Thursday, February 26, 2015

Runaway Fish Prophet, Part 8

He wanted to hurl a ball of fire into the side of that cracked, nasty city wall. It represented sin and destruction and every thing he hated.

Everything he had tried to stop.

He had known this would happen. Oh, how he had known! "I knew, God!" He shouted. He spun in a circle, screaming at the sky where he knew God was. "I knew this would happen!"

Stupid city. Stupid people. Once the king of Nineveh had declared a time of fasting and repentance, word had spread even faster. The change was genuine, too. Even Jonah could see that. For crying out loud, they were still praying and fasting! Jonah had just left a bonfire filled with idols and trinkets witches sold. He had been there for weeks, teaching, preaching, and declaring God's message to the people.

God had forgiven them.

"Lord," he emphatically waved at the sky. "Is not this what I said would happen when I was still in my country? That is why I ran to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful. Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Now, God, take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live."

He heard the words of the Lord. Why, this time they even sounded in his ears. "Do you do well to be angry?"

Ha! Did he do well to be angry? Ha! 

He sure did.

It was late, late evening on Day Thirty-Nine. Jonah stalked away from the city to see what would happen.

Jonah 3:10-4:1-5

At last we have it. Jonah's real reason for being mad, running away, and being a twit in general.
Goodness, God having mercy on people? Who would have thought? What was this guy's problem? Why did he want judgment and death against all those people?

Jonah was suffering from a spiritual condition we all know, and have had at one time or another. If allowed untreated, it can be spiritually deadly.

Sinner envy.

"What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war among you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." James 4:1-3

Jonah was angry that they could live the kind of lifestyles they had for all this time, and not pay the piece he had heard about for his entire life. He had to live by the rules, but they had enjoyed a lifetime of sin. It wasn't fair. It wasn't just.

Who decides what's fair and just? God.

Was it fair or just that God sent His only Son to die, so that whoever would believe on Him, would be saved? Was it fair, that Jesus died on the cross for us? Was it fair that He had to endure more pain and suffering then we will ever know? Was it fair that God even turned His back on Jesus because of our sins?

God's goal isn't to condemn and judge. It's what He has to do because of sin. His goal is to give every chance possible for someone to turn away from sin in order to choose eternity with Him instead. God's goal is to be with you.

Sinner envy can lead to terminal spiritual illness. The perfect medicine is to read about Jesus' death on the cross while asking yourself, "Was this fair?" It wasn't. He did it for us.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Great And Mighty Things"

"Thus says the Lord who made it, the Lord who formed it to establish it (the Lord is His name):  "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." Jeremiah 33:2-3

Lord, I think that all too often, when we as your people, or at least, when I come into Your Presence to call to You about a situation,  I already have a preconceived answer from You in mind and Lord, I am here today to say that I'm sorry. Lord, I'm sorry if I have set limits and not been open to receive all the great and mighty things that You have desired to share with me. Help me and those like me to call upon You with open hearts and minds. Help us to be open to all the great and mighty possibilities that lay before You as You answer our calls. Lord, Peter thought he was dreaming when You sent an angel to release him from prison; and those who had spent all their time praying for his release didn't even believe Rhoda's report that he was at the door. They weren't even open to the possibility that You had heard their prayers and a great and mighty deed was done in answer to their call....
   "Then the angel said to him, 'Gird yourself and tie on your sandals" and so he did. And he said to him, "Put on your garment and follow me." So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. And when Peter had come to himself, he said, "Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people." So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter's voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. But they said to her, "You are beside yourself!" Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, "It is his angel." Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Acts 12:8-16

Lord, as Your people let us be continually open to possibilities that You have great and mighty things in store for us! Let us be open to any miraculous or angelic intervention on our behalf. Lord, help us not be a people who misses You because our eyes are focused elsewhere. Lord, Let us be a people who believe that with You ..."All things ARE possible" simply because You have promised it.

Lord, my hearts cry, even in this moment is, "Show me! Show me all the great and mighty things that You desire. Lord, I say, "Yes!" to any "great and mighty" unknown, miraculous, sign and wonder, cool God thing that You have to offer. Lord, I don't ever want to be the one saying, "It can't be," like those who had spent the and then day praying for Peter did when speaking to Rhoda when she told them that God had heard their prayers and Peter was at the door. 

Lord ... my hearts desire ... to always be like Rhoda, so overcome and blown away by how amazing and awesome You are that I forget to open the door! Or Maybe?  My greatest desire to be like Rhoda and recognize Your "great an mighty things" when  they come knocking at my door!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Runaway Fish Prophet, Part 7

What was he hearing?

He was king after all, couldn't he fix this? Change the outcome? Turn it around? His word should be law. But according to this man named Jonah, it was out of his hands.

The doors to the chamber had slammed open, reverberating loudly throughout the court. Immediately, everybody stopped, and all eyes were on the party entering. Two of his guards escorted a man about whom he had heard wild rumors for the last day or so. The man looked rough around the edges. He had bright red sores on his face, and judging from the stains, his tunic and robe had seen better days.
The man told him of the God whom he served. He said his God had seen the wickedness of his kingdom, and had condemned them all. In forty days, they would be overthrown. 

Now they were waiting for his decision.

He stood up slowly, and cleared his throat. "By the decree of the king and his nobles," his voice sounded horse. "Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything." Some of the guards expressions changed to shock, while others in the court nodded their agreement. "Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows?" He met Jonah's stony expression with his regretful one. "God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish." 

He may be king, but he was not God. He had failed. He had done wrong. He and his kingdom had run around acting as if their grotesque lifestyles held no consequences. How wrong he had been!
If bold action wasn't taken, he and all the kingdom would pay for it very soon. 

Walking through the chamber, he tore his robe in front of everyone. Gasps filled his ears. He walked to the roaring fire, and scooping some ash out, he sat down. "Get me some sackcloth. Everyone. Do the same."

Based on Jonah 3:6-10

I like this king's response to the forthcoming doom of his kingdom. It's not one of conceit. It's not arrogance. He doesn't go, "Heh, yeah right. Off with this lunatic's head!" He didn't try to blame it on the people and say he couldn't control their sins.

Instead he took responsibility for his and his people's sin. He did the only thing he could do in that situation, and he used his authority to issue a kingdom-wide fast and time of repentance. 

Look at so many other kings or leader types in the Bible. King Saul couldn't humble himself before God, and ended up losing the kingdom for it. King David tired to cover up a murder, affair, and illegitimate child. The apostle Paul was on a Christian murder rampage as Saul. The Pharisees were prime players in the capture and murder of Jesus. King Uzziah was struck with leprosy because of his haughty attitude towards things that are sacred. Lucifer, once a mighty archangel in the presence of God, became Satan due to his desire to gain God's power. The prideful response runs deep, but humbleness, the ability to say, "Yeah, I've screwed up," is a learned habit. Some of these guys learned to humble themselves, and admit when they were wrong. Some of them didn't, and they suffered the consequences. (Yeah, Satan. I'm talking about you.)

"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself with be exalted."
Matthew 23:12

That's exactly what God did for the king of Nineveh. He saw the heart of the king and his people, and how they had humbled themselves. He spared them because of their repentance. Imagine if more fathers did this for their families. More pastors. More principles. More presidents. More people. We need to do this.    

A leader needs to know how to be humble before God. A leader needs to know when to repent. A leader needs to take responsibility. Leaders, take a minute to learn from the king of Nineveh. This guy got it right.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, February 23, 2015

"He Is Listening"

Today the message the Lord gave me to share is about a truth that all too often is taken for granted or even neglected by His people.  He would remind us by having us take a look at a guy who is not necessarily someone that everyone hears very much about, especially since he didn't do something incredibly amazing like parting the Red Sea the way Moses did. He didn't miraculously defeat a giant named Goliath like David did with just a slingshot and a stone and he wasn't one who took down the walls of Jericho with a shout like Joshua. He didn't make an uncompromising stand for God by facing lions in a lions den or get thrown in a fiery furnace for not bowing to idols. He isn't at all famous for doing something extraordinary or miraculous. But! And here is the thing, he did do something that the Lord  wishes we as His people would dare to do a little more often.

So, what great feat did he do that merits the Lord's reminder to us today? 

The truth is he actually did the one thing that you and I not only can do but should be doing!

He talked with God believing that God was listening!

So, as you may have guessed the person we're talking about today is a guy named Jabez and we can find him in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. He only gets two verse and his story is simply this...Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, "Because I bore him in pain." And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!" So God granted him what he requested." ...Did you catch his claim to  fame?

The amazingly simple thing he did that has made him famous was simply cry out to God! It is called...

His claim to fame was that he was a man who prayed his prayer in faith believing ... And God granted him his request! The key to his claim to fame is not just that he dared to ask but to receive as well because God granted him is request.

He simply asked God ... to bless him, ... to give him favor by enlarging his territory, be with him, and help not to sin and cause others pain. He simply put the desires of his heart before God who not only heard his prayer but as it says,  'He granted him his request' which simply means ... He got what he wanted!

"And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Matthew 21:22

"And I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Luke 11:9-10

"If you ask anything in My name, I will do it." John 14:14

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives it liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, ..." James 1:5-6a

"Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, an you will have them." Marl 11:24

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." John 15:7

The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like our, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:16b-18

And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 1 John 3:22

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. 1 John 5:14-15

Jabez's claim to fame?

His hearts desire laid before THE GOD he knew was listening!  He believed that ...
     The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
     To all who call upon Him in truth. Psalm 145:18

I challenge you to take time today and everyday to trust Him with your hearts desires! His heart is that we as His people would  takethe time to talk with Him! He hears our prayers, and as our heavenly Father, it is His heart to give us the kingdom!

His heart is Indeed: ... to bless you, give you favor, prosper your way, help you in EVERY area of your life.   ...TAKE THE TIME TO ASK...HE IS LISTENING!

God Bless!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"In The Stillness"

And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

So he said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."

Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountain and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here Elijah?" 1 Kings 19:9-13    
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah     Psalm 46:10-11
Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When You said, "Seek My face," My heart said to You, "Your face, Lord, I will seek." Psalm 27:7-8

Lord, I come before You in this moment to ask that as Your people we would always seek Your will, Your voice, Your face in whatever 'cave' we find ourselves in. Lord, as we are zealous to do Your will help us to always find a place where we get still before You just hear Your voice! And  Lord, as You speak let us go forth equipped with the sword of Your spirit and the power of Your word to be and to say and to do all that You command. Please Lord, in the stillness of the moments of our days let us truly listen for the words of Your Spirit, and Your still small voice in our lives and then, Lord, as You speak let Your words be reflected in the things we do to further Your kingdom. Amen.

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Why Behind Your Faith

Why are you a Christian? Is it from a genuine belief in and desire to serve God? Is it something that you were born into, like I was? Or maybe it is the benefits, like going to Heaven and other blessings that are promised in the Bible?

I'll start with myself. I have been a Christian from a very young age, so young that I do not even remember accepting Jesus. Both of my parents were pastors, and soon after I was born my entire family relocated to New England to start a church. I grew up with duties in the church, which, in my teenage years, cause me to question my faith more than once. This wasn't something that I chose, I was born to it. Like so many stories, I felt like a prince who had no choice - I was going to be part of the Kingdom, like it or not.

Now, I am a bit of an over thinker, and the "like it or not" bit was never said by my parents. But, still,
it was ingrained. I spent big parts of 6 out of 7 days of the week in Christian School, Church, or Youth Group. I had no choice. Until the day I realized... Of course I had a choice! Regardless of whatever my parents wanted for me, whatever my friends thought of me, how the world might treat me afterwards - the choice was MINE. No one could choose for me.

I chose to follow my Lord and Savior. Yes, there have been times when I failed. When I have faltered. When I have turned my back. I have had to recommit myself to God, more than once. But my faith is stronger now than it has ever been, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

So, I'll ask it again: Why are YOU a Christian? Not why did you become one, but why are you still one? Is it for the right reasons? Are you there out of a sense of duty? Are you just trying to earn your salvation? Have you been there so long that you just don't know anything else?

It's time to re-evaluate your faith.

"But I, the Lord, search all heart and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve." Jeremiah 17:10

"A man thinks all his ways are right, but the Lord weighs hearts." Proverbs 21:2

"God does not see as man sees, because a man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7B

God knows everything, even our own reasoning. Be sure that your reasons line up with how He would have you be.


Friday, February 20, 2015

"Filled And Equipped"

  Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit returned from the Jordon and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.  And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." But Jesus answered him saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'" 
   Then the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. "Therefore, if You will worship me, all will be Yours." And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord Your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"
   Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: "He shall give His angels charge over You, To keep You,' "and, 'In their hands they shall bear You up, Lest You dash Your foot against a stone,'" and Jesus answered and said to him, "It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'"
   Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.   Luke 4:1-14

I just have a simple thought or rather more of an observation that I'd would like to share with you today. Did you notice how this section of scripture, which is commonly known as 'The Temptation of Jesus,' started and ended? It starts with Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit and ends ... with Jesus still full and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit! Nothing the enemy brought to the table changed that even though he tried his whole bag of tricks. Verses 13 tells us that 'when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.' He tried every temptation. 1John 2:15 says that there are three avenues in which the enemy can tempt and they are:

    #1 - 'the lust of the flesh' or in this case, because he saw Jesus was hungry he tried, "command this stone to become bread."
    #2 - 'the pride of life' as he appealed to His spiritual nature and His pride, he used, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: "He shall give His angels charge over You, To keep You,' "and, 'In their hands they shall bear You up, Lest You dash Your foot against a stone,"
    #3 - 'the lust of the eyes' by presenting the kingdoms of the world before Him, "I give it to whomever I wish. "Therefore, if You will worship me, all will be Yours."

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

The thing I really want to note here is this: Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit and fully equipped with the sword of the Spirit effectively defeated every temptation the enemy put before Him. The word tells us that He ...returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. and He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.Luke 4:14-15 He then proceeds to go to Nazareth and read His famous reading from Isaiah 61 and and proclaim, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Luke 4:21

He went in full of the Holy Spirit. He returned full of the power of the Holy Spirit! He continued from there on anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit as He ministered and touched lives. What does that say to us as we look to Him as our example? Being filled and equipped makes all the difference!

   But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 
   But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
   Therefore, brethren, we are debtors--not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 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 8:9-14