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, March 21, 2013

I slipped through your fingers because you ignored me!

Probing Proverbs 8:32-34 “And so, my children, listen to me, for all who follow my ways are joyful. Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it. Joyful are those who listen to me, watching for me daily at my gates, waiting for me outside my home!

Wisdom illuminates a tremendous Truth concerning why we often fail to do what is right. Many, when they think about sin, see it as a Commission. Something they do! Yet, in the middle of this passage is one little word that is where most sin takes place. “Ignore!” This is Omission…something we don’t do. As stated before, Wisdom is not hiding or hard to find, however, Wisdom will not force herself on us. We are to be the ones to propose! Wisdom has made her intentions clear, she desires a relationship with us…she is waiting for us! All we must do is; “listen,” “follow,” “watch and wait for.” These are commission statements. We must be proactive. 
Sadly many times we are just complacent, that is when we omit what we should do. The word ignore in the original means - “to let loose” in the sense of “to let slip through the fingers,” – how tragic! Sound asleep on our feet, that which we could have had slipped through our grasp. So many times I have found myself “acting” before I “think.” I have learned most times this came as a result of “unconscious living,” resulting in “acts of omission.” This very omission, (or inaction/passivity) more times than not, leads us into greater sin! When we ignore our world we miss the opportunities God brings our way. What causes us to ignore? The reasons are varied, but important to consider so we can alert ourselves to any danger we may be in.

* 1st  – The most obvious – Deliberate Intention. We decide we just do not want to deal with Truth so we ignore it…hoping it                           will go away.
* 2nd  – Confused Priorities. We fail to understand what is really important so we pay attention to lesser issues and ignore the bigger ones. Example: making sure you dress nice and are on time to Church, with Bible in hand…yet, inside you judge others, offer no help to those in need and Sunday is the only day you read the Word.
*3rd – Passivity – Whether a person was brought up this way, or chose to avoid conflict, when we refuse to stand on conviction and place clear boundaries in our daily lives, we will allow wrong and even condone sin through our silence, which is ignoring Truth.  
* 4th – Sensitive Feelings. The Truth was brought the wrong “way”; so instead of paying attention to the message, you just ignore and dismiss it because the messenger was sloppy.
* 5th – Been There, Done That. You’ve heard this before, so you think you know it…problem is your not living it! Reviewed Truth is still Truth and we should pay attention, the Lord might be trying to encourage us to learn more than we think we know. 
** In Closing, there are more, but I want to share one last one…the most subtle one of all. Busyness. Our life is moving so fast that a lot of Truth just flies by us and we don’t hit the brakes to consider it. We control the pace of our life, and if we allow speed to blur “Truth”…in essence we are ignoring it. The excuse of to many “tasks” will not stand. If we are really that busy, we cannot afford to lack Wisdom!

Look at this list – are there others that you can think of? What about the ones I have named, any look familiar? Is it worth ignoring the greatest counselor there is, when so much can be at stake? What do you need to do to make sure you stop, and listen?  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Don’t confuse the Truth with the Facts!

Scripture Read: Judges 9:1-4 And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem to his mother’s relatives, and spoke to them and to the whole clan of the household of his mother’s father, saying, “Speak, now, in the hearing of all the leaders of Shechem, ‘Which is better for you, that seventy men, all the sons of Jerubbaal, rule over you, or that one man rule over you?’ Also, remember that I am your bone and your flesh.” And his mother’s relatives spoke all these words on his behalf in the hearing of all the leaders of Shechem; and they were inclined to follow Abimelech, for they said, “He is our relative.” They gave him seventy pieces of silver from the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, and they followed him.

Application: Here we see the complications that sin creates. God had intended one man to marry one woman, then have children and live together. This was God’s plan for the human family. Our sin has brought great pain and problems to so many. Abimelech’s mother was one of Jerubbaal’s concubines. Most concubines would live with their family and would receive visits from her husband. The emotional scars and destroyed lives that this sin causes is seen in the break down of the morals of our society. Abimelech uses this situation to his advantage. 
Now we see politicking at its best! Two key tactics in politics is to manipulate emotions and use potential fear – never confuse the issue with facts! Abimelech uses the fact that he is the only blood relative that the people of Shechem have that is connected to Jerubbaal and they would have an inside track with him in power compared to any other of Jerubbaal’s sons. He also tries to cause them fear by the fact that if they do not have him as their king, they may find themselves being ruled by 70 kings! Now that he has gotten them to back his play, he does another item that is typical of someone that is political – he surrounds himself with “yes men” and “followers”. When you want to run a “mob” or a “gang” you look for individuals that are not leaders, only “followers”. So Abimelech has now maneuvered himself into a position to take ruler ship of the land. What he does next is shocking...and we will look at that later; first, let’s glean some truths from this section. 
When we are committed to knowing the Truth, manipulation and maneuvering cannot be a part of our thinking. We must be committed to facing facts and dealing with them. That means we must surrender our agenda to God’s agenda, and when we seek counsel, it must be from individuals that spiritually, mentally and emotionally are “leaders.” A “leader” is an individual that does what he does because he has decided that is what he wants to do. Circumstances, other people and popular fads are never considered. I follow God because that’s what I decided to do. It made the wisest sense. When we seek to know the Lord’s direction in our life, we cannot afford to politic, God will not honor that, on the other hand when we embrace Truth, no matter the cost, God will honor and bless!

