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!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Becoming an unknown hero

Scripture Read: Judges 3:31 After him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel.

Application: I love Your Word Lord! In the midst of some pretty intense sections of scripture where many details are given and the descriptions of what takes place can be quite provocative, suddenly we have one verse thrown in that if we read scripture in a sloppy way, we will just pass by it. However, if we stop for a moment and consider some of the truth it brings we can find key applications in our own life. In the next chapter we will encounter one of the great heros of Israels history - Deborah! The story we just read of Ehud is very detailed and well known. Who is Shamgar and what kind of warrior uses an oxgoad as a weapon? There are several good lessons we can glean here. First, God is not looking for superstars, just people that want what He wants! How many of the worlds great saints are never known on this side of eternity? We think because a person is well known that makes them great. Years ago a young man named Austin Gallahar reached into a creek with a stick and saved his best friend from drowning, no one knows Austin, most people know his best friend - Abraham Lincoln! Telemachus was a monk that went to Rome and jumped into the gladiatorial ring and tried to stop the bloodshed. In the end he was killed, but the emperor was so impressed by what he saw, he ended the games forever!  Even Hebrews makes this point:

Hebrews 11:32–38 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

All nobodies in the worlds eyes! Yet, in the eyes of our loving Creator, a very special child of His. He may choose to use us in a way that far exceeds our understanding in this temporal world.

Secondly, the weapon Shamgar used was not a weapon at all. An oxgoad is a long stick with a not so sharp point, used only to irritate an ox into moving. It is not sharpened in a way that would easliy hurt the animal, like a weapon would be. Still, the scripture does not state that Shamgar irritated 600 Philistines! He slew them. This should remind us that the battle the Lord calls us into is His, not ours! I dont know if Shamgar was a great warrior or not, but logic would lead us to think no matter how good he was, the Philistines had superior weapons and at 600 to 1 odds, it would make sense that Shamgar was toast! The problem for the Philistines was they did not include God in the formula of their battle plans. When God calls someone to do something, all that person need to be concerned about is to be faithful to follow the Lord. Our God will be the One that brings all the necessary details together for the success of His plans. Far too many times we have the tendency of focusing on the seemingly impossible end and we become anxious. Instead, we need to keep our focus on the end Maker and just take one step at a time. When we meet Shamgar in eternity he will be able to share with us all the details our God brought together that allowed him to be used as a deliverer in Israels history.  Just follow the Lord and leave the details to Him!

Meditation Questions: When you consider great saints of God, do you take time to consider all the names and lives that were never in the lime light. Do you believe God can use you to accomplish something great for eternity? Why? Why not? What does your answer show? What are the qualifications required to be used by God? What is the secret to having victory in every battle a Christian has? What does your answer show you? 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Spiritual deafness is more a problem of the heart than the ears.

Scripture Read: Judges 3:15-30 But when the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his cloak. He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Eglon was a very fat man. It came about when he had finished presenting the tribute, that he sent away the people who had carried the tribute. But he himself turned back from the idols which were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” And he said, “Keep silence.” And all who attended him left him. Ehud came to him while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” And he arose from his seat. Ehud stretched out his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh and thrust it into his belly. The handle also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the refuse came out. Then Ehud went out into the vestibule and shut the doors of the roof chamber behind him, and locked them. When he had gone out, his servants came and looked, and behold, the doors of the roof chamber were locked; and they said, “He is only relieving himself in the cool room.” They waited until they became anxious; but behold, he did not open the doors of the roof chamber. Therefore they took the key and opened them, and behold, their master had fallen to the floor dead. Now Ehud escaped while they were delaying, and he passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. It came about when he had arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he was in front of them. He said to them, “Pursue them, for the Lord has given your enemies the Moabites into your hands.” So they went down after him and seized the fords of the Jordan opposite Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross. They struck down at that time about ten thousand Moabites, all robust and valiant men; and no one escaped. So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land was undisturbed for eighty years.

Application: The period of Judges is a very bloody record in the history of Israel and for most of us it is not the experience we have encountered in life. Still, the lessons that are taught are invaluable. A particular lesson concerning hardness is taught in the story of Ehud. First, consider the hardness of the hearts of the Israelites. It took them 18 years under the harsh rule of Eglon before they called out to God. This is one of the most amazing truths about sin and judgment. One would think that if an individual committed sin and then came under judgment from God, they would immediately soften and ask for forgiveness and deliverance. Not so with sin, for some reason it hardens the person and makes them even more defiant. We see this clearly at the end of the age when God is releasing the plagues upon the earth; man continues to be hard.
Revelation 16:9–11 Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain, and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.

The other lesson concerning hardness is seen in Eglon and what it took to hear God. Eglon was very deep into idolatry; some of the false gods were extremely evil, requiring the sacrifice of children in fire. Eglons heart was so hard that he was no longer able to respond to any conviction his heart would communicate concerning false gods, so when God did speak it was in judgment. The scene that is portrayed after Ehud states: “I have a message from God for you” is very graphic but carries a very sharp point. (pun intended!) When our heart becomes so hard we no longer can hear our Lord speak to us concerning our sin, when God does speak it may be in abrupt judgment! We need to allow the Holy Spirit the freedom to keep our heart soft to the voice of God, so when God has a message for us, it will be through a word not a sword!

Meditation Questions: When you realize you have sinned, how long does it take for you to bring it before the Lord? Are there sins in your life right now that you are unwilling to deal with? What does that say? When was the last time you were convicted about a sin with no one but the Holy Spirit speaking to you? What does that show you?  When it feels like God is being silent, what do you do? Do you take time on a regular basis to reflect on your life and consider whether there is hidden sin? What does that say?

Monday, June 4, 2012

The question is not – are there lessons, the question is – are we learning them?

Scripture Read: Judges 3:12-14 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord. 13 And he gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and defeated Israel, and they possessed the city of the palm trees. 14 The sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.

Application: Father as we work our way through Judges, help us to stop and remind ourselves of truths that this book brings forth time and time again. Before we go any further lets remind ourselves of why Israel was in this situation. We will see it is a combination of sow & reap and of Gods grace and judgment. Consider; where did the Moabites and Ammonites come from? Remember when Lot was saved from the evil of Sodom and Gomorrah? The actions that took place afterwards set in motion repercussions that Israel would deal with for centuries.

Genesis 19:30–38 Lot went up from Zoar, and stayed in the mountains, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; and he stayed in a cave, he and his two daughters. Then the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of the earth. “Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. On the following day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day.  As for the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the sons of Ammon to this day.

The sin of Lots daughters brought forth the Moabites and the Ammonites. These nations have been warring with Israel since that day. Be careful not to identify individuals with a nation. Remember Ruth was a Moabite. The issue here is that the actions of these two women carried much greater consequences than they could imagine at the time. A lesson we all need to pay attention to. At the same time lets remember why Israel is in the land:

Deuteronomy 9:3–5  “Know therefore today that it is the Lord your God who is crossing over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and He will subdue them before you, so that you may drive them out and destroy them quickly, just as the Lord has spoken to you. “Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. “It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

A combination of, Gods grace to Israel, judgment on the idolatrous nations, and a commitment to His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Our Lord works all things to His end, even when we do not see all that He is doing. Remember, God may have much more than one object He is trying to communicate in any lesson He is taking you through. Let us learn from these examples Lord and not repeat the bad ones.

Meditation Questions: When you go through a trial, how much time do you spend seeking to learn as much and as many lessons as possible? What does it mean to meditate? Is it possible to meditate over a trial? Why would that be helpful? Do you have friends that you can talk to about your trials and they talk to you about their trials? Why would this be important? We may not understand all that God is doing through a trial, but what are the things we can know?