Friday, February 12, 2016

Annoyed. Convited. Affected.

Sunlight glinted off the golden face of the fish idol. It's lips were parted like it was angry and about to swallow it's prey.

Where did men come up with these things?

Paul felt that familiar annoyance and anger build inside him like a bubbling volcano about to explode. He was so sick of seeing this garbage, the devils handiwork overlaid with gold, silver, and jewels. He had been sick of it ever since the very first day.

He dodged a man in a robe cutting himself and proclaiming the rituals of his idol to the people. Weaving in and out of the crowd, Paul came to his spot. A grassy spot empty of all idols. He sat down on his rock and started to teach about Jesus. Teach. Preach. Reason. Sometimes argue. But the people weren't easily convinced. So many of them had spent their lives worshiping false gods, so the introduction of yet another god wasn't received as their first encounter with the One True God.

But Paul wouldn't stop. He couldn't stop. How could he ignore a city full of idols and lost souls? What kind of witness and warrior for Christ would that make him? No, he would fight. He would teach. He would reason until his last breath.

Based on Acts 17:16-17

"Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there." Acts 17:16-17

This.

THIS.

Why this? Want me to stop saying this? (Imagine me wildly pointing at this verse, too. Helps the image.) This is awesome. Paul was bothered by the city full of idols. It irritated him. It convicted him. He had to do something about it. He couldn't just ignore this city of idols.

What about us? It's so easy to just ignore all the junk going on around us. All the idols that people worship now. Only now, not everybody is bowing to a golden statue. Now we make TV, celebrities, games, books, sports, food, money, drugs, and relationships our idols.

And we just exist in that everyday. Never saying a word. Never so much as shuddering. We coexist.

God's people SHOULD be affected by false idols and whatnot in the world. Why? Because when we are affected, we do something.

I am so guilty of just looking the other way, but it's time I stopped. It's time we all stopped. We need to do something. We need to be affected.
   
"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14

V. Joy Palmer

Thursday, February 11, 2016

"What If"

   After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.
   Then  great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He preformed on those who were diseased.
   And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.
   Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.
   Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?"
   But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
   Phillip answered Him, "Two hundred scenario worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little."
   One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?"
   Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
   And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down: and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.
   So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost."
   Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world." John 6:1-14
   
Have you ever really thought about this statement before? It says that Jesus knew what He was about to do but that He asked the question of His disciple to test him. Test him how? Jesus looked, saw the need, had the solution in mind, and then still stopped to see what Philip's response to His question would be. The Real question today is, what will yours be? 

Will it be like Phillips? Is our response to a tough situation to see only the hopelessness of it all? Is it instead like Andrew's where we try to come up with a solution but immediately drop it because we know it will never be enough? "...a boy here has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?" Would it be to offer no solution at all and to remain silent likely the rest of the disciples? Would we pass the test? Would our response be the one He was hoping for?

The truth is, before His question, none of the disciples had even given any thought to the need to feed this multitude. Jesus looked up, saw them coming, and saw the need.

Jesus always sees! He sees the dilemmas we face. Will our responses pass the test? Will we respond in a way that shows we KNOW He has a plan? That we trust Him? What if the response He was looking for from His disciple was something more like "... Lord, I've seen You turn water into wine, heal the sick,  raise the dead, and cast out demons! This multitude followed us because of miracles! I know You have this covered! What do You want Me to do?"

WHAT IF as His people, who are known by His name, we were to really trust Him to have it covered? What if our first response was to declare Him Lord, and our next was to seek our place in His plan because just as in this encounter it was His plan, His power that multiplied the bread and fish but He also then gave it to the disciples to distribute!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Honeymoon Is Over

The blood trickled down his eyebrow, over his nose, and onto his lip. Jason could taste the blood.

They had been dragged out of their home, before the city officials, and now resided in jail. For how long, he didn't know. Maybe forever.

Was this supposed to happen?

It had been like he had fallen in love - like they all had fallen in love. Even more intense then when Jason had met his wife. Jason and the others in his household had fallen in love with the Creator, the Savior, the One True God. He and his family committed themselves to God.

Immediately this happened.

One question kept running through his tired, defeated mind.

Light lit the jail cells, and the city officials made their way into the dank chamber. Their stony faces asked the same question that his soul cried out.

Was He worth it?

Based on Acts 17:5-9

"But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: 'These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here,  and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.' When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil.  Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go." Acts 17:5-9

There is this infamous phrase about marriage. Perhaps you know it.

"The honeymoon is over."

It's meant to say that it's not all lovey-dovey, gooey and romantic anymore. Your spouse no longer has the ability to hang the stars in the sky. Now it's time to go through the trials, testing, and meaty stuff that make a relationship into something that will last. 

As I was reading these verses, that phrase just kept running through my mind. "The honeymoon is over." And so soon! They were immediately persecuted and put on the spot. I can't help wondering what happened to Jason and the others. Did they remain faithful to God despite the persecution?

No matter how quickly the honeymoon ends, the relationship can still stand strong if they are committed.

Millions of people choose to not let the trials turn their love for God to rubble. I choose to walk through the fire with God and come out on the other side even more committed to Him. Will we fight for our True Love, our God, our King?

The honeymoon may be over, but the relationship is just beginning.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, February 8, 2016

"Wise Counsel"

    
Psalm 1:1-3

   Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
 
   But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditated day and night.

