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!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Not placing ourselves in the path of failure

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 5:11-15 But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, 12 thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge. 13 At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. 14 Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15 for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.

Application: Whenever we encounter a passage such as this we need to remember we are reading it from our cultural context, but it was written to their cultural context. So we need to be careful not to place our expectations on the passage, while at the same time we allow the Holy Spirit to bring forth the universal truths that lie in the passage. Paul is finishing his instructions to Timothy here concerning how the church should handle the support of widows. This was not the 21st century where women could hold careers and fend for themselves as it is today. For the most part, next to orphans and handicapped individuals, widows were very vulnerable. Without a husband they could find themselves very easily without the necessities of life. So why does Paul separate the younger from the older widow? The answer is given in verse 12 where Paul points out that younger women may set aside their previous pledge. The early church had come to the place where if a believing widow needed to be sustained because she had no family, she would commit to work for the Lord and the local Body. In turn the local Body would care for all of her needs. 60 years old was quite old at this time and the chances for a widow to remarry or even want to would be very rare. A younger widow would be a different story. In essence God is trying through the instruction of Paul to protect younger widows from making a vow and then breaking it. It would be normal at a time of grief over the loss of her husband to want to be as close to God as possible. Add to that the normal fear of how am I going to survive? and a young widow, at that moment, may see that living a life single totally committed to the Lord and His local Body was a reasonable decision. However, our Lord knows that life is made of seasons, and young men and woman have many desires that stir them on to marriage. Of course one of those is the desire for sex, and once the initial grief of the loss was over, those desires would reawaken.
Feel sensual desires” is katastrēniaō (καταστρηνιαω), in the original and means, “to feel the impulses of sexual desire.”

This is normal and nothing is wrong with it, the problem was that a young widow had made a pledge, and with this desire, including having children, reawakened in her, she could lose focus. Too ashamed to back out of her vow, she can get sidetracked into other things like gossip, and being a busybody, trying to fill her time, because she is frustrated over desires that are not fulfilled. God understands this season women go through, and so, warns that young widows should not be put in that position in any culture. They will have a season of grief, but after that it is better for them to return to the role that was the norm for a young woman in this culture. Married, encouraging her spouse and raising a family; this is an issue already because Paul mentions that some have already made this mistake. Father, You truly are always looking out for our best, even when we may not see it at the time!

Meditation Questions: When you read instructions from the Word that counter what you want to do, how do you view that command? Confining?  Killjoy? Protection? Why would God tell us to do things that don’t make sense? Did you understand all the rules you had when a child? Do you see them differently now? What does that say? Is it demeaning to think of “roles” for men and women? Why? Why not? Is it possible that our Creator created men and women with certain drives, abilities, strengths and weaknesses that define certain roles in society? Like a fish IN water?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A life that speaks for itself

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 5:9-10 A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, 10 having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work

Application: In a previous section I talked about Responsibility for the giver, here Paul discusses further the qualifications or RESPONSIBILITIES of the receiver, in this case the widow. Paul qualifies that the financial gift the church takes offerings for the support of widows was not just some love gift, this was more like a retirement income. The church was committing to meet her needs, as they arose, for the rest of her life. I am not going to revisit all the points covered previously, instead I would like for us to consider the issue Paul speaks on, highlighting the life we should have with the world outside the Church using widows as the example. Often we become over focused in our ministry, as we meet the needs of the Body of Christ and lose focus of the world going to hell.

Meeting the needs of the Body is important and the scripture emphasizes that, but as with all of the Word there is balance. We see here 3 very essential faces that the world needs to see from every believer!

1. Having a reputation for good works This is the testimony in the community we live in, among the unbelievers and believers in the church. There are many that have a church reputation and a work reputation. Some are so different that they would not recognize each other if they bumped into each other on the street! This shows we are not growing spiritually. Our Spiritual Foundation is lacking and we lack intimacy with our Lord. This speaks to an integrated life that is transparent, what we are, where ever we are should be the same.

2. Has shown hospitality to strangers How consistent is your friendliness to those you know versus those that you dont? Obvious your love and friendship will be at a different level for those you know versus strangers, but what is being considered here is how open are we to those that we have no comfort zone with? This is a real work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the child of God. Only God can empower us to let those natural walls down we all have when it comes to people we do not know. This fruit will not be produced if we do not seek it, we need to ask God to help us be open and kind to strangers.
3. Has assisted those in distress Now we find ourselves in the book of James, because this was one of his challenges to all those that call themselves Christian. When we see someone in need and only tell them we hope they feel better, but do nothing for them, we confuse what the term Christian love means.  (James 2:14-19) We show our lack of gratitude for all Christ has done for us.

