Sunday, March 29, 2015

"I Believe!"

He who believes will be saved; Mark 16:16a

"Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper." 2 Chronicles 20:20

Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."

Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" John 11:40

"And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will ..."

Be established and prosper!
All things are possible!
See the glory of God!
Walk in signs, wonders, and miracles!

Just a few of the benefits you receive when you say, "I Believe!"

Read the rest of the book and you too will believe more and more and more and more and ...

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tempted Beyond YOUR Ability?

"For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

It's pretty easy to slip into sin. After all, that's our default human nature. We love our little sins, don't we? It's so easy to go back to your regular, old, sinful habits when no one is around. After all, its no big deal. Nobody's gonna know.

Now, I know what I sound like... Those silly cartoons, the ones with the demon on one shoulder, angel on the other. Doesn't mean that battle doesn't actually happen every time that you are alone.

In your subconscious, temptations run rampant. It's easy when others are around - we can be good for others. We can be the good example. But when you are alone, you're an easy target.

Our enemy knows this - this is his preferred time to strike. Pick off the member of the herd that is separated from everybody else. It is a classic technique, as old as time.

When we give into those sins, it pulls us down. It makes us feel guilty and all too often it separates us from God - because we let it. We all know that God forgives us our sins, but we aren't too anxious to go run to Him right after we have sinned.

Be careful when you are alone - know that you are in someone's crosshairs. Know that despite anything else that happens, God is still with you. The biggest mistake we make when we are alone is not sharing that time with our Maker. Temptations don't seem so insurmountable after you've spent time in the Word and talking with God.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not allow you to be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

Notice the phrasing in this verse - "He will also provide the way of escape." The way. THE, singular. As in, there is only one way to escape temptation - His Way. We can resist some temptation on our own, but we can resist ALL temptation with God. He always provides a way.


Friday, March 27, 2015

"Whys And Why Not Of Things"

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" Matthew 24:3

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast him out?"  Matthew 17:19, Mark 9:28

Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Matthew 18:21

Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. Mark 6:30

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven ?" Matthew 18:1

Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" John 1:48

Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" Matthew 15:12

And in the house His disciples asked Him again about the same matter. Mark 10:10

There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?" John 6:9

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask."  ... They said to Him, "Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory." Mark 10:35-37

But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. Mark 4:10

And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." Luke 17:5

The disciples said to Him, "Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, are You going there again?" John 11:8

Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." John 14:8

What is this that He says to us, "A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me; and because I go to the Father" John 16:17

And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" John 9:2

So, after all these verses we come to the really simple point of today's message. I'm sure you noticed that each of the above verses involves Jesus, His disciples, and a question. To be honest the thing that stood out to me today as I was reading was the number of times that Jesus took His disciples aside privately to answer and explain things to them alone. The other thing was just how often it was their idea. They weren't afraid to ask Him anything from the easy questions about travel plans to the hard ones involving sin, faith, and the whys and why not of things.

Today I focused on just some of the questions His disciples asked Him because I felt like He was asking me  to remind You that it is not only okay to ask Him anything and everything but it is very definitely something He desires. He wants to spend time privately with you sharing not only your heart but His for you as well! He wants you to draw aside with Him and ask Him all your questions even if they are as simple as, "How?" ..."Why?" ... "Where do I go?" "What did You mean by that?" ... or it might be something as personal as, "How do You know me?"

Whatever Your question is on any given day; take the time with Him to ask it!

The other thing to note is This Fact! For every question asked, Jesus always responded with an answer as to all the whys and the why not of things!"

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Be Louder

"Put a lid on it, ya old geezers."

Wasn't that just so kind and thoughtful? The people in this town really showed their true colors.

"Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" His friend's voice boomed over the scoffers' voices.

They bobbed in this dark ocean for far too long. Beaten down and broken, they had nothing. Truly, his friendship with Brail had been the only thing to keep him afloat in this sea of darkness.

For weeks, they had heard of a man who could heal people. The blind, deaf, there were even rumors of the dead being raised. They had decided that they would camp out on the side of the major road, hoping and praying that the man called Jesus would come this way.

"Lord, have mercy on us!" He shouted.

"Son of David, let our eyes be opened!" Brail bellowed alongside him.

"Shut up." A young man's voice assaulted their ears, and somebody stepped on his outstretched foot.

"Move!" The shrill voice of a woman ordered.

"Be quiet. He won't help the likes of you." An older man proclaimed. Someone whacked his hand away.

What did they do? Give up? Shut up? Die like this?

Brail started screaming even louder. "LORD, HAVE MERCY ON US, SON OF DAVID!"

No. They would yell all the louder. Together they screamed, louder and louder ignoring the physical and emotional abuse of the crowd. They yelled for so long that their voices grew horse. They kept yelling until...

