Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Good Way to Flip Tables

Peter stood back awkwardly.

Everything had seemed fine. Actually, everything had seemed great. They were in Jerusalem. Despite all the rumors of the men who opposed him, Jesus had remained determined that they come. When they came to the city, Jesus came riding in on the back of a donkey. The people had responded phenomenally. They had shouted and waved and rejoiced at the sight of him. The jubilant response from the people had put all the doubts and fears to rest in Peter's mind.

At least it had then.

However, now was a different matter. Now they were all in the temple. There was about twenty tables in disarray. They had been arranged in such nice, neat rows. Now, not a single table had been left standing. The contents of each table had been spilled all over the floor. The floor was covered with money, papers, broken pieces of the tables, animals, and bird droppings. Out of the corner of his eye, Peter saw feathers floating down to messy floor. 


Peter blinked, and then blinked again. Then he looked over to the one man responsible for this mess.


His back was to Peter, but Peter could see the way Jesus' shoulders still heaved up and down as he continued to suck air in deep. His posture was rigid, and both of his hands were clenched into tight fists at his sides. 

Only a few people still stood inside the Temple. In addition to Jesus throwing everything from one side of the room to the other, he had also driven out all the people. Now, Jesus stood in the middle of the room, still breathing angrily, while Peter and the rest of the stunned disciples watched from the back of the room. Many of the people who had been in the Temple before Jesus arrived watched from the doorway, not daring to step foot under the same roof as Jesus.

Jesus turned around, and looked at all of them. He seemed to be paying extra attention to the people who watched him so nervously. Never breaking eye contact, he said, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it into a den of robbers.'" 

Based on Matthew 21:12-13

"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil." Ephesians 4:26-27

Originally, I had this blog written out and done based on the two points in these verses from Ephesians. The next day, I thought about it some more and decided that we needed to look at them, point by point.

Point Number 1: Be angry and do not sin.

Did you know that you can be angry and not sin? In this story, that's exactly what Jesus did. Some of you might be thinking that just can't be true because Jesus just had a temper tantrum incredibly similar to your two year old. Wrong. This was righteous anger. In this section, Jesus was offended at what the sinners were doing in God's Temple. He looked around, and all He could see was evil in a place dedicated to God. That made Him angry, and He responded by driving out the evil.

There are countless times in the Bible where God's people have sinned, and He is angry with them. He didn't ignore their sin. He punished them, but it was never done like it was a temper tantrum, fit of anger. No, it was always what they deserved, truthfully, it was often less then what they deserved.

A Christian comedian once said that people view God as a giant fuzzy-whuzzy Care Bear in the sky. Sounds funny, and it probably made you giggle, but how many people really do think that about God? People go around thinking that God won't be angry with them because He is so loving and caring, or that He won't ever really discipline them. Yes, He has His caring, forgiving moments, but He is also a just God Who can not stand the presence of sin. So just like His Father, Jesus became angry, and did something about it. But He did not sin. It's about how we act, what we do, and how we respond to the junk people throw at us. You can respond with a holy rebuke, give them what-for, and still do it in love. We need to be zealous Christians who stand up for the things of God. We are not servants to the Care Bears, but to the Righteous One who flipped tables to get peoples attention.

Be angry and do not sin. I know I struggle with this. I either go overboard, or I'm not strong enough. I get angry, and I act on that anger. I reply with a cutting remark, ignore the person, or do something mean in response. Or I just kind of shrug it off, and let people take advantage of me. Before I know it, I'm a living like I'm a doormat. Jesus did not do that. Jesus drove out the evil. Jesus was not a big pushover, and He wasn't an angry monster. He was that perfect zealous point in the middle. That's the point we are supposed to achieve. That's the only way for us to be angry and not sin.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, September 1, 2014

"Your Time To Fish?"

Now so it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boat's which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. Now when He stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and have caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net." And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it he fell dawn at Jesus' knees saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men." So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. Luke 5:1-11
Every time I read this account of this amazing catch the Lord quickens my desire to fish! Today is no different! So with this message that is about to come I am doing as He commands and throwing out my net yet again!

Years ago when I was new to the ministry all I could see when I read this account was the Call of Peter to be a 'Fisher of men' but now, today, the verses that stand out are verse 6 and 7 where it says, "And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink." Today the words that stand out the most are, 'And when they had done this.'  When they had done this? Done what? What is the 'this' that ended up as a great catch? The 'this' that reaped them such an amazing reward was that they had done exactly what he had said. Obedience had brought them their great catch! Jesus had said, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." With one statement He had told them 1- to launch out, 2- let down their nets, and 3- to receive a catch. With this one command He put them in the right place, equipped and ready to receive the reward of a great catch.

Peter's response; "Master, we have toiled all night and have caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net." "Been there, tried that, done that," filled his heart but what came out of his mouth was, "nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net."  Then he does it! He launches out. He lets down his net. He gets his great catch and in the process of these acts of obedience his destiny unfolds!

"And when they had done this.When they had done exactly what He had said to do, 'they caught such a great number of fish,' to the point that their nets were breaking and their boats were sinking under the weight of it. It happened after they had done what He had said. What if Peter's "Been there, tried that, done that," heart attitude had won at some point in the process? What if he had refused to launch out? What if he had launched out and along the way he started to doubt and didn't let down the nets? What if he didn't bother to pull them back in to receive the catch? It happens!

Its not enough to just launch out. Its not enough to just launch out and put the nets in the water. Its not enough until we launch out, put nets in the water and receive a catch. Obedience happens when we put our actions in line to receive His promise! Our obedience doesn't end until His word is fulfilled. His word was, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." and it was fulfilled when,  'they had done this, and when they caught a great number of fish.' It was fulfilled as they did their part and Jesus fulfilled His.

"He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform it. Romans 4:20-21

So, don't waver and don't hesitate! Put into action your obedience to His call! Why? Because of the promise! A great catch awaits!!!

God Bless you as you follow Him!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Vessel For Honor"

"Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear My words."

Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel.

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.

Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: "O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?" says the Lord. "Look, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! ... Jeremiah  18:2-6

Lord, today as we come into Your house and seek Your face help us to come to You with hearts that cry out,  "Mold us, shape us," and even, "Remake us." where necessary Lord.  Lord,  fashion us. Fashion us into vessels of honor that bring glory to Your name. Lord help us to be ... a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:21 

God Bless!!!

The Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Right Reason

"Love is patient and kind, Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wrong." 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

There are many things to be said about love. Books, volumes, beliefs, and opinions can be found on the subject almost everywhere. In fact, it seems like our culture worships love. People often measure their own worth in their friends (people they love / people they cared about) and their boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife.

The Bible tells us about love repeatedly (after all, it has been said that the Bible is the greatest love story ever told). We are commanded to love our God, our neighbors, one another, the whole nine yards. Some of the things are harder than others. For example, I have a neighbor that I struggle to love. She is blunt, overbearing, rude, and more than slightly crazy (I'm serious). I have a very hard time being anywhere around her. She has shown up at my house, my work, and my church. I have always done my very best to avoid her, but sometimes I find myself cornered with no escape.

I have come to this realization: I do not love my neighbor. But then I look into Scripture, just before Paul launches into his exhaustive description of love.

In the first first three verses of this chapter, he says "...but didn't love others, I would be only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal... but didn't love others, I would be nothing... but if I didn't love others, I would have gained nothing." Any one of us could use our own lives to fill in the blanks.

I'll give some modern day examples. "I go to church, but if I don't love others, I would be nothing." If I was a doctor, I could say, "I heal the sick, but if I don't love others, I would have gained nothing." A therapist? "I help people work past their issues and inner demons, but if I didn't love others, I would be only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."

Love is the key. We all have heard the expression "It's the thought that counts." We can do all the right things, but without love, we truly gain nothing. At least, nothing as far as our Lord is concerned. Do the right things, for the right reason   Love.

"Three things will last forever - faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13


Friday, August 29, 2014

"Consider This!"

If I had a turtle I would name him Gideon!  Now that may seem like a pretty weird statement to start today's message with but as I look at this little guy and this "Behold the turtle," quote, I'm reminded of  the account of Gideon in Judges 6:11-16.

...while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!" And Gideon said to Him, "O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?' But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites." Then the Lord turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?" So he said to Him, "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house."  And the Lord said to him, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man."

Now I know I've taught on Gideon many times before and so I won't expound greatly on the fact that Gideon had that keep your head down, weakest of the weak, hiding in the winepress mentality going for him here. He was definitely not at a point to be sticking his neck out to take on the Midianites. The courage to do that came as his realization of an important truth took root in his heart. That same truth is the point of today's message and can become clear to us as well as we "Behold the turtle."

Jesus said, "Consider the lilies of the field.." Matthew 6:28 and "Consider the birds of the air..." Matthew 6:26 and today my best advice is, "Consider the turtle!" Take a close look at the turtle above and its quote. 'A turtle only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.'  Its true and it was true for Gideon as well. Once he got a hold of the truth that the Angel of the Lord imparted to him and that He was calling him to action he stuck his neck out and stepped out into the calling that God had for him. But its not like he did it all big, bad, and brave. The first thing he is asked to do is to cut down his father's altar to Baal, put up an altar to God, and sacrifice his father's bull on it. It says in verse 27 that '...Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the Lord had said to him. But because he feared his father's household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night.' It says that as they discovered what had been done they searched out who had done it. When it was discovered that it was Gideon they went to his father's house and demanded that he be turned over to them so they could kill him.  His father refused. See the thing is. He stuck his neck out. He took the steps needed to do what God asked and then he went home to his father's house, his father's covering. He went back into hiding in the place were he was protected.

So I say again, "Consider the turtle?"  Out comes its head and feet. It moves forward, pressing on at a slow steady pace, until? Until for whatever reason... it needs to rest, an obstacle in its path, or even that it senses danger; then it does what we are all supposed to do, it pulls back into the protection of its shell. We've all heard the jokes about how it carries its house with it. Never leaves home without it etc. A turtles shell is its strength, its protection, its hiding place, its resting place.  Sound familiar? The thing is the shell is a part of the turtle and it always goes where the turtle goes. The turtle can always draw back for rest, shelter and protection.

The truth that hit Gideon's keep your head down, weakest of the weak, hiding in the winepress heart attitude is the truth that the turtle and its shell can teach us. "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!" "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites.  Have I not sent you?" What might? The might of the Lord who is always with him of course.   "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man." The things that He speaks to Gideon all three times is the truth that equips any of us to, "Go," and it is the knowledge, the knowing, that He is with us. He has called Us. He fights for us. He is our strength and our ability to run into him because He is our shield, our protector is what separates us as His people. He is our help in times of danger. He is always with us no matter where we go, He goes with us! He is the one we never leave home without!

So once again in closing I say, "Consider the turtle." or more importantly I say, "Consider this.... A turtle will stick its head out and press forward because he instinctively knows his place of refuge!  Do we as His people instinctively draw into Him who is always with us?"

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever yo go!"  Joshua 1:9

"Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah  Psalm 62:8

"But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. Psalm 3:3

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust." Psalm 91:1-2

Thursday, August 28, 2014

There Is Only Life

The sun's light was fading. There was a eerie darkness covering the whole land, causing him to shiver. It was like evil was lurking about, ready and waiting for the moment it would win.

Maybe it had already won.

Natsar jumped as a loud moan escaped from the dying man above him. The other two men had died several hours ago, but not this man. He had been clinging to life for the last few hours. Natsar winced as he glimpsed at the man's beaten and bruised body. His hair was matted with blood, and he hung limply, blood covering his hands and feet. Natsar studied the plaque hanging above his head.

Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

Just then Jesus moaned again, this time louder, more brutal, more gut-wrenching. "Father," he gasped out, choking on the words. "Into your hands I commit my spirit!" With that final proclamation, his head dropped harshly, and hung there heavily.

He was gone.

"Certainly this man was innocent!" He whispered the words into the void. No one could hear him now.

Based on Luke 23: 44-47

I picked this part to write about because this is that moment that all of Jesus' disciples, His enemies, the people, and the devil were terrified to face. This is that moment where everyone was wondering if He was really dead.

I won't mince words here. Death is a horrid subject. My point isn't about death, but bare with me...

Almost four years ago, I sat bedside, as someone I dearly loved passed from this world and into the presence of God. The door leading into the hallway of the ICU was open. Shortly after, the phone rang at the desk, and a nurse answered. I remember hearing that nurse state that they only had three patients. Two who were both suffering from the same aliment, and one who had just expired.

Immediately upon hearing the word expired, I was filled with rage. How dare that nurse speak so callously of my family! However, I was too overcome with grief to move from my spot.

Fast fowarding. Now I work at a dental practice, and I hate when the patients pass away, not just because it's sad, but because their files and status are changed to "Deceased."

When I hear words like "expired" and "deceased" to describe someone who has passed away it makes me pretty angry. It makes me angry because I know the truth.

In Jesus, there is no expired or deceased. There is only life.

I hate talking or writing about this subject. It's hard and scary for me, too. My poor husband has gotten countless dirty looks when there is a sad or gruesome death in a movie. But like a fire in my bones, this message would not leave my heart. You need to understand that when you are in Jesus, the physical body may die, but the spirit lives on forever. That's why today's message started off with Jesus dying on the cross for us. Because of His death, WE HAVE LIFE.

"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

"Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha said to him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?' She said to him, 'Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.'" John 11:23-27

Jesus asked Martha point blank, "Do you believe this?" There are people out there who claim to love God, and who don't believe this. Well, that's just not true. Several weeks ago, my pastor taught a sermon on how Heaven is real, and death is a lie. You guys need to understand that, too. Death is a scary subject for us, and it controls so many of us. But we are the body, and we need to stand up and say, "NO MORE!" We have life. We have eternal life. We have life in Jesus forever. We will live with Him forever. Nothing can stop that. So, do you believe this, too?

V. Joy Palmer

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