Romans 15:1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.

Acts 20:35  “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

Matthew 25:44–46 “Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

When we step out in faith and assist someone in distress, it will cost us something; money, time, sometimes even our safety, and that is a message that resonates even in the most hostile atheist!

Yet we are commanded to give,

Proverbs 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it.

God has always honored His childrens actions of love, we may not always see how He honors, but Jesus said He sees it and it is kept in His record book. Thanks Lord how your Word challenges us to check your works against our words. They both need to be there! 

Meditation Questions: What would your neighbors say you are like? What about your coworkers? What does that say? What is the difference between a testimony and an image? What is image based on? What is testimony based on? When you do good things for others, what is the reason? If your deeds go unnoticed how does that effect you? Most individuals that you consider very strong believers, what is that based on? What they say? How they live? What does your answer show you? 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

God is not a welfare God

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 5:7-8 Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach.  But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Application: An unpopular text in this world of the "welfare state" we live in today.  The thought of holding people accountable is not in vogue. It is the job of those that "have" to take care of those that "don't have" no matter the reason! Once again we are confronted by Your integrity Lord. You are the One that created and commanded charity be given. You instructed even the harvesters to not harvest all, leaving some for the foreigner and those in need to be able to glean some little bit. Because You are the One that stated that You give people their needs and even extra so they can use that extra to help those in need! No One understands sacrificial giving more than You Lord! Yet, Your integrity demands that it be real charity, not taking from those that work to give it to slothful, lazy individuals, or feel its easier to live purposeless and want to live off others. Having this balance would cause an incredible change in our society. Hunger can motivate people to become honest about whether they can work or not. I know it is not popular to call individuals lazy, but many in our society dont work because they just plain dont want to, it is not a matter of they cannot work, but are unwilling to work. 

The reasons are inexhaustible, from not enough pay, or title, to a new syndrome that makes work impossible. Why should we be surprised with this reality? We are all sinners, and if we allow our flesh to control us, it will lead us away from what is good for us. Work requires a discipline in life that the flesh just does not like. If I can get all my needs taken care of and have 40-50 extra hours a week to do what I want to do, should I be surprised that my flesh would prefer that, instead of the discipline and structure that working each week to live requires. The tragic part is that, though this kind of charity is what is most practiced now, the ultimate outcome is producing a very sick environment. Is it logical to expect that when we give a person enough money to make it through the week, plus 40-50 extra hours of free time that any other outcome would take place than the one we have; every kind of drug addiction, all kinds of gambling, including the Lotto, people with no esteem or purpose. Work produces integrity, self worth, purpose, accomplishment and an ability to make and reach goals. Being cared for when you could work and care for yourself produces entitlement mentality, envy, no appreciation for property or rewards acquired by work and a society that only looks after its own wants. Also, we dont see our true situation in this world which is a partnership with our Creator, that blesses the work of our hands. We do not become dependent on You Lord, we become a ward of the State.  God did create creatures that live off of others, but they are parasites, not humans. Real human life always involves responsibility and participation in the community of other humans. That way there is an ability by that community to minister to the folks that really cannot work to feed themselves.

Meditation Questions: What do you like about your work? What don’t you like about your work? What can you do to make your work more fulfilling? Do you depend on your job to meet your needs? What does that show? Do you see your job as a part of the call God has for you? What does your answer show? Is it wrong to expect a person to earn what he or she has? Is anything in this world really totally free? What about Salvation? What does your answer show about your understanding of Salvation?  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Is it Flowers and Cards or commitment of Heart?

1 Jn 4:19 We love, because He first loved uswe know this to be true.

1 Cor 13 gives us the ultimate description of love.

1 Cor 13:4–13 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails…But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Perhaps on this day we need to examine how we love those around us. Love is PROACTIVE–on the night He knew all would forsake Him He still reached out to them

John 13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

Luke 22:14-15 And when the hour had come He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him.  And He said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;

Love is PROTECTIVE–the rich man came seeking eternal life thru the law:

Mark 10:17–22  As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 “You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

Jesus did not hide the truth to satisfy this man. He loved him and tried to protect him even though the truth would be difficult to hear.

Love is PERPETUAL – there is NO “quit” in this word.

Isaiah 49:15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.

Stop loving with your heart…LOVE with His heart, there is no better fragrance!