Thursday, December 31, 2015

3...2...1...Happy New You!

All was quiet in the synagogue. That was until the sound of the rustle of clothes as a man stood distracted Eli.

A man Eli recognized rose from his seat with an old, worn scroll in his hands. He pulled it open and studied the text until he found what he was looking for. In a loud voice he said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor." With a moving light in his eyes, the man said with authority, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Eli gasped. How could he say such things? Those words were borderline blasphemous!

A younger man next to Eli nudged him in the side. "Wouldn't that be great?"

He frowned. "Wouldn't what be great."

"Wouldn't it be great if this was the year of the Lord? The year where He made all things new, and blessed all of us who were broken, poor, or sick."

Eli turned away from the younger man without answering. The man, whom he had recognized, was Jesus, the son of Joseph. Eli had to admit. The man had a certain charisma and fire that seemed to scream change. That maybe, just maybe, it was possible. That would be amazing.

But it wasn't that year.

That simple man couldn't make anything new.

Based on Luke 4:16-30

Happy New Year's Eve and New Year to everyone!

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, "Is not this Joseph’s son?" And he said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Physician, heal yourself.' What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well." And he said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away." Luke 4:16-30

I was thinking, "What's more New Year's appropriate then this?"

The answer. Nothing.

My thought is really, really simple. Let this be your new year. Jesus came, died, and rose again so that we could be made new. Those people in Jesus hometown didn't believe in Him, and that seriously stinks...for them. They missed out on being new. They could have been made new that year. They could have had the best new year in all their lives. Instead they stuck with the old and used.

Chained or free, saved or not, we all have a tendency to cling to the old. Our old selves. Our old lives. Old beliefs. And it never gets us anywhere. Instead, let Jesus make you new all the way through this year!

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

3...2...1...Happy New You!

V. Joy Palmer

"He Sees, Hears, And Answers!"

   And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. 
   Then she made a vow and said, "O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget your maidservant, but will give your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.
   And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth.
   Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk.
   So Eli said to her, "How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!"
   And Hannah answered and said, "No, my Lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.
   Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now."
   Then Eli answered and said, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him."
   And she said, "Let your maidservant find favor in your sight." So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
   Then they rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.
   So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, "Because I have asked for him from the Lord." 1 Samuel 1:10-20

May He grant you according to Your heart's desire, and fulfill all your purpose. We will rejoice in your salvation, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions. Psalm 20:4-5

Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. Psalm 38:9

Don't forget that He sees the desires of your heart! It doesn't matter what  it is or how big a thing it is in the eyes of man either. It only matters that we as His people bring it before Him, knowing that He hears us! He hears the cries of our hearts and it doesn't matter what the Eli's think or judge either. God knows the truth of things and He alone is the One who can hear and answer the hearts cry with a miracle if necessary. He alone truly sees,  hears, and answers!

Even when what all anyone else sees is barrenness or  bitterness of heart and soul,  God's response is, "Is there anything too hard for the Lord?" Genesis 18:14

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

All That

He wanted to wear the blue robe with the gold trim and purple jewels. Unfortunately, his stupid servant didn't know where it was.

That's why he was dead now.

Herod walked the halls in his ruby red robe trimmed with blue jewels. His guard escorted him quietly. They knew full well that one misstep would result in their deaths.

He was god in his kingdom. Not some man from Nazareth.

The guards efficiently opened the doors for him. Everyone in the throne room dropped to the floor. No one made eye contact with him. He walked to his throne and turned very slowly. Addressing the sniveling beings in his most condescending tone, he informed them that he should execute them all. However, due to his unimaginable graciousness, he was sparing them.

He. Was. A god.

The people completely prostrated themselves in front of him. They were kissing the filthy floor, and their muffled shouts described his wisdom and glory. "The voice of a god, and not of a man."

That's right. He was god in his kingdom.

And then he dropped to the ground as pain ripped through his chest.

Based on Acts 12:20-23

"Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, 'The voice of a god, and not of a man!' Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last." Acts 12:20-23

I read this story, and it makes me so sad. It's a mournful story of someone who wouldn't give God the glory. A story of someone who honestly believed he was godlike, who refused to even acknowledge the Higher Power that created it all. For crying out loud, I can't look at the stars or the grass, a baby, an orange, a volcano, or even a stinking book without seeing the glory/power/awesomeness of God.

We all screw up and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but God is pretty tolerant of our junk. This wasn't normal level screw up. This is a man refusing God with every fiber of his being. A being that God created. Eventually, he had to answer for that.

So, what's my point? What can we learn from this?

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

Yeah, we may be smart, or capable, or impressive. We may have amazing abilities. We may be good leaders. We may be cunning and crafty. We may be wise and knowledgeable. However, God is ten times that amount. Be careful not to fall into the same trap Herod fell into. It's only because of God that we are what we are. It's only because of His power, glory, and might, that we can be awesome. Don't forget that. Give God the glory for whatever you do, whether it's eating a donut, or solving the world's crisis.

Yeah, we are all that, but God is more.
V. Joy Palmer

Monday, December 28, 2015

"We Must!"

 
 "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 out of the Jews.
   But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
   God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth." John 4:21-24.

Made to worship! We, as those who are called His own ... must worship in spirit and truth! The word truth here means; true, as not concealing. As His people we must come before Him with our love and adoration laid bare before Him. Jesus said we "must" worship Him in spirit and truth ... not concealing anything. In spirit and truth means we are supposed to come before Him declaring our praise and our adoration because we know that He and He alone has made the way for us. We not only can but must come before Him as we acknowledge both our sins and our praise for the price He paid. He made the way that makes it truly possible for His people, a people who are called by His name, to truly be a people who understand that for us the hour is now. We were made to worship Him in spirit and truth ... here ... now ... in this very moment! Even now in this moment, please take the time to lay bare before Him your adoration and praise. Why? Because you were made to worship and the hour has come to worship Him they way we truly must! In spirit and truth.

Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!
Sing out the honor of His name;
Make His praise glorious.
Say to God, "How awesome are Your works!" Psalm 66:1-3

God Bless!!!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!!!




