Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"His Likeness"

"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30
  
With a new year beginning I had a thought that I wanted to share with you. It begins with the following:

I don't know about you but my first reaction when I read this was to find it more than a little bit humorous. But! And I do mean BUT in a big way. It is actually illuminating a very real truth. A truth that I personally want to take into the New Year in a much bigger way than I ever have before....."He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 17:15 and it says "...As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness." To come into that place where my thoughts and deeds look more and more like Jesus is to say the least, my hearts desire. I dare say it is many of yours as well. The truth is, the only way for it to happen is for us to surrender more to His leading, or rather His will in our lives, the same way that Jesus was surrendered to the Father's.

Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. John 5:19

My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. John 4:34

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. John 6:38

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgement is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. John 5:30

I love that Jesus, the Son of Man, is the perfect example of all things for us!

If Jesus was as it says in Hebrews 1:3 (NIV) "...the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being" because He was surrendered not only to the will of the Father but to His working through Him in everything that He said and did then ...?

I'm not making an official New Years Resolution but what I am saying is that personally, I am determined to be more resolute in my resolve to 'awake in His likeness.' I am determined to let His will be done in both my words and my deeds as I surrender to the author and finisher of my faith! Why? Because I KNOW that :


God Bless!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

We Got Stuff

"You have a visitor, my lord." King David looked up from the maps he had been studying. A soldier stood with the prophet, Nathan. He gave a slight nod to his soldier, indicating that he should leave them alone.

"Nathan," he started to say, but the other man held up his hand.

"I've a story to tell you."

David nodded, and moved to sit in the large, cushioned chair by the window. Nathan walked to the window, but instead of looking at David, looked out the window as he spoke.

"There were two men in a certain city. One rich, and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had none of that. All he had was one little lamb, which he had bought. He brought the lamp up, and it grew up with him and his children. It used to eat of his morsel, and drink from his hand. At night, it would lie in his arms. This little lamb was like a daughter to him."

Nathan paused, and the words sunk into David's heart.

"One day a traveler came to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for his guest. So he took the poor man's lamb, and had it killed and prepared for the man who had come to him."

David shot out of his chair. "This is obscene! An atrocity! No man should treat another so cruelly! As the Lord God lives, this man deserves to die, and he shall repay the poor man fourfold because he did this thing. He had no pity." He ranted and paced around the room, but Nathan didn't move. He continued to stare out the window.

Nathan finally looked away from the window, and right at David. "You are that man!" His own rage punctured each word, and David took a step back as the words hit him.

He was that man.

He was the king! He had done no such thing! David opened his mouth to defend himself, but no words came out.

He was that man.

He had done exactly that with Bathsheba and Uriah.

"Oh, no," he whispered as Nathan took a step toward him, preparing to blast him with the Lord's holy judgement. "What have I done?"

Based on 2 Samuel 12:1-15

Here's the thing. Even Christians sin. We all know this. We all fall short.

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

Even leaders like King David sinned, and screwed up. We have tons of examples in the Bible of leaders, kings, prophets, judges, and teachers who have sinned.

These people all had areas of sin in their lives, but it didn't stop them from still trying to live for God. Someone can have an anger problem, but still be amazing at Bible study and teaching. Someone can struggle with fear and doubt, but still have an intimate relationship with God. Do you guys see what I'm saying?

WE ALL HAVE STUFF IN OUR LIVES. And it doesn't matter if you are the pastor of a mega TV church, or if you are a high school student just trying to survive the daily temptations and trials. We all have areas where we fall short.

The reason I wrote about King David being busted by the prophet Nathan for his sin with Bathsheba is because this is the part that matters. This is like one of the worst case scenarios of sin. David had an affair with a married woman, and murdered her husband so he could have her all to himself. But when Nathan busted him, he repented.

David was a man after God's own heart. He didn't let his kingly position keep him from realizing he had sinned, nor did he let the fact that he had failed drive a wedge between him and God. He repented. This is the important part guys. No matter who you are, what your call, or how strong you are in the Lord, you screw up. You are that man. The important thing is that you recognize this when you are called on the carpet and ask God's forgiveness.

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." 1 John 1:8-10

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, December 29, 2014

"For All Who Are Faithful In Christ Jesus"

Today, as we are only a few days away from beginning another new year I am drawn to a prayer that is found in Ephesians. It was written by Paul to as he put it ...To the saints who are faithful in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:2.) It is also my heart, my prayer, for you, the saints who are faithful in Christ Jesus in the earth today.  Like Paul, it is my hearts cry for you as you grow in Him in the year to come!

      -------------------------------------------------------

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and the length and the depth and the height ---- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with ALL the fulness of God.

I give thanks that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.

Amen and God Bless!!!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Praise The Lord!"

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!

Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and the harp!

Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with the stringed instruments and flutes!

 Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with high sounding cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

Lord that we would be a people of praise!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Stop Faking It

"The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer Him sacrifices." - Proverbs 21:3

Do you ever feel like Cain? I know that kind of seems like a bizarre question. I'm not talking about the killing your sibling feeling, because those of us with brothers or sisters have probably been there at one point or another. I'm talking about the giving to God and feeling like it's not good enough. You can look at the story of Cain and Abel, and realize what the issue was for Cain.

"When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift - the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but He did not accept Cain and his gift." Genesis 4:3-5

Cain had a relationship with God, that is clear from the next few verses. He talked directly with God, and he even heard God's voice! So, what is the issue? His attitude!

The Bible says Abel gave the best portions of the firstborn lambs of his flocks, while Cain just gave SOME of his crops. See the difference? Abel cared enough to give the firstfruits of his works. He gave God the best of what he had. Cain, well, he just gave some. The Bible doesn't speak to the quality of his gift.

Who do we most resemble when we spend time with God? Cain and whatever time/effort he could spare? Or do you specifically set aside the best of your time and effort to be with God, like Abel? God knows the difference!

1st Samuel 16:7b "People judge by the outside appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

What does God see when He looks into your heart? Is it the utmost desire to serve Him? Is it obligation because we know we are supposed to do certain things, like tithe? Our heart attitude matters so much more than we can possibly realize.

