Thursday, July 31, 2014

Your Appointed Fish

He felt more then saw what was happening.

He could feel the hard grips. He could feel that his feet were no longer on the floor. He could feel their hands as the men hefted him up high and hurled him into air. He could feel himself free-falling. He could feel the icy grip of the water catching him.

Jonah sank below for just a few seconds. It all felt so calm and peaceful under the water. It was a whole other world. Maybe in this world, he could hide.

He opened his eyes and looked towards the light above him, then he started kicking furiously. His head broke  the surface of the water, and he could see the ship, the current had already carried him a good twenty yards from the ship. Instead of the storm that had been raging around him as he fell into the ocean, everything was peaceful. The sun was high and shining bright, and there wasn't a cloud against the beautiful blue sky. A strong breeze blew against the ships sails, taking the crew as far away from Jonah as fast as possible. God had had mercy on the ship's crew. Just like Jonah knew he would.

Ironic, perhaps that that was the reason he was in this mess in the first place. He started kicking, swimming after the ship.

Mid-stroke, he stopped. What was he going to do? Even if he could catch up with the ship, they wouldn't let him back on-board only to have the same thing happen. Then Jonah started laughing like a man possessed.

He allowed himself to sink below the surface again, his intention was only for a moment. He loved being under water. Behind him, little currents started brushing at him. Using his right arm, he turned himself to look.The water stung his eyes.

He opened his mouth, and started choking on the seawater. A huge beast of a fish was swimming straight towards him.

And it's mouth was open wide.

He started kicking again frantically trying to put some distance between him and the monster. He didn't know what he was going to do. The beast was gaining on him. Jonah broke the surface again, and started screaming, but only for a second. He had swum right into another current, and it dragged him back down to meet his fate.

Jonah could only wait. He knew what was going to happen. That thing was going to eat him alive. In there, he would die. Maybe this was God's punishment for running. Maybe it was simply his time to go.

Regardless. This was the end.

Jonah felt as the behemoth fish sucked him in, and felt as his body slid past its teeth and insides, sliding in deeper and deeper.

Then his world went dark.


Jonah woke up gasping. Oh, that smell! Before he could stop himself, he vomited. He was grateful he was on his side, or he probably would have choked on his own vomit.

He tried to move his hand, and realized that he was enclosed on all sides. On top of that and the rancid smell, he was partially in some kind of water.

Everything started to come back in flashes. The word. The ship. The storm. The fish.

Is that where I am? In the fish's belly?

For a split second, Jonah was grateful. He was alive after all! But the reality of his situation started to set into his soul. He was trapped in a fish. It would seem only a matter of time before the end.

Except, how much time had passed already? There was one glaring truth that was still unclear to Jonah.

Why was he still alive?

Based on Jonah 1:15, 17

While I was working on my weekly kids blog, God showed me more in Jonah to share.

I love Jonah 1:17, "And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." More specifically, I love that God appointed a fish to swallow up Jonah.

Why didn't God just punish Jonah, and let him die? Since when has God operated like that? He is a God of second chances. More then that. He gives out third, fourth, skip a few, ninety-nine, and a hundred chances. God appointed that fish to save Jonah so that Jonah could have a second chance. A chance to repent and do the right thing.

What is your appointed fish?

On first glance, being swallowed up by a giant fish, might seem like a bad thing. Death, erosion by stomach acids, drowning, and punishment from God come to mind when I think of this. However, God didn't intend for the fish to be those things. God intended for that fish to be Jonah's second chance, his path to repentance and forgiveness and life, cause let's face it, if Jonah hadn't repented, he would have been fish food for sure.

So, what is your appointed fish? Is there something in your life that seems like more trouble, that could actually be a blessing in disguise? It could be an appointed fish from God, giving you space away from the world, a place with just you and God. You can't run from Him there. Instead, you run to Him and forgiveness.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

Jonah tried to take off on God, ignoring His will completely because he didn't agree with it. He found a ship to take him in the opposite direction so he could run and hide. He endangered innocent people. It took him three days to let go of his stubbornness and repent!

Yet God gave him the opportunity to repent. God gave him the time in the fish's belly.

Are you in your own fish belly? Is God trying to get your attention, and call you back to Him? God has appointed that fish to hold you and give you the chance to repent. Will you let that fish belly go to waste? Or will you stop running, and get out of that smelly gut already?

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Choices, Choices, And More Choices" Part 1

   Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, "Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land." Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage--in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor. Exodus 1:8-14
Did you notice that the new leader of the Egyptians noticed something about the Israelites that they didn't notice about themselves. He noticed that they were more and mightier!  He realized that if the Israelites decided to go against them then they would lose. So he made a choice. His choice, to 'deal wisely' with them. As Pharaoh he assigned taskmasters over them and put them to work. The Israelites seemed to just submit to the ruling authority without much thought, after all they were the foreigners living in the Egyptians land. Next thing you know it was more than that they were just taskmasters over them but slave masters and the Israelites had become a  forced labor that was building cities and working the fields for them, totally submitted and subject to the whims of their Egyptian taskmasters.

I tend to think that the Egyptians did 'deal wisely' with them. I think that they brought about the enslaving of  of the children of Israel in such a way that it was done before the Israelites knew or even realized it was happening. I tend to think it was a frog in a boiling pot type scenario. We all know the concept. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling hot water it will sense the danger and just jump out but if you put it in cold water and turn up the heat it will just sit there till it is cooked! I think the Israelites just got cooked! If they, like the frog, had felt the danger coming, then they would have risen up and as the Pharaoh had feared they would have left Egypt and taken all their skills and labor with them.

I must admit I have often wondered why the Israelites allowed it to happen. Today as I was reading I realized that it was because they didn't see it coming and more importantly, they didn't see themselves as the more and mightier. They didn't understand that the Egyptians saw them as a force to be reckoned with and that even after they were enslaved into hard labor and were ruling over them, the Egyptians still feared them.  It says that, 'the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel.' They were in dread but because of their choice to 'deal wisely' with them they were the taskmasters and the children of Israel the work force instead of being what they really were, a force to be reckoned with.

I wonder how often we, like the children of Israel, let the choices of others decide our fate; not realizing that we should be walking in the 'more and mightier' that we have available as His children. It is time that we make the choice to walk as His children and not let the enemy convince us that He is the one with the power. The truth is even though he has many people in bondage he is the one who lives in dread of the day we understand that we are the ones who are 'more and mightier' as children of the Most High God!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Provisions for the Journey

"That's enough! It's enough. I'm done!"

His angry scream barely floated into the Heaven's expanse, but he didn't care. His arms were flung wide open. "It's enough. Now, Oh my Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers."

Silence. Again. He felt exhausted, both mentally and physically from his fit of anger. He was barely able to keep his eyes open. Hobbling over to a broom tree nearby, he collapsed.

And he sincerely hoped he wouldn't wake up.


Elijah felt a nudge on his shoulder. Looks like Yahweh isn't acknowledging that request. 

The nudge turned into a constant tap. Elijah wanted so badly to ignore it, but on the off-chance it was some wild beast trying to determine whether Elijah was going to be dinner, he had better deal with the offender.

If it was just a branch, he was going to be very irked.

