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, April 19, 2014

Easter is just another day…Right?

Imagine with me…God took clay from the earth and molded a man out of it and breathed life into him! Man chose to sin…the penalty for that was separation from God…Death!

Thousands of years later a baby was born; a baby that was 100% God and 100% human...the Son of God. He lived a perfect, sinless life, which He offered to pay for the death that everyone else deserved. He was taken…beaten, scourged, then nailed to the cross. God the Father poured out His wrath on His own Son, instead of you and me…then Jesus died…not with a whimper…with full confidence that He had accomplished what He had come for and with a clear security that His Father would take His spirit.

Three days later the tomb He had been laid in was empty. Jesus had raised from the dead, and nothing has ever been the same!

Have you considered the impact of this? Paul did, yet from the aspect of what if it had not happened?

1 Corinthians 15:12–19  But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.

·      Our Message is a waste of time!

And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless.

All our study, all our material development, translations, schools, churches, mission’s efforts…all of it was a waste of time! We should have only fed the poor and cared for the weak, but not bore them with a fairytale…leave that to Hollywood! The ironic thing is, if I am wrong I accept that reality. However, so many get so upset that I believe this, Why? Scripture explains:

Ecclesiastes 3:11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Romans 1:20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

No matter how much a person tries to believe a lie…his heart will still know deep inside that Someone designed him.

·       We are liars!

And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead.

We join the list of diluted individuals that have harassed the world throughout the ages  claiming to possess the truth about the world’s beginning and end, Who God is and how to spend eternity with Him. Truer still…not only are we liars, but the greatest liar of all is Jesus Christ himself!

Matthew 16:13–17 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.

John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

If Jesus did not raise, He is not some good man that was sincere but wrong. He is either completely insane or an evil liar on the scale of Hitler! Millions have given their life to serve and even die for Him because He claimed to be it! Not one of the truths, not one of the ways…the ONLY way to God! Everything Jesus claimed about Himself was predicated upon His resurrection! His resurrection validated everything He said about Himself!

Romans 1:1–4 … the gospel of Godwhich He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord

·      All believers are wasting their lives and are still Dead in sin!

And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.

I have spent the majority of my life living away from my family and friends, leaving what the world calls a “1st world” country, i.e. an affluent and comfortable country, for a “3rd world” country, i.e. huge gap between rich and poor. The city I live in is very hot, polluted and crowded. While many that call this home are doing all they can to migrate to other countries, my wife and I have chosen to live there. I am living off far less then I could make if I worked in the market of the world. Why? The answer is simple…Jesus has led us to share His message with these folks so they can experience eternal life in Him. If Jesus never arose from the dead, I have wasted my life, my wife’s life, and my children’s life! I have lived in a place I am not comfortable in, when I could have lived in the city of my dreams. I have not been able to afford the home I would like, the cars I would like, nor help my children very much with their college education. The little I have managed to save will not carry us through retirement, and we have not been able to afford consistent medical insurance. I could go on but no need, my point is made. This is not just some added ingredient to my life…Who Jesus Christ is…is my life! If I die and appear before Mr. Potato Head, and find out Jesus was a liar, not only will I feel completely foolish, I would also want to do Jesus bodily harm! If Jesus did not raise, my entire life from the point of salvation has been a waste and I am still in my sin.

·      No hope, No personal God, We are on our own.
In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.

The God of the Old Testament made promises and prophecies that His Messiah would come…very specific promises and prophecies. Jesus fulfilled all of them; from birth to burial. Daniel prophesied the exact amount of days till Jesus would die. Jesus fulfilled that. If this Jesus was able to fulfill every prophecy but He stayed in the grave, than this whole thing is nothing more than a very diabolical plan of deception! So we not only have no hope, but the God of the Old Testament was fabricated…so we are alone. We might as well believe this whole thing was a freak accident and happened when cosmic gas just happened to create life that crawled out of the muck and mire, to swing from a tree and land on it’s feet with a brain unlike any other animal on the planet! If the Jesus I believe in was temporal, I would not become some evil, drug induced, womanizer! However, I would not waste my time and life sacrificing the wealth and good pleasures of this world, to sacrifice what I could have now, because there is no later. This is it so I might as well go for it now…IF Jesus is still in the grave! 

What’s interesting is Paul makes it clear that we are pitiful people, because we have invested our lives in a lie. Isn’t it interesting that the world doesn’t get this! They say we are wrong and what we believe is not true, yet instead of feeling sorry for us…they hate and mock us. Why? If we are wrong and they are right, why get mad? Just relax…if your truth is Truth, no matter what I believe or how hard I believe it will change what is Truth. I believe the world is wrong and I stand on Truth, still, I don’t hate people who disagree, I have genuine concern for them, because not only do I believe Jesus Christ did raise from the dead, but I also believe that if an individual dies in unbelief, they will be separated from God forever. That does not make me mad at them; it makes me sad for them.

Paul stated the record: 

1 Corinthians 15:3–8 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him.

What is interesting is even non-Christian writers at that time did not deny the empty tomb; they just claim that Jesus really did not die and escaped His tomb, or that His dead body was stolen by His disciples.

I will side with the testimony of Scripture, and the Integrity of Jesus Christ. He said He would raise and He kept His word. So I will live my life from this philosophy:

I will not sacrifice the ultimate on the alter of the immediate! I will not throw away eternity for what the temporal offers. I will enjoy the “now”…but I will live toward eternity!

1 Corinthians 15:20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.

As believers we can never be afraid to ask the tough questions, Truth is never controlled by fear. Otherwise we will deceive ourselves!

If there is an eternity…what is your plan to make it there? Jesus has a plan…it makes sense. We must live perfect to spend eternity with Him…but we can’t! Jesus did live perfect and offered His life to settle the debt our sin made. God accepted that payment and Jesus came back to life on the third day, with the authority to offer anyone that can admit they fall short of perfection the opportunity to be forgiven, be made children of God through His salvation. That’s a rock solid plan that no one, no Politicians, no Preachers nor Hollywood, can alter. You either accept it through trusting belief (faith) or your reject it. It’s up to you. What is your plan? My God is not designed by me…He is revealed in Scripture and I have to accept Him as He is, not try and remake Him in my image. Too many in the world worship what they have created. Like the man in Isaiah:

Isaiah 44:15–17 Then he uses part of the wood to make a fire. With it he warms himself and bakes his bread. Then—yes, it’s true—he takes the rest of it and makes himself a god to worship! He makes an idol and bows down in front of it! He burns part of the tree to roast his meat and to keep himself warm. He says, “Ah, that fire feels good.” Then he takes what’s left and makes his god: a carved idol! He falls down in front of it, worshiping and praying to it. “Rescue me!” he says. “You are my god!”

Trust in God…not your idea of god!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why is it called “Good Friday?”

Do you remember statements in your life that made no sense at all? “Eat all your food, there are children in other parts of the world starving!” So if I don’t eat my food will they starve more…or if I eat ALL my food doesn’t that leave less for them? “Do you want a spanking?” Seriously? Is that really a yes or no answer? “Your room is the worst pig sty I have ever seen!” Can I ask…how many pigsties have you seen? Are you an official inspector of pigsties?

We humans are funny; when we communicate we can either make something clearer, or more confused. Even with our grammar – “P” as in phone…oh I mean “P” as in phenomena?  As far back as I can remember, from the point I understood what Easter was about, even though I had not yet embraced Christ, I did not under stand why the day Christ was crucified was called “Good Friday.” Why would anything that happened that day be good?

The definitions of good as many…decent, enjoyable, skillful, helpful, nice and benefit; on the surface only one aspect of that day could be called “good”. The Romans killed quite skillfully!

Good Friday, the term, is not in Scripture, just the event. Still, around the world this day is known, and even though some use other terms, all basically know what you mean when you say “Good Friday.” 

Where did the title “Good Friday” come from? The answer is clear…we don’t know! Early in Church history, believers kept Fridays as a feast day, especially the Friday before Easter. That Friday came to be known as, the Great or the Holy or the Good Friday. Some believe the German “Gottes Freitag” – God’s Friday, which then became Gute Freitag which is Good Friday in German. However, many Germans refer to this day as Karfreitag, which is Sorrowful or Suffering Friday.

I think the important question to be answered is, Why is “Good Friday” good to me?

As I think of it, the horrible abuse and death of my Lord is good when His light is shed on it! Consider:

Hebrews 10:4–7 For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer. You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God— as is written about me in the Scriptures.’ ”

John 3:16  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Good Friday is good because it accomplished what God the Father desired. Although it cost Him the greatest sacrifice, due to His great love for His creation He was willing to pay that price to offer redemption to all!

John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.

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.

Good Friday is good because it allowed Jesus to do what He desired to do most of all, please His Father!

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

Hebrews 9:27–28 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

Good Friday is good because God kept His promise that sin must be paid for, yet to still offer forgiveness and salvation to all that desire it.

Colossians 2:13–15 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.  He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

Good Friday is good because not only did Christ’s death pay for our sins, but defeated the enemy and put him to open shame!
1 Corinthians 15:54–57 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Good Friday is good because Jesus’ death destroyed the power of death and sin!

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Romans 7:24–25 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Good Friday is good because when Jesus died He removed the power of my flesh to rule me!

Romans 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

1 John 5:4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.

Good Friday is good because unless Jesus died, He would not have raised. He has shared His resurrection with us, which guarantees us victory!

I weep over Good Friday with tears of sorrow for my Lord and tears of thankfulness to Him! With the cost of sin in view, Jesus went through, what He through; so all of us would not have to! That makes “Good Friday”                        good!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fruit: Longsuffering: the longer you suffer, the less you will suffer!

My first conscious experience with the fruit of longsuffering was almost immediately after I entered into a relationship with Christ. Before I came to know Christ, my guitar was my god! You did not touch my guitar unless you asked me. There were times I almost yelled at someone who just picked up my guitar and started playing it. I had just trusted Christ weeks earlier, and I had returned to work at a restaurant. At the end of the evening all workers were allowed to go to the bar and have what was called a “Pau” drink. “Pau” means, “done.”  I was already being discipled and discipling inmates at the prison three times a week. As I was having my soda, a drunk walking by stumbled and stepped on my guitar case, which had my guitar in it. It was with other equipment stored in the corner. He just stood there on the top of my case; I heard the wood in the case crack. 
All my coworkers, who had known me before Christ, held their breath…thinking this man was about to enter eternity. :) I reacted…but not in the way I would have before. I jumped up and grabbed him, with genuine concern that he was going to fall. I helped him down, got him to a seat and then went back to my friends and my soda. They all were looking at me in shock! Then I realized, I had not thought about my guitar once, I was sincerely worried that that man might hurt himself. Later that night when I awoke from my sleep and realized what had happened to my guitar, I got up and beat my dog! Ha Ha…just joking

This fruit usually surfaces like that. You don’t notice it, but since your priorities have changed, your ability to tolorate what others do to you and your things changes. As we look at this fruit, keep these questions in front of you.

· Why does God desire to create patience in us?

· What is the difference between Longsuffering and “putting up with”?

Define: Patience or Longsuffering

The Greek word for this is (μακροθυμία) makrothumía - A passive resigned submission to a situation; An unswerving willingness to await events rather than trying to force them; Self–restraint before proceeding to action; The quality of a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so.

In the New Testament it is not just a character trait but also a way of life. It is not just for you, but something you share; it is something active. You might say it is the one of the primary expressions of love, the other being forgiveness.

It is not just to " Put up with!" Many can do that and have for years, but they are misrable! Longsuffering overcomes the issue! How?

Longsuffering does not exist in a vacuum. There is an imporatant context that always exists in longsuffering – “cause.” What do I mean? We do not show patience for patience sake. There is a reason that we yeild to the Spirit and allow this fruit to surface. It is for the cause of Christ! Each time our limits are pushed, we decide to show our longsuffering so those around us can experience the character of Christ!

The world usually only experiences people who are "Putting up with" stress, not overcoming it.

Longsuffering is clearly a sign of belonging to Christ, it shows you walk with Him.

It is quite normal, when pushed hard enough, for someone to lose their patience and then their temper. It is normal, but it is wrong. That’s why the fruit of longsuffering is so powerful, the world witnesses “normal” sinners everyday giving into the stress and expressing that. However, when someone remains patient and refuses to give stress the victory, and in fact overcomes it, the world takes notice.

Ephes. 4:1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Col. 1:9-11 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience;

Col. 3:12-13  And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Understanding how important longsuffering is will change how you view circumstances.

1 Tim. 1:15-16 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

Paul realized that God had been patient with him, to bring him to salvation. This understanding empowered Paul to continue to show love to those that did him harm.

Moses also experienced this:

Exodus 17:3-4 But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, "Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?" So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, "What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me."

Exodus 32:1-9 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron, and said to him, "Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." And Aaron said to them, "Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me." Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron.  And he took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it into a molten calf; and they said, "This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt." Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord." So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. Then the Lord spoke to Moses, "Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. "They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it, and have sacrificed to it, and said, 'This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!' " And the Lord said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people.

Exodus 32:31-32 Then Moses returned to the Lord, and said, "Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. "But now, if Thou wilt, forgive their sin-- and if not, please blot me out from Thy book which Thou hast written!"

Moses’ patience with the people drove him toward sacrificial love! He could have easily given up on these folks, but instead showed longsuffering toward them which led to his request for mercy from the Lord. Still, remember that fruit is not permanent, that’s why our connection is so important. Moses lost that connection for a short time when the people once again murmured. He lost his patience and his temper and then he lost his balance. He disobeyed God and even took credit for God’s work. That one moment cost him greatly! Longsuffering does not only show grace to others, but it protects us from ourselves!

* God creates patience in us, in order that we will become more effective vessels for His use! 

Martin Burnham was kidnapped and later died. His attitude about his captivity is the expression of longsuffering – “This is the only way to bring the Gospel to that dark region of the jungles of Basilon. ”

What about you? Do you “own” the circumstance, or does it own you? When you feel stressed out, what do you do? When was the last time you overcame the impulse to become impatient, what did you do? How did that happen? When was the last time you lost your patience? What did you do? How did that happen? Consider:

Luke 21:19  "By your endurance you will gain your lives.