Monday, June 30, 2014

"All He Has Done, Is Doing, And Will Do"

                                      Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:

Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The Lord executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed.

He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in mercy.

He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

As a father pities His children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him.

For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.

For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more.

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children,

To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commands to do them.

The Lord has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all.

Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word.

Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, You ministers of His pleasure.

Bless the Lord, all His works, In all places of His dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!                

When I was reading along yesterday and read these words, they stuck with me! All day long these words kept filling my thoughts and then my mouth with praise! So, today when it was my turn to write; I felt that this Psalm and these words are what I would like to share with you.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, Bless the Lord! I love how the Psalmist starts and ends with the command to his soul to, "Bless the Lord!"  I love how he says to remember - "to forget not all His benefits." He then goes on and recounts and focuses on all that the Lord has done and will do for us personally and as a people! He reminds himself and us that God has taken care of it all from forgiveness and healing, to redemption and an abundance of mercies and blessings just because He loves us.

To often we forget to praise Him. To often we are so busy looking at our circumstances, trials, and temptations. To often our focus is on our wants, needs, and desires and we forget! We forget that He has already provided and we forget to Bless Him with our praise and appreciation!

Jesus said, "Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit; some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some a hundred." Mark 4:18-20  He said, 'The cares of this world' become the focus and choke out the word in our lives making us unfruitful. He also said that those who are bearing fruit 'hear it, accept it and bear fruit." No mention of their focus being on anything else.

He also said on many occasions, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Take a look once again at the last few words the Psalmist wrote: "The Lord has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, You ministers of His pleasure. Bless the Lord, all His works, In all places of His dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!"  Did you see that last line, 'All the places of His dominion.' When we declare Him Lord and Savior we become a part of His kingdom. He becomes our sovereign and we are just some of the works that bless Him!

He is telling his soul, his whole being, to focus on Him and His kingdom.  He is making it his desire, his focus to bless Him and to focus on all that He has done, is doing, and will do. I would challenge you to go back through and read this Psalm again, only this time make a list of every promise, every provision, every blessing that you see and be assured it will set your focus 'on things above' and  'the care of this world' will look pretty small when compared to all He has done, is doing, and will do in your life.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Give! (Despite Nabal), Part 2

Nabal swirled his wine around in this brass goblet, thinking. He almost snorted at the absurdity of what they were asking him.

He had been enjoying a perfectly fine meal when his servants burst into the room with some urgent visitors. Soon ten more men, burly and filthy, crowded into his dining room. He hadn't offered them seats at his table, or any food or drink. His hospitality was extended by patiently listening as these men prattled on and on, basically begging for food.

They had said, "Peace to be to you, peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. I hear that you have shearers. Now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing all the time they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David."

Now the men were waiting for his answer.

Nabal studied them. They certainly looked like a group of strong warriors. However, they also looked rough, rogue, and a little untrustworthy. How do I know they are not runaway servants, looking to pull the wool over my eyes? How do I know that this David is who he says he is?

He had heard rumors of this son of Jesse. Many, conflicting rumors. Why would the King of Israel, concern himself with chasing after this shepherd boy? They were probably all thieves, or murderers even! No, no, he would not get involved in this sticky affair. The gods only knew what the King of Israel would do to him if he found out.

He cleared his throat to speak, not bothering to stand up-they weren't worth the effort. All ten of them stood straighter, hopefulness lit their eyes like twenty little fires.

All of which were about to be doused.

"Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse?" He watched their hope start to deflate at his harsh questions. "There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters. Shall I take my bread, my water, and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from, I do not know where?"

He stood up then, and marched straight to the stunned little group. He could see their anger now, at being treated so harshly. But what was it to him? For all he knew, they were lying about keeping his shepherds safe in the wilderness. Perhaps they threatened his men into silence for an occasion such as this. He glared at the group, and paced back and forth in front of them.

"You can tell David this." Nabal stopped in front of the oldest man, and spit in his face. He grinned at the man because he could tell just how badly he wanted to throttle him. "Tell David that," he said with a laugh.

The men slowly filed out of the room. Despite their angry, hate-filled glances, and mumbled curses, Nabal knew this   they wouldn't be bothering him anymore.

Based on 1 Samuel 25:9-11

So here we have Nabal and David's men. They came and asked Nabal for provisions, just like David said. They told Nabal who they were with, and that they had protect Nabal's shepherds and sheep. They didn't do that expecting something in return. They did it because it was the right thing to do. Nor did they come with a chip on their shoulders, expecting to be given provisions because of what they had done. Rather, their attitude was, "Yes, we did help you. Brother to brother, can you help us?"

Nabal mocked them, and denied them with silly logic that only a fool can use.

I think we've been beaten down so much into the, "Every man for himself," motto because of people like Nabal. It's true. There are people who will respond just like Nabal, and after dealing with so many Nabals, it isn't surprising that we have fallen into the same heart condition.

Who else had to deal with a bunch of Nabals? Jesus. The New Testament is filled with Jesus and all the Nabals, ahem, Pharisees. Remember the man with the withered hand in Matthew 12:9-14? Jesus goes into the synagogue one day, and a man with a withered hand awaits. The Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus, and accuse Him of evil, so they asked Jesus, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" Jesus saw right through them. He told them it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath, and He healed the man. However, the Pharisees left conspiring even more about how they could destroy Jesus.

Jesus kept doing good, good, good. Where did that get Him? Those stinking people crucified Him, after all He had done!

But Jesus never stopped doing good. He never repaid evil with evil. And you and I both know, that He would do it all over again to save us. I don't know about you, but my own heart hasn't been so gracious.

"If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not leave his house." Proverbs 17:13

Once you fall into the Nabal heart condition, it is that much harder to overcome it. That attitude becomes your first response. It is imperative that we fight that evil with a good, Godly attitude.

"Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing." 1 Peter 3:9

"Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it." 1 Peter 3:11

Follow in Jesus' footsteps. Live a life of giving good, no matter how many Nabals cross your path.

V. Joy Palmer

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

"Such Great Lengths"

And it came to pass when all the kings who were on this side of the Jordon, in the hills in the lowlands and in all the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon--the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite-- heard of it, that they gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord.

But the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy.

And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, "We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us."

But the men of Israel said to them, "Perhaps you dwell among us; so how can we make  a covenant with you?"

And they said to Joshua, "We are your servants." And Joshua said to them, "Who are you, and where do you come from?"

So they said, to him: "From a very far country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God; for we have heard of His fame, and all that He did in Egypt, and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordon--to Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth.

Therefore all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, "Take provisions with you for the journey, and go meet them, and say to them, "We are your servants; now therefore, make a covenant with us." This bread of ours we took hot for our provisions from our houses on the day we departed to come to you. But now look, it is dry and moldy.

And these wineskins which we filled were new, and see, they are torn; and these our garments and our sandals have become old because of the very long journey."

Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord. So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them.................  Joshua 9:1-27,10:1-14
The account found in Joshua 9 above continues on with some pretty interesting events that follow, including the discovery that they had been tricked three days later and the sun and moon standing still at Joshua's command. While I would normally be talking more about some of that today I have something else that stood out as I read this section of scripture.

