Sunday, November 30, 2014

"Bread of Life"

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your father's ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."  John 6:47-51

Jesus took bread, blessed it, and gave it to them and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.  Mark 14:22-24

Lord, the only words that come, are ...Thank you! With all my heart ... Thank you! Thank You for Your body that was broken and Your blood that was shed. Thank You for being our bread of life!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time devotions

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Next Thanksgiving...

This week, we have heard time and again to be thankful for the things that we have in our lives. There is no other time like this in any other part of the year. Celebrities come out of the woodwork to remind us of all the things that we have to be thankful for.

Most of us are thankful at this time of year. It's the holidays. We remember our family and friends. We get together just to spend time with one another.

But in the midst of this wonderful time of year, I would like us all to take a moment. Think about the ways that God has worked in our lives since last year. Then, think about all the things that you want to be thankful to God for NEXT year.

I'm not saying to write a wish list, like "I want to win the lottery". Make a list of the truly important things that you want to see happen in the next year, like an expansion in your ministry, or maybe a new job. Maybe you want to add a new family member, or see your spouse's lifelong goal be realized.

These are all examples from my own life, things that I truly want.

"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and he will help you." Psalms 37:4,5

If the things that you see on your list are things that truly weigh heavily on your heart, it is time to commit them to Him. I'm not saying that overnight these things are going to happen, and sometimes we don't get the things that we want right now. But if it is something that you fervently desire, the absolute best thing that we can do is to give it to God and to let Him take it. I have given my hopes and desires to Him, and He has given them back, refined and better than I thought possible.

If you truly are a follower of  Christ, then it's time we start acting like it.

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1

Do you have the faith that He can do these things for you?

Sam

Friday, November 28, 2014

"The Valley Of Elah" Part 4

"Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand.  And he drew near to the Philistine. So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him." 1 Samuel 17:40-41
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Today, in part four we are going to look at the second clue that shows that David knew that God was going to show Himself strong. In part three we looked at the five smooth stones as the first clue these two verses contained and the second comes in what is stated next. I think it is important to note for that very reason. It is what he does next. He doesn't wait! He chooses his weapon and he simply goes. The next words say, ...and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand.  And he drew near to the Philistine. So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him."

He picked out his stones, put them in his pouch, and with his sling in one hand and his staff in the other he went down into the valley to take the giant on. Stop and think for a moment, In verse 16 it says, "And the Philistine drew near and presented himself forty days, morning and evening." Morning and evening he would come out and issue his challenge. Not all day long. Morning and evening. He didn't stand there all day in the heat in his armor. Morning and evening he would come out. The Bible tells us that David took Saul's armor off, went, got his stones, and then, then he went down to drawn near to the Philistine. He went down and waited for the Philistine to come. He wasn't just answering the challenge at this point he was making it!

David went and drew near first and then it says, so the Philistine came,  and as he drew near he got a good look at who had come down. He got close enough to see who dared to challenge him. 'then he started drawing near to David,...And when the Philistine looked about and saw David he disdained him for he was but a youth, ruddy and good looking." verse 42  This was any other day for Goliath. He didn't know when he made his morning challenge that there was a new arrival in the Israel's camp that had heard it. He didn't know that this day was different and someone was going to respond. For forty days he had challenged and for forty days no one responded. He wasn't hanging out waiting. That is why it makes a point of saying 'So the Philistine came' and then it talks about him drawing near to David. First he had to come back out. He was sent for because someone had come down into the valley from Israel's camp. Someone had answered the challenge. Someone was in the Valley of Elah waiting and as he drew near he realized that he had come back out to fight a boy with a staff in his hand. It says that he was angry because of it and 'disdained him.'  If he had been in the valley waiting and watching David come down he would have seen all that and wouldn't have had to drawn near before he knew.

David went down to take the battle to the one who would defy His God. He didn't wait for Goliath's next scheduled challenge. He didn't wait and allow him another opportunity to spread fear or to defy God. He went on the offense! No hesitation. No waiting for the enemies next move. He picked his weapon and then with his confidence inas  God to deliver he immediately stepped out in the strength of His God, or  in this case down into the Valley of Elah.

What about you and I? Do we understand that the battle is the Lord's? Do we go on the offensive to prevent the enemy from doing harm. Do we even know what our weapons are? Do we understand that just because the enemy puts on a good show of strength for forty days, morning and night, that it doesn't mean he can't be defeated?  Are we on the defense because we see the enemies strength or are we like David? Do we go on the offense because we know the strength of our God?

"... 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." Matthew 16:18-19

Remember the Valley of Elah and what happened there! The battle is the Lord's and He alone is our deliver. Trust Him!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thank You!

He was running.

Back to Jesus.

"Hallelujah!" He jumped over a bush and darted around a rock. "Praise God!"

A young child innocently wandered directly into his path, and an older man snatched him away just before his feet could crush those small hands. "Watch were you are going!"

Tsara turned around but kept jogging backwards! "I'm so sorry! I have to go, though!" He pushed faster and further, praying he wouldn't be too late. "Thank you, Lord!"

Ah ha! There he was!

He ran right up to Jesus, and flung himself face-first at his feet. "Thank you, Lord! Thank you for healing me! I am cleansed, and it's because of you! Thank you. Thank you. Praise the Lord for He is good!" On and on he went. Truthfully, he couldn't seem to stop. Tears of gratitude mingled with the dirt, and the resulting mud coated his face.

A hand gently touched his back, and Jesus was smiling at him. He offered his hand, and Tsara grasped it. With Jesus' help, he stood up, tall and whole.

"Thank you, Lord." Without thinking, he flung himself in Jesus' arms, and Jesus returned the spontaneous hug.

When he finally drew away, Jesus spoke. "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?"

Based on Luke 17:15-17

Yesterday I posted a kid's blog that I had written about two weeks ago about this thankful man. Then my pastor spent some time on this same man on Sunday. I don't consider that a coincidence. One out of ten lepers said, "Thank you." I'd be willing to bet that's a pretty accurate statistic of the world in general, as well.

I don't know about you, but I want the first words out of my mouth when something good happens to be, "Thank you, God!" Without His hand in my life, I would be a spiritual leper - unclean and alone. I need to give thanks to Him because He IS good!

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" Psalm 107:1

In honor of Thanksgiving and my Lord, that is exactly what I am going to do. I don't ever want to be one of the nine who never thanked the Lord. I want to show my thanks...

So today's blog is going to be a little different.

Dear Lord!

Thank you for all the ways you have provided for us this year! Thank you for healing us, touching us, and meeting us where we are!

You are not some angry old man in the sky waiting to zap us. You are not some ignorant care bear who turns a blind eye to us. You are the perfect parent. The everlasting Father. Our righteous Lord. You love us without fail, without condition, and without limit. You discipline us when necessary, but you never hold out on the grace and mercy. You Lord, are the reason I have anything to be thankful for this year. Without you, and the way that you have held me in your hand, I would have absolutely nothing. Even in my weakness, I have everything in you.

