IS YOUR LOVE ALIVE?

IS YOUR LOVE ALIVE?
by David Wilkerson

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If you can go about your daily life facing all sorts of interruptions and
demands, and yet not spend ten minutes in God’s presence, your love is dying.

Think about it: If you love someone exclusively above all others, you will make
that person feel he is the most important being on earth. Everything else will
pale in comparison to him.

Is this not how you first loved your spouse when you were courting? If she
called while you were busy, you dropped everything just to talk to her. If
anyone intruded on your time alone together, you resented it. Everything else
took second place in your efforts to develop the love between you.

Many Christians today go for weeks, even months, without spending quality time
with Jesus. How can they love Jesus with a whole heart when they neglect Him
for days on end?

In Song of Solomon, the bride could not sleep because her beloved “. . . had
withdrawn himself . . .” (Song of Solomon 5:6). This woman arose in the middle
of the night, saying, “My soul failed . . . I sought him, but I could not find
him; I called him, but he gave me no answer” (same verse). So she quickly ran
into the streets, looking everywhere for her lover, crying out, “Have you seen
my beloved?”

Why was this such a serious matter to her? Because, as she said, “This is my
beloved, and this is my friend” (verse 16). “I am sick of love [faint with
desire for him]” (verse 8). She could not be without her beloved.

How does Jesus feel when He spreads the table and anxiously awaits our company,
yet we never show up? The Bible calls us His bride, His beloved, His one great
love. It says we were created for fellowship with Him. So, what kind of
rejection must He feel when we continually put others before Him?

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WHAT HOLDS YOUR HEART?

WHAT HOLDS YOUR HEART?
by David Wilkerson

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What holds your heart right now? Does your soul yearn for Jesus, or for the
things of this world?

A woman on our mailing list wrote this distressing note: “My husband was once
on fire for God. For years he gave himself faithfully to the Lord’s work but
today he’s all wrapped up in a new pursuit. He no longer has any time for the
Lord. I worry for him, because he’s grown so cold.”

Jesus told a parable about this very kind of legitimate pursuit. A wealthy man
sent his servant to invite all his friends to a great feast he was holding.
But, Scripture says, the man’s friends “all with one consent began to make
excuse” (Luke 14:18).

One friend told the servant, “I just bought a piece of land, sight unseen, and
I have to inspect it. Please tell your master I won’t be able to come.” The
next friend told the servant, “I just bought a yoke of oxen and I haven’t had
time to test them. Tell your master I can’t come, because I have to go into the
field to plow with them.” Yet another friend told the servant, “I just got
married and I’m about to take my honeymoon. I don’t have time to come to the
feast.”

This man had invited all his friends to enjoy an intimate time of fellowship
with him. He had made all the arrangements for their comfort and convenience.
The table had been set and everything had been prepared, but no one came.
Everyone was simply too busy or preoccupied.

Each person had a good, legitimate reason for not coming. After all, they were
not avoiding their friend so that they could go partying or bar-hopping. On the
contrary, the Bible commends everything these people were doing: Buying and
selling can provide security for one’s family, and testing a major purchase is
a sound business practice. Finally, marriage is a blessing that the Scriptures
encourage.

Yet, how did this wealthy man react? Scripture says, “The lord said unto the
servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that
my house may be filled. For I say unto you, that none of those men which were
bidden shall taste of my supper” (verses 23-24).

Jesus makes a very clear point in this parable: Each of these good, legitimate
things becomes sinful when it takes priority over the Lord.

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Happy Hanukkah – Starting Saturday Night 12-8-2012

Hanukkah1

 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”

Renewed Efforts to Stone Jesus

 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”

 The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’?  If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believethat the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.

John 10:22-39

BACK TO YOUR FIRST LOVE

BACK TO YOUR FIRST LOVE
by David Wilkerson
[May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011]

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“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first
love” (Revelation 2:4).

I believe this warning to the Ephesian church is intended for every Christian
living in these last days. Simply put, the Lord is telling us, “It’s not enough
for you to be a caring, giving, diligent servant who grieves over sin and
preaches truth. It’s not enough for you to uphold moral standards, endure
suffering for My sake, or even be burned at the stake for your faith. This is
all part of taking up My cross.

“You can do all these things in My name, but if your affection for Me does not
increase in the process of doing them, if I am not becoming more and more the
one great delight of your heart, then you have left your first love. If your
affection for Me is no longer a matter of great concern to you, then I have
something against you.”

