Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Seven Letters, Part 6: An Open Door

"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: 'The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie   behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you form the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" Revelation 3:7-13

                                                                                             

The spearhead to his back was a bit disconcerting. Or maybe it was the fact that Pharaoh had summoned them by force. In the middle of the night. Actually, it was all disconcerting.

Moses had no doubt that the Lord's words had been performed.

What he doubted was Pharaoh's word. The cruel man had been playing games with them. Moses would warn him about the coming plague, then Pharaoh would insult him, and send him and Aaron packing. When the plague came, Pharaoh would summon Moses and Aaron, begging them to pray to their God, and deliver them from the plague. Always with the promise that afterwards, he would let the Israelites go.

The Lord had told him that this time, Pharaoh would let them go.

The guard pushed them into the throne room. However, Pharaoh was not sitting on his mighty throne. The man was crumpled in a heap in the middle of the room. Sobbing.

Pharaoh's first born son had died in the tenth plague, the death of the firstborns.

Moses and Aaron stood there. It felt like the entire night passed by around them, and that the dawn was about to break forth with the first beams of gold, but Moses knew it was really only twenty or so minutes.

"Go."

Moses looked at Aaron, his eyes were wide. He had heard the same thing.

Pharaoh looked up at them, his eyes swollen and bloodshot. "Go. Get out from among my people." He stood up with the fury that accompanies blinding grief. He shook his fist at them, but did not come any closer. "Get out from among my people! Both you and all the people of Israel! Go serve your God, as you have been asking." Pharaoh turned from them, and then whirled around again. "Bless me also."

Soon, they were leaving the palace. Moses and Aaron ran towards the Israelite town, eager to deliver the good news. Moses wanted to sing, jump, dance, or just do something! The Lord God had delivered them out of Egypt! He said he would, and he did! He had opened the doors. Moses couldn't keep the joy and praise from his heart or his lips   not that he wanted to stop!

So together they ran as fast as their old bones would carry them. Singing praises all the way.

Based on Exodus 12:29-32

You're trying not to snort. He's right   you do have very little power. The messenger is talking about open doors, and all you see are doors that have been locked shut. What exactly can you do?

Look at Gideon, the widow with her single mite, the boy with the bread and fish, Joshua as he led the Israelites around Jericho, the prostitute with her alabaster jar, Moses and his stutter, Esther, Peter, David, and so many more. These people had nothing. They were no one special when God called them. However, when they faithfully served God, doors that had been sealed shut were suddenly opened for them. They became kings and queens, leaders of armies, prophets, apostles, leaders of faith. They had to hold tightly onto God, and God took care of the enemies, the situations, and even the money.

"In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:6

You need to know, that as long as you are in God's will for you, then He will open the doors for you. Through these letters, He has opened a door for us today, right now. If you will choose to go through the door, away from guilt, shame, under-serving, and any other junk that has previously held you back, then you will move into a deeper relationship with Him.

Doors will open not only in your life, but in the Heavens, in the physical, in ministry.

Look at Moses. In his mind, he was the last person for the job. He was a murderer, an ex-Egyptian prince turned shepherd, he wasn't an eloquent speaker, and everyone, Egyptian or Israelite, probably hated him. He wasn't rich anymore. He was not the right man for the task.

But God told him to go, and when Moses finally stopped arguing and did what God wanted, doors were opened until finally, the Israelites were walking out of Egypt.

God will give you those open doors if you hold fast to your faith, so that you do not loose your crown.

Will you go through the open door? He's swung it wide open. He's waiting for you to come through. His voice says your name, and with it, a question. What will you do?

V.Joy Palmer

Check out http://snackpackdevotionsforkidz.blogspot.com

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Friday, May 30, 2014

"The Clear Choice - Its Time To Harvest" Part 8

"For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:11-14
      ----------------------------------------------------------
The Lord has been teaching and reminding me a lot about the "The Harvest" the last few weeks to the point that I now have a much greater appreciation and a much better understanding of His heart for lost. He has definitely fanned the flame and stirred up my passion to not only see the lost with a heart of compassion but to do the work necessary to see them saved or rather harvested into the kingdom. I now think that I might actually really understand what this verse is talking about and its really really really simple, The Lost Matter!

Don't get me wrong I have always cared about the lost and I get the 'For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost' part. I was lost and I KNOW that He came and saved me 34 years ago and I have been faithfully serving Him in ministry ever since. I have led countless young people to the Lord and been faithfully teaching His word and sharing the gospel with them.

I get the concept here, but to be honest, when He asks the question, 'What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?' in the back of my mind I'm going but, "What about the ninety-nine? How do I leave them unattended. What if more go astray while I'm gone; or worse what if a wolf comes? They will be at risk!" Well, He does say, 'What do you think?' And I have always secretly thought, but, but, but, the ninety-nine need Him too. I get that the one needs to be found, that he is missing and needs help but I have always been a little torn in two here because I have always wondered and worried about leaving the ninety-nine unattended.

Don't you love how He knows our thoughts? He knows that in the back of my mind I was worried about the ones left behind while He rescued the one gone astray. He knew! He has put my mind at rest! They are safe! They are not at risk! Why? They are already in the fold! At His leading I have finally, after 34 years looked up two words that have made all the difference in my understanding of this unsettled question in my mind of "The One?" or "The ninety-nine?" Which would I choose? He has made the choice really simple and so very clear!

So take a look at this! The word astray is 4105 it means; (to cause to) roam (from safety, truth, or virtue and it comes from two root words that mean; fraudulence, a straying from orthodoxy or piety; and roving (as a tramp) i.e. by implication an impostor or misleader. So, if the one who has gone astray has left and is no longer in a place of safety, has left the truth and virtue. He has strayed into a place of fraudulence and left piety and righteousness behind and is off roving with or as an impostor or misleader and what that means is when He refers to the ninety-nine as the ones who didn't stray that they are still in a place of safety, truth, and virtue! They still safe in the fold away from the roving and tramping around in the fraudulence of the impostor and they are not deceived! They are safe within the fold!

Jesus started this example with these words. "For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost." After I looked up the word astray I began to wonder what the difference was between lost and astray so I also looked up the word lost. Lost is 622 and it comes from 575 and 3639 and it means to destroy fully. (to perish or lose) 575; off, away; 3639; to destroy, ruin, i.e. death, punishment. As you can see, to be lost seems to be a much worse place to be then to just be astray. Being lost is a place of being totally destroyed and it means a life that is perishing, reaping the results of death, destruction and punishment. Jesus, the Son of Man came to save us from having to experience this place of ruin and destruction. He came to save the lost! Why? Because its the Father's heart that none should perish! So, Jesus' question remains. "What do you think?" Do we leave the ninety-nine to rescue the one who is astray before he becomes utterly lost? Most definitely!

The Harvest is ripe with those that have gone astray all around us and it is time that we wholeheartedly join the search and rescue team, head out to find them, and bring them home to safety.The choice is clear. Go!


 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Seven Letters, Part 5: Incomplete Works

"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: 'The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" Revelation 3:1-6

                                                                                           

The master of the house was back!

He had arrived late, in the dark quiet of the night. Immediately, the whole house was awakened. It was slightly chaotic as everyone rose, dressed, and rushed to meet the master.

