Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"The Talking Donkey What If Question"

Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?" And Balaam said to the donkey, "Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!" Numbers 22:28-29
I'm here today to ask you a question. It is a "What if?" question. What if a donkey spoke to you? What would you do? How would you react? What if God were to do this incredibly amazing thing? What if He opened the mouth of a donkey, and let it to speak to you? Would it be enough to cause you to stop and pay attention to what He had to say? Balaam is so upset at what he perceived as the donkey's abuse of him that he doesn't even seem to notice that she is talking to him! Is it because, as a man of God the miraculous is normal in his life, so much so, that a talking donkey goes unnoticed? Or? Maybe? Maybe, it is just that he was so self absorbed and that he was soooooo caught up in himself, his plan, his path, that he even missed noticing the miraculous right in front of him? Obviously, I tend to think it is the latter.Why? Because of his next response!

Verse 31 ...Then the Lord opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His sword drawn in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face.  God opened his eyes so that now he was seeing the same thing the donkey had seen; The Angel of The Lord, standing in the way, sword in hand. This time his reaction wasn't to argue but to drop to the ground face first and say, "I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back." vs 34

What if? What if a donkey spoke to you? Would you notice? Would it be enough to get your attention or would it take seeing The Angel of the Lord standing in the way before you stop to ask, "Is this the way you want me to go?" The thing is, Balaam was the man of God of his day and it took a talking donkey and the Angel of the Lord with sword drawn to get his attention and his willingness to go and to speak only what God would have him speak. It took a talking donkey and the Angel of the Lord to cause the man of God to even desire to do the Lord's will and not his own.

What if? What if a talking donkey were to speak to you today? Would it be enough to get your attention? Would you recognize that God had a hand in it? Would you even notice? Balaam was the prophet of God, the man of God in his day and he was so busy with his own plan, his own agenda that he almost missed being a part of God's.

What if you and I took this account of the talking donkey and realized that God was using it to speak to us today? What if you and I were to realized from it that God will do what it takes to see His word performed in the earth. What if we learned from this account of the talking donkey to stop and ask Him every day, "Lord where would you have me to go? What would You have me to speak?" before He gets to the Angel of The Lord with Sword drawn stage in things? This is where He would have me change my question from "What If?" to "Will You?"

Will you? Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;

Will you? In all your ways acknowledge Him, so that He shall direct your paths!

Will you? Not be wise in your own eyes; but Fear the Lord and depart from evil. So that it will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.

Will you? Honor the Lord with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase; So that your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine.

Will you? My son, not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor detest His correction.

For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:5-12

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

All Along

"Hillkiah the priest has found a book, Oh my King." Shaphan held the book out tentatively to him. He had a curious look on his face, and Josiah guessed that he had already read some of the book. For it to merit that look on Saphan's face, there must be something important in it.

Josiah nodded. "Read it."

Saphan cleared his throat, and started to read the book.

Josiah heard the words being read to him. He wanted to throw up and punch the wall next to him. This wasn't some trivial book. This was The Book. This was the Book of the Law.

A law they had sorely kept.

Finally, the Book was finished. Before he could even think, he dropped to the floor and the sound of the his clothes being tore was the only sound in the chamber. He covered his face with his hands. How had he governed God's people for so long without properly following or even knowing the Law? So many things ran through his mind. He was filled with rage at himself. Remorse. Begging for mercy.

What now?

Did he continue as they had been? Now that he knew, now that they had found this treasure, how could he continue like nothing had changed? Everything had changed.

He locked eyes with Saphan. "Get Hilkiah, Ahikam, Achbor, and Asaiah. Go and inquire of the Lord for me, and for all the people, and for all of Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us." 

 Based on 2 Kings 22:8-13

I read this section of Scripture a couple weeks ago in my own daily reading. A thought immediately came to my mind, and I scribbled it in the margins of my Bible. 

What things should we have known since the beginning?

Think about that for a moment. What should we know, but don't? What things should we be doing, but don't? What facets of God should we understand, but don't?

When the Book of the Law was found, it was because Josiah had ordered repairs for the Temple of God, which had fallen into disarray in previous years due to the people and the kings of Judah not following after God. That book was lost and forgotten, but then found. And after being found and Josiah had sent out his men,  Huldah the prophetess  told Josiah's men that this was basically a turning point. Judgement would be coming for the people of Judah who had ignored God for so long, but Josiah would have peace because of his heart for God. Even after that, Josiah went and made some major changes to the kingdom of Judah so that he and the people would be following God's Law.

What things should we have known since the beginning? What things should we have been doing all along? And how do we fix that? The answer to that isn't for the faint of heart. It isn't something you can only half do, or pretend to do. It's something that YOU DO.

Pick up your Bible. Follow God.