Opening his eyes, the sun's early morning light lit up the world with the beauty of a new day. He rolled over, and froze.

Someone. Something. Some type of person, yet Heavenly.

Elijah blinked again. It was a Heavenly servant to Yahweh. An angel.

Blood started pounding through his veins as he stared at he angel. Under the gaze of such scrutiny, it felt like an hour, when really it was barely a minute.

"Arise and eat." The angel pointed to where Elijah's head had been laying.

Upon inspection, Elijah saw a jar of water and...was that a cake? His head swung back to the angel in question, but the angel was gone. Elijah reached out to touch the cake, and found it still warm. In fact, the stone under was warm like it had been baked right there.

"Lord." He breathed out the word in wonder. As angry as he was, his God was still a wonder. Elijah quickly ate the cake and drank the water. Suddenly, he was beyond exhausted again. Sleep came swift.


Elijah stirred again. This time, the sun's afternoon rays greeted him. He blinked, realizing the reason he had stirred.

The taping was back.

Elijah sat up and saw the angel waiting for him.

"Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you." The angel motioned to where the food had been last time.

This time, without delay, Elijah ate and drank the provisions. Then he got up, and begrudgingly started walking. He didn't know how he knew were to go, but he supposed it was due to the word the Lord was breathing into his spirit.


Based on 1 Kings 19:4-8

What I love about this section of Scripture is this verse right here:

"And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, 'Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.'" 1 Kings 19:7

Now as bizarre as this verse choice might seem, this verse tells me that God knew that the journey was too much for Elijah.

I wish I could see how many of you rolled your eyes at the obvious I felt the need to state here.

In the midst of Elijah's anger and fear, God didn't just send him to Mount Horeb. He let him rest in the shade of a broom tree. He provided food for him to eat. He let Elijah's strength be restored before sending him on a forty day straight journey.

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Psalm 23:1-6

You feel like you keep getting hit with trial after trial, problem after problem, huge unexpected bill after huge unexpected bill. God has never piled on too much for us to handle. He has never sent us on a difficult journey without giving us the rest and provisions beforehand.

And He never will.

Really think about this  part of Elijah's story. He was terrified for his life, broken, and incredibly angry with God. Even amid all those areas where he wasn't completely trusting God, God still provided for him.

Really think about Psalm 23. I can't tell you how many times I had to memorize these verses. Christians hear them all the time. They float in and out of our ears without ever really seeing our hearts. These are verses of refreshing. God will give you green pastures. He will give you times of still water. He will lead you through those low depressing valleys. He's got favor for you that will drive your enemies up a wall. He will give you goodness and mercy all the days of you life. You will dwell in His presence FOREVER.

God knows when a journey is too much for you. He knows when life is kicking you in the gut. He knows, and He provides for the journey. Don't let those words float by you.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, July 28, 2014

Please Him And Ask For It!

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  James 1:5
In 1 Kings 3 and in 2 Chronicles 1 we see an example of the truth of the words above. It is the account where God says to Solomon, "Ask, what shall I give you." and Solomon's answer was "Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?"

God's Response; was to give it liberally and without reproach, "Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life--but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king--wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who have been before you, nor shall any after you have the like." 2 Chronicles 1:1-12

Why? Why does God give wisdom to ALL liberally and without reproach? I believe the answer to that question is found in the 1 Kings 3 account.  When God says, "Ask, what shall I give you." The wording of  Solomon's answer is a little different. In this account it reads, "Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. Then God said to him: "Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked for long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice; behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days."

In this account the wisdom that he is asking for is the ability to discern between good and evil that he might  be able to judge God's people. He was feeling the weight of his new found role and all the responsibility that came with the job of being king. It says that it pleased God that wisdom or the ability to discern between good and evil was the thing that Solomon asked for. He didn't ask for the list of things that God mentioned because the thing that filled his heart was his desire to do right by God's people. He asked for wisdom because out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks and what filled his heart when God said, "Ask, what shall I give you." was a response that revealed his heart for the people. What filled his heart was his knowledge that he couldn't do the job without the ability to know the difference between what was right and what was wrong. In his heart he knew He needed God's help to make godly choices on behalf of the people he needed to lead.

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks and the words that flowed out of his heart and mouth were the words that pleased God so much that He not only gave Solomon the wisdom he asked for but all the things he could have and didn't ask for himself.

Seems to me that if wisdom, or the ability to discern between good and evil, is something that God is pleased to give, and He gives it liberally and without reproach then maybe, we as believers, should please Him and ask for it a whole lot more often!

Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lay Your Burdens at Jesus' Feet

Moonlight was her only guide.

This is so dangerous.

Ruth heard some movement to her left and jumped. Slamming her back against the wall of a building, she clamped her right hand over her mouth in an effort to hold in her squeal.

After waiting to see if anyone was coming, Ruth starting moving again. She had immediately found one of the servant girls when she arrived at the threshing floor. The sweet young woman in service to Boaz was a hopeless romantic, and swooned at the very idea of helping Ruth. She helped Ruth watch for Boaz, so she could see the place where he would lay down for the night.

The party had come and gone, and most everybody was laying down, waiting for sleep to claim them. Ruth could feel her heart thundering in her chest. She could hear someone's loud snores.

There was a time when she never would have considered doing this. But day by day, Boaz had charmed his way into her heart, and Ima Naomi-that conniving matchmaker! She had spent days talking about Boaz and about how he was a relative, a redeemer even. Then she hatched this plan, and before she knew it, she had agreed to it.

All of that led to this moment.

Because she could see him.

He was sleeping peacefully, the moonlight playing on his face. She smiled at the silly look on his face. He was happy. He even looked comfortable. A thick blanked was covering him from feet to chest. Another blanket was wadded up under his head as his pillow.

This was it. Everything came down to this moment. Would he reject her, or would he welcome her under his wing? Would he be willing to provide for her, love her even? Ruth wanted those things so desperately. The last few years had left her heart broken.

She needed some healing.

Creeping closer, she knelt down, and gently removed the blanket from Boaz's feet.

She laid down on her side facing Boaz. She was placing everything, her whole future, at his feet.

Based on Ruth 3:6-7

Does the Bible ever seem random to you? Do the stories and the customs of the people ever just blow your mind? You just sit there and go, "What on earth? That is so weird!" Well, I've felt like that with this part in Ruth and Boaz's story.

Naomi, Ruth's mother-in-law, hatched this crazy plan for Ruth to go to the threshing floor, and in the middle of the night, uncover Boaz's feet, and lay there.

I can just see the faces of all of you who can't stand the idea of gross feet. Today, you and I would say, "Why would you go lay down at someone's feet? Gross." Control your gagging, and hang in there; I have a point.

Boaz woke up and saw Ruth there. Ruth said, "I am Ruth, your servant. Spread you wings over  your servant, for you are a redeemer." (Ruth 3:9)

This action was so humble and submissive and trusting. It moved Boaz. He says, "My you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman." (Ruth 3:10-11)

To us, this all seems so bizarre. Maybe because we don't lay our burdens, our lives, every hope and dream at Someone's feet.

Isn't this what we are supposed to do with Jesus? It is! We are supposed to lay all at His feet. We are supposed to go to our Redeemer. Unlike Ruth, we do chase after the "younger" things in this world. New things to hope in and believe. New religions to try. New gods to worship. New ways to provide money. New people to trust. Instead of God, we chase after all these things.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

This is Jesus talk for, "Come lay at my feet, and I will redeem you!" This is a blanket invitation that Jesus has spread over us.

"And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."
1 John 2:17

Instead of chasing things that will fade away, things that won't solve our problems anyways, lets lay at Jesus' feet. Luke 10:38-41 is the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus said that Mary chose the good portion. She immediately went to Jesus' feet, and didn't move from there.

No matter the commotion around you. No matter how dire the situation. Lay your burdens down at Jesus' feet. Like Naomi, Mary, and faithful Ruth, that should be our first and only idea.

V. Joy Palmer

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"A Key Response"

   Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way.
   So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive.
   And David's two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelites, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive.
   Then David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
   Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech's son, "Please bring the ephod here to me." And Abiathar brought the ephod to David.
   So David inquired of the Lord, saying, "Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?" And He answered him, "Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all." So David went, he and the six hundred men who were with him..............  1 Samuel 30:1-9
Today's message is one that I think that we all need to take note of because we all go through times that seem difficult and where it seems that circumstances have conspired to come against us. I'd say this is one of those times for David and his men. We see that they have come home from battle to find out that their home has been raided by Amalekites and their families have been taken taken captive. This would definitely qualify as a difficult time! A time full of heartache and despair! It says that David was greatly distressed by the loss of his wives and the fact that his men wanted to stone him because they blamed him for the loss of their families.

My point today is this; As horrific as this experience was, to come home to everything in flames and everyone he held dear gone and taken away as captives, David didn't blame God or turn against Him for what had happened but, instead, he turned to Him! .... "But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God." is how the word puts it. Instead of blaming God, as so many do when something horrible happens, David turns to God for strength to deal with it. He turns to God for counsel on what to do and what the outcome will be. He specifically asks God, "Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?" Is it any wonder that in 1 Samuel 13:14 and in Acts 13:22  God's testimony of David is, "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will." Even in this horrible situation David turns to God to see what His will is and what God's heart is. He strengthens himself and seeks God not the advice of those around him.

The word strengthened (2388) in this verse means: to fasten upon, hence to seize, be strong. David, instead of turning away from God and being caught up in the despair of the circumstance turns to God. He fastens upon Him, choosing to seize hold of God, knowing that only in God will he find the help needed to overcome.

Jesus said in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."  No matter what the situation or how bad the circumstance the Key is to respond the way David did. Be a man or woman that is after God's heart  and be willing to seek His will and in the process you will be encouraged, receive the strength needed and have the peace needed to overcome.

You'll notice God's response to David was, ...And He answered him, "Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all." So, the next time things are tough remember the words of David in Psalm 9 and be reminded to look to Him and of course, overcome!

The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. Psalm 9:9-10

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Real Happy Face

There were whispers and pointed stares as she walked the street. She could smell the familiar scent of barely.

Ah, that's right. It's time for the barely harvest.

Walking next to her, Ruth craned her head, looking right and left and all around trying to glimpse every inch of Naomi's homeland. Every five minutes she said, "It's beautiful!"

"It's beautiful, Ima Naomi!" Ruth exclaimed with her eyes bright with light for the first time in months. Ever since...

"Yes, it is," she said quietly.

"Oh, praise Yahweh!" A sweet voice spoke from behind Naomi.

Naomi turned around and gasped. Her dear childhood friend stood there. She had a hand over her mouth, her eyes were wide, and tears were running down her face.

"Hatovah!" Naomi dropped her bags, and threw her arms around her old friend. "I'm so happy to see you! I'm so grateful."

Naomi's tears mingled with Hatovah's, and Naomi pulled back a little to look at her friend better. Hatovah's hair was thickly dotted with long silver strands, giving a stark contrast to the rest of her dark locks. Her face was still lovely, but wrinkles had developed around her eyes, showing a glimmer of age had laid hold and grasped the beautiful friend she had left behind. However, it appeared the Lord had been good to Hatovah. Much better then he had been to her.

"It's wonderful to see you, my old friend," Hatovah whispered.

"Oh," Naomi gasped, "This is Ruth. She's my..." Naomi fumbled for a second. "She was married to my son."

Hatovah's look at Naomi spoke volumes of love and sympathy. Ruth stepped to them slightly, still clutching the reigns of the donkey.


"Hello dear." Hatovah smiled warmly at Ruth, sending warmth through her heart. Ruth was the daughter she never had.

If their arrival hadn't been curious enough already, they had certainly made a spectacle of themselves now. All over, people who had known Naomi before she left, started to pop out of houses and around corners.  "Is this Naomi?", they asked again and again. They looked happy to see her. Eager, loving, and welcoming.

Naomi was certain, that's how they meant to come across. But their hugs and questions, the repeated sympathy and cries of anguish from them only reminded her of the bright young, hopeful, pleasant woman she had been when she left.

Now, all she was was a bitter, lonely, old, broken woman.

She broke away from their hugs, and held her hands up high. Everyone looked at her with surprise at her sudden outburst.

"Do not call me Naomi anymore."

Everyone gasped, and she could see the concerned look on Hatovah's face.

"Call me Mara." Because I'm Bitter. "For the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?"

Mara lowered her arms, and the silence of the people engulfed her for a moment. Now everyone knew just how broken and angry she really was.

Based on Ruth 1:19-21

Okay, I don't know about your Bible, but the footnotes in my Bible give the meanings for Naomi and Mara:

Mara- Bitter

Naomi wanted to be called Mara because she was bitter and angry. Earlier in Ruth chapter one, you learn that her husband and two grown sons had all died. She felt like God had abandoned her, and taken away everything she loved. She blamed God, and was giving up.

My husband noted something really cool. Even though Naomi said, "Don't call me Naomi; call me Mara," all throughout the book, she is still referred to as Naomi-like God didn't acknowledge her angry name change. Like God was saying, "I've still got so much in store for you. You will be pleasant once again."

Spiritually and metaphorically speaking, we will be going along fine, and then hit a brick wall. We get out to look at the damage, kick the torn up bumper off our car, and freak out. We've all responded like Naomi. We've all taken a situation, and instead of being pleasant about it, we purposely choose in our hearts to become bitter.

"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22

Is your spirit crushed because of the trials and sorrows of this life? Or will you hold the joy of the Lord in your heart? The end of Nehemiah 8:10 says the joy of the Lord is your strength. Will you let God be your joy no matter what? Will you let His joy strengthen you?

I know that I don't want to give up and become a bitter, old grump. I want to keep my Naomi name! I want to keep a pleasant heart. No matter what is going on in your life, God doesn't want you to give up and swap out your loving, pleasant spirit for a bitter, empty one.

"Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!" Psalm 126:5

Don't give up in God. Don't choose an identity in bitterness. Wait on God because He will not disappoint you. Ever.

"Rejoice always." 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Put on your real happy face.

V. Joy Palmer

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"I Think He Knew"

Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Him and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood. Mark 12:41-44
Today's message is going to be pretty short and sweet and despite the fact that this event is only four verses long it always gives me the opportunity to see the heart of our Lord. I love that He was just sitting there observing the people; taking time to notice them. It reminds me of  Psalm 139:1-6 where it says, " O Lord, You have searched me and known me, You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high and I cannot attain it." And with that in mind was He? Was He just sitting there observing or was He waiting? Was He waiting to give this widow the recognition and commendation that she deserved? Was it a coincidence that He took advantage of in order to teach His disciples an important truth or was He watching and waiting because He knew she would come? Personally, I think He knew she would come and what she would do!

According to this Psalm He would have been acquainted with all her ways. He would have known that she would come and give all she had. He knew that she had a heart that would give even though she didn't have much. He knew her and He knew that those two mites was all she had! He knew the details of her life and her giving. He knew her and He knows us as well. He knows when we give out of our abundance and He knows when we are giving out of our poverty and I'm not just talking about money either. He knows our heart and He knows our motives. I don't think it is an accident that in the three preceding verses He was teaching them and said, "Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation."

It doesn't take long to learn all the right language and be able to talk the talk of being a follower of Christ. But today, the thing this account reminded me of is this truth; He and He alone truly knows when it is a show and when our motive for giving Him our praise, worship,  time, attention, and or even our money is really from a heart attitude that desires to give all we have or if our giving has a different motive. He knows because He knows us and He knows our coming and our goings and He knows all about our abundance and our poverty. He knows because He has searched our hearts!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

He Will Come and Find You, Part 6

Ivver smashed into the hard, packed dirt. He could see some blood on the small, sharp rocks where he had hit his head. Touching the cut on his forehead, he winced, but noted that it wasn't anything serious. Lifting his head, he watched as the men filed out of the house behind him, and like water parting around a rock, they walked by him, not bothering to look down and meet his gaze.


That is, they had been walking by him. Some of the young men kicked and stepped on him as they left. Ivver recognized the sneering face of the younger Pharisees before his world went dark.


Ivver woke up. Looking around in the sun's blaring afternoon light, he guessed he had been unconscious for a couple of hours. He checked his head wound, and was at least happy to see that it had stopped bleeding.

Now what?

Ivver felt the brave exterior he had held against the Pharisees start to break. He knew he didn't have anyone else to go to. His parents had been avoiding him ever since they were seized and questioned. The same for the rest of his family and friends.

I'm alone. Where can I go now? I have no one.

With that last thought, the chink in his armor was found. He started to cry. First just slow, hot tears that ran down his face. Soon they evolved to a heavy flow of sobs. His world was blurred as he cried, completely at a loss of what to do now.

A hand cupped his shoulder, and Ivver jerked away. Looking up, he realized it was Jesus, the one who had healed him.

Embarrassed, he tried to wipe away the tears. Jesus extended a hand to him, helping him up. Brushing the dirt off of himself, he looked at Jesus, waiting.

"Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

What did he believe in now? Who did he believe in now? He didn't know. He desperately wanted something to believe in now. "And who is he, Sir, that I may believe in him?" His own voice was horse and gravelly.

"You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you."

Ivver studied Jesus, then blinked. Jesus had come to find him. Jesus was the one he had been defending against the Pharisees. Jesus was the one for whom he had risked everything. Jesus was giving him hope. And suddenly, Ivver just knew. This was it. "Lord, I believe." Worship rolled out of him. This was HIM. The sound of worship was beautiful, and the most glorious thing he had ever seen was the look of love in Jesus' eyes.

"For judgement I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind."

Ivver didn't understand Jesus' words until he saw some of the Pharisees standing nearby, watching them.

"Are we also blind?" A short, stout man asked. The indignant look pulling on his face somewhat comically.

"If you were blind, you would have no guilt, but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains."

The man huffed, and whacked the other Pharisee on the arm. Stomping off, they left Ivver with the one who had saved him.

The one who had saved him from everything.

Based on John 9:35-41

The whole reason I wanted to do this series is right here:

"Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him...." John 9:35a

I love that the formerly blind man, Ivver as I named him, came to know Jesus as Lord. I love that Jesus totally gave the Pharisees what for, calling them out on their own spiritual blindness. But what I really loved was that when Ivver was cast out of the church, Jesus came and found him. Jesus sought him. Jesus loved him when everyone else had abandoned him.

Jesus came specifically for him.

Jesus didn't leave him there in his pity party. Jesus didn't say, "Well that's the price of standing up for what you believe." Jesus didn't forget him. Jesus didn't let all the other things He had to attend to distract Him from finding this man, and showing him love and comfort and God. He gave him something to believe in, to hold onto, to give him hope.

"We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19

God has never left us to our own devices, despite how it might feel like that sometimes. God has never abandoned us. Jesus will always come and find you. His Spirit will always be there for you, to guide you. Jesus came for you once already, to save you.  He will come for you again.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul is writing to the believers in Corinth. Word had gotten out about the persecution and affliction they had experienced in Asia. They had felt so beaten down that they despaired of life itself. They thought they were going to die. Paul starts this letter to the worried Corinthians by talking about God's comfort. In fact, the heading in my Bible is "God of All Comfort."

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Out hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort." 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

God will always be there to help you stand up, no matter what is beating you down, no matter how alone you are, no matter who has turned their backs on you.

"He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again." 2 Corinthians 1:10

Jesus will always come and find you. You can always set your hope on Him.

V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"The Big What If"

As I was writing for the kids devotional today I wrote about Noah and the Ark. In the process I shared with them this bit of information... "Now stop and think about this fact. When all those animals came in and lived in the ark for those forty days and nights; Who do you think took care of them? The Bible scholars believe that there were around 17,600 different species and they figure there were more than 45,000 animals on the ark. That is a lots of animals to feed! What that also meant for Noah and his family was a whole lot of hard work, first to build it that big, to gather that much food, and then to take care of the animals once they were in it!"

Have you ever really stopped to think about all the work and preparation that went into the whole "Noah's Ark and the Flood" event? It was a huge undertaking and an immense amount of hard work. And the thing is God picked the right man for the job because Noah stayed faithful till it was completed. Is it any wonder that the Word has this to say about him. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God." Genesis 6:8-9 So, at this point you probably think that today's message for us is also about Noah and the building of the ark when in truth it really isn't. I just think that Noah's faithfulness in the face of the incredibly hard amazing job that he had to do deserves a mention especially in comparison to what I really want to talk about.

What I really want to talk about is this.. 45,000 animals showed up and went into the ark to Noah. Genesis 7:9. Wouldn't that event alone cause you to believe? 17,600 species coming together into one place. Wouldn't that have been enough to convince you that God is about to do what He said He would? 17,600 species - more than 45,000 animals had to of been noticed and it had to of made an impression! Why didn't more people believe? When did they figure it out? After a few days of rain when it was too late?

What about this event...Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, 'Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?' For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness." And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians, you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace." And the Lord said to Moses , "Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea."Exodus 14:12-16

Once again we see the multitude of people doubting and not choosing God. He had just done all kinds of miracles getting them released from their bondage in Egypt.  He had shown them that He went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people. Exodus 13:21-22 His presence went before them. He led them to this particular place. He had the plan in place. Why didn't they trust Him? Why did they as a people doubt? When did they start to believe that He wouldn't fail them? Was it when Moses declared His words of faith? "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians, you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace." Was it when he lifted His staff and the wind that God sent to blow back the waters came? Or maybe it was not until they finally had to choose for themselves to actually go forward; one step at a time until they were in between the two great walls of water.

There are always going to be tons of people who miss out on the blessings and provision of God because there are always going to be multitudes who are quick to doubt! There will also always be a man or woman like Noah, Moses, David, Ruth, Daniel, Easter, Peter, John, Paul etc. who will listen, obey, and stand firm for God. When Moses stretched out that staff and the wind started to blow people had to make a choice. When they stepped forward to pass between those great walls of water they had to choose to believe that He would continue to hold them back.

Its pretty easy for us today to sit in judgment and wonder about the choices that have gone before us BUT, What if 17,600 different species and 45,000 animals moved into the neighborhood? Would we recognize that God was about to move?

What if suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as a rushing mighty wind, that filled the whole house and there appeared to them divided tongues as of fire that sat upon each of them and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues. Acts 2:3-4 Would we be the ones who are accusing them of being drunk or would we see the power of God and receive it for ourselves?

What if we were  the ones standing at the edge of the water and we had to make the choice. Here is the big what if. WHAT IF it were you? Would you dare to step forward and pass through the waters, trusting Him to keep the water as a wall on either side of you? Knowing that if He doesn't, you will drown. Would you trust Him and step forward?

Will we be a people who doubts or a people who trusts that He will keep His word. Will we be a people who will believe Him when He says, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior." Isaiah 43:1-3

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Eyes Wide Open, Part 5

He still wasn't used to seeing, but it wasn't getting old. The beautiful faces of his family and true friends as they'd wept for joy. The tans, browns, and  reds of the city. The blue sky above him. Finally seeing things he had used all his life, like bowls and pots,  their shape and own individual colors, no two looking alike. Truthfully, if he could sleep with his eyes open, he would.

However, he did wish that he never had to see these men again. That was getting old.

The local Pharisees had demanded that Ivver come to be questioned once again.

"Give glory to God!" The older man who was currently screaming at him, jumped to his feet, and marched right up to him. Standing nose to nose with Ivver, the old Pharisee pointed his index finger into Ivver's face and said, "Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner."

Ivver blinked twice and took a step back. The Pharisee's face was bright red, and there was a blue line extending from his jawbone to his collarbone which hadn't been there when Ivver first arrived.

What's wrong with these people?

"Whether he is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I do know. Even though I was blind, now I can see."

Another Pharisee walked closer to him, as if to examine him like he was a criminal on trial. The first man retreated slightly, pacing back in forth in front of the other Pharisee's who watched their little drama like it was the most fascinating thing they had ever witnessed. The second Pharisee, scrunched his graying eyebrows at him. "What did the man do to you? How did he open your eyes?"

Ivver threw up his hands, and started to turn to the door. He was ready to be done with this foolishness. The group of men before him were possibly more blind then he had ever been. Their spirits were blind.

Ivver turned back to them, knowing if he didn't speak now, they would just hunt him down again. "I have told you that already." His daring statement and raised voice had stunned the group of cranky, stifling Pharisees. "Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?" In unison, they gasped. Ivver knew what he had just revealed. Not only his indifference to them, but his own decision to follow Jesus. They were talking over each other, and Ivver couldn't understand what they were saying.

A third Pharisee in the back of the room-clearly the eldest Pharisee in the room judging by his white, long hair, and the way everyone quieted in immediate respect for him to speak-spoke loudly, "You may be that man's disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from."

Ivver let out a growl of frustration and started shaking his hands at them. Pacing back and forth in front of them, he must have seemed like a teacher to an attentive group of students. Why don't they understand? "Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where this man comes from, and yet he opened my eyes! We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone has opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." He stopped pacing and threw his hands up one last time, as his final grand gesture. He heaved in and out, his pulse rushing through his body. As he spoke to this stodgy group of men, he had felt a fire burning within him. It didn't matter what they said or did to him, as long as that fire within him was satisfied.

Judging by the looks on their faces, whatever was coming next wouldn't be good.

The first Pharisee started screaming at him again. "You," He pointed his little index finger into Ivver's face yet again, "You were born in utter sin, and you would teach us?" The others growled their displeasure at Ivver's impromptu speech, when the third, eldest Pharisee spoke again.

"You shall be cast out."

Based on John 9:24-34

How often does God take the perfect person, with the perfect, flexible job, with the perfect, attractive looks, and raise them up to be respected among everybody because everything he says is just perfect, and who could not agree with it?

Come on, laugh with me. Because that doesn't happen.

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'" 1 Corinthians 26-31

Look at the Bible. Most of the prophets, teachers, new rulers, and evangelists in there were not popular. Most of them did not come up from significant families. Most of them were like us.

Yet they were all called by God for a purpose.

And when they were called, most of them didn't think they were the right person for the job because of those things. Somewhere along the way that idea was stuck into their head. Based on man's opinions, even Jesus-Son of God-fit those parameters exactly. He was hated among the religious leaders.

The Pharisees, religious leaders, and any influential Jews who questioned the man formerly known as blind were angry because they didn't believe for one second that Jesus could be the Messiah, and they were furious that this man was telling them off as if he had any authority.

They had eyes that were wide open, yet completely blind to God's working hand.

Are our own eyes open or shut to God?

"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been give to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.'" Matthew 28:18-19

You were called by God, and given authority to do as Jesus. So if you're not popular, rich, a great speaker, or even talented in your opinion, so what? Jesus said to go. So we can either go, or we can squeeze our eyes shut, throwing out every reason we've ever been told why it can't be us.

"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might." Ephesians 1:17-19

That can be you, if you open your eyes.

V. Joy Palmer

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"The Only Purpose That Matters"

Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. "Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?"

This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?"

She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."  Then Jesus spoke to them again saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." John 8:3-12
When I saw this picture yesterday it once again brought to mind His grace and His mercy not just for this woman but also because of who He is in my life. As I was contemplating and praying about what to share today He showed me a truth about this account that was a little different.Usually when I read this account I must admit I'm focused on the people involved, the pharisees, the woman and even Jesus or the big huge question of the day, "What did He doodle in the dirt?" Usually its about one particular aspect or one person's response but today is different because it is a look at the whole account all at once with these two verses in mind.

"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring about as it is this day, to save many people alive." Genesis 50:20

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

The thoughts and purposes of those that brought the woman before Jesus were not meant for good. The intent and purpose was to have her stoned to death. The intent was to test Jesus and to condemn Him if He didn't agree with what Moses said in the law. The intent and purpose of the enemy is always to kill, steal, and destroy. With God it is always different!  Jesus came to seek and to save the lost! Jesus makes a way where there is no way. Jesus turned the intent and purpose of the enemy around and instead of this woman losing her life she gained so much more! Instead of condemnation and death she received, grace, mercy and her life when Jesus, spoke these words,  "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."

It is not His heart to see anyone lost. It is His heart and His provision on the cross that makes a way for all of us to escape the eternal condemnation that we, like this woman, deserved. It is because of  His love, His mercy, His grace that He makes a way for us no matter what the situation. If we will come before Him and let Him perform His will in the situation it will always result in His love winning out over any intent of the enemy. Trust Him to work it out even if in the process His will involves something as simple as writing in the dirt or as amazing as dieing on the cross because His plan will always result in the love of God shinning through.

The truth is this account isn't really about what He wrote in the dirt (despite my curiosity) or the plans of man. It is about the outcome. A woman's life was saved by the actions of the Lord Jesus Christ despite the intent of the enemy and the truth is; no matter what plan the enemy comes up with it is not enough! It will never be enough because ...No weapon formed against you shall prosper...Isaiah 54:17 HIS plan is the only one that matters and His plan will always give you a future and a hope in Him. Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pointing Fingers of Fear, Part 4

The hand gripping her arm right above her elbow coiled tightly. The man wouldn't loosen his grip, and he tugged her forwards so often, Yare felt like even if she fell over, the man would keep pulling and drag her all the way to their destination.

She couldn't see behind her, but based on his grunts, she knew her husband was trailing behind her in a similar predicament.

Who would have thought something so wonderful would have led to this mess?

The men pulled them into an old, rundown house. It was apparent that nobody lived here anymore, and that the place had been left to decay. It was the perfect, out of the way location for a forced meeting.

Yare gasped when her eyes adjusted to the light. Pharisees, officials, and well-to-do Jews filled the room, and they did not look happy. Quite frankly, it looked like each of them had sat on a scorpion's tail.

One Pharisee stepped forward, clearly the elected speaker for the group. "Is Ivver your son?"

Yare blinked. What a stupid question! She looked over at her husband, trying to make sure she had heard right. His face was outlined in similar confusion, but he answered them anyways. "Yes."

"Your son, whom you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" The Pharisee raised a bushy eyebrow at them.

They don't think Ivver is our son? They think this is all some elaborate plot!  

Yare felt the indignation boil up inside of her, just waiting to bust forth and spew all over those pompous cowards. Something wonderful had happened. Their blind son could see now, and it was truly a miracle! The only thing that stopped her from telling those fools off was the gossip she had been hearing since her son had been healed   that anyone who dared to profess the man named Jesus as the Christ, then that person would be put out of the synagogue.

Fear kept the words bottled up inside. Fear kept her quiet. If she said what she knew to be true, then they would lose everything.

"We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind." Her husband's words were harsh, but softened with sadness as he spoke. "But we do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes." His voice broke as he forced out his last sentence. "Ask him. He is of age now."

The Pharisee looked behind him, and having gotten several nods from the others, he nodded at the men who held them. Upon release, Yare threw herself at her husband and cried. For fear of what would happen next to her son. For fear of what would happen to them now. For the fear that had kept her from being a mother.

Based on John 9:18-23

This was a hard situation. The Jews wouldn't believe that this man had been blind and received his sight, until they called in the parents of the blind man. After the parents testified that all that was true, they were quick to say, "Ask him. He is of age."

These parents were looking at being thrown out of the church if they said what they knew to be true   Jesus had healed their son through God's power. They were afraid.

When persecuted by our fellow believers, we respond with the pointing fingers of fear. Truthfully, it's easier to stand in faith against people you don't know, then to face those you do know and love.

Jesus knew personally what this was like because he had taught in the church in his hometown. 

"He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, 'Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?' And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.' And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching." Mark 6:1-6

Persecution is something we all have to face as believers in Jesus. However, when you have to face family and friends, people you've known your whole life, and face the stinging betrayal of their persecution, then it moves to a whole new level. 

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10

Despite all that junk, we have to ask ourselves, "Who are we trying to please?" In order to serve God with abandon, then we have to lay aside the hunger for man's approval. 

"So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." Matthew 10:26-28

We may face man's disapproval and may even be killed for our faith, but what happens after that? Nothing. Man's power is limited. After that we face God, and He knows whether we hid when we should have shouted from the rooftops. Don't cave from fear. If you can stand up to family and friends and say, "Yes, Jesus is my Lord, my Savior, the One who healed, freed, and redeemed me. I love God!", then you can stand up to anything man may throw your way. Anything.

V. Joy Palmer

Friday, July 18, 2014

"The Work Of Your Hands"

In Isaiah 64:8 it says: O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
When I was a kid one of my favorite things to do was to play with play-dough! I liked to create animals with it. Making elephants was the best because I needed big round balls for the body and the head. I could roll it round and round till I got them just the right sizes and shapes. Next came the big flat ears. Squishing it flat was as much fun as rolling it into balls.  I would then take a ball and roll it back and forth on the table till it looked like a snake. I would use that to make the four legs and the trunk! I would use little pieces to make the eyes and tail, and to add all the little details. Sometimes I would even add a blanket, and pretend someone was riding on it.

Other times I would mess up. The legs would end up too small for the size of the elephants body, or the ears would be too big! So, I would start over. The best thing about play-dough is its soft and squishy so it was easy to start over by turning it back into a lump. Then just redo the part that is wrong. As the kid doing the creating you just keep trying till you get it just the way you like it.

Now you  may think its a little odd that I started talking to you about play-dough but the truth is Jesus told  us to come to Him as little children. As a child I loved and understood how play-dough worked. I understood that I could put it all back in a lump and start over when I needed to fix something. As adults we don't seem to embrace that concept in our lives quite so easy. We often seem to resist or struggle with the times when our heavenly Father is being the potter; and we are the work of His hand.  Sometimes change is necessary.

John the Baptist said, "He must increase, but I must decrease."John 3:30 in reference to Jesus. If we are to be play-dough or clay or even silly putty in the hands of our heavenly Father than we need to have a heart that cries out the same thing. We need to have an the attitude that is willing to be molded and reworked till we are 'conformed to the image of His Son.' Romans 8:29 Our heart must be willing to let go of our desires and to allow Him to work more and more of Jesus and His likeness in our lives. Like John, our hearts desire must be, "More of Jesus, less of me!"

Psalm 17:15 says, "As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness." I don't know about you but I love the idea that He can help me to surrender more and more of my actions and more importantly my attitudes so that He can help me to awake in His likeness.

LORD, My prayer for us today is that you would help us to be open to the process of being molded into Your image.  Lord, that You would increase in or lives to the point that every word and deed would be a  reflection of  who You are!

Lord, that we would long for more of You. Let us be "the clay, and the work of your hands."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A New Thing in YOU, Part 3

Rea ran through the door. He was gasping and out of breath, and honestly thought he might faint, but he couldn't stop yet. "Demamah! Quick!"

His friend bounded into the room. Demamah had been his friend since they were young boys, barely old enough to talk. He wasn't sure what Demamah would make of this piece of news. Clearly from his sudden arrival, he was expecting the worst. His eyes were wide, and his voice was panicked. "What's wrong? Did something happen to your wife?"

Rea shook his hand, waving the idea away. "No, nothing like that. The blind man, Ivver, he can see now!"

Demamah took a step back as if the words were like a strong wind, forcing him backwards.  "What? How? Is this the same man who used to sit and beg?"

"Yes. Yes he is! I've known him my whole life. He was definitely blind, and now he can see. He looked right at me." Rea took several deep breaths trying to calm his heartbeat.