For now that the master had come back, it was time to settle accounts with his servants.

Poneros should be heading towards the courtyard. Instead, he was in the master's grain field digging.

He clawed at the earth like a dog searching for his buried bone. Frantically, he dug, deeper and deeper, until he tore at the old, weathered bag. Sighing in relief, he extracted the talent from its hiding place. Then, Poneros arose, and ran.

Poneros smiled. I have the master's money. I have done well.

Poneros rounded the side of the house, and raced into the back of the courtyard. No one noticed him.

Trying to regulate his breathing, Poneros took deep breathes. The master moved about elegantly. Talking to his servants individually. He came the group where Poneros was standing.

The first man spoke. "Master, you gave me five talents. It took a lot of hard work, but I now have five more talents to give to you in addition to the first five talents."

The master beamed like a proud father. Clapping the servant on the shoulder, he said, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over little, so I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master."

The man beside Poneros was next. He looked nervously at the first man's ten talents, but took a deep breath and plowed ahead. "Master, you gave me two talents. I was able to earn you two more talents." He motioned to his feet, presenting the four talents resting there. Humbly bowing his head, he waited for the master's response.

The master looked just as please with the second man's offering. It was six talents less, considerably less money, but he looked overjoyed, and proud of his servant regardless. Looking straight into his eyes, the master said, "Well done, my good, faithful servant. You have been faithful over little, and I will set you over much more. Enter into the joy of your master."

The man looked overjoyed at the master's response. Poneros breathed easily. If the master was happy was him, then surely he will be happy with me!

It was Poneros' turn to present the account's the master entrusted to him. "Master, I knew you were a hard man. You reap where you do not sow, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. I was afraid I would let you down, and loose all you had entrusted to me. I hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours."

The master was angry, that was plain to see. Poneros was terrified. What he had done wasn't enough. Why, he had done nothing. Now the master was back, and Poneros had let him down anyways.

"You wicked, lazy servant! If you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed, then why didn't you at least put my talent in the bank? Then I would have received what was mine with interest." The master eyes were full of disappointment and pain. He motioned to the servant standing behind him, attending him. "Take the talent from him, and give it to the servant with ten talents. For to everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. However, from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." With one last look at Poneros, the master seals his fate. "Cast the worthless servant into outer darkness."

Based on Matthew 25:14-30

The letter has done it's work. It's reprimanded, condemned, built-up, and encouraged. However, the messenger hasn't finished reading the letter, and it's come to the next point. The words hit everyone square in the heart. Everyone looks around, but it's not out of judgement, but stunned realization. They had been doing the bare minimum. Their works were not complete in the sight of God.

The wicked servant in the parable of the talents, did the least that he could do. He was lazy, afraid, and kind of stupid. He put no work into his task. He didn't live up to his responsibility. He never tired to reach his full potential in service to his master.

Are we like that? Is our service to God the bare minimum, or worse, is it empty service? The church has become so distracted with activities, small groups, soup kitchens, and outreaches, that sometimes we forget the point, and just go through the motions.

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." Colossians 3:23-24

"Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7

Take a look at your heart, your motives. Are you serving God fully? Are you doing the least you can do in service? Do you volunteer for every church function, but it's only out of obligation, not a desire to serve? Don't let your service be dead, empty, or nonexistent. Like in the parable of the talent, Jesus will come back to settle accounts and judge the earth. It could be when we least expect it. Don't wait. From this day forth, serve God truly, in spirit and in truth.

V. Joy Palmer


Check out http://snackpackdevotionsforkidz.blogspot.com

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"The Harvest And Its Meaning" Part 7

And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved Acts 2:47b
      -------------------------------------------
Today we are on message number seven in this 'reminder' look at the harvest. I don't know about you, but He has been awakening my first love passion and desire to see the lost saved, set free, and added to the kingdom! The words from Acts 2:41, were it says, ...'Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them' along with the ones in verse 47 above where it says that 'the Lord added to the church daily' have stirred up such a hunger for me to see that daily increase of souls being added to the kingdom!

I feel like this is the time. This is the message that the previous six messages were preparing us for. This is the message that will make sure that we know what the harvest is all about and to do that we need to take a look at what the word harvest means. In the Hebrew it comes from 7105 and it means; severed, i.e. harvest (as reaped) the crop, the time, the reaper or fig. also a limb (of a tree or foliage). It comes from a root word, 7114 that means; to dock off, i.e. curtail, especially to harvest (grass or grain).

I don't about you but the words in this meaning that jumped out at me a couple of weeks ago as He was showing me this picture of the Harvest were severed, to dock off, and curtail. These words paint a pretty clear picture of what it means to harvest a crop as well as what it means to us as believers. To harvest a crop, for example grapes, you cut the cluster of grapes off from the vine. If you are harvesting apples from an apple tree you sever the connection and take the apple away from the tree. That's what it means to harvest a crop. You take the fruit and remove it.

So what does that mean for us? Being harvested into the kingdom means that we are cut off from any connection to the curse of sin and death! We are no longer bound by it or the affects of it but instead are cut off, removed from it, and then we are set in a place of freedom and liberty in Jesus Christ our Redeemer. It means that we are called out (cut off) from darkness and called into His marvelous light! 1 Peter 2:9

The enemy had a plan when he planted a tare (false grain) in the garden to harvest or cut humanity off and separate us from God. His plan - to cause us to die and rot away knowing only fear, despair, hopelessness, hardship, suffering, and death, etc. God has a different plan for the Harvest! The Harvest is His plan for restoring us! His plan to cut us off from the works of the enemy in our lives. Jesus' death on the cross makes it possible for us to no longer be bound and left to die in our sins! Instead it makes a way for the harvest to take place. I makes a way for our incredibly loving amazing God to sever our connection to the curse and to harvest us back to Himself! His heart as the vine dresser is to graft us into the true vine, Jesus that we would know the fullness of His presence and provision once again! John 15:1 The harvest is about being cut off from the works of the enemy and being fruit in the Fathers hand. Every person, every soul, harvested matters! Every person, every soul added on any given day brings pleasure to the heart of the Father because its His heart to welcome them home!

  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A True Living Witness

"Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don't worry or be afraid of their threats." 1 Peter 3:13,14

We have all heard the tales of those devoted Christians who have suffered for their faith. The stories of missionaries killed by the very people they were trying to help. People suffering for their faith in Jesus. We know of this suffering, the Bible tells us that it is going to happen, that we should be ready for it. But are we too scared to face it?

As an everyday, ordinary Christian, I am not overrun by people who seek to do me harm because of my faith. My bosses, co-workers, friends -  they all know of my faith, that I attend church every Sunday. I try to do my best daily, not to lose control of my tongue, and to live in peace, as the Bible tells me I ought to live.

When I think about my faith, and what I am doing to serve my Lord, to further the faith... Well, suffice it to say that some days, I don't see very much. I think to myself, "Well, my church's youth group has that big event that we are working on... That's my focus for now. Then when that's done, we will start planning the next one. In the meantime, I'll be a living witness. I'll demonstrate what Godly behavior is so the rest of the world can see it. Surely, somebody will see that behavior and ask me about it. Then I'll invite them to church and hope that they see the truth." Then, I stop thinking about the good I'm doing for the Kingdom, because I need to - before the guilt sets in. Because, I KNOW that I need to do more.