Consider David’s words: “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon
earth that I desire beside thee” (Psalm 73:25). These are strong words, yet
David is not saying, “I don’t have human love.” Rather, he is saying, “There is
no one I love exclusively in my heart as I love my Lord. I desire Him above all
others.”

David also writes, “O God . . . my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth
for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (63:1). “As the hart
[deer] panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My
soul thirsteth for God, for the living God” (42:1-2).

David says, “I thirst deeply for the Lord, the way a deer thirsts after it has
been chased. A deer will go past the point of exhaustion to find the water it
seeks.”

Likewise, Jesus is telling the Ephesian Christians, “You no longer seek Me as
the deer seeks. I am no longer the chief object of your desire. You may be
willing to do things for Me, but I’m not at the center of your heart anymore!”

Go back to your first love today. Ask Jesus for grace and strength to begin
again to guard your affection for Him!

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BARNABAS, SON OF ENCOURAGEMENT

BARNABAS, SON OF ENCOURAGEMENT
by Gary Wilkerson



I have a lot of respect for Barnabas, a gentle, loving man whose name meant
encouragement. Barnabas had been traveling with Paul evangelizing and planting
churches, but a conflict arose. We read in Acts 15:36-41 that Paul and Barnabas
stopped working together over a young man named John Mark.

Paul felt that John Mark had hurt their ministry by unexpectedly departing and
leaving them short-handed. Barnabas wanted to be kind to John Mark and give him
another chance, but Paul said no.

Barnabas was a man of a different spirit. When the whole world was willing to
reject somebody who seemed like a failure, he did not react in that way.
Barnabas stood up to Paul and said, “I’m not going to reject that young
man.” That is boldness — that’s a different spirit!

When Saul was pouring out accusations against the church, imprisoning
Christ’s followers and putting them to death, who went to him? And when Saul
had an experience from heaven (Acts 9), who went to him? It was Barnabas, the
Son of Encouragement. Barnabas had the boldness in his heart and the different
spirit inside him to say, “I don’t care if this is a false rumor, it is
worth the risk to see if Saul really got saved.”

Barnabas is an example of a man of a different spirit. This spirit has nothing
to do with whether you are a Type A personality. You can be a quiet person,
mellow and calm, and still have what Barnabas had. And most of  all, you can
have what Jesus had.

It does not matter if you are young or old, male or female, for God is no
respecter of persons. The Holy Spirit is longing to fall upon you. You may be
reading this today and inside you are saying, “What are you talking about,
having a different spirit? My spirit is a spirit of alcohol or drugs; my spirit
is a spirit of desperation. I’m lost!”

You know what? God has His eyes on you. God has ordained that you read this
because He is calling on you to rise up and be a person of a different spirit.
Not the spirit of this world, not the spirit of sin, not the spirit of
alcoholism or drugs, but the spirit of God. The spirit of Christ, the Son of
God, can transform your life and make you into a person of a different spirit.

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A Salute to those Who Saw Victory – Vayeshev “And he dwelt”

Vayeshev “And he dwelt”

Genesis 37:1-40:23

Amos 2:6-3:8

Acts 7:9-16, Hebrews 11

A Salute to those Who Saw Victory

A few weeks ago Americans observed a day known as Veterans Day. On this day we honor the men and women who have given of their service and even their lives to fight for both this country, and for the cause of freedom overseas. Many of these men and women in recent years had their lives changed forever when they came home, not to crowds of admirers who stood with appreciation for a job well done, but rather crowds of people who spit upon them, yelled obscenities at them and held signs of hate and slander.

What does the above paragraph have to do with this week’s or for that matter any week’s Torah portion? I believe it has everything to do with it.

In a few days we will observe the Feast of Hanukkah. To me, Hanukkah and Veterans Day go hand in hand. The similarities are amazing.

In the Torah as well as the balance of scripture we read about men and women who went forth and performed deeds far beyond their natural abilities. Some of them even gave their very lives for the causes they fought for. Like Joseph this week, many of them were known to their families as heretics or worse. But no matter what life would throw at them, they held fast to the course they felt God had called them to. In the end, some would see the rewards of their labors. However for many it would not be until after their deaths that their work would be appreciated and honored. Just think back to the prophets for a moment as an example of this. Even today, some who gave their all have not been fully honored. Consider One we know as Messiah, or even the disciples who followed Him. Consider the people of Hebrews 11.

