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Moment in the Word

Moment In The Word

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By Larry H. Campbell

BIBLE MEDITATION: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT: What is your greatest fear for the approaching days? Do you fear failure, defeat, sickness or loss? Depending on the person, the future brings with it the propensity for fear and caution. Fear is regular with most of us. We wrestled with fear when we were children. Then it was fear of darkness and monsters like the Boogie Mann. When we were teens, we were no longer afraid of the Boogie Man but we were afraid of being rejected by our friends or being the object of jokes. We also feared any kind of humiliation and we were plagued by the question, What if I mess up? When we reached adulthood, our fears grew up too. Our Boogie Man has become the fear of disease, death, financial problems and other storms.

What does it mean to have No fear? It means the elimination of general anxiousness and specific apprehensions. In Hebrew the word for fear used in Psalm 27:1 is Ary which means to stand in awe of something. In The New Testament the word for fear is Phobia which is the fear of a specific thing. The person who stands in awe of another force is defeated before they began. That’s why boxers stare down their opponents at the center of the ring to make them stand in awe of them. 

A person who is generally fearless can suddenly become fearful in a Phobic situation. There are over 700 kinds of phobias: Acrophobia, the fear of high places; Claustrophobia, the fear of tight close places; Agoraphobia, the fear of open places, Ergophobia, the fear of work; Phobophobia, the fear of fear itself. These are the kinds of fears that can reveal a woman strong enough to fight off a male attacker, but will run and stand on top of a table at the sight of a mouse. It’s the fear that makes a man laugh at the face of danger but whimper when he sees a spider because he has a fear of spiders.

ACTION POINT: If you are to succeed in life, you must learn to face your fears. Many are afraid that they will fail and become the object of ridicule of their friends. We are afraid that we may make a mistake. So that business never gets started. That expansion never happens; that relationship never begins; or never ends the way we know it should. Because we are afraid, we often missed opportunities God presents to us. Yet, when we are engaging in a godly opportunity we have the assurance that he will be with us. Isaiah 41:10 puts it this way, Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Fears hold us back and stands in the way of what God has in store for us. Yet we should hear the words the angels told Zacharias, Fear not. We should hear the words told to the women at the tomb, Fear not. We should hear what was told Joshua at the Jordan, Fear Not.   As Christians, we should sing the words of David with great joy, The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?

Moment In The Word

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By Pastor Larry T. Campbell

BIBLE MEDITATION: "For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles-when we walked in licentiousness, lust, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you" (I Peter 4:3-4, NKJV).

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT: Do critics call you stubborn? Dogmatic? Hopelessly old-fashioned? Do you feel yourself growing more and more distant from the world's lifestyles and belief systems? Are you made to feel guilt or even shame when you express your ideas about what is going on in the world? Perhaps, you are discovering modern society’s rising disdain for convictions.

The world is having an increasingly difficult time dealing with men and women of conviction. They don't know what to do with them. They do not seem to belong anymore. As change streaks through our society at warp speed, those who refuse to buckle up pay dearly for their inflexibility. Society reserves its understanding and compassion only for those who change. Those who do not or will not change are held in contempt.

The litany of things that were once opposed with strong convictions by the majority of people, but now are generally accepted, is long and growing. Abortion, unwed motherhood, living together without marriage, homosexuality, homosexual adoptions, and euthanasia appear on a short list. To this list we could add nudity, vulgar behavior, profane language, bizarre fashions, and sexual promiscuity. These have all now become commonplace because convictions against them have wilted under the heat of the issues.

Why? There are at least two possible answers. One possible answer is that the changed views toward these issues have triumphed because they are inherently right; a second possible answer is that the new views have benefited from the unwillingness of people to hold convictions and risk being branded as pig-headed or intolerant. The second answer is more likely: people have become conditioned to lay aside their convictions simply because their views are old-fashioned and therefore rejected by the majority. It's not what you believe, but how strongly you believe it that draws the attention of the world around you.