I know that something is missing in my life. But what? I read my Bible daily. I pray frequently. I go to church. I tell people I'm a Christian. I do my best to live righteously. What could possibly be missing?

"But if I say I'll never mention the Lord or speak His Name, His word burn in my heart like a fire. It's like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can't do it!" Jeremiah 20:9

You see, in my quest to be a good Christian, I have misunderstood a key detail - what a living witness truly is.

When you go to a trial, what does a witness do? He doesn't just sit there, a model of good behavior. He tells people the things he's seen. The events he witnessed. Sometimes, even talks about the character of the person on trial.

That's a pretty good analogy of the way unsaved people look at God - like He is on trial. It's our job to show the world who He is. What He did for the world, what He has done for us, and what He can do for them.

We are called to this duty. It is our privilege, our honor. No matter our place in this world, this is our call. It's not to be perfect, to be peaceful, always worried about saying to much and risk offending people. To not make waves. And there is certainly no such thing as an ORDINARY CHRISTIAN.

Will the next witness please take the stand?

Sam

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Seven Letters, Part 4: Reclaiming the Kingdom

"And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: 'The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep thing of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" Revelation 2:18-29

                                                                                          

Samuel was angry. Incredibly angry.

But what's done, is done.

The decision had been made. There was nothing Samuel could do about it. Saul had tolerated the presence of wickedness in his life, and it had finally overcome and devoured him whole.

Samuel came to Saul's tent in the camp. He didn't bother to wait for the soldiers to grant him permission, or for the herald to announce his presence. He barged into the tent in a storm of holy fury, and no man could stop him.

Saul saw him immediately, and he rose from where he sat, smiling widely. After dismissing the servants and officials from his tent, he said, "Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the Lord's commandments." Saul continued smiling, clearly waiting for a pat on the back, and a, "Well done."

Samuel couldn't give him that. Not anymore."If you performed the Lord's command, then what is the bleating of sheep in my ears, or the lowing of oxen that I hear?" He set his jaw hard, and his mouth formed a small, thin line.

Saul nervously wiped his hands on his robe before answering Samuel. "They were...uh, brought from the Amalekites. The people spared the best of the sheep and oxen. So they could sacrifice them to the Lord God. Everything else though was destroyed, and   "

Samuel held up his hand, cutting him off. "Stop! I will tell you what the Lord has said to me this night."

Saul gulped. "Speak it."

"Even though you are nothing in your own eyes, the Lord anointed you as the king of Israel. And the Lord gave you a mission. He said, 'Devote the Amalekites to destruction until they are consumed.' Why didn't you obey the Lord? You pounced on the spoils, and did what was evil in Yahweh's sight."

Saul thumped his chest with his right fist. "But I did obey the Lord! I completed His mission. Amalek was destroyed." He waves his left arm in a wide arc behind him. "I brought back King Agag. The people picked out the best livestock, and brought them with us. To sacrifice to the Lord." His eyes never left Samuel's face, and they begged him to understand. However, Samuel saw it. Those windows into Saul's soul showed everything. The Saul he knew and loved was gone. Evil had taken root within him.

Samuel felt something in his spirit break, and the Lord's words washed over him, through him, leaving nothing but the words to be spoken. "Do you think sacrifice and burnt offerings mean more then obeying the Lord's voice?" Samuel started pacing within the small space of the tent. "Obedience is better then sacrifice, and listening is better then the fat of a thousand rams! Rebellion against Yahweh is a sin as serious as divination. Presumption is iniquity and idolatry. And because you have rejected the word of the Lord in your life, the Lord has also rejected you from being king."

Based on 1 Samuel 15:10-23

The man reading the letter doesn't stop, not yet. People around you are starting to squirm. Some have even gotten up and left, cursing God once and for all. However, the man continues to read, faithful to deliver God's message. Then he gets to this part. Everyone in the congregation looks suspiciously at one another. The painfully guilty run out the doors in shame and unrepentance, or wept openly before God begging for forgiveness. As you watch these members of your church family, the thought flits through your mind, "Could I have prevented this. Why was this tolerated and allowed to be a stumbling block?"

Unfortunately, the word tolerance is abused today. We are told to tolerate drugs, alcoholism, sexual immorality, lying, stealing, murder, and abortions. It's part of our culture now. We, as a church, have grown tolerant, and the devil's agents have walked into our lands without any resistance from us.

Let me make myself clear, I am not saying to hate people who sin. I'm saying hate the sin. Don't allow the sin on your turf.

Saul was give a very specific command. Destroy the Amalekites, their city, and everything they possessed. That was sin on his turf, and it needed to go. God gave him the command. Instead, Saul destroyed the stuff he thought should be destroyed. He even saved King Agag! He allowed evil to remain.

Did you know that because of King Saul's disobedience, the descendants of Agag tired to wipe out the Israelites later?

"Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite." Esther 2:5

"After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him." Esther 3:1

Saul's tolerance and disobedience lost him the kingdom, and jeopardized the nation of Israel long after Saul's sin was done and forgotten.

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Ephesians 5:15-17

Look carefully how you walk. Are you just walking by, with you head down, avoiding the problems around you? When we play hide-and-seek with the kids in the youth group, sometimes when I'm found, I'll close my eyes, hide my head, and say, "If I can't see you, you can't see me." The kids never let me get away with it. It's the same way in the spiritual. We can close our eyes to the sin around us, but it's not just going to go away. It will grow, overcome, and devour everything in it's path, and eventually it will come for us.

"Do not be conformed to this world." Romans 12:2

We know if there are areas where we have tolerated evil, or turned our eyes from sin. It's time we stop doing that.

Remember what the Lord told the people in the church who remained faithful to Him? "The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations," Revelation 2:26. God will give us the nations, if we push back at the devil, shouting, believing, living the statement, "You will not live here!" Saul lost a kingdom, but you and I, we can reclaim the kingdoms of the world.

V. Joy Palmer

Check out http://snackpackdevotionsforkidz.blogspot.com

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

"Reaping The Harvest" Part 6

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.

So the servants of the owner came and said to him, "Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?"

He said to them, "An enemy has done this." The servants said to him, "Do you wants us then to go  and gather them up?" But He said, "No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" Matthew 13:24-30
     -------------------------------------------------
Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.'

He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.

The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.

"The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Matthew 13:36-43
      ------------------------------------------------
I guess its important to take a look at the parable of the wheat and the tares since we are on day six in this 'reminder' look at the harvest and this is where He led me for today's message. I think the first thing to remember at this point is that first and foremost is that the heart of the Father is that good seed is planted and harvested! He never intended that any should be lost which is why in verse 29 he tells the servants, "No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them." It is His heart that the good seed has a chance to take root and grow strong even if it means bidding His time in dealing with the tares. It is important to remember that the enemy is responsible for planting the tares, not God! It is the enemies heart that the good crop is destroyed not the Father's.

I looked up the word tares in the Strong's and was a little surprised to see that this parable is the only time that this word is used and that it doesn't mean what I thought it would. I thought it would mean weed or something similar. It comes from #2215 and it is of uncertain origin; and it means; darnel or false grain.

I found this to be very interesting since we are told in a number of places, such as the parable of the sower, that the word is the seed and that the enemy, in both the garden with Eve, and in the temptation of Jesus, takes the word of God, and manipulates it in order to cause deception. It says in John 8:44 that the enemy is a lier and the father of lies. He sows tares in the world for one purpose; to destroy. He plants, tares or false grain in and around believers for a purpose as well. It is his heart to, as it is put in Matthew 13:22 in the parable of the sower to choke out the good seed with the cares of the world, deceitfulness of riches, doubt, worry, unbelief, and the desires for other things.

It is the Father's heart that we would grow strong, rooted in Him! It is His heart that we yield a hundredfold harvest and with that goal in mind He plants good seed. The enemy will plant only a false grain meant to choke out the good that the Father has planted and while we are in a time of waiting at this moment, the day for reaping will come. The time for reaping the harvest will come or as Jesus put it in His explanation to His disciples the day will come when "The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth." The day will come when the tares will be dealt with and it is our job as the good seed to grow strong in faith and be ready, producing good fruit even until the end!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Seven Letters, Part 3: The Balaam Heart Condition

"And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: 'The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, an I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no on knows except the one who receives it.'" Revelations 2:12-17

                                                                                        

Knock. Knock. Knock 

Balaam heard the knock in his spirit before the man outside even made the fist to knock.

He had been expecting them.

Balak, the king of Moab, had sent a party of elders to him. Balak wanted him to return with the elders, and curse the mighty nation that had come out of Egypt.

The people of Israel.

Balaam had heard a lot about them. They had conquered every nation in their path, on the way to their "promised land." They had the Lord on their side. A Lord Balaam knew well.

A Lord who had already told Balaam not to go to Moab.

I'll just see what they have to say. What's the harm? Maybe they will even give me some more money to try and sway my decision.

Balaam went to the door of his home, and swung it wide open, grinning greedily at the group before him. Princes from Moab, in their finest clothing, littered the courtyard of his home. The setting sun behind them blazed with fury and might, only strengthening the rich appearance they portrayed. They held an allure that Balaam wanted so badly to partake of and enjoy its fruits.

A stout man, clearly the highest ranking official in the group, cleared his throat. "Balak, King of Moab says, 'Do not let anything hinder you from coming to me. I will greatly honor you." The man had a suggestive gleam in his eye, and Balaam's eye's swung to the overflowing satchels hanging from each beast of burden. "Whatever you say to me, I will do." The man's voice dropped to an eerie, ominous tone. Balaam felt a cold creep up his back. The kind of cold that unsettles your spirit, making you sure there is evil afoot. "Come, curse this people for me."

Balaam gulped around the lump in his throat. He so badly wanted everything they had to offer! Maybe he could go to God again. Maybe the Lord would change his mind. Maybe it wasn't the people of Israel Balak was talking about. Swallowing, he answered the men, "Even if Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold," Balaam sent them a very pointed look after saying silver and gold, "I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do more or less then what He says. And only what He says."

That they were annoyed would be an understatement. Especially the spokesman. Anger etched the hard lines of his face.

However, Balaam wasn't done. "Your party may also stay here. I will speak with the Lord concerning His will for the situation.

He would try again.

In that moment, without even realizing it, Balaam had named his price.

He would try again, and again, and again, until God said yes.

Based on Numbers 22:15-19

Now, as we sit in church, the speaker reading the letter comes to this part...the part about Balaam. He says that some of us are following in Balaam's footsteps. Suddenly, all those times flash in your mind. Those times when you prayed a certain way, to justify what you wanted from God. Those time when we've gone ahead and done what we wanted, when we wanted because we wanted to, not because God spoke it into our hearts. Those times when we have played someone, trying to get 'the silver and the gold' even though we couldn't give them what they wanted.

Those times when we were Balaam.

Balaam knew that he shouldn't go with Balak's men to Moab. He knew. God had told him not to go there. Balaam just kept asking, and God finally said he could go if they came to him, and to only say what He had spoken. Then Balaam got up and went with the men.

Balak tired to go Balaam to curse the Israelites, but every time Balaam opened his mouth, blessings just poured out of him. Balak kept insisting, "Maybe over here will work, or maybe if we stand on this cliff." Balaam keep playing Balak too, agreeing with him, going with him, even getting him to build altars for sacrifices for God.

It wasn't until we reach Balaam's third oracle in Numbers 24 that it really sinks into Balaam's head that God doesn't want to curse these people. They are His people and He wants to bless them. That's why blessings have spilled out of him. Numbers 24:1 even says, "...He did not go, as other times, to look for omens...."

How often are we like Balaam? How often is that our heart? We see everyone around us being free, reading what they want, watching what they want, doing any and everything that they want, seemingly without consequences. So sometimes, we do what we want. Sometimes when we pray, we have devious motives, not a pure heart. Sometimes we will do anything to "hear" a yes from God.

Today, God is calling His people to stop. Just stop.

There is a difference about praying for what you want, and manipulating your prayers to justify what you want. James 4:1-3 has some hard verses addressing this within the church. "What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that you passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions."

It's a soul-sucking condition within the Body of Christ. This heart condition is fatal to your spiritual life. God never intended for prayer to be a Christmas list, or a Staples Easy button.

"And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, 'Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.'" Luke 22:41-42

This is Who we are supposed to mimic. This is what we are supposed to mimic. This should be our heart. Jesus could have prayed that prayer something like this, "Father, I know you don't want me to die. I've done nothing wrong. So I will use my authority, and get out of here! Let your judgement fall on these selfish people." That wasn't Jesus' heart. His heart was and is for us. His heart is to do the Father's work.

That needs to be our heart. Instead of the Balaam heart condition, we need to have the Jesus heart condition-it gives life!

V. Joy Palmer


Check out http://snackpackdevotionsforkidz.blogspot.com

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Friday, May 23, 2014

"The Rule Of The Harvest" Part 5

Have you ever thought about when the word harvest was first used in the Bible and by who? Maybe you already know? I have to admit I was a little surprised. I would have thought it would have been sooner. The first time the word harvest is used, was by God, just after Noah came out of the Ark. Noah built an altar, offered burnt offerings on it. It says ...And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, "I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. 'While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And winter and summer, And day and night, Shall not cease.' Genesis 8:21-22 From here God makes His covenant and gives us the sign of the rainbow but first, before that, in this moment, He speaks these words, 'While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest...shall not cease.

Did you catch what He said? Do you understand the importance of what is being said? WHILE the earth remains there IS GOING TO BE a seedtime and harvest! AS long AS there is an earth there WILL BE a seedtime and a harvest! Seedtime and harvest are as natural to the everyday scheme of things as the rest of the things He put them along side of like cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night; all the things we just expect to happen and that we don't control.

This is God Himself talking, declaring it and what it means is that every single day until the earth ceases to be, there are seeds being planted. Every single day there is harvesting going on and the question remains, what kind? Whatever God sets in order in the natural happens in the spiritual realm. So, what kind of seeds are being planted and harvested in your life, here, now, today? Are they seeds of faith, hope, love, salvation, etc. or are they seeds of doubt, fear, hopelessness, despair, etc?

