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!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Fruit - Faithfulness Pt 5 - The "Bugs" that attack this fruit!

Although, it is not true, it seems that certain things in life are certain. Like, after working all week and anticipating a day off to enjoy out, it seems to always rain on Saturday! Whenever you discover that you are low on cash, but did not know it, that every ATM you stop at is “off line!” As a preacher, I could count on a family argument on Saturday night or Sunday morning right before I preach!

Of course, all those examples are exaggerations, but it seems to be consistent. Consistency is a very important issue in this life. Perhaps we all have feelings like mine that exaggerate the consistency of certain things, but one item we will never exaggerate on is the people in our lives. We KNOW which ones are consistent and those that are not. Someone that is faithful to their word is very important in our lives. Here is what is more important...are we seen that way by others?

The fruit of faithfulness is a most precious production from the Spirit of God; it sets the tone of our life with God, with our family and friends and even with the world. The faithful commitment to love our enemy was the power the early Church had to turn the world upside down for Christ. For three centuries the Church wrote the gospel of Christ to the world through their blood.

What interferes with the growth of this fruit? That is what we will look at, and as we do keep these questions before you.

· What is the number one stopper to our faithfulness?
· What is the most difficult thing about being involved with people?
· If you were describing someone faithful – what words would you use?

Remember our definition: Steadfast in affection or allegiance. Let me expand on that to paint the proper picture:  The Characteristic of not only starting something but also being involved all the way to the finish!

Take marriage for example – getting married is nothing, anyone can do that. However, being still together after 50 years states a lot…but even that is not enough. Many people remain together but there relationship is more like a business contract. When you get married and spend 50 years growing and experiencing life together, THAT is a marriage! It’s much more than just showing up!

Church History testifies that this has continued to be a problem for all of us. God called us to Himself and said to reach the world with His love. Many have done that, but many have been diverted. Their commitment turned to leaders:

1 Corinthians 1:11–13 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Later it became denominations that we were committed to, then movements. Where are we now? Many are faithful to Self! We have a consumer mindset, we look for what the Church will do for us and will commit only as long as it does not cramp “our lifestyle.” What’s the result? The faithful ones are few, which leads to more burn out. The Church is top heavy with those that are going along for the ride, and it is crushing the faithful at the bottom that are trying to carry that load.

This lack of faithfulness has clouded the waters of our vision for God – which in turn leaves us confused about our purpose.

In Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” when Scrooge is being confronted by the ghost of Marley about how he wasted his life in the pursuit of money, this conversation takes place:

Scrooge: “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob.”

Marley: “Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing his hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forebearance, and benevolence were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

Live in this world we must, but if we do not remain faithful to God and His call, we will spend all our energy on what would be “a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of our business for the King!

We need to ask ourselves who’s kingdom are we investing our life in…Our Own?...or God’s?

None of us can control what others do, nor should we try. So let each one of us focus on ourself right now?

Why should we stay with it? Because Jesus did! Jesus was always faithful to - God the Father and the purpose for which He was called. He is our model. Let’s also count the cost. Where will the fight come from?

Things that will try and interfere with the Holy Spirit's fruit of faithfulness:

· Circumstances

There will never be the “perfect” time, or the “perfect” moment. There will always be issues and problems in every situation we find ourselves in. We need to be faithful in spite of bad or good circumstances! GOOD? Yes, they can be the most dangerous!

Matthew 21:7-13 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid on them their garments, on which He sat.  And most of the multitude spread their garments in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees, and spreading them in the road. And the multitudes going before Him, and those who followed after were crying out, saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!" And when He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, "Who is this?" And the multitudes were saying, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee." And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you are making it a robbers' DEN."

Here Jesus had just been praised and worshiped, why take a chance of turning the crowd against you by doing what He did in the temple? Jesus was faithful to Who God is, not the applause of men! He did not care about His popularity, He care about the truth.  

Acts 5:1-5 But a certain man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife's full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land?  "While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God." And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came upon all who heard of it.

The context here is clear – this couple had been moved by what they saw Barnabas do in Acts 4 when he gave such a large gift to the Lord. So they also sold their land with plans to do the same thing, but apparently the sum they received was a good one and their heart listened to the enemy. The issue was not that they did not give it all, Peter makes it clear that God had given all of it to them to manage. The issue was they pretended they were giving it all so they would look spiritual, the good circumstances led them to lie! They became faithful to their greed, instead they should have been faithful to what God had put in their heart!

·      People

The enemy will use people, even family members to try to divert your focus. We need to be faithful in spite of people, no matter who they are!

John 2:23-25 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, beholding His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man. 

People will kill you.

I remember as a young Pastor there was a man that would constantly praise and compliment me. He even compared me to some of my favorite preachers that was so famous. By God’s grace I received all of this with appreciation, but I knew better! I was not “all that!” So I would thank him, but not become proud. Within a year, because I did not do what he wanted me to do at the Church, he became one of my greatest adversaries! Trust God, care for people, but know, like you, they have a sin nature.

Matthew 16:21-23 From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.  And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."

