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, December 2, 2011

Understanding the difference between Essence and Position

Scripture Read: : 1 Timothy 2:9-15 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.
 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

Application: The context of this section is very important. As we have already observed Paul emphasizes that women should focus on the inside – not outward appearance. A story comes to mind. An old man is entering a building and he sees a young woman following him in. He holds the door for her. She, looks at him with disdain and states, “You don’t have to hold the door for me because I am a woman!”. He smiles and states, “I am not holding this door for you because you are a woman, I am holding this door for you because I am a gentleman!”. What we are should flow from the inside. We do need to see the difference though between “essence” and “position”. They are very different in reality and if we can grasp that, the offense that comes with passages like this dissipates quickly. Again, it also depends on the culture you are raised in, but for the most part, those that have come from western societies, this issue is used to claim that the Scriptures are prejudiced against women and that God is a chauvinist. Nothing is further from the truth. The woman in Proverbs 31 is a very capable, intelligent individual. What cultures do should not be blamed on God. By the time this was written the Jewish culture forbid women to study, you will not find that thinking by God anywhere in scripture. What we do find is God’s design for how certain things should run. This is where the difference between “essence” and “position” must be understood. Paul states elsewhere that there is no difference to God between male and female. He is making it clear that both are equal in His eyes in essence.

However, just as with the Godhead, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are equal to the Father in essence – all are God – in position they have submitted themselves to the Father. So it is with the family, the husband is held accountable to be the leader and lead his family toward God. So it is in the Body of Christ. Men are chosen by God to lead the Church as Pastors. This does not mean that a woman cannot teach the Bible. I have heard great lessons by gifted women teachers of the Word, but they did not hold the position of overseer of the local Body. God holds men accountable to do that and men will be judged on their willingness to follow God in this matter. This does not have to do with ability; it has to do with God’s ordained leadership He desires. God is expecting our sisters to submit to our leadership in the local Body. We better step up and lead in a godly fashion or we will owe our sisters and our Lord an apology. Again, this is where we also need to understand the difference of having our own standard, versus trying to get everyone to agree with us. I have women Pastors, I do not think it is my responsibility to go to them and challenge their call. They answer to the Lord like I do. I will teach that I believe the Bible demands that Elders be male, if a woman Pastor came to me and challenged me I would remain where I am at and make it clear that I believe the Word is clear, and that she does not need to clear it with me – she needs to deal with the Lord on this. I would still love my sister in the Lord, but I would not Shepherd a church with her. If she thinks I am narrow I accept that and would appeal to her that I alone answer to God for my conscience, she will not stand in my place, so she can continue to do what she believes she should, for I will not stand in place for her either. Thanks Lord that in the end we really need to only be concerned with what You will think, not everyone else!

Meditation Questions: When you hold a conviction on a debatable issue, what process did you go through to arrive at that conviction? How many books other than the Bible do you use to come to your convictions? What does that say? Is it hard for you to accept that God has assigned positions in the body of Christ that are not for everybody? What do you do about your feelings on that? Do you see a difference between essence and the function of the position? In essence, do you believe all children of God are equal? If yes, why? If no, why? Do you have Scripture that supports your conviction?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dealing with issues you don’t like

1 Timothy 2:11-15 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

Application: We come to a passage now that is quite controversial today. Before we talk about what the passage is saying, it is very important to look at a greater truth that is brought forth from this passage. Paul makes it clear that in the church women are not to be the lead teachers over the men. He then recalls the history back to the fact that Adam was created first, stating the obvious, that it was Eve who was deceived. What does all this mean? First, lets do a heart check to assess our motives. If we are committed to following the Word of God no matter what He asks us to do, then we must embrace even the parts we do not understand or like. If God has designed the church to function under the leadership of men, i.e. male pastors, regardless of  our own preference, if were are honest we must submit to all the teaching of the Word of God. 

The principle here is clear and must incorporate all of the Word of God, including any teaching that goes against the popular trend of the day or the cultural preference of any group. All of us have encountered passages in Scripture that are contrary to the way we think, or the way we think it should be. Perhaps, some of these passages are placed in Scripture for this exact purpose. God makes it clear that some of the trials in the wilderness were intended to test the hearts of his people. The REAL issue was the reaction of the people. The Father desires integrity from all of us when dealing His Word. Whether we understand why or if we agree with it is not the issue. The Scripture states what it does, our understanding or agreeing may not be the most important issue to the Lord. Will we be honest with His Word and give it the respect it deserves. So before we become focused on interpreting this section of Scripture it is vital we confront our hearts to be honest about how our motives can derail us when we are approaching the Scriptures. We must ask ourselves, if I find something that I do not like, or that I disagree with, am I willing to submit to the teaching in spite of my own bias? This is an attitude that the Holy Spirit can and will honor. As we approach the Scriptures with a humble heart, the Holy Spirit will give us the grace to accept that which we find difficult and in time, even to not only obey but to rejoice in the fact that we understand the truth that God is communicating. Father, You desire us to seek Your truth and respond to it in obedience, even when it is not exactly the way we want it.

Meditation Questions: When you approach the Scripture what is your attitude? When you read something in the Word and find that you dod not want the Word to take that position, what do you do about it? Do you think God is mad at you if there are areas of His Word you struggle with? Why? With those areas, do you still obey what they say? What does that say? Should our feeling affect what the Word states? Why? Do we have a right to pick and choose what part of the Word we agree with? What does that do to the Word of God?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We are so much more than what we look like or own.

1 Timothy 2:9-10 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

Application: So, is our Lord against all this dressing up we do? Realize Paul identifies women here, but in this day and age it would have to include men. We men, spend as much time chiseling our bodies, spending as much money buying our clothes, and jewelry, not to mention our “big boy toys” as women do. In an effort to balance every verse with ALL of the Word of God, we glean from many other passages that You Lord are cool with us enjoying the niceties of this world as we are blessed with them. Even Ecclesiastes makes that point direct and clear. The issue in this verse seems to be two-fold, FOCUS and PROJECTION. Jesus warns us several times not to spend our focus of time on these things as the obsession to have them can become evil. He did not say they were evil. Admittedly any of us can become over focused on getting and collecting these things, which then becomes a problem. The way to find balance, He emphasizes, is to seek God first and allow Him to bless you with all these things. The other issue is the matter of projection. Too many of us spend more time trying to project ourselves to the world from the external things in our life. Our beauty and worth are only surface because we allow ourselves to be duped into listening to what the world calls valuable. We allow the pressure of the world’s view to dictate how we see ourselves. Before you know it we are the emperor parading through town stark naked claiming that our new clothes are spectacular. 

The Holy Spirit and the Word of God is like the little boy in that story, shedding the light of truth on the situation, exposing us to the embarrassing reality. What we convinced ourselves to believe how we looked was really a façade. So it is when we try to build our reality around the outward things in this life. True beauty comes from within. Worth has so much to do with what we are, not what we look like or own. For the most part our “looks” are nothing we made happen. We may help ourselves look better, or even pay someone to make us look better – but our height, body type, hair, eye color, facial features were given to us by the One Who designed us. Too many take credit for what You have done Lord, even when it comes to talent. Someone that is 6’8” may need to work on skills, but the fact is You equipped them to play basketball, they had nothing to do with their height. Yes, we need to develop our natural talents, but the raw material is from You. Our personalities and behavior however, have very much to do with our active participation. We can choose to be kind; we cannot choose to be 6’8”! Father, lead us into developing the real worth, the person inside us. Let us continue to train and practice those abilities and talents we were born with, but help us to see that what is inside us is so much more valuable than the externals that fade with age.

Meditation Questions: What makes you feel valuable, worthy or useful? What does that say? When you evaluate what you think of someone, what are the issues you consider? What percentage of that is external? What does that show you about yourself? When God looks at us, what does He look at? What does that show you? How much time do you spend on taking care of the external things in your life? How much time do you reflect on what you are inside? What does that show you?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Praying for leaders, can bring many questions

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 2:8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

Application: What a connection of actions that seems to not make sense! Lifting holy hands in prayer, yet warning that it not be done with wrath and dissension. How could this be? Father, this is what I love about Your word, it is so honest! We must remember the context here; Paul is exhorting us to pray for everyone, especially our leaders. Who is like You Oh Lord that understands the heart of men? We may set out to pray for our leaders, but if not careful our emotions can seize control and before we know it, inside is a great struggle concerning how we are praying and what we are praying for. The two words used here communicate the real problem.

Wrath - ὀργή orgḗ; Wrath, anger as a state of mind. Aristotle says that orgḗ, anger, is desire with grief (cf. Mark 3:5; Rom. 12:19; Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8)

There are leaders that by their action make us so angry that we might approach You Lord with our mind controlled by anger. The dangerous part of this is we might only think that anger is toward the leader, but a subtler villain lurks deep within our thinking. We may be angry with You for allowing this person to be a leader. Much like Jonah, who knew You would be merciful and did not want mercy for the enemies of his people. We must take the time to thank You for Your workings in our world and then pray for that leader, knowing that no matter what He has done, You placed him in this position and will hold him accountable for that. The other word brings us full circle in our battle with our emotions:

Dissension -  διαλογισμός dialogismós; In the sense of dispute, debate, contention (Mark 9:33, 34 in its verbal form; Luke 9:46; Phil. 2:14; 1 Tim. 2:8).[1] It can also be used for “anxious reflection” or “doubt.” Torturing doubts are denoted in Lk. 24:38. In R. 14:1: μὴ εἰς διακρίσεις διαλογισμῶν there is to be no disputing about trifles. Similarly, the command in Phil. 2:14: πάντα ποιεῖτε Χωρὶς γογγυσμῶν καὶ διαλογισμῶν, refers to murmuring and doubt, In 1 Tm. 2:8: Χωρὶς ὀργῆς καὶ διαλογισμοῦ, the translation “without wrath or disputing”4 yields good sense, but διαλογισμός does not have to be contention. We thus do better to follow the linguistic instinct of the Greek exegetes and interpret διαλογισμός as doubt or questioning. This also has the advantage of giving a wider range to the admonition.[2]

How contentious doubt can be! It is clear from scripture that questioning is human and You have many examples in Your word that show You are open for us to question what is going on and even why, but doubt is another animal. Doubt questions Your integrity and Your motives. This is dangerous territory for us because the enemy prowls like a lion waiting to feed the doubts. He loves trying to accuse You to us as someone unloving and not concerned. The truth is Satan tries to cast You as he is in reality! Everything he tries to convict You of in the courts of our heart is in reality true about him. The entire ego, the selfishness, self-glory and self-seeking. We must pause as we pray for those that have such power to do so much evil, and remind ourselves Who really is in control and remember Your Son gave Himself for all, including these leaders. Our knowledge of these truths should control our emotions concerning the circumstances.

Meditation Questions: Do you see a difference is questioning God and doubting God? How would you define it? Do you have a line drawn in your thinking where your questioning ends and doubt begins? What will questioning God do to you? What will doubting God do to you? Do you pray for your leaders? When you pray for them, what do you pray for? How hard is it for you to pray for leaders you think are evil? What should you do about that?  

[1] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
[2] Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964- (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.