Saturday, July 4, 2015

Spiritual Duct Tape

   "One day the widow of one of Elisha's fellow prophets came to Elisha and cried out to him, 'My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.'
   'What can I do to help you?' Elisha asked. 'Tell me, what do you have in the house?'
   'Nothing at all, except for a flask of olive oil,' she replied.
   And Elisha said, 'Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting the jars aside as they are filled.'
   So she did as she was told. Her sons brought many jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim!
   'Bring me another jar,' she said to one of her sons.
   'There aren't any more!' he told her. And then the olive oils stopped flowing.
   When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, 'Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and there will be enough money left over to support you and your sons.'" 2 Kings 4:1-7

This is a story of a mother and her debt. Her husband, who had served the Lord, was dead, and things were so bad that the man who she owned money to was going to sell her sons to pay off her debt. She had no money, no way to pay. Things looked like they were over.

Enter another man of God, the prophet Elisha. He knew that God had not forsaken this woman. She probably thought that he had, but this is God we are talking about. The God who has promised never to leave us or forsake us.

When Elisha asked what she had in the house, do you think it was coincidence that the one thing that she had left was olive oil? When you hear about olive oil in the Bible, it is a picture of the Holy Spirit, or God's anointing. That is why kings and prophets were anointed with it, to show that God was anointing them to be something great. It's also why James 5:14 talks about anointing those that are sick among us with oil. God's anointing fixes things, it's like super duct tape, holding us together when we, without Him, would be falling apart.

I know its a foolish analogy, but seriously, but not a bad one. I've seen duct tape fix countless things such as pipes, cars, shoes, and any number of others things as well. I've even seen clothes MADE of duct tape. Some people use it on everything, to fix it, or just to reinforce it.  And that's just how we should be with God. When something goes wrong, we just slap some of God's anointing on it, and we are good to go. Those problems don't have to stop us.

The jars in this story are also symbolic. The Bible talks about God being a potter (Isaiah 64:8), making us as He would clay jars. God saved this woman by doing something that He does for us, pouring His olive oil (His anointing) into clay jars (people) and filling them up to the brim. And then, she sold them, sending them out into the world, just like God sends us. I think that this symbolism is so cool! And, of course, it was no coincidence - God planned it that way.

God knew the troubles that this woman had. He also knows the troubles that you have had, the ones you have now, and ALL the ones that you will have. And He has prepared a way for you to survive them. Don't forget, He knows. Listen for when He has a solution, and don't get bogged down trying to find your own way. And most importantly, keep your duct tape handy.


"The Big Miraculous Rescue"

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob.
And who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
And through the rivers,
They shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire,
you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.

For I am the Lord your God,
 The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; Isaiah 43:1-3

I think that sometimes in today's world its easy to forget that no matter what the situation, God will see us through! So often the words, "Fear not," or "Don't be afraid," are spoken throughout the Word of God just before He does something to do the big 'rescue.' He always comes through because it is His promise, to us whom He has redeemed. It is His words that say, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, They shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you." His words. He is telling us that we can trust Him to take care of us and to keep us, no matter the situation. 

So how about you? Do you have a need? Do you look to Him for the solution? Is He the one you put your trust in? We know that He parted the Red Sea to rescue the Israelites and to make a way for them leave their life of bondage in Egypt. We know that He rescued the three young men from the fiery furnace and that they were completely untouched by any effects of the fire. We know that the Word, from beginning to end is full of occasions were we see Him coming through with the 'rescue' as people turn to Him in faith, trusting Him to bring His words to pass in their lives. What about you? Do you let His words, His promise to you win out? Do you expect Him to 'rescue' you or do you look elsewhere for the solution?

Take note because His word to you today is, "Fear not!"  Fear not because He won't let you be drowned by you situation if you'll look to Him. He won't let you be burned and consumed in the fire of your event if He is the one you'll put you trust in. 

His word to you today is simply, "Fear Not ...I've got this!" 

If you'll trust Him and believe He will come through even if it takes a miracle to do it! After all He has heaped up the waters before. And don't forget, He is not afraid to be the fourth man in the midst of the fire either. He will show up with 'the big miraculous rescue.' Count on it! Why? Because He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and more importantly, because He said He would!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

How Many Times?

Peter massaged his chin. So what was Jesus saying? He had just been talking about forgiving a brother who sins against you, and while everyone was nodding their heads like they understood exactly what Jesus was saying, Peter wanted to know more.

When is it enough?

His spine stiffened as he thought about the people who had wronged him in life. When did he have Jesus' permission to stop forgiving them? When could he tell them exactly how horrible they were?