You have given my friends and family. Life. Food. Toilet paper (seriously, I cannot thank you enough for toilet paper).

Lord, you gave your life for me. Thank you.

Amen.

P.S. Lord, I want to thank you for all the readers who have blessed us so much in the last two years. Their thoughts and comments have made this such a joy for us, and I want to ask that you show them your love in a special way this year.


V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

"The Valley Of Elah" Part 3

It is not a mistake that this valley was named the Valley of Elah. Don't forget that Elah means strength; strong like and oak, powerful, etc. Also, remember, it isn't named Elah because of Goliath either. Goliath was just a very large man. The strength that shines through and shows itself strong here is God's and God's alone.  When I started the first Valley of Elah message I had no idea that it was going to turn into more than the one message. I thought I was done at the first one and then the Lord showed me Goliath's challenge about 'choosing a man' to fight. He showed me that while everyone else was focusing on man's ability, David's only focus was on God's.

So, today there is a part three because He showed me something else that shows just how David knew that God was going to show Himself strong and it is found in verses 40-41 where it says, "Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand.  And he drew near to the Philistine. So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who bore the shield went before him."  There are two things here that once again reveal who God is in David's life. Two more clues that tell us us that he sees God as His strong and mighty God and that He is more than able. Both clues are right here in these two verse . The first we will look at today in part three as we look at the actions he took as he headed into the Valley of Elah.

I've often been asked over the years, Why? Why did he pick up five smooth stones to put in his shepherds pouch. Five? You would think that if he was so sure he would have only picked up one. After all, God would only need one. Right?  But here is the thing. God did only need one and one is the exact amount that he planned on using to defeat Goliath. He picked up five because he needed five. One stone for Goliath. One for Ishbi-Benob. One for Saph. One for Goliath's brother, and one for the giant with six fingers and six toes. Five, the exact number of giants that David and his mighty men defeated in battle as the Lord's servants. Accounts that can be found in Samuel 21:15-22 and 1 Chronicles 20:4-8. When he picked up five stones it was David, prophetically declaring the strength of his God, not only over this particular giant, this particular battle, but over the other four giants and all the battles to come as well.

David knew Him as God. He knew He was the God who helped him with the lion and the bear. He knew that He was the God who was with him to defeat Goliath, and he knew He was the God who would be God in the battles to come. He knew Him as his God. He knew that God is God plain and simple.

He is God. He doesn't change. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is God and He said that, "He will not leave us or forsake us." Joshua 1:5  David knew that. He didn't pickup extra stones because he thought he might need more, but because prophetically and personally he knew God as his God both in the here and now, but also for what was to come as well.

David said,
 "The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? 
The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1 

 "The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; 
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and my with song I will praise Him.  Psalm 28:7

I say again, "David knew God to be his God. His God! He knew Him personally! Notice how often he uses the word my! My light, My salvation, My strength, My shield etc. He knew Him as the strength of his life. Is it any wonder that he had a stone in his pouch with Goliath's name on it when he knew, he knew that God was his God?



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Calling Out for Barabbas

He was out of options. This was it. Whatever they said, that would be it. He would have no choice, not unless he wanted a riot.

There was already unrest in the crowd. They were anxious and angry. Why, he had yet to figure out, but they were. The general roar of the people was full of hatred which was only slightly less intense then the hatred in their expressions.

Pilate grimaced up at the sun. If only the answer was written there. His wife had sent him a message, warning him to have nothing to do with this righteous man.

Well, too late for that.

He closed his eyes and looked back out at the crowd. It was now or never.

“Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” His voice boomed out over them, completely silencing them. “Barabbas or Jesus?”

“Barabbas!”

“Release Barabbas!”

“We want Barabbas!”

Pilate wanted to throttle the lot of them. “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”

“Crucify him!”

“Let him be crucified!”

Pilate threw his hand back, gesturing towards Jesus, “Why? What evil has he done?”

“Crucify him!” Their voices rang out loudly and of one accord.

So that was it.

Pilate looked back at Jesus one last time. He looked beaten and grieved. Broken. Sad.

And it was about to get a whole lot worse.

Based on Matthew 27:15-23

I wanted to make one point with this, and I needed this intense scene so that it hits you full force.

Every time we betray Jesus and/or God’s will for our own will, it’s like this.

Makes you think twice, eh? I know it has that effect on me.

When we pick our own will, it is quite simply like betraying Jesus.

Imagine that you are there, among the crowd, and that you do the one thing you always swore you’d never do.

Betray Jesus.

Peter had some personal experience with betraying Jesus. He ran away when they took Jesus prisoner, and then denied Him three times, just as Jesus had predicted.

Do you ever think Peter forgot that? I don’t. I think the realization of what he'd done and the horror must have directly influenced him for the rest of his life. It helped him choose Jesus from then on, so that he would never feel that way again.

When I choose my will, my comfort, my security, or my plans over God’s, I don’t know if I ever give any thought to how it makes God feel. I find that absolutely horrid.

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

Simply put…

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 15:16

If we choose to unleash our Barabbas, murdering will, and then we are letting Jesus’ sacrifice be in vain. In that moment, we are betraying Him. Can you see Jesus standing there, hearing all those people who had been following Him around beg for the release of a murderer instead of Him? Yes, He knew it was going to happen, but it doesn't make it any easier to hear and see. It’s heartbreaking. I don’t want my decisions to be heartbreaking.

If we will follow God’s will, then He’s got our path. He will help us around the rocks and over the mud puddles. If we love God, then we will do our absolute best to follow His commandments. If we really want to love and serve God, then we won’t call out for our Barabbas will.

V. Joy Palmer


Monday, November 24, 2014

"The Valley Of Elah" Part 2

I love that David, a shepherd boy, who, because he spent time getting to know God while out in the field knew the outcome of the battle before he stepped into the valley of Elah. He declared it to Saul in verse 37 ..."The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."  He proclaimed the battle to be God's to Goliath himself..."This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel." And the outcome?  Just as he had spoken it. He took the head of Goliath!

As believers we all have times and situations that can be considered "A Valley of Elah." A place, a time, or even a day that as Joshua put it, where we must, "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve" Joshua 24:15. Goliath issued a challenge every day to the Israelites. He said, "Why have you come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us." And the Philistine said, "I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together." 1 Samuel 17:8-10

Did you catch it? Did you catch the key to what he said to cause doubt and fear in the hearts of the children of God? The words they heard were, "Choose a man to fight." which caused the to be dismayed and greatly afraid. His challenge put their focus on a mans strength and ability to fight rather than on GOD! He called them servants of Saul, (a man) A man? They were the children of GOD! At his challenge what filled their minds and hearts was fear because what MAN could fight this monster of a man? They were afraid because their focus was on choosing a man. When David a shepherd boy, who, because he spent time getting to know God while out in the field shows up and brings His opinion of Who God is with Him. His choice is already made. He choose to God to fight for him. He has chosen God to be His deliverer. He has already chosen God to fight on His behalf. His focus isn't on a man's strength but on Gods.

He has already chosen God to be God in everything that pertains to him. He declares Him as the one who has delivered him in the past. (verse 37 from the lion and bear) and because he has delivered him in the past he declares him to be his deliverer in this battle to Saul in verse 37) and he declares Him to be his deliverer in the future as he declares to Goliath that the battle is the Lord's. The point here is......its not about a man's strength, but Gods. The enemy had the Israelites focused on a man's strength. Goliath, even though he was luge, and strong, and fierce, and scary, and intimidating was still just a man. David, a shepherd boy, who, because he spent time getting to know God while he was out in the field, looked at Goliath and knew he could be beat because he KNEW God to be faithful. He knew that God was stronger! He recognized that Goliath, while large and scary, was still just a man And That God Is God And Is Way Stronger!

David knew that its not about choosing a man to fight. He knew that man's strength, even his own, was not enough. David, a shepherd boy, who, because he spent time getting to know God, Knew that with God nothing will be impossible. The point is ...no matter what giant is challenging us in our Valley of Elah the secret to our victory is not trusting in man's strength (even our own) but in trusting in His. Get to know Him as God and then the giants don't look so scary. The point is. ...CHOOSE to know Your God!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Shining Brighter"

Proverbs 4:10-23

Hear, my son, and receive my sayings,
And the years of your life will be many.

I have taught you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in right paths.

When you walk, your steps will not be hindered,
And when you run, you will not stumble.

Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go;
Keep her, for she is your life.

Do not enter the path of the wicked,
And do not walk in the way of evil.

Avoid it, do not travel on it;
Turn away from it and pass on.

For they do not sleep unless they have done evil;
And their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall.

For they eat the bread of wickedness,
And drank the wine of violence.

But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.

The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know what makes them stumble.

My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.

Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;

For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.

Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.

Oh, Lord, I pray that we, as Your people would seek the path of the righteous! Lord, that we would walk and that we would run in the way of Your instruction! Lord, that we would seek to do Your will so that we would shine brighter as we bring praise and glory to Your name! 

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Newest Yet Oldest Persecution

I have seen a lot of things in the news putting a negative slant to Christianity. I feel the need in my spirit to say something, the same need that I feel whenever Christian values have been insulted and demeaned.

Don't let this newest persecution harm your faith. It is not wrong to stand up for your beliefs. Don't be fooled by all the publicity. That is the world is condemning them for standing up for their own beliefs.

In this country, we still have both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The people are free to choose if they want to believe anything, how they believe it, and they are free to talk about it. Do NOT let the devil take those freedoms from you.

The media loves to report on situations like this, making anyone who follows "old world values" out as bigots and homophobic. They guilt trip everyone who doesn't believe exactly how they do into thinking that if they are in support of Puritanical values, than they are idiots. Satan would deny us the right to believe how we do, so that we might believe like the media does. They believe that people should never be judged, yet they judge those who believe in Jesus as hating our fellows. This is just the newest generation of persecution.

"We proudly tell God's other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering." 2 Thessalonians 1:4

Make it your goal to be like that church in Thessalonica. Endure this current wave of persecutions. Be strong and courageous. Don't doubt your faith.

"But you, dear friends, must continue to build your lives on the foundation of your holy faith. And continue to pray as you are directed by the Holy Spirit. Live in such a way that God's love can bless you as you wait for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy is going to give you. Show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgement. There are still others to whom you need to show mercy, but be careful that you aren't contaminated by their sins." Jude 20-23

Love the sinner, regardless of you they are and what they have done. But that doesn't mean that you have to love and embrace the sin.

Sam

Friday, November 21, 2014

"The Valley Of Elah"

And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and they encamped in the Valley of Elah, and they drew up in battle array against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 1 Samuel 17:2-3
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Today we are going to take a look at when Jesus asked the disciples a really important question in Matthew 16:13-15 ...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?" Peter had a response to this question and told Jesus what he thought! But I wonder...Do we know?

We are looking at this question today because of something that the Lord spoke to me today about David as he stepped into the Valley of Elah which means our next stop in today's message is going to be found in 1 Samuel 17.  ...And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and they encamped in the Valley of Elah, and they drew up in battle array against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on a mountain on one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. 1 Samuel 17:2-3

Here they are. Both sides all gathered in this one place ready for a battle. Who will win? Obviously, the strongest. Right? I find it really interesting that Elah means just that. According to the Strong's Elah means - an oak or other strong tree. It comes from 352 -from the same as 193; prop. strength; hence anything strong; spec. as chief (politically); also a ram (from his strength); a pilaster (as a strong support); an oak or other strong tree. 193 - from an unused root meaning to twist, i.e. (by impl.) be strong; the body (as being rolled together); also powerful. The Valley of Elah or the Valley of strength or power. Interesting, right? After all, God's people are gathered here for days on end waiting for the strongest to step up and take on the enemies strongest who by the way looked so terrifyingly strong that no one thought they were able! Day after day, listening to the challenge. Day after day, their fear of Goliath growing stronger that their faith in God.

So, the question comes, "What was their opinion?" Everyone on that battlefield had an opinion as to the outcome. The Israelites thought Goliath to be too big and to strong and too fierce to defeat.  ... And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid. vs. 24  The Philistines obviously thought that Goliath would win - they called Him their champion and let the entire battle rest on his shoulders. vs. 4  King Saul had an opinion according to vs 11 ... When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine they were dismayed and greatly afraid. Up to this point everyone's opinion is that Goliath is the strongest!

Then David showed up. He definitely had a different opinion! He knew who God was. He knew that God would deliver him. When he stepped into the Valley of Elah he knew that God was the strongest!  vs. 32 David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." David's heart wasn't full of fear and doubt because of the strength of the man in front of him but instead what filled his heart was the knowledge of who God is. I love that David, this young shepherd boy, had such a great opinion of God! He knew that God was God and that Goliath, just a man! He knew who would win when he stepped into the Valley of Elah. ..."Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands." 1 Samuel 17:47

Today, for you and I the question remains. What is our opinion of who God is? Is He our Strong God? Is He our deliverer? Is our opinion of Him the thing that propels us to step into the Valley of Elah knowing that He goes with us the way that David did or are we cowering in fear up on the rim. Who Is He to YOU? IS HE GOD?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reset to God

The last thing he remembered was Jesus saying, "Sit here, while I go over there and pray."

Peter had no idea how long ago that was.