Sometimes, the people you love and count on the most can be used by the enemy. Don’t hate them, most times they do not even realize how they are tempting you to leave your commitment. Just remember to seek God’s mind on everything, no matter the counsel they give you. How many times those close to us have tried to convince us to minister in the comfort of our home and leave the impoverished country were are in. They meant well, but were ignorant that they were asking us to trade the peace we had from God for “creature” comforts. How many rich suicides prove that those comforts never satisfy!

·      The Unknown

Many times we lose our commitment because we are afraid of taking the risk on something that is unknown. We need to be faithful in spite of the unknown.

Mark 14:35–36 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Jesus knew WHAT was going to happen, but He did not know the experience of it. It was frightening and the only way He would ever know about it was to experience it. He did not allow fear to control Him.

We need to heed the counsel Jesus gave Peter. Peter was wondering about what John would do, and Jesus told him to adjust his focus:

John 21:18–22 “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!” Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”

Many believers I know sense God calling them to specific things, but hesitate because they do not know everything. The unknown is compromising their faithfulness. How about you? Is there anything or anyone holding you back to being completely faithful to God?

Engraft this truth into your heart:

1 Thes. 5:24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

Sit down right now and make a list of “potential” interferences with your faithfulness. This will help you to be ready if they attack. Lean hard on the Holy Spirit and He will strengthen you! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Being a “Father” is MUCH more than biological reproduction!

We will look at the last part of Faithfulness next Devo, but I just wanted to take a moment to have us meditate on being a “Father.” 

A father found a stray dog, and took it home. His three boys fell in love with it and quickly considered the dog a part of their family. The dog was pitch black, except for three long white hairs in its tail. Later the family saw an advertisement in the lost and found about a black dog with three white hairs on its tail. In the presence of his sons the father took tweezers and carefully removed the three white hairs. The real owner discovered where the dog had found a home and came to claim him. The dog showed every sign of recognition, so the man was ready to take him away. Then the father said, “Didn’t you say the dog would be known by three white hairs in its tail?” The owner looked for them, but could not find them. Dismayed he had to leave without the dog. Years later this was the father’s testimony: “That day I kept the dog, but lost my three sons!”[1]

Sadly, many have had or even become fathers like that. Let’s meditate on what it means to be a Father from our Creator’s point of view!

In our world today there are really two kinds of fathers:

·      Those that think they are!

Some men think that by just doing what is natural physically makes them a father. This is one of the enemy’s greatest deceptions! Reproduction is something any animal can do, and the male is called a “stud.” To sooth our conscience we call it “making love” and label ourselves as “fathers.” The sad part is we did just did what comes natural for animals (which we are not) and if we behave that way we will have no interest in the life we helped produce. Like the dog, many just move on to the next female in heat.

It boggles my mind the double standard the world has placed on this. If a man produces many children with many women…he is viewed as “manly.” If a woman does the same thing, she is considered loose and whorish. God’s Truth states that they are both in sin and missing the reality of what God had intended – two human beings in love committing to take vows with each other, then becoming one physically, emotionally and spiritually and in time producing and raising a family! 

I have no dislike or disdain for those that fall into this sin, I feel great remorse for them because they have taken what God intended to bring REAL joy, and instead have made it something cheap and destructive. Children without real mothers and fathers are destroyed most times by this world.   

There is another kind of father:

·      Those that prove they are!

How? By being involved in the life of the child! Making an impact for good on that life in a way that changes it forever!

A true Father impacts a life in three ways: Physically, Emotionally, and Spiritually. Physically is something from God alone; the ability to fertilize an egg; hence passing on his genetic makeup. There are many fathers that did not have that privilege with their children, but have been great fathers nonetheless. I have met many single moms that are great fathers, and my admiration cannot be expressed in words!

The big impact comes emotionally and spiritually.
1 Cor. 4:14-17 I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church.

Paul was single but impacted many young lives! We also need to remember that we can also have a negative impact on our children.

Exodus 6:23 Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab, the sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.

Exodus 32:2 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."

Leviticus 10:1-3 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective fire pans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the Lord spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.'" So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.

When Aaron gave into the circumstances and pressure of the people to dishonor God in front of his children by making a golden calf, we must ask ourselves how that effected them and did it help them have a low opinion of God’s holiness in such a way that led them to be careless before the Lord in Leviticus?

Proverbs 22:6 gives us the secret!

·      Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

How do we do that?

{1} Way of Thought

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 "You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth.

I use to do this all the time with my kids. It did not matter about time, and schedule, etc. If something happened that the Holy Spirit then took and enlightened me that this would impact my kids, we would stop and talk about it! 

2 Timothy 3:14-15 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

{2} Way of Life

Children are much more interested…and impacted by what we do than what we say! Words are powerful…but only if the actions behind them back that up. This is a lifestyle that is proactive.

Titus 2:6-8 Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

{3} Way of Ministry

Fathers will NEVER produce children that want to live for the Lord unless they clearly are doing it themselves!

Job 1:5 When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, "Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did continually.

2 Timothy 2:2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Consider: Have you looked at the impact of your father on you? Usually I find two things need to happen for a person to bring closure…Thankfulness and Forgiveness. My kids have expressed their thanks, I have asked forgiveness for my shortcomings. Have you thought about those that God has placed in your life that you can “father?” Lastly, have you moved beyond your relationship with God to Father…how about Abba? (Papa)

[1] Our Daily Bread