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, March 28, 2014

To see light, you have to open your eyes.

Probing Proverbs 10:17-18 People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray. Hiding hatred makes you a liar; slandering others makes you a fool.

There was a man convinced that he was dead.  His family tried everything to prove that was a lie, but he refused to see. They called the family doctor.  The doctor couldn't convince him that he wasn't dead either.  Finally, the doctor asked, "Do you believe that dead men can bleed?"  The man chuckled.  "Of course not!  Everybody knows that dead men can't bleed." The doctor poked his finger with needle.  As the blood bubbled out, the man looked at his finger in shock and exclaimed, "How about that, dead men do bleed after all."

If we choose to remain in darkness, we will refuse to see the light even when it is there! This Proverb is full of proactive steps that place an individual on one path or the other!

Notice…people that accept – that is a volitional choice! When we are honest enough to accept discipline, which is a very difficult thing to do because no one wants to admit they are wrong…but when we do that we place ourselves on the path that leads to life!

The opposite path also is made of volitional choices – ignore, hiding and slandering.  Theses three actions place a person on a path that is off course from the truth, exposes their lack of integrity and their lack of common sense!

Choosing to live in the Light is a life that embraces Truth…even when uncomfortable. The benefits are the dynamo of growth and maturity! It also frees that person from image protecting. We are what we are, warts and all. We have gotten over ourselves! 
Transparency is a liberating experience, but it will cost your flesh its life!  The flesh is most comfortable in the shadows, where it can live the way it desires. It can put on a front long enough to appear in the light for a short while…but only a short while. The intensity of the light will drive the flesh back into its normal environment…darkness!

John communicates a tremendous Truth about the darkness in his gospel:

John 1:4–5 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

The word translated “comprehend” is important to understand.

καταλαμβάνω katalambánō
(I) To lay hold of, seize, apprehend, attain, obtain, find.with eagerness, suddenness.
(II) In allusion to the public games, to obtain the prize with the idea of eager and strenuous exertion, to grasp, seize upon (Rom. 9:30; 1 Cor. 9:24; Phil. 3:12, 13, “for which very end I also have been taken hold of by Christ” [a.t.], v. 12).
(III) Figuratively, to seize with the mind, to comprehend (John 1:5, the darkness did not admit or receive the light [cf. John 1:10–12; 3:19]). The darkness is here presented as being so thick that the light could not penetrate it.

When an individual chooses to remain in the thick fog of darkness, the light will not get to him! Be careful here, the Scripture is not claiming the light cannot get to him. God could convert every person by force, for He is sovereign! However, the norm of Scriptures testifies that God leaves that as a volitional choice for human beings. Allowing us to be a creation that chooses to be in relationship with its Creator, not one that is forced to. So if a person remains in darkness, what does the light do to it? Exposes the truth concerning that individual. They do not have light because they refuse to come to it and live in a lie.

John 3:20–21 “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

1 John 1:6–7 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Which path are you choosing? Transparency is painful, but leads to the truth and life! Lurking in the shadows builds a life that is not founded in reality and the outcome is disaster! Ask yourself a few questions: Do I want to see the truth about myself or believe an image I have created? What is really most important to me…knowing where I really am with my Creator, or believing that I am fine, because to believe anything else might cost me something? When Truth shows you that you are wrong, how do you deal with that?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fruit: Joy – Gratitude is determined by attitude!

Remember – “This spanking is going to hurt me more that it will hurt you” or “I know this shot the Dr is going to give you will hurt, but not as much as being sick will.” At a young age we did not believe that, yet as we grew older we began to understand that by focusing on the spanking or shot, it really hurt, but if we made our mind focus on something else, there was still pain, but not nearly as bad. Attitude makes a big difference! I learned from Mary Poppins, that “just a spoonful of sugar” can change our attitude. I practiced this with my children. After they had played and it was time to pick up all the toys, I made a game out of it and they never complained…in fact they worked harder!

Joy is an inward gladness not affected by outward sadness. Our attitude about life will impact that reality in a critical way. Joy allows us to understand ALL that God has given us…including the future…which produces a genuine gratitude toward life, no matter the circumstances. 

As we consider “Joy” let’s keep these questions before us: What will steal joy? When is joy produced most? What is the foundation of Joy?

What will steal joy? Unconfessed sin – Since we derive our joy by abiding in Christ, that requires us to deal with our sin. If we refuse to confess, then we cannot abide, which will cost us our joy.

A believer out of fellowship with the Lord will have a negative view of life. His approach to problems and even others will be directly affected by his broken fellowship. When we live like the world we will behave like them. Paul warns:

Philippians 2:14–17 Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.

