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 19, 2012

He’s waiting for you!

Scripture Read: Judges 7:14-15 His friend replied, “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given Midian and all the camp into his hand.” When Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. He returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the camp of Midian into your hands.”

Application: Who is like You oh God? The gods of man are self-serving, vindictive, removed, unsympathetic and cruel! They have no desire to encourage or to be merciful to their followers. Because they are from the mind of fallen man, their delight is in suffering and fear. That is how they make those that created them become their servants. But You oh Lord, though awesome and the only Being in the universe that can destroy both body and soul, You desire redemption and relationship with those that have rebelled against You. You are kind, compassionate and very sympathetic to those that follow You. Your mercy is extended even when we are not obedient. You are faithful to us even when we are not faithful to You. 

In this small portion of a tremendous story – we see the ultimate reaction that every one of us should experience when the reality of Who God is finally becomes the Truth in our heart. Gideon has been on a journey that all of us must make if we are to enter into a relationship with our Creator. His journey is unique, as each of ours will be. God did not make a “one size fits all” path to this reality. There are as many paths as there are people. Each has it’s own flavor, smell and intensity. Some paths seem so much greater or dramatic than our path, yet we need to be careful in those thoughts. God and God alone understands the makeup of each individual He created and He alone knows what needs to happen inside that person to illuminate their heart to the Truth about Who He is. Some individuals seem to have a path that is only a few steps, while others are miles long. Gideon’s path was very complicated with many turns and twists. What is revealing about this whole process, no matter the path, no matter the difficulty or apparent ease, no matter the length…ALL end in the same place! Notice, God extended extraordinary grace to Gideon, allowing him to hear the dream of the Midianite, yet, Gideon’s reaction is exactly the same as every person that follows their path of discovery of our Lord – he bowed in worship” This is where the path ends! When we come face to face with the reality that You God, are God, we fall to our face and adore You! 
Why would You…God, be conscious or caring of a creature like me? Even my wife, my family or my closet friend might forget me at times, but You are mindful of me all the days of my life. You have even set an appointment for me to meet You after this part of life is over! Oh Lord, thank You that because of Jesus Christ I need not fear that appointment!! Dear friend, do not ignore the reality of God or His desire to be in a loving relationship with you. When you take your path…at the end you will find Him there, waiting for you. Then you will experience the joy of worship of the Real God!

Meditation Questions: How often do you consider the goodness of God? Do you tell Him? What does that show you? Where are you in your journey with God? Have you thought about that? What does that show you? When was the last time all you did was praise Him? What does that show you? Why not take a moment right now, slow your life down, relax and be quiet for a few minutes reflecting on Who God is? Offer Him your praise! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

An embrace that has a knife in it’s hand.

Proverbs 7:13-15 She threw her arms around him and kissed him, and with a brazen look she said, “I’ve just made my peace offerings and fulfilled my vows. You’re the one I was looking for! I came out to find you, and here you are!  

If this were not so tragic, it would be comical! Wisdom has watched this foolish young man place himself in the path of sin and now the woman he was hoping to flirt with has found him. Some very interesting statements are made in this passage. It states that she has a “brazen look” as she puts her arms around him and kisses him. Consider some of the words that are synonyms of this word: bold, barefaced, shameless, unashamed, and audacious. This communicates well what is in the heart of this woman. She's not brazen because she throws her arms around him and kisses him; no she's brazen because of what follows. She's clearly planning to have sex with this man, yet in the same breath she speaks about making peace offerings and fulfilling her vows. What hypocrisy! What contradiction! 

Claiming to spend time getting right with God through worship and following through on the promises she's made to God, indicating that she is a religious and devout person. Yet, in the breath right before this statement is an aggressive sexual come on to this young man. Her intentions are clear, she's communicating openly so the young man has no question. Her bed and her body are his, no fear of rejection, no dating or preliminary niceties required. The statement that follows is actually quite frightful when we consider how true it reflects the desire of sin to possess us. Notice – “you're the one I was looking for” - targeted and planned, not accidental or a coincidence. Let's remember the specific issue in this proverb is about an immoral woman that is married but has targeted a young man to take her to bed. At the same time let's not forget the universal principle concerning how sin approaches us. Sin most times does not approach us as some gross, evil thing to be feared. Most times sin disguises itself as something good, pleasurable, harmless and even religious. Why in the world would this woman claimed to have just been worshiping God unless she desired to give the perception of someone wholesome with good intentions. The most disturbing truth concerning this principle is that we, like this young man, many times do not pay attention to the contradictions right before our eyes. Consider the young man, he sees the beauty of this woman, and receives the flattering words that she pours over him and at the same time hears her claiming that she was just worshiping God before she came to him. We say, “how can he be so blind!” We believe that we would see it. Yet, we miss the contradictions that we allow to exist in our life; we are faithful to our spouses, yet we have a lifestyle of pornography and believe it does us no harm; we think what is the harm in getting a little high every once in a while, yet we ignore the destruction that the drug does to us and our family; or one of the most famous ones – we become romantically involved with an unbeliever. “He's a nice guy and he goes with me to church”, yet it's clear he does not have an interest in a relationship with Christ and his priorities are completely different than a believer’s. Still we convince ourselves that “perhaps he will come to know the Lord after marriage”. I have spent too many hours in my office counseling such a person who is now blaming God for allowing them to marry this unbeliever. Most times the unbeliever does not come toward God and in fact pull the believer away from their relationship with their Savior. 

Be sure, I am not talking about befriending unbelievers, we are called to be friends with all and whenever we encounter an unbeliever in our life it is a great opportunity to share how much God loves that person. I am talking about dating someone that you know does not have a relationship with Christ. Emotions are very dangerous and once the strong emotion of infatuation takes hold in the heart, we cease to look through the eyes of the Holy Spirit at this relationship. We ignore the obvious contradictions that are there. We have one God, this person has another God.  The spiritual union that should take place in relationship that moves from friendship to romance, and then onto marriage will never be what God intended it to be if there is not a complete unity of who God is in that couple's life. 

Like the young man, we all must be careful of how we handle sin when it approaches us. We must ask the tough questions so that we can see any contradictions concerning what really is being offered. Remember, it is true that sin is pleasurable, but only for a moment. Whereas the consequences can last much, much longer. Ask the Holy Spirit of God to give you the discernment to see each opportunity through His eyes; whether it be the relationships you have, how you spend your leisure time, your work life or even the ministry opportunities that you will have.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Faith...just like the foot; made for one step at a time!

Scripture Read: Chapter 7:9-14 Now the same night it came about that the Lord said to him, “Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hands. “But if you are afraid to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the camp, and you will hear what they say; and afterward your hands will be strengthened that you may go down against the camp.” So he went with Purah his servant down to the outposts of the army that was in the camp. Now the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the sons of the east were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. When Gideon came, behold, a man was relating a dream to his friend. And he said, “Behold, I had a dream; a loaf of barley bread was tumbling into the camp of Midian, and it came to the tent and struck it so that it fell, and turned it upside down so that the tent lay flat.” His friend replied, “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given Midian and all the camp into his hand.”

Application: When we read passages like this we should really be challenged to stop making excuses for our own struggle in Faith. Please note I said "struggle" - that does not mean "no" faith. No faith means we doubt God, struggle means we are tempted to doubt and that we do doubt ourselves. Also, I am not be judgmental…we all struggle in our faith, but we should stop making excuses. Just admit our weak flesh and deal with it.  What we see God do here should encourage us to have the courage to take that first step because God will do more than we can imagine to enable our faith to grow. 
That’s the key! We see an issue and try to envision how we can get to the end, which is anywhere between 7 to 50 steps down the road. How foolish! Faith does not work that way. When Jesus started with His disciples it was in Matthew 10 not in Acts 28! He began on step one, and that is where we need to begin. We need to stop trying to believe God that we can conquer the world for Him when we can’t even stop that silly sin that has been hounding us for years!  We should approach our life one step at a time. Leaps only land us off balance and in danger of falling. No, my friends, we were made to take life one-step at a time and allow God to determine the length of the stride and the speed. Gideon was struggling and God gave him 2 choices. One would have caused more growth - yet due to the grace and love of our Lord, He offered Gideon a smaller step of faith. Yes this would cause a smaller growth in his maturity, but God is more patient than we are. Usually we want immediate and maximum results. God will accept a little instead of failure and no growth. Just like the man in Mark. He did believe in Jesus, but he knew his flesh was weak. He took the step to ask and made it clear that he did have faith in Jesus.

Mark 9:20–24 They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. “It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

The Lord saw his step and honored it! Perhaps we need to stop making excuses for not taking a step, instead just be honest with the Lord and ourselves; step out asking God to confirm! We might be surprised how patient and gracious He is!

Meditation Questions: What does it take for you to take one step in faith? Why? Have you believed God for big things before? What happened? What does that show you? When you asked God to do something big, what step did you try and start on? What has that taught you? Is there anything that God has asked that you still have not given in on? Should He give you more if you cannot handle that? Why? Will you ask God to show you just one step He wants you to take in your life right now? If so, what do you expect? If not, why?