A warm hand rested on his head. An equally warm voice said, "What do you want me to do for you?"

Based on Matthew 20:29-34

"The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, 'Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!'" Matthew 20:32

This is my favorite part of this story, this encounter with Jesus. These men. Their boldness. Their courage. Their fight.

When the crowd beat them down with their words - possibly even physically - they just cried out even louder. They didn't stop. They didn't give up. They dug their heals in and let loose screams that got Jesus' attention.

What about us? When the crowds tell us that we should shut up, stand back, and go home, do we listen to them?

"Since we have such a hope, we are very bold." 2 Corinthians 3:12

Or do we cry out even louder? Do we pursue the call God has for even more? Do we cry out to God saying, "God, I need you to provide because I can't" Do you keep shouting, going, walking, and believing?

"In whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him." Ephesians 3:12

Be louder.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"Dress For The Occasion"

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. Isaiah 61:10-11
As I read the above passage today it brought to mind this simple thought about the garments we put on. I know that when I have an important function to attend, I dress for the occasion. I might change outfits any number of times until I find the perfect one that looks right and feels right for the event.

Anyways, the above passage got me to thinking about how in the natural we make sure we are dressed appropriately for the occasion even if it means we need to go out and buy a new outfit but what about when we meet with the king of glory?  In the above passage it starts by saying, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness," Do we meet him with an attitude that says "I will greatly rejoice?" Are we clothed in our garment of praise every time we come into His presence? Is the cry of our hearts, "I will greatly rejoice in You Lord!"

"As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." 

I tend to think our bridegroom is decked out to meet with us. Are we, His Beloved, decked out in all our best garments when we meet with Him? Its His heart that our 'righteousness and praise spring forth before all the nations." Are we truly decked out in our robes of righteousness and our garments of praise as we declare to the nations that He is our Beloved? 

Our garments of salvation, and our garments of praise, and our robes of righteousness are the best outfits possible because they make it possible for you and I to be dressed in all our best finery when we approach the God of all creation.  In them we come to Him clean, and righteous, and full of joy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

We, the Wheat

Brown, jagged, thorny plants waved in the wind along with the fresh, green crop.

When did this happen?

He felt his master's presence come behind him. The man had a very distinct persona. You couldn't mistake him for any other. It was kingly.

He shook his head slightly. "Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?"

"An enemy has done this."

Ah, yes. That explained it, but now what? "Do you want us to go and gather them?" He turned to look at his master, expecting that he would bid them to gather the harmful crop at once.

"No. If you do, you may uproot the wheat along with the weeds." His master clapped him on the shoulder. "Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I will tell the reapers to gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned. Then gather the wheat into my barn."

He looked back out at the field of wheat and weeds. Some of the wheat crop may suffer, but his master's reasoning was sound.

Based on Matthew 13:24-30

He put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him. 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' So the servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" Matthew 13:24-30

So sometimes people say, "If God is so good, why does He allow all the evil in the world?" My answer normally consists of The Fall and how we live in an imperfect world were the devil rules.

These verses show us that there's also another reason.

Can you imagine if God got rid of all the evil people in the world right now? At first we think, "Yippee!" But it would actually backfire. Don't think for a moment that the devil wouldn't swoop in with doubts about our loving God who would destroy all those people. Then, because we've never had any real reason to stand up for our faith, we would be easily swayed.

God allows evil to remain in the world for a time. Don't think that He's turned a blind eye to it, or that He's not even aware. Like the master of that field, God is just waiting for the harvest to come. Truth be told, God has plenty of reason for allowing things to be the way they are right now. Our place is to be the wheat among the weeds. Sure, we may take some damages from the thorny weeds, but the day of the harvest is coming.

"Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:16

This is what we, the wheat, need to be doing! Instead of bemoaning the thorn in our side, we should be striving to live our lives for God in these evil days. When the harvest arrives, then those thorns will be removed.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, March 23, 2015

"Jacob's Rock Moment"

Jacob woke with a start. Looking around, he calmed slightly when he realized that no one was around. Then he remembered.

That dream.

"The Lord is in this place!" There was no one around, but reverent fear consumed his soul. Looking around he spoke to himself, "How awesome is this place! This is none other then the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven." Closing his eyes, he watched as glimpses of the dream flashed before his mind's eye.

The dream was other-worldly. Heavenly. Stairs sat upon the earth, and it extended all the way into Heaven. Jacob could see the angels of God ascending and descending on the steps. The Lord God stood at the top.

And He spoke to Jacob. The words still resounded in his ears.

"I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

Orange rays of light started to stretch their sleepy limbs across the horizon. Jacob sat with his back against the rock he had used as a pillow, absorbing the dream.

