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, May 5, 2012

Don't Ask If You Don't Want!

A shower can be Spiritual Growth?  

Ephesians 4:14–16 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

As I reflect over the years I have been in the Philippines  – I continue to see all the ways that God has grown me. I remember in 1994, right after a Typhoon, we had no water in the house for 44 days in a row. It was so hot, as each day went by I realized that I was seeing an increase of inward anger as I dealt with some of the more frustrating issues of living here. Finally they fixed the pipes and the water returned to the house. For the next few days I began to meditate on what I was feeling and how I was NOT handling the situation so well. So I targeted that “work” of the flesh and began a three-day fast to increase my prayer life and confront this growing problem. After the first day I almost had regrets of asking God to help me gain self-control. You name it, it happened or went wrong! The worst of it was that night we once again lost all water to the house. Three days later, still without water to the house I returned home too late to go to a friend’s to grab a shower. It was - of course - the hottest day so far! :) I went out to the water meter and found a trickle of water dripping from it. Quickly I changed my clothes, turned all the lights off and snuck out to the water meter with an eight ounce cup in my hand. As I knelt on my knees in my front yard at 11:30 pm pouring cups of water over my head - I was in my swim suit - I began to see how great God was. 

He was answering my prayer. Sure it was frustrating, how else could He teach me self-control? No pain - No gain! I am lazy, I want it to come easy. Lord let me have the patience of Job, but give someone else the boils! Right! I do not have to deal with anger when everything is going my way. So God supplied the opportunity for me to get angry. Fun - No!  Worth it - That’s up to me! By the way - it took me 16 cups of water to get wet and the same to rinse off. I figure if I lose some weight and it ever happens again I can cut it down to 12. Even so - COME LORD JESUS!

Luke 14:28–30 “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?  “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,  saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’

Meditation Questions: How do you view a trial – opportunity for defeat, or opportunity for victory? If we go through a difficult testing – no matter what else we can learn one thing – what do you think that is? If you want my opinion – ask me in comment line

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Don’t just be careful, stay away!

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and apposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge”— 21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.

Application: Paul has reached out to Timothy concerning the importance of protecting the integrity of God’s Truth, he then clarifies what Timothy needs to stay away from. Paul chooses his words precisely so that there will be no confusion. The church was deeply influenced by the Gnostics, who claimed to have the “higher” knowledge. Paul dealt with this issue in his letter to the Colossians, and also needed to here because history testifies that Gnosticism continued to grow until its height in the middle of the second century of the Church. The Lord has no problem with believers that have healthy debates about interesting issues, God wants us to be thinkers, deep ones, He made the mind. However, the issues here are not healthy and so Paul begins with a clear directive to Timothy. He does say be careful when discussing these things, the word he uses is:  

Avoid - ἐκτρέπω ektrépō  from ek, from and trépō, to turn. To turn out or away, to turn oneself aside or away from a way or course, avoid.[1]

Don’t even play with it! How many times do we fall because we think we can dance with sin and hold it loosely? Sin will not be held loosely, it will turn and grip you! As Paul describes the kind of issues we are to avoid, take note what they mean in the original:

Worldly - βέβηλος bébēlos; from baínō, to go, and bḗlos, a threshold, particularly of a temple, so that bébēlos properly denoted one who either was or ought to have been debarred from the threshold or entrance of a temple. Profane, void of religion or piety[2] The word refers to Gnostic teachings which are scornfully described as profane and unholy μῦθοι (1 Tm. 4:7) and κενοφωνίαι (1 Tm. 6:20; 2Tm. 2:16). In opposition to their claim to offer an inward truth of religion inaccessible to others, the Gnostic statements concerning God are actually seen to be outside the sphere of the holy God and His Gospel.[3]

Empty Chatter - κενοφωνία kenophōnía; from kenós, vain, and phōnḗ, a voice. Empty or fruitless speaking. In 1 Tim. 6:20 and 2 Tim. 2:16, Paul designates the bébēloi, godless, as those who engage in kenophōnía, senseless or wicked discourses, speeches that are devoid of any divine or spiritual character, fruitless as far as the satisfaction of man’s need of salvation and the molding of Christian life and character are concerned. It is equivalent to the “empty words” in Eph. 5:6.[4]

Arguments - ἀντίθεσις antíthesis; to oppose, which is from antí, against and títhēmi, to place. Opposition, opposite opinions, contrary positions or doctrine. Equivalent to the Eng. word “antithesis,” which is derived from this Greek word.[5]

These are discussions that will lead only in the wrong direction. They create divisions and quarrels. Their end is properly described by Paul:

Gone astray ἀστοχέω astochéō; one who misses his aim, target. To err, deviate in a figurative and spiritual sense, not to reach one’s goal. More distinctively, the verb does not mean to miss achieving the aim that one has set, but not to set the proper aim at which one ought to aim. It is not focusing on the right goal instead of not achieving one’s set aim. Naturally if one specializes in the proclamation of something that is not essential and central, he will inevitably neglect that which is central and important.[6]

This is not some great target that was missed because of bad aim. This is picking the wrong target, which leads to everything else being wrong. The point is very simple and plain – we should do everything, which includes intellectual discussions, philosophizing and debates, with an end that will increase our faith! If we are getting in discussions or arguments that are more about how smart we are or how right we are, that is the wrong target and we are endangering not only ourselves, but everyone that participates with us. The goal of all knowledge is to learn more about the One that made our mind. That is worth learning.

