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, December 27, 2012

Christmas...Is seeing “believing?” Maybe for the eyes, but not the heart!

We have considered the unwilling heart and the seeking heart. Let’s look at the believing heart.

A huge crowd was watching the famous tightrope walker, Blondin, cross Niagara Falls one day in 1860. He crossed it numerous times—a 1,000 foot trip, 160 feet above the raging waters. He asked the crowd if they believed he could take one person across. All said yes. Then he approached one man and asked him to get on his back and go with him. The man refused! Mental or even verbal agreement is not real "belief". [1]

It’s easy to say you believe…doing it is another matter. What does it mean to believe?

Believe: To remain steadfast; to be persuaded; to adhere to, rely on

Matthew 1:18–25 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”  And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

There is a lot of talk about believing BUT not so much talk about obeying! That is the test when it comes to belief. Do I trust, adhere or rely on what God states enough to obey Him? When I do…then I know the belief has moved from my head only, to now include my heart and my will.

When we move from seeking to “believing”, one key element will be highlighted.

Our response will not be based on WHAT we know, but WHO we know!

Joseph could not comprehend what God was going to do…but he could understand what God wanted him to do.

Remember, real belief, does not require full comprehension…if that were the case no one could believe in God except God!

We have good examples of those who believed without all the facts.

Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.

Romans 4:19–21 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.
Abraham obeyed based on God not himself or the facts.

Some might take issue with me – however, we have a primary example of how unimportant having the facts are when the heart is unwilling to obey. Consider:

Judas…he walked, talked, lived with Jesus – he witnessed everything Jesus did, yet refused to follow.

You can have ALL the facts…the issue will never be anything else but YOU!        

Not what you feel or what the circumstances are, or what is popular. It is and will remain what is in your heart. 

This Christmas…What is God calling you to obey Him in? Will you say you believe and not move…or will you seek His help to obey His desire for your life this coming year?

[1] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas...when you is never a question of “if”...but “when”.

When I was a very young Christian I had a job I hated – my boss had a Hitler complex! I was tired of ministering at the prison and I had decided to quit both. I shared with all my friends that I was “seeking” God’s direction...but the truth was my heart had already decided what I was going to do. What happened to me has never happened to me again, nor do I believe we should count on God’s grace to save us from our hard heart. I have never forgotten this lesson and have done my best to never play games my Lord again. Two people entered the restaurant I was the head cook at. My boss greeted them and after a short discussion called me over to the table. He said “Nate, these folks are Christians like you”. My boss thought Christians were aliens! We fellowshipped for a while, and the interesting thing is all I did was tell them what I was doing...not what I was planning to do! I said I went to University of Hawaii, worked as a cook here and went three times a week to Oahu Prison in ministry. That’s it! When they left they asked for me to come out from the kitchen, they thanked me for the meal and of them said “this is our first time here, but God told us to tell you that you have two and at the prison!” After that I don’t remember much...I was just shaking because I knew God had just shown me grace...guided me in spite of me having an unwilling heart.

Let me encourage you...NEVER play that game! The majority of the time God will say to you “thy will be done!” Then you will have to reap the consequences of your stubborn heart. Contrary...what excitement can be in your heart when you know you are seeking the Truth and direction of God.  We see from the Magi the confidence you can have.

The seeking heart - will receive guidance

Matthew 2:9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.

The seeking heart - will find

Matthew 2:11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

1 Chronicles 28:9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.

Matthew 7:7  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

The reason we do not find, is not because God is hiding it - it is because we are not seeking. I have found several reasons that my heart deceives itself. Here they are:

·   We say we are seeking, but that is appearance for others.
·     We are seeking in the wrong places
·     We are seeking with our minds already made up.
·     We are seeking without already being committed to following:

A good example is found in:

Matthew 19:16–23 And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.

Tragic – He sought for Truth...but when it was given...his agenda refused to yield!

What happens when we do yield, we seek and we find?

Matthew 2:11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

If you are truly seeking, when you find, you will have a desire to thank the One Who is responsible – the outcome will be worship!

Take time to ask your Maker to guide you as we begin 2013. He will honor your desire and you will enjoy showing your appreciation by entering inot deeper intimacy with Him through worship.