Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Make the Sun and Moon Stand Still

He swung his sword in a wide arc, blocking the enemy soldier's swing. He sidestepped and ducked. Then springing back up, their swords clashed again. Using the sword and his own body weight, Joshua shoved the other man onto the ground before ending the fight.

Looking away didn't bring any relief to Joshua. All he could see was more battle and more bloodshed.

And time was running out.

Already Joshua could see the golden sun starting to make its descent to meet the waiting horizon. All around him, the battle raged. They were making progress against the enemy, but they needed more time. Time that they didn't have.

If only the sun and the moon would just stop for a few hours. Just long enough for them to finish the battle. Without the sunlight, the enemy soldiers would be able to slip away one by one. Then they would rally together, and come against his people in the dark of night.

If only...

Joshua's head snapped up. He had an idea! He ran past the men all around him and bounded onto a nearby rock. Arching his back and throwing his arms out wide, he cried to the Maker of the sun and moon.

"Sun, stand sill at Gibeon, and moon, in the valley of Aijalon," Joshua screamed the words into the sky, and straight into the ears of God. All around him, men looked at him like he was completely crazy. He could see that even some of his own men doubted him.

But he believed in the power of God. In the power behind his prayer.

And that was all that really mattered.

Based on Joshua 10:12-13

"And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for you father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

'Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your Kingdom come, you will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'" Matthew 6:7-13

How does the story of Joshua praying for the sun and the moon to stand still go with some of Jesus' instructions about prayer, including how and what to pray?

Perfectly. They go together perfectly.

The only reason Joshua was able to pray that prayer was because he believed in the power of prayer. He believed that God could hear his prayer. He believed in God's ability to answer his cry for help. He didn't pray flippantly as a last resort. No, Joshua prayed believing that God would make a way.

What about us?

Jesus was trying to tell the people, especially His followers that they needed to believe in the power behind their prayers. Prayer isn't a bunch of empty phrases you mumble to yourself. Prayer isn't a long, eloquent speech. So many of my own prayers consist of, "Uh, Lord, help!" or "God, I'm giving this to you."

And do you know what happens? He takes it. He helps me.

Sometimes we are too flippant with how and what we pray. There is a huge difference between a heartfelt cry for help and some mumbled words to meet our daily quota.Think about what you pray. Prayer is powerful. Prayer has the ability to change things. God hears your prayers. He hears them. Don't pray flippantly. Pray prayers with life changing results. Pray prayers that make the sun and moon stand still!

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, September 29, 2014

"Faith, Faith, And More Faith!"

"Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!" Matthew 8:10 

But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea. And there was a great calm. Matthew 8:26

And behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you." Matthew 9:2

Then Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well." And the woman was made well from that hour. Matthew 9:22

Then He touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith let it be to you." Matthew 9:29

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" Matthew 14:31
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As I was reading and praying through Matthew this morning I noticed something about what Jesus said to people about their faith. By the time I had gotten to chapter 14 I had noticed that He used words like "great faith" in reference to the centurion soldier. He used "your faith" to the woman with the issue of blood and the blind men. 'Their faith' is referenced when He moved on behalf of the paralytic. But, and this, at least for me, is a big BUT; on two separate occasions He used the words "little faith" and on both occasions they were said to His disciples!

Jesus said, 'great faith' in reference to the guy who understood that the person with the highest rank has all the authority. He speaks and underlings jump into action! He understood that all Jesus had to do was speak and healing would obey!

He acknowledged different people's personal faith like the woman, the blind men, and the friends of the paralytic as they put action to their faith that He was the only One to meet their needs.

But, and again, I think its a big BUT, His disciples got 'little faith' because of doubt and fear.

Jesus asked the blind men something before He healed them. He asked, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" When they responded, with "Yes, Lord." He said, "According to your faith let it be to you."  It is a question that we all as believers have to answer. Do we believe that He is able?  The disciples got 'little' as the adjective to describe their faith because they allowed doubt and fear to cause them to forget what He had said would take place. Do we as His disciple believe that He is able to perform His word in our lives? Do we believe when He says, "Come," we can, even if it means we walk on water to do it.

