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, July 3, 2013

The Familiar Stranger

My wife taught me a great lesson about just being honest when we were in Bible College. We went to school in the Washington D.C. area. I had gone to two different high schools there, and being a class clown, had gotten to be known by many. To both our surprise, time and time again someone would come up to me at a store or on the subway and say “ Nate, Nate Leigh, it’s good to see you!” I would pretend to know them - I was embarrassed that I did not, and I felt they might be hurt. After they would leave Dee would ask who was that? I said I did not know. She said I should just be honest and that way I would at least learn their name. One night my wife decided to teach me a lesson. My friend Tom’s brother, who I had never met, was visiting. I was stuck working on a painting job I had, Dee was at a student fellowship with all my friends. I was on scaffolding when this guy came into the building and called to me. He said it was great to see me. I looked and did not recognize him, but I pretended and said it was good to see him. Then he told me a story about us golfing; I remembered everything about the story…except him! Then he told me a story that I was sure was only between me and one other guy! When he asked me if I remembered I said yes, but I don’t remember you being there. Then he said, “you don’t remember me, do you?” Fumbling for something I said, “your voice sounds familiar!” I know…but I was desperate!  Then he told me a story that happened only with me, myself and I. By now I had climbed down from the scaffolding and was in a daze realizing that I had forgotten my best friend for life!!!  In walked my wife and Tom. This “familiar stranger” yelled “ DD, DD” She yelled back “Chipper” – that’s when I went into panic attack – praying as hard as I could “ Chipper, Chipper, Oh Lord I don’t remember a Chipper, Help me Lord”. 
After pointing out that I had actually introduced Dee to him, my lovely wife and Tom said “Gotcha!” Dee had filled Chipper in on all the details of my life; he was Tom’s brother! Since that time, if you recognize me and shake my hand, you will quickly hear me say, “ I am sorry I have forgotten your name and how do we know each other!!!"

Difficult as it may be, accountability brings growth! As we finish looking at principles that help conquer destructive habits, let’s review what we have looked at already: 

[1] Engraft scripture into your life and make it personal
[2] Importance of mental state:  Reckon sin powerless
[3] Remove temptations
[4] Understand how sin works!

As I stated before – this principle is the cement to your commitment toward victory. We were created to live in community, not on a deserted island. Accountability should not be a stranger to us. Many say they want to be free, but they bring question to that commitment because they refuse this principle.

[5] Become Accountable 

Romans 15:14 And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another.  

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.  

Nothing brings a greater sense of ownership to a commitment to see victory over a destructive habit, than bringing members of the family into that decision. They will remove rationalizations and excuses. They will bring encouragement and prayer to the battle with you.  If you have no one close enough to you to keep you accountable, that is a testimony to lack of discipleship. 


[6] Learn to listen to the Spirit 

This only comes by spending time in fellowship with Him. In everything we do, we can fellowship with Him. Obviously, prayer and reading the Word are essential, but there is much more than that. If we become friends with the Spirit of God, we will develop the proper sensitivity to hear Him. He will warn us of danger when it comes to habits, and He will bring to our mind the Scriptures we have stored and will show us how to use them in our battle. 

1 Cor. 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  

Romans 8:15-17 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"  [16] The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  [17] and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.  

In closing, it is very important that we keep our eye on the real issue. It is not really about us – it is about Him! Do we shame Him? 

Hebrews 6:4-6 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,  [5] and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,  [6] and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.  

This becomes a very powerful motivator…our love for Christ and His name! 

Meditation Questions: Is there anyone in your life that holds you accountable? If so, are you really letting them in? If not, why? Do you think it is easier to fight a battle alone or with help? When was the last time you talked with someone about habits and failures in your life? How would you describe your relationship with the Holy Spirit? What does an average day with the Holy Spirit look like? What could you do to make it look better? 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Trying to become the “Champ”, you might become the Chump!

Years ago, my brothers and our friends would go snow sledding down a very steep hill we had named “suicide hill”. It was almost a vertical drop that ended in a ditch with a small stream in it. The challenge was to sled down as far as you could and then bail out in time to not go into the ditch. “Brainless”, yes…but we were young and believed ourselves indestructible. To this point no one had remained on the sled to the point of no return. Then a friend of ours did. He jumped on the sled and said he was going to break the record. We all stood in awe as he remained on his sled all the way into the ditch, destroying his sled and injuring himself. When we reached him, we asked why he had done that? He replied, “I thought I had it all under control, but before I knew it I was flying into the ditch.” The fact that he was now the champ did not bring him much solace, his broken teeth, bruised shoulder and very sore rear-end impacted his victory!  

Destructive habits are very much like that. We think we have control and before we know it they have us! We are looking at how to conquer destructive habits – we have already looked at two principles:

[1] Engraft scripture into your life and make it personal
[2] Importance of mental state:  Reckon sin powerless

The next principle makes a statement on how serious we are about seeing victory over a destructive habit. Talk is cheap and many times we say we want to see success, but the truth is we only “want to” want to. We have good intentions but no follow up actions. To move from “wanting” to want to, to “I want to” see victory we need steps of action. The first is our next principle:

[3] Remove temptations

Romans 13:14  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

This will include making a list – Step back and prayerfully consider what things in your life open the door for the destructive habit. The list you draw up will be the things that you need to remove from your life. If it’s a drug of some kind throw it out, pour it down the drain, get it away from you. This is a conscious commitment, and it will show itself even if you fail. For example – let’s say it is alcohol – if you fall and buy a bottle, afterwards, when you regret giving in, take whatever you have left and pour it down the drain – even if it is unopened. Watching all that money go down the drain will help you realize how destructive this habit is. If it is pornography – go through all your movies and throw away anything that has any nudity…no matter how little. Limit yourself to no private time on a computer. Clean all stored files off your computer, including the cookies that take you to the porn sites.

There is another step that is the cement to your commitment, and we will look at it next time.  

Before that though, this next principle is essential to help you remain determined in your commitment to see victory. We must understand the danger of sin, to do that is our next principle.

[4] Understand how sin works!

We think we can control “how much” sin or destructive habitual behavior we can have before it controls us. We convince ourselves that on our own we can be champions over our flesh. Question: If you are in an airplane at 25,000 feet, then decide to step outside, how far will you fall? 10,000 feet? 24,999 feet? No all the way! Why? Because that is how gravity works! Sin works the same way! It will not take you half the way there; it’s determined to take you all the way there!

Galatians 5:9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. 

Song 2:15  "Catch the foxes for us, The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, While our vineyards are in blossom."

The warning Peter gives us should sober us:

2 Peter 2:20 For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 

This is not saying we have lost our salvation; this is addressing the issue of sin’s control and being dominated by sin. If we are delivered from sin or destructive habits when we entered into a relationship with Christ, yet go back to them, they will re-enter our life with a fierce determination to dominate us. We must decide to be diligent to catch any habit early and make sure it is not destructive.

Meditation Questions: Do you know your weak areas? What are you doing to fortify them? Do you have things in your life that open doorways to your weak areas? What are they and what are you doing to close those doors? Do you believe in “little” sins and “Big sins”? Explain. If you feel trapped by a destructive habit, what are you doing about that? Do you have a plan? If not, why? Is so, what is it?