We have all heard the phrase "Fake it til you make it." Well, Church, it's time to stop faking it.

Sam

Friday, December 26, 2014

"The Big Event"

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made know to us."' And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely know the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.   Luke 2:15-20

When they heard the king they departed and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.  Matthew 2:9-12

I hope every one had a great Christmas!!! Now that it is the day after the big event I wanted to take a quick look at what it was like for the shepherds and the wise men after their encounter with Jesus. It says that once the shepherds had seen Him, "...they made widely know the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them." All that is a real fancy way of saying, "Once they had seen and worshiped Him they told everyone! They blabbed it all to anyone and everyone they came in contact with. They told everything from the angels appearing to the actual encounter with the Child and His mother. They also continued glorifying and praising God as they went back the their everyday lives. They took and attitude of worship with them.

The wise men too were changed by their encounter.  It says that when they had entered the house they fell down and worshiped Him. They then gave Him the gifts they had brought and then that night they were divinely warned in a dream not to return to Herod and they returned home a different way. They were willing to risk Herod's wrath and disobey his orders to tell him the location of the Child and instead they took a different route home. I love that phrase. Why you might ask? Because I tend to believe that anyone who has truly worshiped at the feet of our King proceeds along a different path from that moment on.

I pray that you were touched as you acknowledged Him as your king and that your days ahead are filled with praise, worship, and lots of blabbing as you tell others all that you have seen and heard and experienced from your time in His presence!

May He Bless your days ahead as you go forth changed  by your encounter Jesus!!!




Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Hope that you have had a great day so far, filled with presents and family and food. I have to admit, when I was a kid, I loved the great Christmas Day feast almost as much as the presents! Now, the feast is my favorite part of the day! Except for one.

The look that I see when someone I love is blessed or excited about the gift that I gave them. That is my absolute favorite part of Christmas. Do you know that blessing you is God's favorite part of Christmas, too?


Now, we won't find any Christmas presents with a sticker that says "From God" or "From Jesus", but that doesn't mean that He isn't giving us gifts.

"Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us His true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession." James 1:17-18

I want you to take a minute right now and thank God for everything you received today. Even if you didn't get any presents, thank Him for what you already have, like a home. A bed. A family. Friends. Your very life. God has giving you all these things, plus Salvation through Jesus' death on the cross.

As we celebrate today, we remember the reason that we celebrate. Jesus was born this day, 2,000 years ago to pay for our sins, so that we could be saved and be His new family. He gave His very life for us. That is the best Christmas gift we could ever get.


Merry Christmas from everyone here at Snack Time Devotions!

Sam

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

One Starry Night...

He sleepily watched the sheep stumble around. Their blundering leader kept walking into a ditch.

Dumb sheep.

Stephen's head started to droop, and his eyelids slid closed. He jerked awake. The sheep were running around like they were about to be slaughtered, and...wait...it was bright as day! He could see his fellow shepherds standing around, waving, pointing, and shouting. Some where even running away from the light.

He looked up to the sky, and fell onto his rear. There in plain sight was an angel! How did he know it was an angel? The fact that it was hovering in the sky high above them was all the proof Stephen needed. He was certain that they were all going to die.

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." The angel's voice boomed around them, but his words soothed his soul.

Suddenly, the angel wasn't alone though.

Stephen's jaw dropped, and his heart pounded. What in all the heavens? It was like the Lord God had opened up heaven to them! Angels filled the sky, and he listened to their words. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

He didn't know how long they proclaimed their message. It felt so long, but so short. In a split second the sky was dark. Empty. Quiet. Like it never happened to the world around him, but he would forever be changed.

Stephen got up and started running. "We need to go find him. We need to find him!" He yelled to the other shepherds. He waved his arms and jumped over the ditch the stupid sheep had kept falling into earlier. Nothing was going to stop him. He had to see this Savior.

Based on Luke 2:8-15

I love this little part of the Christmas story. I love their initial panic, and then their determination to find Jesus. I love the Heavenly Host. Most of all, I love that God chose some lowly shepherds to announce the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior to.

Have you ever wondered why God chose the shepherds? I have.

God didn't pick the shepherds because they were popular and well liked. They didn't make some kind of deal with God. They didn't have riches and treasures of the world.

The shepherds were there, ready and waiting. So many of the royal, luxurious, and religious people of the day completely missed Jesus' birth. Not only were the shepherds among the first to know, but they didn't even hesitate to try and find Jesus.

Guys, this Christmas we need to try to be more like the shepherds. Ready. Waiting. Willing to hunt Jesus down. Can you imagine? All those people who didn't have any clue that there was a Heavenly chorus singing? It's completely astounding to me. They all missed it! Guys, I don't want you to miss all the awesome things God has in store for you.

"And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here I am! Send me.'" Isaiah 6:8

It's like this verse in Isaiah. God is saying, "Who will go for me? Who is waiting to be used? Who is ready for me to reveal more in their life?" Is your answer "Me God! I will,"  or is it the sound of crickets chirping as you avoid the answer.

A group of lowly shepherds found out about the Savior first because no one else cared. This Christmas, we call either be like the humble shepherds, who when they did hear about Jesus, rushed to find Him, or we can be like everyone else, who didn't care.

Who?

This Christmas, be a shepherd. Be ready and looking for Jesus.

My friends, I hope you have a wonderful day, and a Merry Christmas! God bless you!

V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Mary's Not so Average Day

"Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"

Mary whirled around and jumped. There was a man standing in front of her. A tall, slightly shinny, heavenly man. The clay jar she had been holding slipped from her hands and shattered on the floor. She took a couple steps back, but he responded by taking two steps towards her.

Why did he call her "favored one?"

"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

A baby? Conceive? The angel's - that had to be what, who he was - words swirled around her. How? She opened and closed her mouth, as a hot blush crept up her cheeks. "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy - the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God."

Her heart was pounding like crazy, and her chest was heaving up and down. How? What? Why her? How could she do this? What about Joseph? What about her family? What about all her plans?

