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, February 12, 2016

Is Valentines a day?…Or is it a Way of Life?

As we approach Valentines day lets take a deeper look at the word Love.

The world has some strange ideas of love – just listen to some of the songs we have made famous that speak about love:

* Your lights are on, but you're not home - Your mind is not your own - Your heart sweats, your body shakes - Another kiss is what it takes
You can't sleep, you can't eat There's no doubt, you're in deep Your throat is tight, you can't breathe - Another kiss is all you need
Whoa, you like to think that you're immune to the stuff, oh yeah - It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough - You know you're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to love!

* Deep in my soul, I've been so lonely All of my hopes fading away, I've longed for love, Like everyone else does, I know I'll keep searching after today, So there it is girl, I've said it all now And here we are, babe, What do you say
We've got tonight, Who needs tomorrow We've got tonight, babe, Why don't you stay.

* If loving you is wrong I don't wanna be right, If being right means being without you, I'd rather be wrong than right…Am I wrong to fall so deeply in love with you, knowing I got a wife and two little children depending on me too, And am I wrong to hunger for the gentleness of your touch, knowing I got someone else at home who needs me just as much

* I love little baby ducks, old pick-up trucks, slow-moving trains, and rain - I love little country streams, sleep without dreams, Sunday school in may, - And hay - And I love you too,
I love leaves in the wind, pictures of my friends, birds in the world, and squirrels - I love coffee in a cup, little fuzzy pups, bourbon in a glass, and grass and I love you too,

I love honest open smiles, kisses from a child, tomatoes on the vine, and onions - I love winners when they cry, losers when they try, music when it's good, and life - And I love you too!

From addiction, to “one night stands,” or abandoning wife and kids to “loving onions and You!” Wow! It seems in the world’s mind love covers it all.

There are many that will spend their time debating the history of Valentines day, whether evil or not, and even which “saint” it was named after. The fact remains that worldwide this day has become known as a day to express love.

If anyone in the world should express authentic love it should be those that call themselves "Christians." Our Scriptures make it clear that “God IS love!” Yet, we must make sure that this is not treated as “a special day,” but as a way of life.

When we express that characteristic that flows from God, what should that look like?

First, we need to understand the importance of Love:

1 Corinthians 13:13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Real love is eternal and is so important everything else in comparison pales before it! 

1 Corinthians 13:3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Here is how our Lord describes Love:

1 Corinthians 13:4–7 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Let me offer this “look” at the Love we should express:

Giving that person what God has decided they need.

This is different than what the world teaches many times. In that view, Love is giving to a person what he or she wants. Scripturally, true Love would be to meet the need that God knows this person requires.  Here is how that looks:

·      Love is Constant: It is not “flighty” or a rollercoaster, because it is not based on emotion. It is a willful decision!

There are 2 key words for love in the New Testament, they both communicate care, but one is more firm.

φιλέω philéō = Founded in Affection – emotions impact this greatly
ἀγαπάω agapáō = Founded in Conviction – Commitment in whatever circumstance is the key here.

We see the clear difference in John as Jesus helps restore Peter:

John 21:15–17 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love (agapáō) me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love (philéō) you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love (agapáō) me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love (philéō) you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love (philéō) me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love (philéō) you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

Peter knew without a doubt he loved Jesus, yet when Jesus asked him the first two times He employed the word agapao. Peter knew that word carried a deeper commitment and I am sure he felt the hypocrite from his denials, so he answered with the more emotional word for love. However, when Jesus asks the last time using phileo, notice how hurt Peter was. He knew he had blown it, but there was no question to the fact that he possessed great affection for his Lord, what he doubted was his commitment, which agapao communicated.

When we seek to give what God knows the other person needs, it also opens the door for “tough love.” Love must sometimes confront wrong in a person’s life. If we do not, we are not showing Biblical Love. Remember, when it comes to showing “tough love,” if it’s really Love – it will be tougher on the one who is giving it, than the one receiving it. When you truly love someone it is hard to do something that might cause pain, even if they need it. To give an addict his drug, because to say no would cause him pain, is not love; true Love would never help someone destroy themselves.

·      Love is Empowering

Romans 13:9–10 For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Love gives us the power to forgive! When we forgive, no matter what the response is from the other person, we win!

If you forgive someone who has wronged you – if they repent, you win and fellowship is restored.

If you forgive someone who has wronged you – and they do not repent, you still win! How? Your soul has peace with God and you have no ill will towards that person. You will sleep well at night, while they will wrestle with anger and bitterness.

Real Love allows us not to be at the mercy of our emotions.

·      Love is Simple.

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.