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and you will have good success." Joshua 1:8

We have easy access to the Bible today. If you don't have one, you can pick one up at a grocery store for goodness sake! Don't continue on your way like nothing has changed. Pick up your Bible. Follow God. Don't come to a day where you ask yourself what should you have been doing all along. Do it. Know it now. Amen.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, August 25, 2014

"Up Close And Personal"

Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" So when He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" And He said to him, "Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you whole."     Luke 17:11-19
Have you ever really given this account a whole lot of thought or taken a really good look at it? Stop and think for a minute about what is happening. Jesus comes into a certain village and when He does there are ten lepers who stood afar off and lifted up their voices and said,  "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" As I was reading through this time, the words, 'who stood afar off ' jumped out at me. Now I realize that in those days it is what lepers did. They stayed a far off, kept their distance. They were forced to by the leprosy. It was they way things were and so on, but this time those words seemed to stand out, especially since while they were standing afar off they were also crying out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" They didn't know Him personally. They had never met Him before. They had only heard about Him and when He was off in the distance they shouted to Him and asked Him to have mercy on them and of course because of who He is, He did.

They were a far off, crying out to Him. They called Him Lord, and even used the word Master in reference to Him in their desire to receive mercy from Him. Leprosy is often used in scripture as a type or symbol of sin, and of sinners and isn't that what we do? Cry out to Him from afar off. Sin separates us from God. It, like leprosy, forces us to cry out from a far off. We know this to be true because when Jesus was on the cross and became sin for us the Father was forced to turn away and Jesus Himself was heard to cry out, "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken Me?" We like the lepers, because of our sins cry out to Him. We call Him, Lord, and even Master and like with the lepers he sees us and responds with the mercy we desire! He forgives us our sins and makes a way for us. He then tells us to, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel..." Mark 16:15 or "Go and do like wise." Luke 10:37 or what about, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace." Luke 7:50

So as we look back at our account we see that after He saw them and told them to, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." and they like us, obeyed His instructions. It says that, 'And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.' They took Him at His word and went off to do what He had told them to do and as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. As they went they became 100% leprosy free! No longer would they have to remain at a distance crying out, "Unclean, Unclean." everywhere they went.

It then tells us, 'Now one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving thanks.' One out of ten realized what had happened! One out of ten came to that place, that moment, when he realized that he was healed and he immediately turned back and returned to the source of the healing, the mercy. One out of ten lepers went from crying afar off to an up close and personal encounter. A personal encounter that had him not only glorifying God with a loud voice but at the feet of Jesus giving thanks for the mercy that he had received. One out of ten lepers wasn't content with just receiving but instead went to a place of worshiping at His feet.

All ten cried out for mercy. All ten received and were cleansed but only one returned to worship at His feet and only one was made whole.  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:16-17 All mankind can cry out to Jesus from afar and receive forgiveness for our sins. 'If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 It is why He came. But how many of us will truly realized what He has done, get up close and personal, and worship at His feet?

All were cleansed. Only the one who took time to worship at His feet and was made whole! A far off or at His feet? Where will you spend your time? According to Luke 10:42 Jesus said, "It is the 'one thing' needed and it is a choice we get to make! ..."But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her..." From afar or up close and personal - we make that choice.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

"My Help Comes!"

I will lift up my eyes to the hills--from whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel, Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in, From this time forth, and even forevermore. Psalm 121:1-8

Lord, I pray that today as we seek Your face, we would remember to be like the one leper who returned to praise You and to give You the glory. Thank you Lord, for always being our help in times of need! You are truly amazing!

God Bless!!!

The Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Light

Almost every morning in the summer when I pull into my place of work, I  find myself greeted with a foggy mist that blankets the landscape. Only as you start to get closer do you notice the large, looming structures drenched in this heavy mist. I have always loved mist. The moisture in the air, the ethereal feel that it gives to normal, everyday objects makes me happy. Until this morning, when I realized that we live our lives in a perpetual mist.

1st Corinthians 13:12a "For now we see through a mirror, dimly..."

As we go through our day to day lives, we see the people around us. But do we really see them? The burden they carry, the ones that slow them down, that haunt their steps, do we see those? Most of us notice the extremes, the moments of happiness and bliss, where we join in and smile, and the moments of intense shame, hurt, and pain, when we often avert our eyes. But we miss a lot of the little stuff. The regular stuff.

But what do people see when they look at you? Anger? Pain? Worry? Fear? Sure, we all go through these emotions, we are human, no matter how hard that we try. After all, we are all flawed. I have never been good at hiding my emotions, I wear them on my sleeves for the whole world to see. My friends and coworkers almost never need to guess what is going on in my mind. When I am happy, I can walk into a room and change the attitudes of everyone inside for the better. I feel great, knowing that I brightened someone's day. That's exactly how we all should feel

You see, in the tired, mist-drenched world, we are supposed to be the light.

Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven."