At first, when I 'sought His counsel' about today's message and the Lord directed me here I thought I was going to be talking about... "Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord." Joshua 9:14 What an important thing to address; seeking His counsel; but as soon as I got here and started reading He showed me another thought. His thought for us today has to do with something else as well.

The thought that He spoke to me and the thing that He would have us consider today is this..."Look at the lengths that they went to." It says that there were six nations that had come together as one army to stand against Joshua and Israel. And even though it would have been the natural thing for them to align themselves with those six nations to go up against Joshua and the Israelites, They didn't!  Instead it says they 'worked craftily' and came up with a different plan in order to seek a covenant of peace with Joshua and the Israelites."

Look at the lengths that they went to to make sure they were on the same side as God. Why? Because they had heard. It says that it was 'because of the name of the Lord your God; for we have heard of His fame, and all that He did in Egypt, and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordon--to Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth.' They had heard and believed that God was going to be the winner in any battle, even one with six nations coming together as one.

Later in the chapter in verses 22-25 we see Joshua asking them why they had come and deceived them. They responded with..."Because it was certainly told your servants that the Lord your God commanded His servant Moses to give you all the inhabitants of the land from before you; therefore we were very afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. And now here we are, in your hands; do with us as it seems good and right to do to us."

A heathen people went to great lengths to make sure that they were on God's side because they heard that God had made a promise. They heard and believed in that promise. They even went so far as to make sure they had covered every detail right down to moldy bread, and worn out clothes in order to 'work craftily' and to get a covenant of peace with Joshua. They had heard what He had promised. They heard what He had already done to Jerhico and Ai. They heard and believed that God was well able to do all that He had promised and they were afraid for their lives. They had decided that a covenant of peace was their only hope!

So, His word as I sought His counsel this morning is this: "Look at the lengths they went to! This heathen people chose Me. They chose to covenant with Me. How much more should my people trust and believe that I will bring about all that I have declared. How much more should my people tend to the details of their lives and stand in faith. How much more should My people trust Me as I perform My word in the earth on behalf of those who trust and believe in Me?"

Are we, His people, willing to go to 'such great lengths' to have our life be in Him. Are we willing to go to such great lengths, or how about even the greatest length necessary? Are we willing to 'ask His counsel' as we go about our day?

Friday, June 27, 2014

One Body, Part 1

He rubbed his scruffy face. Tiredness overwhelmed him, and anxiety was starting to consume him. The heat from the day had cooled into a thick, muggy heat this evening. The weight of which settled on his shoulders like a certain coat of mail he had once worn.

He shook his head in mock amazement. That feels like so long ago... He sat with his back against a rock. Their camp was polka dotted with flickering fires and the flimsy tents that he, his men, and their families called home. His own tent waited patiently behind him, calling for him to claim sleep on his bed of rocks and twigs, covered with a thin, threadbare blanket.

"Six hundred plus men...." He moaned, and moved his hands to massage his aching neck.

Yahweh has never abandoned me before. He will provide food and provisions for all of us.

He stood up, ready to heed the siren call of sleep, when he heard horse hooves pounding their way into camp. Hopefully that was the return of his scouts.

He strode into the middle of the camp. Indeed his scouts, ten of his best, had returned. Their wives and children surrounded them, offering warm hugs. He stood patiently for a few minutes for the two men who had been put in charge of the expedition to notice him. Tsofeh, the older of the two saw David first, and motioning to Tsaphah, the two men hurried to join him.

They all walked out of camp quietly. No use in starting a rumor by talking openly within the camp. Once far enough away, Tsofeh spoke first. "We've good news." A huge grin split his face.

Tsaphah continued eagerly, "Nabal is shearing his sheep in Carmel."

David perked up. "Wait, this is the master of the shepherds we protected?"

Both men nodded vigorously.

For the first time in days, David felt his heart lighten. They had been protecting Nabal's shepherds and sheep while they had been in the wilderness together. While David hadn't done this to get something in return from Nabal, it certainly seemed this was a door the Lord had opened due to their help for the stranger.

"At dawn, you and the other eight will ride back to Carmel, and go to Nabal. Greet him in my name. Tell him, 'Peace to you, peace to your house, and peace be to all that you have. I hear that you have shearers. Now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing all the time they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand for your servants and to your son David.'"

Yes, indeed! Yahweh had provided!

Based on 1 Samuel 25:1-8

David was a natural leader. God had given him such an ability to lead men and soldiers. However, as a leader, it wasn't just about the battles they had to fight. David was just as much a leader in the personal lives of these men. Because he was their leader, he was in charge of their well-being, and that included something as simple as food.

Or not so simple with over four hundred people depending on you for food in the middle of the wilderness.

I don't believe that David had his men protect those shepherds because he thought he could get something out of the deal. Even when David found out, and sent his men to Nabal, I still don't believe it was out of an I-did-this-for-you-so-you-owe-me heart attitude.

I believe it was because that was what people were supposed to do. They were supposed to share, help each other, and watch their neighbor's back.

"And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their numbers day by day those who were being saved." Acts 2:44-47

They sound pretty happy...

"Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need." Acts 4:32-35

There wasn't a needy person among them. Everybody had food to eat, clothes to wear, and a heart full of Jesus. This is mentioned twice in the beginning of Acts. The early church was getting it right, and I can't help but wonder, when that stopped? When did out motto turn into, "Every man for himself," when it was always supposed to be, "All for one, and one for all!"?

In Matthew 25, Jesus is talking about the last days, the final judgement, and He said the King will tell the righteous to come to Him, because they fed Him, clothed Him, welcomed Him, gave Him water to drink, and visited Him when he was sick and needy. The righteous will say, "Lord, when did we do all that?" Jesus answers by saying, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."

If helping the sick and needy, our own family in Christ, is like doing it for directly to Jesus, then why have we stopped? We are supposed to be one body, and a properly functioning body works together. The food nourishes all of it; The exercise strengthens all of it. Only you know how that applies to your life. It could be selling all you have like the early church, or it could be a ride to work or giving food to someone in need.

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

Point is, we were always supposed to be there for each other. We were always supposed to be one.

V. Joy Palmer

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

"Revival Fire!"

I awoke this morning  with some of the words to this song in my head. "There is power, power, here in this hour, this hour. Were all together, together, waiting here as one.  Were calling for revival. God let Your fire fall again! Its burning in my soul! I can not contain it! On your sons and your daughters. ITS BURNING IN MY SOUL!

My first thought this morning was literally, "There is power, power here in this hour." and  "God let Your fire fall again. Its burning in my soul." I love when even while I'm asleep He is directing my thoughts and the cry of my heart!

I bet you can guess were we are going from here. If you guessed Jeremiah 20:9 you would be correct. ".......But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back. And I could not!" I don't know if you have ever experienced the kind of burning in your soul that the song is talking about or as Jeremiah put it; 'a fire in your bones'  but I know that I have! To be honest I am even feeling it in this moment with this message.

