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!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

We need friends like this!

Proverbs 8:12-14 “I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment. I know where to discover knowledge and discernment. All who fear the Lord will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech."

There is a principle given in Scripture that warns us about the impact others can have on us:

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

It is important that we get the point of this message. God is not stating that we should separate ourselves from sinners, because we are sinners also. If your presence in the lives of those that surround you causes them to live better lives and toward God, this is exactly what the Lord wants. However, if the company you keep causes you to move away from God and live in a way that would be displeasing him, then perhaps you need to put some space between you and those individuals until you have matured enough to impact them, instead of them impacting you.

Keeping that principle before us will help us understand the power that Wisdom can bring to our life. Notice, one of the partners of Wisdom is good judgment. Just as bad company can bring individuals to a lower moral standard, so can Wisdom bring with it good company.  What a powerful combination of allies these can bring into our life. The ability to take the data (knowledge) and not only know how to use it, but when to use it.  This is such an important combination when we are trying to live in a very evil world. Notice, wisdom knows not only where knowledge is, but also the discernment that is required to understand the application of that knowledge. Discernment is so very important in a world filled with so much data. There is a very true statement:  “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” When you only know part of what is truth there is great danger of doing the wrong thing with it. When you take the data and add the ability to discern how and when to use it then you will experience exactly what Jesus promised about truth, “the truth will set you free”! I remember once when my son was 3 years old we had a toilet that would leak, and if you jiggled the handle it would stop. One day I heard leaking and I told him to go and jiggle the toilet. About 5 min. later I could still hear it leaking, so I called to him and told him to please jiggle the toilet, he said he had, so I said please do again. A few minutes later it was still leaking, so I went into the bathroom, called him there and asked him why he did not jiggle the toilet. He said “daaaad I did!” I said please show daddy what you did. He did not jiggle the handle; he straddled the toilet bowl and tried to shake it with all his strength. After I stopped laughing, I realized that he was lacking the discernment that was required in understanding the statement “jiggle the toilet”. My wife or myself would’ve understood that it meant to simply move the handle, but Chris was only 3 and so he took the data and applied it literally. Wisdom with good judgment teaches to put the data into a context that God calls “truth”. 
Truth is objective not subjective or given to the whims of popularity or political correctness. It is the standard that gives people a foundation to stand on, and today, more than ever we need to have that standard. We live in the day of the book of Judges – “every man did what was right in his own eyes”. The tragedy is the upcoming generation does not live based on a standard, but instead is based on their emotions at the moment… And the result is becoming a disaster.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Be sure of the flavor of your words when you speak…You might have to eat them!

Scripture Read: Judges 8:13-17 Then Gideon the son of Joash returned from the battle by the ascent of Heres. And he captured a youth from Succoth and questioned him. Then the youth wrote down for him the princes of Succoth and its elders, seventy-seven men. He came to the men of Succoth and said, “Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, concerning whom you taunted me, saying, ‘Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are weary?’ ” He took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and he disciplined the men of Succoth with them. He tore down the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the city.

Application: The unmeasured words we speak can come back to haunt us! When Gideon was in pursuit of the enemy he asked his brethren to simply help with food. He did not ask for more fighting men. 

Yet, because Gideon did not possess the victory in his hands already, according to their flawed judgment they spoke haughtily and mocked Gideon. It is sad enough that their spirit of cowardice was in control, but they complicated things by spewing out unmeasured words…never considering how distasteful those words would be going back down! Gideon was focused, yet firm. He did not take the time right then to discipline these two groups of men. He stayed intently on the task God had given him, seeking his strength from on high, especially because even his brethren had denied him any help. However, when the goal was accomplished he returned to deal with those that had been filled with pride. The men of Succoth and Penuel were going to enjoy a new peace that was paid for by Gideon and his 300, not offering even food for help.  Adding injury to insult they even mocked him! When we are safe and full of ourselves, that is a great time to check our words. 

We need to make sure when we speak the words we share are measured and the possible response has been weighed. Notice, even Gideon’s response is measured. He does not just go into each city and destroy everyone. He finds out the leaders’ identities, because they are the one’s responsible. The leaders of Succoth suffer a very painful lesson, their bodies are dragged over thorns. It appears though that their flesh and pride is torn, but their lives are spared. The men of Penuel on the other hand are different. Why? Scripture does not state; several explanations could be given. Perhaps these men spoke even more harshly; or when Gideon began tearing down the tower they had, maybe they tried to stop him by force and so he killed them. Another reason might be that the tower was most likely dedicated to a false god and Gideon was quite firm against idolatry by this time. Whatever the reason, one outcome in both situations was accomplished. No one would have any doubt that Gideon would not tolerate betrayal and would firmly deal with any that chose to stand against God. We are all human and capable of bad judgment, so it is important that we do not complicate our mistakes with haughty attitudes and words. No one knows what Gideon would have done if the men of these cities had just pleaded cowardice and been humble. We allow the Holy Spirit the most room to lead someone to be merciful to us when we have used bad judgment, yet remained humble. Measure your Words, the smaller they are, the easier they are to swallow if the need arises!     

Meditation Questions: Have you ever seen someone speak haughtily and then have to repent? How hard was it on them? Why? Have you ever done that? What did you learn? How can we guard our words? How can the Scriptures help? Can They? How? When dealing with a difficult issue, have you ever tried writing it out first to see how it will sound? Have you ever been spoken to harshly? What did it make you feel? How many words did God say He would hold us accountable for? Why is it that your words can reap more than what they sow? 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas...Observing it is good…Appreciating it is better!

As we close our thoughts on Christmas this year let's remember what we considered. We looked at the unwilling heart and the dangers that it brings. We examined the seeking heart and the doors of opportunity that it opens. Then we looked at the believing heart, the strong foundation that it brings to life. In the midst of terrible times the faith we have in Christ will be the difference of how we handle those times.

Consider Paul:

2 Timothy 1:12  For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

As a last thought before we move back to Proverbs and Judges, let's consider the “meditative” heart. Mary took the things that were said about Jesus and kept them in her heart.

Luke 2:16–20 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.  The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Luke 2:49–52 And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

The meditative heart has a great hunger for truth. Mary believed God, yet still had a hunger to not just understand the obvious, but she desired to consider the deeper truths that God is communicating. The meditative heart will squeeze all the truth and wisdom out of a situation. What does it mean to meditate?

It simply means to Ponder, Rethink something.

The example often used is how a cow eats. She chews food, swallows it, starts to digest it in her stomach and regurgitates it (returns it back to her mouth). She chews the same food again squeezing even more nutrients out of it and sends it back down to a different stomach. This is called “chewing the cud”. This is actually a very good picture of meditation. We receive truth, we believe it but then we ponder it. We bring it to the front of our thinking several times, rethinking it, trying to mentally “digest” all the meaning of the truth that we are experiencing.

Why is meditation important?

The issue is to acquire MORE than just knowledge. Meditation is the path to Wisdom.

Adrian Rogers said it well - "The difference between wisdom and knowledge is this: Knowledge is needed to pass the test in school, but wisdom is needed to pass the test in life. Knowledge is learned; wisdom is given. Knowledge comes by looking around; wisdom comes by looking up. Knowledge comes by study; wisdom comes by meditation with God. Wisdom teaches one how to apply His knowledge."

What can we learn about the meditative heart?

The Meditative Heart Understands:
1. The path to success – Finding God’s best!

Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

2. The path to esteem – What God thinks of me is the most important!

Psalm 119:23–24 Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors.

Psalm 119:78 May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie; But I shall meditate on Your precepts.

3. The path to wisdom

Psalm 119:97–99 O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation.

4. The path to Strength 

Psalm 119:48–50 And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes. Remember the word to Your servant, In which You have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.

Proverbs 24:5–6 A wise man is strong, And a man of knowledge increases power. For by wise guidance you will wage war, And in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Mary began her walk with Christ Pondering the things said about Him. She followed Him in His ministry, making no special claim to Him. She understood that with Jesus there was no personal son, just a personal Savior and Lord. Because Mary approached the Lord with a meditative heart she had the wisdom to understand the bigger picture. She also possessed the strength needed to endure the future of her Son, so much so that God aloud her to be at His death.

This year, let’s learn from Mary. Receive God’s Truth…believe it…but do even more. Meditate on it, allowing that time to produce the Wisdom God intends!