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, April 13, 2013

The fine line between “Faith” and “Flesh”!

Scripture Read:  Judges 9:4-6 .  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. Then he went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself. All the men of Shechem and all Beth-millo assembled together, and they went and made Abimelech king, by the oak of the pillar which was in Shechem.

Application: Abimelech has maneuvered himself into becoming King. Remember, we have no comments on what these 70 descendants of Gideon were thinking about concerning becoming king themselves. This was all in Abimelech's vain imagination. This is a common trait in those that plot evil. The very evil they think others are planning is in reality at the heart of their plans.   

He had them slain on one rock - this would be typical of either a sacrifice or a public execution. This kind of brutality was the norm in this day and the sin of polygamy exasperates the evil because there is no love lost when dealing with children that come from one father but raised by different mothers. The darkened heart will allow all kinds of evil to gain its desire! Consider:

* The murders of the 70 sons of Ahab by Jehu (2 Kings 10:7)
* The royal descendants  of Judah by Athaliah (2 Kings 11:1)
* The  house of Jeroboam by Baasha (1 Kings 15:29)
* The house of Baasha by Zimri (1 Kings 16:11, 12)

It is said that when Timour conquered Bagdad he made a pyramid of 90,000 human heads!

Caesar stated that it was safer to be one of Herod’s pigs, than one of his sons!

The brutality that the lust for power can breed is overwhelming.

Abimelech was also positioned well for the goal he had. His new home was Shechem, a very important location to Israel. Abraham traveled through it and it was there the Lord appeared to him.

Genesis 12:6–7 Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.

Joshua twice spoke to all of Israel in Shechem, reviewing the Law, the commands of Moses and challenging the nation to follow God. Joshua 8:30–35

Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, in Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of uncut stones on which no man had wielded an iron tool; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings. He wrote there on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written, in the presence of the sons of Israel. All Israel with their elders and officers and their judges were standing on both sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the stranger as well as the native. Half of them stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had given command at first to bless the people of Israel. Then afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel with the women and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them.
Joshua again speaks to the nation after they had conquered the land, this is the time that he stated his famous words on where he and his family would choose to stand. (Josh. 24:1-28)

The Truth that screams to us from this passage is how, if we choose to, we can manipulate circumstances to “make” the things we desire to happen. The tragic reality is that when we do that, we invite terrible consequences into our life. This is the difference “Faith” makes in a life. When we entrust ourselves to God and His plan, we do not have to “make” things happen. That is what the Flesh wants. As we will see, all involved here will have a tragic end, but let’s continue to consider how we approach life. If we claim we trust God and believe that He has a plan for us, how do we measure between our faith – which is an action step, versus manipulation of circumstances and maneuvering to see the result we want to come to fruition? It is a fine line I agree, however, it is a very important line. The key I have found in my walk with the Lord is what I pay attention to. When I pay attention to the outward circumstances, I find myself trying to control things that really are beyond my control. This is when I step out of faith and try to accomplish something in my flesh. If, on the other hand, I focus my attention on I right with the Lord, am I living in obedience to all I know, am I surrendered fully to God? This is when I live by faith. I am doing all I can do to make sure that I am where I should be with my the rest is His responsibility. Whatever He desires for the outcome of any given situation, not only will He bring it about, He will prepare me to receive and rejoice in it. Even when the outcome is difficult, His grace will enable me to be content that I am remaining faithful to who I am...a child of God, desiring to follow Him.

Meditation Questions: “Let go and let God” sounds good, but is that real faith? Do you believe your actions are needed when it comes to being fully surrendered to God? Are you tempted to control circumstances? How do you deal with that? How hard is yielding to God for you? Why? After you have seen something in your life come to completion, do you take a moment to evaluate how it happened? Faith or flesh? How do you tell the difference?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Quality versus Quantity…a few different letters...but a BIG difference!

Probing Proverbs 8:35-36 For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord. But those who miss me injure themselves. All who hate me love death.”