Society now brands convictions as a form of intolerance. Dr. Paul Kienel, past president of the Association of Christian Schools International, writes about the new thinking in secular educational circles. He says that tolerance itself has come under scrutiny. Tolerance that says "I disagree with you but I still love you, and will try to get along with you" is no longer acceptable. This is seen as negative tolerance. Political correctness now demands positive tolerance that says "I agree that your viewpoint is right for you and I support your desire to hold that view." One spokesperson for this opinion said, "The only thing we will not tolerate is intolerance." ACTION POINT: How long has it been since you read the words of the apostle Peter? He said, "For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles-when we walked in licentiousness, lust, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you" (I Peter 4:3-4, NKJV). Again, he wrote, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name" (I Peter 4:12-16, NIV). The suffering Peter referred to may not have been physical only but also emotional and psychological. I’m reminded of Rick Warren’s distinction between an opinion and conviction, “An opinion is something you hold; a conviction is something that holds you. An opinion is something you’ll argue about. A conviction is something you will suffer for and, if necessary, die for.

As Christians, we must pay the price to reside at truth's address. Our convictions rest firmly upon the foundation of the Word of God. The increasing pressure to change must serve only to reinforce our commitment. If we suffer for the name of Jesus, let it not be our veil of shame but our badge of honor.

Moment in the Word

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By Pastor Larry Campbell

BIBLE MEDITATION: “When they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.” (Mark 4:34 NKJV)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT: “A recent survey confirms what most of us suspect: stress is increasing as work encroaches more and more on our personal time. The electronic age hasn't slowed the onslaught of mail, memos, books and periodicals we must read just to keep up. A PR consultant who fields 400 emails, 100 phone calls and 20 text messages every day says, 'I used to stop working when it got too late to make calls. Now I'm never finished.' Now she lives in the country behind a mountain because there's no phone signal there, and if they ever erect a mobile phone transmitter mast she says she'll move!

It's critical to schedule one-on-one time with God, otherwise it won't happen. Mark says, 'When they were alone, [Jesus] explained all things to His disciples.' There are things the Lord will reveal to you only when you '… Meditate within your heart… and be still' (Psalm 4:4 NKJV). In High Call, High Privilege Gail MacDonald writes: 'The ancient Desert Fathers used to commit themselves to a disciplinary creed: silence, solitude and inner peace. Only after adequate amounts of time listening, did they consider themselves ready to speak…’

Among many Christian[s] today there's a strange… logic [suggesting] that spiritual resource and renewal are found in constantly seeking new voices, attending more meetings, listening to incessant music, and gathering to exchange half-thought-out opinions. How often do we fall into the trap of believing that God is most pleased when we've maximized our information, our schedules, and our relationships? Disengagement means silence before God… a time of heavenly discussion during which we listen more than we speak. And silence demands solitude.' Bottom line: You need one-on-one time with God!” (Bob Gass)

ACTION POINT: When was the last time you spent some real quality one-on-one time with God? We have spent enough time doing the things of the world; our quality time has been spent elsewhere in the past. We have to make a conscientious effort to spend time with the Lord! I cannot make the emphasis on this any harder. As people in the church, as people seeking a way out of our past way of living, as people who are disturbed by what is happening in the world today, as people who have been faithful to Christ for as long as they can remember, the answer to what troubles you is Quality Time spent with God.

Moment In The Word

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By Larry E Campbell

BIBLE MEDITATION: “Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine." 1 Samuel 17:40 (NKJV)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT: Have you ever faced a giant? This text focuses on the shepherd boy David as he rose to fight the giant named Goliath, using nothing but a slingshot and five smooth stones.  Israel under King Saul constantly faced the challenge to their presence by Philistines, who were natives of Canaan.  The text reveals a forty day standoff between the armies of the two countries. The Philistines offered to settle the difference by a duel of the champions. In a duel of the champions, each country would send its greatest fighter in a one on one contest, fighting for victory for his country. This method would save needless bloodshed.

A challenge had been issued to Israel by the Philistine champion, Goliath, to send their best man to fight him in a duel to the death.  The Israelites however, could not control their fears. They shook in their sandals and wondered who would be the one that would fight Goliath. King Saul, himself a great warrior, would not meet Goliath. His sons were great warriors but they would not fight either. They were all afraid of the size of Goliath. Their fears got the best of them.

However David, a little shepherd boy, took up the challenge. He refused to wear the king’s armor or to use swords and shields. He chose only to carry his shepherd’s bag and his sling shot.  Though he went forth there was certainly concern in his heart because of nature of his foe. That concern was reasonable because he faced a giant, fabled to be 13 feet tall. There was fear in his heart. He faced an opponent who wore a coat of armor that weighed 194 pounds. David was concerned but not intimidated. David secured five smooth stones from a brook, and armed his slingshot, with which he killed the mighty Goliath with a single stone.

ACTION POINT: My brothers and sisters we must remember that God is bigger than any giant we may face.  David did not hesitate to use what was available to him because he had faith in the miraculous intervention of God.  He picked up five stones from the brook, but he carried with him, outside of the sight of any man, five other stones that were more powerful than the stones from the brook.  In his heart he carried the stone of courage, faith, hope, discipline and preparation. These five gave something that was bigger than Goliath himself; it gave him confidence.  David was confident because he knew the source of his victory. He knew where his blessings came from.

Today, we must  remember where our blessings come from.  Before we burden ourselves with unnecessary worry about the giants that we face, we should remember that we serve an awesome God who reigns and can help us defeat any foe.  Believers should not worry today, because, like David, we remember what He did yesterday. Somebody remembers that when they were:      WEAK He provided them strength      DOWN He picked them up!      DEFEATED He gave them the victory      DISCOURAGED He restored their hope!      LONELY, He gave them comfort      TROUBLED He gave them peace of mind Somebody remembers how He came to a little town called Bethlehem      That He died on an old rugged cross! Somebody remembers that Early Sunday morning, He arose from the grave!      He’s still blessing us today, just like He did yesterday!   As Christians, we rejoice in the knowledge that although we may face giants in our lives, God empowers us to overcome each and every one.  Every day, we face the fearsome challenges of life with little more than a stone of hope, but God gives us faith for the fight.

In His Love & Service, Pastor Larry E. Campbell, M.A., MDiv. St. Paul A.M.E. Church, San Bernardino, CA

Moment in the Word

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BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Don’t be greedy, for... the things of this world.”  Colossians 3:5 NLT 

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
A big credit card company once had a TV commercial with the slogan, ‘You can have it all now!’ Sound familiar? Not much has changed. Satan said to Adam and Eve, ‘If you want that apple, take it.’ Leave payday till ‘some day.’ Go ahead; put it on your credit card. Better yet, get this new, low-interest card and pay nothing for one year. That’s right, no interest and no payments for one full year. If you’re an overextended family carrying a large credit card debt, don’t take the bait. It’s time for getting out of debt, not deeper into it. If you want help, try using these four Bible principles: 

1)    Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Stop craving things you don’t need. Instead, try enjoying what you’ve got. 

2)    If you’re not tithing, start now! You’ll be switching from the world’s faltering economy to God’s dependable financial system. When you tithe He promises to protect your interests and send blessings ‘there shall not be room enough to receive’ (Malachi 3:8-12). 

3)    “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1NIV) and He guarantees to “supply all your need…” (Philippians 4:19 NKJV). So before you go shopping, try praying! Ask God for what you need and then wait for Him to respond.

4)    Begin giving away some of what you’ve got. “It is possible to give away and become richer… [and] to hold on too tightly and lose everything… the liberal man shall be rich!” (Proverbs 11:24-25 TLB).  

As we approach this 2009 Holiday Season, we’ve got to be very careful not to be overcome by “Greed” and the “I Want it Now” syndrome.

In His Love & Service,

Pastor Larry E. Campbell
St. Paul A.M.E. Church, San Bernardino, CA

 

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