The angel looked at her, as if waiting for her response. Everything about this terrified her, but how could she say no to God's will?

"I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

Then he disappeared.

And Mary was left alone.

Was that real?

She covered her face with her shaking hands.

"What just happened?" She massaged her temples with her index fingers. "What in all the world just happened?"

Based on Luke 1:26-38

I've been talking about Mary a lot lately. I felt like you guys needed to be let in on the thought.

Here was a young woman, believed by most historians to be around 14 years old, who was just going about her ordinary day.

When all of a sudden...

BAM!

Her world is turned upside down in the space of a few minutes. An angel shows up, tells her that she is going to become supernaturally pregnant, and by the way, the baby is the Son of God.

Not your average Tuesday.

Mary is incredible to me. I love her response after she visits her cousin Elizabeth, and sees everything confirmed for herself.

"And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.'" Luke 1:46-47

I want you guys to really think about this and be honest with yourselves, in your heart of hearts. What if you had been in Mary's position? How would you have responded to the angel's words, and the things you were seeing with your own eyes?

I think I would have probably been freaking out. I would have been going insane with worry. What about my life? What about my betrothed? How on earth would I raise the Son of God?

"And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.'" Luke 1:46-47

But Mary didn't let worry control her. She didn't let it stop her from serving God. She was willing to do whatever God willed of her. She even thanked God! Her soul magnified Him and rejoiced! It's almost crazy, but that is what she did!

It's awesome.

Mary is one of the greatest examples of faith in the Bible to me. I want that kind of faith all the time, and I believe you guys want that kind of faith. Guys, this Christmas focus on acquiring Mary-like faith. She was given one of the hardest jobs in the world, second only to Jesus' mission, but she didn't question God. She accepted His will for her life. What if we accepted God's will for our lives, and did it, instead of wasting so much time arguing about it with Him? What if we even praised Him for it?

Well, then our faith would be like Mary's.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, December 22, 2014

"Wholly Devoted"

My pastor said something in his message this Sunday that made stop and think about what amazingly impressive people Joseph and Mary were. I say that because of how they responded to God and the birth of Jesus into their family. It made me stop and consider one more time just how much God knows us. He knew them. He knew that they loved Him and they could be entrusted with the job of raising Jesus. Think for a moment about Mary's response after Elizabeth's greeting.  ...And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, ad blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord."
And Mary said:
      "My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our father's, to Abraham and to his seed forever."  Luke 1:41-55

I say look at her response because it contains 15 discernible quotations from the Old Testament which shows us how much the Old Testament was not just known but loved in the home that Jesus was raised. Mary's response to the angel Gabriel after he fills her in on things is, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." and her response to the first person she comes in contact with about the event is full of an overflow of the word of God. Jesus said that "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34) and Mary's heart was obviously overflowing as words like, "My soul magnifies the Lord," came rushing out!

What about Joseph? He too was wholly devoted with a love for God. How many men do you know who are willing to not only care for but to provide for a child not his own? Truth is, that there are good men out there who do just that but take a closer look at what Joseph did and why.  ...Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins."  .... Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus. Matthew 1:19-25

Joseph had a dream. In it an angel filled him in on what was going on and told him what to do. Without hesitation Joseph knew it was God talking and obeyed!!! Three more times that we know of God spoke to Joseph  Matthew 2:13, 19-20, 22 and each time, without question, Joseph obeyed. He knew God's leading in his life and even though it meant a great personal sacrifice he packed up his family, started over in a new place, and just plain obeyed God each time in order to keep them safe. He was obviously a man who knew and loved God to make such sacrifices without question. Joseph obviously knew God and trusted Him to lead him in the way he should go and the thing to take note of here is that God obviously knew that He could trust Joseph with the care of His Son, Jesus who would save His people from their sins.

Joseph and Mary are both shining examples to us of what it means to be wholly devoted to the Lord. They not only had hearts that responded to the voice of the Lord with, "Let it be to me according to your word." but they obeyed without question every time He spoke which tells me they were wholly devoted and to be honest the cool thing that stands out to me in this moment is ...that God knew it and He blessed them with the One who would save His people from their sins, His Son.  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

"Shod Your Feet"

"...And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace..." Ephesians 6:15


Romans 10: 13-21

For "Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

How then shall  they call on Him in whom they have not believed? 

And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?

And how shall they hear without a preacher?

And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!"

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?"

So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:

"Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world."

But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:

"I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will anger you by a foolish nation."

But Isaiah is very bold and says:

"I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me."

But to Israel he says:

"All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people."

 Lord, we offer up a shout of praise for all those who have heard and believed! And Lord, we ask Your favor and Your blessings on all who are sent!!!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Are You Committed?

Have you ever felt pointless? Like you have no reason for being? Meaning of life kind of stuff?

"But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus - the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God." Acts 20:24

Do you think that Paul is alone in how he felt? He had purpose. He was dedicated fully to God's work. He was committed. 

That commitment is what makes the difference. It changes everything. People can be committed to anything - their hobbies, work, spouse, family. But the most important commitment that anyone can ever make is the one to God. 

Most times, people misunderstand commitment. They panic and flee from it. But when a true and devote Christian truly commits their life to the Lord, that's when they get used like Paul was. Paul stood against the powers of darkness, he stood before nations and kings. Some of us are called for that as well. 

It's sad when we miss the opportunity to serve God because we are distracted by every situation that pops up in our lives. Remember the first Commandment.

"You must not have any other gods but Me." Exodus 20:3

God must - MUST - be our primary focus in life. He should come before anything else. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't take care of our families or that we shouldn't have jobs. We need to have the right perspective, to see things how God wants us to see them. To not ignore the person who needs prayer. To not indulge ourselves with our hobbies, and not give God the place in our lives that He deserves.

But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God." Luke 9:62

Commit yourself to God. Trust in His plans for you. Don't go looking back to the world for purpose. You won't find it.

Sam

Friday, December 19, 2014

"Set My Feet, Lord"

From the end of he earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.   Psalm 61:2

I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.

He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.