Judging by the look on Jesus' face, it was awhile ago.

Jesus rubbed his weary face, and Peter noticed the lines around his eyes, indicating that he was deeply troubled. But why?

Jesus had taken him, James, and John a little further then the other disciples into the garden, but he had also told them to wait while he prayed. But he said more. What was it?

Peter blinked furiously, trying to clear his sleep addled brain. That's right. Jesus had said, "My soul is very sorrowful, even unto death. Remain here, and watch with me."

He stifled a moan. Well, he hadn't done a good job of that. Honestly, he had tried to pray, and spend that time with the Father.

But sleep had been calling out to him.

Next thing he knew, Jesus had shaken him and the others awake, an unreadable look in his eye. Peter felt like he was acting stranger than usual tonight.

"So, you could not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak," Jesus said.

What did that even mean?

"Watch with me while I pray," Jesus said once again. All Peter could do was nod. This time, he would stay awake. This time he would make it. This time he would commune deeply with the Father.

This time...he would...not...fall...asleep...

Based on Matthew 26:36-42

During a Bible study this week, my pastor briefly touched on fasting. He talked about how important it is for Christians, and to look through the New Testament. Jesus, the disciples, the apostles, and the believers in general all fasted regularly to get that set apart time with God. I thought these were all good points.

However, the only thing running through my mind was "Fasting - Time with God or a homicide in the making?" I don't handle not eating very well. I get grumpy. Who doesn't though? What's important is that time that's all about God that would normally be spent doing something else.

Then I started thinking some more...

My mom and I had a conversation about fasting a couple weeks ago. In reference to the "Daniel Fast," she brought up the excellent point that it wasn't a fast for them. It was their way of life. It was how they lived. It was who they were. They didn't force themselves to eat sprouts and drink mineral water to help them set aside more time for God. It was their life. They would fast, which is going without food, to do that.

Which reminded me about something we did in the youth group several years ago. As a youth group, we did a forty day fast. Only we didn't all fast food for forty days. We split the days up among the whole youth group so that every day was covered by at least one or two people. Everyday we had to fast something. Didn't matter what. You could "fast" TV, books, video games, sweets,food. Basically anything that takes your time, and refocus that onto God.

So let me say firmly. I believe in and support traditional food fasting. It is absolutely important in the life and walk of a believer.

What I'm talking about today is going without all those other things you feed on, and giving that time to God. You might be sitting there even more confused because of the story I chose to start my blog off with today. Peter had good intentions (like us), but he lacked that follow through (ahem, like us). If he had given of his time and physical need to sleep - fasted it, as you will - then he wouldn't have awakened to find Jesus standing over him.

Now lets apply this to us. For instance, say you watch 24 hours of TV a week. You may fast twice a week, but if television is the thing consuming you, then the forty minutes of time you spend watching TV while fasting isn't helping you focus on God. What about taking one day a month, and instead of watching mindless television for three or four hours, you read your Bible, worshiped, and prayed?

Awesome things.

"Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." 2 Corinthians 7:1

I'm not saying that books, television, marathon board game nights, or even sleep are bad things. I'm saying that there are times, days, hours, or even moments we when should fast, so to speak, from those things. Setting something else aside, and giving that time to God is the part that I'm focusing on today. And in today's culture, giving up those things for an hour or two will go a long way in your walk with God.

"Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." Colossians 3:2

It's that purposeful reset of your mind to the things of God that will make a huge difference.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Abiding"

Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: "Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon." So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel. Joshua 10:12-14
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In today's message I'd like to ask you a question. Have you ever wondered ... How? ... Why? ... What made Joshua think that he could speak and tell the sun and the moon to stand still? Where would he come up with the idea? I ask because when you stop to think about it it is a pretty crazy thing to ask for never mind even believing that God would do it. Right? Crazy ...unless? Unless you have the kind of relationship With Him that Jesus was talking about in John 15:7 when He said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Joshua didn't hesitate. He spoke to the sun and the moon and told them to stand still because it is what he needed to happen for the Israelites to win the battle. He didn't hesitate to speak because He knew that God was on their side. He didn't hesitate because He had a confidence in God that comes with knowing Him. Joshua had spent time abiding! Just before he went into battle God told Joshua, "Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you." Joshua believed Him and when it looked like the day was ending and they hadn't prevailed yet he spoke to the sun and the moon to stand still. He spoke and the sun stopped going down and the moon stopped coming up and they prevailed. Why? Because he was coming from a place of abiding. A place of knowing God not doubting but knowing that God would respond to his request.

Jesus said, "Abide in me and ask whatever you desire and it shall be done for you." Joshua was great at abiding. Check out Exodus 33:11 So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. Abiding works! Joshua spoke and the most crazy ridiculous thing happened. He spoke. God heeded. The sun and moon obeyed. Then Joshua's desire was done - the battle was won.

So here is my best advice. Abide! Then ask. Then watch God be glorified in the most amazing ways!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Spiritual Genius?

Oh, that was it!

Elihu had had enough. He was done with all this. The ridiculous things coming out of their mouths were driving him insane. Did they even know what they were talking about anymore? Elihu felt like they were just talking for the sake of talking.

He and the four other men sat around Job’s front yard. Job looked terrible, maybe even worse then when he had arrived. Elihu had arrived four days later then the Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz. He hunkered down with the other men. Job’s grief and agony were apparent. Truly too deep for words. So they waited and waited for Job to say something.

And then he did. He understandably ranted, claiming he had done nothing wrong and cursed his birth.

This spurned an argument from the others. They had no answers, but adamantly declared Job to be in the wrong.

Elihu was angry. Angry with all of them. He had kept quite because the others had a considerable amount of years on him. As the youngest of the group, it wouldn’t be respectful for him to jump. He clenched his fists, trying to pull the fury building inside of him back into a manageable, little ball.

It wasn’t working.

The other four men glared at each other.

One of them let out a grunt of annoyance.

That did it.

Elihu stood up in a fit of Holy fury. He pointed his index finger, and lit into them.

Based on Job 32:1-5

Elihu was angry at Job and his self-righteous friends. He had waited to speak out of respect because he was much younger then them, but he was bursting with anger due to their foolishness. He had felt that surely aged wisdom would win this battle…

And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said: “I am young in years, and you are aged; therefore I was timid and afraid to declare my opinion to you. I said, ‘Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.’ But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.” Job 32:6-8

Did you catch that?

It is the Spirit, the breath of God, that makes someone understand.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

In all of this, did any of them really, for real and actually mean it, ask God for understanding about this situation?

Yeah.... It’s no wonder God busted them from a raging whirlwind. They all believed that they each had the whole situation figured out. Job justified himself, rather then God. Job’s friends blamed him for this mess, claiming God was punishing him for whatever secret sin he was hiding.

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Proverbs 18:2

Again, we have the benefit of being able to look at this account with the back-story fully intact for our benefit. None of them were right, and it just astounded Elihu that these aged and seasoned men of God were going with the must childish excuses and reasons known to man.

What about us? In Job-like life situations, do we tend to blame God or justify the situation because that person must be living in horrid sin? When we do that, we throw everything we know about God out the window. What if we asked God for some wisdom regarding the situation?

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” Psalm 119:130

If we ask God for wisdom about a situation, then He gives it. His wisdom is like a light. Even the simplest person can be a spiritual genius, if he asks God for wisdom and understanding. Remember not to jump to conclusions. The Spirit of God in us gives us wisdom. So you have to ask yourself this: are you speaking wisdom given from God or just spewing your own opinion?

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, November 17, 2014

"The Perfect Chance Encounter" Part 14

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 their labors. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did." So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.  John 4:34-42
As we come to the end of our perfect chance encounter between the Samaritan woman and Jesus we can honestly say that the results are amazing! If the transformation in this woman's life was the only result to this encounter that would be enough but and here's the but. It wasn't! Verse 39 tells us, "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all that I ever did."  Because she left her encounter transformed she spread the news. She testified and told everybody all about her encounter with Jesus!  She testified and because she testified others listened and because they listened they heard and because they heard they believed!

I love that because of her encounter with Jesus a town had an encounter with Jesus. What she had to say and her new transformed life was enough to cause others to be curious about Him and to check Him out for themselves. Then in verse 41-42 it tells us, 'And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.' Love those results! ... "Now we believe for ourselves." I love that all we have to do is to tell others what He has done for us. The rest is up to Him ...and them. It says that they heard what she had to say and then invited Him to stay. He stayed two more days and that is all it took for her encounter to turn into their encounter as well!

What started out as a chance encounter for her turned into a whole communities amazingly perfect encounter as they declared, "we have heard for ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world."  Perfect encounter ... Amazing results! Chance? I think ... NOT!

For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord,  thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Much Fruit"


I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.........If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. John 15:1-8

Lord, the thing that I ask, the thing that I desire, is this: As I abide in You today, the fruit we bear would not only glorify the Father but that it would bless Him as well!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Constructive Criticism

"If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding." Proverbs 15:31-32

If you are like me, you don't take constructive criticism well. Over the years, I have gotten better at it, but even still, my response is to go on the defense. The hows and whys, the wells and buts, they come flooding out in a poor attempt to cover up my shortcomings.

It shouldn't be like that. We need to learn from our mistakes, not shirking our responsibilities. There is a big difference between punishment and correction. It's hard to tell the difference in the heat of the moment, but we need to be able to distinguish what is correction and what is punishment.

In our culture, the phrase "Yelled at me" is both overused and misused. Any correction gets lumped in with punishment, and we take offense. But I can't stress how important our discernment is here.

"For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights." Proverbs 3:12

Correction is one of God's refining fire tools. As a child, it was how we learned right from wrong, what to do and what not to do. We never learn more than when we try our hand at something and fail. Sometimes, we learn best when we learn what not to do, through trial and error.

The next time your boss reprimands you, or your pastor speaks out against something that applies to you, keep this in mind. Punishment isn't the goal. Making sure that you get things right next time is.

Sam

Friday, November 14, 2014

"The Perfect Chance Encounter" Part 13

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, and 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. I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered their labors " John 4:26-38
At this point in our perfect chance encounter the disciples have returned and the woman is off telling everyone all about Jesus. They had 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 His response was actually answering their question about why He was talking to the woman and or that they understood He was also addressing the need for a change in their heart attitude toward her as well. 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 who 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!

He is telling them that food, the thing that sustains Him is doing the will of the Father and then He proceeds to the idea that they know and understand when the harvest is ready in the natural but that in the spiritual they were missing it! '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' He was telling them to lose their attitudes about the woman and those like her. He told them 'to lift up their eyes and look' because the crowd of people were coming to 'check' Him out because the woman, the one they prejudged was already spreading the news about Him and reaping her share in the harvest. She was already bearing fruit while they were busy with attitudes like, "don't talk to her,' or 'she is not worth the effort.'  The harvest is here now today, and it is doing the will of the Father. It is sharing the kingdom with whomever we come across, even a Samaritan woman with a history, at the well! He is telling them to look at all the people right in front of them. He is saying, "Look at all the opportunities your missing because of your heart attitudes." 

The Father's heart is that all men and all woman would know Him and Jesus is telling them to share the love of the Father with all people, every tongue, every tribe. He is telling them to do it without prejudice or personal bias! He is telling them they don't get to pick and choose and prejudge who they share with but that their job, their part, is to follow His example and do the will of the Father. 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 with those the Father puts in their path!

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 time comes because someone is willing to do the will of the Father and plants seeds. The harvest time comes because someone is willing to do the will of the Father and do the work involved in reaping. The harvest comes when we realize that every life is an opportunity to sow or reap. It is our opportunity to touch a life and do the will of the Father.

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! Are there Samaritan woman you've missed?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pinata or Witness?

Where was that whirling sound coming from?

Elihu had just finished with his speech, and Job was fuming. Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz also sat there fuming. They all opened their mouths at once, when a whirling sound filled their ears.

And it was getting stronger.

A whirlwind, mighty and dark, was approaching them. At once, the men had jumped to their feet to run for safety, but it was of no use. The whirlwind was already upon them.

But instead of moving...it was like it stood stationary in one place. Waiting.

Job's clothes whipped around his body, and the stinging wind made his eyes water. However, that was nothing compared to the way his heart was beating rapidly in his chest.

Especially, when the bold voice of the whirlwind spoke to him.

It was the Lord.

Answering him.

"Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know!"

Job gulped.

Based on Job 38:1-5

I don't know about you, but I complain to God. A lot. I've always related to the book of Job. So many people groan about this book. I'm weird because I actually like it. This book always speaks to me.

I'm gonna let you guys in on something I've struggled with in the past, and have been dealing with lately. Sometimes it's hard to be the "good Christian" who does what the Bible says, without seeing any results. It's not easy to be making sacrifices, and living paycheck to paycheck, while people who have basically spat in God's face live an easy life. It's the "Older Brother of the Prodigal Son Complex." (The prodigal Son and his brother's story can be found in Luke 15:11-32.)

It boils down to jealousy.

Job was an upright man, who essentially did everything right. He obeyed God. He feared and served God. He was a good guy.

And then everything went wrong.

We've all felt like that from time to time. Any explanation doesn't make it easier, but what do you do when the "Life isn't fair" answer just doesn't cut it anymore?

I liked one explanation that we saw in the movie, God's Not Dead. A character who had it all compared himself to another character - his elderly, Alzheimer-stricken mother. In a God-moment of clarity, the mother said that sometimes the devil allowed some people to live perfect, easy lives. That it was like a prison cell, all decked out to look like a mansion. The door was always wide open, but those people never left because it was just so comfortable. But one day it would be too late, and that door would swing shut and their cell would be exposed for what it really was.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there are so many reasons why, but God doesn't have to justify Himself to us. God doesn't have to let us in on the plan - and isn't that the truth! It stinks like a skunk, but I don't want to find myself making such a big stink, that God has to put me in my place from a mighty whirlwind! Unlike Job at the time, we know that the whole reason God allowed the devil to use him as a personal pinata was because God trusted Job to remain faithful.

Perhaps He is trusting us with the same task? Perhaps we are witnessing to more then just the people on the earth, but the host of Heaven as well. Job's story didn't end up in the Bible by accident. We were supposed to learn from it. Take it to heart, and don't gloss over this truth. God is trusting us to remain faithful. Are you up for the task?

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"The Perfect Chance Encounter" Part 12

The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." 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, and 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. John 4:25-30
During this whole series of "The Perfect Chance Encounter" I have been waiting patiently or NOT for this particular moment in our encounter! It is the moment when it seems that it has come to an end because the disciples have returned. They are now back, along with their judgmental attitudes because as they put it, "He is talking to a woman!" Despite their scowling, disapproving looks, which we will come back to in our next message, this is the moment in our perfect encounter that will show us that Jesus once again accomplishes the most amazing awesome incredible wonderful thing that an encounter with Him accomplishes. This is when we get to see that an encounter with Jesus has once again done what it does best because once again we get to see a life transformed!

In verse 28 it tells us that with the return of the disciples, 'the woman left  her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, "Come, and see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" This is not the same woman who came to the well a short while before. She was so excited about her encounter and His revelation to her that she left her waterpot sitting there and went straight into the city and she started telling the men of the city all about Him. I'll say again,  "Not the same woman!" The shame that had her at the well alone during the hottest part of the day in order to avoid human contact? Gone!  Now, instead of hiding she runs to the city and to the people with, "Come, and see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" She went from trying to deny her lifestyle to Jesus when He asked her to go get her husband to running to all the men of the city and declaring it to them with, "Come, and see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" Instead of avoiding she is now declaring, "He knew all the things I ever did, He knew my sin!" Her shame, GONE. Her excitement over who Jesus is now there for all the world to see.

For this woman, this Samaritan woman, this 'chance' encounter at the well had become for her a life changing one because from NOW on ...she was now free, free  to worship in spirit and in truth with nothing to conceal!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Can I Say Something?

The camel bumbled along, and the deep tilt of the beast, swaying left and right, was making him sick. The sooner they arrived, the sooner he could get off this beast.

Bildad looked over at Eliphaz and Zophar. "How much further?"

"I already told you we were almost there." Eliphaz grunted.

"It's only been an hour since you last asked," Zophar said.

Bildad sucked in a deep breath, and waited for the nausea to pass before answering. "Well, that was one hour too long."

Bildad urged his camel to a stop, and slide off. He would walk the rest of the way. He ignored the way the other two men rolled their eyes.

They soon started to approach Job's land...but it didn't look right. Everything around them looked burned, windswept, or destroyed. Bildad felt his stomach turn again at the sight of carnage and the smell of decaying flesh. The only thing that seemed to be in abundance was scavenger birds.

They caught sight of Job's house. It looked remarkably intact from their vantage point, despite the destruction of the surrounding land.

But then they saw him.

At least they presumed that was Job. Whatever it was, it was sitting in a heap, outside the doorway.

None of them spoke as they approached the blob formerly known as Job. They didn't need to say a thing; the broken look in Job's eye said it all.

Silently, the men tired their camels up, and hunkered down with Job.

Based on Job 2:11-13

You know what I find interesting, these men, plopped down next to Job, and didn't say a word. They Bible says that they set aside a time to come together so that they could show Job sympathy and support.

What I wonder is how did those men go from seemingly sweet, to attacking Job's faith for the majority of the book? There are even moments when I wonder if these guys were really friends.

"Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent." Proverbs 17:28

At the end of Job, in chapter 42, you see that God is angry with Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad passing judgement on a situation that they knew nothing about. Job had to offer sacrifices, and pray to God for forgiveness for them

There is something to be said for shutting up, and showing your support for a person. Talking seems to be the thing that gets us into trouble.

"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

"When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent." Proverbs 10:19

What I want to say today, is that we need to think before we speak. We can speculate all we want about the ulterior motives of Job's friends, but the fact of the matter is, their presence was comforting - until they opened their mouths!

I don't want to be the kind of person, the kind of friend, or the kind of Christian who doesn't have a clue about showing people love and comfort. I don't want to appear wise until I open my mouth. I want to be the kind of person who would have defended God and Job, like Elihu in the book of Job. Sometimes it's just as simple as the sage advice from Thumper, in Bambi. "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, November 10, 2014

"The Perfect Chance Encounter" Part 11

Jesus said to her, "Woman believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to Him , "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."  John 4:19-26
In today's message we are going to take a quick look at her reaction to His response. Her question was, "Were do I go to worship Him?" and His response reveals to her that He is so much more than a prophet. Her next statement goes to show us that she understands something new about Him. She now knows that their is a whole lot more to Him than she first thought. He tells her that where she worships, on the mountain or in Jerusalem isn't really the issue, but that it is really about how she worships because as He makes sure she knows, "God is Spirit." Once He makes sure she knows that God is not corporeal and therefore He is not confined to one specific place, He goes on to tell her that God can be and is supposed to be worshiped in spirit and truth.

When Jesus finishes making clear to her the truth about how and where we really worship God her response is now different than the one in verse nineteen. In verse nineteen she had decided that He was definitely a man sent by God and she had declared to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet." Now after He had taken the time to reveal things to her about God, which as a Samaritan she believed was something the Messiah would do, her thoughts turn to the Messiah who she has been waiting for and hoping in all her life. Her immediate response is to declare to Him her faith in the Messiah because she now has a question in her mind as to who He really is. Is He the Messiah?

So, here we are. At the moment that makes this whole 'chance' encounter the most perfect encounter possible! She is at the place where she is acknowledging her hope, and her belief in the Messiah and I love that Jesus doesn't keep her waiting! He reveals to her that her hope is not in vain and He declares to her, "I who speak to you am He." What a revelation! This whole encounter was destined for this moment when He made Himself truly known to her and now she like you and I, has to make a choice.

Will she believe the words He just spoke are the truth? Will she worship Him as the Messiah, the Christ? After all He had said just moments earlier said that, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."  Remember that the word truth meant, true, as not concealing so doesn't it also imply that not only do we go before Him to worship Him with our hearts totally open; with nothing hid, but also that He is open with us as well?

In the garden when they sinned and went and 'hid' themselves from the presence of God' we need to remember that God had come to walk in the cool of the day with them. They lived in the garden. God would come and seek them out. He was there not just to know them but to have them know Him! He has always had a heart to reveal Himself as God! As a God who loves us! Jesus not only explained about spirit and truth but became an example of it as He plainly declared and revealed to her, "I who speak to you am He." He didn't keep His identity concealed from her and in so doing He invited her into relationship with Him.

True worship - Worshiping in spirit and in truth - is a relationship that I think only happens when we go before Him with all our love for Him exposed for Him to see but I also think, because of Jesus' example, that it happens when He has made Himself and His love for us known first. I think its a place where love is declared both directions. Us to Him and Him to us!

I think true worship happens as we love Him with all our hearts and I think that only comes after He reveals His love for us and we believe Him! I think its not just about our declaring our heart to Him but being able to let Him declare His heart to us as well! Right from the first time He looked at man and said, "It is very good." His heart has been to know us, to love us and more importantly, to have us know Him! In this moment when He reveals who He is to this woman He is giving her the chance to worship in spirit and in truth. She hadn't sought Him out. He sought her. She was about her daily tasks. He was there for this very purpose. This moment in this encounter was to make known to her who He was. He revealed His heart for her - will she respond? Will you?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

"These Three"

  1 Corinthians 13:11-13

 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.      

Lord, we pray that we would boldly walk in Faith as we put all our Hope in You as we go about the greatest business of all ... showing Your Love to the world!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions                                               

Saturday, November 8, 2014

"The Perfect Chance Encounter" Part 10

Jesus said to her, "Woman believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."  John 4:19-24
Jesus tells the woman, "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth," In doing so, He is in fact fulfilling a messianic role, as He reveals not only the truth about the nature of God; "God is Spirit" but the Father's hearts as well; "The Father is seeking such to worship Him." That being said I would like to stop for a moment and look, not at what these words would mean to this woman but how they relate to us so that we might experience the type of truly perfect encounters with the Father that Jesus is talking about.

Do we truly understand that the Father is seeking true worshipers that will understand what it means to worship Him in spirit and in truth? John 3:17 says, "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved."  The Father's purpose in sending Jesus is not to condemn but to save! His purpose in sending Jesus was to facilitate our salvation and to give us the opportunity to truly know Him. The Father's desire is that we will know Him the way that Jesus knew Him.

Jesus told her that the Father was seeking those that would not only worship Him but that they 'must' worship in spirit and truth," According to the Strong's the word truth comes from 227 and means; true (as not concealing). The Father is looking for those who like Jesus will come before Him to worship Him with nothing hidden. Jesus knew everything that pertained to the Father and the Father knew anything and everything about Jesus. Check out the transfiguration in Matthew 17:2. 'His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light.' There was nothing in Him that wasn't totally and completely open before the Father. 

Jesus said, 'the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; ' True worshipers will worship Him in spirit and ...with nothing concealed. I find it interesting that the first reaction that Adam and Eve had when they sinned was one of shame and the need for concealment. It says that they 'hid' themselves from the presence of the Father.' Genesis 3:8   The Father is seeking 'such' or rather those who have nothing concealed from Him as they enter His presence and that is possible because "God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved."

Jesus said, "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth," and what that means to us ... We 'must' know, understand, and appreciate that it is because of His heart for us that He made the way for us to be able to come into His presence boldly, unashamed, and with nothing to hide. Because of Jesus we get to worship in spirit and in truth!.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Remember Me...

There was only one thing to do with him.

"He needs to be removed from the congregation." 

A couple men looked at Nehemiah like he was crazy. Maybe he was crazy - if it was indeed crazy to protect what the Lord had deemed sacred, then yes, Nehemiah was full-blown crazy.

A group of men had just approached Nehemiah, feeling a burden to share what they had learned. Nehemiah had been talking with a group of close confidants about the reforms he had been enforcing among the people. The group of men had approached Nehemiah hesitantly, and at first, he hadn't paid them much attention.

Not until something within him ordered him to turn around and listen to them.

They had awkwardly stumbled and bumbled along before finally getting to the main event. Jehoiada, the son of high priest, Eliashib, was the son-in-law to Sanballat.

Sanballat. 

Even the thought of that man brought a tight feeling to Nehemiah's stomach.

"How can we just remove him? It isn't right, is it?"

Nehemiah shook his head firmly. "Do you know what isn't right? Giving sons and daughters in marriage to nations that don't follow after the Lord. That is not right. There are consequences for such an act. These are Jehoiada's consequences."

The men exchanged looks, and Nehemiah could see it in their eyes that they all thought him to be hard of heart and plain old mean.

Nehemiah rubbed his forehead as he strode in the opposite direction to deal with Jehoiada. He had been getting that a lot lately. 

So he prayed the one thing he could pray. The one thing that had been keeping him going since this started. 

Remember me, oh my God, for good.

Based on Nehemiah 13:28-31

The thing I loved the most about this chapter, was the very end. The very last sentence.

"Remember me, O my God, for good." Nehemiah 13:31b

I just found this to be such a fitting prayer after everything that Nehemiah had done in this chapter, and really, in this book of the Bible. This man was a work horse, and he wouldn't stand for someone desecrating the law of God. 

Which I'm sure got him voted "Most Popular" among the people.

Not.

Think about it. So many of those people had to give up the "fun" things they were using to sin. Now, none of us like to give stuff up, and no one likes to be called on the carpet for something. I'm sure people were gripping left and right about Mr. Nehemiah and all his fancy new rules.

Some of those people would remember Nehemiah as the twit who took away their fun, and some of them would remember him as the man who helped lead the people back to God. 

But this heartfelt little prayer at the end of Nehemiah's story is what gets my heart.

"Remember me, O my God, for good." Nehemiah 13:31b

No matter what I do, no matter what they say about me, I want my actions to be remembered by God as good. One day, I want God to wrap his arm around me and say, "I remember this girl. She was such a faithful servant. I remember her for doing good." What an awesome thing that would be to hear! 

Let that thought be your driving action behind every one your decisions. It doesn't matter what people around you say about the things you believe, the rules you may enforce, or the Godly lifestyle that you live. What matters is that God remembers your actions as good in His sight. That's what makes it all worth while.

"Remember me, O my God, for good." Nehemiah 13:31b

V. Joy Palmer

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Spiritual Match-Up

He couldn't believe what he was hearing. He finally managed to sputter out, "What?"

"Go to the Temple."

He stood up quickly, knocking the chair he had been occupying to the floor. The clatter reverberated in the otherwise silent room. Nehemiah gave Delaiah a hard look. Something about this stunk more then a day old sheep carcass.

Delaiah was confined to his house. A horrid accident twenty years ago had almost cost him both his legs. While over the years his legs had healed, they had never regained their strength. Delaiah was confined to his house do to his injury, except when people were kind enough to carry him to and fro.

Point was, Delaiah hadn't gone anywhere.

So did someone come to him?

Nehemiah spoke slowly. "You want to meet in the Temple? Not here, but lock ourselves in the Temple because Sanballat and Tobiah are sending men to kill me?"

Delaiah held his harsh glare without so much as a twitch. He was perfectly believable.

Almost.

"You know I can't do that." Delaiah started to speak, but Nehemiah cut him off. "No. I am a leader among these people. I cannot and will not run away. And why would I go into the Temple and lock myself behind their doors? I'm an not consecrated for Temple service. No, the plan is to have me break God's law, and then they will spread this among the people to give me a bad name."

Delaiah didn't speak. He didn't need to. Nehemiah already knew he had hit the truth square on the tent peg.

"Sanballat and Tobiah bribed you. Just like they bribed Noadiah, the prophetess, and the other prophets."

Nehemiah studied the man he had thought he could trust.

It was abundantly clear that the Lord was not with him.

Based on Nehemiah 6:10-14

You might read this story and wonder what was wrong with going into the Temple to hid out? Surely God wouldn't mind Nehemiah hanging out if it was to save his life, right?

Well, let me just give you a little back story to the Temple. There were certain areas that the people could and couldn't go into. The restricted areas were specifically for the priest who were from the tribe of Levi. Delaiah wasn't suggesting that Nehemiah hand out in the open parts with everyone else. No, he was telling Nehemiah to find the smallest, hidden cranny that he could and camp out there.

You also need to remember that this was before Jesus died for us. His death was the ultimate sacrifice for us, and has absolved us from making further blood sacrifices for our sins. However, while Nehemiah was alive, that wasn't the case. For him to go in there, would have been bringing sin into Holy places.

Nehemiah knew all this. Instead of letting fear from this "man of God" overtake him, he compared what Delaiah was saying to God's commands.

"And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had haired him." Nehemiah 6:12

Delaiah wasn't the only one to be swayed to the dark side with bribes from the enemy. Other prophets tried to trick Nehemiah, too.

None of it worked though.

That's because Nehemiah knew what God had said.

Did any of you ever play that match-up game as kids? All the cards are lying face down, and you can only flip two at a time. If it's two horses, then you have a pair, and you set them aside for yourself as a point. If it's a duck and a rabbit, then you have to flip them back over because you've got nothing. However, on your next turn, you might get a goat and a duck. So on your next turn, you flip the duck cards over and gain another point. That is, if you remember where they are.

All kinds of people are going to tell you things about God. Some of it right, and some of it very, very wrong. You need to know God for yourself. So that when someone says something, you can get out your spiritual match-up cards and think, 'Hmm. Does that match up with what the Bible says?" If it doesn't, then leave it there. That's a snake/devil card, and it's a trap.

Sometimes, even people who look and act like Christians go against God's word. In order for you to know who's who, you need to know God and your Bible. Match it up! If it doesn't match what God says, the flip that card over because you don't want it.

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." 1 John 4:1

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tomorrow

"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:34

I don't know about yours, but my job is fairly stressful. I run around like a crazy person, never stopping for more than a few seconds. I'm often completely and totally overwhelmed. Especially when I think about what I have to do the next day.

I have always been a little bit of a worrier. But that's pretty foolish, isn't it?

"These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs." Matthew 6:32

Don't dwell on foolish things. Remember the important things, not the (relatively) stupid things, like your job. Family, your faith, and relationship with God, these are the important things.

God knows your needs, He will take care of you. Trust Him.

"Seek the Kingdom Of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." Matthew 6:33

Sam

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Good Comebacks

"Another letter."

Nehemiah turned around to greet the young man, but stopped short when he saw that Banah was not alone. "So it seems." The messenger had an open letter in his hands and a smug look on his face as he scoped the place out. Nehemiah didn't doubt that he was paying extra attention to their guards and any weaknesses they might have.

The wiry little man had a completely innocent look on his face, but Nehemiah could see the darkness in his eyes. Apparently Banah could see it, too, because he didn't move from where he stood behind the man on his right flank.

"May I sit down?" The little man gestured to one of the few cushions in Nehemiah's humble house.

"I think you are fine where you are."

"I see," The messenger said. He walked around a little bit, but stopped when Banah's hand shot to the sword fastened at his hip. Eyeing the sword, the messenger started talking. "It is reported among the nations and Geshem that you and the Jews intend to rebel, and that is why you are building the wall. According to these reports you wish to become their king. It also seems that you have set up prophets to proclaim this about you throughout Jerusalem. They are saying, 'There is a king in Judah.'" He stopped and looked at Nehemiah briefly, lowering his voice to a threatening tenor. "The king will hear of these things." Then he smiled again. "So why don't you come with me and take counsel with Sanballat and Tobiah. I'm sure that together, you can come up with a plan."

Nehemiah shook his head. He knew that they were just trying to scare him and the people. Well, he was done with it! Silently he prayed for God to strengthen his hands before responding. 

"You tell your masters that none of the things they are claiming have been done, and they know it! They are imagining things to make us stop." Nehemiah pointed at the little man," They can invent whatever stories they want to in their minds, but our hands will not drop from the work God has given us." He flicked his wrist, and Banah grabbed the messenger and dragged him out.

Based on Nehemiah 6:1-9

In this section, Sanballat and Tobiah tried to lure Nehemiah away from the people under the guise of a meeting so they could kill him. They sent letters to Nehemiah  four times, and each time Nehemiah answered that he was doing a great work, and couldn't stop it to go meet with them. Then they sent the messenger to Nehemiah, to try and scare him with rumors they had started. Only Nehemiah didn't buy it. 

I love Nehemiah's responses here:
    -I'm too busy.
    -You are full of it.

Perfect responses to the devil, eh?

"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7

Nehemiah had submitted to God. He trusted in God for his strength, despite what those men where saying and plotting. Because Nehemiah trusted and relied on God, he was not taken down by fear or evil plans. He was able to complete the work God had given him.

"Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house." Matthew 12:29

Seem like a random jump? It's not. The devil can't just tie you up in chains for fear and rob you of your faith in God. He has to be let into the home of your heart, first. Only then can he plunder your soul and take you down. 

Resist the devil. Don't let him into your heart, your house, or your mind! Be ready to tell him to get lost, that your too busy, and that he is full of lies. Be armed with your sword, your Bible, at your side. Have your comebacks ready, but here's one to start you off!

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:57 

Amen!

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, November 3, 2014

"Because Of This Amazing Love"


   Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
   For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
   For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
   But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
   Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.   Romans 5:5-9


I happened to hear this song today and than as the Lord brought these verses to mind I really felt like someone out there really needs to hear this today. REMEMBER it is all about His amazing love!

God bless!