Monday, March 31, 2014

The Unforgiving Pharisee

He very nearly giggled with glee. However, such an action was not at all dignified, and as a Pharisee he could not appear undignified.

His tunic might wrinkle.

Jesus of Nazareth was eating in his house!

All the other Pharisees wanted Jesus to visit them, see their upstanding homes, and have a chance to boast about their righteous lives. He had beaten them all to the punch!

He didn't know if this Jesus was a Messiah, as some said, though he thought that unlikely. A prophet seemed to be more likely. Either way, he wanted to be on the man's good side and see all the ruckus for himself. He was curious, and he couldn't wait to see how this Jesus worked.

Things were going well enough. People were crowding and pushing into his house, and more then once, he'd had to stop eating, and shoo them away from them. To make matters worse, Jesus insisted His twelve apostles eat with them, too.

He huffed. It looked like a woman had pushed her way through the magnitude. She stood directly behind Jesus, just staring at Him. She was dirty, very dirty. Her clothes were torn, old, and inappropriately cut to show her shapely figure. In her dirt-caked hands was an alabaster jar.

And she was crying.

The tears tracked muddy rivers down her face and neck, and he watched in horror an she approached Jesus. By now she had Jesus' attention. She dropped to her knees, and setting the jar aside, bowed to Him. Now she was sobbing. He didn't need to look at her to know that she was dripping snot all over the place.

Jesus did absolutely nothing. He couldn't believe it. This disgrace was all over Him, and He didn't seem to care. In fact, he'd say Jesus was encouraging it and welcoming her.

The woman must have seen the mess of Jesus' feet, because she started to delicately, reverently wipe His feet dry with her hair. He rolled his eyes. Some people.

She kissed his feet over and over again. Then reaching for the alabaster jar, she...broke it! Fragrant ointment spilled everywhere, including all over Jesus' feet. The smell filled the room. She rubbed the ointment all over his feet, all the while still crying.

This is getting ridiculous. She is a sinner! A filthy sinner! If this Jesus were a prophet, He would know that, and send this woman away in her disgrace.

He stood up abruptly, sending his seat flying behind him. It was time to put an end to this little display.

Based on Luke 7:36-39

"Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him." Proverbs 26:12

I want to talk about the Pharisee's attitude towards this woman. He despised her, looked down on her, thought she was filthy scum unworthy to walk the same dirt as the rest of them--and that was all before Jesus reprimanded him!

The Pharisee looked at this woman, and knew he was better than her. He knew he was worthy. He had lived an upright, divine, holy life for God. She had gone from man to man, sin to sin. Her sinner ways were quite obvious to everyone in the room. She was truly unworthy.

"Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself." Galatians 6:1-3

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32

Do we have an attitude like that Pharisee? Whether it's someone you've never met from off the streets, or it's someone who has hurt you in the past, have you forgiven them? Have you torn up the weed in your soul that says they are unworthy because of their sins? Sometimes we plant seeds of self-righteousness because we managed to follow all the rules, and they didn't...Or when we sinned, it was not as bad....

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

"As it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one." Romans 3:10

"For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." James 2:10

To God, sin is sin. There is no difference between someone's adulterous ways or someone's thieving or someone's little, gray fib of the truth. It is all sin, and we have all fallen into sin.

Allow yourself to grow and change and forgive. Don't stay stuck in a place of unforgiveness. Don't allow that seed of self-righteous indignation to take root in you. Instead, forgive as Jesus forgave.


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Sunday, March 30, 2014

"A Whole Outfit"

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He clothed me with garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. Isaiah 61:10a

Did you know the word, "Ho" is in the Bible? It is used twice. Once in Isaiah 55:1 Where he  yells "Ho!" "Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters..." and in Zec 2:6 where he uses it twice when he says, "Ho, Ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north..." I tell you that because as I was getting ready to start writing today's message and all I wanted to do was start it with a great big loud "HO!" to get your attention. I wanted to start by saying, "Pay attention! Listen up! Don't miss this one! Its important!"

In Genesis 37 we get introduced to the robe that is going to speak to us about ...? Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a coat of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him. Genesis 37:3-4

It says that Joseph was born to him in his old age and that that was a major factor as to why He loved Joseph more. Because of the love that he had for this young man that was born to him later in life it says that he gave him a coat of many colors. It was special. Now I'm sure that he provided coats for all his sons but this one was different. It wasn't plain to look at. It was a coat of many colors. A coat that was special and unique and it was given to Joseph by his father as a sign of the love and favor that Joseph had with his father! It represented to the whole world the heart of his father every time he wore it!

In verse 18 of chapter 37 it says, "Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him." They saw someone in the distance and knew it was him. Why? Because he was wearing his coat. No one else had a coat of many colors. They saw all that color coming at them and they knew. It was then that they devised their plan to get rid of him.

In verse 23-24 it says, ...that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colors that was on him and cast him into a pit." In verses 31-33 it tells us that they took the coat dipped it the blood of a kid and took it to their father to show him. He recognized it and determined that Joseph was dead.

Joseph was known and recognized because of the coat his father gave him. In the verse from Isaiah above it is talking about a whole lot of joy and rejoicing and it gives us a clear picture about the joy that is involved in receiving the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness. When I read this verse I can see the scene between Israel and Joseph when he is giving Joseph his very own special robe. It is a scene with lots of laughter and joy on the part of Joseph that his father would give him such a gift. It is also a picture of the joy that Israel feels at his sons pleasure and it is apparent for all to see! He is smiling and laughing and bursting with love as he watches his son, bursting with excitement as he puts it on.

This robe was all about The Father's love and favor and everyone around saw it and knew it. The enemy knows that our Heavenly Father has provided us with special garments as well! He has purchased everything necessary to cloth us in garments of praise, garments of salvation and a very special robe of righteousness. He has provided us with a whole wardrobe that speaks of his love and favor towards us. Wear them!

The enemy will like Joseph's brothers will try to strip them off from you! They belong to you because you are favored by him. He loves you. He favors you and nothing the enemy can do will change his heart and purpose for you. In verse 37 as they were devising their plan against him Joseph's brothers said, "...We shall see what will become of his dreams!" In the end -They did!

What the enemy means for evil - God can use for good! He will try to take you garments because they speak of God's love and favor towards his sons and daughters but they are yours to wear! Yours to walk in! Yours to rejoice in!

He has given us a whole outfit!

Garment of Salvation - I think - definitely Crimson red?
Garment of Praise - I think - maybe - Rainbow colored?
Robe of Righteousness - I think - possible - white and gold and very sparkly?

Seems to me we to are arrayed in garments of many colors as well! Each one a picture for all the world to see of Our heavenly Fathers love and favor towards us!

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

You are the One

Jeremiah trudged home. He had gone into the market to sell and trade. With a sigh, he ran his rough hand through his hair. It was the same thing, day after day.


He whipped around, thinking he had heard someone. There was no one there. Eyes alert, hands opened and ready to defend, he took two tentative steps in the directions of the voice.

"Jeremiah." The voice came from behind him again. He whirled around, and but there was still no one there.

He felt something though...a presence. A Holy Presence... Could it be?

Jehovah. His God. The God of his people, Israel.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." The words flowed to him, around him. If one could see a presence without physically seeing it, Jeremiah was supernaturally seeing it. The Lord was there.

But a prophet? Who was he, that Jehovah would ordain him a prophet? He was no one. The very idea was terrifying.

He cried out, "Ah Lord! Lord!" For a moment, Jeremiah just reveled in Him, and then he continued. "I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth."

"Do not say, 'I am only a youth.' For to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you."

