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!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The “bottom line” is the bottom line!

Scripture Read: Judges 6:27 Then Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the Lord had spoken to him; and because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it by day, he did it by night

Application: We sometimes find it so easy to divorce ourselves from our own humanity yet be very quick to judge the flaws of someone else. In these verses we find a common contradiction of strength, and courage from our "valiant warrior" too afraid to do what God commanded him to do “in daylight”, afraid, he waits until it is dark. Should we beat up Gideon for his fear? Before we do, let's consider a few things. First, God was the One that called him valiant. God views us with all the potential we have and can’t imagine having or doing. This is how God saw Gideon, he never claimed to be valiant. Secondly, Gideon's fear was probably very reasonable, we would probably have “felt” the same. His entire nation had moved away from God and had become enslaved to idolatry. If Gideon starts messing around with their false gods, his life could be endangered. When people become enslaved to idols, if you challenge their belief you could find yourself in trouble. Imagine what can happen if you start tearing down their statues and alters! 

"But Nate, God was and is on Gideon’s side, so he should not be afraid" you may say. Yes, I would agree, but please remember the state of Gideon's faith based on the society he lived in. 1) He had no models that we know of and 2) he had not experienced a life close to God. At this point in history, God had turned the nation over for judgment. (in other words, left them to flounder without Him) So, as with each one of us today, God starts from where the person is at. Therefore, before we cast any stones, lets look in the mirror! Today we have the person of God, the Holy Spirit living in us, even so, many times we allow fear to control us when we should be standing on the solid foundation of faith. Because we all struggle with our faith at times, we should be merciful when looking at others who are struggling. Lastly, and this is very important, Gideon did obey. It may have been at night and he was affected by his fear, but bottom line...he obeyed. Jesus made this point when He spoke about two sons:

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ “And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. “The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him. Matthew 21:28–32  

One son told his father he would obey him, but did not do what he was told. The second said he would not, but  did what he was asked and his actions followed through in obedience. Jesus pointed out in the end...the one that DID what was asked obeyed, and all agreed! No matter how weak Gideon's faith was, we need to be like him in the end. Whether easy or hard, the bottom line is - just obey!

Meditation Questions: In the end, do you obey God? If you struggle with obedience, why is that? Based on your answer, what do you think you need to do? If you struggle but finally obey, what is your goal the next time? Should you allow the enemy make you feel weak because you struggled? How should you confront those emotions? Should you ever justify a lack in faith? Why? Why not? When someone does not show you complete trust how do you feel? What are they saying about you? Does God deserve those thoughts from you? What does your answer show? 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Intimacy with God through hate!

Probing Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things the LORD hates - no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a                                                                                       family. 

I just preached on this – we need to see the positive from these statements. If God hates something, when we join Him in that hate, an intimacy begins. If we hate what He hates, the opposite will become a reality – we will love what He loves. This can become a great exercise in our walk with the Lord. When we see something in the Word that God hates, we can go to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to produce the same kind of righteous indignation for that sin in us. At least two things will happen when we do this: We will become intolerable of sin in OUR OWN lives. 
Notice I said “our own” lives. If this indignation is from the Lord we will not be looking at anyone else. That is Pharisaical and judgmental! God is the One that will judge each man, which is not our job. However, we have the delight to look into the mirror and ask the Holy Spirit to root out every thing in our life that God knows is destroying our closeness to Him. The second thing that happens is that we learn not only what God hates, but what He loves! When you see what He hates ask yourself what is the opposite of that? That characteristic will lead you right to the loving arms of your Father. He knows we cannot manufacture these characteristics on our own in a fallen state. So He will be there waiting for us and desiring to help those characteristics grow in us. Looking at this passage consider: “Seven things He detests:” Haughty eyes – Opposite: Humility; Lying tongue - Opposite: Integrity; Hands that shed innocent blood - Opposite: Defend the defenseless; Heart that devises wicked plans - Opposite: Proactively Good; Feet that run rapidly to evil - Opposite: Immediate Obedience; False witness who utters lies - Opposite: Justice = No Favoritism; One who spreads strife among brothers - Opposite: Peace

As we turn from what God hates and run to what He loves our intimacy with Him will grow exponentially!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Button the top button in the top button hole or the whole shirt will be off!