He has put a new song in my mouth -- Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, And does not respect the proud, Nor such as turn aside to lies.

Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; And Your thoughts which are toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; If I declare and speak them, They are more than can be numbered.     Psalm 40:1-5

Since the last couple of messages have been about Jesus being the Rock of our Refuge and the Rock of our Salvation I didn't want to forget to emphasize that it is really easy to KNOW Him as our rock! Its simple to live our life trusting in Him as our rock. It simple because it starts with us crying out to Him and then heeding His word and applying it our our circumstances. He is the Rock that will lift us up every time when our heats are overwhelmed. The most important thing we can remember is that it is His heart to take us up from the miry stuff and to set us in a place that is solid in Him. Remember!!!!

Blessed (Happy) is the man who makes the Lord his trust!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Secret Place

There was a rustle, and the sounds of disorder floated into his tent with the breeze. A young man pulled back the make-shift curtain, and stuck his head inside his tent. "He's going to the tent again."

He stepped out of his tent. There was a soft roar as everyone stepped out of their tents. This is what they did.

As soon as someone caught wind of what he was doing, young boys would run throughout the camp to let everyone know. Then the entire camp would step outside and watched Moses go to the tent. The tent was like a little brown speck on the flaming orange horizon because Moses had insisted that the tent be pitched far away from the camp. Moses had encouraged the people to make the trek to the tent because it was a place for them to meet with the Lord. He called it the tent of meeting. Some of the people went. A lot of them didn't.

Moses always went.

And so did his young assistant.

He held his hand up, shielding his eyes from the sun's harsh glare. Moses was pulling open the tent flap. Once he disappeared inside, most of the people went back to what they were doing.

But he always looked to Moses' assistant.

Joshua.

He never left. While most of the people would only wait for Moses to enter the tent, Joshua would wait outside the tent for Moses. He wouldn't leave. Why, even from this distance he looked determined and invested.

Every time Moses went to the tent, Joshua went with him. Every time. And he never left.

Eventually even he would get tired of standing in the hot sun, and leave. But Joshua never did.

Based on Exodus 33:7-11

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, 'My refuge and fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Psalm 91:1-2

My mom use to sing this song to us when we were little. With all the turmoil in my young life, I wanted to know how to get to that secret place of God. Once I was there, I knew I would never leave. I just had to get there first.

I love this story about Moses and Joshua. When God brought the verses from Psalm 91 to mind, He also brought this story to mind.

1) Moses - He was dedicated. Moses would go to the Tent of Meeting in order to have that time with God. His time with God was so special and intimate, that he spoke to God face to face. It was like talking to your best friend! Moses dwelt in the secret place of the Lord.

2) Joshua - He wouldn't leave. Most of the people only waited long enough to watch Moses go inside the tent. Joshua stayed the entire time. He knew that God was there and with Moses. He had seen God do awesome miracles through Moses. He had heard about Moses and God chatting away like best buds. He had seen Moses' face after he spent time with God. Joshua was determined to be apart of that, experience that. Joshua longed to experience God the same way Moses did. Joshua also dwelt in the secret place of the Lord.

Both these men found that elusive "secret place" of God. They did incredible things in their careers for God. Moses freed the Israelites from Egypt, and guided them through the desert. Joshua led the people into the Promised Land. He led the charge against enemy nations, including God's crazy plan to defeat Jericho, and helped settle the Israelites into the land. You don't do things like that unless you are hooked with God. These men had found their refuge, and no matter what happened, they weren't letting go.

Moses found that secret place with God because he was determined to spend real time with God.

"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." James 4:8a

Joshua found that secret place because he was determined to choose God first. He hung onto God.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." Matthew 5:6

Guys, if your heart has ever yearned for the secret place of God, the shelter of His wings, His refuge, then this is the map that will led you right into His waiting arms. Seek that intense relationship with God. Ask for intimacy with the Lord, like friends speaking face to face. Then, get it. Don't let the cares of this world distract you. I'm sure Joshua had plenty of other things he could have been doing instead of sitting outside the Tent of Meeting. He choose God over all of that. Seek God, choose God, and then we will find ourselves under the shadow of His wing.

"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:2

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"Before, During, And After"

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.  Now therefore everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." Matthew 7:24-27
 
In our last message we looked at the what Jesus said in terms of the wise man who built on the rock We mostly just looked at that first sentence and the example that the Lord showed me in terms of Noah being like the wise man Jesus described here. Today, since I haven't been able to think of anything else but these verses I'd like to share something else the Lord showed me that I had never really payed much attention to before. 

That something is quite simply a look at what comes next in the verse after the hearing and the doing and the being considered wise ... so lets take a look...  "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock."  What about for the foolish man who built on the sand? What happens next after the hearing, and the not doing, and the being considered foolish? ..."and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And it was a great fall."  In both cases the same thing happened. The rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew against the house. In both instances stuff happened! The difference was in the outcome that the stuff accomplished.  The wise builder's house stood and the foolish builder's house fell a great fall. 

I know that this seems pretty obvious but the thing that jumped out at me was that both the wise and foolish had the rain, floods, and wind come against them. Too often believers tend to act like once they become believers that nothing hard will ever come their way.  All to often when it does then they end up blaming God. Something to take notice of here. The wise man builds on the rock because he is preparing ahead for when the storm he knows will come. 

I think this example makes it pretty clear that the truth is, it doesn't matter who you are, things happen in life. We all deal with stuff at some point in our lives. Everyone deals with trials, temptations, and or circumstances that are beyond our control. Stuff Happens and the reality is it is how we respond that determines the outcome. Are we wise enough to turn to Him. Do we seek His counsel and do what he says and therefore not fall because we are founded on the Rock or do we doubt when the hard times come? Do question and turn away from His promises to see us through?

Do we trust Him to be the Rock of our Salvation before, during, and after the storm?

Truly my soul waits for God; From Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved. Psalm 62:1-2

Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:1-2

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in Him I will trust, The shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. 2 Samuel 22:2-3

My soul, waits silently for God alone. For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, and my refuge,  is in God. Psalm 62:5-7

The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted. Psalm 18:46

As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets my feet on my high places. He teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You also have given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great. You enlarged my path under me; So that my feet did not slip. Psalm 18:30-36

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Living on the Run

He scratched his chin. What was Jesus saying?

