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, February 4, 2016

Life has risks…but then there is being stupid!

Probing Proverbs: 1:10-15 My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them! They may say, “Come and join us. Let’s hide and kill someone! Just for fun… My child, don’t go along with them! Stay far away from their paths

One day during the winter, a friend and I went down to what we know as a mud pond. During the spring we would play in it and get very muddy. On this day the pond had frozen in parts, and my friend decided he wanted to play on the ice. I told him that I felt it was unsafe. He said he was just going to walk out on a small portion. He went out then came back, and then he went back out. 
This repeated, each time getting closer to the edge. Then boom! He broke through the ice with one leg! It sank down until he almost looked like he was doing the splits. One leg was stuck deep in freezing mud; the ice was so sharp it had cut a hole in his blue jeans and a large gash on his knee. The other leg was stretched horizontally on the ice. It took us almost an hour to get his leg out.

Playing near the edge of a dangerous situation became a very painfuland cold lesson for my friend. I wish with my all my heart I had gleaned from this lesson such a truth, that I would never be so foolish myself. 
Sadly, that is not the way of man, and I am one of them! Life is made up of risks, there is no way to get around that. However, there is a real difference between dealing with a risk that must take place versus placing yourself in a dangerous situation deliberately! One is a necessity of living in a fallen world, the other is just stupid! There are still times I try to walk along the edge of sin, and when I do, that too becomes a painful lesson. This Proverb exhorts us to understand this principle.

Notice the actions –“Turn your back” & “Stay far away!” So much for walking the line of sin! The Scripture makes it clear that the safe route is the obvious and smart one. If you do not want to sin, do not ponder it, do not get close to it, do not be curious about it, and do not play with it!

Wisdom will lead us to move in the other direction clearly and decisively! We will flee from its presence! This is not fleeing in the sense of being controlled by fear, or some immature inability to deal with koodies like a child. Many seem to think when the Scriptures teach that God is offended by sin, that it is like a child dealing with a cockroach: Get it away, get it away! That is not our Lord. The offense He feels is the darkness, the damage and the separation, sin breeds! It is by far the most destructive and deadly disease on this planet! God hates sin and understands how evil it is! 

There are far to many Scriptures to write down that give us clear instruction about how we should stay far from sin. I have three that are my favorite. The first one is the example we should all follow:

Genesis 39:12 She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside.

Joseph could have rationalized that someone in authority over him had commanded to do something, and justified having sex with what I believe would have been a desirable woman, as far as looks. Yet, he understood the true authority in his life and did not want to be separated from Him, so he did not walk away, or play around a little first, then leave. He turned his jets on and fled!

Paul gives us exhortations that are very simple:

1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

1 Timothy 6:11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.

2 Timothy 2:22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

This is much more than “just say no!” This is putting action to your “no.” It sounds more like NO!!! We must have an aggressive posture toward sin, which not only flees from it, but also notice what else Paul exhorts Timothy to do – PURSUE! It is not good enough to only move away, because then you end up in a vacuum and something is going to try and fill that. Satan moves quickly! So we need to also move Toward righteousness. In fact if you would visualize the difference, one who is constantly fleeing is looking behind…that is a dangerous way to travel, you may not see the next pothole or wall in front of you. However, one that is moving forward has their eyes fixed in front with a full view on not only what may lie ahead, but more importantly what they are aiming at in their forward motion. Paul’s target was Jesus Christ!

Philippians 3:13–14 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

This is our model, easy?…no, but it is simple! Remember, our part is to know what to do, that is why we have the Scriptures, The Holy Spirit will be the One that supplies the HOW so we can accomplish the what! His strength will be what allows us to flee and pursue…we just need to cooperate!

One last thought – If we flee, we can make someone else flee!

James 4:7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

“The so what? Do you know the weak areas of your life? Satan does! How much of your time do you spend trying to avoid sin versus how much of your time is spent of knowing Jesus? Do you pursue Him by studying His Word, sharing Him with others and communing with Him in prayer?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Neglecting can be healthy if you Listen!

Probing Proverbs: 1:8-9 My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck

My oldest brother has always been a bit of a genius. Once, when I was 17, I stayed at his house. They had a bed in their basement that I could crash on. It was winter, so the next morning he asked me if I was cold the night before. I said yes. He then turned to his wife and said, “Please run a load of clothes today and use the dryer when Nate gets home.” I was confused, but said nothing. That night I was getting ready for bed; it was cold. Then suddenly I felt some real nice heat. I found a vent where the heat was coming from. My sleep was very comfortable. The next morning I asked him where the heat had originated from. He showed me how he had cut a hole in his wall, and placed the hose from the clothes dryer to it. When they ran the dryer, moist, hot air came into the house! This was way before the stores had thought of this! It was so simple, yet most of us would never think of it. That is the secret of real Truth…it is simple.

It’s amazing to me when I find young people that say they love the Lord and want to please Him, that do not understand how simple it is to do. Many think of dynamic preaching, or dying on a very difficult mission field. Becoming a great Bible scholar or accomplishing some other great thing in the world for the Lord. Yet, here we have in this Proverb the simplicity of God’s Truth!

All He asks is that a child “listen” to the correction of their father, and don’t “neglect” what your mother has taught you! This does require humility, because no one likes to be told they are wrong. It also requires proactive thinking, we have to consciously think about what our mother taught us and compare that to what we are thinking about doing! 

Notice what the reward will be: A Crown of grace and a chain of honor! Obviously God is not focused on a physical reward; that kind of jewelry will fade and burn in time. The crown is the grace of God that people will see in your life. Your character will be clear to be seen by all, just as if you were wearing a physical crown. Also, those that know you, because they see your integrity and your wisdom, will honor you. Just as though you were wearing a beautiful necklace, they will see by the walk of your life what kind of person you are and they will respect that.

By the way, I have experienced this even with those that do not agree with my faith, and even by some that think the Bible is silly. Everyone can deny what you say, but they cannot deny what you are!

So we see here how simple it is to please God and receive His rewards. Wait! Let’s not rush past this for those of us that are adults! Do not be content to read this and say, “Amen,” the children need to hear this, and then move on. Are we all not the children of God? Is God not in reality our Spiritual Father and Mother? “Mother?” you say? God refers to Himself always in the masculine, but communicates His love and care for us many times using a famine example:

Matthew 23:37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

Isaiah 49:14–15 Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.” “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!

God is neither male nor female as we think of that concept. God is God! The pronouns He uses to express His essence are masculine, but to illustrate love, commitment and other qualities toward us, He employs motherhood also.

So this Proverb does not only speak to human children of human parents, but of us to God as our spiritual Parent. Let’s consider what He is admonishing us to do and His promise of rewards.

He tells us to “listen” to His correction. The word, “listen” in the original means “to pay attention to and put into practice.” So this is far more than just hearing! We are to DO what we hear.

The word, “neglect” means to push away or reject. Now we are seeing an opposite action that will lead to wrong behavior.

So we see two admonitions that open the door for two actions. One we should do = when we hear how God is telling us to correct our life, we should do it. The other is communicating to us to NOT push away the instructions on life that God gives us.

Many of us struggle with this; I know I do. The Holy Spirit desires to move us to recognize we need to quiet our life, meditate so we can listen to His voice. Distractions make it easy not to hear God’s promptings. We also need to be proactive to do what those promptings are communicating. We should embrace the Truths of God’s Word, never ignore or push them away.

If we do what this Proverb exhorts is, God will reward us with His grace in our life. It will be so clear in our lives that others will see it! This will also bring us honor, from both God and man! Our Father loves to honor us when we do what is right! Those around us will appreciate the godly character they see in us and honor that.

What is so wonderful is that this is not as complicated as our Flesh tries to make it seem. Paul shared the secret to accomplishing what this Proverb exhorts us to do:

Acts 20:24  “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so 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.

That’s it! Just finish the race God has called you to! Not someone else’s race! If we do that, then we are listening and not neglecting! The call of God is founded in simplicity! Thank Him for that!

“The so what?

When you hear the Lord convict you about an area of your life, how do you respond? Do you “pick and choose” what Truths of God you will obey or not? Do you push away thoughts that would lead you to deny what your flesh wants? What is the final goal of your life? How are you doing?