Meditation Questions: How much do you hate sin? How much do you hate the sin in your life? Are there sins in your life that you only “dislike”? Do you think this would cause a problem? What kind of problems do you think this could cause? Are there mystery passages in the Scripture that fascinate you? How do you deal with them? How much time do you invest in trying to solve them? Looking at that investment of time – how much time do you spend fully understanding the things Go has made clear? What does that say? 

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

Monday, April 30, 2012

We are not babysitting Truth, we are guarding it!

Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and apposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge 21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.

Application: Father, as we finish this wonderful letter from Paul to his son in the Lord, enable us to take to heart the fact that the very last things Paul desires to leave with Timothy, must be the things that he considers so important. Paul has spent pages of material teaching Timothy the many aspects of what it means to be a Pastor of a church. He begins his closing statements with an emotional plea to this young man that he loves so dearly. He reaches out to Timothy with “O”, - here is just some help in the original to understand the heartfelt attitude Paul is communicating:

The phrase “O” is Ω Ōméga; ῏Ω, an emotional interjection . As a note of exclamation, O! Oh! [1]

 ̓͂Ω (LN: 91.14; interjection) Contained in: Vocative Phrase Syntactic Force: Interjection

Vocative Phrase: A group of words which includes a base component of vocative force or function, which does not include a verbal element, and which serves to elucidate the intended audience of the sentence.

Interjection: Use of a word to express emphatic emotion.

Paul cannot end his letter with an attitude of business only. He expresses his intensity toward Timothy, which shows his heart. Even so, he gets right to the point. “Guard” is not the word that would convey anything less than a serious mindset.

In the Greek: phulassō (φυλασσω)  “to guard” is used in classical literature in a military sense.

The truth that Paul had entrusted to Timothy requires action on our part. This is not to say that God will not providentially protect the integrity of His Word, history has shown that He will. Yet, that does not exclude the opportunity for us as stewards of His Word to participate with Him. As with all ministry, it is a partnership with the Lord, understanding that if we do not do our part, God will still do His part and we will lose the opportunity for investment. As a child of God we must take seriously the call God has given to each of us to be stewards of all that He has entrusted to us. This includes the discipleship that we have experienced and the instruction of the Word in our life. This cannot be approached with a lackadaisical attitude, it is as important as any other stewardship that we have been entrusted with. When God blesses us with children, or possessions we all understand that it is a partnership with our Lord and we will be accountable to Him for what we did with that stewardship. 

This is also true when it comes to the teaching of God's truth in our lives. If we keep what we are taught to ourselves and do not disciple others, we become that servant that hid his talent in the ground, never investing it, thinking it is better to do nothing with the investment his master gave him, rationalizing it is better to keep the one Talent safe than to take a risk of investing it even though when invested it can bring forth 30, 60 or even 100% more. Many in the body of Christ have this approach in their life and fail to invest all that God has entrusted them with. The other side of this problem is that some have a complacent or even a compromising attitude toward the doctrine that has been entrusted to us. To not appear narrow or unloving leaders refuse to take a stand on what is clear Biblical truth. Some are motivated with a desire to be popular; others have a misguided understanding of what Biblical love is. The former believe that it is more important to be “liked” and not perceived as offensive by society, than to state what the Word of God states as truth, with no apologies. The latter have decided there are different levels of truth. To “get along” with everyone they have decided that on certain levels of truth there can be more than one position. Let's be clear here, we are not talking about issues that are left unclear in Scripture, those issues are not to be argued over and grace toward each other is demanded by God Himself. Romans 14 makes it clear that God has left many issues to be decided by the believers conscience and God alone. These are not issues that Paul is referring to, he is warning Timothy to protect the doctrine that is clearly communicated in the Scriptures in black and white. For example, salvation is by grace through faith alone. God reveals himself as one God in 3 persons; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh; 100% God and 100% human. We could go on, but the point is made, when Scripture states something black and white, God expects us to protect the truth and pass it on exactly the way it was passed to us from our discipler, who received it from the person that discipled him and on and on until we come to Jesus himself who gave it to His disciples. We must take this stewardship very seriously if we truly desire to allow God’s Word to fully impact the next generation!

Meditation Questions: When was the last time someone that does not accept the Bible as truth considered you “narrow”? What does that say about you faith? Are you willing to teach something that the Bible states clearly, even if it makes you feel sociably uncomfortable? What does “guarding” something mean to you? How can we be loving yet stand firm on our faith? How can we reach that balance? What does your answer show you?

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