Demamah shook his head vehemently, "No, I'm sure it was someone like him. Ivver was truly blind. How could he see now?"

"I don't know, but he was headed this way. If we hurry, we can find him, and you can ask him for yourself." He couldn't stop the sly smile. The curiosity was about to devour him whole, and with or without Demamah, he was going to find out the story.

Demamah looked unsure, but then started to nod. As a man who spent hours each day studying the law in the hopes of becoming a Pharisees one day, Demamah rarely let loose anymore. However, the two men ran like curious little boys trying to find the man who used to be blind.

They didn't run far. Just as Rea had thought, Ivver was nearby. He was surrounded by a crowd. He was walking very slowly, looking at everything around him, taking in every single detail. The crowd moved with him, constantly pelting him with questions.

"Are you really the blind man?"

Rea looked over at Demamah. His tone was harsh and unbelieving. Seeing Ivver only seemed to solidify his earlier opinion.

Ivver looked right at them. "I am the man."

"Then how were your eyes opened?"

"The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes." Ivver was smiling as he recounted the story for what must have been the hundredth time, but his smile just kept growing wider. "Then he said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' So I went, washed, and received my sight."

"Where is he?" Rea stepped forward, his question bursting out of him. Even if Demamah didn't see it, he could. This was Ivver, the blind man. He was changed, and in more ways then just seeing for the first time could do to the man. Something had changed Ivver's spirit, and Rea wanted to find out.

"I don't know." Ivver said with a knowing look that said he knew exactly what Rea was really trying to find.

Demamah shouted, "Let's take him to the Pharisees!" A chorus of agreement rang out from the majority of the crowd, and like a mighty rushing water, ushered him to the Pharisees. The people clearly believing the Pharisees would have the answers.

Like they wouldn't be just as divided as the rest of them.

Based on John 9:8-17

I love how the people were pestering this formerly blind man. Some of them were sure, it was him. Others were skeptical, thinking maybe it was someone else, maybe someone who hadn't been born blind, who was just recovering from a temporary ailment.

There are three parts to this story:

           The blind man who had been changed and healed.

           The people who believed he was healed, but didn't                         experience it for themselves.

           The people who thought it all some elaborate hoax.

When we come to Christ, are we changed, healed, and renewed? When we learn a new tidbit about God, or discover another facet of His awesomeness, is there a difference in our lives? Do we change and grow? Or do we remain a people who watches, but never experiences   or worse, a people who doesn't really believe?

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17

Are we really new creatures in Christ? Are we really new creations? A new creature doesn't slip back into their old, bad habits because they never had those habits! If we want to be new in Christ, then we need to be like that blind man   changed and healed! People should hardly recognize you when you're saved. When you draw closer to God, that should be evident in your everyday life!

"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
Isaiah 43:18-19

God wants to do a new thing in you! He wants to make a way in the wilderness, and give your soul water in the desert. He doesn't want you to retreat into the former. He wants you to be new every morning!

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him with John, Peter said, "Look at us." So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood, walked and entered the temple with them--walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw walking and praising God. Then they knew that he was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what happened to him. Acts 3:1-10
As I was preparing my lesson for the kids devotional this week I noticed something new. In the past I've taught this idea of expectation from the beggars perspective based off from verses four and five, 'And fixing his eyes on him with John, Peter said, "Look at us." 'So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.' but today I would like to look at the expectation of everyone involved and you may need to duck because it also includes yours and mine.

It says that this particular beggar was lame since birth and that  his family or friends carried him daily to this particular gate called Beautiful to ask alms. Everyday they did what they could for Him. They carried him. Everyday they parked him here at this gate and it was their expectation to have to continue this task the rest of his life. They carried him here every single day to ask alms. Alms means compassion that is active, so everyday he was carried and put in this particular spot because they felt that this was the best place to expect and to receive alms or rather some compassion from those entering and leaving the temple.

This is were I have to tell you something really important. Nobody, had an expectation that this man's circumstances were about to change! This was a day like every other. He was the Beautiful Gate beggar, plain and simple, and that was his expected lot in life! Did the beggar have a different expectation? No! His begging was pretty routine. Peter and John had to speak to him before he even bothered to look at them. It was only after Peter said 'Look at us.' did he pay any attention to them. It was then that he suddenly had an expectation to receive. Did he know his whole world was about to change because of this sudden expectation to receive? No. He was the Beautiful Gate beggar and that was his lot in life. His only expectation was to maybe receive alms from those coming and going to and from the house of God.

What about you and I? Do we know some Beautiful Gate Beggars. Are we just like him? Do we live our lots in life without really expecting God to change our circumstances? What is our expectation in Him? I ask that because the next expectation I want to look at is the disciples, Peter and John's. What was their expectation? They were approaching the temple at the ninth hour when they hear the beggar saying, "Alms, alms, alms, for the poor." How many times over the years had they passed by this particular beggar? What was different this time? This time they heard him. This time, as disciples of Jesus, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, they had ears to hear and eyes to see! When they heard his cry for compassion, even a rote one, they were moved to respond. From the moment they heard his plea for compassion their expectation is that he would receive it! They didn't even hesitate!

Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood, walked and entered the temple with them--walking, leaping, and praising God.' He didn't waver! He didn't wonder! He spoke, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." with the expectation that the man would do exactly that. He expected him to rise up and walk! Immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength! Jesus had taught them, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, "Be removed and cast into the sea,' it will be done. And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Matthew 21:21-22  He also told them, "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 They expected the 'immediately' that followed. They expected his feet and ankle bones to receive strength and they expected him to rise because that is what they spoke! As His disciples they expected the result they got because that is how Jesus and the Holy Spirit trained and equipped them.They understood the authority the name of Jesus has over everything. They spoke it because they expected it to happen!

How about you and I?  Do we as believers need to work up our faith when we are moved by compassion to pray for someone? Do we pray for people with the expectation that the result is a sure thing? Do we expect the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, the blind to see? Do we expect the 'immediately' to happen when we apply the authority of His name to a situation?  Do we expect the healing or do we doubt?

We all have Beautiful Gate beggars in our lives. We all have people that we have seen dealing with their lot in life the best they know how; struggling along looking for compassion where they can get it. Maybe we are the ones carrying them. Maybe we are the ones who throw a little 'silver and gold' their way once in a while. But what if? What if we started acting like we really believed the words that Jesus spoke the way that Peter in John did. What if we started speaking change into the lives of the Beautiful Gate beggars in our lives with the an expectation that His word is the truth!

Jesus said, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, "Be removed and cast into the sea,' and it will be done. And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Matthew 21:21-22  "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 The question you and I as believers need to ask ourselves at this point is, "Is it the truth or a lie?  Do we believe or don't we?" If the answer is Jesus doesn't Lie. He only speaks the truth! Then like Peter and John we need to start landscaping! We need to start moving mountains and giving people the help they need by praying and speaking to the situations that have them bound up and lame. We need to have a heart that cries out, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."

At the end of the day what is our expectation? Is our expectation going to be that it is their lot in life to bear. Are we going to be those who help by carrying them and leaving them outside the temple, looking for compassion or are we going to be followers of Jesus, like Peter and John who walk in the truth of His word and expect them to rise up and 'enter the temple with us--walking, leaping, and praising God.'