Seven times? Yes, that seemed like a good, complete number. Once was just barely. Twice was probably enough, and three seemed like pushing it. In fact, Jesus only went to three times in his example about what to do when a brother sins against you.

Seven times, however, that was a lot. Peter smiled. Jesus would probably say, "No, that's too much."

Peter stood and walked towards Jesus. What an impressive question he was about to ask! The people and the rest of the disciples would be amazed at his attention to Jesus' words.

"Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? As many as seven times?" Peter stood tall and waited to hear Jesus' praise.

"No, not seven times, but seventy times seven!"

Peter's smile wavered and then fell off his face completely. Wait, He was serious!

Based on Matthew 18:21-22

"Then Peter came to him and asked, 'Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?' 'No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, 'but seventy times seven!'" Matthew 18:21-22

I'm going to be brutally honest with you guys. Sometimes, I really struggle with loving and forgiving people. I've been burned a lot in my life by people who are supposed to love me. At some point, I start to shut down, shy away, throw up walls to stop them from hurting me.

How long do I have to forgive people who keep on hurting me?

I've asked this out of a place of desperation. This is a cry, a plea, a genuine question the broken, weary, bruised, and beaten down ask. I'm writing this to those of you who've ever felt like that. Those who are ready to give up. Those who genuinely want to know when enough is enough. Those who know to forgive, but still need to know when pull away from those hurting you. Those who feel like they have forgiven 490 times.

There is still no magic number.

Honestly, every situation is different, and God will direct you to do different things in every situation. However, there are two things God will never tell you to do differently: To forgive and to love. Those are not easy. They can feel like someone has your very soul in a pressure cooker, but these two actions are unchanging.

If you take away God's love and forgiveness, what are we left with? What's the point? There is no point anymore. While someone telling you for the 748th time to forgive so that you can be forgiven may make you want to punch them in the face, God says it for a reason.

We treat love and forgiveness like two separate things, but they go hand in hand. To fully love someone, you need to forgive them. To fully forgive someone, you need love. Not just any love. God's love. This doesn't mean you let those hurting you run your life, but it does mean that you operate in God's love and forgiveness.

Unrelenting. Unchanging. Completely. All the time.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"His Report To You"

   So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him.
   And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell down at Jesus' feet and begged Him to come to his house.
   for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him.
   Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any,
   came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped.
   And Jesus said, "Who touched Me?"When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, "Master, the multitudes throng You and press You, and you say, 'Who touched Me?"
   But Jesus said, "Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me."
   Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.
   And He said to her, "Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace."  
   While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, "Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher."
   But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, "Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well."
   When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, John, and the father and mother of the girl.
   Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, "Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping."
   And they laughed Him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
   But He put them all out, took her by the hand and called, saying, "Little girl, arise."
   Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat.
   And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened. Luke 8:40-56

Today's message is about a moment that we all experience. It is the moment where we come face to face with a choice that only we can make. It is the moment where we make the choice about, "Whose report will we believe?" (Isaiah 53:1, Romans 10:16) In the above account we see the moment when Jairus was faced with his moment of decision. We know that he was 'a ruler of the synagogue' which means that he was fully aware of all the talk/debates of the religious leaders about who Jesus was and what he had doing. He may even have known about some of their attempts to 'trap' Him into saying or doing the 'wrong' thing. Truth is we don't really know what he had seen, heard, or believed about Jesus up until this moment. What we do know is that when it came to the welfare of his only daughter Jesus was the One he had come to with at least a measure of hope that Jesus would be able to help her. It says that he came 'And he fell down at Jesus' feet and begged Him to come to his house,' which gives the impression that by begging Jesus to come he is feeling that Jesus represents the last bit of hope that his daughter has. So, at this point he has seen or heard enough to feel that Jesus represent 'a chance' of life for his daughter.

Next comes the whole delay as Jesus deals with the woman with the issue of blood. He sees the healing that she receives just by touching Jesus, which must have sparked an increase in his anticipation for what Jesus could do for his daughter. At the same time he must have been feeling a certain amount of fear and anxiety caused by the delay. On the heals of this universal struggle (fear for his daughter, hope at the woman's healing represents as he sees it happen right there in front of him)  the news he fears most comes.  "Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher." In and instant he receives the worst report possible! Hope dies.

This is that moment for Jairus. This is the moment when he lets hope die or he chooses to believe the words that Jesus speaks? Jesus had already agreed to go with him. The outcome was already decided the moment Jairus had believed in Him enough to ask Him to come and Jesus had started along the way. It says that, 'when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, "Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well." Jesus is always going to let you know that ... It is never too much trouble! Over and over and over and over He was always telling people to believe and that believing is what gets it done. Believing will move mountains! Jesus had already told him He would come and it doesn't matter what report comes after that! His is the report we need to believe! His report tells us that 'by His stripes we are healed.' Isaiah 53:5 His report tells us that 'signs and wonders follow those that believe,' Mark 16:17 etc. His report tells us that it really is just this simple. Believe His report! His report tells us ...He always wins!

Remember this; the next time a bad report tells you to not to bother or that you are faced with the struggle of which will in win your situation, fear verses hope. Remember that His report to you is, "Do not be afraid; only believe."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hang on Sheep

Seh was transfixed. His mind swirled with Jesus' words. Jesus was telling a story about a good shepherd. It was like the story was taking place before his eyes. Seh could see it...

The good shepherd laughed at his herd of sheep. The herd was following the alpha around, and as a small rodent startled the alpha, and he jumped. In turn, each of the following sheep jumped in that same spot, even thought the rodent had long since disappeared.

Weird, silly creatures. He wouldn't trade them for anything.

These were his sheep. He glanced at them lovingly. Sure they were a pain in the rear sometimes, and man, could they be dumb! Despite their flaws, they were his.

The image faded from Seh's mind, but was immediately replaced with a new one as Jesus continued his story about a hired hand...

The good shepherd had to take a journey, and a hired hand was watching over his sheep in his absence. The hired hand didn't care about the sheep. They drove him crazy with their constant bleating, falling into ditches, and smelliness! Why, he even shoved them around!

One day, a wolf came. As soon as the hired hand saw the wolf stalking the sheep at the edge of the herd, he hid behind a tree. When he was certain the wolf hand not seen him, he ran away.
Leaving the sheep defenseless. Many died, and the rest were scattered.

Seh blinked. What a horrid ending! The hired hand should have defended the sheep. Saved them. Done something. If it had been the good shepherd, he would have given his life for the sheep, Seh was certain of it!

Then it dawned on Seh. Jesus was THE GOOD SHEPHERD. Seh shook his head in amazement. If Jesus was anything like that shepherd, he was going to follow him.

Based on John 10:11-13

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep." John 10:11-13

Jesus is comparing Himself to a good shepherd, one who cares about his sheep. Jesus says that a hired hand doesn't care about the sheep. A hired hand is just kind of there, hanging out. What if a wolf appears while the hired hand is there? The wolf is intent on harming and devouring the sheep, and a hired hand is not going to mess with him. He's going to save his own neck! So he runs away.

The good shepherd would have laid down his life for his sheep, because even though they are dumb and a pain in his rear, he loves them. His job is to protect them.

Some of you are reading this, and you come from a past filled with hurt. You feel like all God and Jesus have even done is abandon you. You need to understand that He hasn't.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

God even gave his son to die for you. Jesus laid down his life for you, like a good shepherd does for the sheep he loves. The world is full of "hired hands" who are watching over us. Unless they are Godly people, they don't care about us. Then the enemy comes, and we are hurt.

But God has not abandoned you.

The Good Shepherd loves you. He's coming for you. And He will care for you. Don't let the enemy scatter you. Don't abandon The Good Shepherd. Even in ways we can't see or understand, He's taking care of you.

Hang on sheep. Hang on.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, June 29, 2015

"He Steps In"

   Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd.
   And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her.
   When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep."
   Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise."
   And he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.
   Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen up among us"; and, "God has visited His people." Luke 7:11-16

   Therefore, because the king's command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.
   And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the burning fiery furnace.
   Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, "Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "True, O king."
   "Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."
   Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke saying, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, srvants of the Most High God, come out, and come here." Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire.
   And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king's counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them. Daniel 3:22-27
   And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand.
   And they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabath, so that they might accuse Him.
   Then He said to the man who had the withered hand, "Step forward."
   And He said to them, "Is it lawful on theSabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they kept silent.
   So when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Mark 3:1-5

   Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."
   So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink."
   And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand."
   Then she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread,  only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die."
   And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.
   "For thus said the Lord God of Israel: "The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.'"
   So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days.
   The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah. 1 Kings 17:8-16

   Then a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean."
   Then Jesus, moved with compassion, put out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed."
   As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. Mark 1:40-42

Old Testament or New, it really doesn't matter because it really is very simple. When God shows up all things are possible and ... Miracles Happen!!!

God Bless!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Give A Shout Of Praise!"

   Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own garments on the colt, and they set Jesus on him.
   And as He went, they spread their clothes on the road.
   Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen,
   saying:  "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
   And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out." Luke 19:35-40

Lord, I pray that we as Your disciples would be faithful to give You a shout of praise today and everyday, despite any and all opposition by those who 'don't approve.' We lift Your name on high as we to, with all our might cry, "We love You Lord."

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions