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, July 20, 2012

Bad Decisions Happen, Pride Makes Them Worse!

Probing Proverbs 6:1-3 My child, if you have put up security for a friend’s debt or agreed to guarantee the debt of a stranger— if you have trapped yourself by your agreement and are caught by what you said— follow my advice and save yourself, for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy. Now swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased.☚ 

It's one thing to make foolish choices; it is a very different matter to be so consumed by our own image that we remain in that foolish situation! Anyone can make a mistake like the one described here, where we place our name and substance at the mercy of someone else's control. These are hard lessons, but most in this life have to learn them. The tragic situation occurs when...because of pride...we allow the situation to remain or even become worse. Wisdom challenges us to "get over" ourselves and admit the mistake, and ask for mercy from the person we have foolishly indebted ourselves too. More than once God has honored such humility and delivered the person from the consequences of their bad choice.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mirror, mirror on the wall, do I see the Real me at all?

Scripture Read: Judges 6:13-16 Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 The Lord looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” 15 He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” 16 But the Lord said to him, Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.”

Application: It’s all in your point of view! Gideon is living during a terrible time in Israel's history. If he processed his grain in the open, the enemy would wait until he was done and then swoop down on him to take the fruit of his labor and the food from his table. In an effort to feed his family we find him here trying to protect his harvest from the enemy, in a wine press, which made the task difficult, but a wise one; where “the Angel of the Lord” appears to him and addresses him in a way that he considered very strange – a "valiant warrior” not “you who are hiding and sneaking around man of Midian!”  Then He commands Gideon to do something he would think impossible - “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian." 

Every one of us should relate to Gideon here. Why? Our point of view naturally is the same as Gideon's - a fallen human being! Knowing of this, we should draw with more strength to God and seek His view of our circumstances. That is why it is so important for us to remain open to God’s point of view. Like Gideon, we can only see what we believe we “are” and only what we believe is “possible.” As mortal men we only view what is in front of us. God’s point of view is what He knows His power can do and that we can do whatever He calls us to do because He will equip and provide all we need to accomplish it with Him. How many times do we limit what we can become and what the Lord could accomplish in this world through us because we are limiting ourselves to our finite view. By faith, we must stretch ourselves and believe God does have a vision and a plan for us; a plan that far exceeds our finite thoughts. This is not positive thinking; it is a life of Faith. One based on knowing (yada` (Strongs #03045) God and the Truth found in His Word that shares His intimate desire and plan for His creation. There are no mistakes, losers, accidents or illegitimate circumstances in God’s world! Every one …that means you…was created by an all-knowing God and He desires to share Himself with you, as the “Free Choice Being” He intended you to be. He spared no cost to secure that relationship with you.  Are you His child in the circumstances you find yourself in?  Consider the awesome plans He had for Gideon:  “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” The next time you think it’s “impossible” ask the Holy Spirit to be your eye doctor and adjust your view ~refuse to cling to your point of view, ~ yield yourself to God, asking Him to illuminate your vision so you can see His potential for your life.

Meditation Questions: Whose mirror do you see yourself from, yours or God’s? When God places on your heart something He desires you to do, how do you approach that? What does that show about how you view things? Do you believe in accidents? What does that show about how you view things? When was the last time you took a step and direction and did not know where it was going to end up? How did you feel? What or who were you looking at? What does that show you concerning your faith?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Some Chess matches are not a game!

Probing Proverbs: 5:22-23 An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness. 

Self inflicted wounds! How many times do we find ourselves in this condition? We may want to fix the blame of our sin and problems somewhere else, which has been the standard approach since Adam blamed God for giving him Eve! “The woman YOU gave me!” That approach will always fail. There are those times that we are suffering because of someone else's sin, but if we are honest much of the pain we have in life is delivered to us by the person in the mirror. Wisdom uses great descriptions here, so we should listen carefully. "Held captive" and "ropes that catch and hold" clarifies the sinister aspect of sin. 

The plan is always to master you. Sin disguises itself as a "playmate" but that is just a ploy to draw us in. The intention sin has is to trap us into a Checkmate! Out of God's control, under sin's control - our life will end foolishly, because we squandered our eternal opportunities. Refuse to be a pawn of sin!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is the Bible a significant book?

A magazine asked me if I felt the Bible is significant as a book alone. (Aside from what I believe about it being the actual Word of God)

What makes a book “Significant”? That would have a two-fold answer. If the book is unique, trustworthy, authoritative and impactful it would qualify as “significant” That significance becomes greater when that book’s message makes a clear impact and change upon my life personally and of those who read it.

The Bible clearly fits those criteria. No matter what you think about the Bible, historically it has impacted people through out the centuries, and even today if you choose to follow its teachings your life will be changed.

Is the Bible more “significant” than many other religious writings or books? Why should this book be given a second look by many who have decided it is just another of many religious books?....

Obviously in a brief article I cannot exhaust the reasons, but I can share enough to challenge one’s curiosity into rethinking a position.

Consider the composite and composition: A book that was written by many authors, from many backgrounds - Kings to Slaves – on different continents - over a 1500 year span all with the same theme - The Messiah. A book that states centuries before Christ was born that the earth is round and that it just hangs in space – long before Stephen William Hawking existed. The Bible is a book that is used by archeologist, both Christian and non-Christian a like, to find ancient civilizations. As far as the historicity of the Bible the manuscript evidence is over whelming - there is none like the New Testament. All that we have on Plato is based on 7 manuscripts - 1,200 years from the original, Aristotle – 49 manuscripts – 1,400 years from the original, Caesar (Gallic Wars) – 10 manuscripts – 1000 years from the original, Homer (Iliad) – 643 manuscripts – 500 years from the original versus the New Testament - 24,633 manuscripts, 5000 from original Greek – 80 years from the original not including parts of the NT that are even closer in time - John Rylands (John) 90 AD 130 AD 40 years; Magdalene Ms (Matthew 26) 1st century 50-60 AD co-existent.

No other document in history has had the manuscript authority, the historical integrity or the impact worldwide as this book. Love it or hate it – history cannot be denied.

Let me return to my definition - for it is two fold. Not only does the Bible on it’s own merit deserve to be considered significant, but it can be even more significant based on it’s message. What it can do as far as impact is seen by the obvious change that takes place in the lives of those who have read and followed it’s teachings.

The depth of the message in the Bible has changed every society it has come into contact with. It has a moral code that produces a standard that is not relative. Every society that has adopted this code has moved to a higher quality of life. Human life is elevated to something that is to be treasured. Wisdom flows from the pages of this book. This wisdom expounds into all realms for living. Communication, family life, work ethic, relationships on all levels, finances. It’s pages even teach you how to learn to live with yourself. It tells you how to control your anger, your lusts and your pride. The Bible teaches the importance of forgiveness, resisting doing what is wrong and many other areas of life. Taking us from a personal perspective to the bigger view of life on to the most important view - eternity.

The book describes our Creator, who He is, and His desire to have an intimate relationship with us, and how that relationship can happen. The Bible shows us the evidence that the Creator exists, as evidenced by His love for us and how He has preserved us. It describes our state in this life as a very small part of our existence, confirming that our spirit will live forever, and how a person can know for sure, where and how their spirit will exist after this short part of life is over. The Bible presents the perfect plan that the Creator designed from the beginning, and how he supplied a way to enter into a relationship with Him. It states that each person was part of the original plan, not an accident, which is what this world has to offer. It makes it clear that this life is made up of much more than what we can see. 