In Mark 1:40-45 is the account of when Jesus healed the leper who asked Him if He was willing. After Jesus had told him He was and He healed Him it says that Jesus strictly warned him and told him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." Jesus very clearly told him not to tell anybody.  The man did not obey. It says in verse 45 ..."But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every quarter,"

This man, even though Jesus had told him not to, couldn't contain himself. He went out and began to proclaim it freely and what that means is he had a 'fire in his bones' or 'a burning in his soul' to tell everyone and everybody all about Jesus and his experience with Him. He couldn't contain it! It was too much to hold back; He blabbed to everyone and everybody to the point that Jesus had to minister differently from that point on. Because of one man's testimony the people flocked to Jesus wherever He was. When they heard He was in a certain house they flocked there and filled it to the point that they had to go through the roof to get to Him. When they heard He had gone across the lake, the crowd crossed over to find Him.

One man. One man with a testimony that glorifies the Almighty is all it takes to cause the multitudes to come looking for THE ONE who can make all the difference. One man with with a 'fire in his bones' or a 'fire in his soul' is all it takes draw a multitude to the kingdom.

He told Ezekiel to, Prophesy to the breath, prophecy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breath on these slain, that they may live.' He told him to prophesy to the wind because the army had no breath in them. When he spoke the words that God told him to the wind came and brought the army to life!

So? So, people of God speak to the wind! Speak to the wind, in this day, in this hour! Before the sun goes down today, speak to the wind and ask Him to bring new life, new fire, to your life and ministry! Speak to the wind to come with signs, wonders, and miracles and then go and proclaim the praises of your God to the nations! People of God, speak to the wind. With one voice, one resounding cry ask Him to bring the breath of life to the army of God so that revival fire will burn in the souls of His people. If ONE MAN with a testimony that couldn't be contained started the multitudes flocking to Jesus in his day; how much MORE could A PEOPLE with a 'burning in their soul' proclaim Him to the nations of the world today, in this hour!

People of God, speak to the Holy Spirit and receive! There is power, power, here in this hour. Receive His revival fire and then you too will be proclaiming to the nations, "ITS BURNING IN MY SOUL! I CAN'T CONTAIN IT!"

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Facing the Giant, Part 9

Saul watched the young man march out against the Goliath. The evening breeze tugged at his tunic, flattening it against his chest, and billowing his robe out behind him. He could see it pull back the young man's hair. He couldn't believe he let a kid face this fiend alone. He would never have allowed Jonathan to do such a thing.

He swung his head sharply to the left. His army commander, Abner, stood beside him. He couldn't believe he hadn't asked this earlier. "Abner, whose son is this youth?"

Abner's brow furrowed in thought. Saul could see that he had come to the same conclusion. "As your soul lives, O king, I do not know."

Saul turned back to the battle field, and watched in a concoction of horror and awe as the boy and Goliath raced towards each other. The boy...

"Find out, Abner."


David raised both fist in the air. "The Lord, Yahweh, has prevailed!" Men all around him screamed their agreements, their shouts rising up and catching a ride with the wind, sharing their victory all over the world.

David dragged a couple pieces of Goliath's armor, as well as Goliath's head back into the camp as he walked. The army of Israel had finished chasing down the Philistines, and had returned to pillage the camp. However, he only wanted the armor of Goliath. A few men who stuck by him the entire chase, helped drag the armor back into the camp.

As they crested the hill into camp, a line of soldiers stood waiting. The commander from King Saul's tent stepped forward, Abner, as he recalled.

Now what had he done?

"We need you to come with us. The King wishes an audience with you." The commander's unwavering stare told him there was no negotiating. It had to be right now.

One of his new friends clapped his shoulder. "We will take care of the armor for you. You can trust us."

David smiled his thanks, and dropped the armor to follow the commander. However, he didn't drop Goliath's head.

They navigated the maze of tents, and soon came to King Saul's tent. A couple soldiers stood outside, and Abner ducked into the tent first, David directly on his heels.

This time, King Saul was pacing back and forth in the tent, clearly impatient with his wait for David.

"My King," Abner started, but Saul held up his hand, his eyes focused on one thing.

What David held in his hand.

He held it out as an offering to King Saul, waiting.

King Saul shook his head, breaking the trance, and looked at David in amazement, and yes, a little bit of envy. "Congratulations. The Lord has indeed brought forth the victory. However, there is something I need to know. Whose son are you, young man?"

David's eyebrows raised. It was such a simple question, yet.... Nevertheless, he answered loud and clear. Confident. Just like he should.

"I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite."

Based on 1 Samuel 17:55-58

Today, we are ending our David and Goliath series. We are ending it with a look inwards at us, and who we are.

When David went out to the battle field against Goliath, Saul was consumed because he didn't know who he had just sent out there. Who was his father? Who was this guy?

It is incredible, the people who watch us, and try to figure out who we are based on what we do. This topic never seems to leave my heart because I've had David moments, and I've had times of pure and utter failure in this area. And after these times I always wonder, "Who was watching that I didn't know was watching? Who did I influence? And was it good? Did I promote Jesus, or did I do a big belly flop back into old sin?"

"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." Colossians 3:23

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

When Saul had David brought to him afterwards, the Bible only has one recorded question, "Whose son are you?"

Who is your Father? Whose child are you?

The fatherhood was such a major part of their culture. The credit for raising such a strong, brave man would go to Jesse, David's father.

When people watch us, our failures and triumphs are also credited to Someone. Our Father.

When they watch us, judge us, determine whether they can trust all this, everything we do is turned back to God, the Father we claim to follow.

Phew! No pressure, right?

It's a lot. We are going to fail. We are going to screw up and blow up. We will make stupid mistakes, probably multiple times. But if we stop, and think about how we are reflecting God, and if we are following Jesus, then maybe we will make fewer mistakes and messes.

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

That requires a look inside our hearts, and the helping strength of the Almighty God.

May we all live our lives a little closer to Jesus then the day before. Amen

V. Joy Palmer

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014


I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 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. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive. Jeremiah 29:10b-14

Today's message is a simple one, and you can probably guess by the verse and the name of the song exactly what it is. I'm not sure why but I really felt like someone really needs to hear these words today. God is for you. He has a plan for you. Its a plan that is for your life specifically. It is a plan that is for you alone. Its not your sister's life, your neighbors, or even your best friends. It is all about what He has in store for you. It is His plan for you and you alone. He gave you every gift and every talent that you will need to accomplish all that He desires. Did you know that even your name is a part of the plan? Look at how many times throughout scripture the person's name has a meaning that is special to their calling and purposes in God.  He knows you by name, and He is for you!

He is all about blessing you and making a way for you that will lead you out of the captivity that sin and death entangles you in. He is all about 'visiting with you and performing His good word toward you.' He desires to bring you into a place of rest, an amazing place of rest that is simply a place of abiding with Him. Trust Him! He is for you! He has a future and a hope for you. Every time you seek Him you will find Him. He hears your prayers! He hears!

"I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think towards you." says the  Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil ........." Look who is talking here. It is God Himself. "I will visit you and perform My good word toward you." This whole passage is about God Talking. God saying, "I will........for you! Set this truth in your heart and don't let anyone take it from you! God said, "I AM FOR YOU!"

