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!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Reality is not a state of Mind…but if not careful can be!

Strange as this story is, it will clearly illustrate my point. At the age of 2 ½, my older brothers convinced me that if I ever sat on a toilet, I would fall in and be sucked down the vortex, out into the ocean never to be found again. Being young and gullible, I believed this; it goes without saying that this complicated my life. Reality clearly showed that my body could never fit down into the little hole of a toilet; still, my mental state saw it differently; thus my fear changed what I thought the reality was. This false reality became quite a problem for me, and an embarrassment for my parents. I would do outside what most normal humans did privately in their homes. During this short period of my life, my mother worked for a US Senator; and so hired a woman to come in 3 days a week to watch us. This dear lady caught me outside in the act and reacted very quickly. 
Before I knew what was happening I was standing before the dreaded vortex, being challenged to understand that my body could never fit down that little hole? I was not moving…so she did it for me. Up in the air I went and came down seated firmly. Screaming as she flushed for the first time, I realized I was still firmly perched…by the third flush…there was no evil vortex to fear. Reality had returned and life was going to get better! 

The Scriptures states: For as he thinks within himself, so he is. Proverbs 23:7 

Our reality is impacted by our mindset. NOT the reality, for it is what it is, however our perception of what is real can be controlled by how we think. This is an important principle when dealing with destructive habits.

Let’s review – The first principle is to give the Holy Spirit His greatest weapon.

[1] Engraft scripture into your life and make it personal

The second principle we find from the Book of Romans

Romans 6:4–14 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

[2] Importance of mental state:  Reckon sin powerless

This is a must in the battle with destructive habits! This is not mere positive thinking or some sort of hopeful prayer. This is setting our minds to the reality of our life since salvation. Understanding that sin can longer command us the way it did when we were bond slaves to it, accomplishes two truths. First, that we have the upper hand, not sin. If we walk daily in the Spirit (Controlled by the Holy Spirit) the new nature is in charge and it will more difficult for the flesh to rule!

Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Second, that we are actually more accountable now, than before salvation. We have been set free and so we can choose to allow sin to rule or not. This reality is essential in helping us measure the weight of our sin. When we see how our Lord sacrificed Himself to free us, we will not easily go back into it.

Paul precisely portrays this in another of his letters

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

As we see – the Scripture makes no qualms about our reality. We have been delivered from sin’s ability to command us. We died with Christ at the cross. We now live a life, if we choose, that is controlled by the Holy Spirit and is walking by faith. Faith in what? The trusting belief that when the Scripture states we are free and do not have to give in to destructive habits, that is the reality! A little hole can become a fearsome vortex if allowed to dictate our reality. Our circumstances or emotions do not change the reality…unless we let them!

Meditation Questions: When you fall into a destructive habit, do you spend most of your time feeling bad and sorry for yourself, or do you try to think over how and why it happened. What are your first thoughts when you awake in the morning? What does that say? Would you go to a cemetery to get advice? Then why listen to your old nature on how to live?

Monday, June 24, 2013

You doing your “own” thing…or is the “thing” doing you?

In our last devo we asked if God knew what He was doing, and it is clear, He does. Maybe a better question is, do we know what we are doing? The more conscious we are in our actions, the greater the success in the outcome; it is especially true when dealing with our destructive habits.

One of my loves is Ice Cream. When younger, it did not matter because I did not gain weight, when my metabolism changed, my eating habits did not. Hence, the life long battle with the bulge! Many years ago, after a night with my disciples, driving home we stopped at a store to get “a goodie”. Buying a pint of ice cream for myself, I decided to get one for my wife Dee also. 
Seeing “2 pints” of ice cream my disciple looked shocked, so I explained my plan to surprise Dee. After dropping him off and remembering that Dee was fasting, not wanting to tempt her I snuck it into the Frig, planning to give it to her the next day. Dee was always early to bed and I was a working night owl. So after she went to bed I retrieved my ice cream enjoying it immensely. 
At about 1 am I heard whispering coming from the frig… “Nathan…I’m still in here!!! ‘Only you know’ I am in here!!!” The first call to temptation was easy to resist – because I knew it would not be right! Beckoning to me 4 to 5 more times, my habit of uncontrolled appetite, arrived rationalizing that it was a good thing to save “my wife” from those calories!!!
After devouring it, I hid the crushed containers at the bottom of the trashcan…brave man that I was. Feeling guilty all day, I arrived home…there on the table were two crushed ice cream containers. Dee was sitting at the table just smiling at me. She informed me my disciple had called and asked how she liked the surprise I had brought home last night? SURPRISE!!...I renamed that disciple Judas. :)

Destructive Habits interfere with our walk with God. Becoming sensitive and consciously aware of which habitual behaviors are taking hold in our lives, will allow the Spirit to illuminate us to any danger. Obviously sinful habits are destructive, however, habits that are not a sin in of themselves, can become destructive if we allow them to master us.

What can we do?

First, let’s identify why we fail to overcome destructive habits:

(1) We try to conquer habits through the power of our flesh
(2) We are double–minded. Not firm about sin or it's cost
(3) We fail to understand what it means to be in Christ
(4) We make provisions for sin. We play too close
(5) We try to hide our sins

I want to share 6 principles that will help. We will look at one today.

[1] Engraft scripture into your life and make it personal

Psalm 119:11–16 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord; Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have told of All the ordinances of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.

Scripture is the Sword of the Spirit and when it is introduced into a circumstance, it’s power changes things! Our battle is not against flesh and blood, it is spiritual in nature!

2 Timothy 3:16–17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Notice – the “God Breathed Word” works inside a person to mature them bringing discernment and wisdom; the very qualities we need most when dealing with our habitual behaviors.

To make Scripture personal, means, memorizing scriptures that you apply to the direct issue. Memorizing John 11:35 and spitting that out “Jesus Wept” at a habit will do very little.

Remembering the struggle with the habit of lust, I needed to stop taking a “second look.” Living in Hawaii where a swimsuit is considered everyday clothes, made this difficult. Personalizing a well known passage, yet not one for lust, John 3:16 made all the difference. Seeing an attractive woman I would say – “for God so loved this woman, that He gave His only begotten Son!” No Christian can quote such a verse and lust at the same time!!!

Jesus left us the perfect example:

Matthew 4:1–11  Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ” 5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ ” 11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.

Notice the “red letter” edition. Why? The red represents what Jesus said. If Jesus had decided to say, “Bug off Satan” it would be red today. Anything Jesus “would have said” you would read in red letters today. Interestingly, He did not speak any original words; He quoted 3 Old Testament Scriptures! So the example Christ left is to use Scripture when dealing with temptations. Engrafting Scripture into your life enables you when tempted to give into a destructive habit, access from the Holy Spirit to bring forth from your mind the very scripture you need!

Question: Do you memorize Scripture? How can you use what you don’t have? Are you willing to step out in faith, memorize some scriptures and then see how the Holy Spirit will use them?