"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, '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.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.' And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb." Luke 2:1-21
Lord, I pray that you bless all of our friends here on the Snack Time Devotions blog. I hope they had a wonderful day! Thank You for coming for us, dying for us, and loving us. Thank You for all Your mercies. Thank You for our friends and families on this special day.
Thank You for hanging out in the manger for us.
Merry Christmas and God bless from the staff at Snack Time Devotions!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Give Him Christmas

The sky seemed darker. Moody. Red. Bloody. Like God in Heaven was showing His own despair, and mourning along with her. If only she could have done something to stop this.

Her Son was nailed to a couple pieces of wood.

God's Son.

Tears streamed down her face as he lifted his head. She could tell the action pained him greatly. He struggled to hold in his cry of agony.

Blood streamed down his face and continued like a river down the rest of his body. She could hear people mocking, taunting, and laughing at him. The guards had just finished casting lots for his robe! Very few people here cared that he was dying.

She hated this. She hated this plan. Why? Why did God allow this? Why did He send her a miracle baby only to let him die? Why did Jesus do this? Mary dropped to her knees. She couldn't handle this. It was killing her. Slowly, as he died, she died. It was like someone was stabbing her soul and letting the blood run free. She wheezed, unable to catch her breath.

Thunder rumbled. Perhaps it was God shouting his own anger. She wasn't alone in this. The Lord didn't like it any more then her. She didn't know why, but she needed to trust Him. Somehow, someway, this would save them all.

Based on John 19:25-27

"But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene." John 19:26

Merry Christmas Eve to you all!! :)

So being a new mother and it being Christmas and all, I've had Mary and God on my mind.

I think about Mary seeing her Son dying on the cross. A miracle Son that God had entrusted her to care for and love. A Man she had raised to be good and caring. A Son who knew more then her. I think about that sweet, little baby Jesus she held in her arms. I think about Mary's shock and appreciation when Jesus took care of her when He asked John to love her like his own mother.

Then I think about God letting His Son come to our world, a world that mostly hated Him. His Son who died for people who can be so ungrateful...us. His Son who was and is eternally royalty being reduced to a servant and claimed by mere men to be a criminal.

And then I think about my baby. If someone tried to hurt her, I would do ANYTHING to keep her safe. But Mary was submissive to God's plan even though it was difficult. God still let His Son go to save us. Jesus still choose to die for us.

We all talk about giving and thankfulness this time of year, but we secretly focus on all the cool stuff we hope to get. However, Christmas is about giving, but even more then that, it's about the sacrifices that were made for us. The ultimate sacrifice made for us. It was made for family. Us. Next time we fight God on a sacrifice we need to make, we should give Christmas back to Him. He is family, after all. Give Him Christmas, too.

V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Keep Knocking

A blast of cool air hit Peter in the face.

Rhoda had forgotten to let him inside the house...

She would be back, right?

Peter shifted his wait from one foot to the other. He wasn't sure how much time had already gone by, but it had been awhile. His feet were starting to get sore. He kept knocking, hoping that at any moment someone would realize he was really here.

A small piece of wood tore into the flesh of his hand. Great. A splinter.

He could hear people arguing inside the house. Didn't they hear him? Why weren't they coming out to get him? Did they really not believe Rhoda? If he could let himself in, he would. Then he would yell at them for being so faithless.

Peter immediately chided himself. No, he wouldn't do that. Jesus had waited for him to understand stuff. He still waited for Peter to understand. He wouldn't yell at the others for the exact same thing he had done.

A dim light blinded Peter. He blinked several times before his eyes focused on the shocked faces standing there. They had opened the door. At last.

Based on Acts 12

"But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed." Acts 12:16

I've always wondered about this... Peter went to his house because the people waiting and praying there were close to him, yet he knocked on the door. And when Rhoda was forgot to let Peter in, he continued to knock on the door. He didn't let himself in, or yell for Rhoda to come back. He waited and continued to knock.

Why? What can we learn from that small, trivial piece of information?

A lot, actually. But today were are going to stick with this one truth.

Don't give up.

Peter went to his people, and they left him out there. How long did he stand out there while everyone argued inside the house about whether it could possibly be him? They didn't believe, but he didn't give up. He kept knocking, waiting, and believing they would open the door.

Sometimes our people let us down, and they leave us knocking. We want to give up. We want to scream. We want to cut them off. However, we need to keep knocking. We need to not give up on our people. God doesn't give up on us. He waited and continues to wait patiently for us everyday to figure out a life of faith.

It can be unbearably frustrating and heart wrenching to wait for people to figure it out and get the message. However, we need to keep knocking. Don't give up on your people, Christian or non-Christian. Keep believing that eventually they will open that door.

V. Joy Palmer

"Her Moment Of Choice"

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11


   And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. Genesis 21:1-2

Living a life of faith means that "we judge Him faithful" no matter what things look like in the natural. Every time I read this verse in Hebrews 11 about Sarah bearing Isaac in her old age even though she was past such things it reminds me to hold on to the promises of God in my life. The truth is if He always brings His Word to pass and as His people we need to remember that!  The key here is to know because we know that He is faithful to keep His Word by as it explains in the verse in Genesis it will come to pass in His perfect timing! 

"Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." Genesis 18:14 

God made this statement to Sarah after she 'laughed within herself' when she heard Abraham being informed that "Sarah, your wife shall have a son." She laughed within herself at the news of a son. Why? Because her first response was to scoff at the possibility because both she and Abraham were already PAST the possibility of it. Verse 11 puts it this way ..."Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well-advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing." Sarah's first response was to 'laugh within herself' and to see the irony of this promise. Her first response at hearing the news was to laugh and scoff because her first thought was to look at the natural. Her first thought was her age and to question her ability to bear a child ...now? "Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, "After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my Lord being old also?"  The Lord, immediately spoke His answer to her doubt with ..."Is anything to hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I WILL bring it to pass!" 

This now becomes Sarah's moment choice! This is where she makes the choice to 'judge Him faithful who promised.' 