Then Jeremiah saw it. A hand. Coming straight towards him! I'm seeing Jehovah's hand! He wondered if the idea of a disembodied hand should terrify him more. All he felt was peace. The glorious hand touched his mouth, and Jehovah spoke to him again, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

Behold, his destiny. Jeremiah dropped to his knees. A prophet. A prophet of the Lord. He thumped his fist against his chest, and screamed. "Who am I?" The Lord's words washed over him again, strengthening him. Jehovah knew him. Consecrated him. Appointed him a prophet, and set him over nations and kingdoms.


Based on Jeremiah 1:4-10

Do you ever have those, "Who am I?" moments? Those moments where you feel like one of the thousands, so what's so special about you?

What if you were Jeremiah, just going about your business, day by day, and God showed up. "You're a prophet, dude."

"Uh, no I'm not. I can't; I'm just too _________."

Too what?

"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel; 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine." Isaiah 43:1

I have news for you. You are not one of the thousands. You are the one. The one.

"So he told them this parable: 'What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders rejoicing." Luke 15:3-5

"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

"Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him." Isaiah 30:18

You are the one He saved. You are the one He loves. You are the one He has given grace.

And you are the one He has called.

"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, the gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues."  1 Corinthians 12:27-28

And God has appointed you.

Like it says in Jeremiah 29:11, God has a plan for you, plans for a hope and a future. When those moments of doubt, and those lingering thoughts of "Who am I? I'm nothing." come, remember the truth. Those things come to beat you down, and steal your faith. So fight back. You are the one. You are beloved and called and ordained. No one can take that from you.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

"Putting Our Worship On"

Though the fig tree fail to blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock be cut off from the herd in the stalls--Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. Habakkuk 3:17-19


Today's message is inspired by a line in a song that I heard a few days ago. I didn't know who the artist was that was singing it at the time and had never heard the song before but as it played there was a line that jumped out at me and every time it repeated throughout the song it seamed to embed itself into my spirit more and more. I did some digging (a search on google) and found the song again so that I could give you the info and that way you could listen to it if you wished. It is called "It's A Beautiful Day" by Jamie Grace

The line in the song that has been poking at me is this, "I'm about to get my worship on." Every time I think it, it makes me smile and as I said it sorta embedded itself within so I have thought of it often in the last few days. At first It made me think about being in that place of praise and worship and I would smile because I love that place in worship were the world fades and it is all about Him. You know the moment in worship when you forget all about your needs wants, weakness, etc. They fade and It is suddenly only about expressing your love for Him! That moment when with everything you have its about proclaiming Him to be worthy! I love that place of His presence, so at first when I would think, "I'm about to get my worship on." I would smile because it make me look to that place. As He continued to poke me with those words I began to realized that it is about so much more.

The key to the so much more is wrapped up in the word, 'on.' I'm about to put my worship ON." I live in New Hampshire and when it is -20 below I put my winter coat on before I go out to face the day! You'll notice I said, "My winter coat, not my spring jacket or a sweater, but a winter coat because it is better equipped to help with the winter elements! In Isaiah 61:1-3 it says that  "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor, give them beauty for ashes. The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

Jesus was anointed to do a whole list of things here in this passage in Isaiah and most often the focus is on the preaching and setting captives free which is awesome and amazing and incredibly wonderful but the last thing on this list of things He was anointed to do was to give us a garment of praise to deal with any spirit of heaviness that would try to take our eyes off from how awesome, and amazing and incredibly wonderful He is! He bought us a garment of praise and it is time that we put it on! It was purchased for us special because He knows where we live and that we need it to overcome the elements! He knows that there is heaviness out there and He purchased a garment that we can wear to keep us warm and to equip us to deal with the effects of heaviness.

In Luke 17:11-19 is a tale about ten lepers. Jesus sends them all on their way healed and one of the ten ...when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks." This man put on his garment of praise. When did it happen and how do we put our garment on? It happened for this man when he looked down and realize that his flesh was brand new. He looked down and instead of running around proclaiming "I'm healed, I'm healed!" He ran back to worship and to give thanks because his eyes were not on the "I'm" part of this event but on the who. He was busy proclaiming "He healed me!"

In Revelation 19:7-8 it says, "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." In Isaiah it said we get a garment of praise that we can be trees of righteousness and here in Revelation at the wedding feast it is saying the bride is arrayed in fine linen and that it is the righteous acts of the saints. Could it be that putting on our garment of praise is one of those righteous acts?

Don't let the elements of the day get to you; put your garment of praise on. Just as Jesus was about His Father's business; we should be about putting our worship on!

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Would You Listen to the Little Girl?

Another treatment failed.

The servant carrying his message had arrived last night:

The salve did not work. We will keep looking. I love you.

That was it. She hadn't seen her husband in months, in hopes this rare salve would heal his rotting flesh. Day and night she had waited for a message, some news, a chance at new life. And that was all she got.

Oh, how she had clung the parchment to her chest, sobbing as she thought of her husband! Naaman the commander of the Syrian army. He was a mighty man of valor and victory.

But he was a leper.

She stared blankly at the walls of her bedchamber. Ever since the first spot of disease had been discovered, they had searched high and low for a cure. They were so sure they'd figure out a way. But as the years went by, their hope died a little more. She wasn't even sure it was still burning.

A little girl, an Israelite captive if she remembered right, quietly came into the chamber. She bowed low. "I was sent to clean your chamber, Mistress. If now is not a good time, I can come back."

She absently waved her hand. "No, no. Stay." The little girl went right to work, but she periodically glanced at her like she was gauging her mood.

Not good, in case you were wondering.

She was exhausted. She had spent most of the night crying. She laid back on the couch where she had been sitting, and closed her eyes. She almost drifted off to sleep when she sensed a presence nearby. Opening her eyes she saw the servant girl. She used her left arm to push herself up, and swiped at her tussled hair with the other hand. "Is there a problem?"

She shuffled her feet, and bowed again. "Mistress," her voice muffled, "The other servants told me about the Master of the house...I...there is someone who can help."

She bolted straight to her feet in one quick motion. "What?"

"If my lord went to the prophet in Samaria, then he would be healed." Her innocent eyes were serious with the kind of confidence that comes from unsoiled belief.

Impossible, but...

Oh, would she just listen to this! She was actually considering this slave girls testimony!

What could it hurt? They had nothing to lose.

A war raged within her. What should she do? "Who is this prophet? What god does he serve?"

"His name is Elisha. He is a prophet of the Most High God, the God of Israel."

They had begged every other god for healing. If her God could heal her husband, then she would follow the Israelite God to the ends of the earth.

Everything within her was telling her this was stupid. However, in the midst of all the chaos, there was one small voice whispering to her soul, 'Why not trust her God?"

"Go get a messenger and a scribe. I need to send a letter at once."

Story was based on 2 Kings 5:1-5.

We talk about the little Israelite girl's bravery. We declare her an unsung hero. We teach lessons and such based on that moment. And so we should. Those things are all true.

We never talk about Naaman's wife.

She listened to the little girl. From there, she told her husband, Naaman. From there Naaman went to his king, then the king of Israel, then to Elisha, healing, and salvation. What would have happened if she had declared the little Israelite girl's words to be worthless.

For the sake of this blog, let's call Naaman's wife Regina.

Naaman had been sick for a long time. He was a commander in the Syrian army and greatly favored by the king. I bet he had access to the best medicines of their day. Nothing did it; nothing cured him. Why would Regina choose to believe the words of a kid? Why would she put her hope there, after everything else had failed? What made Regina believe that this little girl wasn't exaggerating, or that she had any idea what she was talking about. A little girl with knowledge of God? Preposterous! Regina could have been walled off, and bitter from all the failed treatments, but for some reason, she listened and shared this faint glimmer of hope.

