Saturday, November 22, 2014

Newest Yet Oldest Persecution

I have seen a lot of things in the news putting a negative slant to Christianity. I feel the need in my spirit to say something, the same need that I feel whenever Christian values have been insulted and demeaned.

Don't let this newest persecution harm your faith. It is not wrong to stand up for your beliefs. Don't be fooled by all the publicity. That is the world is condemning them for standing up for their own beliefs.

In this country, we still have both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The people are free to choose if they want to believe anything, how they believe it, and they are free to talk about it. Do NOT let the devil take those freedoms from you.

The media loves to report on situations like this, making anyone who follows "old world values" out as bigots and homophobic. They guilt trip everyone who doesn't believe exactly how they do into thinking that if they are in support of Puritanical values, than they are idiots. Satan would deny us the right to believe how we do, so that we might believe like the media does. They believe that people should never be judged, yet they judge those who believe in Jesus as hating our fellows. This is just the newest generation of persecution.

"We proudly tell God's other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering." 2 Thessalonians 1:4

Make it your goal to be like that church in Thessalonica. Endure this current wave of persecutions. Be strong and courageous. Don't doubt your faith.

"But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith. And continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit. Live in such a way that God's love can bless you as you wait for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy is going to give you. Show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgement. There are still others to whom you need to show mercy, but be careful that you aren't contaminated by their sins." Jude 20-23

Love the sinner, regardless of you they are and what they have done. But that doesn't mean that you have to love and embrace the sin.

Sam

Friday, November 21, 2014

"The Valley Of Elah"

And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and they encamped in the Valley of Elah, and they drew up in battle array against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 1 Samuel 17:2-3
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Today we are going to take a look at when Jesus asked the disciples a really important question in Matthew 16:13-15 ...When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter had a response to this question and told Jesus what he thought! But I wonder...Do we know?

We are looking at this question today because of something that the Lord spoke to me today about David as he stepped into the Valley of Elah which means our next stop in today's message is going to be found in 2 Samuel 17.  ...And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and they encamped in the Valley of Elah, and they drew up in battle array against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 1 Samuel 17:2-3

Here they are. Both sides all gathered in this one place ready for a battle. Who will win? Obviously, the strongest. Right? I find it really interesting that Elah means just that. According to the Strong's Elah means - an oak or other strong tree. It comes from 352 -from the same as 193; prop. strength; hence anything strong; spec. as chief (politically); also a ram (from his strength); a pilaster (as a strong support); an oak or other strong tree. 193 - from an unused root meaning to twist, i.e. (by impl.) be strong; the body (as being rolled together); also powerful. The Valley of Elah or the Valley of strength or power. Interesting, right? After all, God's people are gathered here for days on end waiting for the strongest to step up and take on their strongest who looked so terrifyingly strong that no one thought they were able! Day after day, listening to the challenge. Day after day, their fear of Goliath growing stronger that their faith in God.

So, the question comes, "What was their opinion?" Everyone on that battlefield had an opinion as to the outcome. The Israelites thought Goliath to be too big and to strong and too fierce to defeat.  ... And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid. vs. 24  The Philistines obviously thought that Goliath would win - they called Him their champion and let the entire battle rest on his shoulders. vs. 4  King Saul had an opinion according to vs 11 ... When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine they were dismayed and greatly afraid. Up to this point everyone's opinion is that Goliath is the strongest!

Then David showed up and he definitely had a different opinion! He knew who God was. He knew that God would deliver him. When he stepped into the Valley of Elah he knew that God was the strongest!  vs. 32 David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." David's heart wasn't full of fear and doubt because of the strength of the man in front of him but instead what filled his heart was the knowledge who God is. I love that David, this young shepherd boy, had such a great opinion of God! He knew that God was God and that Goliath, just a man! He knew who was would win when he stepped into the Valley of Elah. ..."Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands." 1 Samuel 17:47

Today, for you and I the question remains. What is our opinion of who God is? Is He our Strong God? Is He our deliverer? Is our opinion of Him the thing that propels us to step into the Valley of Elah knowing that He goes with us the way that David did or are we cowering in fear up on the rim. Who Is He to YOU? IS HE GOD?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reset to God

The last thing he remembered was Jesus saying, "Sit here, while I go over there and pray."

Peter had no idea how long ago that was.

Judging by the look on Jesus' face, it was awhile ago.

