Thursday, October 31, 2013

Our Visible God

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation." Colossians 1:15

This verse feels fresh and alive. It's begging us to understand just how awesome is our God. 

Our invisible God revealed Himself. We know his name now. We can talk to Him freely. There was a time when none of this was normal.

"And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him." Colossians 1:21-22

Our awesome, invisible God is not invisible. He came for us, died for, and lives in us. One day, He will come again for His faithful servants. Those He made holy, blameless, and above reproach when He stormed the halls of hell, holding the keys to our souls.

Our God has never been invisible. Our awesome God has always been coming for us.

Let us rejoice in our God, who was, and is, and is to come!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Today's thought is a simple one and comes from a verse that we have all heard at one point or another but today it hit me fresh and new and really made me think about the awesomeness of the God we serve!

He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Psalm 147:4

What a statement!  What a God we serve! He is so amazingly awesome in all His ways! Think about it. Personally, I have trouble remembering what I ate for dinner yesterday or even if I remembered to eat and He knows every star in the sky by name. Every single moment of every single day He not only holds them in place (Job 38:31-33) but He calls them all by name. He took the time to count them, to give them a name. The thing about a name is that it identifies you as special and unique and our God knows them all by name. Not only the stars either! He knows them but He knows all of us, personally, by name as well! The thing is He knows the name of every single person; (as the stars of the heaven and as the grains of sand on the seashore. Genesis 22:17) For all eternity He knows! He knows us by name! He knows them by name! Psalm 139 - tells us that He knows everything about us all individually, special and unique. The psalmist next words say it best!

Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. Psalm 147:5

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Where are the People Who Care?

"For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interest, not those of Jesus Christ." Philippians 2:20-21

Paul wanted to send one of the Christians in his group to the Philippian Church. Unfortunately, he did not feel like a lot of the Christians would really care about their well being. They were all too focused on their own interest. How terrible!

The same is true today. Sad, but true. Everyone has their own "cause." Against abortion, against animal cruelty, against child labor, etc., and they are all real and true causes.

Living for a cause means completely separating yourself from things that support the cruel act you're fighting. You give those things up, lest you be called the hypocrite. But when a friend tells us about another cause, we rarely welcome the idea.  It might mean living without something we've grown accustomed to, and we wouldn't want that. 

We are no different. The church has really split up over their individual "causes." The truth is, we are all fighting for a cause, and we are struggling with another. Don't judge. God is at work in all of us.

"I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you." Philippians 2:19

Paul knew there were a lot of Christians he didn't want to send. But he knew who he would send: Timothy,  because he genuinely cared about the welfare of others.

We want to be like Timothy, guys. We want to be the one who cares. So instead of letting these things divide us, lets learn from each other, allow God to work in our hearts, and make a difference as people who care.


Monday, October 28, 2013

"His Loving Kindness - An AAAH God Moment"

Blessed be the Lord, For He has shown me His marvelous kindness... Psalm 31:21

I must admit that these words are the best words possible in describing how I feel at this very moment. He is so good to me. I spent the weekend ... moving! What a horrid experience! 10 years and sixteen foster kids later you tend to have gathered a lot of baggage, both in the natural as well as the emotional! I say again, horrid experience.

I was thinking about the tower of babel. My guess is that it was a much more horrific experience than mine. One minute your talking and working and going about your life and bam, everything is changed and you can't even communicate with your friends and family. Couldn't have been good! The thing is God had His reason. He confused the languages for a reason and the thing to remember is that when times are difficult He is still present! He still has a plan. He hasn't gone anywhere.

He gave me just such a reminder yesterday morning as I was off to work early so that I could make church on time. In order to best illustrate this moment for you I have to tell you about something that happened years and years ago when I MOVED to VA to attend Bible College. In order to pay the bills my sister and I took on a paper route. Our first morning out we set about delivering our 400 papers. Its 3 o'clock in the morning in this big scary city and to be honest I was a little nervous, OK a little (scared), after all I was from a small town in northern NH. I remember praying and asking God to keep us safe and as I did that something happened. A deer crossed the road in front of us. That may not seem like much to you but to me and it was a touch of home that felt like God was reassuring me that things were OK and He was with me. I didn't expect to see a deer in Washington, DC! It was a big scary city. God spoke His reassurance to me through that sighting. I don't know why, but every time I've needed a touch of His presence or His peace and reassurance, He has always brought a deer to visit me.

