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!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Probing Proverbs “Little” lies make BIG holes in Character!

Probing Proverbs 11:1 The Lord detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights.

I remember a while ago two fast food chains that are in competition had an interesting encounter with their breakfast pies. One was known for their apple pie, the other was known for their peach-mango pie, they both were the same exact size. The store that had the apple pie advertised, with apologies, that due to finances they were forced to raise their prices on their pie. 
The other store took advantage of this and advertised that their peach-mango pie was STILL the same price! My wife liked the apple pie, so one morning I got her one, same pie, but more expensive. As for myself, I loved the peach-mango pie. So a few days later I was out early and I pulled into the drive through. Paid for the pie and was on my way. As I dug into the bag to retrieve my pie, I was shocked. The box it was in was no longer a nice rectangle, but was now a little square. I just began to laugh…same price, but half the pie!    

I am sure the store that sold the peach-mango pie sold quite a few pies and made good money at first, because many like me just purchase and drive away. What I wonder is how much damage did that plan do to the trust of the customers. I have not returned since then. I am not angry, but it is not that good of a deal now and I do not appreciate the “sly” way they went about it.

This proverb lands on the idea of integrity. To many today, due to listening to the “Big Names” of many in the Church, would be led to believe that our God is a god of profit! God is not interested in profit or poverty, that’s just temporal stuff! What God is interested in are the eternal Characteristics that He desires to reproduce in all of us. One very important characteristic to Him is integrity. Notice, He “detests” the practice of cheating individuals by using scales that are not true. The Hebrew is: תּוֹעֵבָה (tôʿēbâ) and consider how it is used:

Detestable thing, abomination, repulsion, i.e., an object which is loathsome and abhorrent: the object may be a concrete “thing” or a “way” or “practice,” as lifestyle behavior, it can refer to an idol!

These are strong negative thoughts from the Lord, so the idea that you held back a truth or “fudged” a little on the truth to make a profit, is not seen by God as some little issue! I have found through many years of ministry one of the clear markers for integrity of believers is how they deal with others concerning used items they are selling. Whether it be autos, appliances or any other items that we desire to sell. Many a believer has held a “buyer beware” mentality, which permeates the world, but not found in Scriptures, and they gain more money, but sell their integrity!  When we do that we lose our credibility!

Credible means: believable, entitled to belief or trust, reliable.

At the heart of credibility lies integrity.

Integrity means: The quality or state of being complete, wholeness; The quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity

Integrity is essential to the Christian life!

"In the church today, the emphasis seems to be on doing and not being.  We forget that what we are determines the effectiveness of what we do.  The Christian who is a demon at home is not likely to be an angel in the church board meeting or the choir rehearsal." Wiersbe:

"A good character is the best tombstone.  Those who loved you, and were helped by you, will remember you when forget-me-nots are withered.  Carve your name on hearts, and not on marble." Spurgeon

Raphael was painting his famous Vatican frescoes when a couple of cardinals stopped by to watch and criticize. `The face of the apostle Paul is too red,' said one. Raphael replied, `He blushes to see into whose hands the church has fallen.'

Here are some thoughts on why Integrity is important to God.

·      Integrity is valid with God

Genesis 20:5-6 Did he not say to me, 'She is my sister,' and didn't she also say, 'He is my brother'? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands." Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.

Abraham had lied to this king and told him that Sarah was his sister. Still, before the king could make the mistake of taking her as his wife, God spoke to him. Notice the reason why…he had a clear conscience. God honored his integrity.

Consider David who was known as the “man after God’s own heart.”

1 Chronicles 29:17 - David speaking to assembly as he steps down "I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.

Psalms 7:8 let the LORD judge the peoples. Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High.

Scriptures tell us why God entrusted David with all that He did.

Psalm 78:70–72 He also chose David His servant And took him from the sheepfolds; From the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him To shepherd Jacob His people, And Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them with his skillful hands.

Part of David’s qualifications for his leadership was his integrity.

Do you do your best to be completely honest with God and people? How about honest with yourself? Do you search for reasons why you do what you do, or do you look for excuses?

I have five more points on integrity; we will look at them next time.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Most Inconvenient Truth

If you own a car, and someone wants to change the paint, someone else wants to cover the leather seats, another person wants to put giant tires on it and still another person wants to place loud straight pipes on the exhaust, but you say no; is that unfair? Explain.

Judges Chapter 11:12-28

Now Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the sons of Ammon, saying, “What is between you and me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?” The king of the sons of Ammon said to the messengers of Jephthah, “Because Israel took away my land when they came up from Egypt, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok and the Jordan; therefore, return them peaceably now.” But Jephthah sent messengers again to the king of the sons of Ammon, and they said to him, “Thus says Jephthah, ‘Israel did not take away the land of Moab nor the land of the sons of Ammon. ‘For when they came up from Egypt, and Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh, then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, “Please let us pass through your land,” but the king of Edom would not listen.
And they also sent to the king of Moab, but he would not consent. So Israel remained at Kadesh. ‘Then they went through the wilderness and around the land of Edom and the land of Moab, and came to the east side of the land of Moab, and they camped beyond the Arnon; but they did not enter the territory of Moab, for the Arnon was the border of Moab. ‘And Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon, and Israel said to him, “Please let us pass through your land to our place.” ‘But Sihon did not trust Israel to pass through his territory; so Sihon gathered all his people and camped in Jahaz and fought with Israel. ‘The Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them; so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. ‘So they possessed all the territory of the Amorites, from the Arnon as far as the Jabbok, and from the wilderness as far as the Jordan. 
‘Since now the Lord, the God of Israel, drove out the Amorites from before His people Israel, are you then to possess it? ‘Do you not possess what Chemosh your god gives you to possess? So whatever the Lord our God has driven out before us, we will possess it. ‘Now are you any better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? Did he ever strive with Israel, or did he ever fight against them? ‘While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time? ‘I therefore have not sinned against you, but you are doing me wrong by making war against me; may the Lord, the Judge, judge today between the sons of Israel and the sons of Ammon.’ ” But the king of the sons of Ammon disregarded the message which Jephthah sent him.

This section of Scripture brings a reality that is one of the most problematic issues we as humans deal with.  Is God…GOD? Jephthah is confronting the king of the sons of Ammon as to why he is making war against Israel. The answer is the same one that is still going on today. Sadly, there is no political answer because the issue transcends politics. I certainly do not claim to have a solution, but this text brings a very important issue to the forefront. The king of the sons of Ammon claims he is simply taking back land that was his. Jephthah challenges that with historical facts. In doing so, he also places in front of us the most inconvenient Truth…Who is in charge?

I know I have struggled with this all my life and my decades of counseling has proven to me so far that 100% of the humans I have met, struggle also. Jephthah makes his argument based on the fact that God gave Israel that land, and that makes it theirs!

Not right! Not fair! Who was there first? I am sure many other thoughts are crossing your mind…me too! However, those emotions do not change reality. If God is GOD, He owns it all and can do as He desires with it. That is what being Sovereign means, You answer to no one. You…and you alone are in charge.

Simplistic? Yes, but at least I am honest. I know that based on how I live at times; I clearly do not honor God as GOD. Intellectually I know that He has all the rights and is the supreme authority in existence, still, my flesh wants its own way many times and I fail to yield to His rights.

Here is where we now must enter two thoughts: “fair” and “If He is all that, how can I resist Him?” The interesting truth is one word answers both issues.

We look at the reality of Who God is, that He can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants…and we say “that is unfair!” Especially when we do not understand what He is doing, or it goes against what we want or think. Let’s address that: If “fair” means; you get what you deserve, then God is unfair! I deserve to be punished for my sin; Jesus did not deserve to die, He was sinless. God is not fair…instead He extends Grace! This truth is also the answer to the question “how can we resist Him?” He allows it. Plain and simple! God has extended so much Grace, that His creation has misinterpreted it. Instead of being thankful, we have decided it is owed to us. That mindset has led to our independence of Him and our lowering Him to being just a “super-human being” not God.

The greatest peace and fulfilling joy that we can experience is when we yield to this reality. When we recognize God as GOD our worldview becomes aligned with Truth and the authentic sense of purpose and destiny becomes ours.

As for me, I have decided to stop trying to figure Him out; instead I will spend my time yielding to Him as He helps me figure myself out!

Meditation questions: How would you describe God? When you say you are committed to God, are there any “except” clauses? When you don’t understand what God is doing, how do you handle that? Does it affect your obedience or commitment?