Her first response was to look at the natural and to scoff at the possibility. God speaks to her and she chooses to trust Him instead. She stops looking at the impossibility of her situation and starts trusting His Word about what was to come. She decided to believe God! She decided that with Him it was possible and it would come to pass. She decided to put her faith in the promise of ...nothing is to hard for the Almighty! She decided to wait on Him and the appointed time. 

How do we know that she stopped scoffing and started believing ...? Because ... By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11

The truth is, that we too sometimes look at the natural outcomes and forget to trust His Word on the situation when what we really need to remember is this ... Nothing is to hard And He is always faithful!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ignorant and Blissful

"Don't say such things," the people say. "Don't prophesy like that. Such disasters will never come our way!" Should you talk like that, O family of Israel? Will the Lord have patience with such behavior? If you would do what is right, you would find my words to good. Yet to this very hour my people rise against me! You steal the shirts right off the backs of those who trusted you, making them as ragged as men who have just come home from battle. You have evicted women from their homes and stripped their children of their God-given rights. Up! Begone! This is no longer your land and home, for you filled it with sin and ruined it completely.
Suppose a prophet full of lies were to say to you, "I'll preach to you the joys of wine and drink!" That's just the kind of prophet you would like.
Micah 2:6-11

Doesn't this seem typical of our churches today? We like to think that everything is good, there are no problems that exist. We turn a blind eye to the suffering that happens all around us everyday. After all, why focus on the problems when we can focus on the stuff that makes us feel good? I mean, ignorance is bliss, right?

People, we can't miss the cries for help. The problem is that people just don't cry out any more. We are a proud people, we don't want others to know that we are in trouble. No one wants to look foolish or weak. And as for us Christians, we all need to look perfect - we need to show the world what Godliness looks like, after all.

We need to stop being superficial Christians. To stop being the Pharisee who looks perfect on the outside, and rather be the tax collector, on his knees, asking for forgiveness. Stop being consumed by the things that bring you pleasure, and help the world around you. Do you think that Jesus would embrace the "Netflix and chill" craze, or would He be out in the world doing his fathers work?

It's time to be about our father's business.

Sam

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Crazy Belief

That repetitive tapping was getting to be awfully distracting.

Rhoda lifted her head and glanced around. Everybody was focused on their prayers. No one would notice is she went to see who was knocking so fiercely at this hour.

Standing slowly so as not to draw attention to herself, she quietly slipped out of the main room and made her way to the gate. The tapping sound amplified to a loud knocking. Cautiously, Rhoda cracked the door open. Her jaw dropped. Numbness warred with heart palpitations as she stared at the man on the other side of the open gate.

Peter.

With a shriek of excitement, Rhoda threw the door shut and ran back to the group. She screamed, "Everyone! Everyone! Peter is at the door!"

Everyone stopped praying and stared at her. Instead of jumping up and stampeding to the door, they stared at her with furrowed brows and disbelieving frowns. Finally an older man she couldn't see spoke. "You are out of your mind."

Her eyes widened at the insult. "He's out there! Come and see for yourself."

But it was too late. Everyone was talking, dismissing her with a wave of their hand, and rolling their eyes. Hadn't they all just spent hours praying for this very thing? Now Peter was outside, and they didn't believe her.

An older woman moved towards Rhoda. She pulled Rhoda into a hug. "It's all right, dear girl."

Rhoda pulled away from the woman. "It's him! Just come and see."

"It's his ghost. There is no way Peter is out there. Stop being so foolish." There was no mistaking that voice. It came from one of the leaders in the church.

Rhoda narrowed her eyes at the man. "If I'm so foolish, how do you explain that knocking sound?"

Based on Acts 12:13-15

"And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, 'You are out of your mind.' But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, 'It is his angel!'" Acts 12:13-15

Some people give Rhoda a bad rep, and that bothers me because I think Rhoda is pretty awesome. I understand the good points being made forgetting, not opening the door, and such, but  I think Rhoda deserves some credit, too.

Her first response was to share this awesome news with others because she was so overcome with joy! Her first response was belief that God had done the impossible for them! That's awesome. Shame on the people who tried to tell her that she was out of her mind or that it was Peter's ghost!

Rhoda believed. The others didn't. However, she didn't back down. The others had spent considerable time praying, but didn't, couldn't, wouldn't believe without the physical proof. Sadly, some were probably even praying because that's just what we are supposed to do without putting any faith in it.

"Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" John 20:29

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Is our first response to believe? Is it joy, belief, and running around like crazy to tell the world of the awesome things God has done or is about to do? Or are we like the others who prayed for just this, but who clearly didn't expect it to happen? Are we the ones who refuse to believe because it's impossible? We are supposed to believe, especially for things we are praying about.

I would rather throw the door shut in an apostle's face or even Jesus' face because I'm overcome by joy and belief,  then be caught opening the door in disbelief because I was trying to prove that person was crazy for believing.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"The Miracle Was In Play"

His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." John 2:5

These were and are some pretty powerful words that Mary spoke to the servants! Think about it? "Whatever?" No telling what He might say to do! Luckily for these servants it turns out that it wasn't anything too difficult or too impossible a task for them to accomplish. "Fill the waterpots with water," and "Take some to the master of the feast." Both commands were easy for them to do. Both were tasks that were within the realm of what would be expected from the servants attending to things at the wedding. Believe it or not but this is the point that I want to share with you today. Nothing that He commands us as His servants is to difficult or beyond the possibility of what can be reasonably expected from the servants who attend Him!

He doesn't require us to do anything that He isn't prepared to equip us to do. From the moment He commanded the servants to fill the waterpots "the miracle" was in play! As they obeyed His commands 'to fill' and then 'to take' they were equipped to be used to reveal His glory!

The truth is we are His servants and it is our job to 'be filled' (He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive. John 7:38-39) It is also our job 'to take' and as we do to reveal His glory to the world. (And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe. In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. Mark 16:15-18. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 'Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give." Matthew 10:7-8)

As servants of the Lord Jesus Christ we need to not only understand but to always trust and obey His commands because He will always put 'the miracles' in play to equip us to take His glory to the world! When we, like these servants, step out to be filled with His presence, His words, His Spirit then HE  Will do the transforming and set the miracles in play so that we can fulfill His next command ; to take it to whomever He sends us to next!

Share

Stop.

Blink.

Look around.

Blink again.

He was out. He was out? He was out! HE WAS OUT OF PRISON!

Peter looked around, spinning like a drunken fool trying to find the angel, the real life angel, that had just led him out of prison without so much of a peep from the guards. He was just gone, and Peter was standing in the middle of a dark street not too far from the prison. A breeze kissed his faced, and he could literally smell and taste the freedom - no human waste.

"Now I am sure that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting."

He wanted to bow down and worship right then and there, but there was no time. He needed to move. Peter started jogging. He needed to get out of here as soon as possible.

He was at a full run when a thought struck him. What about the church? His run slowed to a jog. Maybe he should tell them. They deserved to know what God had done. It wouldn't be fair to leave them in the dark, doubting God, and worried. He slowed to a walk, and glanced over his shoulder. No, he should run. He should get out of here while he had the chance. There was no knowing when the guards would discover his absence.

But wasn't God mighty enough to keep  protecting him? He owed it to the brothers and sister at the church. He needed to strengthen them, not run like a scared toddler. With that, Peter backtracked several yards, before turning down the street that would take him to his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Based on Acts 12:11-12

"When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying....Then he departed and went to another place."
Acts 12:11-12, 12:17c (last part of verse 17)

When Peter realized that he was awake, and that God had indeed performed an impossible prison break, Peter didn't run. He didn't run and hide, and send word to the church when he was safe. He went immediately to the popular spot - the house of John/Mark's mother. He went straight there, gave his amazing testimony, and then left after doing that.

It wasn't just Peter's prayers in this situation. It was the whole church's prayers. How awful it would have been for them to not know that God had supernaturally saved Peter! How awful it would have been for them to think that God hadn't answered their prayers!

When people, brothers and sisters in Christ, are praying for you, standing in the gap for you, fighting the battle with you, share with them. Share what's happening. Tell them your struggles. Tell them your triumphs. Let them celebrate with you.

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." James 5:16

Peter went to great extremes in this circumstance to share what God had done. He could have been(arguably should have been) running for his life and getting out of town. Instead, he chose to strengthen the faith of the people in the church by making sure they knew God had answered their prayer. I'd say our circumstances are (usually) far less dire. But instead of strengthening each other, we are too busy, too proud, or too afraid to tell each other what's happening. Guys, strengthen each other by sharing.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, December 14, 2015

"Chief Cornerstone"

   Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
   Coming to Him as a living stone rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house , a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
   Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, "Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame." 1 Peter 2:1-6

Thank You, Lord, for being the chief cornerstone of our lives! And, Lord, as we live our lives as living stones help us to always lay aside those things that would distract us from Your presence in our lives. Lord, that we as living stones precious in Your sight would always have a sacrifice of praise to offer as we Bridgeport to Your name. Amen

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions
 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

"Like A Thirsty Land?"

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah.  Psalm 143:5-6

I don't know about you but I often sit around remembering the days of old. Let's face it, this daily devotional happens because we meditate daily about the works of God. Each and every day we muse about the work of His hands as we share about all that He has done. Why? Because of the longing in our soul, the hope that as we learn of Him He will once again work His works in an through us. Daily we muse, meditate, and cry out to Him because we thirst for Him in all His ways.

Our cry as we prepare every day is, "Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law." Today the wondrous thing revealed is this  ... if your thirsty for Him like a dry and thirsty land ... He will show up! Check out these two examples.

The first one is found in the Old Testament. Judges 6:7-16 Gideon is sitting threshing wheat in the winepress when "the Angel of the Lord appeared to Him and said to him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!" And Gideon said to Him, "O my Lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites." Here is Gideon working away at threshing the wheat, musing and meditating and longing for God to do the works of old. He was sitting there longing for the God he'd heard about to show up and do those same kinds of miracles on their behalf against the Midianites. Musing, meditating, and longing and what happens? The Angel of the Lord shows up to say, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor." What comes next? The signs, wonders, and miracles of old and the battle is won.

Our next example is found in the New Testament in Luke 19:1-10. "Now behold, there was a name Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully."  Here we see a man who had heard of all the works of Jesus and who longed to see for himself. He was so desperate to see that he ran ahead and climbed a tree just to get a look. What happened? Jesus saw him. He saw Zacchaeus's hunger and said, "Today I'm coming to your house!" Jesus shows up, sees and what comes next? The greatest miracle of all ... salvation!

Take  time today to remember the days of old. Take time to meditate and muse on the work of His hands. Cry out with hearts that thirst for Him! Then, get ready because if your thirsty ...He will be with you ...He will come to your house in all HIS MIGHT!

"...But the water that I shall give him will become in Him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water , that I may not thirst ..." John 4:14-15

Thursday, December 10, 2015

All the Stuff

"Hallelujah!"

Peter laughed at James' high pitched shout. Peter and his fellow disciples had just been released by the council. All of them were whooping and hollering. They were giving thanks. Even Matthew, whose ankle was broken, was joining into the praise - he was just leaning on John while he did it.

Sure, they had been beaten, bruised, and threated. When the council released them, they told them in no uncertain terms that they must not speak about Jesus anymore.

Yeah, like that was going to happen.

"Thank you, Lord!" Peter spread both arms out wide. The cool, evening air stung his cheek, but he didn't care. He was going to give thanks. In fact, they all were.

Yeah, they just been imprisoned and tortured. They had been falsely accused and threatened with death. But all those things had happened to them because they were worthy. They were worthy to pick up Jesus' cross, and follow him.

 Peter was thankful. They all were. And they were determined to give thanks and glory to God all the time - even the times that were considered bad. Although, Peter considered this a pretty good time.

Based on Acts 5:41

"Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name." Acts 5:41

This was originally my Thanksgiving Day post, but due to a very long labor and emergency C-section, I was in the hospital on Thanksgiving. But just because the Thanksgiving holiday is behind us for the year, it doesn't mean we still shouldn't be thankful. With Christmas fast approaching, it's easy to fall into a pattern of greed. (By the way, I like books. Just kidding.)

The Thanksgiving and Christmas we know and love didn't come to be until way after the events of the Bible took place. Regardless of that fact, the Bible talks a lot about giving thanks, thankfulness, and thanksgiving.

When I was thinking about what to write for this, the very first thing that came to mind was all those people in the Bible who were bruised, tortured, and persecuted, yet still gave thanks. Thanksgiving is defined as the expression of gratitude, especially to God. It doesn't say the expression of gratitude for only the good stuff.

God blesses us in a lot of ways, and we have no problem thanking Him for that. But what about everything else? What about everyday life? What about God's twist in our perfectly laid out plan? What about the "bad" stuff? Thanksgiving isn't about thanking God for just the good stuff, but all the stuff.

Truthfully, there's been a lot of good stuff that's happened to me this year. But there's been some crummy stuff, too. I am thankful for all the ways He's blessed me, but I want to be thankful for all the ways He blessed me when I was complaining, and I want to be thankful for His help carrying me through all the things that tanked. I want to be thankful for all the ways I was counted worthy.

"Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20

Take a moment today, and tell God you're thankful for all the stuff. Good, bad, and in between.

V. Joy Palmer

"Living A Life Of Faith ... Will We?"

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out not knowing where he was going.  Hebrews 11:8

By faith Abraham obeyed. I love those words! They speak to me. They speak to that part of me that longs to please God! They remind me that the biggest part of living a life of faith simply involves obedience. 'By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out ... to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance.' By faith Abraham's obedience caused him to step out of the place He was in and to go out to a place that was unknown. He left the safety and security of home and the known to go to place that was totally unknown all because he had God's call to go... Now the Lord had said to Abram:
      "Get out of your country, from your kindred and Your father's house, to the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you; and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Genesis 12:1-3

God called ... Abraham obeyed. God called him and by faith Abraham stepped out ...and ... stepped into an inheritance and an abundance of blessing!

By faith Abraham obeyed and answered his call from God. As believers we to need to make a similar choice.
      Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
      And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
      Then Jesus said to them, "Come after Me, and I will make you become fishers of men."
      And immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
      When He had gone a little further from there, He saw James the Son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were in the boat mending their nets.
      And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him." Mark 1:14-20

Abraham, the disciples, and you and I all have the same chance to obey when He calls. If we, like Abraham, and the disciples, heed His voice to come and or to go then we too will step into an inheritance and a multitude of blessing. If we will obey His call then like Abraham and the disciples we too will get to be a blessing to others!

Abraham, by faith obeyed the call ... even though it meant stepping into the unknown ... Will we?

After all, a true servant understands this truth about surrendering to His authority.

      "For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, "Go," and he goes; and to another, "Come," and he comes; and to my servant, "Do this," and he dos it." Luke 7:8

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

He's Coming for You

He didn't expect it. It was as simple as that.

He definitely didn't expect to be hit in the gut. At first he thought maybe one of the guards had struck him. But then he heard a voice.

"Get up quickly."

Some people don't know when they've encountered an angel, but Peter just knew. The being before him was entirely other-worldly, Heavenly. It's features were undefinable, yet intricate and delicate. And let's not forget the glow. The majestic glow filled the cell.

Peter jumped up, barely noticing that the chains weren't holding him down any more. They had just fallen from his hands to the floor.

Ah. A vision. Peter was having a vision. So the Lord would get him out of this mess.

The angel threw Peter's tunic at him. "Dress yourself and put on your sandals."

This was awfully vivid for a dream. Peter pulled the scruffy fabric over, and bent down to pull his sandals out from underneath one of the soldiers. He would have to move them when he woke up so that the angel wouldn't be waiting for him when he did come.

"Wrap your cloak around you, and follow me."

Oh, right. His cloak. He hurried to do as the angel instructed. The angel motioned for Peter to follow him out the cell door. Maybe the angel needed to lead Peter so that he would know where to go when this happened later. He followed the angel out of the prison, completely ignorant.

Looking back, Peter didn't know how he could have been so blind. But he hadn't expected God's help, so he hadn't been ready to go when God sent help. It was as simple as that.

Based on Acts 12:6-9

"Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, 'Get up quickly.' And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, 'Dress yourself and put on your sandals.' And he did so. And he said to him, 'Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.' And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision." Acts 12:6-9

I was reading this, and I wondered why the Angel made such a big deal of Peter getting dressed and ready to leave. Then I realized that the Angel had to hit Peter to even wake him up in the first place. Then you see verse 9, and realize that Peter doesn't even think this is real. He thinks it's a vision of things to come.

He wasn't ready.

Granted, the man had just been through a lot. His friend had just been murdered, and he was arrested because it made the murderers happy. He was in prison, tied up with chains, sitting between two guards, and facing his own execution. But the thing was, he just settled into that prison. He wasn't expecting any help right then. He might have really given up. When the Angel showed up, Peter wasn't ready to leave because he wasn't expecting to leave.

I just think the thing God wants us to learn here is that we shouldn't settle into our prisons. Don't kick off your shoes and take a nap. Don't give up. BE READY TO GO. Be ready to walk out that door. Because He will open those prison doors.

"For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners." Psalm 69:33

Don't give up. He's coming for you. Be ready.

V. Joy Palmer

"The Perfect Message"

Now one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:15-16
As I was reading in Daniel chapter 2 the Lord showed me the very best truth to share with you today as we start back up with our posting a daily devotional snack/message each day. Check it out.

The king has his very upsetting dream. He calls all the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to interpret his dream. They are more than willing untill he also tells them that he doesn't, just want some random interpretation and to make sure he isn't going to tell them the dream, they must first tell him what he dreamed and then give its meaning. They insist that such a thing is impossible.... "There is not a man on earth who can tell the king 's matter; therefore no king, Lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requires, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. For this reason the king was angry and very furious, and gave a command to destroy all the wise men of Babylon" Daniel 2:11-12 Daniel and His three friends were among those to be killed. Daniel requested of the king time to tell the king his interpretation. Daniel and His three friends ..."sought mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and His companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven." Daniel 2:18-19

The very best truth to share with you today is found in verse 19! "...So Daniel blessed the God of heaven." I love that amazing man of God immediately goes to praising and thanking God for the answer to his request. When everyone else was saying, "It's impossible!" Daniel and His friends turned to God believing that He would hear their prayers and respond. When He did just that and revealed all to Daniel the next thing up was their response to praise and thank Him even before they went to the king! Even though their lives were on the line praise came first!