Just as many veterans returned to America to unfriendly and down-right mean crowds, most of Christianity has repeated history regarding the men and women of faith who lived before the time of Yeshua. Yes, they may be used for a Bible story now and then, but have these people truly been honored as they should? I think not. I have even heard people say that though these people lived a life of faith, because they did not live to know who Yeshua was that they are forever separated from God and will burn in torment. I have heard some who thought that Joseph was not living by faith when he stored the grain, but was missing God by doing this. Of course you and I are appalled by thoughts like this, but nevertheless there are people who think this way.

I, for one believe it is time for these great people of scripture to be honored for the battles they fought and won so that we today may enjoy a freedom in Messiah unparalleled through the centuries.

As we look at Hanukkah this year, let us take our eyes off replacement commercialization that has been attached to this time. Let us not be so caught up in the lights, oil and food that we forget the reason for this season. Let us take time to talk about and teach our children about the great men and women who have gone before us. Let us remember that it is because of their lives and sacrifices that we have the scripture today. Let us remember that if it were not for a band of brothers called the Maccabees that there would not have been a Jewish virgin alive in a small town called Nazareth to give birth to the One we call upon for our redemption.

December is a month of challenges to many of us who follow the Torah. It is a month that we are called to make choices and to take a stand for truth. Maybe with Hanukkah being observed at the first of the month, far separate from other holidays with pagan roots it will give us a clear time to reflect on the price many have paid for truth in the past. We will be able to gain strength and renewed conviction from their lives. In the end, who knows, maybe many of us will one day join their ranks as the people who took a chance at being a heretic, so they could one day be an humble hero!

Have a blessed Hanukkah.

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Berkeley students seek Christmas ban on Salvation Army bell ringers

The student government at the University of California-Berkeley (CAL) passed a resolution last month that would ban Salvation Army bell ringers and their iconic red kettles from campus this Christmas because of the Christian organization’s alleged bias against homosexuality.

The resolution, cleared on November 14, accuses the charity of openly discriminating against gay individuals.

“Salvation Army church services, including charity services, are available only to people ‘who accept and abide by the Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline,’ which excludes homosexuality,” reads the bill, SB 176.

In the resolution, the student body also demands school administrators revoke the Salvation Army’s permit, which currently allows them to collect donations on the Berkeley campus.

“Allowing the Salvation Army to collect donations on campus is a form of financial assistance that empowers the organization to spend the money it raises here in order to discriminate and advocate discrimination against queer people,” it adds.

In a statement to Campus Reform, the Salvation Army adamantly denied these charges, saying the allegations are based solely on “internet rumors.”

“The notion that we require those we help to ‘accept and abide by the Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline which excludes homosexuality’ to receive assistance is totally false,” wrote Kathy Lovin, a spokeswoman for the Salvation Army.

She added that “the only requirement for service from The Salvation Army is demonstrated need and our ability to meet it.”

According to the bill, the student government also wants to formally express “disapproval of the presence of Salvation Army donation containers on campus” because “queer students…may take offense to the presence of collection containers operated by a discriminator religious organization in their places of living.”

A CAL spokesperson told Campus Reform that school officials are reviewing the matter, but declined to state whether the charity would be banned from campus.

The bill was authored by an openly gay student, Matthew Enger. He could not be reached for comment by Campus Reform.

On his public twitter account, however, he has hurled similar attacks at other organizations for supporting traditional marriage, writing that the Boy Scouts “can go f**k themselves” for refusing to admit homosexuals into their organization.

Enger has also used the popular social media platform to profess that he “hates the Republican Party,” later adding he hopes all conservatives leave the country.

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Church Calls Off ‘Charlie Brown’ Christmas Show Amid Controversy

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A church caught at the center of a controversy regarding a school trip to see their production of “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” has decided to cancel the show.

The Agape Church in Little Rock, which had initially intended to present the show to school children on Dec. 14, released a statement to KATV regarding their decision, signed by Pastor Happy Caldwell.

“[B]ecause of what this issue has become, as a church, it is not our desire to put hard-working, sacrificial teachers and cast members in harm’s way,” the release stated.

Instead of matinees for school children, a public performance will be offered at the church on Dec. 15.

The trouble reportedly stemmed from an invitation to first and second grade students at Terry Elementary School to see the Christmas production.

“Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” is the stage adaptation of the classic 1965 Peanuts cartoon, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The source material includes a retelling of the Nativity story from the Gospel of Luke, which is told by the character Linus in an iconic scene from the movie.

A parent who felt the trip was inappropriate reached out to the ASF to voice her concern with the show’s religious connotations, which reportedly differed from her own, the station learned.