Yesterday was no different. I wasn't expecting it, but as I stepped out the door and headed towards my car, there they were. Just standing there waiting for me. One moved off into the woods but the other just stayed and and looked at me for a bit before he strolled off into the woods as well.

You know when you see a two year old sharing a toy or hugging another little one and you find yourself making this noise "AAAAh" and saying, "Thats so nice." Well, that is what happened to me as I saw those deer standing there waiting for me. See, one minute I'm heartbroken because I've lost the three year old who had been with me the last seven months and the home I thought I would be in till I died and the next minute I'm having my "AAAAH, God. Your so good to me!" moment. You may not believe it but I'm pretty confident that He made those deer stand there and wait for me because now my heart is full of His peace and His reassurance!

So the last thing I'd like to share is ... Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24

Sunday, October 27, 2013

They Listened, Eh?

"What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice." Philippians 1:18

Paul is saying that since he has been imprisoned, many men in the imperial guard have started sharing the Gospel. Not all of them have the best of motives. Some men proclaimed the Gospel out of good will and love, but some proclaimed the truth out of rivalry and envy, thinking it would bother Paul.

But Paul didn't care.

He did not care why they were talking about Jesus. All he knew was that Jesus' story was being shared, and he could rejoice about that.

The Gospel spread through the imperial guard while they stood by Paul's doorway. Paul was there to answer questions and correct misconceptions.

A fool can mockingly say that Jesus died for our sins, but that doesn't make it any less true.

If they are talking about God, a door way is open. They were listening. Listening enough to repeat it. And if they are confused about something, then it's our job to help them.

But let's rejoice that they listened in the first place, eh?


Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Using Your Headlights Is Important"

Psalm 119:105 says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."

What a statement to declare! We all, if we have been saved very long, have heard and professed these words. Personally I can't read or even hear these words without Amy Grant singing it in my head. You know the tune... Thy word ... is a lamp unto my feet...and a light unto my path, Thy a lamp unto my feet...and a light unto my path...

The thing is ... do we live that way?  In today's world we can really grasp the meaning of these words. We all drive down the road using headlights that light the way as we go along our way with the purpose of reaching some given destination. It doesn't matter where we are going, it could be an evening church service, work, the grocery store, a friend's for dinner, etc. Wherever we go as long as its dark, those headlights come on to light the way! They also allow us to see danger ahead. I live in NH. Watch for Moose signs are everywhere for a reason. Its important to keep an alert eye! Headlights allow us to do that.

The Word of God is our lamp that lights the way along our Highway to Heaven and it allows us to identify the dangers that we must stay alert to avoid! So, in order to watch out for the moose in your life and to know the way you should go ... check out His Word for you today! Don't travel in darkness!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Giving Your All

"The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. All day long he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back." Proverbs 21:25-26

We talk a lot about serving each other. But do we really? Are we so bogged down with serving activities that we are really just going through the motions? Or are we just skating by with the bare minimum.

"The righteous gives and does not hold back." That's the answer.

But how does he give without holding back? Without becoming drained, broken down, and running on fumes?

"Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need." Ephesians 4:28

He learned that no matter how many "good" things he has done, he isn't perfect. He knows that he has lost a lot of time doing his own thing instead of doing things for God. He can never give back the time he's taken.

He wants to do honest work, not in a draining way that makes serving a chore, but so that he can help anyone in need. The righteous man works so that he can give all he has, at any time, because that's what Jesus did for us.

Examine the way you serve. Are you going through the motions? Are you doing the mandatory requirements? Are you using the time God's given you to help someone, whether it be with money, food, moving their boxes, building their furniture, or even just by giving them your time and friendship.

There is a big difference between giving your all, running ragged, and not bothering.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Best Word Ever"

Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you." Isaiah 35:4

"He will come and save you." A promise we all need to lay claim to on occasion. The following account contains one of the best words ever as well as being a great example of His response when we turn to Him with these words, "Lord, save me!"