Seedtime is happening. Harvesting is happening. Whether we are aware of it or not seeds are being planted and harvested in our lives. So, what does the fruit look like in our lives? Do we even really understand that every spoken word is a seed that brings forth life or death? Do we understand that our choices and our actions bring forth fruit? They bring about a result or a harvest in our lives. Do we understand that seeding and harvesting is going to happen, period. God said so, and the thing is, in the natural, we can pick and choose the kind of seed we want to plant. We can choose to plant apples trees, or flowers, or wheat, rice, and or barley seeds. We make a choice on what we would like to reap. What we want harvested into our storehouses. We can choose in the natural and we can definitely choose in the spiritual. We can and must choose to seed our lives with His Word and with His presence.

Read it! Read through the word and you will see that everywhere, throughout the whole thing there are seeds being planted. His word is being spoken, taught, and proclaimed. People believe it and allow it to grow or they don't. Over and over you see the word spoken and people turning to God; sometimes even a whole nation at once. Look at Jonah, Daniel, Elijah, David, etc. Check out the book of Acts were thousands are being added daily. You reap what you sow and if His word is at work in your life; You reap God! You reap God stuff like signs, wonders, and miracles. You reap His promises and you reap souls for the kingdom because the thing is; if you plant seeds more seeds will come because seedtime and harvest are the order of things! Its the rule! If you plant apple seeds you get apples. If you plant wheat you get wheat. It is what it is, period! A seed planted will always produce more of its kind. After all, its His rule and that is why seedtime and harvest work. That is also why seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night will not cease as long as the earth remains. It is the 'rule' He set in place.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Seven Letters, Part 2: Conquer

"And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: 'The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death; and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.'"
Revelation 2:8-11

                                                                                      

Paul nodded at Philip, and laughed at his joke. He and the dear friends who refused to leave his side were staying at Philip's house. They had been here about a week so far, visiting, learning, and strengthening each other in God. Even Philip's four daughters had been a blessing with all their prophesying and revelations.

Paul noticed a man entering the main room where they were gathered. The man looked unsettled, but determined. He assumed the man was Philip's friend, but something about him seemed to scream urgency.

Philip touched his arm, drawing his attention back to him. "What's the matter, Paul?"

Paul inclined his head towards the man, who was scouting the room, looking for someone. "Do you know that man?"

Philip frowned, and rubbed his chin in thought. "No. I've never seen him before."

"He looks like he has a message."

"Indeed." Philip said nodding. "I'll go talk to him."

He watched Philip go over and greet the man. The two talked for only a moment before Philip led him over to Paul.

Paul stood up from his chair at the table. "Hello, brother." Paul smiled warmly. By now, the others had noticed the man. They motioned to each other and pointed, vainly trying to carry on their conversations when they were really only concerned with trying to see what was happening.

The man smiled slightly, but it was grim. "Hello, brother. My name is Agabus. I am a prophet, and our Lord has given me a message."

"Then speak it, friend. We will listen." Paul nodded at him to continue. Now, everyone was gathered around them, all waiting to hear the message.

Without further prompting, Agabus stepped forward, and yanked Paul's belt free. Then he sat on the floor, and crudely tied his feet and left hand together. Once he was finished with the knot, he slipped his right hand into the bundle.

Everyone was quite, waiting for the Lord's words to come, and Agabus spoke boldly into the silent room. "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'"

Paul met Agabus' eyes and nodded. He knew this. He was ready and prepared to die for His Lord Jesus.

"Paul, don't go to Jerusalem."

"You heard him. It's a death sentence!"

"The churches need you! Travel to them. You'll be safe there."

However, it appeared the others were not prepared for this.

"Listen to them," Philip pleaded, his hand firm on Paul's shoulder

Paul felt the hand of grief coil around his heart and gut, and squeeze with all his might. His eyes blurred with tears. His dear friends! They were the family God had given him! "What are you doing? Stop weeping and crying for me to stay. It's breaking my heart." Tears escaped his eyes, but not because he was afraid to die. "I am ready to be imprisoned in the name of the Lord Jesus. Why, I am even ready to die for him! I must go, and be faithful."

Based on Acts 21:8-13

Imagine yourselves back in church. Then next part of the message is being read. All that is going through your mind is, "Trial? Tribulation? Faithful unto DEATH?" You're hoping and praying that it's not you who will have to deal with such a fate! Your heart is racing, pounding, and the sick feeling in your stomach confirms that this is really happening. What do you do now?

Unfortunately, we all know people who, when faced with trial and tribulation, turned from Jesus and ran in the opposite direction. There have been times we might have been those people. Maybe we still are.

Paul was in that situation, but instead of running to a church or somewhere to hide out, he went to Jerusalem, and eventually all the way to Rome. Paul was faithful unto death. He was ready to face those trials.

Could we stand in Paul's shoes, and do the same thing?

Not all of us will face those intense moments of witness. We won't all be crucified, bricked into a wall, or put on trial for loving Jesus. We all face different kinds of trials, tribulations, and temptations. However, we are supposed to be faithful to Jesus unto death. So many people are like the sower's seeds who have no root in Him, and they never make it to the intense moments of witness because they gave up early. They fell away long ago, and weren't faithful.

Will we be faithful unto death? In every and any state of life? Mundane or difficult? Will we conquer this life?

The One who died and came back to life is telling you to conquer this trial, this life, and you will be victorious. The second death will not hold power over you, if you will live and die unto Jesus.

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21

V. Joy Palmer

Check out http://snackpackdevotionsforkidz.blogspot.com

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"Tools For The Harvest" Part 4

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest. Matthew 9:36-38
      ----------------------------------------------
Today the Lord reminded me about something that I think most times we tend to gloss over when we read it or maybe it is just me. Maybe I am the only one who hasn't really understood the significance of this moment?

Jesus  was moved by compassion as He was looking at the multitudes. As He gazed out at ALL those people, each with needs, each one weary, each one scattered, lost, and without a shepherd. It says that out of that compassion, out of that moment with His heart filled with love and concern for those people, He turned to His disciples and spoke these words..."The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest."

There are two things here that He 'reminded' me of' that I think we take for granted and gloss over when we read this. The first is the fact that He is talking to His disciples. The word disciple here comes from 3101 and it simply means; a learner, i.e. a pupil. It comes from a root word which means; to learn (in any way.) Naves Topical Bible gives it this meaning. A name given to the followers of any teacher. Being a disciple of Christ means we are His students. We are learning from Him. We take in everything He says and does and we learn from it.

Jesus didn't announce these words to the crowd. He turned and spoke them to His disciples, His pupils, those He was teaching! He took that moment of compassion and turned to His pupils to share it with them. He was teaching them about the people. He was showing them, and us, if we are His disciples, that we have a job to do. There is a harvest and it needs tending!

In His statement to His disciples He tells them two things. First, He told them about the harvest and second, He gave them something specific to do. Something that would 'make all the difference' to the harvest, (to the people who are weary, and scattered without a shepherd.) He told them to pray. He told them to 'pray' to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest," and the reason that it would make all the difference will make sense if you take a look at what the word 'pray' means here. It is the word 1189 in the Strong's and it means; to beg (as binding oneself) i.e. petition. It comes from a root word that means; to bind (lit. or fig.) It said that it was comparable to 4441 which says that(1189 involves the idea of urgent need.)

If you have an urgent need that you are begging someone for, than odds are, you will attach or bind yourself to them in someway. You might grab their hand, arm, or even be prostrate at their feet, but contact is made. With this meaning made clear we have a better understanding of what He was saying to His disciples. By telling them to pray and I don't mean our everyday attitude about talking with God but the begging, petitioning, binding together with attitude that Jesus is telling them to do, then you know that He is teaching them to care! He is teaching them to BE the laborers who will be willing to go! If you bind together with the Lord of the harvest don't you think that His heart for the harvest will become your heart? By the time your done binding, begging, and petitioning Him with an urgency don't you think your heart will look more like His heart for the weary, the scattered, and the lost sheep without a shepherd?

The word laborers here is 2040 and it means; a toiler; fig. a teacher. It comes from a primitive root word that is obsolete and means to work; toil as an effort or occupation; by implication, an act. So Jesus, turns to the disciples, His students, and with His heart full of compassion for the people and He tells them to pray. To bind with the Lord of the Harvest that He will do what? That He will send laborers, or rather those that are willing to toil, to work, and teach. That as their occupation, with both words, deeds and by their actions they would tend the harvest! By the time you get done praying, or rather binding together with the Lord of the Harvest, about those that need to labor and to have a heart for the harvest then you are going to end up being one of those laborers. Your going to end up with a heart for "The Harvest." 

The Lord of the Harvest cares about the harvest! He cares about each and every person.  He is looking for laborers who are willing to bind together with Him and who are willing to share His heart for both Him and the Harvest.

Seems to me, that the greatest tool He could give His disciples for doing the work of the harvest comes in this one statement, in this one moment, when He, with His heart full of compassion, turned to His disciples and He told them its all in the asking! He said, "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest," because if they or rather, we will truly do that, we will have the most important thing possible. A heart of compassion! A heart for the Harvest!  



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Calling

"See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don't recognize that we are God's children because they don't know Him. Dear friends, we are already God's children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as He is pure."
1 John 3:1-3

All of us know that God is our Father and Jesus is our big brother. We know that they love us unconditionally, without fail. We know that we are supposed to do right, because we are Christians. As Christians, even young Christians, we are supposed to be good and proper. Upright. Honest. Faithful. But why? Is it simply because we are trying to please God? Or is there something more to it?

When we receive salvation, it is not merely about believing in Jesus. Even Satan and his forces of darkness do that. No, our duty is greater than that. We are to accept Jesus into our heart as Lord and Savior. But it doesn't end with the acceptance. Then, we need to live it.


The first part was on Jesus. As our Savior, He has redeemed us. Ransomed us back from the devil. This part is easy for us. We barely had to do anything. We believe, we pray, we claim this as our own. We are saved!

Then comes the hard part... Do we follow His commandments?  Do we ask Him what He wants us to do today? Do we follow the example that He set for us when He walked this earth? Every time? We NEED to be walking that path, even when its difficult (especially when its difficult).

"You are the light of the world - like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." Matthew 5:14

"Dear children, don't let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous." 1 John 3:7

We are to be the light in the darkness, showing people the difference between Christianity and the world. Are we the living witnesses that we ought to be? We can serve our Lord everyday, no matter where we are, or who is with us. It is a quite a challenge, but it is who we are called to be. Don't let anything stop you from fulfilling that promise.

Sam

Check out http://snackpackdevotionsforkidz.blogspot.com

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!


Monday, May 19, 2014

The Seven Letters, Part 1: Reclaim the Love

"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: 'The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my names sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.'" Revelation 2:1-7

                                                                                   

Martha wiped her hands on the apron tied around her waist as she surveyed the table overflowing with food. The bread was running a little low, as well as the figs and water. She would have to grab more of those. Martha could see her sister, Mary, sitting at Jesus' feet. She was just hanging on every word he said.

I would love to just sit and listen, too, but if I don't serve the food, then no one will eat. Mary certainly isn't helping me.

Martha squeezed past some of the men who accompanied Jesus everywhere. She overheard someone say they were his disciples. Martha tucked the jug of water into her left arm, grabbed the loaf of bread, and with her right hand, picked up three more figs. She carefully maneuvered past the men again, only to get to the table and discover the cheese was almost gone now.

She huff as she unloaded the food onto the table. She caught sight of Mary sitting there, totally oblivious to the fact that Martha was running herself ragged and needed help.

That's it! 

Jesus had stopped speaking for the moment. Everyone was talking among themselves. Jesus was taking advantage of the opportunity, and eating a piece of bread. She would get him to send her some help so that she could eventually sit and listen, too.

She walked over. Jesus saw her immediately, and smiled, giving her his full attention. "Lord, I've been running all over the place trying to make sure everyone can eat and rest, but I've been doing it all alone. Mary hasn't moved from her spot all night. I need help."

The left corner of his mouth turned up. "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and focused too much on troubles. All that you've done is important and necessary. Thank you for serving so diligently." Martha smiled a little, thinking he was going to send Mary to take her place. "However, you've become so focused, you've forgotten what's really important. Mary chose to focus on that. I won't take that away from her."

Martha realized what he was saying. She blinked trying to hold back tears. She started turning away when Jesus' voice stopped her. "You can join her. Let the others get the cheese if they want it. Focus on me."

Based on Luke 10:38-42

Can you imagine sitting in church on Sunday, and all of a sudden, someone bursts into the sanctuary. The man is exhausted. He was clearly running here using every fiber of his being. He's doubled over, huffing and puffing, and in his hand is a crinkled letter. Everyone stands up, and forms a circle around the man, all curious about what is so important. Finally, he stands straight, and hands the letter to your pastor. "It's an important revelation from God. Full of prophecy, warnings, victory, and a personal note to your church."

The seven letters found in the beginning of Revelation are still very relevant to us individually and united in our churches. And that is what we are going to be studying. God has sent us a personal message with these letters, and it's time to dig in deep.

The first thing we hear is that we've abandoned the love we first had for Him.

How did we do that?

Jesus praises the church at first. He's seen all their good works, and He is thankful for their diligent serving. But that's all it's become. Serving. Where is the love?

When you fall in love with someone, you are consumed with it. You constantly think about them. You always want to be with them, talk with them, and listen to them. In order to remain in love, you have to continue doing all those things. It's easy to get complacent, and forget how special those things really are.

When did church, reading our Bibles, and prayer become such drudgery? It's become something we have to do, instead of something we love to do because we are so in love with God.

I love Martha, and I can relate to her so well. We can get so distracted with stuff we have to do, that we forget we are really here to be with God. If it's going to interfere with the time we need with Jesus, then everything else can wait. We are serving and living for Jesus, but how can we really do that if we've lost sight of that love? It's the reason we do what we do. Without the love, we lose the light and slip into distraction.

It's time for us to return to Jesus' feet because we love to be there! It's time for us to reclaim our love for Him. It's time to be consumed with our love for Him. Outside of Him, without Him, nothing else matters.

V. Joy Palmer

Check out http://snackpackdevotionsforkidz.blogspot.com

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"Laborers Of The Harvest Part 3"

Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, There are still four months and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!

And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true:'One sows and another reaps.'