Where is joy produced the most? This is surprising, yet makes sense because our God is logical and practical. Realizing that the Lord wants us to live from conviction, not circumstance joy is produced most when we are in the toughest situations.

James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

This word “consider” is ἡγέομαι hēgéomai – it is a compound word and used literally means: To be a leader, chief, generally only in the part, Spoken generally of those who have influence and authority. However, Metaphorically, to lead out before the mind, i.e., to view, regard, esteem, count, reckon. [1]

This is a conscious decision! You decide to focus on God and His involment in your life. The knowledge that He allows everything to happen, brings balance to that trial. Paul shares that this is a process that happens as we mature:

Philip. 4:11 Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

Joy's Foundation: What is this joy based on? The end result! Consider:

Jesus as example:

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.           

We need to keep the BIG picture before us!

Hebrews 12:11 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.

Paul was able to praise God after being beaten and imprisoned!

Acts 16:25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;

Even with continual suffering he was able to keep his joy.

2 Cor. 12:7-9 And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me-- to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

No matter the reason or circumstance – Paul kept his eye on the BIG picture

Philip. 1:13-18 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.

He saw that his imprisonment gave him opportunity to share Christ with his captors!

Philip. 4:22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household.

Paul always kept his focus on the end of the race.

Acts 20:22-24  "And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, [23] except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. [24] "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

He knew Who and what was waiting for him at the finish line!

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Another great example of how to deal with difficult times is Job, and he said it well.

Job 23:10 "But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

"Our values determine our evaluations. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us. If we value material and physical more than spiritual, we will not be able to 'count it all joy.' If we live for the present and forget the future, then trials will make us bitter, not better" - Wiersbe

What is your approach to life? Temporal or eternal? Based on you and what’s happening to you, or based on Him? What matters most to you, your well being or God’s name?

Here’s how to remember JOY –      Jesus

[1] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Treasure Hunting

Probing Proverbs 10:14-16 Wise people treasure knowledge, but the babbling of a fool invites disaster. The wealth of the rich is their fortress; the poverty of the poor is their destruction. The earnings of the godly enhance their lives, but evil people squander their money on sin.

What do you treasure? This proverb brings to light such an important understanding. Whenever money is brought up in the Church, there is a full range of reactions! From guilt to cynicism, generosity to debate, from receiving Scriptural teaching to becoming angry and leaving the church! It is a real button for most. Why? There are many reasons; one clear reason, is all the evil individuals over the years that have used the Church to feed their greed. They claim their elaborate and gluttonous lifestyle is from God, when in truth it was manipulated out of human’s hands…many, sadly, are children of God that have been deceived. 

This is nothing new; remember Judas was motivated by greed. When the woman anointed Jesus, Judas condemned her for the waste, but Scripture exposes the true motive, and in Matthew it was right after this incident that Judas when to the Pharisees to betray Jesus

John 12:4–6 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.

Matthew 26:14–15 Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him.
I have no love for what these charlatans do, and pray that God will expose them and that they will repent and come to salvation.

Sadly however, many times the reasons given why we don’t want to discuss money from a Scriptural point of view, even if those reasons are valid, is just an excuse because we love our money a little too much.

Money is not the issue, it never has been the issue…our attitude toward money is the issue. Notice in this Proverb the word treasure is applied to knowledge, not gold! Knowledge applied brings wisdom, which in turn produces a proper mindset concerning all issues of life including finances. So the real issue is what do we treasure? Jesus put it quite succinctly:

Matthew 6:20–21 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Clearly God is not against money! He owns everything, and when He trusts someone enough to give them wealth, if they use it wisely, notice how it is described.

“The wealth of the rich is their fortress” & “The earnings of the godly enhance their lives”

This is positive! God is delighted that they have protection and comfort from their wealth. Understand, a wise person may derive benefits from wealth, but they will never place their trust in it! That’s the big difference. They “treasure” God and His wisdom. If He gives them the stewardship of wealth, they will use some for His kingdom and use some for their enjoyment. There is nothing wrong with that. From my own experience the richer the godly person is, the more generous they are!

The last statement of this Proverb is a sobering reminder of where the problem lies:

“but evil people squander their money on sin.”

Paul warns us:

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Notice, it is not money, it is the Love of it! I have seen individuals with a lot of money end up in poverty, due to their love for it. Treasure God and His wisdom…then you will be content with whatever God entrusts to you!

Meditation questions:  How much of your time do you spend thinking about money? Do you worry about money? What does that show? Do you think if you won the lotto you would the money properly? When was the last time you received unexpected money? What did you do with it? Where is God on the list of how you spend your money, first or after everything else is taken care of…including your desires? Have you ever said after spending something, “I deserve this!”? What does that mean?