Jesus rubbed his weary face, and Peter noticed the lines around his eyes, indicating that he was deeply troubled. But why?

Jesus had taken him, James, and John a little further then the other disciples into the garden, but he had also told them to wait while he prayed. But he said more. What was it?

Peter blinked furiously, trying to clear his sleep addled brain. That's right. Jesus had said, "My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death. Remain here, and watch with me."

He stifled a moan. Well, he hadn't done a good job of that. Honestly, he had tried to pray, and spend that time with the Father.

But sleep had been calling out to him.

Next thing he knew, Jesus had shaken him and the others awake, an unreadable look in his eye. Peter felt like he was acting stranger than usual tonight.

"So, you could not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak," Jesus said.

What did that even mean?

"Watch with me while I pray," Jesus said once again. All Peter could do was nod. This time, he would stay awake. This time he would make it. This time he would commune deeply with the Father.

This time...he would...not...fall...asleep...

Based on Matthew 26:36-42

During a Bible study this week, my pastor briefly touched on fasting. He talked about how important it is for Christians, and to look through the New Testament. Jesus, the disciples, the apostles, and the believers in general all fasted regularly to get that set apart time with God. I thought these were all good points.

However, the only thing running through my mind was "Fasting - Time with God or a homicide in the making?" I don't handle not eating very well. I get grumpy. Who doesn't though? What's important is that time that's all about God that would normally be spent doing something else.

Then I started thinking some more...

My mom and I had a conversation about fasting a couple weeks ago. In reference to the "Daniel Fast," she brought up the excellent point that it wasn't a fast for them. It was their way of life. It was how they lived. It was who they were. They didn't force themselves to eat sprouts and drink mineral water to help them set aside more time for God. It was their life. They would fast, which is going without food, to do that.

Which reminded me about something we did in the youth group several years ago. As a youth group, we did a forty day fast. Only we didn't all fast food for forty days. We split the days up among the whole youth group so that every day was covered by at least one or two people. Everyday we had to fast something. Didn't matter what. You could "fast" TV, books, video games, sweets,food. Basically anything that takes your time, and refocus that onto God.

So let me say firmly. I believe in and support traditional food fasting. It is absolutely important in the life and walk of a believer.

What I'm talking about today is going without all those other things you feed on, and giving that time to God. You might be sitting there even more confused because of the story I chose to start my blog off with today. Peter had good intentions (like us), but he lacked that follow through (ahem, like us). If he had given of his time and physical need to sleep - fasted it, as you will - then he wouldn't have awakened to find Jesus standing over him.

Now lets apply this to us. For instance, say you watch 24 hours of TV a week. You may fast twice a week, but if television is the thing consuming you, then the forty minutes of time you spend watching TV while fasting isn't helping you focus on God. What about taking one day a month, and instead of watching mindless television for three or four hours, you read your Bible, worshiped, and prayed?

Awesome things.

"Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." 2 Corinthians 7:1

I'm not saying that books, television, marathon board game nights, or even sleep are bad things. I'm saying that there are times, days, hours, or even moments we when should fast, so to speak, from those things. Setting something else aside, and giving that time to God is the part that I'm focusing on today. And in today's culture, giving up those things for an hour or two will go a long way in your walk with God.

"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." Colossians 3:2

It's that purposeful reset of your mind to the things of God that will make a huge difference.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Abiding"

Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: "Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon." So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel. Joshua 10:12-14
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In today's message I'd like to ask you a question. Have you ever wondered ... How? ... Why? ... What made Joshua think that he could speak and tell the sun and the moon to stand still? Where would he come up with the idea? I ask because when you stop to think about it it is a pretty crazy thing to ask for never mind even believing that God would do it. Right? Crazy ...unless? Unless you have the kind of relationship With Him that Jesus was talking about in John 15:7 when He said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Joshua didn't hesitate. He spoke to the sun and the moon and told them to stand still because it is what he needed to happen for the Israelites to win the battle. He didn't hesitate to speak because He knew that God was on their side. He didn't hesitate because He had a confidence in God that comes with knowing Him. Joshua had spent time abiding! Just before he went into battle God told Joshua, "Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you." Joshua believed Him and when it looked like the day was ending and they hadn't prevailed yet he spoke to the sun and the moon to stand still. He spoke and the sun stopped going down and the moon stopped coming up and they prevailed. Why? Because he was coming from a place of abiding. A place of knowing God not doubting but knowing that God would respond to his request.