I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors." John 4:34-38
      -------------------------------------------
Today we are going to look at something that Jesus touches on when He says, 'And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true:'One sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.'

Here in these statements about the "the harvest" is the idea that some sow and some reap. The sower and the reaper are co-laborers together with one purpose, one goal - bringing the crop in. You can't have a harvest if no one ever plants a seed. You can't have a harvest without a time of growth which includes lots of sunshine and water. You can't have a harvest unless someone will take sickle in hand to get the work done. The Harvest has some work to it and all the parts and all the jobs are equally important!

In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 Paul puts it like this, "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his own reward according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers;"

We all have a job to do and it is a team effort. Think about this thought! There are three main parts involved in "The harvest." You hear a lot about the sowing and the reaping but there is also that third one; the time of growth were the sun and the rain make all the difference. So just for this minute think about all three main parts and yes, I know that each main part has some jobs involved in the process but think just for a moment about the three main ones. The time of sowing and planting the seed. The time of growth or as Paul puts it, when we were watered. And then comes the time of reaping.

Three main parts, Three separate functions with one purpose in mind. Sound like someone else we know and love. God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All with a job to do. All with a single purpose! Co-laborers, united together with the harvest - you and I in mind.

We know from the parable of the sower that the seed is the word and from John 1 that Jesus is the Word; so we can know that Jesus is in charge of sowing seeds. Jesus told us that it was really important for Him to go away and that the Holy Spirit would come next. When He comes He will do a work in us. He will be our Helper. In John 14:26 Jesus said. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." or what about John 16:13 where Jesus tells us it is the Spirits job "to guide us in all truth."

It says that He will remind us of every word that Jesus spoke and that He causes the fruit of the Spirit to be at work in and through us. So many people focus on the sowing and reaping that they forget and get lost along the way. They get tired of the waiting. They forget that there is a time of growth! A time of watering with the Spirit before it can be the time for reaping. Too many people Know the Father and they know the Son but they forget, or even refuse to know the Holy Spirit. I wonder? I wonder if these are those who in the parable of the 10 virgins didn't have oil in their lamps? Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit, right? I wonder if these are those that Jesus was talking about when He said, "You call me Lord, Lord, but you never knew Me." How can we know God if we don't know all of Him, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? I wonder?

Last comes the time of reaping. The time of harvest. The time where you get to partake in all the increase that the harvesting brings to your storehouses. Jesus said, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." Matthew 9:37-38 The Father sent the Son, The Father sent the Holy Spirit and the Father is in charge of the time for reaping.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, co-laborers in The Harvest, rejoicing together! How blessed we are to be, as Paul put it, 'God's fellow workers;'

Thank you, God! Send me!

Check out http://snackpackdevotionsforkidz.blogspot.com

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!




Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Seven Letters: The Prologue

Revelations 1:1-2
"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to this servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw."

Revelations 1:9-10
"I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus I was in the spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet..."

                                                                                             

Mary was about to loose it. She couldn't find him anywhere. Joseph had insisted she go back to the inn, and take a short rest. However instead of resting, she had sat in front of the window, hoping for a glimpse of Jesus. She didn't dare blink, lest she miss him just that quickly.

The door to the room creaked open, and her tired husband entered. His head was down, avoiding her look, his shoulders slumped, and his fists clenched in anger. They had been looking for three days, and couldn't find a trace of where Jesus had gone.

She choked back a sob, and in an instant, Joseph had crossed the room and was now cradling her in his strong arms. "It's okay. We will find him. The Lord will help us."

Mary nodded, but she wasn't sure she believed him any more. I've failed. I've lost God's son. Now what will happen?

A rap sounded at the door, three fast, hard beats.

Joseph let go of her, and cautiously opened the door. The innkeeper stood at the door. Her mind's eye was suddenly flooded with another innkeeper she and Joseph had encountered, twelve years ago...

Mary blinked and shook herself out of the memory. She kept the feelings and questions buried in a little box in her heart where, when the time was right, she could go back to them. But not here. Not now.

He met Mary's eyes and smiled softly. "Some men just came from the temple. They were saying a young boy, roughly the age and description of your boy, was there talking with the priests and teachers. I thought you would like to know so you could check it out."

Mary jumped to her feet, and rushed out the door. "Thank you," she called over her shoulder. She heard Joseph do the same, and jog to catch up with her.

With a destination, a goal, a prize in the forefront of their minds, it didn't take long at all for them to reach the temple. Joesph stopped to ask someone about Jesus, but Mary didn't wait. She could hear him. It was faint, but she would know that voice anywhere. She rounded a corner and skidded to a stop. Young, sweet Jesus sat among a group of priests and teachers. He motioned like he was asking a question. A teacher, looking impressed with the young student, answered him. Then Jesus gestured like...well, like he was explaining something. Jesus' eyes were alight with passion, the subject his delight and desire. His father.

"Do you think he's been here the entire time?" Joseph asked form behind her. Mary never heard him join her. "I do," she said without looking back.

Just then Jesus nodded at the group of men, and stood up to go. He started towards them like he knew they'd be there waiting for him.

For whatever reason, that irritated Mary. "Son," Her voice held a healthy dose of motherly scolding. "Why have you treated us like this? You disappeared without saying anything to anyone. You've had us worried sick. We've been looking for you frantically.

His little eyebrows furrowed, and he tilted his head to the left. "Why were you looking for me in all those places? Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"

His Father's house. He had to be with his father. Mary gathered him into her arms, and hugged him tight, burying even more things into her heart's secret box.

Based on Luke 2:41-51

I'm starting a new seven part series based on the seven letter in the beginning of Revelations. Today is the prologue. So I guess that makes it eight parts.

Before John received this incredible vision, a prophecy of things still to come, he was secluded away from everyone and everything. No distractions. Not only that, but he was in the spirit, on the Lord's day. The Bible makes a point of saying it, just like that. When you look close enough, you find that nothing is coincidence in the Bible.

Before Jesus spoke to John, John was spending time with God in the spirit.

While thinking about this, God brought to my mind the story of twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple, and more specifically, His words, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"

The boy Jesus wasn't being rude. It's like a child saying, "Of course I was in the toy store, Mom." Jesus was saying, "Of all the places you looked for me, why didn't it occur to you first, that I would be in my Father's house?" Of all the places, that's were Jesus wanted to be, with His Father. Mary and Joseph should have figured that out sooner, but they were so distracted with worry that it took three days to find Jesus.

Why doesn't that occur to us? Why do we cry out, "God where are you?" Why do so many people search in empty religions trying to find something real and true? Why do others try to fill the void with the world and all it's pleasures. Why doesn't it occur to all of us where we can find God and contentment?

If you want God, if you are seeking Him, then you need to make time for Him. You need to be in your Father's house. Being there should feel like coming home because you are with your Father. That's what John was doing on Patmos. He was so engrossed in a world with his Father, and nothing else mattered or existed.

If you are desperately seeking the Father, start by looking for Him in the most obvious place-His house. Then take it a step further and get lost in His presence. That will lead to seeking God like you never have before. As James said, faith without works is dead. We can't just say we are seeking God. We need to literally seek God.

And when you do that, you will see revelations like you never have before. Just take it from John.

