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, October 5, 2012

Missing life, while trying to unlock the secrets of the universe!

Scripture Read: Judges 7:4-8 Then the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many; bring them down to the water and I will test them for you there. Therefore it shall be that he of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go with you; but everyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” 5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “You shall separate everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps, as well as everyone who kneels to drink.” 6 Now the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men; but all the rest of the people kneeled to drink water. 7 The Lord said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home.” 8 So the 300 men took the people’s provisions and their trumpets into their hands. And Gideon sent all the other men of Israel, each to his tent, but retained the 300 men; and the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.

Application: The interesting thing about our Lord is that most times His Sovereign plan includes the involvement of fallen creatures like us. God could do whatever He desired through His power alone, yet in most of Scripture His plans incorporate our part. This is a very important truth that we need to deal with. The Body of Christ has a schism concerning this issue. Some believe that our “free will” is supreme and God just works with that yielding to our decisions. Some take God’s Sovereignty to the point that when someone trips down a flight of stairs they should get up and say, “boy I’m glad that is over”, as if God made it happen and they had no responsibility for…walking down a dark stair case…or walking with their shoes untied…or walking down stairs while drunk…you get my point. 
If we are honest we do not know how this works, only God does. God’s Word makes it clear that nothing…that means everything…nothing happens outside of God’s Sovereignty. He either caused it or allowed it, but it did not sneak by God’s control.  At the same time, God’s Word makes it clear that we are accountable to do what we should and know ~ is the “right”, “intelligent” and “common sense” thing to do. You say…but Nate what about Gideon who is being told to take on an Army of thousands with 300 men; or Nate what about when Abraham was told to sacrifice his son?  Common sense still rules; Who was asking Gideon and Abraham to do those things? Is it not wiser, does it not make sense to obey the One that made everything, controls everything and has power to do anything, than to follow our finite eyes? God desires us to be involved in all His plans for us, it is not our job to try and figure out what part God plays and what part we play. What is our job, is to use our mind, talk to the Holy Spirit and then step out in faith and do everything we can that the circumstances demand. 
God shows how involved we are in this section, and we will look at that in our next devotional, but for right now it is important to take a pause and make sure we are doing what we know we should and leave the rest to our Lord. I fear, that many in Christ, may find that if they had participated more in the circumstances of their life, they might find that God’s desire for what would have happened would be different than what actually happened, because God’s Sovereignty is so sovereign that He includes our part in His control of the outcome. Let’s not get to eternity and find out that we missed some of the desired outcomes God had for us, due to our complacency about life. At the same time it is comforting that His Sovereignty incorporates our fallen nature and we never know how quickly an action on our part will be used by God to bring us into His desired plan.

Meditation Questions: What do you think is more important, figuring out how God’s sovereignty and your free will works, or doing what you know you should do where you are right now and leave the “how it works” to Him? Have you ever decided to ignore circumstances claiming that God is “in control”? What happened? What does that teach you? What is the difference in responding to circumstances versus trusting in circumstances? How can we know what part God plays in a situation? What does your answer show you?   

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Four things to do to pick up a woman.

☛ Probing Proverbs 7:6-8 While I was at the window of my house, looking through the curtain, I saw some naive young men, and one in particular who lacked common sense. He was crossing the street near the house of an immoral woman, strolling down the path by her house.  

As a sinner I need to pay special attention to scriptures that can give me insight into avoiding sin. This is one of those passages. Four important aspects are brought out here: naive, common sense, near and strolling down the path. Four things that will place you in the neighborhood of sexual sin. We are naive when we think that getting close to sin is not dangerous. Too many of us think that sin just happens. It does not! There are powers that are involved. Our flesh has a life of its own and will try to influence our decisions, and the invisible world of our enemy is always alert to opportunities to bring us into sin. We must not be naive, we must be alert like our enemy is alert! 
Common is the key when it comes to the sense we should have. This is nothing special, or only for brainiacs, the point is that it is common. Everyone knows that if you play with fire, there is a high risk of getting burned! If we would just use that common sense we would remember that 1+1=2, i.e. if I am a sinner, with a sin nature (that means a nature that loves to sin) if I get close to sin there is a greater chance for me to sin. DUH! No college degree needed...just think! 

The point of all the scriptures warnings concerning sin is to stay far from it. Here is a formula that might help: take the f in far, replace the n in near with that f and that live that way in other words Fear to be near sin! A path has as its objective to deliver the one on it to a specific destination. So even if you are not running, but only strolling you will end up in the same place. Why do we cautiously try to walk the path that leads to sin? Experimenting with how close we can get to it without getting caught. Nature has so many examples of creatures that, driven by curiosity, travel a path that makes them FOOD for the one waiting for them at the end of that path! In this case, the path promises pleasure, but in the end you become a meal for the enemy. Remain close to God and your heart will place a dead end sign in front of this path.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The “comfort zone” can be the danger zone!

Scripture Read: Judges 7:2-3 The Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’ “Now therefore come, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.’ ” So 22,000 people returned, but 10,000 remained.

Application: As the Lord continues to build Gideon’s faith by taking away his comfort zone; we also can learn some very important truths about “real” faith. Remember, faith is simply “trusting belief”. It is NOT just belief! James makes it real clear that simple intellectual acceptance of something, as a reality is not good enough!

James 2:19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

It’s real easy to tell me that you believe that I can catch you if you fall; it is quite another thing for you to let yourself fall so I can catch you. God is always in the business of building real faith in us, not just head belief. When we accept the reality of something intellectually and then add trust from our heart to that reality…THAT is what real faith is! I try and live a life of good works because I love God, but I have absolutely no confidence in those works to win God’s favor or forgiveness. In my mind and heart, I know my works – even the most righteous – fall desperately short of God’s perfection. That is why I have placed my “trusting belief” in what Jesus did for me on the cross. He paid the debt of my sin and I have trusted in that and received His forgiveness. I am a child of God, not because of anything I did, but because of what He did and because I have believed in Him.

As God works with Gideon there are two things that stand out in this passage. First, the fact that God is serious about our ability to really trust Him. He makes it clear that if you cannot trust Him then go home! James sheds more light on how our Lord feels about “lip service only” when it comes to faith:

James 1:5–8 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

God does not mix words about this; yet, the second issue we need to see in this passage is the kindness and mercy of God. He is firm about His desire that people trust Him fully, however, He states no condemnation or harsh words toward those that are gripped by fear instead of controlled by faith. He simply tells them to return home. 
God…being God has every right to judge those that do not trust Him fully, yet He sympathizes with our weak flesh and does not judge. He weeds out, yes, but in His grace He only weeds out. No punishment, not even disappointment is shown. That does not mean He is done with those that went home. Perhaps, on another day and time, when God decided some of these have grown more in their faith, He would give them another chance to take a stand for Him. Clearly God desires “real faith”. However, His patience, grace and mercy also extend time to those of us that are weak. Father, thank You for Your unending kindness toward us and continue to create in us a faith that will honor You!

Meditation Questions: When was the last time God took you out of your comfort zone? What did you do? When you think of “real faith” what do you think of? How do you discern between intellectually believing and “real faith”? Do you see the difference when you BELIEVE God versus when you ALMOST believe God? What does that look like? If you were God and you wanted to grow the faith that you have right now, how would you do that? What does your answer show?