This Scripture is one that every Christian knows, but is it one that we all apply to our lives? Our light is supposed to give people hope. I know that, for a time, I hid my own light under a basket. I was a young adult, trying to please those in leadership over me at my job. I didn't share who I was, or where my faith lies. Time went on, I grew ashamed of myself. I knew the Word. I knew that I was supposed to be in the world but not of it. But when you cover your own light, you are letting the darkness overtake you. It might be slow, subtle, but it does. Day by day, minute by minute, it changes you. Warps you. Until you are too ashamed of yourself to ever speak out for our Lord.

As time went on, I noticed I needed a change. I added more light to my life. I had never stopped going to church, even at my worst. I started getting more involved in activities there. I changed the shows I watched, the language I used, even my job. I started courting the woman who is now my wife. All of these things broke the habits of shame that kept my light hidden.

Now, I doubt that there is anyone who knows me who doesn't know that I am a Christian. My faith is a huge part of my life, and I let my light shine everyday. Remember who you are. Remember what God has done for you. Don't let the devil convince or shame you into covering your light, because that is all that he can do. He can't cover it himself, he HAS to convince you to do it.

John 1:5 "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it."


Friday, August 22, 2014

"Five Yes And Five No"

Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the
bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!' "Then all those virgins trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.'And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' But He answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.'   Matthew 25:1-13
So, today's message is pretty short and to the point and here's the point...When is the last time you checked to make sure there is oil in your lamp? After all, Jesus paints a pretty clear picture in the telling of this parable of the ten virgins and it seems pretty important to Him! He said the wise have oil and enter in and the foolish don't. They don't have oil and they, not only don't enter in, but then, when they say, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' Jesus said, "Assuredly, I do not know you."  It would be pretty awful to have Jesus tell you that He doesn't know you all because you had to go get oil for the lamp.

I was thinking about this parable and it struck me that Jesus was talking to us, His believers when He is referring to the ten virgins.  Revelations 3:20 It says "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Everyone always uses this verse as a verse with unbelievers but if you read it in context He is talking to the church and the fact that He is talking about ten virgins, here in Matthew 25 once again speaks to me of the church, His bride.

So when He is challenging us to be ready and to make sure that we have oil in our lamps? I wonder? The Holy Spirit is often related with anointing oil and Jesus made a point on more than one occasion to make sure we knew that He was leaving so that the Father could send the Holy Spirit to lead us in all things. So when He is talking about 5 having oil and 5 who don't....I wonder?

...For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:13-14

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Beastly Mistake with Power and Might

He loved to come up here. He felt like he was king of the world up here. I am king of the world up here.

Nebuchadnezzar stood on the the roof of the royal palace, looking as far as the eye could see. He took a deep breath of the cool breeze that came to greet him up here. Advisers and servants scurried left and right behind him, eager to tend to his every need. In front of him, was his kingdom. Nearby, he could see the homes of the wealthy and those who belonged to his royal court. Further down, he could see one of the market places. People swarmed to the market like a bee in a beehive. Nebuchadnezzar grinned with satisfaction at having such a prosperous nation. Into the horizon, stretched building after building. They dotted every inch of the landscape.

A magnificent kingdom indeed. 

Nebuchadnezzar smiled. He felt full of pride, and why shouldn't he? The kingdom before him testified to his amazing leadership and ability. His power and might. His mighty hand in ruling. Indeed, this kingdom was a testimony to him.

He wanted to shout it from his rooftop, to those with him, and to those far away and below him. All he knew was that he needed to say it now!

"Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?"

Before Nebuchadnezzar could take back what he said, a loud, thundering voice boomed from Heaven. "Oh King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will."

For the first time, a ping of fear went through him. He had angered a god! What was going to happen now?

He didn't have to wait long. Nebuchadnezzar was starting to feel funny. He fidgeted, and then he let loose a loud growl.

Based on Daniel 4:28-32

"Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of Heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws." Daniel 4:33

Nebuchadnezzar became puffed up with his big-shot authority. He looked around him at the magnificent kingdom he had been GIVEN, and boasted that it was all in his strength, his power, his might, his work. Not so cool with God.

"After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go..... The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in you name!' And he said to them, 'I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.'" Luke 10:1, 10:17-20

In this section, Jesus sent out a bunch of men out to towns he was going to teach in before He got there. There they would start telling the townspeople about the kingdom of God. Those men came back on fire for God. They were ecstatic. When they returned, they couldn't wait to run up to Jesus to say that even the demons had listened to them when they used His name.

Jesus was excited with them, but then He told them something important, something I think we forget today. Jesus told them that yes, He had give them authority to tread on the physical threats in our world, and all power over the enemy in the spiritual world, but then He said that we shouldn't rejoice over our new-found power, but instead that we should rejoice that we have been saved.

It's not about our power, which God gave to us. It's about how we have been saved by grace and mercy through Jesus' death on the cross. Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten that every ounce of power and might that he had was given to him by God, so God had to humble Nebuchadnezzar for a season of his life. Remember, if we are going to boast, boast about God, because He gave it all to us all. It's not by our might and power, but by God's.

V. Joy Palmer