Check out http://snackpackdevotionsforkidz.blogspot.com

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Friday, May 16, 2014

"The Time of Harvest" Part 2

Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He"

And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, "What do You seek?" or, "Why are You talking with her?"

The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men,

"Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"

Then they went out of the city and came to Him.

In the meantime His disciples urged Him saying, "Rabbi, eat."

But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know."

Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?"

Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, There are still four months and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!

And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true:'One sows and another reaps.' John 4:31-38
      -------------------------------------------------

Jesus spoke these words about 'The Harvest' at the tail end of His encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. The disciples had left Jesus here at the well and had gone into the city to find food. vs.8 At this point they have returned to find Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman! Both being a Samaritan and a woman were strikes against her in their eyes. It said that they marveled because He was talking to her and that none of them dared to ask Him about it. Instead, they tried to get Him to eat the food that they had brought back for Him from the city.

Jesus, aware of their exchanged looks, attitudes, and traditions proceeded to answer them with, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." and "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, There are still four months and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true:'One sows and another reaps.'"

The Word doesn't tell us if the disciples understand that He was actually answering the question in their hearts as to the 'Why' Jesus was talking to her. On the surface these words could be thought of as two separate thoughts but they are not. Jesus is addressing the heart attitude of His disciples. They had obviously made a judgement that Jesus should not have been talking to the Samaritan woman.  He switches from His awesome words about His food being 'doing the will of the Father' to 'Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!' for a reason. It is the same thought!

'The Harvest' isn't for a time in the future. It isn't for four months from now. He tells them to 'lift up their eyes and look at the fields they are already white for harvest' "The Harvest" is here now today, and it is doing the will of the Father. Sharing the kingdom with whomever we come across, even a Samaritan woman at the well! He is telling them to look at all the people right there in front of them.

The woman dropped her waterpot, left it, and went running to tell others. They came out of the city to see Him. The crowd was forming and Jesus was telling His disciple to open their eyes and look. Look at "The Harvest" that is in front of you! He was telling them to stop waiting for their idea of when harvest time is and recognize the opportunities to sow seed or to reap in the here and now.

The Word tells us to 'redeem the time' or rather the 'opportunity' for the days are evil. We too, as His disciples need to take every opportunity to sow the word in every life that we touch. We need to make sure we understand that "The Harvest" happens because someone is willing to do the will of the Father and plants seeds. "The Harvest" happens because someone is willing to do the will of the Father and do the work involved in reaping. "The Harvest" is every opportunity to sow or reap. It is every opportunity including the Samaritan women in our lives. "The Harvest" is in the here and now opportunities throughout our day. Don't believe me? Take the advice of our Savior and, 'lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!' Take a moment and look at the field set before your eyes!
     ---------------------------------------------------
"The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest." Matthew 9:37-38
    
Check out http://snackpackdevotionsforkidz.blogspot.com


Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Speak Words of Life

Job woke up with a start, gasping. Pain! That's all his mind could process. Pain, pain, pain. Massive amounts of pain. He threw the blanket off of him, and stared in horror at his calves and arms. They were covered in sores!

"Wake up!" His wife moaned, and he shook her hard. "Wake up," he hissed again.

She huffed and sat up. She stared at him for a split second and screamed, jumping out of bed and rushing to the other side of the room. "What's wrong with your face?"

"It's on my face, too?" Job touched his right check and flinched. He moved to stand up, crying out with pain. It didn't take a thorough examination to determine that the loathsome sores covered his entire body, from the sole of his feet to the top of his head.

His wife stormed from the room. Job limped along, trying desperately to follow her, but feeling like he would collapse any minute.

"First, He takes away our children, all our livestock, and now this?" His wife was furious. She picked up a water pot, and heaved it at the wall behind him. He tried to duck, but the motion was too painful, and he fell backwards.

Job moaned. That did not help. He carefully rolled onto his hands and knees. He knees scraped against shards of broken pottery, but that actually relieved the pain some. He picked up a piece, and stood up. Testing the effectiveness, he started scraping the sores on his arms. It was helping.

His wife was watching him in disgust. "Why?" Job raised his left eyebrow. "Why do you still hold onto your integrity? Just curse God and die. End your misery. End mine." A single tear coursed down her check.

Job felt his heart breaking. For the woman he loved. For all that they had lost. But he would not, could not do such a thing to his God. "You're the one acting foolish. How can I understand Yahweh's ways? How can I judge them? It would be foolish of me to blindly accept the good without the bad."

She started sobbing, but Job needed to sit. Needed to pray. Needed to have faith. Sadly, he wouldn't get any help with that in here. So he trudged outside with his piece of pottery, to sit in his pile of ashes.

Based on Job 2:7-10

"Then his wife said to him, 'Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.'" Job 2:9

"Remember: who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. But by the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his anger they are consumed." Job 4:7-9

These are just some of the uplifting words Job had to hear from his wife and friends.

As we know from Job chapters 1 and 2, Job was not being punished for some horrible sin. However, his friends jumped to this awful conclusion that Job had sinned against God, and now God was punishing him. His wife had given up, and told Job to do the same. After losing their children, oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, and a bunch of servants, and then she had to watch Job be struck with terrible sores from head to toe, she was just done. She was broken too, but instead of building up her husband, she tore him down.

When a friend or family member is going threw a difficult time, how do we respond. "Oh, you should have listened to me." "That happened because you were sinning." "Just give up, God's not going to help you." Are we speaking life, or are we speaking death?

Jesus was utterly truthful, yet always loving. His mercy and grace covered any sin.

"Let all that you do be done in love." 1 Corinthians 16:14

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29

Instead of saying the first thing that comes to mind, we need to think about what we are saying. Will it destroy this person more? Will it damage their relationship with God even more? Will they feel like judgement has been passed on them, when we don't know the whole story?

"From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so." James 3:10

Speak life, love, and encouragement to each other. Even something simple said in jest or momentary anger can plant a seed. Be careful which seeds you plant.


Check out http://snackpackdevotionsforkidz.blogspot.com

Following us on Facebook  or Twitter options are now available!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"The Harvest" Part 1

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest. Matthew 9:36-38
      -----------------------------------------
"The Lord has been speaking to me a lot about the harvest and this morning as I woke with this song, "God's Great Dance Floor" by Chris Tomlin on my heart and in my head I felt led to be reminded and to remind you as well, that, "The Harvest," it matters to the Lord!

"For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:11-14

"The Harvest," it matters to the Lord of the Harvest. It matters to Jesus! It matters that we, redeem the time, or rather each and every opportunity  to share about the, love of Christ. The love that caused Him to leave heaven and to come to earth as the Son of Man; to save us and to save those we come in contact with each day.

So, like I said the Lord has been showing me a lot lately about "The Harvest." and the first thing He emphasized is what happens in heaven when we say, "Yes."  to the price that Jesus paid to redeem us.

This interview with Chris Tomlin says it way better than I could. He talks about the joy of our Heavenly Father as we, who have gone astray are brought back from being lost.

The Father rejoices!

Lord, I pray that we would be willing laborers in your kingdom. Holy Spirit help us to have eyes of compassion the way that Jesus did. Help us to see the multitudes that are perishing with hearts that care about each and every one.  Father, help us to do your will here on earth as it is in heaven, because Father it is your will that not one of these little ones should perish.