Meditation Questions: Do you know what your agendas are? List them. Have you consciously surrendered them to the Lord? Why? Why not? Do you desire God’s direction in your life? What are you afraid of? Do you think you can totally trust the Lord? Why? Why not? What kind of people do you seek counsel from? Are they just like you? Are you willing to allow a diverse group of strong personalities to speak into your life?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

God IS unfair!

Probing Proverbs 8:30-31 I was the architect at his side. I was his constant delight, rejoicing always in his presence.  And how happy I was with the world he created; how I rejoiced with the human family!

This is one of the saddest realities of the world’s wrong view of God. The god’s that struck out against man from Olympus, playing games with them, as though they were pawns on a chess board, have very little to do with the God of the Bible. In truth, ALL other gods control through fear, view humans as slaves to serve them…and sadly the eternity they offer is pathetic. 
From becoming nothing and “one” with the universe… to living again and again, millions of times…or becoming a “little” god that has many wives…unless you are unfortunate enough to be a woman…then you get to be perpetually pregnant and populate a planet…or the eternity offered may require some sacrifice you make…noble or not…to gain a special place that only a few others have earned…or even perpetual sex with a harem.  

God...the only real One…is the very opposite. Humans were the “crown” of His creation…the apple of His eye. It brought Him nothing but pleasure when He created us. His intention was for us to live together with Him forever. He loved us so much that He gave us something that no other creation on earth had…a free choice. Humans were the ones that chose to learn good and evil by experiencing evil.

Even after we sinned – He cared for us. The world portrays an angered God – chasing Adam and Eve away from the garden because He was mad at them. Listen to what God states:

Genesis 3:22–24 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.

If man had eaten from that tree, he would have lived forever separated from God. Instead, in love God protected man and drove Him out of the garden, so even though his body would die, God’s plan to redeem what man had lost could happen.

Many say “God is unfair” – they are RIGHT! Fair is – you get what you deserve! If God was fair, He would have left man with no choice but to pay for his own sin, by being separated from Him forever. If God was fair, Jesus Christ would never had humbled Himself to become incarnate, allow Himself to be tortured to death, receive the wrath of God on sin for us, die, and after three days in the grave come back to life…only to offer us forgiveness of our sins, and cancellation of our debt of sin. STILL…not forcing anyone to enter into that relationship, instead giving us the choice to accept it or reject it.  God is unfair – it’s called GRACE!

What is this grace? To be slaves? To serve the master? To earn heaven? Those that believe and teach that only expose their lack of study of the Word of God and their lack of integrity. Yes, I serve my master, not because I have to, but because I want to!

Matthew 20:26–28 “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

In fact, Christ is STILL serving us at the right hand throne of the Father!

1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous

Saved to be enslaved? Nothing further from the Truth! Not only are we His friends, but also we are family forever.

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.

John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

Galatians 4:6–7 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

All other faiths have the same plan: you work for your salvation and to maintain it. ONLY one plan is different – God’s! He came to pay for sin, died to make that payment, rose again from the dead to cancel that debt and now offers it to us. We cannot add or take away from it…only accept it or reject it! We also cannot lose what He bought!

1 Corinthians 6:19–20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Once you enter into a relationship with God – He owns you…you don’t own you!

Ephesians 4:30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

You are “sealed”, that means God has marked you as His until the day Jesus returns!

Colossians 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,

That means all – past, present and future!

1 John 5:11–13 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

How many this morning had to look in the mirror to see what gender they were? Silly, yes! Why? Because we don’t “hope” what gender we are…we KNOW. God did not bring us into relationship so we could “hope” that we have eternal life…we can “know!”

God is unfair…and I thank Him soooo much everyday that He is. I thank Him for His mercy, grace and forgiveness! For inviting me to become part of His family; living everyday with Him as my Dad, my Friend, my Lord and Master. What about you?  He rejoices every time someone joins His family.