And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."

So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, Matthew 14:28-31

Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus! Then it says that he started looking at the effects of the storm. He then became afraid and started to sink. In order to see the effects of the storm it meant that he took his eyes off from his destination, Jesus. It is in that moment, when he became fearful and began to sink, that he cried out to Jesus to save him. It is also the moment that what I consider to be one of the best words ever comes into play.  That word is immediately. Immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him. Immediately when we cry out, "Lord, save me!" He responds.

Jesus was right there when He said, "Come." He was right there when Peter climbed out and started walking. He was right there as he tuned and looked away. He was right there when he started sinking. He hadn't left. He hadn't gone anywhere. He was right there as Peter called for help and He immediately stretched out His hand to save him.

We all have moments in our lives when we take our eyes off Him. We all have times when the cry of our heart is, "Lord, save me." Isn't it nice to know that help will come immediately because He is just a helping hand away!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Perfect Gift for the Perfectionist

I'm one of those annoying people that tries to do everything perfect, all the time, least I fail and someone be disappointed in me.

If you have a perfectionist complex, this blog is for you.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

You know that you have all fallen short and will fall short again. This doesn't stop you from trying to do everything right. From working yourself to the bone to prove that you're good. From trying to be the only one who can do the job right. You try to be the go-to person. You try to earn your place least someone else come and snatch away your hard-earned title.


God is telling you, me, and every other perfectionist out here to stop. Our works will only get us so far.

And the good news is that even if your elementary school rival has beaten you at everything and always received the recognition, you have a place. You have a title. You didn't even do the grueling work to get it.

You are saved. You are redeemed. You have been given a gift that no one can take. You don't need to be perfect to receive it.God wants you.

So take a breath.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"What A Moment"

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, "Whom are you seeking?"

They answered Him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am He." And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them.

Then-when He said to them, "I am He." -they drew back and fell to the ground. John 18:4-6

As I was reading this morning, these three little words and the affect they had jumped out at me and caused me to really stop and wonder at the amazing power of our God. Just five letters, that make up three little words, had the ability to put a detachment of grown soldiers on the ground. In both verses 3 and 12 it tells us about the detachment of troops that were with Judas to arrest Jesus. My footnote says that a detachment is made up of 300 - 600 Roman soldiers. Think about it! All He did was speak three words, "I am He."  What that moment must have been like! The power behind that confession caused them to draw back and fall to the ground. I can't help but be in awe. With five letters He dropped a crowd to the ground.

One minute they are responding to His question, "Whom are you seeking?" and the next they are on the ground and He didn't even lift a finger or do anything except speak those three powerful words, " I am He." It gives us a glimpse of those moments during Creation when that same power was at work each time  He spoke and said "Let there be _________."

What an amazing, wonderful God we serve. With all that power available to Him and instead, He willingly chose to surrender himself to redeem you and I.

Then Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?" John 18:13

Monday, October 21, 2013

What the Public Sees

"Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man." John 2:23-25

The part that jumped out at me was that Jesus needed no one to bear witness on His behalf.

Jesus performed signs, wonders, and miracles, but when did He pose for the press or shake hands with the religious leaders afterwards? He didn't!

He knew what was in people. He knew that when the people saw these things, they were going to spreed the word all around!

Jesus went around doing what He was called to do. His ministry. He didn't give thought to publicity and making sure the people knew His name. God took care of those things.

We need to go around and focus on our ministry! We need to focus on being the hands and feet of Jesus. The part of our reputation that we need to worry about, is making sure the people see the Godly works we are doing.

God will take care of the publicity. Let's just make sure they have something to see.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

"A Question For You?"

So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made water into wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.

When Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.
Then Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe."
Then the nobleman said to Him, "Sir, come down before my child dies!"
Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your son lives." So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went on his way.

And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, "Your son lives!"

Then he inquired of them the hour when his son got better. And they said to him. "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him."

So the father knew that was the same hour in which Jesus said to him, "Your son lives." And he himself believed, and his whole household.   John 4:46-53

Today's thought is in the form of a question. "What have you been imploring Him to do?" This nobleman, who is believed to be a Roman centurion came to Jesus with one purpose. To implore Jesus to come and heal his son who was about to die.

He knew His reputation, that Jesus had turned the water into wine. He was told that Jesus was back in town and went to get him to help with his son. Jesus looked him in the eye and and said, "Go your way, your son lives."

It says that he did just that. He believed the word and went his way. He left without Jesus! He took Him at his word and left! The result was his son lived, and he and his whole household became believers that day.

So the thing is, do we? Do we take Him at His word when we implore Him about an issue in our lives? Do we trust His word on the subject and go our way? Do we influence the "believing" of our households by the faith we put in His words to us? Do we need to see the sign or can we trust His word?

"So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went on his way."

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Note

You know in the front of the Bible where it says, "This Bible belongs to:" ? Well, it has my full name in my Bible. Shortly after getting engaged, I added this note underneath, "but on August 24th, 2013, Vanessa Joy Palmer, Mrs. Samuel Palmer." And since then, whenever I've seen that, it's made me happy. Whether I, myself, am happy, angry, or sad, that little note makes me focus on my love.

"How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God." Psalm 84:1-2

The author of this Psalm thought about God. He longed for God. He wanted to be in His presence. His heart and flesh just cried out to the Lord!

Is there something, anything that will remind us of how much we love God? Bring a smile to our lips? Usher us into His presence?

The words to a worship song, a rainbow, the waves coming in from the ocean, the stars, these are all little love notes from God. When we see and focus on these things we should remember that. We should be entranced in that. We should be taken from here to a place that is just us and our Love, our God.


Friday, October 18, 2013

"Good Man - Good Treasure - Good Things"

"Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgement.

For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Matthew 12:32

Notice the exclamation point? Jesus is speaking pretty strongly here. He was speaking to the Pharisees and He very bluntdly called them a 'brood of vipers,' and then tells them that they are evil and don't speak anything good. Pretty strong words that are aimed at the Pharisees to make a point about the condition of their hearts and the things they had been speaking with their mouths.

In the process they are also pretty powerful words that remind us to guard the condition of our hearts. While reading today these words jumped out at me, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things."

Seems to me if you read these words in context Jesus considers the words we use to be good treasure or bad treasure. They reveal the good or evilness of our heart and they determine the outcome of the good things or the bad things that we receive in the day of judgement.

My plan is to pay more attention to speaking 'good treasure' into the lives He has entrusted me with! God Bless!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Log Removal

There have been several times where I've written a blog with a strong, upstanding, Christian principle, fully believing every word. Then something rocks the boat and I freak out. My husband has taken to giving me a look I've titled, "Woman, stop freaking out and go read your blog again for the answer."

"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" Matthew 7:3

We love to look like we've got it all  figured out. We love having the answers. We love to give advice. It's so easy to tell someone about the speck in their walk with God.

However, sometimes that speck we just gave advice about, is an up-and-coming log in our own lives.

We can give very good advice about doubt, but have a truckload of it at home. We can gently urge our friends to deal with a spiritual issue that we, ourselves, have been ignoring.

The road to log-in-eye-removal starts with recognizing that we all have logs in our eyes. They come in all shapes and sizes. We will struggle. We will make mistakes. We will be human. Don't pretend to be perfect. No one is perfect. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

When you recognize a log, deal with it. The rules of faith don't stop working just because the problem is suddenly applied to you. Any and all revelations of God and His Word is meant to destroy those logs. Amen.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Huge And Hungry"

Today we are going to look at something that He showed me as I was looking at a really huge crowd pleasing event. "The feeding of the Five Thousand." It is an account that can be found in all four gospels so it was an event that obviously impressed! The thing that I would like to focus on in this account is the number of people. It is called the feeding of the 5000. We know that it was a much larger crowd then that because in those days they didn't count the women and children and that is key in today's message. This was a huge crowd of people and Jesus "fed them, every one, as much as they wanted, till they all were filled." John 6:11, Mark 6:42, Matthew 14:20, Luke 9:17

So, my main point, a huge crowd made up of 5000 men, plus women, and children. Don't forget! HUGE crowd!

Now take a look at the beginning of this account in Mark 6:32 'So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. And when the day was well spent, His disciples came to Him and said, "This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat,"

You know the rest of the story. Basically ... Jesus tells them to feed them, they bring Him 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish, He prays to the Father, and they start passing it out. It multiplies until everyone eats and is filled. Huge crowd pleaser! Everyone eats! Everyone gets fed!

Obviously my point today isn't focused on this amazing, awesome miracle, which I love talking about but on something else. A point that He showed me, and so, I will always look at this event in a new light. I will, like Jesus, see the crowd! With eyes filled with compassion He saw their hunger. Their hunger for the things of God. This huge crowd, or as the word puts it, this great multitude had sought Him out, not for food, but because they were hungry for the things of God in their lives. They had spent the day listening to His teaching. They hadn't gotten bored and left. They hadn't left even to go get food.  Jesus saw their hunger for the things of God long before He dealt with their physical hunger at the end of the day. This huge amount of people hadn't come looking for food but they had come looking for revelation! They had come looking for Jesus!

The point He showed me is simply this: This amazing, wonderful miracle had taken place because this huge multitude of men, women, and children had simply come! The fact the the crowd was there is the major revelation that He showed me. The heart of man is hungry for the things of God and that is just as true today. People are hungry and its time to feed the multitude! "The harvest is truly plentiful"

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Dash of Salt for Anger Management

So your driving along one night, minding your own business, and out of nowhere, a car appears behind you. Now, you're going the speed limit, but this guy is right on your bumper. You tape your breaks to communicate with him to BACK OFF a little. He responds by flicking his brights on, completely blinding you. As soon as you round the curve, he takes off, and passes you like this is NASCAR. You respond in one of two ways: 1) You speed up, pass him, and then get nailed with a ticket because that is your luck, or 2) you shake your fist at them, shouting, "If I wasn't a Christian, I'd chase you down and teach you a lesson, buddy!"

Neither option speaks very kindly of "Christians."

Hopefully, we don't really respond either way. Here's why:

"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven." Matthew 5:13-16

We are the salt of the earth! The light of the world! A city on a hill! People do watch us to see if we are for real. I hate to say it, but how I handle my road rage can affect how someone sees us, and by extension, God. The way you handle ordering dinner at a restaurant, speaking to a telemarketer on the phone, or treating a cashier at the grocery store can affect someone's journey to God. Our actions need to be done out of love for mankind. Otherwise we may lose our flavor.

Have you ever had mashed potatoes that were not cooked with any salt?

It's bad, guys.

Don't lose your flavor.


Monday, October 14, 2013

"Get Your Glimpse"

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches." Matthew 13:31-32

So here is what we know about a mustard seed. It is what it is. A really small seed.  It starts out small and after it is planted, it grows! It grows and grows into a plant. It is no longer a seed but a tree that is big enough for birds to nest in.

Jesus is saying that the kingdom of heaven is like that. We start out with just a glimpse. It finds a place in our hearts and minds. It takes root and grows from a glimpse into a truth. Like the tiny seed it is no longer just a glimpse but it has grown into the reality that we live by and next thing we know we are the ones passing out the 'glimpse' into the workings of the kingdom.

Every time we are in the Word we receive a greater glimpse into the workings of the kingdom and what life with God is all about. I would challenge you today to go get your glimpse and let it grow!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Learning How To Breathe

"When Seth grew up, he had a son and named him Enosh. It was during his lifetime that people first began to worship the Lord." Genesis 4:26

Can you imagine what it must have been like discovering how to worship God? Can you imagine the people then? They wake up one day, but this day is not like any other! No, today is the day they discover worship. The day they enter His presence for the first time!

They arrive, and the burning in their souls intensifies, squeezing the air out of their lungs. Naturally, and yet so foreign, they begin to string together words with melodies to honor God. For the very first time, it feels like they are truly breathing. They have discovered their everything.

As time went on, the method of worshiping God changed. There were periods when worshiping God took a lot of work. When Jesus died and rose again, that all changed. Worship became much easier.

We take for granted what is so accessible to us. We can worship God in a split second. Yet we ignore the voice in our hearts, telling us to step into His presence.

Hopefully, we all discover how to worship God for the first time, and you experience the freedom He gives you. Hopefully you discover you are breathing again.

May you discover that every time.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

"God Can Add"

Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33

Putting God first. A principle that we all, as Christians, know is our ultimate hearts desire, but in the realities of our day to day life it is often challenged. I ran across the word 'first' while reading this morning and realized that it was tied up with someone who was setting the perfect example at putting God first and Him adding 'all these things' back to her.

We find this perfect example in the book of First Kings, chapter seventeen, verses eight through sixteen. This is where we find a widow who has reason to worry about food and drink. She has enough for one more meal. She knows that there is only enough for her and her son to eat one more time. She is gathering sticks so that she can prepare it when Elijah comes along and asks her to bring him a cup of water. As she sets her task aside to bring him the water, he also calls to her and asks for a 'morsel of bread.' How many of us would set the worries of our day aside long enough to fetch someone a cup of water? I love that she was willing to do that.

Her response to the request for the 'morsel of bread' also tells us the weight of her concern. "As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a hand full 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 and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." Her words tell us that she knew how little she had left and that she knew she had no way of getting more. She felt like there was no way to provide more for her son.

Talk about putting God first! Personally I know that my first words in response to his request for bread would have been, "I don't have any! I have just enough for one more meal."  Did you see the difference? Her first words, "As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread," In today's words we would say, "God knows, I don't have any bread." Her first words in response to Elijah's request acknowledged that God knew her situation.

Next Elijah tells her to not fear and to go and prepare him a small cake first and afterward to go make some for herself and her son.  Again she does as she is asked and puts serving the man of God first. I have always thought of this in terms of, she prepared it and gave him the first portion, but that isn't what happened. She went and used her flour and oil, prepared his first, fed him, and second, went back to fix for herself and her son. Why would she do it this way just because Elijah said to? She did it this way because she trusted in the word of God that Elijah spoke.

Along with his instructions He also said, "For thus says 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." Following Elijah's instructions was based on trusting in the Lord her God and the words that He spoke to her. She had put Him first in words and deeds and He kept adding back to her.

You and I need to remember His words to us are: "For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Set-Apart People

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." 1 Peter 2:9-10

There is a lot of crazy, government stuff going on in the world currently, and if you're not careful, it's easy to get sucked into a debate about all sorts of things. We, as Jesus Freaks, need to remember that God has called us. He called us to be set apart, to be different, to be a people for His own possession.

No matter where our home country, He has called us. No matter what our position in government, He has called us. No matter where we live, He has called us. No matter what our family thinks, He has called us.

No excuses. We are responsible for being a people set apart for Him. So it does not matter where you are or what's happening, you are responsible for making sure you are set apart for Him.

"For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish." Psalm 1:6

You are responsible for making sure you are set apart and righteous. God will watch over you. However, those who have not separated themselves for God will perish.

I'd say that's reason enough to make sure I am set apart for Jesus!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Interesting Parable"

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in the city; and she came to him, saying, 'Avenge me of my adversary.' And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.' Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said." Luke 18:1-6

We need to know two important things here. One that Jesus told this parable for a reason. It says that His purpose was so that we would pray and not lose heart! The second thing is that he said we need to take heed to the words that the unjust judge said and what his words said is this, he had decided to hear and grant the widows plea, not because he of his regard for God or man but because of her constant asking.

Jesus told us to pay attention to that just before He said, "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes; will He really find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:7-8

He is telling us to ask not lose heart! Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Just because we haven't seen the evidence that God has heard our cry doesn't mean we give up and lose heart that the answer will come. Faith is about believing that He will do what He said He will and He has said that He will hear and He will answer. The question here is, 'Will we have faith enough to keep asking and to not lose heart but to trust Him till the answer comes?

"When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, And their tongues fail for thirst,
I the Lord, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will open rivers in desolate heights, And fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. Isaiah 41:17-18

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Take Us There!

"I have seen everything that is under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind."
Ecclesiastes 1:14

The author had seen it all, and knew all of it was worthless. A lot of us can relate to the author. We have seen enough to know that a lot of stuff is worthless. Anything that is real, true, and lasting is from God.

"But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord LORD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works." Psalm 73:28

God is our refuge, and the more we draw near to Him, the more we see He is our refuge. We become lost in His presence. Soon, we become completely and utterly focused on Him, and we stop chasing after the wind.

Oh, God, take us away! Straight into your presence! The place where the smoke of today is no longer relevant, where the cares of the world no longer badger us, and where the deceitfulness of the earth can no longer tempt us. Those things have never satisfied us.

It is good for us to be in your presence! Take us there!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Life Storms"

And when He had sent them away, He departed unto a mountain to pray. Mark 6:46

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. Mark 1:35

Yesterday we got hit with this really huge storm. The wind and rain was gusting so hard we had to pull over long enough to let the worst of it pass so that we could see the road again. As we sat waiting it made me think about how it is like that sometimes in life. Sometimes things get hard. The 'life storms' happen and we get so caught up in them and we are so intent on the destination that we forget to take time to stay safe. We might forget to take time to stop and rest in Him or to stop and get His counsel on what to do or how to handle things. His counsel and our time with Him keeps us safe and strong in Him!

I know that for me personally this has been one of the hardest years I have ever had to get through. I have never felt so "poor and needy' in my life! I feel like all I've done this year is navigate and get through 'life storms' all year long. Yet, the thing here is, it has also so been one of the best! In March we started Snack Time Devotions. This is our 200th message. What a blessing it has been! I know that I have taken the time to stop and spend with Him. To listen and to receive a message to share every day and I know that it has helped me to stay safe and strong in Him as I have navigated through!

Jesus is always our best example!  If He took time to separate Himself and spend time with the Father, shouldn't we?

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Responsibility to Prepare

"As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, 'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,' John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, 'After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.' " Mark 1:2-7

John is an interesting person. John was so focused on preparing the way for Jesus, he obviously didn't put a lot of stock in nice tunics and robes. He wore camel's hair and a belt to cover himself, and that was it. Some people would have a problem with this lack of concern for a man of God's outward appearance.

Truthfully, you could have frizzy hair on the fritz, mismatched socks, and overalls, and all that would truly matter is whether you were preparing the way. Jesus is coming again, and the responsibility of every God-lover now is to prepare the way for the second coming: tell the world the Gospel! God-lovers, stop focusing on the presentation, but rather start screaming the message for the world to hear! Prepare the way. Prepare the world. That's our responsibility now.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Shinning Lights"

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

Daniel and his friends understood the need to be faithful to their God. They understood that as they served Him, they were a testimony to who He was and they let Him shine in their lives on a daily basis. We know this because of the words that heathen kings declared as they witnessed God in the lives of these young men who put God first and brought glory their Father in heaven.

The king answered Daniel, and said, "Truly your God is the God of gods, The Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret." Daniel 2:47

Nebuchadnezzar called Him the 'Most High God' as he called the three from the fiery furnace as well as making a decree 'that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut into pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.' Daniel 3:29

Darius used these words as he was putting Daniel in the lion's den, "Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.' Daniel 6:16

His proclamation as he took Daniel out was even better!  "To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel. For He is the living God, and steadfast forever; His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, And His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, Who delivered Daniel from the power of the lions. Daniel 6:25-27

So let your light shine before men! People will see and glorify our Father in heaven!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Giving Away Victory

The people of Israel did evil again. The Lord gave them into the hand of Jabin, King of Canaan. When the people of the Lord cried to him for help, God raised up Barak.

The prophetess, Deborah, was judging Israel at that time. She summoned Barak from Kedesh-naphtali. When he came to her, she spoke the Lord's words to him, "Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, 'Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor, taking 10,000 from the people of Naphtali and the people of Zebulum. And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin's army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand'?"

Barak said to her, "If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go."

And she said, "I will surely go with you. Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman." (Read the full story in Judges chapter 4.)

Sometimes when God calls us to a task, we jump up and do it. There are other times when we don't move. And more times when we look to man and say, "I can't do it without you."

Has not the Lord, our God, commanded us? Has not the Lord, our God, called us? Why look to man for help in God's quest?

The ending sequence is never the way it could have been. Sometimes we are undoubtedly blessed, and God will give us another chance. But there are battles to be won, and if you don't take up your sword, someone else will...

Why take the chance? Why give away the victory God gave to you?



Friday, October 4, 2013

"Doing His God Thing"

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. Daniel 6:10

I feel really drawn to Daniel these days. This one verse contains so much information about what kind of man he was. First, it tells us that when Daniel knew that when the writing was signed he purposely went home and did his normal God thing for the day. He knew he would be caught going against the new ruling. He didn't go pray in a corner, he went straight to the window, so that anyone with eyes to see could know that he chose his God first and foremost.

Second it says that he prayed and gave thanks everyday as was his custom. Gave thanks for what? He had been in captivity for a long time. At this point I wonder would I have given up, gotten bitter towards God and blamed Him. Or would I be like Daniel who was still praying, and giving thanks for the favor that God was continually providing even though he was being held captive in a heathen nation. Daniel was a walking, talking, breathing testimony of God's glory to a whole nation. Despite his circumstances he continued to pry and give thanks!

Third it says that it was his custom from early days. That means he made it a habit. Since his early days he prayed, gave thanks and served his God. Since eary days implies a time span here. For years it was his habit to take time to pray at his window three times a day. He had a habit of spending time with God. He had a habit of talking with Him. He had a habit of giving thanks. It was his custom since early days and the secret to his success! It was his custom from early days to do his God thing!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Quality Talking Time

"And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." And he said to them, "What do you want me to do for you?" And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." Mark 10:35-36

Now, while it would be awesome to be at Jesus' right or left hand in Heaven, and you can't blame them for trying, there was an agenda here.

They went to Jesus with this big, "Don't say no to us," statement. Then, in an effort to earn some brownie points, they asked that one of them be seated on Jesus' right, and the other on His left in Heaven.

Sometimes we make our time with God so conditional. And then instead of spending time with God, we try to butter Him up for our requests.

At my first writing conference, the welcoming class speaker, an editor, tried to calm those of us who were on the verge of puking because we were about to pitch our lives and souls to real editors and agents. She said the normal about relaxing and being yourself, and then she said something that stuck. She told us that sometimes it's really great for them to not hear about another story. That sometimes the biggest impressions were made by the authors that just talked to them for the sake of talking.

We need to spend more time talking to Jesus just for the sake of talking to Him. No to-do lists or agendas. No trying to earn brownie points with Him. Just us and God. The sound of His voice as we talk.

We will end up in His glory, right now. It can be yours for the low, low price of quality time talking with Jesus.


"Its All About The Believing"

Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."

And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that Believing you may have life in His name. John 20:27-31

Its all about the believing! Believing means life in Him! It says here that Jesus did lots of other signs, wonders, and miracles that we don't get to know about. It says that everything that is written is for a single purpose, that we too would believe and get to have life in and through Him.

What about this example: Then the king was exceedingly glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God. Daniel 6:23

Daniel survived the lions. Why? Because he believed in his God. You and I get eternal life. Why? Because we believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Wise Royalty

When Judah went into captivity, the King of Babylon instructed his men, "to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king's palace." Daniel 1:3b-4a

Among the royals of Israel, Daniel was found.

Here Daniel was, a noble, who despite being taken into captivity, was receiving favor. He was even being fed like a king! (Daniel 1:5)

I think it would have been really easy for him to become puffed up with pride.

But this young noble did not fall for the grass-is-greener-as-king lie. He didn't fall for the deceits of royalty, not even in this new land (Daniel 1:8-16). He became a wise man. "And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magician and enchanters that were in all his kingdom." Daniel 1:19-20

As sons and daughter of the Most High, it could be very easy for us to become puffed up. To have an attitude like Simba, singing, "Oh, I just can't wait to be king!" We can't allow ourselves to fall into that trap. Daniel had favor in Babylon because he put God first, and sought after wisdom.

Is it better to be a wise man or a prince? Why not take after Daniel? Let's be both. Be princes and princesses who put God first, and seek wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.