I find the statement, "According to your faith let it be to you" to be very profound in this moment. Will He describe my faith as "Great Faith, Faith, or Little Faith." I find it interesting that in the parable of the sower He ended with, "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 4:20 The parable of the sower is about who will allow the seed, His word to have its place to grow - thirty, sixty, or a hundred fold. Faith is about believing That He Will And Can Do What He Has Said He Will! Thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold return based on the place we let His word have in our lives. Little faith, faith, and great faith all based on the place His word is given in our lives. Do we believe He is able and will do what He has promised?

In Romans 12:3 we are told that 'God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.' We all have a seed a faith, a word of promise that says He is who He says He is. If we give it good ground to grow it will produce fruit! Jesus told us that faith the size of a mustard seed, will reap  its desired result. Little faith will be enough to wake Jesus to calm the storm. Little faith will be enough to cry out to Jesus when we sink. Faith will be enough to cause us to pursue Him and to receive all our needs. Great faith will always declare Him and His word to be the one and only authority!

I don't know about you but I find it a great comfort to know that even though His disciples got "little faith" here in their time of training they gave their "seed of faith" a place to grow and therefore reaped occasions such a this, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." Acts 3:6 where they too planted faith in the hearts of men!

One other thing I noticed: Jesus always responded to any measure of faith so, isn't it a good thing that we all have a little mustard in us?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"Amazing Encounters"

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." And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Luke 2:25-33

Thank you, Lord, that the Holy Spirit continues to lead us to the most amazing encounters with the Lord Jesus Christ! Lord, continue to open the eyes of Your people to see and know the salvation that You have made possible. Thank you, Lord, that according to Your word, You made a way for me. Thank you, Lord, for our Divine encounters and Oh, Lord, that Your glory would fill the earth!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Hardship of Patience

Patience is one of the hardest things in life. Waiting, trusting in God, its hard. Faithfully waiting on the Lord? It can be the most trying time of your life.

There are times when we are called to wait on the Lord. There is nothing else to do. When it's something important, its nearly impossible to wait.

But God has promised to not forget those who wait on Him. While you are waiting, dwell on His promises!

"But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:25

"So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that He has promised." Hebrews 10:35,36

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6

"You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand." James 5:8

"And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise." Hebrews 6:15

God would not repeat this promise if He didn't know that we would struggle with this, He often uses patience as refining fire to teach us.

"And endurance produces character, and character produces hope." Romans 5:4

Wait a little more. His Promises are coming!

Sam

Friday, September 26, 2014

"The Form Of A Servant"

  Now before the passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.    ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...  So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them. John 13:1-17
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Today's message is just something that I noticed while reading John 13. In verse one it said, 'having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.' I've always read it with the idea of the end being His death or even eternity but this time through I happened to catch a phrase down at the bottom of the page in my footnotes. It said - to the end. Lit., to the fullest extent. What a thought! 'having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the fullest extent.' The fullest extent tends to suggest that that means He loves us with all the love possible. You know, "Big as the whole wide world!" or "To the moon and back!"

After making this statement it goes on to say that knowing what was ahead He got up and started washing the disciples feet. When He is all done He starts the explanation about why He washed their feet by confirming to them that He is their Lord and their teacher. By washing their feet He is fulfilling both those roles and being as He puts it, "an example, that you should do as I have done to you." He explains to them that because He is their Lord and their teacher He washed their feet to show them that He loves and serves them. He washed their feet to teach them by this example in humility and service because He is their Lord and their teacher. He demonstrates to them with this object lesson to show them that if He, their 'Lord and Teacher, has washed their feet, they also ought to wash one another's feet. For He has given them an example, that they should do as He has done to them.' And He, He loves enough to come to earth serve all humanity!  He is telling them with this hands on example, " ...that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35

He is telling them that He is their teacher, their Lord, and that this is what its all about! Loving to the fullest extent! To them at this moment it is just another lesson from their master but for Him, because He knows what Judus is about to do, what is about to take place, it is the last chance He has to show them that this is what it is all about. Loving to the fullest extent means loving enough to serve.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-8


 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Because He Loves Us

Everything was gone. All gone.