This is not complicated…which does not mean it is easy! Still, it simplifies our life. We have one debt to those around us – Love them! When we connect our source of Love to the Author of Love, there will be an endless supply to tap into, no matter the circumstances. Important to remember though, and testified by years of Church history, God will supply what we need at the TIME we need it! Too many believers try to imagine Loving someone that did some horrible thing that they read about. You will not sense the ability to extend God’s Love to an imaginary reality! However, when we walk close to God, if we find ourselves in a terrible, hurtful situation, we are one prayer away from the release of God’s powerful ability to Love under any circumstance. Our Lord modeled this as He went on the cross, “Father, forgive.” A very short time after that, 2-4 years, Stephen uttered the same words as he was being stoned to death.

Let us focus on remaining close to God, let God be concerned when to supply our need to show Love.

Challenge: Of all the things you want in this life what matters most to you? When was the last time you loved the unlovable?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The need for speed may lead your soul to bleed!

Probing Proverbs: 1:16 They rush to commit evil deeds. They hurry to commit murder.

As odd as this may sound, this actually happened some years ago. A mortician came up with an unusual idea. He had five large windows installed in his funeral home, and a road paved to drive by the windows. Each window was six feet long and would contain a body in its coffin. He called it “drive by viewing!” He felt that many people want to see a deceased friend or loved one, but are so busy they cannot afford the time. As he stated in an interview: “This way they can drive by and just keep on going!”

We live in an age that has maximized “busyness.” Although I enjoy much of what progress has brought us, there is a very clear down side. The pace we move our life at often ends up at a pace that can destroy us. I have just experienced this physically, and now I am in the process of retraining my body to get the rest it needs so I can remain healthy. Spiritually, this also can be a great disaster. In our haste to move we may end up in sin, which cuts our soul, if we are not careful we may end up spiritually bleeding to death! When you look through the Scriptures you should take note of how many people moved toward sin “quickly."

This should not surprise us, for in Scripture, right before the first murder was committed the Lord warned a young man that sin is waiting to pounce on him:

Genesis 4:6–7 “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected?7 You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
This is a tactic that our enemy has employed since the beginning of time, but is now at its peak due to the progress of technology. As we look at this proverb consider the two keywords describing the approach to sin. “Rush” and “hurry” are words that communicate haste.

Notice that speed has everything to do with committing evil! The busier we are, the faster we move, which translates to less time we will have to ponder our steps. That is the satanic strategy! Instead of a thoughtful response–we react! Words come out before we think! Actions take place before we count the cost. When we hurry to express our emotions or to take a step of action we are in danger!

This is something I can speak of from a very personal point of view. As I grew up I cultivated a reactionary pattern in a lot of my life. There is a positive when it comes to an emergency situation, and I have been involved in situations where there was no time to stop and ponder. So there is a small “good side” to reacting in a given situation. I want a quick timing from a medic at an accident scene. I do not want to be lying on the ground bleeding while someone takes too much time to ponder what to do. I need the bleeding stopped now! However, most of life is not lived from an emergency point of view, and reacting to normal daily life usually does not lead to proper solutions and peace. I struggle less with it now as I have matured, but it is still part of my nature and I must continue to focus on controlling that emotional response.

As Paul was trying to guide the young pastor, Timothy, he makes that very warning. This is advice we would all do well to heed.

1 Timothy 5:22 Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.

I realize that we live in an age of immediate gratification and results. As I said, much of the progress can be enjoyed, but there must be balance. The longer I have lived the more I've understood that in most cases nothing has to be decided immediately. It is our impulsiveness and the urgency of our agenda that often drives the timing of what were doing.

Please understand, I am speaking from the point of view of much failure. It has affected many of my relationships, especially those closest to me. I have worked hard and will continue do so to make sure that I move to be a person that is proactive instead of reactive. So I'm not speaking to you as one who has mastered this, which is why I am making such a strong point from this one Proverb.

When something seemingly must be decided immediately or action must happen in a moment, except in an emergency situation, you would be wise to take a breath, rethink and spend some time talking to the Lord before your next step. The enemy and even our culture will drive us to do the opposite, yet if we understand how speed plays into the action of sin we will warn ourselves when we realize we're moving toward “reacting.”

I have seen enough victories from taking a moment to ponder before the next step, that I have understood the wisdom of keeping this truth in front of me as I walk this path we call life. SLOW DOWN! Talk to our Lord first! 

If I'm going to hurry, let me hurry to be holy!

“The so what? Do you have a “Stop do list” built into your life? This is a list that helps you “make” time to do what is most important and beneficial in your life. This is a proactive way of approaching “busyness.” The last several decisions or actions you have taken, were they hurried? If so why? Were they real emergencies or could time be given to seek the Lord’s mind? The last argument you had with someone close to you – how quickly did things escalate? Why? The last time you felt angry, did you deal with that emotion or did that emotion drive you to do something? What does your answer show you about “who is handling who?”