Have we let failed attempts to soar keep us grounded? Have we given up on someone's healing or salvation? Do we reject someone's words because God just doesn't work like that? Have we closed ourselves off to a glimmer of hope, to God's voice saying, "It's time!" Do we miss a message from God because of the person saying it?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

If Regina had trusted her own understanding, do you think she would have listened to the Israelite girl and told her husband?

Don't let yourself become desensitized by focusing on the lies that say, "It didn't work last time, why would it work this time?" Don't trust your own understanding. We have a knack for being wrong. Rather put your trust completely in God  Listen for God. That way when something ludicrous happens, like a slave girl's testimony of a prophet of the Most High God, you won't be wondering if this is for real. You'll know to listen to the kid. You will know that God is at work, and it's time to tell everyone you can. Amen.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Abundant Life Soup"

" all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
   For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
   Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;
   for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-11


I'm not sure if you recognized the recipe above or not but today we are taking a look at a copy of Peter's recipe for success or as I like to call it Peter's 'Abundant Life Stew.' I've enclosed a copy of the recipe card above; after all every disciple needs a good stew recipe to take on the road with him!

So, if you would like to join me, go ahead and grab a big pot (we want to have plenty to share with others.) Now everybody knows that the key to a good stew is the soup stock that you begin with. Now I know in the natural we have different preferences such as beef and chicken broth but the key to today's stew is most definitely Faith. No substitutions! ...Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 If your not sure if you have enough don't worry you don't need a whole lot. A really good basic faith can be found in Hebrews 11:3 ...By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things visible. This is a really good place for faith to start. Recognizing that He is. Faith is about believing that He is; that He has done and will do what He has said. Faith in God, choosing Jesus as Lord and Savior is the measure of faith that we all start our abundant life stew with.

Okay, so now that we have our faith in the pot lets begin to put the rest of these amazing flavorful (a word that is used a lot on cooking shows, I had to throw that in) ingredients. The first ingredient that Peter says to give all diligence to add to our faith is virtue. I don't know about you but the first thing I add to my stock when I make a soup is, bullion cubes. I do that because while I have a good basic stock it usually needs that extra infusion of concentrated flavor that strengthens, enriches, and enhances the flavor of my stock.

Virtue in the Strong's means; manliness, valor, i.e. excellence. and it comes from root words that mean; male as stronger for lifting, to lift, by implication to take up or away. For me, virtue represents the Holy Spirit. I say that because of the words used in the meaning. The word excellence reminds me of Daniel 5:15 "I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you." Valor, strength and lifting away - Isn't He the strength, the power that raised Jesus from the dead?  The Holy Spirit is the one who is the extra concentrated infusion of strength and power that lifts up, enriches and enhances our faith into action. He is the excellence that makes our faith work.

In the natural you don't need a whole lot of stock to make a good soup if you have bullion cubes because of all that concentrated flavor that each cube brings and the same can be said about our faith. Jesus said we only need faith the size of a mustard seed and we can move mountains. In the beginning it says that God would speak, something as simple as, "Let there be light." and the Holy Spirit went to work. He was the power that made it happen. The same can be said when you or I speak in faith to a mountain in our life. We don't need a huge amount, just enough for the Holy Spirit to add His infusion of excellent virtue, strength, and power to it and the end result will be, a mountain that has been moved! Faith and virtue, faith and an excellent Spirit will close the mouths of lions!

Okay, we have a pot with faith and virtue in it and so now it is time to add the other ingredients. As this is supposed to be just a devotional and I haven't even touched my point as yet we won't go into detail on the rest the ingredients. Add them in the quantities that suit your flavor preferences.

Knowledge - which means the act of knowing    

Temperance or self-control - which means to be strong (masterful) in a thing. self controlled (in appetite)

Patience - which means cheerful (or hopeful) endurance; constancy. to stay under (behind), remain, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere. ...I would like to make a comment here ... I think this is the onions in our soup. According to our personal preferences it might be we add a red, white, or even yellow onions but the point is onions are pretty necessary to adding flavor to a good soup and cheerful endurance is also needed in the many different areas that we might need patience to endure.

Godliness - which means piety; well-reverent, pious

Brotherly Kindness - which means fraternal affection; fond of brethren

Love - which means affection or benevolence

Now all  the ingredients are in the pot all mixed up and coming together to make one amazing flavorful soup! 

Peter said to give diligence to add to faith virtue, etc. I know that to add means 2+2=4 and that is how I had always viewed this verse until a few days ago when the Lord started to show me this concept. An example of the way I've always viewed adding in the Peter's list above is this; 2+2+2+2+2+2+2+2=16  Now it looks like this: 2+2=4+2=6+2=8+2=10+2=12+2=14+2=16 I looked up the word add in this verse an it means to furnish;to fully supply, aid or contribute. In the first equation the 2s are all lined up and while they still equal 16 they are still all separate. If we were to think in terms of books we could keep adding books on top of each other to make a stack of 16 books but they would all still be separate books. In the second equation which is the point that Peter was trying to make is this; If faith is being contributed to with virtue, if it is being aided and supplied with virtue, then it becomes a mixture! They become combined together like adding ingredients in a soup. They all come together to bring about this amazing outcome.

Peter said that if we diligently add to our faith these things then we won't be barren and unfruitful in our knowledge (our knowing) of the Lord Jesus Christ. He said if we will diligently add to our faith these things then we won't be shortsighted, blind and forgetful of His amazing grace in our lives, but instead we will be making our calling and election sure! If we will add to faith these things, if we will furnish our faith with these things, if we will become a mixture of these things then we will be living an abundant life in Him and we will never stumble.

We can choose to be a really flavorful soup all mixed up together with great seasonings and godly ingredients. We can choose to live an abundant life!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Better Then Gold

The boys dropped him with a thud. The sound echoed in his empty, broken heart. I've got to make some money today, or they won't bring me to the gate tomorrow.

He was at the gate to the temple, the Beautiful Gate. All around him people scurried from here to there. They hardly gave him any notice.

He sighed. Using both hands for support, he pushed himself out of his crumpled heap and into a sitting position.  Then he  cupped both hands, and slid them under one leg. He grunted as he strained to use what little upper body strength he had to lift his leg and re-position it straight in front of him. There. Moving on to the next leg, he winched as his index finger cut against a sharp rock. He dropped his left leg into place, and whipped the blood from his finger onto this tunic.

Day after day he begged for alms. "Alms for the poor!" he cried. "Alms for the lame!." he cried. "Silver, gold, or anything you can spare," he'd beg. He'd long ago stopped praying for healing. Money was what he needed to survive.

He spotted two men making their way to the gate. They certainly weren't rich, but they looked like the kind of men who would give some extra money to a lame man. In the name of good works and all that stuff.

"Alms!" He held up a little clay pot for emphases. So far it was empty, but hopefully his luck was about to change.

The man on the right locked gazes with him. He had fire in his eyes, and a confidence in his step that made him green with envy. If only...

They stopped in front of them, and the man with the fire eyes spoke. "Look at us."

His eyes shot up, his usually thank you spiel and blessing on the tip of his tongue when the man started to speak. "I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!"

Walk? He was kidding right? He needed money. Not empty promises.

But for some reason, he did what the fire man said. He tried to push himself up, and gasped when one leg, and then two legs braced themselves in the dirt. He was standing! He was standing! How was this possible? His feet and ankles felt strong, and his legs supported him like they'd been doing it since birth instead of the exact opposite.

He leaped into the air! Oh, how he'd always wanted to do that! He alternated from jumping, walking, and praising God. Jump. Walk. Praise God. For it was God who had healed him. This Jesus of Nazareth was God. The two men hugged him, and introduced themselves. "I'm Peter," Peter the flaming eyes motioned to his companion. "This is John. Would you like to come into the temple with us?"

