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, March 17, 2012

The most ignored reality

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 6:7  For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

Application: This passage is most likely one of the most sobering truths in all the scripture. It states a reality that all know, but most try to ignore. It is the same reason why so many individuals avoid funerals. When we are confronted with the fact that we are finite beings, we look for ways to not face that. Whether it be busyness, leisure or intellectual pursuits, anything that will keep our mind from having to reflect on this reality. This passage gives us the harsh reality that; the only thing that lasts out of all of our life is us! Our riches, our looks, our fame all remain here. We cannot even control what our memory will be, everything is out of our hands, even how our body is disposed of. We can write what we want, but there is no guarantee that our wishes will be followed. 

The funny thing is, if you give it some thought, this should be the most liberating truth to any believer. What matters for eternity is not the stuff you acquired during your journey down here. The Pharaohs may have thought that all the gold, jewels, food and even people that they placed in their giant tombs may have kept them company and comforted them in the afterlife, but a millisecond after they breathed their last, they were one on one with their Maker, with nothing but who they became in this  life on earth.  No title or position, not even awards for great things, join you at that meeting. This should cause us to rejoice! All of us have the same opportunity to invest in eternity, no matter our station in life. We come in as a creation of God, and that is how we leave. The question is: along this journey did we become a new creation? If we did, we should look forward to that appointment! God Himself will examine what we have allowed Him to create in us. Not our bank account, not our statues, trophies, or lack there of. He will be looking at our heart and how much it has conformed to look like Jesus. Let us not be concerned with what our outside world looks like, we leave that here, it is our inside world that counts! Father, grant us Your wisdom to invest our lives in that which is eternal!

Meditation Questions: When you are gone, what will people remember the most about you, what you had or what you were? How many people in your circle of life know the “real” you, warts and all? Looking at your life, how much energy do you spending “getting” versus “becoming”? What does that show you about your life?  If you knew you were going to meet with the Lord today how would that make you feel? Why? Are you ready? If not, what do you need to do? If you are, are you making the most of your time while your on your way?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Is contentment possible?

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.

Application: All that man looks for, lives for, dreams of and even invests his life in, is right here in this verse, yet goes unseen by so many. The reason is we allow the world to define what gain is. What we fail to recognize is that due to the fact that in essence we are spiritual beings created in the image of God, nothing except communion and relationship with Him will ever bring total satisfaction to our soul. This is why you can meet someone that has it all in our eyes; looks, talent, fame, money, even an intimate relationship with another human being that appears bliss, yet if there is no connection to our Maker, that individual continues to have a deep sense for something more, but cannot put their finger on the problem. What confounds the world even more is to see someone that has none of what the world calls gain, yet they are at perfect peace in this life. In each case you will find that this person, no matter what other circumstances exist in their life; a deep, intimate relationship exists with the creator. It is essential that we rightly define what real gain is; otherwise we will continue to try and reach contentment through a means that will only lead to greater frustration. As we consider this text there are three words that need to be understood properly if we are going to measure and assess whether we are truly moving toward contentment or dissatisfaction. The first word is: Gain - por-is-mos'  πορισμοσ  a way of making a profit,  furnishing (procuring), i.e. (by implication) money-getting (acquisition): gain or source of gain[1]

In the original this word is connected many times with money, but not exclusively, the context sheds light on what this word is communicating. In this passage gain has more to do with acquisition and with procuring, in this case the definer of gain is the Creator. The second word is: Great -  meg'-as   μεγασ a thing to be highly esteemed for its excellence: excellent, splendid, prepared on a grand scale, stately[1]

This is the qualifier of the word gain. Scripture is talking about a gain that is far grander than just things or money. This great gain leads to what man craves the most, contentment. What is contentment, what does it look like? Our third word gives us a good understanding of the meaning.