John just wasn't sure. 

Jesus had been speaking on many great things for hours and hours. He and the rest of the disciples, except for the disappearing Judas, had been rapt with attention, continuously awestruck and dumbfounded by Jesus' insight and wisdom. The hot rays of the sun passed by them unnoticed, and the cool breezes of the evening came to claim it's place. John couldn't have told someone if he blinked the entire time. It all just felt like a few minutes.

He had been lost in Jesus' words, but his last statement threw him for a loop.

"I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." 

Jesus wasn't of this world?

What did that even mean?

And what did it mean when he said they weren't of this world either?

Based on John 17:14

Below is the lyric music video for TobyMac's song, "Unstoppable."


My favorite line in this song is "Not of this world so we live on the run."

Do you guys sometimes feel like we are living on the run? Persecutions, trials, and temptations seem to chase us. Sometimes we literally feel like we are on the run from it all with no place to hide. It's hard, but we tell ourselves that it's something we have to do in sometimes...

But wait. Is it possible? Should we have that mindset? Instead of feeling like we have to be on the run, should that automatically be how we live our lives on this earth? We are God's, not the world's.

"If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." John 15:19

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of you mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:2

We have been told from day one that we are not of this world. So why shouldn't we live...on the run? Why shouldn't we move away from temptations and the lusts of this world? Why shouldn't we live with out eyes wide open so that we know what is and isn't of God? Why shouldn't the world hate us for being different?

Fact is, that is and how it's supposed to be while we are on this earth. We will always be running away from the world. We should be running to Jesus. We belong to God. When we have made Jesus Lord of our lives, we don't belong to the world anymore. This message wasn't about dealing with difficult times, or counting it an honor to suffer for Jesus' sake. No, this is a thought that - if you really apply it - could change how we walk. Instead of somber, dragging steps as we try to escape, we will walk with a spring in our step, as we purposely run away from all that isn't of God in this world.

Because that's how it's supposed to be.

"They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." John 17:16

We are not of this world. We were never supposed to be. So don't get comfortable. We are...on the run.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, December 15, 2014

"A Wise Man"

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock." Matthew 7:24-25

When I read these verses today they reminded me of an Old Testament favorite! He did exactly what Jesus is talking about in these two verses. He heard the words God spoke to him, he did them, and then he was likened as it were to a wise man. Check out Hebrews  11:7 ...By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, (the hearing) moved with Godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, (the doing) by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (the likening as wise by God)

Noah has been one of my heroes of faith since the beginning of my walk with God for a number of reasons but I must admit the number one reason is his faithfulness to the do ...according to all that God commanded him so he did. Genesis 6:22

When I read the account of Noah's faithfulness 'to do' in Genesis chapters 6:9 I am filled with admiration and can see why it says in 6:8-9 ...But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord....Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.  Its easy to see that this is why God knew he could trust Noah with His heart and what He needed Noah to do. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for all the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Mark yourself and ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, cover it with pitch. And this is how you should make it ..." Genesis 6

Obviously we all know that more instructions and more obedience comes into play here  but I have always loved the way that Noah didn't doubt the word of the God. He knew Him. He walked and talked with Him. He didn't fuss or argue or even doubt what God had said. He he heard the instruction, trusted it would come pass and that the rain would come. He heard and then he immediately obeyed and not just in the idea but in every little aspect. Every instruction followed just as God had said. ...And Noah did according to all that the Lord commanded him. Genesis 7:5

Noah was like a man who heard the sayings of the Lord, he did them, and God  said to him ..."Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation. Genesis 7:1

Noah was a wise man who built his house on the rock: "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock." Matthew 24:24-25

Jesus used this wise man illustration on the heals of another statement that starts a few verse ahead that are significant to what He was saying to His followers. He said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." Matthew 7:21-27

Its all part of the same truth. Its not enough to just call Him Lord. You and I as believers need to remember that its not about calling Him "Lord, Lord" but about obeying His commands because He is Lord. What if Noah hadn't obeyed? What if he had decided that since he had never seen rain before that God would never make it really come to pass. What if He spent all his time questioning the validity of what God was asking him to do or what if he told God, "No. It will cost me to much time, money, and effort." What if he decided to come up with a better plan and try to handle things in own his way? What if? What if that is what we as believers do all to often? What if we hear Him but don't do?

Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, I will liken him to a foolish man who built his house on the sand: "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell, And great was its fall" Matthew 7:26-27

And Noah did according to all that the Lord commanded him. Genesis 7:5 Noah followed every instruction right down to the smallest detail outlined to him by God. Noah, a man considered by God to be perfect in his generation.

Please, Lord, that we might be a people who are wise enough: to hear and obey.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"All My Days"

Psalm 71:12-18

But I will hope continually, 
  And I will praise You yet more and more.
My  mouth shall tell of Your righteousness 
  And Your salvation all the day,
  For I do not know their limits.
I will go in strength of the Lord God;
  I will make mention of Your righteousness, 
  of Yours only.

O God, You have taught me from my youth,
  And to this day I declare Your wondrous works.
Now also when I am old and grey-headed,
  O God, do not forsake me,
  Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
Your power to everyone who is to come.
 

Thank You, Lord, for all my days! All the days of my youth till now. Each and every day, a gift that you have given me, Lord, and with it, the opportunity to declare Your wondrous works to the nations. 

O Lord, I pray that You would give us the words that we might declare You in all Your splendor ...forever and ever... 

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Run with Endurance

"So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong." Hebrews 12:12-13

I don't know about you, but I have felt really weary of late. But I can't give up. I can't let those distractions and trials take me down. God has been moving in my church. The church was been growing, and I want to be there. There are young people who are growing in their faith, who look up to me to show them how be to a Christian.

I feel like the disciples who kept falling asleep in the garden while Jesus prayed. That no matter how hard I try, I'm just going to fall asleep again, and let Him down.

