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, September 14, 2013

Swallowing quickly may feed the stomach, but chewing slowly brings all the flavor out!

Probing Proverbs 10:4-5 Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich. A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during harvest is a disgrace.

Truth is best understood in simplicity. That is one of the warning lights we need to remember, the more complicated a teaching is, the greater the chance that lies are weaved throughout it. If you look at how Jesus taught, it was very simple. That does not mean that the truths taught are easy to understand, many times they are not, but what is taught is not hidden in “complications.” 
Something complicated makes it hard to understand what the point is. With Jesus it was easy to understand what He said, what was difficult is what exactly did He mean! This is important, Truth will always be simple, so you can understand what it is stating, however, you may need to apply yourself to understand its complete meaning. Lies, on the other hand, are complicated so that you will be confused as to what the point is. If you cannot even get the initial point, you will never be able to understand the core meaning, nor be able to test the validity of its truth. Due to the fact that Truth is simple, you can understand the point being made and if you chose to, you can meditate and study to understand the depth of it’s meaning, which allows you to experience Truth that changes you. Most of the Proverbs are also this way.

This passage’s point is simple – If you are lazy you will lose what you have, if you apply yourself you will gain. If you are wise you will be ready when it comes time to collect the fruit of your labor, if you go through life unconscious you will miss the time to harvest and you will be ashamed. This makes perfect sense and is not difficult to understand.

However, after understanding the obvious point, when trying to apply this passage to our own life, meditation is required. Let’s define the words.

Lazy – רְמִייָה (rĕmîyâ) slackening, deceit

·      When you think about it this really nails the point! Many of us understand that when we are lazy we are slack in our life, but how many of us understand that we are actually deceiving ourselves! We think we will accomplish our desires without any effort…we will discover a hard truth in the end and be very disappointed.

Hard worker - חָרוּץ (ārû)  sharp, diligent.

·      The idea of being sharp here is very good. We consider a sharp person to be one that is at their best! When we do anything at our best level, no matter the circumstantial out come, we will sense the gain, because we rose to the level of excellence.

Wise - שָׂכַל (śākal) wise(ly), understand, prosper.

·      When we understand momentum in life, we will be ready to harvest whatever the fruit is.

Sleeps - רָדַם (rādam) be asleep, be unconscious.

·      Nothing worse than drifting through life – when we do that, we will miss much of what God had intended.

As I consider this passage the Holy Spirit can bring quite a few applications to my heart.

§  Where am I deceiving myself by my lack of effort or discipline?
§  When I go after something, do I try to be the best I can be?
§  Have I meditated on Scripture in a way that equips me to understand how life works and prepare me to grab a hold of opportunity?
§   Am I intentional in life or do I just let it happen?

Now take these questions and seek for specific areas in your life that you can measure where you are.

One that really spoke to me has to do with the Harvest. Not the one concerning food, money or material issues. The Harvest of souls! Jesus said:

John 4:34–38 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. “Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. “For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’` “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”

When I consider the state of fallen humans, their need for God and lack of understanding how much God desires a relationship with them – I am challenged that I cannot deceive myself that someone else will share the Word, I must be the one. Am I living as close to God as I could? This will make my life sharp and attractive to those seeking answers and looking for hope. Am I allowing the Holy Spirit to sensitize me to those that really want to know more about God? As I watch humans He will teach me how to discern when they may be open to have an encounter with God. Lastly, am I looking to share God’s love or only hoping it happens?

A lot to chew on for me…but I love how the Word attacks my heart and challenges my spirit! Becoming more like Him is the greatest adventure anyone could ever experience!

How about you? Do you read the Word to just get it over with, or do you seek to allow it to change you? What was the last thing in your life the Scripture spoke to? What did you do about it? Do you invite the Holy Spirit to join you in your discovery of the Word of God? Describe what that looks like.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Just a little pornography doesn’t affect the taste…or does it?

Judges 10:1-6 Now after Abimelech died, Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, arose to save Israel; and he lived in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. He judged Israel twenty-three years. Then he died and was buried in Shamir. After him, Jair the Gileadite arose and judged Israel twenty-two years. He had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys, and they had thirty cities in the land of Gilead that are called Havvoth-jair to this day. And Jair died and was buried in Kamon. Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the sons of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; thus they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him.

One Saturday a Pastor got a note placed in the “in” box at his office: It read: Please say in your sermon that Peter Peterson has been a good boy all week. I am Peter Peterson. Sincerely Peter Peterson." 

Funny…because he is a child…reality…because we humans desire to be called good, “just because!” However, that is not the way life is. There is a very strong current that pulls humanity to do what is wrong and selfish…this is called the sin nature. It will not rest or dissipate, it only can be confronted…and a clear willful effort must happen to conquer that current. This passage has some silence in it that should cause us to reflect on the “heart” condition of God’s people.

Notice, two leaders are mentioned that followed Abimelech, Tola and Jair. We get a little history about them, and we see that Jair must have been rich based on his possessions. What I want to discuss is what is “NOT” there.

What I find interesting is, unlike the Judges before these two, where it is mentioned how each one “cleaned” the land from idols, that is not brought up here. Is it possible that this is why the Israelites not only fall back into sin, but also embrace ALL the false gods in the land! Whether the previous leaders did or did not clean out the land, the principle that needs to be learned is still essential. When coming out of a sinful situation, we need to come ALL the way out! Half hearted repentance produces complacency and sets a person up to be swept away by another current of sin. There is no such thing as “a little bit of sin.” That is like saying my daughter is “a little pregnant!” How silly, either she is or she is not.

Galatians 5:7–9 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.

The reality of sin is, not only if it is not swept completely clean that it will return, which it will, but also when it returns, it multiplies!

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.