Based on Acts 3:1-8

Do you ever think about what Peter says? "I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!"

He didn't say it in a mournful tone, "Oh, woe! I have no silver and gold. Let's see, oh wait! I have Jesus. I guess I could give you that. It's not gold. Um, maybe you could try walking? Maybe Jesus will heal you."  He said it like, "I am going to give you something awesome. It's better then silver and gold. In Jesus' name, rise up and walk!" There was no doubt or regret in his words.

If Peter had had silver and gold, what do you think he would have done? Would he have dropped some coins into the collection pot? He was giving. He was blessing. He was making a difference in this guy's life; But, he wasn't giving Jesus.

We live in a world where money is what matters. Do we forget about the life-changing power of Jesus? Or do we hide behind the temporary power of money?

It wasn't that Peter was giving all he had. He was giving all that mattered. Silver, gold, cash, checks, and credit cards may be practical to give, but it may not be what's really needed. That man needed an encounter with Jesus. How do we bless those around us? Giving money, food, shelter, and a helping hand are all good things to give, but do we hide behind those things? It's easier to donate money to a charity then to take a two month mission trip to tell others about Jesus.

"One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered." Proverbs 11:24-25

If you give Jesus freely, then you are going to grow in Jesus. If you only give what you have to give, then you are going to be left wanting.

Take a step out of your comfort zone, and bless those around you with Jesus. Be crazy and focus on what someone's soul needs! Give Jesus because He is better then gold, diamonds, and gift cards.

P.S. Check out

Monday, March 24, 2014

"A Time For Increase"

A faithful man will abound with blessing's Proverbs 28:20a
So as of today we are officially one year old.  Now in the natural a one year old has grown and has developed to the point were progress is being made and they are hitting those one year old milestones. Having said that we would like you to know that we too are growing and developing here at Snack Time Devotions. We know that you have helped to make that possible with every post that you have read and shared which is why we wanted to thank you by sharing our blessing with you yesterday. In that blessing that He gave us for you, there was a statement that went like this, "May the Lord give you increase more and more, You and your children." God also spoke those words about increase to us.

In Proverbs it says that iron sharpens iron; so one man sharpens another. We know that He has been sharpening and growing us with each message that He has given us to share with you. We know the increase that we have experienced in our faith just by being faithful to share His word each day. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; Luke 16:10a We also know that He has called us to once again take a step of faith. We are about take some steps with the idea of increasing and or  growing. One of the first things God ever said to Adam and Eve was, "Be fruitful and multiply; Genesis 1:28a  If you are being fruitful and multiplying fruit in your life than you are seeing an increase in the things of God.

To be honest, I'm a youth Pastor. I have been sharing the Word with young people for 34 years. The blessing that He gave us for you is about increase not just for you but for your children as well! To that end we have felt led add to the daily devotion that we are currently doing by doing a daily devotion that is geared towards kids. It will be up and running as of today. It is called Snack Pack for Kidz.  Still fine tuning the layout and a few things so bear with us as we get it up and running. It is in no way intended to replace a parents responsibility to raise up their child in the way they are to go or to replace the youth ministries that are a part of your particular body. We believe that we are being obedient to the calling that He has placed on us to share the word and that it can possibly be used as a tool for ideas to springboard family devotions or youth ministries. It is truly our desire to be a blessing and to aid in the purpose of helping young people as they 'grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." Luke 2:52

A man's heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Along with adding the Snack Pack for Kidz devotion we have added a receive by email option our  sight to give easier options for people to receive and follow the devotion each day. By April first we will have a Snack Time Devotions Facebook page and Twitter options also available as well.

Thank you once again for your support and we pray that you will continue to grow and increase in your knowledge and understanding in the word. God Bless!!!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

"You Are Our Portion Lord"

He slammed the hoe back into the dirt, exploding in a brown cloud all around him. Dust coated him from head to toe. His hands were calloused, and his clothes were brown and streaky from all the dirt and sweat. He paused, wiping more sweat off his brow, and glared at the large amount of land that still needed to be prepared for the planting.

His Father had decided that he and his older brother needed to work the fields themselves, not just leave it to the servants.


He may be the second son, but he was still an heir. His inheritance didn't include this.

"I'm so sick of this," he muttered.

"Quit your whining," shouted his older brother from his left, "Father asked us to do this. It's our duty."

"Maybe yours."

"Yours too. If you want your inheritance someday, then you need to work today."

He stopped hoeing and glared at his brother. "That inheritance is mine. I was born into it. Whether or not I work today has nothing to do with it. I don't need to waste my life trying to be the perfect son. You've already taken that role."

"Then why are you still here?"

Good point. Why was he still here?

He smiled sardonically and threw the hoe down. "Have fun." He practically ran away from his incredulous brother who was hurling insults and questions at him.

"Father!" He ran to the house. "Father, where are you?"

His father stepped out of the house to meet him. He was an older man. A hard worker who wanted to instill the same principles into his sons' lives. His brow crinkled, and his clear eyes showed concern. "What is it, my son?"

He stopped beside his father, gasping for breath. "I want.." He wheezed as his lungs tried to recover from the hard run. Oh, sweet air! "I want my inheritance now."

"Why now?"

"I've spent most of my life working for you, trying please you. But I am your son, your heir. It's time I lived like that. I want my inheritance so I can go live my life with riches and all the pleasures the world has to offer."

"I think you should wait." His father reached for him, but he stepped away. "My son, please listen to me. The world will not satisfy you."

"You can't stop me. It's mine."

His father just nodded his old, gray head. There was a sad, knowing look in his eyes. "You're right; I can't." And with that he disappeared into the house.

"Where are you going?" He shouted and started to following him. He wasn't leaving until he got his inheritance.

He found his father in the back room of the house where the family riches were kept. His father was filling a large sack with gold, more then he'd ever imagined. His father finished and tied the sack, then placed it into a traveling sack. With a mournful sigh, his father took the remaining steps towards him. "This is your inheritance. Take it. It's yours." He held the bag out to him.

He grasped the heavy bag, and nodding once at his father, turned and strode away.

He was getting out of here. It was time to use his inheritance.

Based on Luke 15:11-13


You may not know this but today is a special day and this is a very special post.  It is our one year anniversary! Actually, we decided to make it our birthday and declare that Snack Time Devotions is officially one year old today! So, for this, our 365th post, we decided to do something a little different. We decided to both write for you today.  As you can see Joy (Who is way better at than I) has set the stage in the scene above for the message we would like to give as our birthday present to you!

That being said, I will get right to it, because there is a message that is burning in my spirit that I would like to share with you and it has to do with our inheritance. Yours and mine. Did you know you have one? Did you know that in order to have your inheritance all you have to do is be born?  In today's culture/world we wait for someone to die before we inherit. We wait for the will to be read to see how things get divided and who gets what. Watch any detective show. Nine times out of ten the motive for whoever got murdered was all wrapped up in, who gets what.

"And the younger of them said to his father, "Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me." So he divided to them his livelihood. Luke 15:12

What made that younger son think that he could go to his father and ask for his portion? He felt like he could because he knew, he knew that from the moment he was born a portion of things was his. Why? How did he know? He knew because that is how it worked. Firstborn received a double portion and every body else got an equal portion after that. Automatic, from the minute they were born into the family.  If their were 4 sons the firstborn would receive 2 fifths and the other 3 would each get a fifth. Everybody born got a portion and they didn't have to wait for someone to die before they knew that. They were raised knowing they had a portion that belonged to them. So, anyways,  it seems to me that, Scripturally speaking, we don't earn our inheritance; we are born into it.