Daniel answered and said:
"Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, 
For wisdom and might are His.
And He changes the Times and the seasons; 
He removes kings and raises kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge 
To those who have understanding.
He reveals deep and secret things; 
He knows what is in the darkness, 
And light dwells with Him.

I thank You and praise You, O God of my Father's;
You have given me wisdom and might,
And have now made known to me what we asked of You,
For You have made known to us the king 's demand."

I say that this was the perfect message because this truth about taking time to thank Him and to praise Him for His many blessings is one that I would like to do s we start back up. 

"Thank you, Lord, for hearing our prayers and bringing such an amazing little blessing into our lives. Lord, I want to not only thank you but to give you all my praise that your hand was upon Joy, Sam, and the baby and that all are doing well. Lord, continue to bless them! Amen"


Sunday, November 29, 2015

"Birth Announcement"

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is His reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. Psalm 127:3-5


The above verses are by way of an announcement of the birth of Joy and Sam's beautiful  baby girl. Born on the 25th at 2:23 a.m. at 8 pounds 10 ounces this adorable bundle of joy arrived. Mother, baby, and proud father are all doing well.

With this being said we are going to be taking a week off as they come home from the hospital and get situated ...

We will resume posting daily devotions on 12/3/2015.

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Monday, November 23, 2015

"He Surrounds Us"

   And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?"
   So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
   And Elisha prayed, and said, "Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17

Lord, like Elisha, I too pray that the eyes of Your people would be open to see Your provision, especially when the cry of our heart is, "What shall we do?" Help us to always turn to You with a heart that is willing for see, willing to believe in all the possibilities that You and the power of Your Spirit work all around us. Lord, help us to always see that You have us surrounded with the solution to every need! Every time!

Holy Spirit, open our eyes to see the greatness of our God! Help us to always see that He surrounds us with His love!  Amen.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

"The Vapor Of My Days

Psalm 39:4-7

"Lord, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.   Selah

Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
Surely they busy themselves in vain;
He heaps up riches,
And does not know who will gather them.

And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in You.


Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Let us hear the conclusion of the matter:

"Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgement, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil."

The truth is that is very easy as human beings, living our day to day self absorbed lives, that it is easy to lose sight of the truths contained in the verses above. Life is but a vapor that passes much to quickly! It is easy to get caught up in pursuing and chasing the temporal things that can so quickly take our focus away from the 'one thing' that truly matters. Him!

We all have moments when like ... Martha... we are distracted and burdened with many things but .......realizing that we have been drawn away .......repenting ......choosing to acknowledge that He is the very reason we draw breath ..... realizing that He is the One thing necessary because a man's life with all its opportunities 'is at its best state but vapor.'

I say all this because I know. I know that of late I have been, Martha. I have in all honesty been "Consumed" by the needs of the sixteen month old that was placed with me recently. Much to my dismay, after three years of faithfully seeking His heart, His Word to share each day.... I have missed posting a few days recently because I have chosen "sleep" instead. And in this moment of honesty I can truly say that my heart is overwhelmed with the NEED to declare ...

 "And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You."  

Lord, help me to be more like Mary as I wait on You! Lord, You alone are the One to whom I look as I too, try to keep Your commandments with my heart set on You as my One thing necessary. Lord, as the vapor of my days on earth passes, I pray that the days at Your feet would far outway those spent distracted and confused!  Amen!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

When God Tells Us Stuff...

Words and images bombarded him like vultures attacking a day old carcass. They wouldn't let up. They wouldn't go away. They just kept coming.

Until they stopped.

Famine.

Death.

Help.

Agabus shook his head. God had spoken to him. No wait. Was speaking to him. He needed to share this with the others. He needed to share this with the church so that Antioch could prepare, and so that they could send help to other believers.

Agabus started to stand when fear gripped him. What if they all thought he was crazy? What if they didn't believe him? What if he was wrong? He had only been working in the prophetic for a few months. Maybe he was wrong...

But what if he wasn't wrong... The dry and thirsty ground flashed before his mind's eye. Those lifeless faces made him want to weep. The echo of help still rang in his ears. What if he wasn't wrong? Was he really willing to risk all those lives?

No.

Agabus stood up, his large frame making a commanding presence. He marched to the head of the room and faced his brothers in Christ. Then he opened his mouth so that the Spirit could speak through him.

Based on Acts 11:27-30

"Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul." Acts 11:27-30

God doesn't tell us stuff for no reason. Especially something like that. If we are given a word for someone, it's so that we can tell that person. If it's a word for you, it's so you can apply it to your life. If it's a vision or a prophecy of something like say a famine, it's so you can prepare for it!

These guys heard the call. They got the message. They prepared, planned, and provided. They didn't stop with themselves either. They sent relief to the Christians in Judea. They did everything they could.

Has God ever told you something that you've ignored? Have you ever felt the flame of His Spirit trying to reach you, only for you to dose Him with water? Have you ever heard the call, only to turn up the volume on your TV?

I have heard the call. I have been given messages. I have shared some, and I've held a lot back because I thought I was crazy, or because others would think I was crazy. I know what it's like to have that fire burn without fulfilling it's purpose, and I know what it's like to release it. I know a number of other Christians who have done the same thing as me.

Here's the thing. It's not just you. It's not just me. It does affect others. The difference between me, us and the Christians at Antioch is that they did. They got the word, delivered it, heard it, accepted it, and prepared. We usually get lost at step two or three. But it doesn't just affect us. Image if Agabus had heard that word, and didn't share it because he was afraid. People would have died.

It's not just us. God tells us stuff, so that we can do something, so that we can help, so that lives can be changed. It's not about our fear. It's about them.

V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ask for Help

This moment was entirely underwhelming. They were sitting at a rickety, old table, for crying out loud.

Saul popped a piece of cheese into his mouth, and washed it down with a swig of water. He motioned for Barnabas to have some food. Saul was waiting patiently, but Barnabas knew he wanted to know why he was here. He had to get around to the main event soon.

"So...." His voice trailed off.

"So, why are you here?" Saul asked.

"I'm here for you," Barnabas blurted out.

Saul's bushy eyebrows rose to the top of his head, but he didn't say anything. He just waited for Barnabas to explain.

"The church in Antioch is really growing, but not just with Jews. Gentiles are accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. It's starting to happen all over. You may have even heard about Peter's encounter with them. Anyways, after spending a couple days at Antioch, I realized that I could not shoulder that ministry alone. They need more. So, I prayed, asking God for help." Barnabas paused and looked Saul in the eye. "He told me to ask you for help."

"Me?"

"Yes."

Saul pointed to his chest. "Don't you know-"

"Yes," Barnabas cut him off. "I do know. It doesn't matter anymore. You've been redeemed by Christ. Now, will you come with me, and help me teach them?"

Based on Acts 11:25-26

"So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians." Acts 11:25-26

What I like about these verses is that Barnabas went to look for Saul. He didn't try to do this on his own. He found another man of God to help him build up the church in Antioch. He cared about those baby Christians enough to know that he couldn't shoulder this ministry by himself.

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

We don't have to be superheroes. We don't have to use our own might - if you can call stubborn pride that - to do something. Even in ministry. Even in your ministry. God didn't create us to try and do things alone. We need God's help. We need the support of our family. We need the help of our friends. So often we try to fight that, but a real leader, asks for help.

Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. It doesn't make you weak. It actually makes you stronger. Start now by asking for God's help in whatever it is that you're struggling to figure out on your own.

"God, I need help!"

V. Joy Palmer

"Wait On The Lord"

The first time I ever heard these words was during a time in my life when I was desperate for God to hear my prayers. I actually didn't read them but heard them being sung by Kent Henry in a worship song that I no longer remember the name of. What I do remember is that singing those words and worshiping with that song got me through a particularly hard time. I remember playing that song over and over and over because those words spoke to part of me that was desperate to believe that God was with me through it all.

      I would have lost heart, unless I had believed, That I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
      Wait on the Lord, Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27:13-14

For me, (even though at the time I didn't really understand it) I did the very thing verse 14 is telling us to do. As I sang that song over and over and over I was "waiting " on the Lord. The word wait (6960) here means 'to bind together with' and as I sang these words over and over and over it caused both my faith and my hope to be in Him and Him alone. It brought me to a place of being bound to Him and it caused me to keep my eyes fixed on Him and the promises of His Word To see His goodness! As I bound / waited on Him in my worship it brought me through the desperation I felt in my situation to a place of confidence in Him and His ability to not only hear my cries but His ability to be at work in and through it as well! As I waited on Him in my worship it caused me to trust Him to bring about His goodness!

The thing is, we all have times and seasons where the only way through is to WAIT on Him! It's important...Don't lose heart! Bind yourself to Him! Praise, worship, pray! Cry out to Him! Grab a hold of His promises and His goodness will always show itself strong!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Dodging The Spear

Whatever Saul asked David to do, David did it successfully. So Saul made him a commander in his army, an appointment that was applauded by the fighting men and officers alike. But something happened when the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed Goliath. Women came out from all the towns along the way to celebrate and to cheer for King Saul, and they sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals. This was their song:
"Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!"
This made Saul very angry. "What's this?" he said. "They credit David with ten thousands and me only with thousands. Next time they will make him their king!" So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. The very next day, in fact, a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave like a mad man. David began to play his harp, as he did whenever this happened. But Saul, who had a spear in his hand hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David jumped aside and escaped. This happened another time, too.
1 Samuel 18:5-11

Have you ever had a boss that just seemed like he was out to get you? I have, let me tell you. I'm a pretty loyal person. I mean, I can put up with a lot and still respect a person. But, eventually, my patience wears out.

I recently left a job that I had spent three and a half years in, largely because of my boss. I was a good employee, I worked hard, did more than my job required, rarely was sick, was never late, and took overtime when it was offered. I was loved and respect by all of the people at my rank or lower, and trained many of the people who came to work there. I was one of the best and brightest. Then my current boss left, and a new one appeared. For 3 months, everything was good. Then it all changed.

Write ups, denied promotions, and impossible tasks began to pile up. There was nothing I could to please this guy. Success was met with more tasks and deadlines, so much so that a once successful employee was lucky to come up for a breath once every week or two. Frustration grew until I was consumed with my job, even when I wasn't there. I prayed for relief, but it never came. I even went to my boss, but that did no good. After a year of this, I was fed up. I couldn't do it anymore. I was just about to walk away (something that I had never done) when an opportunity arose. I ran to this opportunity, full speed. A transfer and promotion later, my life was changed. I was happy again. I didn't hate my job anymore; I loved it more than I ever had before. But I never would have transferred if the situation in my old job hadn't been bad. God saw everything, and He had a better plan all along, same as He did for David.

See, I think that if Saul hadn't chased David off, that David would have been there to save Saul on the day that he died. But God had other plans. He wanted David to be king, and He set everything up for that to happen. Never forget that God has a plan for YOU, no matter how small you feel at the moment. Don't be afraid to ask Him about it, because it's going to be better then the stuff that you are going through now. Not that it will be easy, but walking in His will is far more gratifying than walking alone.

I stopped in at my old job after two months of being gone, and boy, let me tell you that I was happy that my old boss didn't have a spear. Maybe, had I been listening for God's voice, I wouldn't have had to go through all that garbage. Learn from my mistake, and when you talk to God, really listen to what He has to say.

Sam

Friday, November 13, 2015

Brave

The vision was still fresh as he tried not to stumble off the housetop. Walking, pacing, blinking, praying. Trying to understand or at least stop hearing and seeing. But God's words still echoed in his mind...

