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!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

One Test = One Lesson?

Scripture Read: Judges 3:1-8 Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly). These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. They were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses. The sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, so that He sold them into the hands of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the sons of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years.

Application: Trying to get our mind to comprehend the mind of God is something we always seem to try and do, and always will fail to do. One thing we need to remember is that God usually has more than one purpose when He does things and He is the ultimate in getting everything out of an investment that can be gotten out of it. God has made it clear that His desire is that those that claim to love Him would live close to Him in peace, allowing God to nurture and love them. Sounds great doesnt it? Then why dont THEY do it? As honest as I try and be Lord, that lie is the one I also commit many times. They are not the only ones that dont do it, I fail to do it far too often also. I know what You want, I know it is the best place for me, but I listen to my flesh and go my own way! When any of us do that, You in love chastise us in love because living in sin is deadly and You know that and are endeavoring to protect us from that, while honoring the freedom of choice You have extended us.  God is motivated out of love to allow Israel to experience the consequences of their sin. In doing so, see two clear purposes - to test them to see if they will wise up and repent, and to teach them war.
Only You Lord can multiply the lessons the way You do. You did the same in Acts 10. God desired to bring a Roman soldier into a relationship  with Himself. What is interesting is what else He accomplishes during this time. The Lord teaches Peter that the gospel is to go to the Gentiles, He makes it clear that the ceremonial laws forbidding certain food to be eaten no longer is an issue, He teaches Peter humility by requiring him to enter a Gentile’s home, which led to the first Jerusalem counsel concerning Gentiles becoming believers which paved the way for the big meeting in Acts 15 where Paul and Barnabas needed to defend their mission work among the Gentiles. Lastly it also demonstrated that the baptism of the Holy Spirit takes place at conversion.

Most of us understand the reason for the testing that God is putting Israel through, but why would He desire for them to "learn war"? This is where we see how practical and honest You are Lord. You have given man, for the most part, stewardship of this world. You know that in the fallen world we live in, war will be a part of that. Your nation will need to learn how to deal with that reality. Perhaps we all need to step back and take a look at the trials we go through and ask ourselves if it is not possible that some of the purposes for these trials is to prepare us for certain realities that are existent at this moment or that might come in the future. As a loving Father He wants to prepare us for the realities of living in a fallen world.

Meditation Questions: When you are being tested, is your major focus on it getting over with or to learn as much as you can from it? What must take place for that to happen? Have you ever doubted God’s love due to a test? What did you do about that? Have you spent anytime remembering certain tests and considering what growth was brought through it? Why would you want to do that? Is there ever a time we are not being tested? What does your answer show you?  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Why would a loving God test us?

Scripture Read: Judges 2:20-23 So the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers and has not listened to My voice, I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk in it as their fathers did, or not.” So the Lord allowed those nations to remain, not driving them out quickly; and He did not give them into the hand of Joshua.

Application: Israel stubbornly refused to abandon her false gods. What was so attractive about these idols? Consider just two: Baal was the god of the storm and was responsible for the rain. Ashtaroth was the goddess of war and fertility. When Baal and Ashtaroth had sexual union, it resulted in abundant crops. The nations that embraced these gods believed in sympathetic magicthey must act like the gods; so for worship they would go to the temple and engage in sexual activities with priests that were there to service them. In simple terms the temples had glorified prostitutes, and worship was nothing more than sexual orgies! It is amazing what our flesh will justify when its desires are satisfied. A very important principle concerning how You work Lord in our lives is in this section. Many times we desire to be delivered from some trouble or weakness in our life, but You leave it there as a way to test us. That very thought is what the enemy and our flesh grab to try and bring an accusation against You. The question that is brought forth is If God is a loving God why would He test us?  There are several things that we must deal with in this context if we really desire to be honest about this.

First: If we really believe You are God, then what right do we have to question at all? I know You have extended to us that grace, so we can ask questions like this, but if we are going to be honest we need to ask ourselves; if God be God, then I really have nothing to say. He can do whatever He likes, because He is God! This is a thought many resist or even despise, I have found that surrender to it is the most liberating thing I ever did. You are God and You alone have the right to do whatever You want.

Second: If we consider the word test we can see Your loving purpose. נָסָה (nāsâ) test, try, prove, tempt, assay, put to the proof, put to the test. In most contexts nāsâ has the idea of testing or proving the quality of someone or something, often through adversity or hardship.[1]

This is not the word for “tempt” which means to entice to do wrong. This word conveys that this is an opportunity for growth. You are giving us a chance to grow in things that are eternal, which will remain after everything else is burned away.

Third: How can I not trust a God that sacrificed His only begotten Son for me so I could live with Him forever in eternity? This is the question we need to keep before us. No matter what “feelings” we may have, this fact speaks very loud! We may not understand it all, how could we, our vision is so limited. Even so, we can see what Your love brought You to do and our only response can be trust if we are honest.

Help us Oh Lord to see the tests in our life as tools to learn and grow. Also Lord, remind us that many times once the lesson is learned, the trouble or weakness vanishes!

Meditation Questions: What circumstances or things are in your life right now that you don’t want? What are you doing about them?  What does your answer show you? How could God be using those things in your life right now? Are you letting Him? How many of the same kind of trials have you experienced over and over again? What does that say? What happens when you go through a trial and see yourself have a victory? If that happens, what will the next possible trial look like? What des your answer show you?

[1] Harris, R. L., Harris, R. L., Archer, G. L., & Waltke, B. K. (1999). Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed.) (581). Chicago: Moody Press.