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, February 28, 2013

Stopping 1 meter short!

Scripture Read: Judges 8:24-27 Yet Gideon said to them, “I would request of you, that each of you give me an earring from his spoil.” (For they had gold earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) They said, “We will surely give them.” So they spread out a garment, and every one of them threw an earring there from his spoil. The weight of the gold earrings that he requested was 1,700 shekels of gold, besides the crescent ornaments and the pendants and the purple robes which were on the kings of Midian, and besides the neck bands that were on their camels’ necks. Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household.

"You heard about that woman who said, `What are we coming to? Somebody broke into my house and stole all of the towels i took from the Holiday Inn hotel!'

It's amazing how double minded we can be!

It is always important that we learn that when we are in the race, we have to keep before us, that we must finish the ENTIRE race! Gideon believed in a theocracy, direct rule by God - he had just finished turning them down when they offered him the kingship. Yet, here he takes steps that become a snare to him and the nation.

Why did Gideon do this? It cannot be that he wanted to be rich, because what he does with that gold shows he did not use it for some passing pleasure or to increase his estate. He made an ephod. What is that?

Ephod = A sacred garment of gold, blue, purple, scarlet and fine twined linen worn by the Jewish high priest. The ephod fitted closely around the shoulders and was held by two straps. A hole in the top admitted the head. On top of each of the shoulder straps an onyx stone was encased in a filagree setting of gold and engraved with the names of six tribes of Israel. The robe of the ephod was a garment different from the ephod. It was blue, sleeveless and fringed at the bottom with bells of gold and pomegranates of blue Gold, purple and scarlet. Used to discover the will of God.

Obviously we can only guess at why Gideon does this, but it would be good to think through and learn from his mistake. It is clear that Gideon was not interested in political standing; he'd just been offered the kingship. Perhaps the problem lies in spiritual pride. Gideon had been visited by the Lord personally, and had been given an unbelievable victory against an overwhelming enemy. The fact that he made an ephod might speak to the idea that Gideon fancied himself to be a spiritual giant. God had lifted Gideon to be a military leader and one that would help free his people, but that does not mean he was to be the spiritual leader. Remember what happened with King Saul and the prophet Samuel. King Saul decided to place himself into a position that God had not ordained him to be in. By making an ephod for himself Gideon was placing himself into the priesthood. It could be his intentions were good, however, this is where we need to come to grips with the difference between our intentions and God's truth. I know for myself I have done things that were wrong with the right intentions. In the end, the Holy Spirit did not congratulate me on my intentions, by His mercy and grace He gently showed me that doing right is what is important, not how I “feel” about it. This is exactly what Samuel communicated to King Saul:

1 Samuel 15:22 Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

Gideon was wrong in two accounts; to begin with, the priesthood was for Levites, and Gideon was not from the tribe of Levi. Secondly, the place of worship was Shiloh not in Ophrah. This became a common problem for the nation of Israel in the years to follow. Individuals deciding they will set up their own places of worship even though it is not where God had commanded it to be. Once again the person may have good intentions, but that doesn't make “wrong” right.

One other thing that we need to consider, and that is the general callousness toward sin. Our God is so gracious and merciful that he tolerates so much sin. Even so, sin will still have its affect on a person's character. Gideon had a large harem, which would show some real spiritual darkness.

Judges 8:30-31 Now Gideon had seventy sons who were his direct descendants, for he had many wives. His concubine who was in Shechem also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech.

The Word of God does not condemn him and God continued to bless him…but let's be careful. This does not mean that this was all right with God, His mercy and grace tolerated Gideon’s sin. We should take this as a warning for own hearts. Just because God does not come down on everyone of our sins, we should not grow complacent to sinful behaviors in our life. We will reap what we sow, and sin does not show mercy or grace!

Meditation Questions: Where are you in your race? What does the finish line look like to you? Have you proactively prayed that God help you finish the race? Have you looked at areas in your life that could cause you to quit the race? What are they? Have you looked at areas of your life that could cause you to detour? What are they? Do you need to recommit right now to finish the race? Will you do that right now? Why? Why not? 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Follow the Leader? That depends on who the leader is!

Probing Proverbs 8:20-21 I walk in righteousness, in paths of justice. Those who love me inherit wealth. I will fill their treasuries.

Here is where we see how important it is to follow Wisdom. The path that wisdom walks is the path that we should desire if we truly know God. Every child of God wants to live a life of righteousness and justice. This is the path that Wisdom will take us on. Living a life that is righteous and just is often a very difficult thing to do. Our flesh prefers the easy route, which also many times is the most pleasurable route. To do what is right and to live an honest life requires discipline of the spirit, and a complete yielding (surrender) of our flesh to the Holy Spirit. Consider why: there are times when our flesh will make us ask ourselves “is living this way really worth it?” We should not think we are wrong when we feel this way. The psalmist expressed the same sentiments in Psalm 73:

Psalm 73:12–14 Look at these wicked people— enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.