Jesus said, "Abide in me and ask whatever you desire and it shall be done for you." Joshua was great at abiding. Check out Exodus 33:11 So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. Abiding works! Joshua spoke and the most crazy ridiculous thing happened. He spoke. God heeded. The sun and moon obeyed. Then Joshua's desire was done - the battle was won.

So here is my best advice. Abide! Then ask. Then watch God be glorified in the most amazing ways!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Spiritual Genius?

Oh, that was it!

Elihu had had enough. He was done with all this. The ridiculous things coming out of their mouths were driving him insane. Did they even know what they were talking about anymore? Elihu felt like they were just talking for the sake of talking.

He and the four other men sat around Job’s front yard. Job looked terrible, maybe even worse then when he had arrived. Elihu had arrived four days later then the Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz. He hunkered down with the other men. Job’s grief and agony were apparent. Truly too deep for words. So they waited and waited for Job to say something.

And then he did. He understandably ranted, claiming he had done nothing wrong and cursed his birth.

This spurned an argument from the others. They had no answers, but adamantly declared Job to be in the wrong.

Elihu was angry. Angry with all of them. He had kept quite because the others had a considerable amount of years on him. As the youngest of the group, it wouldn’t be respectful for him to jump. He clenched his fists, trying to pull the fury building inside of him back into a manageable, little ball.

It wasn’t working.

The other four men glared at each other.

One of them let out a grunt of annoyance.

That did it.

Elihu stood up in a fit of Holy fury. He pointed his index finger, and lit into them.

Based on Job 32:1-5

Elihu was angry at Job and his self-righteous friends. He had waited to speak out of respect because he was much younger then them, but he was bursting with anger due to their foolishness. He had felt that surely aged wisdom would win this battle…

And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said: “I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you. I said, ‘Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.’ But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.” Job 32:6-8

Did you catch that?

It is the Spirit, the breath of God, that makes someone understand.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

In all of this, did any of them really, for real and actually mean it, ask God for understanding about this situation?

Yeah.... It’s no wonder God busted them from a raging whirlwind. They all believed that they each had the whole situation figured out. Job justified himself, rather then God. Job’s friends blamed him for this mess, claiming God was punishing him for whatever secret sin he was hiding.

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Proverbs 18:2

Again, we have the benefit of being able to look at this account with the back-story fully intact for our benefit. None of them were right, and it just astounded Elihu that these aged and seasoned men of God were going with the must childish excuses and reasons known to man.

What about us? In Job-like life situations, do we tend to blame God or justify the situation because that person must be living in horrid sin? When we do that, we throw everything we know about God out the window. What if we asked God for some wisdom regarding the situation?

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” Psalm 119:130

If we ask God for wisdom about a situation, then He gives it. His wisdom is like a light. Even the simplest person can be a spiritual genius, if he asks God for wisdom and understanding. Remember not to jump to conclusions. The Spirit of God in us gives us wisdom. So you have to ask yourself this: are you speaking wisdom given from God or just spewing your own opinion?

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, November 17, 2014

"The Perfect Chance Encounter" Part 14

Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, There are still four months and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: 'One sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered their labors. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did." So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.  John 4:34-42
As we come to the end of our perfect chance encounter between the Samaritan woman and Jesus we can honestly say that the results are amazing! If the transformation in this woman's life was the only result to this encounter that would be enough but and here's the but. It wasn't! Verse 39 tells us, "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did."  Because she left her encounter transformed she spread the news. She testified and told everybody all about her encounter with Jesus!  She testified and because she testified others listened and because they listened they heard and because they heard they believed!

I love that because of her encounter with Jesus a town had an encounter with Jesus. What she had to say and her new transformed life was enough to cause others to be curious about Him and to check Him out for themselves. Then in verse 41-42 it tells us, 'And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.' Love those results! ... "Now we believe for ourselves." I love that all we have to do is to tell others what He has done for us. The rest is up to Him ...and them. It says that they heard what she had to say and then invited Him to stay. He stayed two more days and that is all it took for her encounter to turn into their encounter as well!

What started out as a chance encounter for her turned into a whole communities amazingly perfect encounter as they declared, "we have heard for ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world."  Perfect encounter ... Amazing results! Chance? I think ... NOT!

For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord,  thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Much Fruit"


I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.........If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. John 15:1-8

Lord, the thing that I ask, the thing that I desire, is this: As I abide in You today, the fruit we bear would not only glorify the Father but that it would bless Him as well!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions