Thursday, May 28, 2015

No More Excuses

His master exploded.

"What is this! They won't come to my feast? These excuses can't wait until after the feast they all knew good and well that I've been preparing? Why haven't they been preparing? This is ridiculous!"

He remained silent. His master would know what to do.

His master paced back and forth in the grand hall, all prepared for the grand festivities. He could smell the meat cooking and fresh loaves of bread rising. Already the table was covered with fine tableware. The only thing missing were the people.

"What lousy excuses they hare! 'I have to tend my oxen.' 'I have to examine my new field.' 'I've just gotten married.'" His master stopped abruptly, an idea gleaming in his eyes. "Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city. Bring in the poor and crippled. The blind and lame. Bring them to my feast."

He hurried to do what his master had bid, but he was quite surprised when he returned later. It was plain to see that the multitude of people they had invited instead still wasn't enough. There was still room! He said so to his master.

"Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet."

He hurried to do his master's bidding once again. Indeed, they would fill the house.

Based on Luke 14:16-24

"He said also to the man who had invited him, 'When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.'” Luke 14:12-14

Have you ever looked at these verses and scratched your head? I mean, if I'm having a party, why wouldn't I invite my friends and family? Like most of you, I don't have an overflow of cash, so why would I waste it on people who wouldn't appreciate it? I'd get nothing in return. But that's where I'm wrong. They would appreciate it. They would be moved. If they thanked me, it would bring tears to my eyes. God has done this exact same thing for us. He has invited us into His home.

Jesus told a parable about a man who did invite all his important friends to the banquet, but those so-called friends made excuses not to come. "I have to go look at my new field." Uh, won't it still be there tomorrow? "I have examine my new oxen." Put them in a barn, and they will still be there tomorrow. "I just got married." Bring your wife! Goodness! Like these people, we tend to get a little distracted with everyday life, but the poor, needy, crippled, and blind don't. They understand that you've gone to trouble to do this for them. They understand their need.

Why would Jesus tell people to throw a party for the poor right before a parable about a man who had to invite the poor when the original guest snubbed him? So that we would understand our need. We are the poor, needy, the ones crippled by sin. Why are we giving excuses? Why do we pick and choose how much of God we want? Either we come to the banquet, or we won't taste of the Lord's goodness.

How is it possible that we are both of these people? It's not. We can't be the ones invited into God's grace, yet at the same time snubbing Him for "more important things." So who are you? Are you going to the banquet? Or are you ignoring what He's done for you and making excusing, trying to bide your time? Or were you a latter who is reformed into the former?

One thing is for sure. It's time we all say, "Yes, Lord. I'm coming. No more excuses."

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"O You Righteous!"

Psalm 33:1-22

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.
Praise the Lord with the harp,
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
Sing to Him a new song;
Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
For the word of the Lord is right,
And all His work is done in truth.
He loves righteousness and justice;
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
And all the hosts of them by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deep in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
And the people whom He has chosen as His own inheritance.

The Lord looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men.
From the place of His habitation He looks 
On all the inhabitants of the earth;
He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.

No king is saved by the multitude of an army;
A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
A horse is a vain hope for safety;
Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength.

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His mercy,
To deliver their soul from death,
And to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
Just as we hope in You.

Believe it or not but I typed out all of Psalm 33 because of verse one! "Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful."  You might be asking, "Why?" right about now. It all has to do with the fact that the words righteous and upright both, when you look them up in the Strong's, have to do with being straight, and with being right with God. It then says, that, praise from such people is "beautiful." The word beautiful comes from a primitive root word that means to be at home, (by implication) to be pleasant(or suitable). 

Take a look at everything that flowed from this Psalmist who obviously understood about being straight and at home with the Lord! Reread Psalm 33 and look at the things that He declared in this one Psalm about God and who He is; not only in his life but to all of mankind.   

Those that are straight with God praise Him because they are at home doing it in the presence of the Almighty. As you read the Psalms watch and see. The Psalmists are perfectly comfortable pouring out their hearts before Him.  They aren't afraid to lay it all out there. They tend to not only acknowledge who He is but who they are is laid before Him as well. They share their joys. Their fears. Their insecurities and sins. Their hopes and dreams. Their heartaches and any and every need. They declare His works and their desires to serve Him. They are simply and openly straight with Him about every thought and emotion.

Those that are straight / upright with God praise Him because they AT HOME doing so! How about you? Do you PRAISE Him is such a way that declares you are perfectly at home in His presence! 

Take time everyday to lay your adoration and your upright heart before Him?

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Amazing Christian

Wow! The shining sun had nothing on this guy.

This man was incredible. The wisdom he had about God, his insights, his teachings, and his stories just blew her away. Marla shock her head. He must have had incredible teachers.

Except Marla's husband told her that he had been a carpenter, and that the Scribes and Pharisees hated him. Marla had seen the looks they gave Jesus, and the condescending tone they used when they spoke to him. They definitely hated Jesus. So who trained him?

Marla moved closer to the front of the crowd as she mulled over her thoughts. Maybe his parents? His father was a carpenter like him, but what did that matter? Oh, how lucky his parents were! They raised this amazing man! Marla wished her sons had grown up to be like Jesus. Oh, to be the mother of Jesus! To carry him in her womb and teach him as he grew up! That woman was extremely blessed.

Marla didn't realize what she was doing. The words just sort of spilled out, but how could she not say it? "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!" Her voice was loud and bold. People around her started to nod their agreement, and a gentle hum filled her ears as their verbal agreement grew louder.

But it stopped as soon as Jesus spoke. Marla's heart skipped a beat, and worry beat within her chest that she had said something drastically wrong.

"Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"

Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it? Instead? Really? Marla frowned, but slowly started to smile. Did that mean that she was also blessed if she heard the word of God and kept it? Really!

Now it was Marla's turn to rival the sun. Her smile was dazzling as she embraced this truth.

Based on Luke 11:27-28

"As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, 'Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!' But he said, 'Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!'" Luke 11:27-28

This woman was amazed by Jesus. It was common knowledge that Jesus was a carpenter like His earthly father, Joseph, before starting His ministry. It was very well known that the religious leaders and teacher of His day hated Him. So who taught Jesus all He knew? What amazing woman got to raise up this man?

I've felt this way before. I've literally been jealous when I think about Mary. God had such an incredible purpose for her life! She carried and raised the Son of God.

Is Mary different then you and me? Is she more holy, blessed, or a better person then you or I? That's the impression this woman had. Jesus tossed that theory right into the trash by saying, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"

Jesus has never cared about who you are in the eyes of man or how "blessed" they consider you. Your official title has never mattered. The important thing to Jesus is that you hear God's Word and keep it! I compare myself to a woman who lived two thousand years ago instead of keeping God's Word. Just saying that sounds dumb, but I've done it.

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

This doesn't say that some of us are called and created. It says we are His workmanship. You, me, and Joe across the street. So instead of comparing yourself to every amazing Christian who walks by, be the amazing Christian God created you to be.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, May 25, 2015

"Good Work"

   Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?"
   Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."
   Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?
   Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"
   Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
   For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
   Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always."
   And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst."  John 6:28-35

As I was reading this section of scripture today I couldn't help notice that even though they had asked the question, 'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?' they didn't really go for the answer that Jesus gave them. Have you ever had someone ask you for your advice and then when you give it, because it isn't necessarily the answer they wanted they totally reject the perfectly good advice you gave? Kinda looks exactly like the above scenario doesn't it?

First we have the asking ..."Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?"
Next we have the answer ... "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."
   And then of course the displeasure/discounting the advice ... "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?"

I saw this quote today, "Do not ask God to guide your footsteps...If you're not willing to move your feet."
It reminded me of this encounter with Jesus. Why ask Him what it takes to be doing the work of God if your not willing to accept what He tells you? Why bother to ask for an answer if you don't want the answer He gives. Why ask, if your immediate response is going to be, "Prove it."  According to Jesus, the work we need to do is to simply believe in Him! Believe He was sent by God! Believe that what He said is truth! Believe that, like the manna that was sent to sustain the Israelites in the Old Testament, He was sent to meet all our needs today. He is the Bread of Life sent by the Father and our job is simply ... to believe ... to receive ... to walk in the everlasting life that He has made possible ... to all ... who ...BELIEVE!

God bless and keep up the good work! Trust and believe!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Transformed Vessels"

   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 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:18:1-6

Lord, I pray that we as Your people would always recognize You and only You as the Sovereign in our lives. Help us to always be molded by You as we heed the words You speak into our lives. Use us, Lord, even if it means You have to rework us till the marred parts have been eliminated. Transform us into the vessels of honor that bring glory to Your name.

Thanks Lord, for all You do as the Master Craftsman for us, the workmanship of Your hands!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Following Him

   As they were walking along the road, a man said to Him, "I will follow You anywhere You go."
   "Foxes have holes," Jesus told him, "and birds in the air have nests, but the Son of Man doesn't have a place to lay His head."
   He told another man, "Follow me."
   "Lord, let me first bury my father," he said.
   But Jesus told him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you go and tell about God's kingdom."
   "I will follow You, Lord," said another, "but first, let me say good-bye to my people at home."
   "Anyone who lays his hands on a plow," Jesus answered him, "and keeps looking back isn't fit for God's kingdom."
Luke 9:57-62

Honestly, I extremely dislike these verses. They always make me question my faith. Not question as in, "Do I believe in Jesus?" but more like "Would Jesus be happy with my faith?"

Notice how it doesn't say what happened to these men. We are all left wondering did these men forsake earthly comforts, their dead, and their family and friends to follow Jesus? And if he asked us to walk away from these same things, would we?

I mean, if Jesus showed up at your door and said, "Follow me," we would drop everything and follow Him, there's no doubt in my mind we would, but He doesn't physically show up at our doors anymore. Ours is a different challenge. Do we follow Him wherever He leads, even though we don't get to see Him? Even when we don't know where we will stay or what we will eat? Even when death claims someone you love, do you keep going? Or do you keep looking over you shoulder to see what you left behind for God.

Looking back costs us. We know that. Genesis 19:26 says "But Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt." She knew not to look back. The Bible doesn't say that she looked back in longing, wanting to go back. It doesn't matter why, all that matters is that she looked back.

Friends, it doesn't matter why we look back. Looking back distracts from God, from what He has told to do, from the path that He has set us on. Don't look to the things you left behind when you started to follow God. There is an old expression "If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward." It's time to move forward.


Friday, May 22, 2015

"The One Thing Needed"

 Psalm 27:4-9

One thing have I desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord 
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
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."
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
 You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me, 
O God of my salvation.

And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her. Luke 10:41-42

Desire the 'One thing' needed and seek His face!