You and I from the moment we were born into the kingdom received a share in the inheritance. We too have a portion that belongs to us. There is a reason that Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is at hand." Our portion is at hand from the moment we are born into the kingdom. Jesus also said,"You have not because you ask not." Which son asked for what he knew was his to ask for and which son had to be reminded by his father, "All that I have is yours."

Too often I think that, we are like the second son who was so busy working and earning it that he forgot that it was already his. We need to remember that as a son or daughter we can walk in the power and authority of the kingdom here and now. We don't have to wait till we die to experience heaven. Like the younger son we too can go to the Father and instead of asking for the keys, to use the car, we get to ask for the Keys to the Kingdom! Don't be afraid to go to Him and  say, "Father, I have a mountain to speak to today; could I have some dunamis (Power) to take care of it please."

I love that David understood. Check out all of Psalm 16 but especially verses 5 & 6. "You, O Lord, are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance." He declared God to be his portion, his inheritance! That is what we would like to share with you today. That truth. That God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit would be your portion and that with all of heaven's blessings available to you; you would know that mountains will move!

So, today, Joy and I would  like to give as our gift to you this blessing from Psalm 115:12-16

The Lord has been mindful of us; He will bless us; He will bless the house of Israel;
He will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless those who fear the Lord, Both small and great.

May the Lord give you increase more and more, You and your children
May you be blessed by the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's; But the earth He has given to the children of men.

Thank you for being a part of a great first year and God Bless!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

He Chose You

The air felt stifling.

It was hot and heavy, and the breeze was not soothing, as breezes should be. Rather, it was like a small flame, slowly working it's way across her body.

"It's just nerves, your Majesty." The handmaiden smiled reassuringly at her, and resumed styling her hair.

Esther just nodded. She still wasn't use to the royal address from the servants, and after awkwardly stumbling around with replies, she had decided to simply nod unless an answer was absolutely necessary.

She was wearing the finest clothes in all the kingdom, and the bright white of her gown looked resplendent with the sapphire jewelry she was adorned with from head to toe. She looked like the queen of a king.

But she didn't feel like the queen of a king. Why would he choose me? 

She heard the heavy door on the other side of her chamber open. Voices spoke quietly, and another handmaiden came into the room. "It is time, your Majesty."

The handmaidens picked up the train of her gown, for it flowed two times the length of her body. Together they marched to the grand court, the throne room of the king, where the marriage ceremony would take place. The massive doors to the court were opened by soldiers decked out in their finest military uniform. Inside, there were people on either side of the court, forming an aisle. At the end stood King Ahasuerus, wearing his royal crown, his royal robes-with an astonishingly greater amount of jewels then Esther, and a gleaming sword swinging from his right hip.

I'm going to faint.

They started the procession down the aisle. King Ahasuerus was smiling at her, but it was different...he looked excited, happy. Dare she say it? In love.

She couldn't for the life of her figure out why he would love her, choose her, stand there waiting for her. She was nobody. He loved her?

He did love her, and the closer she got, the more she saw it. He loved her. Truly. Completely. Irrationally maybe, but it was real. She had been afraid to hope for this kind of love, but here it was. Undeserved, unmerited, and unequal to any she could have imagined. Suddenly the air didn't feel suffocating any more, but more like warm breath, whispering words of love to her soul.

At the end of the aisle, he reached for her hands, and squeezed them. Then letting go, he turned to the priest and took a crown from his hands.

Her crown.

He delicately placed it on her head, and whispered for only her to hear, "I am yours, and you are mine, my love."

Joy bubbled up inside of her, and tears flowed from her eyes. Smiling, she repeat his words, "I am yours, and you are mine, my love. Forever."

I based this on Esther 2:16-18. This is purely the work of my imagination, but the scene in my head was so beautiful I had to tell you guys. I left out the palm trees though. They just didn't seem to go anywhere. ;)

You may be thinking that last time seemed to wrap everything up so nicely, why would I jump back to the beginning of the book? I've had this picture and this message in my head since I started the Esther series, and I thought, "What better way to end it, then with this final thought?"

God chose you.

We should have billboards with flashing lights everywhere to help drill this into our hearts. God chose you. The good and the bad. The hurting and the messed up. The goofy and the serious. All the things that make you the weird, unique person you are. He chose you.

"For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called." Isaiah 54:5

"You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and you land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride so shall your God rejoice over you." Isaiah 62:3-5

Romans 5:8 tells us that while we were still undeserving sinners, God showed His love for us by sending His Son to die for each and every one of us. God rejoices over you. He loves and adores you. He's taken the forsaken and desolate titles from your life, and set a crown of beauty on your head. He is our Husband, and you are His bride. He is standing at the end of that aisle waiting for you. That is the ultimate stand.

"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine..." Song of Solomon 6:3

He chose you because He is totally in love with you.

Will you answer? Will you go to Him? Will you be His?

Rie told me about this song, "Beloved," by Tenth Avenue North. Everyone should check it out today at

Friday, March 21, 2014

"Where His Name Abides"

 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.
   When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if my people who are called by name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
   Now My ears will be open and My eyes attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually." 2 Chronicles 7:12-16

There are so many verses in the Word that talk about prayer. How do you pick just one? How do you make just one point? Today, He would have me remind you of this really important truth; He is listening! To assure you that He hears your prayers! Too often this "if my people who are called by My name." verse is quoted without the verses that come before and after and they are just as important to what He was saying to Solomon as well as what He would say to us today.

God spoke these words on the heels of Soloman's dedication of the temple and He was telling Soloman that He had chosen to dwell in this place. He had chosen this to be the place of His presence, the place that He had chosen to place His name.

In Deuteronomy 12:5-11 He says, "But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of your tribes, to put His name for His habitation; there you shall go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings, and the firstlings of your flocks.And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.You shall not at all do as we are doing here today-every man doing what is right in his own eyes-for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you.But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and when He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety,then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the Lord."

This was all about God choosing a place to put His name so that the people whom He chose as His own would have a place of worship. A place to meet with Him, and a place where His name would abide. A place of where He and His people could be at rest. This is what He was declaring to Soloman. That He had chosen this place to put His name and because of that they could count on a listening ear to hear when they came to Him with a humble heart. He would hear their prayers when they came to pray and to seek His face. He would hear and see when they turned away from evil. He would hear, forgive their sin, and heal their land when they came to this place were He had chosen 'that His name may be there forever.' This was a place that the people who were called by His name could come and be assured that He would hear their prayer.

He promised. He said, "Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually." So many people quote this "if the people who are called by My name' verse and stop at the word land; they miss the promise that He was making-to have eyes that are open and ears that are attentive to the prayers that are offered up in the place that His name dwells!

    So what does that mean for us today? In John 4 Jesus is having a conversation with the woman at the well. ..."Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where we ought to worship.
    Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father...But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth. John 4 20-24 In the Old testament the people traveled to the place that God placed His name to worship and to bring their sacrifices but in the New it is different. It is about being that people who are called by His name!

We bear His name. We are called Christians. We are the place that He has chosen to place His name. We now bring our sacrifices, our humble hearts, our confessions not to a special place but straight to the Father because when we "confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord..." we then bear His name. He then dwells with us and where He is, where His name is, we can count on ' open eyes and attentive ears that hear! He said if we are gathered together, where? In His name! Matthew 18:20

And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it." John 14:13-14

Where His name abides... Be assured, He is listening!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Blessings After the Stand

One Year Later...

Queen Esther stood on the balcony. The same balcony she stood on last year right before she stormed the king's court.

So much had happened in the last year. After they had added to Haman's edict that the Jewish people could fight back, a huge burden had lifted from the hearts of the people. They had rallied together to fight this battle not just in the capital city, whose victory alone was incredible, but across the whole kingdom! King Ahasuerus had granted her request to extend the edict by one day, and all of Haman's sons were hung on the gallows that second day as well.

Yahweh had blessed them so much that Mordecai had suggested they write a decree declaring those days a holiday, Purim. For Yahweh had turned that time from mourning into gladness and feasting.

Also, with all secrets forever laid to rest, Mordecai had advanced in the kingdom. He was now second in rank to King Ahasuerus. He was great and popular among the people. Everyone loved him. He didn't command respect, he earned it by serving the people. He put their welfare first, and always encouraged peace among them.

Today was the first day of Purim.

A fresh breeze played with her loose tresses, sending them playing across her nose. The air smelled like new beginnings. Oh, there was such a joyful swelling in Esther's spirit! She wanted to twirl and dance or do something!

All she had done was stand for Him. All any of them had done was stand for Him, fight for Him, choose Him. But Yahweh had still seen fit to bless His people.

She knew she had better go meet Mordecai and her husband for the celebration, but not before casting her eyes Heavenward, thanking Yahweh again for all His blessings and provisions to one such as her.

Based on Esther Chapters 9 and 10.

"O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people!" Psalm 3:1-8

Wow! Is there a better description of what Mordecai and Esther experienced? Their foes rose against them, popping up all over the place. Fortunately, God was their shield, their glory, their protector, and their salvation. God stuck down all their enemies, and He greatly blessed His people. They had not one, but two days to fight back against their enemies. They were so victorious that those days became a holiday known as Purim.

All their stands, big and small, mighty and tall, brought them to this place. The place where God lifted up their heads. He didn't want them to be gloomy and downcast anymore. He honored their stands by giving them a salvation plan and lots of blessings. For crying out loud, Mordecai was second in rank to King Ahasuerus, and "great among the Jews!"

We have a million and one, good and right reasons to stand for God. If we will be faithful to Him in those dark, terrifying situations, if we will remain standing for Him, then He will see our stands. They are never forgotten, ignored, or done in vain. He sees every stand we make for Him, and because they bless Him, He blesses us.

"Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!" Psalm 40:4

Don't listen to the lies that tell you faith in God is foolish. Make the Lord your trust and be blessed. It's a beautiful cycle. Amen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"The All Important Questions"

Then one said to Him, "Lord, are there few who are saved?"  Luke 13:23

Have you ever asked this question? Have you ever wondered? Seems to me it was a pretty reasonable question for the disciples to ask. I think they were looking for a little different answer though. One that contained a number or at the very least a "Yes," or "No." Instead Jesus answers like He did most often; in a way that makes you examine yourself!
In today's world it is pretty normal to have an annual doctors visit, just for a check-up. It is a pretty accepted method of staying healthy or at the very least catching things early so that they are not difficult to deal with. Paul, in a couple of places talks about going over the basics, the things they already know, just to make sure that things are all right spiritually.  For example you'll see this in 2 Peter 1:12  Today's snack is all about examining ourselves; making sure that we are healthy spiritually! 

When the Jesus answered their all important question these are the thought provoking words He answered with...
   "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
   "When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, ' I do not know you, where you are from,'
   "Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.'
   "But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.'
   "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.
   "They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God.
   "And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last." Luke 13:24-30

Jesus, in the telling of the parable of the ten virgins used similar words ...

   "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came,and those who were ready went in with Him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
   "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us!"
   "But He answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you."
   "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor hour in which the Son of Man is coming. Matthew 25:10-13

In both these examples there were people who used the word, 'Lord' to address Him but they were on the outside when the door was shut. The first because they didn't come through the gate and the second because they were without oil. We need to make sure we are part of those that have come from the east, west, north, south and that when we come, we are ready with oil in our lamps. In this way we may be sure that we are those that have entered in and that we won't be a part of those who are saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us!" when it is too late.

One last thought for today in our self examination is this...In Revelation 2:4-5 He is addressing an issue with the church of Ephesus and he tells them ..."that you have left your first love." He addresses their need to repent; He tells them to do the 'first works' or else He will remove their lampstand."

So, it is check-up time and here are the all important questions!

#1 - Have you entered through the gate? --------Jesus
#2 - Do you have oil in your lamp?  ------- The Holy Spirit
#3 - Are you still serving Him with? ---- First Love's Passion

   "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  
    Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
    I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14

God Bless and I'll see you there!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stand and Fight!

Horse hoof's beat in the distance. Moments later a magnificent stead strode through the gate. Ah, one of the king's couriers. 

I didn't pick up my pace. Ever since the king's edict to destroy us had come, life seemed pretty bleak. I felt like I was just going through the motions. What was the point? I had no purpose anymore. In a few days I would be dead. I was tempted to ignore this new message altogether, but curiosity got the best of me.

I caught up to the rider. A crowd had already gathered around him. He was still sitting on his horse, frantically waving his arms. Everyone was talking at once, and I couldn't hear anything over the dull roar. 

I caught sight of a piece of parchment nailed into the building behind the courier. Pushing, shoving, and at some points, climbing over people, I finally made it close enough to read. 

My eyes widen in disbelief. The letter stated that king was allowing us, the Jewish people, to defend our lives! We could kill, destroy, and plunder anyone who attacked us!

I tossed my head back and screamed for pure joy. I started dancing in the middle of the throng, arms flailing and feet kicking up dust. We were saved! We were saved! We could fight back! Yahweh had saved us!


The day had come.

Today I would take up my sword and fight.

Once the people realized we had been given the right to fight, a spontaneous celebration burst from the people. They sang and laughed. They feasted. Many danced in the streets just like I did-only worse. We were overjoyed at our chance. We had been offered deliverance. We had been given life.

My brothers, my family, my people had embraced Yahweh's deliverance wholeheartedly. In fact, ever since the decree, there had been numbers added to our people! Converts, afraid for their own skin. And who could blame them? With Yahweh fighting for us, we clearly had the advantage.

We had gathered together, prepared to fight as one nation with one accord. We were in the center of the city, where the streets flowed into a wide, open area. It was just after daybreak, and we were awaiting the first of our enemies to appear. I could hear footsteps; they were close. They starting spilling into the makeshift battle field. My stomach flip-flopped. They stretched before us as far as I could see.

Should I just turn and run? Hide? Would that be safest?

Shaking the thought from my head, I gripped my sword tighter. I would not allow the enemy to rule me!

A war cry was let loose, and immediately, both sides began to charge. Letting out my own shout, I raised my sword high, and charged into battle.

Based on Esther 8:10-9:9.

And he said, "Listen all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, 'Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's'...You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your positions, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you." 2 Chronicles 20:15, 17

"Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help! Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, 'I am your salvation!'" Psalm 35:1-3

An edict was issued throughout the kingdom. The Jewish people were being given the right to fight back. Instead of just letting their enemies come to kill, plunder, and destroy them, they could fight back. Not only fight back, but kill, plunder, and destroy those who came after them.

When they got that decree, they had a choice. Would they take up their swords? Would they fight for a cause? Or would their enemies and death overtake them?

When we do not stand and fight for Jesus, that is exactly what we are doing. We are letting the enemy into our camp. We are letting him kill us. We are letting him control us. We are letting him shackle us even though we are holding the key in our hands!

"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." 1 Timothy 6:12

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." Ephesians 6:11-13

God has already given us the key, the plan, the way out! Will we take it, or will we wallow? Will we really take up our swords and fight for Him?

Monday, March 17, 2014

"The Ultimate Doorkeeper"

These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens: "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Revelation 3:7-8

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20

Both these verses about doors can be found in the letters written to the churches in Revelation chapter three and that is pretty much all they have in common. They are written to two different churches and they both reveal some pretty interesting truths about the hearts of the churches involved. The first is written to the church of Philadelphia and the second is in the letter written to the church at Laodicea.

Just so you know, I'm going to make this declaration right up front, "You want the first to be the truth about you! You want the open door!" You want Jesus, the ultimate doorkeeper to tell you that He has left the door open for you! I know people often make jokes or allude to the idea that Peter will be standing at the pearly gates to let you in but the truth is Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Me." Jesus is ...He who is holy, he who is true, He who holds the key of David, and He who opens and no one shuts, and He who shuts and no one opens." Jesus is the ultimate doorkeeper and He is the one saying, "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door and no one can shut it;"

In the second verse, and this is really important to notice; the door is closed and Jesus is standing outside knocking! This verse is quite often used in reference to the unbeliever but the truth is it is written to believers; believers that have gotten complacent about His presence in their lives. It comes on the heals of these words, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent." It paints a clear picture as to where Jesus is in the scheme of things. Outside, knocking, and calling, "Let me in." Check out verses 14-17 These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the Creation of God: "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth. Because you say,' I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'-and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.'

The second verse is not written to the unbeliever in the hopes that they will get saved it is written to the church that has come to a place were they have stopped looking to Him and are operating in their own strength. They are busy thinking that they have accomplished their great work. They have become lukewarm towards God and full of themselves and their accomplishments much like a certain king in the book of Daniel who one day ended up eating grass as a beast in the field when he declared, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" Daniel 4:30

So the difference between an open door and a closed door?

Open - you have little strength (which means trusting in His)
         - you have kept My word (which means welcoming His presence, listening, hearing, obeying)
         - you have not denied My name (which means confessing Him before men; giving Him the glory)

Closed - lukewarm (which means don't care one way or the other if He is around)
           - have need of nothing (which means doesn't need Him; thinks his own strength is enough)
           - lays claim to the credit - 'I have become...' (which means denying His hand at work)
One last thought. A door has two functions. It gives entrance or it keeps out and wrapped up with that thought; think in terms or your home. Do you or the people who live there (your family) knock to enter? No. You have an open door. You are free to enter whenever because its your home. A stranger on the other hand, he has to knock and it is then that we decide to keep him out or let him gain entrance.

So, the question for today is? Has He left the door open for you cause your family or do you hear Him knocking because He has become a stranger?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Stand and Persevere

Haman was dead.

He had been hung on the gallows designed for her cousin Mordecai. King Ahasuerus had given her the house of Haman. In return she had told him all about her family and how Mordecai was her cousin. He had summoned Mordecai immediately. Then her husband shocked her by taking off his signet ring, which a guard had pried from Haman's dead hands, and gave it to Mordecai. Esther then gave Mordecai the house of Haman. It only seemed right. Haman was Mordecai's adversary whom God had delivered into his hands.

Now she was on the ground, bowed before King Ahasuerus, pleading for him to revoke the evil plan Haman had devised against her people.

She peaked up to see the royal scepter extended towards her. Standing up, she issued her plea one more time. "If it please your Majesty, if I have found favor in your sight, and if it seems right to the king, and if I am pleasing in your eyes, please let a decree go forth issuing that Haman's letters to destroy the Jewish people have been revoked." She met the eyes of her beloved. "How can I bear to see my people destroyed?"

This was it. They had come so far. All they needed was for King Ahasuerus to give the order, and this whole ordeal would be behind them.

A real smile graced her lips for the first time in days.

The king started to speak, he deep voice resonating in the grand room. "I have given the house of Haman into your hands, and Haman was hung on the gallows as punishment for his plot against the Jews." His deep eyes held regret. "You may write as you please with regard to the Jews in my name, and seal it with my signet ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be revoked."

The words took a moment to sink into her heart. Haman had written his edict in King Ahasuerus' name and sealed it with his signet ring. She choked on a sob. Meaning we cannot revoke the law. We've failed.

Sobbing, she dropped to her knees. Decorum and protocol were thrown to the wind. Pulling her hair and royal robs she moaned, "What was the point?"

A hand touched her shoulder. Mordecai was crouched next to her, "There is still hope my dear Esther. We, our people, can fight back."

"No," She started shaking her head.

"Yes!" He took her by the shoulders and gave her a little shake. "Right now, they are waiting to die. We can tell them to fight. Command it with the king's edict. Don't you see? Yahweh's hand is still with us. Don't despair now."

King Ahasuerus moved to look into her eyes again. "He's correct." He smiled, and Esther felt hope burn within her chest again. He nodded to a nearby servant. "Send for the royal scribes at once. You've an edict to write."

Based on Esther 8:1-9

They had taken care of Haman. Instead of being able to brush their hands off, and settle back with a feast for a job well done, they had to figure out this law. What must it have been like for Esther to plea that Haman's law to be revoked, thinking they had won this battle, only for the king to say that any law written in his name cannot be revoked?

Do you ever feel like it's one thing after another? You make it through one obstacle, and immediately another awaits. Bigger and badder then the first.

I imagine that's how they might have felt.

Let's face it. Life is exactly that way. The question is, how do we face those times?

It would have been so easy for Esther and Mordecai to throw their hands up declaring, "Well we tried! Apparently God's hand isn't in this after all."

But His hand was in that situation. While nothing written in the king's name could be revoked, they could add to it. And save their people.

God's hand is in our lives. And when we make it through one thing, He is prepared to use that hand to help us through the next obstacle court. We may get twists and turns and bombs dropped that we didn't expect...but He did. He already has the solution. We just need to trust Him. To keep standing for Him. Don't turn back or give up. He has that but-this-way-we-can-overcome plan waiting for us.

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7

When we stand before God and His host of witnesses, will we be able to say that we were immovable and steadfast? That we didn't give up? That we fought the fight? That we finished the race? That we kept our faith? Will He compare us to Job-who did not curse God and die, or Abraham-who did not lose his faith in what God had spoken, or Daniel-who did not stop serving God in a foreign land despite trials and tribulation from those around him? Will God say that He can see Jesus in how we lived our lives?  Will He be able to declare that we stood in perseverance and strode towards Him no matter how bleak the situation looked?

Will we stand and persevere?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

"At Rest In Him"

And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master!" What shall we do?" 

So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who ARE with us ARE more than those who ARE with them."

And Elisha prayed, and said, "Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain WAS full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17

As I was going to sleep last night my last thoughts were of the scene above. I could see this young man waking up early to start is duties for the day, seeing the army that had surrounded them in the night, and in an instant he is wide awake and he is afraid! He is afraid because of what he sees. You can see his panic and fear in his reaction and words to Elisha; but the thing is, you can see Elisha's reaction as well. Elisha isn't afraid. He doesn't panic. He simply speaks a word of encouragement to his servant based on his knowledge that God is with him. He tells him "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." That little three letter word tells us all we need to know about Elisha's reaction. That three letter word that Elisha spoke three times affirms, and declares his knowledge that God is with him. He says it with confidence because he knows that his ARE are bigger then their are!

He then prays and asks that the young mans eyes would be open and that he would see! The Lord opens the young mans eyes and he gets to see and know what Elisha knows; that God is with them! That is my prayer for us today. That we would see that our God is bigger than anything that the enemy would bring against us. Lord that we would not just see but know, with confidence that you are with us.

As I was going to sleep and contemplating this scene with Elisha, Daniel and the lion's den, the fiery furnace, Moses, Joshua etc. I was thinking about the fact that they knew, they knew He was on their side as they stood for Him. They didn't waver. There are times when your reading the word that you can see their passion, but you don't see fear, or panic, or a whole lot of stress and worry. What you see is that they are resting in Him. Their confidence and hope is in Him; in knowing that He goes with them; that He will battle on their behalf. They know because they know that He will do what He said He will. He will be with them. I was thinking about that look on their faces as they stand for God. (Personally I picture that look that Charlton Heston had in the Ten Commandments as He raised his hands and the water heaped or his stance as he went up the mountain to receive the tablets.) 