As believers our expectations when we pray can change a man's life! Are we willing to expect His word to be the truth and are we willing to expect the miracle? 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Light, Part 2

John watched as the blind man tried to walk towards Jesus. He was holding his arms out is front of him, moving them in wide arcs, frantically trying to find something in the darkness. His head jerked left and right, trying to follow the sound of his voice, and his mouth was wide open, gaping like he was in a permanent state of shock.

Jesus took several steps to the man, and grasped his upper forearms. The man gasped and choked on a sob, clearly unsure of who was holding him, and clearly desperate to get to Jesus. "Please!" His broken, gut-wrenching plea barely loud enough for John to hear.

Jesus spoke quietly to the man, and whatever he said, seemed to calm him down. Turning to the crowd, Jesus started to speak boldly. He had such a commanding presence, and a fire in his eyes that made everyone stop and listen. He spoke as someone who knew he had the authority of Heaven backing up his words. Instantly, everyone was quiet.

"We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day. Night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

John gulped as Jesus' eyes lingered on him. John had been the one to voice the question they had all been thinking, only for Jesus to say this wasn't about sin at all. This was about displaying God's glory.

But why did he say that?

Before he could reflect on Jesus' words, Jesus turned back to the blind man, leaned over, and spat on the ground!

John rubbed his forehead. Jesus can be so confusing...

Jesus hunkered down in front of everyone and...started to play with the mud formed from his own saliva? John was never more confused in his whole life, then he was at this moment. Then Jesus stood back up, and put the mud over the man's eyes like it was an anointing, priceless oil.

Jesus started to speak to the blind man again, only this time it was loud enough for everyone to hear. "Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.

And with that, and the help of someone in the crowd, helping to guide his way, the blind man was gone.

It didn't take very long for the man to do as Jesus bid. Soon, he was back. John wasn't surprised at how quickly the man came running to Jesus, this time with arms wide open, singing praises to God.

As John watched them, he felt something prick at his soul. Could he ever do what Jesus did? 

Based on John 9:4-7

So while reading this, I was really focused on Jesus' words. I don't know if you've ever read this part and been like, "Why is He saying all this stuff here? It doesn't make sense with what's happening!"

Jesus' words: "We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." John 9:4-5

I think these verses may be used to say that miracles, tongues, healing, and the Holy Spirit are dead, and it would be easy to think that we are in that "night" period Jesus was talking about here. 

However, I don't think that's true. I think the night is coming. But we will come back to that part.

Jesus said that while He was in the world, then He would be in the light of the world. Okay, Jesus isn't here anymore, but the Holy Spirit, part of the Godhead Trinity, is here, and He's in us.

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." Matthew 5:14

"For at one time, you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light." Ephesians 5:8

These are verses said to us, proclaiming us believers as light. That means, that as long as there are born-again, Holy Spirit filled, Jesus loving believers out there, then the light of Jesus, the light of the world is out there. Night time would be when all of the believers are caught up into Heaven, leaving the unbelieving world for God's judgement. It's not night time yet.

This means that we have the responsibility, the obligation, the God-given mission to be the light of the world. Jesus said, "We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work." Those words are still true for us today! So in the today, in the here and now, in any way that God has called you, you are to work miracles and healings. You are to speak in tongues and be guided by the Holy Spirit. You are to do many great things by the power of Him Who sent you! One day, we won't be able to do that anymore. I sure don't want to stand before God in the future, sheepishly looking at my feet while saying, "Uh, no. I didn't work in your light. I didn't act like the light of the world. I didn't portray you." None of us want that! 

I've got to tell you guys, I am pretty scared about posting this message because I know that a lot of the body doesn't agree with what has been put on my heart to share. However, God must want someone to read this. Am I going to be the light? Or will I take the easy road, and gloss over what Jesus said? 

This is just another facet of truth that is part of  the call to "be the light." Jesus said this right before healing the blind man because He needed us to understand that yes, night is coming, but as long as we've got Him, there is light, and we need to do His works. Such as healing blind men. Amen.

-V. Joy Palmer

Monday, July 14, 2014

"Your Question Of The Day"

And Jesus answered and said to him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" The blind man said to Him, "Rabboni, that I may receive my sight," Mark 10:51

When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, "Do you want to be made well?"  John 5:6

And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My clothes?" But His disciples said to Him, "You see the multitude thronging You, and you say, 'Who touched Me?'" And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. Mark 5:30-33

And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord." Then He touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith let it be to you." Matthew 9:28-29

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" So they said, "Some say John the baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matthew 16:13-16
So, The question of the day,  What do the verses above all have in common? In the verses above we see Jesus doing something that He actually doesn't do very much of. Most of the time He is talking and sharing truths. He is usually teaching and declaring the kingdom etc. but there are a few occasions where He stops to ask a specific individual a specific question. Why? Why make a point of asking a blind man what he wants Him to do for him? The answer seems obvious, right? A blind man is going to want sight.

Why does He specifically stop and ask the paralytic if he wants to be healed? Again, it seems that a "Yes!" the obvious answer, would be forthcoming.  Or one of my personal favorite, why ask "Who touched me?" when, as the disciples pointed out, He was being thronged or touched by a whole crowd of people? Why ask these people these questions?  These were just your everyday in need people that He asked a simple enough question to get an answer that He already knew. So why ask?

Personally, I think it has to do with their confession of faith! Each time He would ask your everyday in need person a question they would respond and He would act. A miracle always followed. Every time He would ask a question then it would put them in a place of receiving their answer! "What would you have Me do for you?" Miracle. The blind man received his sight. "Do you want to be made well?" Miracle. He took up his bed and walked

"Who touched My clothes?" Miracle. Healed, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. By forcing her confession He was able to give her His blessing and speak a healing word over more than just her body. He told her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction." He called her daughter and told her to go in peace. He reaffirmed to her that her affliction was taken care of along with all that she had gone through concerning it for the last twelve years. Think for a moment. If she had left without that confession how would she have spent the rest of her life? I think she would have lived in fear of the affliction returning for the rest of her days; knowing she had broken the law and basically snuck her healing.

"Do you believe that I am able to do this?" Miracle. Two blind men received their sight at once.

"But who do you say that I am?" Miracle. Peter is given a Divine revelation of who Jesus is and Jesus responds by declaring a prophetic word to and over Peter that not only declares the Divine revelation to be the truth but it will also be the truth; the confession of faith that will be the foundation that the church will be built on as well as the the confession that wins every victory over the enemy!

And Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon BarJonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

If Jesus asked someone a personal question and I'm not talking about the rhetorical ones He would ask the scribes and Pharisees when being tested but personal ones of everyday individuals then something cool would follow!

So, the question of the day is really for you and I and don't forget your response and the confession of your mouth puts you in the place of receiving! Today for some of us He is asking, "What do you want Me to do for you?" For someone else it might be, "Do you want to be made well?" For others it might be, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?"  or "Who touched Me?" because you need more then what you received in the past.  For some it may be, "But who do you say that I am?" because you need to make your confession based on a the truth of who He is in your life. Today as He speaks His question to you receive the miracle that your confession releases into your life! Then ....Praise Him!