Contentment    ow-tar'-ki-ah  αυταρκεια  contentment, enough, a perfect condition of life in which no aid or support is needed,  sufficiency of the necessities of life,  a mind contented with its lot, contentment self-satisfaction, i.e. (abstractly) contentedness, or (concretely) a competence:-contentment, sufficiency [1]

A perfect condition of life in which no aid or support is needed; this statement is the picture that describes what every human being craves for. Life at peace, needs met, and a satisfaction with your life. This sounds so perfect, however, we must connect the thoughts of these three words to the source that will lead to the end and we want. The missing ingredient is not difficult to know, but remains aloof to so many because the flesh we live in does not desire to live in harmony with our Maker. Godliness is the key to contentment, no matter what form the great gain comes in. Whether that be things, riches, fame, emotional health, intellectual prowess or marriage and family, when we have an intimate communion with our Maker which produces godliness, then we add these other things, the result is we live content in the life we have.

Meditation Questions: If someone asked you if you were content, what would your answer be? Why? What does that say about your life? Do you see a difference between “contentment” and “frustration”? What is it? If you are frustrated about something what do you think God is saying to you? If you are discontented about something, what are you saying to God?  If you could change one thing about your life right now, what would it be? Why? What does that say about your life? Is it possible for you to thank God for every situation in your life at this moment? What does your answer reveal? What are you going to do about that?  

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Big Cloud, Big Thunder, No Rain!

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 6:3-4 If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.

Application: Paul now returns to a discussion he has throughout this epistle with Timothy; False Doctrine. First, we should pause and consider if Paul brings this theme up continually in his letter to Timothy, should not we also consider it quite important? Yet, to this day many shepherds do not understand that one of the key elements to their call is the protection and defense of Biblical Orthodoxy. The other issues that a shepherd must deal with are important, but none are spoken on more than this issue in these Pastoral Epistles of Paul. We must hold the line on what the Word of God teaches to ensure the future generations that they have Gods Truth alone, not a mixture of scripture, tradition and extra truth. This is what Judaism had become by the time Christ walked the earth. Second, we should examine the description of the false teacher. He is Conceited - τυφόω tuphóō; which in the literal sense is to puff up with smoke or mist! The picture is clear, a person becomes puffed up, but like smoke and mist there is no substance.

Wuest describes it well: “Proud” is tuphoō (τυφοω), “to raise a smoke, to wrap in a mist.” It speaks metaphorically of a beclouded and stupid state of mind as the result of pride. The verb is in the perfect tense which speaks of an action completed in past time having finished results in present time. The person concerning whom Paul is speaking has come to the place where pride has finished its work, and he is in a permanent or settled state of pride. [1]

Paul also states that this person “understands nothing” this connects two Greek words and in light of what they mean it is comical and tragic at the same time. 

Understand - ἐπίσταμαι epístamai; from epí, over, and hístēmi, to stand. To fix one’s mind upon, to understand, know how. AND, Nothing μηδείς mēdeís; from mē, and not, also not, and heís, one. Not even one, no one[2]

Brought together – this person Fixes his mind on NOTHING! He does not understand one thing! Paul diagnosis this individual as having a “morbid interest” in things that leads to carnality. The original is; νοσέω noséō; sickness. To be sick, delirious. Used metaphorically meaning to have a sickly longing for something, to pine after, dote on [3]

The TDNT states: the figurative use of νοσέω in 1 Tm. 6:4 is Hellenistic in context. This is supported by the construction, the popular philosophical character of the list of vices which follows in v. 4f., and the strong emphasis on ignorance as the source of aberration. Here, as in Plato and Philo, being sick is a metaphor to indicate the abnormal state of the inward man. In keeping is the fact that in 2 Tm. 2:17 the growth of error is compared with that of a cancer. Though the guilt of error is not disputed, neither this nor the penal consequences are emphasized. The accent in the comparison is on the abnormality and common threat.[4]

The false teacher thinks he knows so much, but in reality knows nothing, and ends up leading people into discussions that split churches, families and causes arguments over things that are not important or true at all. Perhaps the saddest part of all of this is the motive. This is not some sincere, but wrong person; this teacher does it for personal gain. Their drive is for themselves, whether it be money, notoriety, prestige or any other selfish goal. The shepherd must protect his flock from such people.

Wuest in his commentary has a literal translation of this section that I believe would be healthy to read:

If, as is the case, anyone is teaching things of a different nature and opposed to the things just mentioned, and does not give his assent to wholesome words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the teaching which is according to a godly piety, he is in a beclouded and stupid state of mind, which condition is caused by pride, not doing any concentrated or reflective thinking in even one instance, but exercising a morbid curiosity about inquiries and quarrels about words, from which come envy, strife, speech injurious to another’s good name, malicious suspicions, protracted and wearing discussions of men corrupted in mind, who have disinherited themselves of the truth, thinking that godly piety is a way of gain.[5]

Meditation Questions: What is the difference between a healthy debate or discussion and an argument? Are there teachings to “die for” and teachings not to “die for”? What would be the determination for that? When a teacher denounces another teacher based on the fact that the Word of God is being perverted. What do you think of him? Why? Is it loving to allow false teachers to deceive people and not say anything? What’s the difference between being “sincere but wrong” and a false teacher?

[1] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (1 Ti 6:3). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
[2] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
[3] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary : New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
[4] Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964- (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
[5] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (1 Ti 6:3). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ignore the circumstances and focus on the BIG picture

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 6:1-2 All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. 2 Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles

Application: The bar or standard of behavior for believers is always at the highest level and that should make a big difference in our lives. The world lives much of the time consumed with envy, worrying about what others have that they do not. In their zeal to create what they call a level playing field they lower the bar of expectations. The Lord does the very opposite. He calls us to always remember who we are and Who we represent. Some will read this passage and miss the whole point. They will think that God condones slavery just because He does not state something negative here. How sad, because if we would be students of scripture we would know better. The Word is clear that all men and women are created in His image and He sees them all as equals. 

However, for the most part, God has given man stewardship of this world, including how he treats his fellow man. Due to the fall, all of this stewardship has been affected and infected with sin. God could make us all robots and stop all of it. He has chosen a better path, a more courageous path, the path that only a Supreme God would make. He has allowed His creation the freedom of choice. With choice come consequences, good and bad. The reality is, man in a sinful state will continue to do evil to each other. Our Lord expects us to rely on Him through all of it and represent Him. He equips us with the power to do so and in passages such as these and others instructs us to do so. He knows there will be slaves in this fallen world, and encourages us to remain focused. Instead of pity parties and the demand that everyone act like a Christian, He expects His children to behave as Ambassadors for Him no matter their circumstances. He makes it clear here and in other scriptures He expects the same from any slave owner that is a believer. I realize that our initial response is Can a believer own a slave?  I feel the same way, but that is not a question that you or I can answer. Each man must answer to God for his actions. Remember, slavery at this time was very different than much of the slavery in recent centuries. Some types of slaves were almost family. I dont understand it, nor is it something I am comfortable with, but the real issue is to get the bigger picture. When is there a circumstance that relieves me of representing Christ? When I am attacked? When my family is attacked? When I am imprisoned wrongly? When I am kidnapped? When I am enslaved? To live the Christian life is impossible, THATS why it takes God to do it. The standard is so high, the expectations are so unrealistic in an evil world, that only a Holy Spirit controlled person can live up to it! Thanks be to God Who will help us to stand!

Meditation Questions: Do you believe every circumstance that has happened to you in your life was allowed by God? If not, what does that mean? If so, what does that mean? What about consequences from our own sin? If bad things happen to you or your family, who was the ultimate person on control? What does your answer show you about your faith? If nothing happens without God allowing it, how does that effect your faith? Can God be trusted? Why? Why not? If you decide it does not matter what happens in life you will represent Christ always, what must you do to live that?