But I can't. We can't. If we call ourselves Christians and are followers of Jesus, we don't just get to stop. We are called to a Holy purpose. Our calling transcends our momentary feelings. Depression, anger, exhaustion these are but a few of the things that we must overcome.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us." Hebrews 12:1

When things look dark, don't give up. When things are too hard, don't let go. When you don't want to read your Bible or go to Church, that's when you need to be there the most. God doesn't give us more than we can bear. Remember that.

"I can do everything through Christ, who gives me me strength." Philippians 4:13

Sam

Friday, December 12, 2014

"His Very Own"

Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up in a whirlwind into heaven. Now Elisha saw it, and he cried out, "My father, mt father, the chariot of Israel and its horseman!" So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went and stood by the bank of the Jordon. 2 Kings 2:11-13

 I must admit, I love this account. I think its because it reminds me of the account where Jacob wrestled throughout the night, refusing to let go unless he received the Man's blessing. ...And He said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks." But he said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!" Genesis 32:26 I admire that kind of determination to lay a hold of the things of God and not let go till they have come to pass.

Elisha's refusal to leave Elijah is like that. He knew that God was about to take Elijah up to heaven and there was no way he was going to miss it. Three times Elijah tried to get Elisha to stay as he went forth to meet with God and three times Elisha refused to part from him.

Have you ever noticed just how many people knew that the Lord was about to do something big? And the sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, "Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?" And he said, "Yes, I know, keep silent!" 2 kings 2:3 ...So they came to Jericho. And the sons of the prophets who were in Jericho came to Elisha and said to him, "Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?" So he answered, "Yes, I know; keep silent!" 2 Kings 2:5  ...So the two of them went on. And fifty of the sons of the prophets went and stood facing them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordon. 2 Kings 2:7

So all the sons of the prophets from Bethel, and all the sons of the prophets in Jericho, and 50 of the sons of the prophets near the Jordon all knew! Yet?  Only Elisha stuck close. He traveled from Gilgal to Bethel, Bethel to Jericho, and from Jericho to the Jordon and beyond; all the while refusing to leave Elijah. Why? Because he knew that God was about to do what He had said he would and he wasn't going to miss it.

Jacob wrestled all night refusing to let go. Why? He wanted a blessing!!! Elisha despite Elijah's request refused to leave his side. ...Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordon." And he said, "As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!" So the two of them went on. 2 Kings 2:6,4,2 Why? He wanted God's anointing!!!  

The refusal of God's chosen vessels to stop short is what sets them apart from all those who watch from a distance!

The refusal of the men and women of God to not to stop short, to not let go, but instead, to press on and to hold fast, is the very quality that sets them apart as the called out ones that God calls to be His very own!

Don't let go! Get your blessings!

Don't stop short! Pick up your mantle and walk in His anointing!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Against the Crowd

"So he left all that he had in Joseph's charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master's wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, 'Lie with me.' But he refused and said to his master's wife, 'Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?' And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her to to be with her. But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, 'Lie with me.' But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house." Genesis 39:6-12

He was running.

Fast. And far.

Joseph darted around a corner, and threw himself against a wall when he spotted some servants walking down a connecting corridor at the end of the hallway. Thankfully, they continued walking, completely passing by him.

His heart was pounding. His hands were shaking. He needed to get out of here.

He tried to catch his breath. What was he doing? Why didn't he just... NO! He would not go there! That wasn't him, nor who he wanted to be. Even more important, that kind of man wasn't the man Yahweh had called him to be.

A scream followed by loud, overdone sobs resounded throughout the house. He heard shouting and running and screaming.

He really needed to get out of here.

Based on Genesis 39:12

I remember when my mother told me this story when I was little. I remember being shocked. How could he have run away with no clothes? Wasn't he embarrassed? The moral of this story has always stayed with me. As I was thinking about possible blogs for our kid blog, Snack Pack, I was thinking about the things I liked to learn about when I was that age, and this part of Joseph's story came to mind.

This stuck with me because he ran away so that he could stand firm in his faith and commitment to God. He would not compromise. So he left his robe and ran away.

I admire that. I respect that. Does this impact you the same way?

Too often, we would rather compromise then take the embarrassing route and run. That's just not right. God doesn't call us to compromise in our stand for Him.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11

These are not just verses to pull out when we talk about standing firm for God. These verses are a call to us. Joseph lived up to that call, and yeah, things got bad for awhile, but after that things got incredibly good for him. Joseph was so faithful to this call, that he ran away from temptation, rather then compromise in any way. That is amazing. Can we live up to that kind of faithfulness? It's so easy to compromise, fit in, and just go with the flow. But since when have God's people ever gone with the flow? They are always the ones who run, who stand out, who eat bugs, who are different. They are the ones who slay giants, who rule nations, and who come up with ingenious plans in the face of devastating famine. Those are the people of God. That's who we are called to be and exceed.

Run against the crowd. Be that kind of person.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"The Valley Set Before You"

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon will grow dark, And the stars will diminish their brightness. The Lord also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the Lord will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel.    Joel 3:14-16
As I read this verse in Joel this morning it reminded me of  the account in Genesis 13:1-12 Where Abraham and Lot are standing, overlooking the valley with a decision set before them.  ...So Abram said to Lot, "Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsman and your herdsman; for we are brethren. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left." And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. Genesis 13:8-12

Like Lot we too are faced with choices every day. Which way will we go? Lot made his choice based on what he saw with his eyes in the valley set before him. He didn't seek the Lord's counsel but instead he saw the richness of the Jordan and its lush vegetation and made his choice based on what his eyes considered to be the better choice. His greed and therefore his choice exposed him to the wickedness of Sodom as he pitched his tents closer and closer to Sodom.

Abram on the other hand offered the first choice to Lot more than willing to trust the Lord to keep him whichever direction he would end up taking. He wasn't disappointed. In verses 14-18 it says, "And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: "Lift up your eyes now and look from the place where you are--northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants could be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you." Then Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to the Lord.