Luke 11:24–26  “When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ “And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. “Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”

We need to understand the spiritual battle that takes place when confronting sin, especially a habitual sin. Let me use my battle with pornography as an example. Year after year I kept fighting, yielding to the Holy Spirit, setting up accountabilities, weeping, feeling humiliated, angered, etc! There were times I was free for weeks, months and years, but then, like a dog, I would “return to the vomit!” Each time the grip of porn became stronger and it became harder to return to the fight. 
Part of the problem is that when I would plan to be free again, my mind would say, “been there, done that!” Habitual sin is like salt, if you think you can add just a little to water and it won’t change the taste…you are in for a rude awakening!

Finally, with the Lord’s help, I made a comprehensive plan and filled my life with the things of God in such a way that the current was broken and I “swam” free! I have been free 8 years now and this January will make 9 years. If I were to return now I fear I would be consumed by the current…that is one of the truths that helps me remain free! Israel is no different that any of us, if we keep returning to that same old sin, each time it will grow stronger. Judges is a prime example of how this works as we see Israel become deeper involved in sin and more controlled by it. I spent a year developing an all day seminar for men dealing with becoming free from pornography. I have done twelve of these seminars so far, the stories I hear from the men are all too familiar. This is a solid principle that the Scripture expounds continually, and which life’s experience will attest to its reality. 
If we are to break the “death cycle” of habitual sin, we must enter into that battle with a complete dependency on the Holy Spirit, a constant feeding from the Word of God, an honest transparency through clear accountability and a proactive, thought out strategy that God illuminated our minds to in dealing with our habitual sin. Oh, one more thing…we need an understanding and conviction that every time we reopen that door to sin, the harder it will become to close it!

Meditation Questions: Do you have some of the same sins in your life for years? Do they make you doubt your salvation? What conscious plan have you made to become free? If you hate sin, why do you continue in it? Is it possible hating sin is not enough? When was the last time you sat down and took an inventory of your life, focusing on habitual behaviors? How can you ask God for a strategy to defeat those sins if you do not take the time to identify them?

There is another “silent” issue that we will look at in this passage next time!    

Monday, September 9, 2013

If you can’t get no satisfaction…you might be hungry!

Probing Proverbs 10:2-3 Tainted wealth has no lasting value, but right living can save your life. The Lord will not let the godly go hungry, but he refuses to satisfy the craving of the wicked.

The first portion is pretty cut and dry – the issue is the eternal perspective versus the temporal one. Wealth that comes the wrong way has NO eternal value! Sadly, more times than not, it also causes more damage than good even in the temporal sense. 
How many sad stories have we heard of people that have all the money we all “think” we wish we had, yet their life is a disaster or even cut short from self inflicted death…be it drugs, fast cars, or just sloppy living. If we remember that the word “save” in its essence means, “deliver” it will help us with this context. Not every deliverance has to do with eternal destination. Many times the words, “saved” and “salvation” have to do with deliverance from a particular situation, such as Paul praying for salvation from prison. In this case the issue is “life”. When we live “right” it will deliver our life from being something vain and wasted. Whether rich or poor, our life will have purpose and a sense of destiny.

The next phrase is more difficult to understand. Again, too many believers just read passages like this and pass it by because the questions that come are far too uncomfortable for a dwarfed faith. God, however is not afraid of such questions when asked in reverence and with authentic sincerity trying to understand Spiritual principles. 
If fact, He delights in this because He created us to be this way! So let’s take the plunge, and not fear the Truth! For me, this portion of Scripture screams contradiction! I know of godly people that have gone hungry…in fact some have sacrificed their lives to minister to others. The Burnham’s were missionaries in the Philippines when they were kidnapped. If you watched their pictures over that year, it was clear that Martin was not eating in comparison to his wife. They were both godly, but Martin was starving himself driven by his love for his wife. Gracia shares in her book how Martin kept giving much of his food to her. Martin did not die from that, it was a bullet that took him home, but he was hungry. Contrarily, I have seen very evil people seemingly get everything they desire in this life. So how can this Scripture be true? No Scripture is ever shared in a vacuum; there is always context! Part of context is proper defining of issues. We must remember that when Scripture employs a word, it’s meaning comes forth from the immediate context and the context of the entire Scripture. For example, the word “life” in Scripture does not mean mere existence, unless the direct context is using it as a way of saying that someone physically died. In most cases the word “life” carries with it the idea of quality. So in this passage the two key words are “hungry” and “satisfy” and we must consider their meanings from scripture. Jesus made it clear that hunger is not based solely on food:
John 4:31–34  Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”  But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.

Matthew 4:4 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.’ ”

The word satisfy in Scripture is clearly based on humans having their most felt needs met, not just their surface ones.   

Psalm 65:4 How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You To dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple.

Ecclesiastes 1:8 Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 6:7 All a man’s labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied.

Understanding that, this passage not only is true, it makes sense. The “godly” will be filled within the inner man, even if their stomach is not!
Most times God does supply the food needed to His children, but He always fills their heart and life with the joy and peace a relationship with Him brings! Although the wicked may heap material things into their lives, God will never allow them to sense an inner satisfaction. By the way, before you judge God harsh, realize that in reality what He is doing is merciful. A person that is satisfied has no need in life. If God allows the wicked to experience that, they will remain in their lost condition. God loves humans too much to allow them to just “cruise” into hell! He knows that the lack of satisfaction will keep them searching for something more. 
Some will come to the understanding that it is not “something” they are looking for, but “Someone”! God is merciful and gracious.

Matthew 16:26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

What about you? What brings you inner satisfaction? Are you constantly hungry even though your stomach is full? Spend some time in meditation asking yourself where you are with your Creator…do you understand His love for you? If so, how are you living? If not, are you willing to find out?