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, November 9, 2013

God’s never ending Grace? Is it?

Judges 10:10-14 Then the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against You, for indeed, we have forsaken our God and served the Baals.” The Lord said to the sons of Israel, “Did I not deliver you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the sons of Ammon, and the Philistines? “Also when the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you, you cried out to Me, and I delivered you from their hands. “Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods; therefore I will no longer deliver you. “Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.”

Sometimes the Lord will not extend the endless grace and mercy we count on. I can only speak for myself, but I know that at times in my walk with the Lord I bank on His grace and count on His mercy. However, like in this passage, there are times that our Lord will withhold that grace and mercy. As we look at this passage and the verses that follow, let’s reflect on the Truths that are communicated.

First and foremost, God does not extend His grace and mercy in order for us to remain in sin! Sadly, at times we mistreat this gift and our loving Father must withdrawal His normal actions toward sinners, which is grace, forgiveness, mercy and restoration. If you or my child were doing something that is deadly, we would not bless them and encourage them to continue in that activity. Our Lord’s withholding grace and even His chastisement toward His children always flows from His love for them.

Hebrews 12:5–11 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
None of us like to be disciplined, but sometimes we need it! It awakens our soul to the danger that sin brings into our life. Would it be more loving for God to just ignore the sin in our life and allow it to destroy our relationships with Him and others, and in some cases cut short our life and time of investment for eternity? A loving parent does not condone something in the life of their child that will harm them. They lovingly confront them, hoping to turn them from the very thing that is destroying them.

The second issue we run into is a universal principle that God set up at the beginning.

Galatians 6:7–8 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

I heard a wise man say once – “we are all free to do whatever we want…except escape the consequences!” How true most of the time! Many times the hardship we are going through has nothing to do with God’s direct discipline, but is just the outcome of our actions. Many do not want to hear this, because they refuse to take responsibility for their life and the lifestyle they have. Nonetheless, their refusal does not make this principle any less true.

In either case…what should we do? Should we assume God will no longer extend grace and mercy? Will God stop His grace forever? How should we handle when we are experiencing discipline from the Lord, or when we are reaping what we sowed? We will discover some key Truths as we finish this section of Judges. God’s Grace is endless…but sometimes withheld.

In the meantime, this might be a good time to reflect on how you treat the grace of God and His mercy. Do you have a list of “little” sins, versus Big sins? What does that say? Is any sin safe? The circumstances you are in right now, who is responsible for them? How should you handle them?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A crooked path may be a challenge physically for the body…but it is death for the soul!

Probing Proverbs 10:8-9 The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces. People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.

The contrast shown here is a profound one! It also testifies to a stark reality we should consider.

First, notice that a person that is wise is made happy to be instructed. We need to place this in context, the “gladness” would be covering the final attitude of the person of wisdom. Why would I say this? The context is a comparison of fools, who especially do not like to be rebuked for their behavior. A person of wisdom…at the end of the day…is made glad when they discover more Truth. 

This would include difficult Truth, such as being admonished or even rebuked when they are wrong. So although their initial response may not appear glad, after the emotional stress of being confronted by Truth passes, they would be glad because an opportunity to grow has been given them. Isn’t that what Truth does? It is easy to be glad when the Truth you are being told is something you already believe, however, it is quite different when the Truth you are hearing is stepping on your toes and challenging how you are living! I have witnessed this and believe I have experienced it. Sometimes, not always, I show wisdom. Truth confronts me about an attitude I have, or an action I am doing, or even something I should be doing and am not. 
At that moment, my flesh wants to defend and fight back. When I yield to the Spirit, He shows me how to handle it and see the Truth for what it is. Afterwards, I find my heart is grateful and glad to have learned some important Truth for life. My emotions at first were not glad, yet at the end of the experience I am pleased, even if a little bruised, by the outcome.

The foolish person on the other hand, just keeps their lips moving and refuses to listen. The word “babbling” is:

שָׂפָה (śāpâ) lip, language, speech, shore, bank, brink, brim, side, edge, border, binding.
Most frequently śāpâ refers to the organ of speech. The lips are the gates of speech, and hence the gates of honesty or deception, righteousness or wickedness, wisdom or folly. Thus we read, “The lips of the righteous feed many,” and “Let the lying lips be put to silence” (Prov 10:21; Ps 31:18 [H 19]).[1]

The sad truth is that to many foolish people misdiagnose the problem. After they have shown their folly, some will realize it. Still, when they evaluate why they did that, they think it is because their mouth talks too much. That is only the symptom! The problem originates from a different organ. Jesus stated it clearly:

Mark 7:21–23 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. “All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

Sadder still, some people never come to their senses about their behavior and just continue to move ahead in their foolishness. Scriptures warn that the outcome is not a pleasant one. These folks fall “flat on their faces!”…not just a stumble! The narrative continues with its comparison. Those that are willing to deal with Truth develop integrity and they will walk safely. Remember, God always has the eternal perspective! We may encounter dangers that are temporal, but the person with integrity will be safe eternally

Psalm 41:12 As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, And You set me in Your presence forever.

The foolish walk on a dangerous path due to the fact that whenever a person tries to make their truth, the Truth…the path, though that is crooked, because there is no reality in relative truth. Slips and falls will take place. The pain of dealing with objective Truth is minimal compared to the on going consequences of living in the lie!

Meditation Questions: Just ONE question: Do you deal with Truth as Truth or do you add your own flavor?

[1] Cohen, G. G. (1999). 2278 שׂפה. (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke, Eds.)Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press.