   He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

Lord, I pray that as your people, we would always be like the tree planted by the rivers of water as we continually draw from your life giving water! Lord, that Your word would be the delight that nourishes our body, soul, and spirit as we meditate on it day and night. Lord, that it would always find a heart that is quick to heed and faithful to obey. Holy Spirit, give us ears to hear so that we might readily receive and thus produce fruit that would not only further the kingdom but cause us to prosper in the works He calls us to along the way! O Lord, that Your wise counsel would always be the only counsel we seek! Amen!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Plans

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

This verse, apart from John 3:16 and Psalm 23, was the first verse that I can remember memorizing as a kid. I remember my youth pastor drilling it into me and our youth group again and again and again, because it was so important that we remembered this verse and understood it.

It's important to remember that God thinks about us, surely more than we think about Him. I mean, we can go days without thinking of Him at all, but God, He goes beyond just thinking about us. He makes plans for our futures. He makes sure that we know this, to give us the hope that we so desperately need. It seems like such a simple concept, but it is so important that we remember it.

Because of my youth pastor, in times when darkness seems to be winning, I remember this. Times when I lose hope, times when I've been hurt, times when I lose myself, I can turn from the darkness and remember that God still, STILL has a plan for me. Despite my flaws and failings, despite the times when I walk away. He never walks away from me, and He still has plans for me even in my failures. He can lift us out of even the worst places.

See, we often get bogged down in where we are, in what we are doing, in whatever horrible thing has its sights on us. It doesn't need to be like that. He has given us a future, and we should be focused on Him, not the stuff that tears us down.

Remember this verse the next time the enemy stands against you. You have a future. You have a calling. Most importantly, you have God on your side.

Sam


"Raining Bread From Heaven"

   Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: They neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
   Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more cloth you, O you of little faith?
   Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?'' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
   For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
   But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:28-33

A few days ago I shared a message with you about 'Manna' and the need to collect a daily portion. Since then I have had a verse and especially a phrase that has been stuck with me. It is Exodus 16:4 ...Then the Lord said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I might test them, whether they will walk in my law or not" The idea that He told them what He was about to do and the fact that that thing was going to be raining  bread from heaven has been a thought that seems to hanging out in my spirit. He told them! He told them that He was about to rain bread from heaven. He told them that He was also testing them to see if they would Heed His words about this amazing event! He told them that they 'would eat meat at twilight and in the morning they would be filled with bread. And that they would know that He was the Lord their God because of it.' Exodus 16:12 He told them and they still ran around exclaiming, "What is it?" When morning came and He had truly done what He had said He would! He had told them He was paying close attention to see if they would heed His instructions. And yet some didn't! Some tried to store up extra causing a stench and worms. Some didn't and they tried to gather on the day of rest and found none available. Some didn't listen! He had laid it all out so clearly for them and yet ...

So why is His phrase, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you." Stuck in my spirit? Because ... sometimes I tend to worry about things. Sometimes I forget to keep my eyes on Him and I look at the circumstances instead. Sometimes my focus is on that last dollar in my pocket ... BUT THE TRUTH IS He laid it all out for us as well? Hasn't He, like with His promise to "rain bread from heaven" in the days of old, also promised to "add all these things" if we will but seek Him first in all these things. It's a pretty simple plan really. Look to Him and He meets our needs. Will we/will I trust Him? Will I obediently seek Him every day or will I be 'one of little faith?' Will I seek Him obediently as my provider or will I come up with my own plan like those who tried to store up extra? Will I be looking for provision in the wrong place and wrong time when He already provided what was needed like those that hadn't heeded His instruction about gathering for the day of rest?

Why is His Promise to rain bread from heaven stuck in my spirit?  Because ... the question remains ... Will I choose to trust Him to sustain me, to cloth me in His righteousness, His glory, or will I strive in my own strength? Will I trust Him to meet all my needs ... even if it means He has to rain bread from heaven? Will you?

I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:1-2

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Life for a Life

Panic gripped him. Thoughts came at him in a jumble. His knees weakened. Only a few words made sense to his shocked brain.

Earthquake.

Prisoners.

Escape.

Death.

He jumped from the bed in the side room where he had been sleeping, and ran to the cells. He skidded to a stop in the doorway. He could see his fate in the flickering torchlight. All the doors to the cells were opened.

All the prisoners had escaped.

He fell to his knees and pulled out his sword. This would mean his death. A horrible, painful death meant as punishment. Killing himself would be more merciful. Besides, he had failed. He deserved to die.

Just as he was about to plunge the sword into his heart, a voice stopped him. "Do not harm yourself. We are all here." Trembling, he stood up. Calling for help with the lights, he rushed to the voice that had stopped him.

It belonged to the men of God.

God...had saved him.

Based on Acts 16:25-34

"About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, 'Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.' And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' And they said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.' And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God." Acts 16:25-34

I just keep thinking about this jailer. He had locked Paul and Silas up, was loyal to the cause, and then all of a sudden commits his life to Jesus.

He recognized that God had saved his life, so he gave his life to God. A life for a life. It's as simple as that.

The jailer thought his life was over. He thought he was dead meat because he was sure all the prisoners had escaped. However, God kept the prisoners right there in their cells. God saved the jailer's life. So the jailer dedicated his life to God.

I know that God has saved my life. Again and again. Despite all my screw ups and selfishness. I know that Jesus gave His life for me, died for me. I owe Him everything. So I'm going to live my life for Him. Each day, each moment, each decision, I make is His.

If you recognize what God has done for you, and you want to do something about it, be like the jailer. When he thought he was about to lose his life, he really gained it.

V. Joy Palmer