Scripture Read: Judges 6:24-26 Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and named it The Lord is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.  Now on the same night the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it; and build an altar to the Lord your God on the top of this stronghold in an orderly manner, and take a second bull and offer a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah which you shall cut down.”

Application: First things first! This is a task” oriented society we live in today, and most of us are affected by it…I know I am. That’s why the Scriptures are always quick to point out “the need for balance”. Gideon has been told he will be used by God to deliver the Israelites from the hand of the Midianites, after making sure “Who” he was talking to…it was God. Great! So Gideon goes directly in and wipes out the bad Midianites. Right? Wrong! First things first! Here is one of those principles that can shed a lot of light on the reason for God’s timing in our lives. We see a task that needs to be accomplished, ~ we focus on that and endeavor to press ahead. God, on the other hand, has a completely different agenda that has more to do with our personal good and growth than the task we’re endeavoring to focus on. God makes it clear that the idolatry needs to stop first. Baal must be gone before God was going to free the Israelites from Midian through Gideon. God’s alter will not be shared with Baal, nor can God’s alter be built before Baal’s altar is destroyed. It’s like putting on a shirt; if you do not get the top button right, everything else is off! This is such an important principle. It is one of the strongest and most consistently taught in the Scriptures. Time and time again God makes us the issue first, then rewards us for our trust in Him. An example that really sticks out to me is in Joshua.  After the 40 years of wandering because of their fathers disobedience and refusal to go in and conquer the land that God had promised the Israelites, when Rahab the harlot gave them refuge and hid the Israelite spies notice the reputation of the Israelites to their enemies:  
“For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. “When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.  Joshua 2:10–11  

 Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel. Joshua 5:1

Consider: your one of Joshua’s generals about to approach the fortified city of Jericho, it had walls that were over 3.6 meters high and 1.8 meters wide at it’s base. There was an internal staircase with 22 stone steps, a fortress intimidating to behold, yet their enemies within were terrified from what they had heard from your other conquests. You have the momentum...and your leader tells you…we have to stop and circumcise all the men!? NOW? Yes, first things first!

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.”  Joshua 5:2

The land was to be given to “the people of the covenant”, but these folks had not entered into the covenant yet. They needed to prepare their hearts first, before the battle. So, the entire army stopped and was circumcised.

That is not why they were yelling when they walked around the walls of Jericho!   
God had them wait until they were completely healed. We need to check our own hearts when we become fixated on a task and become impatient with God’s timing. We very likely will miss the BIG picture. Often, men who felt led to be in the Pastorate and go into the ministry, have tried to skip the time it takes to mature and be educated learning the disciplines that are so essential in the ministry. Choosing a short cut, they are really unprepared and do not last in the ministry. Spiritual maturity is the foundation to living out our lives for Him in any ministry God has called us to.
Meditation Questions: When God is moving in your life, how do you view it, tunnel vision or do you slow down enough to consider all aspect? What does your answer show you? Have you ever felt impatient toward the Lord, what did you do about that? When you desire something to happen, but it does not, how do you deal with that? Do you look inside to see if there are bigger issues that the Lord might be trying to deal with? Do you have any “alters” that need to be torn down? What are you doing about that? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Second chances are not guaranteed!

Probing Proverbs: 6:14-15 Their perverted hearts plot evil, and they constantly stir up trouble. But they will be destroyed suddenly, broken in an instant beyond all hope of healing. 

Wisdom is dealing with those that are bent on being careless with their life and evil in their motives. The gospel is the story of second chances, this is true, yet we need to face reality that their will come a time when there will be no second chance! We should consider two aspects of this. First is the finality of this reality. We have become a world where second chances are expected, and believe me as the sinner I am grateful for all the second chances God has extended to me, however, it is the height of arrogance to believe that will never end. 

The scripture is clear that one day there will be an accounting by everyone for their life. On that day the judgment that will be given will be final, no appeal, no pardon or parole. If a person has decided to live separate from God their fall will be thorough and complete with no hope of reprieve. The second aspect is how suddenly this terrible future can come upon us. No one is guaranteed the next breath nor does anyone knows when Christ will return and judgment will be upon them. There is only one hope...prepare NOW. Don't wait thinking that you have all the time in the world, for your world can end at any time. One natural disaster, one war, one accident or disease and in a twinkling of an eye eternity can begin! 

Now is the time to make sure you have a relationship with your Creator. Take a moment and consider where you are with the Lord, eternity is in the balance.