I can see that look on Elisha's face as he is telling his servant, "Don't be afraid, Have a look." I can see that look on Daniel's face as he shoots one last look at the king that says, "Don't worry. It's all good. God's got it covered." I can see that look on the face of Noah as he builds day after day. I can see that look on the face of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, Stephen, etc. Its a look that is confident, content, and peaceful all at the same time.

As I was going to sleep last night contemplating all these men and the fact that they all seem to have that look. (As you read the word you can feel that look as they were about to do that big thing for Him.) I asked the Lord about it and He spoke one word. "Rest!" I looked the word rest up in the Strong's and it means to repose and it kept coming back to the idea of abode. To enter into His rest has to do with the idea of being at home, kicking back, being refreshed, being in a place of being at peace, and  the idea of matrimony.  That look of being at one with the will and purposes of God comes with entering into His rest. Being at home with Him and knowing that He is with you! You in Him and Him in you; sounds familiar!

One last thought about resting in Him is this: "What look did He have on His face as He rested on the seventh day? ...Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good...Genesis 1:31  

Friday, March 14, 2014

Turn Away

What just happened?

Haman thought he was going to be sick. His stomach twisted and turned, and he felt a bit woozy in the head.

She was a Jew?! How? What?

King Ahasuerus let out a brutal cry of rage, and stormed down a pathway into the palace gardens.

He's going to kill me. What was he going to do? How did this go wrong? Of all the blasted women Ahasuerus could have married, what were the chances of him marring a Jewish woman? Maybe I can beg the Queen to spare my life!

"Your Majesty please have mercy on your servant. I never meant for harm to come to you! Please understand. There is a evil man among your people. He has fooled the King about his true nature. I needed him gone-to protect the kingdom. Mordecai is the true enemy!"

Queen Esther looked taken aback. Anger clouded her face. For a moment Haman thought the demure queen was going to slap him.

"Mordecai is my cousin."

Haman felt the words punch him in the gut. Oh, kill me now.

He pulled at his hair and groaned. Taking a few wobbly steps towards the couch where Queen Esther sat, he tired again, "Your Majesty, please. I had no idea." Sobs started puncturing his words. "Please spare my life." He dropped to his knees before her, reaching out his hands-

"What is the meaning of this?"

This could not get any worse.

A hand grabbed his hair and yanked him backwards. He stared up into the faces of the king and several guards. Horrific rage contorted the king's face. "You would dare assault the queen in my presence, in my house?" Before he had even finished speaking, they had covered his face with a sack.

He heard a muffled voice say, "My King, the gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, is standing at Haman's house, fifty cubits high."

"Hang him on that," said King Ahasuerus.

"No!" Haman screamed. "I was pleading for my life! Spare my life." He blindly kicked, and flailed his body at the hands holding him. Anything to keep from being hung on the gallows!

But they didn't stop. They didn't listen.

And that very day, Haman was hung on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.

Based on Esther 7:7-10

"Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy." Proverbs 28:13

"No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." Luke 13:3

Haman didn't care about the Jewish people. He wanted them dead and gone. He wanted his revenge on Mordecai. He wanted to win. So he devised his plan, and set it in motion. He thought he was golden. Everything seemed to be going perfectly and then Queen Esther drops this bomb: She's a Jew!

Haman knew that he was dog meat. So when the king stormed off, he tried to beg for his life-from one of the very people he tried to kill! Haman walked in sin. He made his choice, his stand for evil. He had reached the point of no turning back. Haman didn't try to repent until it was too late. In fact, he wasn't repenting at all. He got caught, and wanted out of the consequences. 

Think about the woman caught in adultery. She was caught in the act, and was being brought out for judgement. Death. Jesus had mercy on her. He gave her grace and new life. Jesus said, "Go and sin no more." Do you think after this encounter with Jesus that she just went back to living her life the same way? Goodness, I hope not!

"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 
2 Chronicles 7:14

"Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out." Acts 3:19

After all of our encounters with Jesus, do we go back to living life the same way? We should never take God's grace for granted. It is not a license to sin freely. There will be a judgement day. True repentance is turning from our sins. That's when we get God's grace, forgiveness, and healing.

We all have areas in our lives where we've walked in sin. God forgive us! From this day forth, we turn away from those things! Amen.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

"Purpose Of The Heart"

"Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:17-18

In John 17:16-18 Jesus is talking to His Heavenly Father and He says these words, "They are not of the world just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As you sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world."

These verses and many like them throughout the Word tell us that we belong to God! We belong to a different kingdom and while we are strangers, aliens, and foreigners of this place we are here for a purpose. We are to live in the world but not of it! We are supposed to live in such a way that it shows we are separate from it; again for a purpose! I love the example that Daniel and his friends provide. They were taken from their homes and brought to Babylon. They were now living in a land that was not their own. Did they loose sight of God or the fact that they ultimately belonged to Him? No!

In Daniel 1:9 we see the use of a word that gives us a key as to how they stayed faithful to God and how, in the process of things, they fulfilled the purpose we are all called to. They brought glory to God and souls to the kingdom! The verse tells us that, "Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine he drank;" So the word purposed is important. Purpose simply means; 'to put.' Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah put it in their hearts that they would not be defiled. They were children of the Most High God and they intended to stay that way!

They PUT it in their hearts that they would not defile themselves. The word defile(1351) means to soil or desecrate.; but the interesting thing here is that it goes back to the prim root word (1350) that means to redeem (according to the law of kinship) to be next of kin, to buy back property. This tells me that Daniel and his three friends had an understanding, an appreciation for the fact they they were a redeemed people! They put it in their hearts to not soil or desecrate that redemption?

They had purposed not to be defiled by food, wine, or the company they kept. The food and wine we see in the veggie test in chapter one. The fact that they separated themselves from the company they kept can be seen in chapter two. To sum up the king had a dream. It was a dream that scared him and it was a dream that he didn't understand. He called all the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers and Chaldeans to come and explain it to him.vs.2 They asked him to tell them the dream so they could give the interpretation. He said, "No, you tell me the dream and its interpretation." They stall for time, he figures it out and basically tells them to come up with it or die. They informed him that no one could do such a thing. He gives the command, Destroy all the wise men!" verses 3-12

As you read verses 13-15 you see that Daniel and his friends were not there. When the call came from the king they weren't there hanging out with the magicians, astrologers and sorcerers. They were obviously living separate from them and no one went to get them. When they went looking for them to kill them Daniel had to ask ..."Why is the decree from the king so urgent?" Then Arioch made the decision know to Daniel. So Daniel went in and asked the king to give him time, that he might tell the king the interpretation. Daniel 2:15-16

At this point you know the rest of the story. Daniel goes to his friends tells them what is going on and asks them to seek God with him for the interpretation. God gives him a dream that reveals the king's dream. He goes to the king and shares the dream and its interpretation. This encounter ends with ... then the king fell on his face, prostrate before Daniel, and commanded that they should present an offering and incense to him. 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 2:46-47

Was this the last time they had to choose to not be defiled by the land they lived in? No! We know because we've read the book that they had other tests. We know that a lion's den and a fiery furnace still lay before them. These young men are such an excellent examples of what it takes to live a life separated and devoted to the glory of God in the midst of an ungodly land!

It takes a choice! It takes a choice every single day to 'put' in our hearts, "I've been redeemed! I've been redeemed at a price and I won't loose sight of that! I belong to Him!

I don't know about you, but I, like these young men, purpose in my heart to live my life as His child; redeemed for His will and purposes.

Lord, I pray that at the end of my days I could say as you did in John 17:4
"I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do."