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, July 26, 2013

Faith builds Maturity, sight does not!

Charles V was determined to compel all his subjects to adopt his way of thinking about religion. Thousands died rather than conform. Weary of a long reign, Charles abdicated in 1556, and retired to a monastery, where he amused himself by trying to make a dozen clocks run absolutely together.

When he failed, he exclaimed: “How foolish I have been to think that I could make all men believe alike about religion when I cannot even make two clocks run together.”[1]

This is true even when comparing black & white truth, how much more when those that embrace the Truth, yet still have to decide on issues that are not clearly spelled out in Scripture? As already stated, the majority of the Christian life exists in the realm of liberty. This does not mean that where we stand on these issues does not matter, quite the contrary. It is essential that every believer know where and why he or she stands on these issues. The key is to remember that their conviction is theirs and theirs alone. They arrive at this conviction based on what they discern is what God desires from their conscience.

There are five basic discernments:

         a. Significance the Lord has placed on it

Even though the Scriptures may not speak directly to every issue, many times the Lord makes it clear that He places a great significance that impacts whether or not we participate in that liberty. For example, the Bible gives no ideal weight for people, nor does it forbid smoking cigarettes by name, however, the scriptures place a great significance of keeping your body as the temple of God, not being mastered by anything and moderation in all things. 

A clear example of this is the Lord’s Table. This symbol is so significant to our Lord, that when folks in the Corinthian church abused that symbol, God disciplined harshly.

1 Corinthians 11:27–30 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.

         b. Understanding God's Principles

When we seek to understand principles from Scripture we become very sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit. The more intimate our walk with the Holy Spirit, the deeper our discernment becomes.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

         c. Right vs. Wrong

Why not this before Principles? This really speaks to walking by sight versus walking by faith. Black and white commands are sight, they state what they state, no discernment needed, just obedience. Our convictions, on the other hand, may need to change. For example, while in America I may have the freedom to eat pork. However, let’s say the Lord calls me to minister in Israel. Then my stand on eating pork may need to change, if I really care about reaching folks that believe eating pork is wrong.

Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

As I said, clear commands need no discernment, but the mature have learned to discern their senses through the constant practice of seeking God’s direction in liberty areas.

         d. Timing

Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven— A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.  A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.  A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away.  A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 8:5 He who keeps a royal command experiences no trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure.

Sensing the right timing requires a close walk with the Lord. God gives no command about when and if someone should get married, that is an individual decision that only that person can make. Timing is essential and only God can reveal that.

         e. Motives

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

If we are to rightly discern God’s desire for all areas of our life we need His Word constantly in our mind and heart. It alone has the power to expose our true motives so we can walk in integrity in all aspects of our life.

Proverbs 10:9 He who walks in integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will be found out.

Proverbs 11:3 The integrity of the upright will guide them, But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.

Meditation Questions: How much time and prayer do you spend seeking direction in liberty areas? When you study the Word do you look for direction concerning liberty issues? How much of your life is built from Biblical principles? Do you require a command to do something for God? What does that say? Why is it important that we have a conviction for everything we do in our life? Should we fight with others who disagree? If so, why? If not, why?

[1] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The GREAT enemy!

There was Pastor that had three sons. One day his sons showed up with a dog that had no collar and had been wondering the neighborhood. It was a pure black Labrador. They asked around the neighborhood, but no one knew where the dog came from. A month went by and it was clear that the boys had fallen in love with the dog. The Pastor decided to keep the dog, the boys were ecstatic. A short time later the Pastor received a call from a man that said he had been told that his boys had found a black lab. The Pastor said yes, but was sure it was not this man’s dog because it had no collar and their neighborhoods were quite far apart. The man said the dog had a very distinguishing mark – on his tail were three long white hairs. The man asked if he could come by on that Saturday and look at the dog. The boys heard about it and said that they had noticed the three white hairs. 
That night the Pastor took a pair of tweezers and pulled the three white hairs out. That Saturday, the man came, the dog ran to him and greeted him like he would his owner. With his boys standing there, the Pastor encouraged the man to inspect the tail. The man was speechless, it was clear by the dog’s reaction this was his pet, but he could not prove it. In shock the man left, the Pastor’s son’s did not know what to do. Years later…when the Pastor shared broken hearted how all his boys had forsaken the Faith, he shared the dog story. He said “that day I kept the dog, but lost my boys!”