Is the Bible significant? I believe anyone honest would have to say yes. It’s uniqueness alone makes it significant. How significant can it be? That is up to you. You can view it merely as an extraordinary historical book, though you will miss the purpose of this book if you do. It was written to be a doorway to the knowledge of the One who made you. It offers you the way to bring purpose to your life, and a confidence of your destiny. It will lead you into the way of integrity and help you see yourself accomplish things that matter in life. It will educate you on what is and what is not essential in life. It does not promise dreams. Instead it brings reality. It lays a foundation that will allow you to build a life with no major regrets. It removes the agony of having to base life on emotions that are tossed up and down by circumstances. The Bible provides a life that is based on truth. Truth remains truth no matter what the circumstances are. And even though human emotions will remain an important part of our existence, we no longer need to be controlled by them. We can receive our direction and guidance from the truth, because the truth will set you free!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Learning from what cannot be fully understood

Scripture Read: Judges 6:12-14 Then the angel of the Lord came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. 12 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.” 13 Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14 The Lord looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?”

Application:  The secret things of the Lord’s are His. ~ There are many things we will never fully understand about our God. Yet, some of the mysteries He has revealed partially and it is important that we learn about them even though we may not fully comprehend them. Our passage displays one of these issues, as we read about “the Angel of the Lord”. Please note, He is not one of the countless creations that God has called angels, there are many passages in the OT that show clearly this term refers to God Himself. (Here is just one – Exodus 3:2-6)

The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3 So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Through study of the Word we will discover that the “Angel of the Lord” is actually the pre-incarnate Christ. He appeared to men before He took on flesh. Jesus Christ, being God has no beginning, yet we know that he did have a beginning as far as in the flesh. This requires us to stretch our understanding of the God we know, which is a good thing, though we must be careful to never deceive ourselves into believing that we fully comprehend.  There is another danger that we want to guard against whenever we study the very deep things of theology. We must be careful to not be satisfied with knowledge only. When a child of God becomes satisfied with knowledge for knowledge’s sake they are on the path to becoming a Pharisee and not really “knowing” God. The Hebrew word for “know” in Jeremiah 9:23-24 is yada and implies an actual experience with God, not an academic acquiring of facts. David, the man after God’s own heart , said “make me know Your ways, O Lord…” Ps. 25:4. Hosea said, “Come, let us return to the Lord…So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord” Hosea 6:1,3.

Our relationship between us and the Holy Spirit becomes so precious, as we take in deep theology. Things that we can never fully comprehend because they are so far above our understanding of God and can only be understood fully by God himself. So to know Him we must allow the Holy Spirit to give us practical understanding and applications of that knowledge which is then called wisdom. What practical application can we find from the knowledge that “the angel of the Lord” is our Lord Jesus Christ Pre-incarnate? Let me just give you one right now; every other religion has a plan ~ created by the mind of a finite human about what we can do to get to God (understand, know Him, worship Him, make peace with Him, etc.), and that’s why all of them are based on works (what we do). God’s plan also is based on works… His works! Knowing that Jesus Christ has always existed because He is God helps us be confident in His plan. . Who else could accomplish “perfection” and everything that needed to be done to offer us peace with God and a salvation that is so complete? Sin must be paid for, yet God desires a relationship with the ones that are responsible for sin. 

Only the mind of God could make a plan that would pay the debt, offering the debtor a relationship with his Creator, while at the same time remaining completely just and righteous. We do not have a salvation that has been hatched in the mind of a short-sighted, fallen man. Instead, our salvation came from the infinite mind of God, Who has accomplished in the person of Jesus Christ the impossible and is making it known to us by the person of the Holy Spirit. With this we have confidence to sleep at night with a complete peace in our heart that whatever may happen while we are sleeping, eternally we are safe. Because our God had no beginning or ending, because His plans will be brought to fruition, we have peace in His plans for us.  

Meditation Questions: When you discover a truth that is impossible to fully comprehend what do you do with that? How do you feel about it? Do you study it more or just ignore it? If it is Truth, what can you be confident of? So many in the world want to make Jesus just a man, why is that unfair? When you consider how much about God we can never know, how should that make you feel? What does your answer show you about your relationship with God?