When we read words like this, if not careful, we have a tendency to just pass by them. Mistakenly, we assume we understand the words that are used, because they are very familiar. However, if we slow down and ponder their meaning we might find ourselves gleaning much more then we had anticipated. 

Let’s do that right now! “Life”, “Favor”, “Injure” and “Death” are the key words.  For so many “life” means existence, “favor” means preference, “injure,” means damage and “death” means cessation. In reality their meanings are more complex and bring greater meaning to this passage if we take the time to measure their meanings. “Life” is not about existing…it carries with it an understanding of quality. “Favor” is not limited to preference; it also conveys an approving and supportive attitude. “Injure” includes the concepts of harm and offense. “Death” actually goes far beyond cessation; it means separation. Now, consider what this passage is saying. Those that find Wisdom will add quality to their life! How? Remember knowledge is “data." 
Wisdom shows us how to use that data. You can know a lot and own a lot, but if you do not understand how to maximize its use, you will lack the quality they offer. Wisdom will guide you into an existence that is filled with quality…no matter the quantity! This person also finds that His Maker not only approves of his life, but also will support it! This is that sense of purpose and destiny that God brings to an individuals life. Contrary, those that are moving so fast they miss the lessons of Wisdom are harmed by the fact their life lacks the quality it should have. This also is an offense to our Maker. God did not make man to “exist” only. 
When an individual moves from sloppiness to deliberate “hatred” of Wisdom they will separate themselves from all that life is. They go through this life obsessed with themselves, focused on temporal things only and never experience a sense of purpose and destiny. 

This passage makes it clear – the quality of our life is determined by…us. God is not hiding or playing hard to get. The only reason we claim that we cannot find what we are looking for is because we continue to insist on looking through temporal eyes! God is eternal and you must seek Him as He is. You cannot remake Him into what you want. God is God! When you see that…you will see Him!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why do Today what You Can Put Off Till Tomorrow?

The very opposite of a life seeking “vision” from God is a life tangled in “procrastination!”

Our life needs to be disciplined; in other words, doing what you know you should do.

Why? Due to our sin nature, life will continue to be a struggle:

Romans 7:14–25 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.  And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Since this is true, it is imperative that we get a control on our life. We know that Procrastination is bad. That lifestyle keeps us frustrated and unaccomplished. We will always put off doing the difficult in favor or the easy.

Lets look at three mindsets that produce Procrastination.

1. Life based on convenience

This is “Relative” living; in other words, making your own standards.

King Saul is an example of this. He allowed circumstances to dictate his obedience. When we are controlled by circumstances we will only do what is convenient at the moment.

1 Samuel 13:7–14 Also some of the Hebrews crossed the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead. But as for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering.  As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash,  therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.”  Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  “But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

1 Samuel 15:13–24 Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have carried out the command of the Lord.” But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?”  Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.”  Then Samuel said to Saul, “Wait, and let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” And he said to him, “Speak!”  Samuel said, “Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed you king over Israel, and the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.’ “Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord?”  Then Saul said to Samuel, “I did obey the voice of the Lord, and went on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.  “But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”  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. “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king.”  Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice.

Here is the danger: Our foundation of life is not based on “Who” we are but – “Where, What and Why.”

2. Life based on appetites

This leads to impulsive Living: Remember King David. Hundreds of wives, yet when he saw Bathsheba he had to have her! (2 Sam 11)  Ananias & Sapphira, craved attention so they lied to the Holy Spirit! (Acts 5)

Unlike the first example, where life is based on “what’s around you”, this life is based on what’s inside you. The sad truth is, the part that is inside controlling you is your fleshy appetite. This will never allow full dedication because you will give in to what ever desire your flesh wants. Jesus made it clear that a true diciple must be fully committed.

Luke 9:57–62 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Here is the danger: Our foundation of life is not based on what we "know", but on how we "feel".

This is the breeding ground for the "I deserve" mentality that pollutes the church today.  

3. Life based on Compartmentalization

Double Living – we separate our life with God from everything else. We have our "religious" self, our "work" self, our "leisure" self, "family" self, etc. This way we can only allow time for God when we are in our religious “zone”. Tragic! Solomon did this and found it empty.

Ecclesiastes 1:16–2:11 (NLT)
 I said to myself, “Look, I am wiser than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. I have greater wisdom and knowledge than any of them.” So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind. The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow. 1 I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?” After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world. I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me.  I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire! So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me.  Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

Here is the danger: Our foundation of life is based on what we want life to be, not what it is.

God desires us to live in and through all circumstances, remaining “who” we are no matter what. God desires us to enjoy our appetites, while controlling them. He gave us our senses, but to be our slave, not our master. God desires us to have a fully integrated life. He should have access to all we are and all we do! When we allow God to make us this, we will deal with all issues, easy and difficult, one at a time. We will also sense a deeper meaning and purpose to life.

Meditation Questions: Do you see time as a friend or an enemy? How easy do you find it to put things off? Do any of these lifestyles describe you? When was the last time you said no to an appetite? Ever fast? Why? Why not? If you did what did it accomplish?  Do you keep a schedule? Do you have a “to do” list? Do you have a “stop do” list? 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Vision – The Ability To See Through God’s Eyes!

What is Vision? Does it matter how we see things? The answer is, YES! Many only see the obstacles. I do not believe in “positive thinking"...but I am convinced God wants to be optimistic about the life He desires to lead us to.

An optimist is the sort of man who would go after Moby Dick with a row boat, a harpoon, and a jar of tartar sauce!

Mark 5:1-20 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.  When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”  Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”  And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.  A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Here is one of the clearest examples of how Jesus Christ can cause REAL change in a life! This man was more than useless; he was dangerous and evil. When we ask ourselves about God’s vision for our lives, there are several issues we need to look at.

First: What we can control and what we cannot:

You can't control the length of your life,
     but you can control its width and depth.
You can't control the contour of your face
     but you can control its expression.
You can't control the weather
     but you can control the atmosphere of your mind.

Second: Many times when there is an opportunity to have a new beginning, we look for it from the outward perspective, not the inward.

Remember: Most times God does not deliver us from our circumstances, but from ourselves.

One of the misinterpretations of “change” is that it equals new circumstances

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Notice the individual is changed, not necessarily that person’s circumstances

There is a great danger to place the same old person into new circumstances. That is what happened to Simon the sorcerer in Acts:

Acts 8:9-23  Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great,  and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic...When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

God wants a new person in old circumstances and that will bring forth new circumstances

How to approach a new beginning:

1. Look for what has happened inwardly. 

This requires a willingness to change, no matter how sure you were. Some people are never willing to change.

Man convinced that he was dead.  Went to the doctor.  Doctor couldn't convince him that he wasn't dead.  Doctor asked, "Do you believe that dead men can bleed?"  The man chuckled.  "Of course not, doctor.  Everybody knows that dead men can't bleed." Doctor poked his finger with needle.  As the blood bubbled out, the man looked at his finger and exclaimed, "Whaddaya know!  Dead men do bleed after all."

There must be self-evaluation = What new thought patterns? What new desires?

2. Do not expect circumstances to change immediately. 

Paul had to learn this after his salvation. Not everyone was ready to believe he had changed.

God told Ananias to go and meet Paul right after he was saved. Notice his response:

Acts 9:13-14  “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

Even when Paul finally went to Jerusalem the first time, the disciples were not sure if they could trust him:

Acts 9:26  When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.


Many times  when we change we must give time for others to adapt, It’s a time for proving what has happened. That is the point of the requirements for elders in Timothy.

3. Inward change will speak for itself!

This demonized man not only was now normal, but also went back to his home and shared what Jesus had done for him. The scriptures state that “And all the people were amazed.”

Remember - People can deny what you say, but they cannot deny what you are!

Meditation: I would like a new beginning in________________

Question: Are you willing to see that new beginning from God’s perspective?

Action: List what has happened inwardly, ignore circumstances and allow your life to convince others!