He looked out at the burning remains of his kingdom. The black clouds of billowing smoke looked strange against the cloudless blue sky. Red fires randomly dotted homes and fields, giving everything a red tint.

"I did everything right. I repented. I humbled myself before the Lord. He still abandoned me and my people," Rehoboam muttered.

He could still here Shemaiah saying, "Thus says the Lord, 'You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.'" When Shemaiah the prophet had come to him, and told him what the Lord had planned, his response had been immediate. He and the princes of Judah had humbled themselves before the Lord and declared Him righteous.

Shemaiah had come to him a few days afterwards saying that God had seen how they had humbled themselves, but basically it wasn't good enough, or something like that. God wasn't going to "destroy" them anymore, but Rehoboam and his people were still going to end of servants to Shishak. Now, Shishak and come and gone, and in his devastating wake, he had taken everything with him.

What was the point? What good had it done him? All this proved was that he had been right to begin with by turning from the stifled religion of his father and grandfather. He wouldn't trust in the God of his father, ever again.

Based on 2 Chronicles 12:1-9

"When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah; 'They have humbled themselves. I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance, and my wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless, they shall be servants to him, that they may know my service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.'"
2 Chronicles 12:7-8

Rehoboam turned from following God. Eventually, God got fed up with it, said enough is enough, and was prepared to deal with him and the nation for the ways they were sinning. God told this to a prophet, and the prophet told Rehoboam. Rehoboam honorably repented, and God saw that. However, God didn't turn aside their punishment. God decided not to make it as severe as he originally intended, but He still disciplined His people.

Because God is awesome with forgiveness and second, third, and fourth chances, sometimes it's easy to think that if we pray for forgiveness, then the bad punishment will be taken away from us. Not always the case. Now I don't know if that was actually Rehoboam's heart attitude, but based on his lack of devotion to the Lord, I decided to make this point.

"And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." Hebrews 12:5-6

"Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him."
Proverbs 13:24

God has to discipline us because He loves us. A parent has to discipline their child, or they will grow up to be terrors! God disciplines us for the same reasons. It's out of love, not vengeance or because your repentance wasn't good enough. It's not because He has abandoned you or that He hates you. You need to understand that it is purely because He loves you and wants to teach you more then this.

"For the moment all discipline seems painful, rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

Discipline is hard, but it's always meant to teach a lesson. If we learn from it rather then turning from God because of it, then we will grow in righteousness.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"Learning From Jesus"

And as He walked by the sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, "Come after Me, and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed Him. When He had gone a little further from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were in the boat mending their nets. And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with hired servants, and went after Him. Mark 1:16-20

After these things He went and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to Him, "Follow Me." And he left all, rose up and followed Him. Luke 5:27-28
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As you can tell by the picture and the scriptures above we are going to talk about that moment when we choose to "Follow Him." In the cases listed above you will see that their decision meant they left something behind in order to 'follow' Jesus.They left their nets, their Father and it says that Levi even left all to go follow Jesus. They all left their former lifestyle to go on the road and follow Jesus and to be His disciple. That means that they left behind their preconceived notions about the what their day to day life was about and took on the task of learning from Jesus. The footnote in my Bible says says that a disciple is one who is taught by another; he is a learner. So these men knew and understood that to leave it all behind meant that they were making a choice to leave what they had always known behind them in order to learn what Jesus had to teach them. Why? Because Jesus was different. In Luke 4:32 it says, "And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority.  It says that 'the common people heard Him gladly,' They were willing to leave behind what they thought they knew about God to be a disciple of Jesus because they wanted the God He represented!

You and I as believers need to make that same choice every day. We need to make choices that leave our plan behind and pursue the direction He would have us take instead. Following Him means doing what He did. Talking like He talks. Going into all the world sharing, "The kingdom of God is at hand."  In Matthew 10:1 it says that He called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease." He called them, He trained them and He equipped and sent the out in verses 7-8 of that same chapter ... "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.' His disciples followed Him to learn from Him not just so they could know it but so they could do like Him! "Come follow me," doesn't just mean come watch and listen. It means, "Come do what I do, I'll show you how!"