Monday, June 23, 2014

Facing the Giant, Part 8

Goliath's massive body thundered towards him. With adrenaline that comes from knowing that in either less then a minute he would be dead or the battle would be won, David ran to meet Goliath.

As he ran, he slipped his hand into his bag, and took out one of the stones. He hardly slowed as he hastily put the stone into the sling. He swung it round and around, until he and Goliath were about ten yards apart.

He swung his arm down low, and let the stone fly out and up. Skidding to a stop, he watched the stone. His breath caught in him as he watched for moments that felt like hours. Goliath was getting closer, but then David saw it. The stone hit Goliath, and sunk right into his forehead.

Goliath's head snapped back from the impact, though the injury had not yet registered with his moving body. As if in slow motion, he started to fall forward. The mighty Goliath fell on his face, and slide for several feet, sending a tidal wave of dirt and dust towards David.

Everything was quiet. No one moved.

Goliath did not move.

Snapping out of his daze, David ran to the giant's body. He took careful notice of the lack of movement in Goliath's shoulders that would indicate he was still breathing. His heart skipped a beat. Yahweh did it! He did it!

He stopped beside the Philistine. He could feel the eyes of two nations upon him, watching him. He pulled the long, magnificent sword out of the matching sheath. Then, raising the sword high, he dropped it on the neck of Goliath, the uncircumcised Philistine who dared to curse God.

With that assurance of Goliath's death, a mighty cry of victory sounded from the Israelite camp. In no time at all, men poured out from the camp like ants and into the valley, towards the Philistine camp. David whirled around, and watched in delight as the Philistines started running for their lives.

"Yahweh reigns!" He screamed and leaped into the air. He would be back for Goliath's armor later. He was taking that home with him.

However, right now, he had some Philistines to chase down.

Based on 1 Samuel 17:48-54

"And you shall say to them, 'Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.'" Deuteronomy 20:3-4

Goliath, this mighty giant who had been trained for war since his youth, was taken down with a stone thrown by a boy. Then, in the highest dishonor, his own sword was used to behead him.


"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

Because God fought that battle through David, and the devil's worldly weapons will not prevail over God. They cannot stand up against God. The devil cannot stand up against God.

If you will be faithful, to go into God's battles, then God will fight through you. He will take down the giants, and deliver victory into your hands.

You need to understand that whatever you are going through, whatever way it ends, if you will fight for God, then you will win. God will win. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the victory. We need to remember that with God the battle is already won.

"With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes." Psalm 108:13

If you will prepare, spend time with God, fight with the weapons He has already given you, and face that giant in battle, then you will prevail. God will trample your giant underneath His steel toe shoes.

With God, it's certain victory. You will never, ever fight a battle in vain with God.

"But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere." 2 Corinthians 2:14

Remember that. Always remember that.

V. Joy Palmer

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

"Our Weapon Is Stronger"

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:9-11
Have you ever wondered how people can tell your having a hard day? How about when your struggling? How do people know to ask, "Are you allright? Can I help? Do you need me to do anything for you?" How about when all they greet you with is, "What's wrong?" Actually, we don't really wonder about that. It's pretty easy to tell when someone has an issue going on in their life, or with you in particular. It is the face; the expression on our face tells the whole story. God puts it best when He was talking to Cain. Take a look!

...And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel an his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." Genesis 4:3-7

God is telling Cain that He sees by his face that there is a problem. He tells him that he has a choice to make because judging by his countenance, sin could take root in his heart. I looked up the word desire (8669) from 7783; in the original sense of stretching out after, a longing. (7783) a prim. root; to run after or over, i.e. overflow. When God tells him that, "sin's desire is for you." He is telling him that sin has a purpose. Its purpose is to stretch out, and to overtake the good in his life. Sin has one job, to overflow its effects into every area of our lives.

He also tells him something else. God ends his statement with words of encouragement. He says, "its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." People always act like they have no say in the matter. That sin is bigger and stronger, and that it can't be helped, but in this exchange with Cain, God is telling him to rule over it. Say no to it! Don't let it take root. Don't let it have full control.

In the verses above we see The Weapon that always works to stop the effects of sin in our lives! ...How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:9-11

Cleanse (2135) a prim. root; to be translucent; fig. to be innocent.

Heed (8104) a prim. root; to hedge about (as with thorns) i.e. guard; to protect, attend to.

If you want to stop the works of sin from overtaking, than this verse gives us the key. How can we cleanse our way? How can we be innocent? By taking heed to His word. The meaning of heed from the Strong's Concordance paints a pretty clear picture as to why even Jesus, when the enemy tried to tempt Him, used the word to put a stop to him. Jesus never sinned because He always applied the word, or as He put it ..."I always do the things My Father tells Me to do." He showed us, as our example, how to stay clean, and innocent of wrongdoing when He countered every attempt of the enemy with the word. The word will set a hedge of protection around you if you will attend to it. It will guard you and keep you walking in the ways of God, if you will do all that it says!

God warned Cain. Cain didn't listen, and ended up marked and living with the results! He ended up marked because He didn't choose to listen and act according to the words God spoke. He chose to sin. And when we sin, it overtakes and will also leave a mark in our lives. It quite often shows up on our countenance (expressions) for all the world to see. He could have heeded the words that God was speaking. He could have made another choice. We too have the option to follow hard after Him by applying and obeying His word to the choices we make. We can choose to rule over temptation the same way that Jesus did. We can choose to let the word and our desire to seek and serve Him with our whole heart win any battle that we might have over sin. Sin might have a desire for you, but remember the word is way stronger, and it always overcomes!   

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Facing the Giant, Part 7

The evening sun beat down on him. He was confident that nothing had changed since this morning. Everyone was still too scared to try to face him.

He strode into the valley, and almost skid to a stop. A boy. A young boy stood there. A walking staff was laying on the ground beside him, and something in his hand... a slingshot, a slingshot was in his hand.

He sneered. Hatred filled his heart for this kid who would dare come at him with a slingshot!

Goliath continued walking towards the child. His sword-bearer walked in front of him, and stopped about 20 yards from the boy.

Goliath spat on the dusty ground at his feet. He glared, and projected his voice loudly for all to hear. "Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks? I curse you and your God! Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field!" He raised his fist high and roared once again. He continued roaring, turning away from the harmless flee of a boy, and beat his chest. Hoots and hollers rang out from his camp.

They were finally going to destroy the Israelites. Once and for all.
David held his hand up as a visor against the glaring sun. Goliath's words rang out followed by  thunderous war cries from him and the Philistine camp. His heart was racing, and there was a part of him that wanted to turn around and run. Run for his life.

But he wasn't going to let that uncircumcised Philistine have the last word. He was going to stand strong for Yahweh.

He raised both his arms up high, screaming his own war cry. Slowly but surely, Goliath noticed him. Goliath turned around and lowered his fist, and soon the enemy camp quieted.

"You come to me with a sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head. I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beast of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand."

David heaved air into his lungs. Adrenaline was coursing through his entire body. He raised his arms again, and screamed. The Israelite camp started whooping, shouting out praise and encouragement.


Everyone went quiet at the sound of Goliath's angry cry. Even from this distance, David could see his nostrils flare. Goliath grabbed his sword, and starting running straight towards him.

The first battle was done. Now, it was time for bloodshed.

Based on 1 Samuel 17:41-47

In this section, David and Goliath face off in a battle more serious then stones, slingshots, swords, and javelins. This was a spiritual battle of faith.

Goliath comes to David, and immediately hates him. He has no mercy for the young man basically giving up his life. He hates him for being young, good-looking, and an Israelite.

David stands before this giant, this warrior who is broad, with muscles thicker then tree trunks, over nine feet tall, and angry. He hears this giant insult him, insult his God, and threaten his life. He can see the gleam of the sword and spear in the sunlight. He can see the blood lust in Goliath's eyes.

Yet he still manages to stand for God.

He stood before that giant, testifying God! How many of us face those life-or-death moments. Those moments where it's live or die. Like some of you, I've read about some of the martyrs for Jesus. I have books filled with their stories, their testimonies, their love, and sacrifice sitting on my shelf. I think, "If I'm ever faced with that, I want to be just as brave." How many of us are faced with that situation? For most of us, we never stand before the life-or-death giant. We stand before the losing-your-soul-or-gaining-the-kingdom-of-Heaven giants. We face life.

Are we winning that battle? Are we even fighting that battle?

"And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel's will save it.'" Mark 8:34-35

Dying to self everyday, that takes a lot of willpower. That is constantly denying bad attitudes, desires, wants, frustrations, fear, and anything else that would threaten to take hold of us.

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who believes in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

"And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Galatians 5:24

We don't just want to be faithful in the big moments. We need to be faithful in all the little moments that bring us to those big moments. Does your heart yearn to say what Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." To say those words and know that you did. You were faithful against every giant that came your way, and because of your faithfulness there, you were faithful against the big giant, as well.

That can be your legacy, just like David. All you have to do is fight in God's army, finish the race, and keep the faith. Stand against your giants with your slingshot and stone. Stand.

V. Joy Palmer

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Friday, June 20, 2014

"Treasured Servants"

Multitudes, Multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. Joel 3:14
In 2 Kings 5 we find the account of Naaman being healed of his leprosy and coming to serve the Lord. As a youth pastor it is one of my all time favorite accounts to teach on because I do love that little maid! See, had to mention her even though we won't be talking about her in today. What the Lord directed me to can be found in this passage; ...And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash and be clean'?" So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordon according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 2 Kings 5:13-14

In case you hadn't figured it out yet, today we are going to talk about decisions. In particular, the decisions we make every day about whether or not we will obey the instructions of the Lord even when they don't make sense to us.

Naaman had a decision to make in this moment when the servants confronted him about his attitude. He almost missed his opportunity to be restored and made clean because he was about to make a bad decision because of the attitude of his heart. His heart had decided that he should get the pomp and ceremony that he, in his opinion deserved. He was standing there at Elisha's door to get his healing but he also had his own plan in mind for it to happen ...But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, "Indeed, I said to myself, 'He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.' Did you notice the key phrase here as to why he got angry? "Indeed, I said to myself." Which tells us that he had played the scene out in his mind as to what would happen. The way that he had envisioned it was that he would show up at the door. Elisha would come out, make a big production of calling on the name of the lord. He would wave his hand over the infected areas and whaaa-laaa he would be healed. He wouldn't have to do anything except show up and stand there. That was his plan and the fact that Elisha didn't perform to plan infuriated him! He had a plan and that was all he could see.

The thing is it wasn't God's plan. God's plan was to heal him! ...And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, " Go and wash in the Jordon seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean." 2 Kings 5:10 He didn't even noticed that God gave him a way to not only be healed but to be clean as well. He didn't even notice that he was about to miss out big time!  

I want to stop and take a quick second to say, "Thank you, Lord! Thank you for the servants you've put in my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the servants you have used to give me my second chance opportunities to heed your word and to not miss out on your amazing blessings! Thank you, Lord, for my treasured servants who always turn my focus back to your amazing grace, mercy, and provision by being brave enough to take on my heart attitudes."

Sorry, had to take care of that. See, we all have moments like Naaman where we decide the outcome or the how and where of it. We all have those heart attitude moments where we forget that his plan, even if it might seem ridiculous to us at the time, is the best plan possible and if followed, it will bring about the best possible outcome! The servants recognized that Naaman was about to blow it and they where brave enough in the face of his anger to speak up and remind him that he had come there for a purpose. These treasured servants stand redeemed his opportunity because they reminded him that if it had been a hard thing, he would have done it. Why not a simple thing? By speaking up they put Naaman once again in that moment when he had to choose. He had to make a decision, will he or won't he do what God requires?

God's plan has Naaman taking a step of faith. It causes him to choose God. It has Naaman taking action towards the thing he hoped for and causes a step of faith that aligns him with God. Naaman's way, he doesn't have to choose God, he just receives. God's plan forces him to choose Him because it forces him to trust His words and to obey them. It forces Him to Agree to submit to God's direction and causes him to take a step of faith. The dipping seven times in the Jordon is the action required for him to be in agreement with God. It is the action that forces Him to choose to surrender and obey the word of the Lord.

When confronted by his servants, Naaman is given a second chance to agree to God's provision and this time he says, "Yes." He obeys the word of the God and the outcome is ... and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his aids, and came and stood before him; and he said, "Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel;" By forcing him to take those steps of faith and agreeing to God's plan it brought him to a place knowing God that comes through when we hear, trust, and obey because we know that He will do what He says He will!  

Don't you love how God is even in the details? I looked up Naaman's name and it means; pleasantness and it comes from a primitive root word (5276) that means; to be agreeable. In the end Naaman was agreeable to God's way and not his own. In the process of things he learned to choose to heed God's word. He decided to agree with God and to listen and obey.

We all have times when we have the plan. The question we need to be asking is, "Is it His plan?" Are we making decisions to be in agreement with His word no matter how simple or how silly it might sound? Are we missing out on opportunities to be restored because we won't recognized His word to us as the best plan possible. Are we missing out because we've already made our decision ahead of time on how it should play out. Will we heed the words of our treasured servants and not miss opportunities to choose to obey? Here's the question He told me to ask at the very beginning of this message.

"Are we missing out on His miraculous outcomes because we won't come as a little child, believing, that what he says, He will do!"

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Facing the Giant, Part 6

David strode out of King Saul's tent with determination in his steps.

He didn't really know what he was doing, but he just knew where to go.

First things first, he needed to grab a couple things from his beast. He strode into the midst of the camp. The midday sun beat down on him, and the stares and whispers of the other men scorched him just as much as the sun. A man stood next to a tent several yards away from him, and David did a double take. The man wasn't there anymore, but David could have sworn it was his brother watching him.

Focus. Focus on Yahweh's direction. He took a deep breath, and marched by them all. He kept his face passive, shoulders straight, and his stride even. He soon spotted his beast. He grabbed his staff and his slingshot.

His weapons of warfare.

After fastening the slingshot against his stomach with a cord tied around his torso, David kept walking away from the Israelite camp.

He didn't walk for long. There had been a river just before David arrived at the camp this morning. That was his destination.

Soon, he saw it. Sunlight glittered off the slow-moving water, giving the appearance of thousands and thousands of precious stones riding the waters to new homes. David walked right up to the end of the water, the current weak this late in the summer, and peered into its depths.

His hand broke the surface of the cool, glassy water, and he made his picks. One...Two...Three...Four...Five. Okay. He pulled the five smooth stones out of the water. They weren't very big, but they were the perfect size for his slingshot.

King Saul would refuse to let me go if he knew that I planned to pelt this giant with stones from my slingshot. David slipped the stones into his shepherd's pouch, smiling a little at the image of King Saul's face when he found out about his plan.

David knew the idea sounded crazy, but he just knew this was what he was supposed to do. God had stirred his spirit, and spoken to his soul without even using words. This little, handmade weapon would be the tool to show the people of Israel that Yahweh would save His people against any giant that came their way. That was why David picked five smooth stones. Among everything else, David had found out that Goliath had four other brothers. Five stones for five giants. The stones represented the grace God was extending towards His people, Israel, even though they hadn't believed in Him.

He continued to kneel beside the waters. Praying. Thanking. Preparing.

After a moment, he stood up. David fervently believed all this. That was why he walked back into camp with his staff in hand, slingshot at the ready, and five stones waiting to meet their target.

It was time to slay the giant.

1 Samuel 17:40

Today's thought is about preparation. I've always lumped this one verse with the verses before it. However, it's a completely different thought! A different action! A different theme! David didn't leave Saul's presence, and march out to Goliath. He went to prepare first. He got his walking staff, his slingshot, and his stones. He prepared for the battle with the weapons God had equipped especially for him.

Earlier in 1 Samuel 17, David told Saul that he had saved his father's sheep from lions and bears. David spoke confidently when he said, "Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God." He was confident because he had been faithful in the little battles. He had spent time in preparation. Even though this giant was more then he probably ever expected, he had already spent time exercising his faith.

Look at the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. The wise girls were prepared. They had brought extra oil for their lamps. Because of their preparation, they were able to enjoy the gifts of God.

We always need to spend time in preparation. We must constantly be prepared, on the lookout, hand on the hilt of our swords. We need to tackle the small things that cross our path, so that when something big comes our way, we do not lose faith in God's ability to deliver. We will remain strong because we have already practiced remaining strong in the little things.

"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15

We never know when those giant moments are going to pop up in our lives. I want to stand before them ready to fight. However, that requires honest effort from us. We need to fight the little battles in God's name, and we need to prepare before each battle, big or small.

"But the one who endures to the end will be saved." Matthew 24:13

Endure to the end my friends. Spend time in the Word. Refute the devils attacks with well placed Bible verse jabs. Share the Gospel and God's Word in it's entirety without shame. Dare to have the faith to believe that God is big enough to overcome earthquakes, madmen, famine, sickness, and the very laws of nature. Dare to believe that God can slay any giant with any weapon. Use that faith. Keep your faith strong. Prepare for battle just like David did.

V. Joy Palmer

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"The Day IT Happened"

Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." And they launched out.

But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy.

And they came to Him and awoke Him saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm.

But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!" Luke 8:22-25
As I was asking Him to show me what He wanted me to share with you today He stopped me on this passage of scripture. I told Him, "I've already shared this with them." He insisted with a, "No, you haven't. Take a closer look."  So, I hope your ready for our closer look!

"Now it happened," OK, so the first three words tell us that there is an IT and IT indicates that there is something that happened that is worth mentioning. The next four words say, "on a certain day" I looked the word certain up and it simply means; one. So, what we have so far is, IT happened! When? On a day that was like any other till IT happened and it became a certain day. IT happened and caused it to now be one certain day that stands out in their minds to the point that it was written down so that all eternity might see IT!

It must have started out just like any other day until that moment in the day that Jesus and His disciples got into a boat because Jesus said, "Lets go over to the other side of the lake." The next four words in our closer look are, 'And they launched out.' I never really noticed these four words before or never really gave them much thought. But the thing is they are actually pretty important to today's message. "And they launched out.' IT happened because Jesus spoke, "Lets go over to the other side of the lake." The disciples listened, heard the words, and put action to them without even giving it a thought. They got into the boat and launched out to do exactly what Jesus had said. They obeyed and without hesitation they launched out! It didn't even occur to them to think that they were in trouble. They trusted that they had a destination in mind. Why? Because Jesus said, "Lets go over to the other side of the lake."

As we take our closer look at the next verse lets see what there is to uncover. 'But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy.' So, They launched out and Jesus decided He would take the opportunity to get some sleep. Why? That is an easy one to answer. He was tired. The disciples didn't think anything of it until a windstorm came upon the lake. Suddenly they didn't remember that He had said, "Lets go over to the other side of the lake." The windstorm took their eyes off the destination. The windstorm had them feeling nothing but fear and that they were in jeopardy of drowning. Why? They became afraid for the same reasons you and I do. They forgot one really important thing. What had Jesus said? He said, "Lets go over to the other side of the lake."

Jesus hadn't gone anywhere! What He had said to do hadn't changed! They disciples forgot these two really important things because they started paying more attention to the two things that had changed, He went to sleep, and the weather. They were so busy looking at the changes that they forgot the most important thing. Jesus was still right there. He had not left them or abandoned them. He was right there with them. If He has called you to launch out and He has spoken to you to do something then trust Him! Do the thing that He spoke. Don't look at the storm that comes. Don't pay attention to the changes that would draw your attention away from your obedience to do the thing that spoke to you. He is with you! We Can Trust Him even in the storms!

Next up, 'And they came to Him and awoke Him saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm." When they had reached a point of being completely fearful and convinced by the storm that they were 'perishing' they woke Him and declared it to Him. Thank God, His words are the words that 'overcome' the storms in our lives. The minute they turned to Him He took care of it. It says that, 'He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm.' At one word from Him the storm ceased. Both the wind and the raging water ceased and there was a calm.

This closer look also highlighted another word to me that I had never paid any attention to. It is the word a. It says there was a calm. A makes it a noun. A thing. I looked up the word calm and it is the word 1055 in the Strong's and it means; tranquility. Jesus spoke and a tranquility settled. The It that happened on this amazing day that we are talking about is this moment when Jesus spoke, the wind and the water ceased, and the most amazing thing happened. A tranquility rested in place of the storm.

But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!" We like the disciples have been given the opportunity to obey and launch out in the things of God. Like the disciples, its easy to start in faith; trusting that what He has spoken will come to pass until the storm comes. We all have storms that come. Did you notice that Jesus was asleep in the boat. He wasn't stressed by the storm. It didn't even wake Him, the disciples did.

Jesus is our perfect example. He was at rest during the whole thing until they woke Him. He spoke to the storm and a calm, a tranquility took over. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1  It seems to me we need to experience the resting, the calm that He did while that storm was raging. Or maybe we should even have faith enough to speak to the storms ourselves! They hadn't seen the other side yet, but what had He said, "Let us go over to the other side of the lake." We, like the disciples need to learn to have faith that His word is the only evidence needed! He said it should be all that we need to take us through.  We need to have faith in His word and trust that it will be accomplished! Then, we too can have 'A Calm' to settle upon the storms in our lives as well.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Facing the Giant, Part 5

King Saul clapped him on the shoulder, a look of admiration in his eyes, along with a flicker of something else. It disappeared in an instant. "My son, you need proper armor."

David looked down at his appearance. His tanned arms and legs had no armor on them. He was wearing simple clothes. Clothes suitable for the long journey. He certainly didn't appear to be a warrior.

Maybe some real armor wouldn't hurt...What's the worst that could happen?

King Saul raised an expectant eyebrow at him, and shrugging his shoulders, he nodded his consent.

With that, King Saul sprang into action. "Bring in my finest armor. Only armor that could face a giant! Bring in the helmet, the coat of mail, oh, and my sword. Don't forget my sword!" With a grin at David, King Saul boasted, "My sword is the finest in all the kingdom. It's the perfect weapon for you to use." Then turning from him to a servant again, he said, "Make sure a tent in the camp is fashioned for David as well."

Servants scurried in and out of the tent at the king's biding. Almost immediately, all the armor King Saul had requested had been brought into the tent, and laid at their feet. Most of the servants ducked back out of the tent, but two remained. They stood at attention, reading and waiting.

King Saul pointed at the servant on the left. "Put the coat of mail on him." Then pointing to the other servant, he said, "And you, put my bronze helmet on his head."

David felt the weight of the chain mail on his shoulders and chest. It wasn't so heavy that he would fall down, unable to move anywhere, but it was heavy. The king was a very tall man, and the coat hung to just above his knees, severely adding to the weight. All this extra weight will just slow me down. He touched it, feeling the strength of the chain mail...

Then the second servant dropped the helmet on his head. Now this would be a problem! It was much too big. David tried turning his head quick to the left, and the helmet only half turned with his head. The other half covered his eye.

He adjusted the helmet, preparing to tell the king that he couldn't accept his armor, when things went from bad to worse.

King Saul was holding the sword, and truly, it was incredible. It gleamed in the tent's candlelight. The hilt was made of solid, sturdy bronze. The blade looked sharp enough to slice a rock like it was goat cheese. It was the perfect sword to use to fight Goliath.

David reverently accepted the sword from King Saul. As incredible as it was, it was a little long for David to swing properly.

What am I doing? David shook his head, clearing away the murky fog in his head. He knew he couldn't accept these.

"My King," David bowed slightly before King Saul, "I cannot take these into battle."

"What? Why can't you?" King Saul's irritation bubbled from him.

"Oh my King, I have not tested this sword or this armor. I am not used to fighting with these things. They will make me slow and sloppy. A perfect target. I have no intentions of giving the giant an advantage over me."

King Saul pursed his lips together, looking quite annoyed. Finally, he sighed. David could tell he was going to agree with him.

"Okay. May the Lord be with you."

David held his eyes, and nodded his thanks. The servants hurriedly retrieved the armor. Then all by himself, he left. He knew just what he would need for this battle.

Based on 1 Samuel 17:38-39

Did you ever read this story in a children's book, or maybe you saw a cartoon, like Veggie Tales. They all depicted David the same way. A young kid, in armor much to big for him. Poor guy is falling over from the weight of it all, and can't even move.

That is how we are when we try to fight battles with anything other then God and His weapons. Seem ridiculous? Well, it's true.

"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as sores for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints." Ephesians 6:13-18

I hate to break it to you, but if you try to shield or defend yourself with anything not included in this list of God's armor, then you cannot defend yourself. How can you take a swing at the enemy if you are using some other guy's words instead of God's Holy Word? It's like poking a crocodile with a toothpick. How can someone spread the Gospel, if they aren't spreading The Gospel? Or how can you dodge the devil's attacks if you are using a weak shield built from trust in you, and only you?

You can't. Those things are not your armor. In fact, they are the camouflaged traps of the devil. Only your God-given armor can do the trick.

"For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds." 2 Corinthians 10:4

The weapons God has given us, individual and as a unit, are what will win the battle.

Which brings me to my next point.

David couldn't fight in that armor, because it wasn't his. He had never tried to fight in that armor. He had never tested it.

We need to be using our armor and weapons. We need to spend time in the Word, looking for battle cries and verses to help us stay strong. We need to use them to deflect the enemy's advances. We need to share the Gospel. We need to walk in love, truth, prayer, and in the Spirit of God. If we don't practice these things, then we will never be prepared for any battle.

I think David said it best in Psalm 144:1-2, "Blessed by the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me." God has given us the armor. It is the only armor that will pass the test. Now we got to use it.

V. Joy Palmer

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Facing the Giant, Part 4

"We need you to come with us."

David looked away from the group of men he was talking to, and in the direction of the voice. Two high ranking solders stood, ready and waiting to take him. From the looks of their armor and weapons, by force if necessary.

Without further hesitation, David went with the men. After walking several minutes in silence, he saw that they were taking him to the king's tent.

Apparently, he was in bigger trouble then he realized.

One soldier held the tent flap open, allowing the other soldier, David, and then himself to duck into the tent. The King was leaning over a table, looking at some maps with another solder. Upon their entrance, the King looked up and studied him.

"So this is the boy who is badgering the men about fighting Goliath." He smirked slightly, and sat down in an ornate wooden chair next to the table.

He wasn't badgering anyone, and he would make sure the King knew that. Even if he was the only man in this camp, he believed God would help a single man defeat Goliath. "Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine."

King Saul laughed at him, but David didn't budged. His stance with firm. Slowly King Saul stopped laughing. He shot out of his chair. "Surely you can't be serious! You will not be able to fight this Philistine. You're just a kid. What do you know about battle? You have your whole life ahead of you. The Philistine has been a warrior since he was a kid, that was his life."

David felt the words like a harpoon to his heart, but he would not budge. Something in his spirit man was leading him to do this. Kid or not, Yahweh would be with him. "Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. Whenever a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went after the beast. I would strike them down, and deliver the lamb from its mouth. If the beast got up and came after me, I caught him by his beard, struck him, and killed him. I, your servant, have killed several lions and bears. This uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God." David took a deep breath. The small audience in the tent listened to him with rapt attention. "The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."

King Saul studied him intensely. David held his graze. He wasn't sure if that was the proper thing to do with the King, but he would not back down. The King looked at the commander he had been talking to previously. The commander shrugged, and King Saul took a few steps to stand directly in front of David. Putting his hand on David's shoulder, he said, "Go, and the Lord be with you!"

Based on 1 Samuel 17:31-37

I have related to David so well here! If God has given you a call, a job to do, then who cares if you are young or old?

Don't you just love David's heart here? His stand of faith? Here he is before the king of Israel, and he won't back down! He was the man for the job. He didn't care that he was young.

In 1 Samuel 16 when David was anointed king, Samuel went through a similar learning experience. Samuel saw all seven of David's older brothers, but God didn't want them to be king. After seeing seemingly perfect Eliab, God told Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."

Saul looked at David's outward appearance. A handsome young man with ruby red checks, movie star hair, and bright eyes. He didn't see what God saw, which was a warrior, a leader, the future king of Israel, a man after His own heart. Most importantly, a man who believed and was willing to serve.

"Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, on faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was give you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress." 1 Timothy 4:11-15

This was a letter that Paul wrote to his young friend, Timothy, whom God had chosen to lead a church. Though these words were originally spoken to Timothy, they are also spoken to us. Do not let anyone despise you for youth, old age, or anywhere in between. Be an example to the Saul's in the world, and don't ever let your heart harden to the point of looking at another believer, and despising them for their youth, old age, lack of education, or background. Do not neglect the gifts God has given you. Practice them. Trust God.

Nobody is too young to have lions and bears in their lives, and nobody is too young to take on a giant. Not as long as God goes before him or her.

V. Joy Palmer

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

"How Great Is Our God!"

O God, You have taught me from my youth; And to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grey headed, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come. Psalm 71:17-18
I must admit when I read this verse this morning I didn't realize that I would be sharing with you about it today. I had a different idea of what that was going to be! As the Holy Spirit brought it to my mind a number of times today I realized something. These verses speak perfectly my hearts desire, right here, now, in this day, in this hour. In Psalm 20:4 it says ..."May He grant you according to your heart's desire, And fulfill all your purpose." What an amazing verse to pray over someone. Just so you know its my prayer for you! The thing that He showed me is that He is doing just that in my life!

He has been teaching me since my youth and to this day I am still declaring His incredible, awesome, amazing, wondrous works every chance I get! There is nothing I love more than talking about the time He walked on water! Or how about another all time favorite of mine; the time He told the leper that he was willing and reached out to touch him as He healed him. How thrilling is it to tell a group of young people about the stands that Joshua, David, Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael lived to tell about because our amazing God was on their side! I love sharing every little nugget that He uncovers for me in His word with anyone who will listen. I especially love sharing about the time He heaped the waters, multiplied the bread and fish, or made the sun and moon stand still! I love most of all to tell about the cross and all that it entails! In case you didn't notice... there is nothing about Him, what He has done and what He will do that doesn't inspire me to tell somebody, anybody because that is my hearts desire. That is my declare His strength and power to this generation and the generations to come! 

As the Holy Spirit was showing me my hearts desire through these verses He also reminded me of a couple of other people that He gave the desire of their heart to. Read Luke 2:25-38. ...And behold there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel." ....... Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this women was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Both of these grey-headed people were faithful to God! Both had a hearts desire and a purpose to see and to serve the Lord. God honored both their desire to see Him as well as allowing them to fulfill their purpose and to have the opportunity to declare of Him. Simeon through His Blessing as He lifted Jesus up and through the word He spoke to Mary. Anna, despite her great age was given the opportunity to see Him and then to tell of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

"Young or old, if we will allow Him to be our hearts desire than we have a purpose as well. Our purpose is to declare Him and all that He is and all that He does to this generation as well as the generations to come!"

Take today and declare to someone, anyone ... How Great Is Our God!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Facing the Giant, Part 3

Eliab stood alongside his brothers, trying to ignore the same threat he had heard day in and day out, for forty days.

Ever since the first day, men had been trying to abandon the army. Some had even succeeded, but now the penalty for deserting was worse then listening to Goliath's speech. Eliab and his brothers didn't go to the front lines to hear the daily challenge. Very few Israelites did anymore. Most of them stood just outside their tents and watched the giant, themselves included. Some men hid in their tents, but at least the desertions had decreased.

Eliab stood close to the tent. For some reason, the flimsy fabric offered comfort, like it could be a refuge from anything outside.

Thump, thump, thump. The sound of someone running. Eliab turned, prepared to chase down a deserter, and froze.

David! David's here?

David ran up to him, and Eliab caught him, slowing him down. "Did you hear that?"

Not even a hello. "What?"

"That foolish, uncircumcised Philistine. How dare he defy the armies of God!"

Ah, yes. My kid brother wants to see a fight. He sighed. For a moment he had been so happy to see his brother.... "He's done the same speech twice a day, for forty days. I could probably quote it by memory now."

David's brow furrowed. He dropped the satchels down, not even bothering to tell them what was inside, or why he was here. After realizing David was here, Eliab's two other brothers talked with David happily.

More of the camp was active now. Goliath had left the valley, his morning challenge complete, and the Israelite men felt free to move again without feeling like the eyes of Goliath watched them clearly from so far away.

Suddenly, David's arm shot out to a soldier passing by them. "Who was that speaking in the valley?"

The soldier looked surprised, but answered anyways. "He has come to defy Israel. The king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches, will give him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel."

David bobbled his dark head, and the soldier moved on, but David stopped another man. "What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"

The man answered the same way as the first, but Eliab couldn't hear them speaking anymore. He was furious with David. He wants to fight! He wants to be apart of the action! Poking at all of these men because no one has been brave enough to fight him. Well, I won't let him. He is my kid brother, and I will not stand for this.

He roared at his younger brother. "Why did you come here, David? Who is taking care of the sheep? They were your responsibility, but instead, you've come gallivanting to the battle field to see a battle. Presumptuous and evil motives. You have been here five minutes, yet you think you can fight the giant? Don't be badgering the men who have been here serving in Yahweh's army! Go home. You will not watch this battle." He huffed in and out, until his heart rate evened out some.

David glared at him. "What have I done now? It was just a question." He kicked one of the satchels to Eliab. "Father sent me to bring these for you, as well as a gift for your commander." Then turning away from Eliab, David stopped another man passing by, and asked him the same question as earlier.

Eliab was no less satisfied with David's reason for being here. The boy wanted in on the action, and wouldn't stop until he saw some.

Based on 1 Samuel 17:21-30

Whenever I've read this chapter as a whole, it's always bothered me that Eliab was so mean to David. It always made me feel like who is really the one being presumptuous? David was sent here on purpose. He didn't just come for no reason.

I also think it irritated him that David was basically asking why no one had bothered to destroy this giant who was cursing their God? Why were they standing for it? I think it struck a nerve with Eliab.

We can learn from Eliab's response. Do we ever respond this way? Have you ever gone to a friend, someone who is a really strong believer in Jesus, with a problem you are having. The two of you sit at the kitchen table, and you pour your heart out all over the place. The problem, how you feel about it, and how you just don't know what to do. You stop, sniffle, and wait for their response. Then all they say is, "Trust God! I will be praying for you!" They give you a verse, hug, and prayer, but inside you aren't satisfied. Actually, your furious! After all that, the best they can do is give you a dry response?

Eliab saw this huge problem! David had been there for ten seconds, but his heart response was, "Yup, God's the answer!"

Are we like David, or are we like Eliab? Do we just trust God because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter how big the giant, God is capable of bringing him down one way or another? Or do we presume the person's motives are evil? Do we lash out at them because our own faith in God wasn't strong enough to face the giant?

"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." 1 Timothy 6:12

Have you made Jesus your Lord and Savior? Have you put your faith in Him? Do you believe all that He can do all that He says He can do? Or do you just say it? If you confess with your lips, then believe with your heart.

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Do you believe that God is capable of taking down the giants? Or do you get upset with the people who do? I want to learn from Eliab. I want to learn to watch my heart, and believe what I confess. And that's that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

V. Joy Palmer

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