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 19, 2012

Get off the roller coaster!

Scripture Read: Judges 2:16-19 Then the Lord raised up judges who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them. Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned aside quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do as their fathers. When the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them. But it came about when the judge died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways.

Application: Here is where we see what happens to individuals when they fail to center their life in a relationship with their Maker. Instead, they opt to keep God in their life but only at a distance. What happens is what I call the "pendulum effect"! Their life swings from extreme to extreme. It's like living your life on a roller coaster. Your "highs" are higher and your " lows" are lower.

Here the nation of Israel, only because of the mercy of God, is supplied with leaders (Judges) that are given supernatural abilities to deliver the people from their enemies, but instead of pitching a tent and remaining there, they return to their idolatry and are conquered and enslaved again! The proper place for a child of God is always one of balance. Where God is at the center of our life and everything else is kept in order by Him. Balance has always been the problem, even in the church. Just consider the first century church. Paul had to chastise both the church at Galatia, for legalism and sanctification through works, and the church at Corinth for carnality. Throughout the church age balance has continued to be a problem. We moved from the Puritan church, all the way to the health, wealth and prosperity church! 

So what are we to do? I believe the answer is another kind of balancing act. We are not to forsake the Body of Christ; fellowshipping in community is essential for all believers. However, when it comes to where Christ is in your life, only YOU can control that, you cannot follow the movement, whats popular or even follow the leaderblindly! Godly leadership is a blessing and when it is moving in Gods direction we should follow, but that never means we do not continue to examine what is taught or said in light of scripture. Our example is set for us in: 

Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 

If these folks examined what Paul said, we had better be good stewards and evaluate everyone based on what scripture states, not on what some new book claims or what is the newest doctrinal flavor of the month. Father, let our guide be Your Word!

Meditation Questions: Whenever you hear something that sounds “new” or “deeper” what do you do with that information? What happens when you hear a teacher state something as fact, yet there is no scriptural support for it? What does your answer show you? When we say that Scripture is the final authority, what do we mean? Do you believe that truth can come from only scripture? What is the difference in being the “source” of truth versus the “validation” of truth?  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Master becomes the Slave!

Scripture Read: Judges 2:11-15 Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals, and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the Lord to anger. So they forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. The anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had spoken and as the Lord had sworn to them, so that they were severely distressed.

Application:  As we begin to watch Israel head into this cycle of destructive lifestyle it is important for us to remember that the context is verse 10 where we see that the elders of Israel had not really taught the next generation the reality of a relationship with their Maker. They transferred the data about Him, but not the depth of experience that transforms an individual. This next generation deceived themselves the same way we can if we are not careful. When we have the data about something we can presume that we are in right relationship to it. We must remember that it is impossible to live on past spiritual experience. It would be like your spouse asking you if you love them and you respond with - I gave you a rose 3 years ago, or someone saying - "I could have been a star" and then you find out they were in a play when they were 6 years old. Some say, "I'm a Christian" because they walked an aisle years before. 

Just as disingenuous as those realities are, so is the thought that spiritual life can be passed on automatically to the next generation. There must be a proactive plan to introduce and cultivate a life with God from those that know Him to those that do not. This next generation made the decision to share the throne of God with false gods. It would be healthy for us to consider the outcomes of a decision like this. The first outcome is the irony of idolatry. We reject our true Maker, make someone else or something else our god and before we know it we are serving the very thing that we made our master! We, the servant, deny the true Master His place in our life, then we, the master, make something that should be inferior to us; i.e. money, a statue, a rock or piece of wood, serve as our god, and before we know it, we make it a master over us and we become enslaved to it! It rules us in spite of the fact that we made that which is not God, god!  The second outcome is simply reaping what we sow. God warned Israel that if they were unfaithful to Him, He will leave them at the mercy of their own consequences - which in this case would include their enemies because they refused to obey all the way and rid the land of all the people's and their false gods. This brings out the reality of a statement concerning man and sin - "Men are judged by the truth they despise and betrayed by the sin which they love". Never was there a truer statement made that describes the tragic outcome of living in sin!

Meditation Questions: What makes something an idol? Are there things in your life that you have empowered? What are they and what are you doing about it? When you find yourself loving something more than God, what do you do about it? Baal worship is obvious idolatry, but not all idolatry is easy to identify, what things in your life can become idols? How much time do you spend just in praise of the Lord? Do you ever spend time reading the Psalms back to the Lord? 

Monday, May 14, 2012

The operation was a success, but the patient died!

Scripture Read: Judges 2:6-10 When Joshua had dismissed the people, the sons of Israel went each to his inheritance to possess the land. The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the Lord which He had done for Israel. Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of one hundred and ten. And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.

Application: We now pivot back in time to the death of Joshua. Why? I believe we are given some interesting information that can help us understand why Israel behaved the way she did. In the first portion of this chapter we see that the people did not fully obey God by cleaning out all the idolatry in the land. Notice what this sections states.

Verse 10 gives us information that will bring light to the problem and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.  What could it mean that the next generation did not know the Lord, nor the work He had done. It could not mean they did not know the name of the Lord or that Jehovah was their God. They must have been taught the history of their people so they must know the facts of what God did for them. So what could this mean? I believe the key is that they failed to put into practice what they had been commanded to do in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

There are two kinds of teaching - one is mere transfer of information, in other words; content retention. The other is passing on truth by word and example, this kind of teaching transforms the individual. True the generation that was with Joshua served the Lord until they died, but they did not do it fully. Neither in cleaning the land nor in communicating truth to their children in a way that would transform them. Data is essential, we have to have the data, but if that is all we have, we end up knowing a lot, but not knowing what to do with it or allowing it to make an impact on us. James states it very simply - 

Jame 2:19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

Knowledge that remains raw data and does not progress to applied truth will never transform a person. It may warp an individual the way it did the Pharisees, because a lot of head knowledge without wisdom will lead to arrogance! Don't settle for just the data only, ask God to guide you into how to use that data and look for how that applied truth will change you!

Meditation Questions: When you read the scripture, what do you leave with when your done? Do you read the scripture with the mindset that you are there to learn something about God, or that you will learn something about God that will change you? Do you know anyone that can quote you scripture, but does not practice what it teaches? What do you think of that person? Can you think of the last time you changed inside based on a truth that God illuminated for you? What does your answer show you? How often do you expose yourself to the truth of scripture? What does your answer show you?