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!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Evil from God?

Scripture Read: Judges 9:22-25 Now Abimelech ruled over Israel three years. Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, so that the violence done to the seventy sons of Jerubbaal might come, and their blood might be laid on Abimelech their brother, who killed them, and on the men of Shechem, who strengthened his hands to kill his brothers. The men of Shechem set men in ambush against him on the tops of the mountains, and they robbed all who might pass by them along the road; and it was told to Abimelech.

Application: What appears to cause so much confusion among Bible novices is really a testimony to God’s grace! Why do I say that? Individuals that read, but do not study the Bible come upon verses like this and really become confused. God is only good, so how can He send an evil spirit? I understand the question, I also asked this when I first encountered passages such as this. It is never wrong for a sincere person to be confused and seek answers. I am disappointed in skeptics that deliberately abuse common sense interpretation rules...which they apply to any other book but not the Word of God. All statements in any book must be held in context of the passage, then of the larger portion surrounding it, all the way to encompassing the whole document. Anything stated about God must be filtered through the entire teaching the Scripture holds on Him. When we do that, we will find no confusion. The answers may not always be clear, but we can hardly hold God responsible for the fact that trying to help a finite brain understand an infinite God is not done easily. He illuminates what we can handle. The tragic reality here is, many times individuals with an agenda put their swing of the Scripture and prostitute the Truth for their own retelling of it. 
For example; how many times have I heard how the “angry, egocentric God drove Adam and Eve from the garden!” But don’t the Scriptures state that? Yes and no.

Gen 3:24a  - So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the                                                  cherubim and the flaming sword

Wow! God sounds angry...and if that is all we had, we might come to that conclusion. Sadder still, from famous psychologist to artist, this is the story and the picture that is painted. How unfair to a loving God. God desired a relationship with man...on man’s terms. If no tree of testing had been placed in the garden, man would have no choice but to love God. God desired man to make that choice himself...and we know the outcome. If God was as many portray Him, why did He not just kill them physically? They died (were separated) spiritually right away. God could have finished it right there. Here is where all the surrounding Scripture show the Truth about the heart of our God.

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”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. 24 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 of that tree, he would live for ever in a sinful state and separate from God. In His mercy He “drove” them out of the allow them to die physically, yet be offered redemption by God Himself! Not such an ugly picture when you allow the Scripture to speak for itself.

So it is with this passage, when we place it in context of Who God is, what we find is that overall God continues to give His common grace to all. There are three possible explanations for how this evil spirit became involved; only the Lord knows the answer. Here is what must be understood, God is the final authority and nothing happens unless He allows it. That does not mean it originates with Him or that He desired it. “Thy will be done” goes in both directions! We can say it to God and experience life with Him, or we can refuse a relationship with Him, and even though it breaks His heart, He can say it to us!

Ezekiel 18:23 “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

Ezekiel 18:32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”

Obviously God could command Satan to harass these individuals as a judgment for their sin. God could also remove His common grace, which protects us from so much. I am sure we will all be surprised in eternity of how much God protected believer, unbeliever, from Satan and his evil desires. If God removed that protection from Abimelech and the men of Shechem, the demonic realm would move in on these folks right away. Lastly, God could turn them over to their own ways, allowing their full sinful natures to reap what they sow. However God allowed it, it is clear from all the counsel of the Word of God, our Lord did no evil. He allowed evil to happen and used it as a judgment on those that committed evil.

Meditation Questions: Would you say you Read the Bible or Study it? What’s the difference? When you see something about God in the scripture that you don’t understand, what do you do? Is there any question your afraid to ask God? Why? Why not? Do you think it is wrong to ask God questions? Explain. Is there a difference between questioning and doubting? What is it? If the Truth will set us free, what should we be afraid of?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Being callous or being do you tell the difference?

Probing Proverbs 9:7-8 Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt. So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you.

This passage guides us into the better use of our time. When a person enters into a relationship with Jesus Christ, slowly but surely, the Holy Spirit begins to mold the heart toward the character of Christ. If before salvation you cared for people who were in trouble, that concern will grow more intense. If, however, before you knew Christ you really did not give much of your time to help others that were in trouble, you will see a clear change taking place in how you think. This is a natural outgrowth of regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. There is a problem that comes with this though. Especially when you're a young Christian, you never want to say no to someone that is in trouble. 

This leads many times to you expending great amounts of time on individuals who really do not desire help, and even in the end may turn on you. This is not about protecting yourself, because Christ likeness always leads to selflessness. What this is guiding us to do is to not fear to be a better steward of the use of our time. Again, we want to be careful because we are not omniscient, so we will not know how a person will respond when we try to help them with their failures. That's why this passage is so valuable. Living Christ-like in a unChrist-like world, it is impossible to not be hurt emotionally. However, when you invest that emotion because Jesus Christ has burden your heart to try to help someone, the comfort He will bring, and the appreciation He will show you for your effort, balances the emotional pain that you go through. So, we cannot protect ourselves from being hurt or letdown. Yet, as this passage shows us we can become wise stewards of how many times we will be involved with particular individuals. The scale given is a simple one, when you try to help someone see a failure in their life, their response will define what kind of person they are. As we become mature believers, we come to the knowledge; that in essence you cannot help someone unless they will let you. 
Basically that's what this passage is trying to help us understand. No one who truly knows Christ ever wants to turn their back on someone who is struggling. Reality though, dictates a different course of action. If the person turns on you or even starts to hate you, you need to walk away and just turn them over to the Lord. It may cause you pain several times, but at some point the Holy Spirit will give you the freedom to walk away. It is not wise for you to spend your time and energy with an individual that treats that investment with contempt and really isn't interested in changing. Contrary, when you come alongside someone and try to help them with their failure, embarrassed or maybe even hurt they may be, but they follow your lead…this person is someone you want to invest in. Not only will you sense that you are spending your energies in a worthwhile direction, but in the end, the wise person that you helped will be a blessing to your heart, and will actually encourage you to take the risk again with someone else that needs help.

Anyone that has been brought to salvation through the mercy and grace of our Lord, knowing how far short they fell from God and the kind of sinner they are, never want to give up on another person. Let us remember though, even Christ and the apostle Paul after making many attempts to help certain individuals and even groups understand their need for repentance, after being treated with contempt and even despised, they both turned and said “have it your way” and went to others that were open to learn. So here's our standard: always be willing to help someone struggling with sin, always pay attention to their response. In doing this you will empower yourself to be guided by the Holy Spirit and maximize the investment of your time and emotions in other people's lives. 
Remember, if you come to a point where you can no longer counsel the person, it does not mean that you cannot continue to pray for them. Prayer is something we never give up on!