Danger of Compromise:

Satan does not always use the front door approach, i.e. right versus wrong. In fact we can measure what kind of Christian we are by this very issue. A serious believer has already settled black and white issues concerning right versus wrong. If the Bible says no, then discussion is not needed. Where the believer discovers their maturity is dealing with issues of the conscience. This is where we learn how well do we listen to the Spirit of God, how soft is our heart to the liberty issues that God desires us to deal with. We will look at some important questions to ask that can help guide us, but first we need to understand there is a dangerous enemy to our conscience.

We see a very tragic example of this in the Scriptures:

2 Chronicles 16:1–9 In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah and fortified Ramah in order to prevent anyone from going out or coming in to Asa king of Judah. 2 Then Asa brought out silver and gold from the treasuries of the house of the Lord and the king’s house, and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Aram, who lived in Damascus, saying, 3 Let there be a treaty between you and me, as between my father and your father. Behold, I have sent you silver and gold; go, break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so that he will withdraw from me.” 4 So Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel, and they conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim and all the store cities of Naphtali. 5 When Baasha heard of it, he ceased fortifying Ramah and stopped his work. 6 Then King Asa brought all Judah, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber with which Baasha had been building, and with them he fortified Geba and Mizpah. 7
At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand. 8 “Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand. 9 “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”

Asa had walked so well with the Lord. Yet, in one moment he blew his whole future with compromise! All he could see is what he wanted right now, he failed to seek and wait on the Lord. Compromise is always in a hurry! 
Wisdom considers all issues including timing. It requires patience to live in wisdom.

Compromise is driven by temporal vision and has no eternal perspective. If you sacrifice the ultimate, on the alter of the immediate, you might have a lifetime of regret.  

Three simple steps can help us fortify our conscience against compromise:

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

Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

·      This requires time to check out weak points in your life

         {b} Control curiosity

Genesis 3:6  When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

Years ago a young man named  "Len" Bias was a first team All-American college basketball forward at the University of Maryland. He was selected by the Boston Celtics as the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft on June 17. On June 18, Bias and his father flew to Boston, Massachusetts, from Washington, D.C., for an NBA club draft acceptance and product endorsement signing ceremony with the Celtics' coaches and management. Bias had discussions with Reebok's Sports-Marketing Division regarding a five-year endorsement package worth $1.6 million. After returning home to Washington, Bias drove back to his room on the campus of the University of Maryland. At 3 am on June 19 Bias and some friends used cocaine. According to the campus timeline, Bias had a seizure and collapsed sometime between 6:25 and 6:32 AM, but died two days later from cardiac arrhythmia induced by a cocaine overdose. He is considered by some sportswriters to have been one of the greatest players not to play at the professional level.

·      Bias had a stellar college career and was not known as a drunk or drug user. This may have been the first time he took a drug, convincing himself he could celebrate his promising future. That one compromise cost him everything. How tragic, I watched him play and remember interviews. All I remember is what a talented and nice young man he was. Giving into curiosity can cost much more than it appears on the surface.

         {c} Reject influential evil people and situations.

Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

·      Be careful, this does not mean separate yourself from unbelievers, they are the very ones Jesus loves and wants’ us to share His life with. I am talking about people that have an impact over you. If they move you to compromise, place space between you and them until you are mature enough to stand on your convictions. Then you can impact them for good!

Question: What about you?  Are you compromising with drugs of any kind? Are you unwilling to wait until marriage for sex? Will you do anything to get good grades at school, including cheat? Are you willing to take all your liberties before the Lord; i.e. how you dress, what you watch, what you listen to, how you use your time, what you eat and drink, etc, and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate your conscience so you can know God’s desire for you in each of these areas?