He notices the evil live with ease and no suffering while he has endured much because he chooses to live a righteous life. If we do not allow these feelings to surface we will fail to allow the Holy Spirit to walk us through these emotions and to teach us the truth of the reality. In Psalm 1 we see some very important truth that sheds light on the reason of “why” we should choose to live in a righteous way:

Psalm 1:1-3 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

Notice the path that is being described here, it's the opposite of the path that wisdom will take us down. The world's wisdom will follow the advice of people that are separated from God. Today, half of our world listens to the advice of people that are famous for being famous. For the most part they are self-absorbed, think constantly of how they look, talk a lot about how evil the rich are, yet they have so much money they cannot spend it fast enough. They pickup pet projects to endorse, believing what others have told them, not investigating or seeking the truth. They do some commercials, invest a little time and effort to their cause, then they move back into their life, which consist of having any thing they want and going anywhere they desire because they have the money to do it. This path also takes firm positions that contradict the Word of God and on this path a person will find himself or herself joining in with the rest of the world. It is amazing to witness individuals that surrender their common sense and become part of the mob mentality because it happens to be “in vogue” or popular at that moment.

The person that is walking on that narrow path, which is called righteousness, finds his or her delight in God's Word. This person measures…not judges…everything by the Word of God. What benefit is that? Notice; a tree planted along a riverbank, when your roots go down right to the source of nutrition, the circumstances around you and outside of you cannot rob you of your strength. Whether it's rainy or drought condition, your roots are tapped into the nutrition source, so you keep your health and you continue to bear fruit. Also, the leaves never whether; this individual is involved in things that will last forever. Yes, he or she lives in this world and deals with many temporal things, still, their approach is from an eternal perspective. Lastly, this person prospers in all that they do. This does not mean have “success” the way the world thinks of it. 
True prosperity has to do with pleasing our Creator and sensing within ourselves a purpose and a destiny to our life. So this means it doesn't really matter “what” we do, instead, because of the “way” we approach our life we have that calm (peace) and joy that can only come from an eternal God into our own heart.

One very important thing we need to remember, if we are living righteous and are proud about it, then we have failed to really live righteous. Humility is the partner of righteousness. We can be content that our lives are representing God, however we should never fool ourselves into thinking that we have arrived. The longer I know Jesus Christ, the more I realize what a sinner I am!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Love – The Complete Picture

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

We looked at a portion of what love looks like based on the description God has given us. Let’s remind ourselves and then finish applying the rest of this portrait to our actions.

Learn to think of others first!
Serve others instead of always being served
Surrender your agenda

To really love means interacting with others.

Share your life with others
Once again we see the proactive drive of love. Many people use the terms “shy” and “introvert” to justify a lifestyle that is not open to share with others. A true introvert is a person that loses energy the more they are around people. This only means that they need time to rebuild energy after interacting with groups or individuals. This does not mean they stay to themselves and do not interact with other human beings. God is called both extrovert and introvert to community. Real love is willing to take the risk of sharing yourself with others, be careful of the drive to become a private person… It usually exposes a lack of willingness to be held accountable and it clearly shows an unhealthy love for self.

Consider what the Scriptures communicate in how we are to share ourselves:

John 15:15 "No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

2 Cor. 7:3   I do not speak to condemn you; for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together.

1 Thess. 2:8  We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.

Evaluate your priorities

In this success driven and task oriented world we live in, it is easy for us to misplace our priorities. Love will always have as its priority God and other people at the top of its list. “Things” may be important, but they never take a priority over our relationship to our Lord and to other human beings in the community. That is one of the dangers of religiosity, their misplaced priorities have made what should be a vibrant, living relationship with God and others, nothing more than a perfunctory list of things that we do that make us feel justified in righteous. Jesus spoke the most bluntly and harshly about this mentality:

Matthew 23:23  "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

Luke 20:46-47  "Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."


This shows your interested in what a person has to say. There is no worse experience than to be sharing your heart and the person you are talking to is looking at their watch, texting on their phone or just looking around. Eye to eye contact is a very important love language. It communicates a desire to engage the person that is talking to you. Consider, the God of the universe listens to us!

Psalm 116:1-2 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."


Love will be consistent even if it hurts. What that means is that love will be fully committed to doing the hard things; forgiving no matter, taking responsibility for mistakes and tough love. Real love is mature enough to deal with these situations.

Proverbs 11:13   A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.

Proverbs 27:6  Faithful are the wounds of a friend

Luke 16:10  "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much

Consider what this picture shows us!

Learn to think of others first!
Serve others instead of always being served
Surrender your agenda
Share your life with others
Evaluate your priorities

Less Self = this only begins with a willful decision

? Question ?

Are You Working With God To Produce 
His Kind Of Love In You?


Are You Just Thinking It Will Happen?