I love that because Abram decided to trust God with the outcome of Lot's decision and because of that God took the opportunity to not only reaffirm His promise to give Abram and his seed the land of Canaan but began to bring it to pass. The phrase 'moved his tent' in verse 18 literally means that he tented, or kept moving his tent along, continually increasing and staking his claim to more and more of the land that God had promised to give him.

You and I, here, now, today, have much the same choice that lays before us. We too are among the multitudes that must choose from the paths that lay before us or are forced to deal with the results of someone elses choice. Will we trust Him to keep His promise to lead us, to guide us, to provide for us? Will we trust Him to be our strength? Will we trust Him to be our God even when we look with our eyes and it looks like we got the short end of the stick?

Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision --- The left or the right? Which way do we go?

Will we choose to heed His voice and walk the path He sets before us?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How to Get That Kind of Wisdom

Who do I choose? Who was right? Who was lying? And possibly most worrisome, what do I do?

"My Lord," a small woman, one whose grief was evident, pointed to the sleeping babe in the guard's arms. The poor soldier had to step in and take the baby when the two woman started to physically fight. "The child is mine." Her steely eyes held resolve and determination.

"No! The child is mine! The dead child is yours!" The other woman shrieked. She was hysterical and the look of desperation in her eyes was truly terrifying.

What do I do?

Lord, help me, Solomon prayed inwardly.

Then he knew what to do.

"Bring me a sword!"

Confusion mixed with a strong look of horror on the faces of the crowd, and the looks were complimented with a loud gasp.

He stood up, and soldier placed the sword in this hands. He motioned to the two women. "You say the child is yours, but you also claim the child to be yours." Solomon reigned control of his emotions, masking them with the most disinterested look he could manage. "The child will be divided into two, and each woman will take half."

Lord, let this work! Solomon watched the faces of the women closely...

"Lord, no!" The hysterical woman with the desperate eyes started to sob.

"Yes!" The determined, the grief-stricken woman said. "This way neither of us will have the child. Divide him!"

"NO!" The other woman screamed again before throwing herself in front of the soldier. "Give the child to the other woman, but please do not kill him!"

Solomon smiled. There she was.

Based on 1 Kings 3:16-28

I remember always being amazed and horrified when I read/heard this story as a kid. How could Solomon know that one of the woman would defend this baby? How did he even come up with this plan? Why wasn't the other woman more guilt-stricken about condemning a baby to death because of her own selfishness?

When I was in youth group as a kid, Marie Thompson was my youth pastor. She always had a special skill, a super power if you will.

She knew who was telling the truth, and who wasn't.

It was truly at the level of Santa Clauses' proposed "abilities."

I always wanted to know how she did it? How was she just able to look into the eyes of a person, and see into their soul? Now as an adult, I know.

God.

People can be so convincing when they lie. The he-said-she-said can throw anybody into confusion. The devil was so convincing with his slight twist of the truth, that even Eve just wasn't able to resist, and she decided to take that forbidden fruit. Point is, it is incredibly hard to know what's what in life. Today, in this day and age, we especially need to know what is of God, and what is not.

Do what Solomon did. Ask God for that wisdom. It really is that simple.

"And intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge." Proverbs 18:15

"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

If you want to be the one in the know, ask God for wisdom. Ask Him for understanding. Ask Him for knowledge.

And then do what Solomon did next.

Use it.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, December 8, 2014

"Take It Away"

I heard this song today as I was driving and It made me think! It made me think because it reminded me of the time John the Baptist told his disciples, "He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30 in response to their complaints that more of the people were now coming to Jesus then to John. John's heart was to surrender the spotlight and that Jesus would take center stage because he understood that it was what was necessary.

It made me think because it reminds me of the time in the garden where Jesus is saying to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane, "Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me, nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done." Luke 22:42 Jesus spoke these words because He was surrendered to the Father's will in all things...including His death and what was to come next.

It made me think about all the times when Jesus was telling the disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit. "And I pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." John 14:16-17  "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to remembrance all things that I said to you. John 14:26  "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify." John 15:26 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away; the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. John 16:7 Jesus says all these things to the disciples about the Holy Spirit because He is preparing them for the fact that the Holy Spirit will be leading, guiding, teaching, instructing, and empowering them in them days ahead.

Jesus told His disciples all about the coming of the Holy Spirit because He was preparing them to surrender to the Spirit's leading. He was preparing them to surrender to the Holy Spirit because He knew that the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead was the One who would be taking over for Him in the earth. Why? Because He was about to leave and go and sit at the Father's right hand.

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." Acts 1:4-5 We know that the disciple's understood and obeyed. They surrendered and were baptized in the Holy Spirit and followed His leading for the rest of their lives. Read the Book of Acts and watch for Him. You'll see!

Hearing this song today made me think! It reminded me to surrender to Helper that the Father has sent. It  reminded me to take time today to say to the Holy Spirit, "I surrender.  Take it away!"

Sunday, December 7, 2014

"The Spirit And The Bride"

And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready."

And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

Then he said to me, "Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!" 
And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God." Revelation 19:6-9

And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17

Lord, we give You all glory, all honor, and all our praise! We too cry "Come! Lord, Jesus, Come!"

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Holy Blame Game

One of the more common things that I hear these days, when something bad happens, is "How could God do such a thing?"

Everyone has heard this simple sentence said. It's a fact of life that when bad things happen, society must blame someone. People love to sling mud, and anyone involved is fair game. Since God is the creator of the universe, He can be blamed for someone getting a sliver or to catching Ebola, and everything and anything in between. Wars, massacres, plagues - people think that those things can all be laid at His feet.

We know this is wrong. Our go-to response when disaster strikes is - or at least should be - to pray. Sometimes, we mess up, and forget to raise our concerns to our Lord, to give them over to Him. We are human, mistakes will happen. But what do we do when someone blames our God right in front of us?

That can be a very hard situation. Sometimes, it's our friends, or people we respect that blame God for the evil in the world. Do we just sit there awkwardly, waiting for the subject to be changed? Or do we confront the lie that the devil has placed in that person's heart?