God, the God of his ancestors, the God of everything, was offering to team up with him. Help him. Provide for him. What had he done to deserve this? He snorted. Nothing. He had done nothing. Jacob knew he should get the exact opposite. He had been a liar and a cheat. All his schemes had resulted in him fleeing from his angry brother who was bent on killing him.

He didn't deserve this.

Did that matter? God was giving it to him, and he wanted it. Oh, he really wanted it. He wanted God in his corner.

Jacob stood up, stretching towards the awakening heavens. What could he do in return? All he had were the clothes on his back and a small bag of provisions. Giving his torn garments and moldy bread didn't exactly scream life-changing commitment.

Turning slightly, he sat down on his pillow-now-turned-chair rock.

What could he do for God? How could He show God and himself that he was serious?

Bolting upright, he spun around and dropped to his knees. The stone! He would make a pillar with the stone. Something he would see and remember. The only thing that had given him comfort since he had fled his home.

Setting it upright like a pillar, Jacob fished through his bag to find a the small vial of oil he had stashed in there. Pulling the cork out with this teeth, Jacob dumped it all over the rock.

His testament.

Standing up, he raised his hands towards the gate of Heaven, and spoke to his Lord. "If you God will be with me and keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then you Lord shall be my God, and this stone, Bethel, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be god's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you."

Now, his promise would be forever marked with the pillow stone in Bethel.

Story by V. Joy Palmer. Based on Genesis 28:10-22
It is hard to believe that we are here today celebrating our second year anniversary! Amazing as it seems today is our 730th post. Now that may not seem to be 'all that' to you but to us it is amazing because it means that for 730 days straight we have looked to and received from heaven a fresh word to share with the nations!

As I end that statement I have had to stop and pause because the awe of such a thing is slightly overwhelming. I can only sit here; my heart full with such an overwhelming sense of His presence, which to be honest has also seemed to cause tears to be flowing freely! I am feeling so overwhelmed by the faithfulness and the goodness of our God that He would use us in such a way!

I say all that because 730 days ago God answered the cry of my heart for more of Him in my life with these life changing words, "Rie, I want you to start a daily devotional!" My response was short and to the point. I quickly and vehemently said, "Are You crazy! I can't! Its too hard! I don't have time!" Obviously He quickly laid to rest my excuses! He then gave me the names of three other people He wanted me to 'enlist' and here we are 730 days later, with not one, but two devotionals going out to the nations everyday. (At the end of the first year we also started Snack Pack for Kidz)

So, here we are 730 days into this amazing endeavor, declaring to you the faithfulness of our God to speak new every morning! And that also brings us to today's message. He is faithful!

I shared this message at our youth meeting a couple of weeks ago and when we were talking about what to do to mark our two year anniversary Joy said that she thought that it needed to be this message. So, Joy, in the way she does so well, has written about Jacob's moment of decision up above. In it we find that Jacob is on the run to escape his brother who desires to kill him. He has left the safety of everything he knows behind him and as it comes on nightfall, he takes a stone to use as a pillow and he goes to sleep. As you know he has a dream. It has a ladder/stairway with angels ascending and descending and it goes all the way up to heaven. God speaks to him in the dream and at the end God makes this final promise, "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Genesis 28:15

Jacob wakes and for the first time in his life realizes that the God of his father is real. "Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it." Genesis 28:16 It is at this point that he knows that he wants the God of his father to be his God! He realizes that God is promising to do just that, despite the actions that have brought him to this place.

As a youth pastor I love this! This is the moment when this church kid chooses God for himself! It is also in this moment that he feels the need to mark the occasion! So he takes the only thing he has available, the stone he had used as a pillow. He anoints it with oil to consecrate it as a symbol of his vow back to God.

God simply told him He was with him and would keep him, now, in the future, and that He would even be with his descendants. Check out his vow in the account above and you'll see that Jacob basically tells God that "if you'll feed me, cloth me, be with me wherever I go, and bring me peace with my family, I'm yours." He put himself in agreement with God's promise to him. He didn't ask for the world here. He asked for the basic necessities of life and he acknowledged his commitment to God and God's commitment to bring it to pass with a rock and some oil.

It was just a rock and a rock doesn't seem like much to you and I but the truth is it doesn't take much. Jacob took the one thing he had available to him in this moment which was just a simple stupid rock.  Then he took that rock and he used it to consecrate this moment because it was in this moment he was entrusting God's faithfulness to bring His promise to pass with his own faithfulness to serve.

What about you? Is there a specific promise that God has made to you about your life and or your specific needs? Find your stone! What can you give to Him to mark your agreement with His faithfulness to bring it to pass in your life? Find your stone! Mark the moment because He is faithful and just like in the life of Jacob (Genesis 28-33) He 'will be with you and will keep you wherever you go,' and 'He will not leave you until He has done what He has promised you.'

Find your stone and mark your moment!

God Bless and thanks for your support!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions