above everything in life. Thank You Lord for teaching us how to trust and how to love.

Meditation Questions: What makes a child’s faith so attractive to God? Can that faith be mature? How? What is the difference between Child like faith and mature faith? Do they belong together? What stops us from trusting God? What kind of faith is that? How do we mature in faith? If you were honest with yourself right now – is your life “just passing time” or is it “investing in eternity”? 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Excuses are no excuse

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 1:12-13 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;    

Application: Is Paul making excuses for his behavior? He was ignorant, so did it not count? Many people claim they did not know what they were doing so we do not hold them accountable. Is this what Paul means? From scripture we find a very firm no! Ignorance is not the excuse for sin. In the first place most ignorance is willful. We choose not to take the time to find out the truth, either because it will trouble us, or cost us something we want, or because we just plain don’t care. Our true heart’s motive is darkened even to our selves Jer. 17:9. How many in the world do believe that when their body dies they continue to exist, yet how many of those same individuals spend any time searching or investigating what they ultimately believe about what happens after death and whether they are prepared. I am not talking about “thinking” about it. All humans think about death constantly, it is the fact that robs us of peace at any moment. That is one of the key changes which will take place after a person has settled this issue with Christ. A peace about death that is clearly not from human origins takes hold of that person’s soul. No longer waking in a sweat at night concerned what will happen if…, no more being at a friend’s funeral and being more consumed with the question of “what will happen to me?” than grief over the loss of your friend. A peace that settles the largest issue in your life, so now you can give your undistracted attention to other things in life.  The ignorance that Paul is referring to has to do with something else. Consider the meaning:

ἀγνοέω agnoéō; from the priv. a, not, and noéō, to perceive, understand. Not to recognize or know. - It came to mean to be ignorant, to have no discernment of, not to understand [1]

So it means just what we would expect – the key then is the context. First, when Paul states he was a blasphemer, we must remember that he realized that his attack was directly on the Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 9:5, 22:7, 26:14) Paul makes no excuses for what he did – he knows he is an undeserving individual. The ignorance Paul is talking about has to do with how God views us through His mercy when we are outside the Faith. Even Jesus warned the Pharisees that “really” seeing makes a difference:

John 9:39–41 (NASB95) And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

Everything Paul did was wrong, but it was in an unregenerate state. He was spiritually blind. He did not know God. As a Pharisee he knew a lot “about” God but he had no intimate knowledge of Him. Because of God’s mercy and grace, He sees what we do before we are enlightened by Christ as things done without a real understanding. Still wrong, but He will forgive and even use you for His glory no matter your past. What a salvation! What a God we have!!! Thank You Father for Your great mercy and grace!

Meditation Questions: Do you make excuses for your sins? What does that say? What is the difference between explaining why you did something and making an excuse? If you can explain why you did something, is there a benefit to that? What is it? When you confess to God your sin what are you doing, informing Him or agreeing with Him? How important is motive to God? Why is this important to understand?

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