The Bible tells us to teach the Gospel to all nations. Does the Gospel say that God is the source of the evil that plagues the world? James 1:13b says "God is never tempted to do wrong."

Our job in this world is to lead people to God, to show them His love. Sometimes, we don't think it is situationally appropriate for us to say anything, but I would disagree. We need to stop worrying about offending people, and stop denying our God. Even if it does lead to persecution.

"God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers." Matthew 5:10 and 11

The very next verse offers hope for those of us bold enough to stand for our God.

"Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way." Matthew 5:12

Do you think that Elijah put up with people slandering God and not say anything about it? He stood up to the king of Israel! What about Isaiah or Jeremiah? Of course not! It is our job to teach people about God, about his true nature.

So the next time someone starts to put God down in front of you, tell them the truth of the matter. Don't be shamed into silence.

Sam

Friday, December 5, 2014

"Magnificent To Me!"

As I was listening to 'Magnificent God' today I couldn't help but stop and think about just how truly awesome and magnificent He really is. As I started to contemplate some of the amazing things He has done, I started making a list in my mind of all the different miracles that I see in His word that bless me and encourage me every time I read them. Then as the list was rapidly increasing I remembered how John had said ..." And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen." John 21:25 I realized, Its true! How can we really make a list of all the things He has done to show us just how awesome and magnificent He truly is ... so ... what I want to say most right now is this ...

Thank You, Lord! Thank You, that Your hand is never to short to save, and that You ear is never too heavy that it cannot hear! Thank You, Lord that You have showed Yourself as truly magnificent in my life when You demonstrated Your love for me in that while I was still a sinner, You died for me! Thank You for showing Yourself as my magnificent God in every way possible! Lord, You are truly Magnificent to me!




Thursday, December 4, 2014

Perfectly Imperfect

He had just swallowed a bug. Because his jaw was hanging open in awe, and that makes it really easy for flies and such to buzz inside and down his throat.

Peter had just witnessed something incredible.

Jesus had been teaching from his boat, and then told him to toss his net into the deep. He had tried to tell Jesus that he had already been out all night, and had caught nothing. Peter somehow found himself agreeing to do what Jesus said anyways.

And it worked!

He had to frantically wave and shout at his friends to come help him. They had just finishing hauling the overflowing nets onto their boats. Now they were heading back to shore.

Peter shook his head in amazement once again. This was no ordinary man. The way he spoke, taught, and now this. He was hardly a man. He was more like a...

He dropped onto the boat floor, making it tip back and forth. He was a man of God! "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, oh, Lord!" He shouldn't be in the presence of someone like Jesus! He wasn't the right kind of man. Peter knew he needed to fix so many things in his life. He wasn't worthy. He wasn't deserving. He wasn't good enough.

He felt a tap on his shoulder and looked up at Jesus.

He was grinning at him! "Don't be afraid. From now on you will be catching men."

Based on Luke 5:7-11

"But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.'" Luke 5:8

Peter knew from the moment those fish started piling into his boat that Jesus was something special. He even called him, "Lord." But despite that, Peter knew he wasn't fit to be in Jesus' presence. So he told Him the only reasonable solution for contact between a sinful man and a Holy God: someone needed to leave.

Do you ever feel like you have to be perfect to come before God? Do you ever feel like you need to be perfect? Have you ever tried to hide your sins from God? What about when you pray? Are your prayers used solely to ask for forgiveness and have nothing to do with actually talking to God, and building your relationship? These are easy, dangerous habits to develop.

Peter didn't know yet that Jesus came to change all the things he had been taught since birth. Soon access to God would not be restricted.

However...

It's not restricted for us...

So why do we fall into the same pattern?

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8

We've been given a gift. We don't need to be perfect to accept that gift. We just need to take it from His outstretched hands.

"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

Stop worrying about being perfect for God. He wants you, just as you are. In all of your perfectly imperfection. I'm not saying God won't ever ask you to become more like Him, after all, that is the goal. God doesn't need to be perfect already. He will help you grow. You just need to go to Him with a willing heart.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

"Treasures In Heaven"

Then Solomon determined to build a temple for the name of the Lord, and a royal house for himself.
 2 Chronicles 2:1
      --------------------------------------------------
Today as I read this verse talking about Solomon, and the fact that he determined to build a temple for the name of the Lord, it made me stop and think about something that you and I might take for granted. That something is?  God's presence. God's presence and the fact that He is available in our lives every moment of every day!

The above verse tells us that Solomon, who is famous for his wisdom concerning his response to God determined that it was necessary to build a temple for God's name and therefore a place for His presence to abide. He knew how important it was to have a place to meet with God and he determined to make a place where God could be praised, worshiped, and blessed.

As I read this verse and saw the word 'determined' in relation to Solomon's desire and its purpose to give God a place to dwell it caused me to wonder about us today. It caused me to think about all the work and all the preparations and the cost that was involved for this to happen in Solomon's day. Then it brought to mind this verse in Matthew 6:19-21 were Jesus was teaching His disciples. ...Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Solomon's heart was to have a place to be in the presence of God. He threw every resource he had to that endeavor. So what about us today?  Do we treasure the presence of the living God enough to NOT just give Him the place that He deserves BUT to actually treasure it? Do we treasure the sacrifice that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit made to make His presence available to us 24/7? They made it possible for us to be in His presence every moment of every day! They made all the preparations. They provided the cost necessary to give us way to treasure meeting with Him.  Do we take His presence for granted? Do we spend more time throughout our day ignoring Him than we do appreciating Him? Do we treasure the gift of His presence in our decisions and actions and throughout our day or do let the activities, trials, and temptations destroy and or steal His presence as the treasure of our hearts?  Are we as determined as the guy who is famous for his wisdom to meet with the living God? Do we make sure to treasure Him throughout our day or do we take Him for granted?

Can it be said, "That we are a generation that is determined to meet with Him?" Are we the generation that Psalm 24:6 is talking about?  ...This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah

Father, Son, Holy Spirit, the true treasures from heaven. And the thought of the day ... Is time in their presence the treasure of our hearts?