From there, a campaign was launched to cancel the class trip.

“We’re not waging a war,” LeeWood Thomas, a spokesman for the group, told KATV. “We’re basically calling a foul against the separation of church and state.”

The organization took offense to both a planned field trip to a church with religious affiliation, and to a school-sanctioned presentation of religious material, the station additionally reported.

Representatives of the Little Rock School District had planned to go ahead with the trip before news of the show’s cancellation broke.

“The teachers wanted to provide a cultural opportunity through a holiday production and are supported by the superintendent and the principal,” said school district spokesperson Pamela Smith was quoted as saying to KATV. “The school district does not support or promote religious affiliations.”

In their release regarding the termination of the Friday showing, the church thanked the school for its intentions.

“In the wake of some controversy over our Christmas production offered to schools, Agape Church wishes to salute the courageous stand that the Terry Elementary Principal made in not succumbing to the pressure of one complaint voiced to the Arkansas Society of Free Thinkers and media,” Caldwell said in the release, according to the station. ”We applaud the support that the Little Rock School District has shown … and agree with their position that attending the matinees was not a constitutional issue.”

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Vatican hails U.N. Palestine vote, wants guarantees for Jerusalem

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The Vatican hailed the United Nations’ implicit recognition of aPalestinian state on Thursday and called for an internationally guaranteed special status forJerusalem, something bound to irritate Israel.

The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s observer status at the United Nations from “entity” to “non-member state,” the same status as the Vatican.

“The Holy See welcomes with favor the decision of the General Assembly by which Palestine has become a Non-member Observer State of the United Nations,” a statement said.

But it also said it was a “propitious occasion” to recall a “common position” on Jerusalem expressed by the Vatican and the Palestine Liberation Organisation when the two sides signed a basic agreement on their bilateral relations in 2000.

Thursday’s statement called for “an internationally guaranteed special statute” for Jerusalem, aimed at “safeguarding the freedom of religion and of conscience, the identity and sacred character of Jerusalem as a Holy City, (and) respect for, and freedom of, access to its holy places.”

The Vatican’s re-stating of its position on Jerusalem, which has remained mostly dormant for years, was bound to irk Israel, which says there is no need for an international status for Jerusalem because those guarantees already exist.

Israel declared Jerusalem its “united and eternal” capital in 1980 after annexing East Jerusalem in the Six Day War in 1967. World powers have not recognized the annexation.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of an eventual state.

Israel has always resisted the concept of any form of international mandate over Jerusalem.

It has been some time since the Vatican re-stated its position on the city so forcefully, and Thursday’s statement was bound to be received negatively by Israel, a diplomat with direct knowledge of their relations said.

Israel has always maintained that it already guarantees the city’s special nature as sacred to the three great monotheistic religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Thursday’s statement called on both sides to seek an “effective commitment to building peace and stability, in justice and in the respect for legitimate aspirations, both of the Israelis and of the Palestinians.”

The Vatican and Israel established full diplomatic relations in 1994. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict visited the Jewish state and Palestinian territories.

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School Replaces Baby Jesus with Frosty the Snowman

Mamager Scene

Frosty the Snowman is there — and so is Santa Claus.

But the Baby Jesus is stuffed inside a closet at Cottondale Elementary School — leaving many residents of this small town in the Florida panhandle outraged.

The Nativity scene had been a part of the school’s holiday lawn decorations for years. But this year the yuletide display is strictly secular.

Principal Brenda Jones told television station WJHG the decision to keep Baby Jesus in the closet came after an official with the Dept. of Education dropped by to discuss the separation of church and state.

“The Dept. of Education came in and talked to us about the legalities of religion in the school systems and the separation of the two,” Jones told the television station.

In an attempt to be fair to everyone, the principal said, “We decided that we would just not put the Nativity scene out on campus.”

The decision has sparked controversy among the 869 residents who live in this gulf coast community.

Officials with the Jackson County School Board did not return calls seeking comment.

But former board member Betty Duffee told the Jackson County Floridan that she believes the principal had no choice.

“There are people in the community that are threatening to sue the school board (over separation of church and state issues), and it costs a tremendous amount of money to defend something you know you will lose,” she said.

“It’s not that we’re against it; it’s just that the federal law prohibits it,” she said.

Duffee told the newspaper that the decision not to display the Nativity is a “tragic thing.”

“I know it’s hard to see this happen, because it feels like we’re losing a freedom, but this is the state of affairs in this nation,” she said.

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