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, June 23, 2012

Works & Ministry mean nothing without Worship!

Scripture Read: Chapter 5:1-31 Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying, “That the leaders led in Israel, That the people volunteered, Bless the LORD!  “Hear, O kings; give ear, O rulers! I—to the LORD, I will sing, I will sing praise to the LORD, the God of Israel. “LORD, when You went out from Seir, When You marched from the field of Edom, The earth quaked, the heavens also dripped, Even the clouds dripped water. “The mountains quaked at the presence of the LORD, This Sinai, at the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel. “In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, In the days of Jael, the highways were deserted, And travelers went by roundabout ways. “The peasantry ceased, they ceased in Israel, Until I, Deborah, arose, Until I arose, a mother in Israel. “New gods were chosen; Then war was in the gates. Not a shield or a spear was seen Among forty thousand in Israel. “My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel, The volunteers among the people; Bless the LORD! “You who ride on white donkeys, You who sit on rich carpets, And you who travel on the road—sing! “At the sound of those who divide flocks among the watering places, There they shall recount the righteous deeds of the LORD, The righteous deeds for His peasantry in Israel. Then the people of the LORD went down to the gates. “Awake, awake, Deborah; Awake, awake, sing a song! Arise, Barak, and take away your captives, O son of Abinoam. “Then survivors came down to the nobles; The people of the LORD came down to me as warriors. “From Ephraim those whose root is in Amalek came down, Following you, Benjamin, with your peoples; From Machir commanders came down, And from Zebulun those who wield the staff of office. “And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; As was Issachar, so was Barak; Into the valley they rushed at his heels; Among the divisions of Reuben There were great resolves of heart. “Why did you sit among the sheepfolds, To hear the piping for the flocks Among the divisions of Reuben There were great searchings of heart. “Gilead remained across the Jordan; And why did Dan stay in ships? Asher sat at the seashore, And remained by its landings. “Zebulun was a people who despised their live seven to death, And Naphtali also, on the high places of the field. “The kings came and fought; Then fought the kings of Canaan At Taanach near the waters of Megiddo; They took no plunder in silver. “The stars fought from heaven, From their courses they fought against Sisera. “The torrent of Kishon swept them away, The ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon. O my soul, march on with strength. “Then the horses’ hoofs beat From the dashing, the dashing of his valiant steeds. ‘Curse Meroz,’ said the angel of the LORD, ‘Utterly curse its inhabitants; Because they did not come to the help of the LORD, To the help of the LORD against the warriors.’ “Most blessed of women is Jael, The wife of Heber the Kenite; Most blessed is she of women in the tent. “He asked for water and she gave him milk; In a magnificent bowl she brought him curds. “She reached out her hand for the tent peg, And her right hand for the workmen’s hammer. Then she struck Sisera, she smashed his head; And she shattered and pierced his temple. “Between her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay; Between her feet he bowed, he fell; Where he bowed, there he fell dead. “Out of the window she looked and lamented, The mother of Sisera through the lattice, ‘Why does his chariot delay in coming? Why do the hoofbeats of his chariots tarry?’ “Her wise princesses would answer her, Indeed she repeats her words to herself, ‘Are they not finding, are they not dividing the spoil? A maiden, two maidens for every warrior; To Sisera a spoil of dyed work, A spoil of dyed work embroidered, Dyed work of double embroidery on the neck of the spoiler?’ “Thus let all Your enemies perish, O LORD; But let those who love Him be like the rising of the sun in its might.” And the land was undisturbed for forty years.

Application: Deborah led Israel with Barak to a great victory against their enemies on this day. From that God chose to include this song that Deborah sang with the nation that day. Here we see how Deborah brings us full circle in what should be our walk with God. First we saw how Deborah walked with God; waited on God and worked for God. When our relationship with our Lord is expressing this healthy relationship it will always bring us to the same place we find Deborah. Worshipping God! This song is a long praise that includes many details of what has just happened, but in essence it is a praise offering to the Lord for what He accomplished with and through His people. This is where we discover if we have balance in our understanding of how God works. Deborah and Barak were the leaders of this campaign, and the people were the ones that went into battle, yet they understood Who was the strength in the midst of the battle. Who gave the victory and protected His people. Rarely does God ever work in our lives where we are excluded from being an active part of that work. However, it is important to remember, no matter how active you must be or how involved you are in whatever is happening, you need to see your Lord's hand in it and thank Him for that.
Praise is the very most important aspect of balance in the Christian life. The “flesh” is always contrary to what the Spirit desires, yet interestingly even the flesh will submit to “works”, even if they are good works. However, the flesh resists even the most simple praise of our Lord. That is why we must keep a watch on whether we experience praise in our life. It’s clear the “flesh” can strategize to use even good works and ministry in a negative way. If we think we are becoming holy and righteous because of our works or how busy we are in ministry – the “flesh” is succeeding in its desire to break our intimacy with God and make us independent of Him. Praise on the other hand will always lead to intimacy, and that is why the “flesh” does everything to stop it. Whether it be through distractions or even making you feel as though you are just “buttering” God up, or that your praise is insincere, the “flesh” hates praising God because that will fill you with His Spirit. When that happens the Spirit controlled man will be in charge of your life and the flesh will have no power! Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Praise our Lord and see how He fills you with Himself! 

Meditation Questions: How difficult is it for you to praise God? What does that say? How long can you praise and not become distracted? What does that say? What do you feel when you praise the Lord? Are you expressing your relationship with God in ways that He and others can see? Have you ever spent time just reading some of the praise Psalms back to God? Are you willing to try?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

No doublespeak!

Scripture Read: Judges 4:17-24 Now Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn aside, my master, turn aside to me! Do not be afraid.” And he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. He said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a bottle of milk and gave him a drink; then she covered him. He said to her, “Stand in the doorway of the tent, and it shall be if anyone comes and inquires of you, and says, ‘Is there anyone here?’ that you shall say, ‘No.’ ” But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died. And behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” And he entered with her, and behold Sisera was lying dead with the tent peg in his temple. So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the sons of Israel. The hand of the sons of Israel pressed heavier and heavier upon Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin the king of Canaan

Application: This is a section of scripture that anyone who has been taught the standards of Christ would find difficult to deal with. The thought of inviting someone into your tent and promising protection to them, lulling them to let their guard down and making them feel safe enough to fall into a deep sleep, then driving a tent peg through their headwell that is not loving your enemy is it? Father, this is where we need to be careful not to front load our understanding of life as a regenerated individual to every situation we encounter. We must remember time, culture and context when we read your Word. What Jael did seems terrible to us, yet she is praised in the song Deborah sings. Was Jael doing what she did because she believed God wanted her to, or because after Jabin told her to lie if any looked for him, she deduced that his army had lost and she had better side with the victors? Her family had peace with both Israel and Jabin. All of these questions must wait until we are in eternity to be answered because God does not reveal it now in His Word. Yet, there are some excellent truths seen here. First, when God states that something will happen, we can bank on it! God told Barak that a woman would be the hero of the battle and it happened. God used Jael with or without her knowledge. When God purposes something, we need to understand it will happen. So many think the return of Christ cannot happen because certain things are not where they need to be yet, our Lord in a blink of an eye can move circumstances to be exactly what He said they would be. The second truth is very important to remember. No one can hide from God! Jabin entered the tent of a friend, was comforted and felt very safe. Disaster struck then! This is a principle that we really need to engraft into our life because it works both ways. No matter the safety or the danger we are in, we are never beyond the hand of the Lord. If we are dishonoring God, we can be in the most defended, protected place in the world and He can still cause disaster to strike. The reverse is also true, if we are honoring the Lord and the environment we are in turns hostile and very dangerous, His hand can sustain and protect us. Do not trust in chariots or friends that offer refugetrust in the Lord!

Meditation Questions: Do you ever question God? Do you ever doubt God? What is the difference? Does your life show you believe what God says? How? If not, why? What needs to change? What makes you feel safe? Do you find yourself seeking circumstances that appear to give safety and security? What does that show you about your life? When was the last time you trusted in the Lord for protection? How did that change you?


Monday, June 18, 2012

Did God do that…or did I? The answer is…Yes!

Scripture Read: Judges 4:10-16 Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together to Kedesh, and ten thousand men went up with him; Deborah also went up with him. Now Heber the Kenite had separated himself from the Kenites, from the sons of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh. Then they told Sisera that Barak the son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. Sisera called together all his chariots, nine hundred iron chariots, and all the people who were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. Deborah said to Barak, Arise! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hands; behold, the Lord has gone out before you. So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. The Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth-hagoyim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not even one was left.

Application: Here we see the delicate balance of Gods Sovereignty and our participation in the outcomes of our life. God has led Deborah to share with Barak that the Lord will use him to deliver Israel from their enemies. Whenever God guides us in the direction of our life, there is much more to it than just some sort of message delivered and then God leaves us to it. Yet, it also is not like a chess game where God just moves us around the board wherever He desires and we have no say in the matter. Both of those philosophies are from the mind of man in an effort to bring a methodology to how God works so we can get Him into our box of understanding. However, scripture does not allow that if we are lovers of truth. God cannot and will not be confined to the finite mind of man. There are examples in scripture where God left no choice open and made His complete desire happen exactly the way He had determined it to be. There are also examples where God is not even seen openly in the outworking of circumstances. These are the extreme examples, yet those that must place God into a box gravitate to one of the two and try to use the example as their proof text. The scriptures are very contrary to this. God does what He wants, the way He wants, anytime He wants. A great majority of the time God works in concert with those that are His children. Where His hand and their hand separate in the outcome of something is only known by Him, not even the individual involved can know where their participation ended and Gods began. 

This passage is a great example of that. Barak obviously is involved in the fighting, yet scripture describes it as what God is doing. As we seek direction from the Lord some important truths in this passage can help us. First, keep moving while you are waiting on the Lord. Not jumping or running, but prayerfully moving in the direction God guided you to. Barak moved his armies as he waited on God to tell him when the battle would begin. Waiting on Gods timing does not mean that we sit down and do nothing, Gods timing is very important, but we should continue to move to where God is guiding us, for it is then He decides He will give into our hand what He intends. Second, understand if it is Gods call He goes before you, so you need to be confident in Him, not yourself or your plans. Thirdly, when the victory is yours keep the proper perspective on Who really was involved. We have a tendency to forget Who guided us to the victory sometimes. The plan we were following turns out perfect and if we are not careful we can believe we were the ones that made it happen. Barak knew it was the Lord that routed the enemy. Yes, Barak was actively a part of that, but God was working behind the scenes the entire time!

Meditation Questions: Do you believe that God is sovereign? Do you believe you have free choice? How do you balance the two together? When it comes to accomplishing something that you believe God has led you to do, what is your responsibility? What do you believe is God's responsibility? Think about the last time you had a complete victory in something that you were trying to accomplish in the Lord, how good do you feel about that? How much credit did you give yourself? How much credit did you give God? Is there a difference between taking credit for something, and taking glory for something? What do you think God wants you to feel about victories in your life?