"What God has made clean, do not call common."

The image was still burned into his mind's eye...

A great sheet spread out upon the earth with hundreds of kinds of animals, reptiles, and birds. All unclean.

Why would God tell him to eat that stuff?

Peter could hear loud talking on the street, and he peaked over the rooftop to see what was happening. One of Peter's traveling companions had answered the door, and was talking with a group of men. The men looked like Romans or Greeks - Peter couldn't really tell from up there. Regardless, it probably didn't concern him.

Just then, the familiar sensation overtook him. The feeling of being pulled away from all the sights and sounds of the world to hear Him.

"Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them."

Peter blinked. Without hesitation? Since when did God tell them to cohort with Gentiles and heathens? But then Peter recalled God's previous words. "What God has made clean, do not call common." Was this what God was trying to tell him? Spinning around, Peter bounded down the ladder into the house. He didn't entirely understand, but if God was telling him to go to the Gentiles, who was he to call them unworthy?

Based on Acts 10:17-21

"The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.' But Peter said, 'By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.' And the voice came to him again a second time, 'What God has made clean, do not call common. 'This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, 'Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.' And Peter went down to the men and said, 'I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?'" Acts 10:9-21

Now, I know Peter made a mistake later with the Gentiles. He gave into peer pressure, which was something I talked about last week here and here. However, there is something you need to understand.

Peter was the first to go to the Gentiles. The first. He did this crazy, unthought-of, unheard of thing. Every instinct told him no, not to go. God had to convince him with food before Cornelius' men even arrived. Peter was brave. In a way, he went were no man had gone before.

How many of us, would have dared to do what Peter did? They were already facing persecution. They were already in the midst of something new and hard. They were already serving. Why bother with this? Not only that, why bother with people who were "unclean?" People who didn't belong to God - or so they thought. Peter was brave when he listened to God and obedient to His will. Braver then I am about 99% of the time.

If God asked you to be the first to do something crazy, bold, and new, would you do it? Would you be willing to be the first one to step in the unknown for Him and His will? Would you be brave?

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Rejoice in It

Barnabas was weary. Tired. Exhausted. A pebble that had lodged in-between his heel and sandal had caused an aching gash in his foot. He just wanted to lie down and get some sleep.

But first he had to do what the church in Jerusalem had sent him to do.

Determine if the occurrences in Antioch were "Godly."

Thankfully, he was almost to the church.

Turning the corner, he spied a man. The man started waving, and jogged to meet him. "Are you Barnabas?"

"I am."

"Good. Come see for yourself." The man spoke with a slightly condemning tone. Clearly, he didn't approve. He all but dragged Barnabas down the street, stopping every few feet and waving him to come faster. Finally the man stopped in front of a door, and threw it open. He let Barnabas step inside first to see.

But Barnabas didn't see. What exactly was the problem?

"Well," the angry man said. "What are you going to do about this?"

"About what? Barnabas didn't see a problem. They had just interrupted a teaching. After everyone glanced at them, they turned back to the speaker, completely riveted. The teacher wasn't saying anything blasphemous either.

The man hissed as he motioned towards the group. "Those people are not Jews!"

Upon closer inspection Barnabas could see that, no, they weren't Jews. Barnabas also noticed the speaker was teaching solely in Greek, probably so everyone present could understand. As Barnabas watched the scene, a smile broke out across his lips. It was happening. God's will was happening.

A hand waved in front of his face. The distraught man stood looking indignant. "Aren't you going to do something about this?"

He clapped the other man on the shoulder. "No, friend. God is. This is all God."

Based on Acts 11:23

"Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord." Acts 11:19-24

So many people were fighting this new revelation from God. Gentiles as Christians? Gentiles also saved by God's grace? They had ignored the times that Jesus had interacted, healed, and saved people other then the Jews. They didn't want to see the good, full plan that God had in store for the world.

Then some awesome dudes went and preached the Gospel to people who weren't Jews. "Hellenist," as defined by my Bible, were Greek-speaking, non-Jews. They got saved. And when Barnabas got to Antioch and saw all the awesome stuff God was doing, his first response was NOT to question if it was really God's will.

He was glad.

In that moment, he saw God's awesome plan to save the world. He saw people who had no hope, no life, no chance, being given everything. He saw the fullness of God's grace and mercy, and he was glad.

I just wonder, what side I would have been on back then...and I don't know. There are so many factors, that there's no way for me to know. I'm just grateful that I have the benefit of learning from that time and those people. But none of that matters if I can't learn to see God's big picture, and rejoice in it. Like Barnabas.

So the question is, are we fighting God's will, or are we rejoicing in it?

V. Joy Palmer

"Surprise Attacks"

Now to His surprise, a young lion came roaring against him. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. Judges 14:5-6

Isn't it amazing? Even when it is a surprise attack that comes against you, God is there with the strength needed!

   For You will light my lamp; The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness,
   For by You I can run against a troop, And by my God I can leap over a wall,
   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. Psalm 18:28-32

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Stumbling Block

So, the stiff shoulder was the way to go?

Barnabas was a little confused. Wasn't Peter talking to that Gentile man earlier? Yeah, he was. They had been talking and laughing. Peter shared a story about Jesus that had the entire gathering riveted. Now Peter wouldn't even look at the man. Actually, he wouldn't look at any of the Gentiles... Not since the men James sent had arrived...

The Jews in the group had picked up on Peter's actions, and swiftly the crowd had been split down the middle. The entire atmosphere of the gathering had changed. Whereas before it had been like a celebration, now it was strained. Jews only talked with other Jews. Gentiles looked longingly towards them. Or their expressions were filled with a cold anger so strong that Barnabas could feel the breeze.

Uncertainty flooded his heart. What was he supposed to do? He had nothing against the Gentiles. In fact, he and Paul had been ministering to them. He even called some of them friends.

But Peter was one of the twelve disciples. He had been in Jesus' close circle for three years. If he was acting like this, wasn't it the right thing to do?

Barnabas got up slowly, and walked across the room. It felt like all eyes were on him. His footsteps seemed to echo as he took his side, and settled at the same table as Peter - far away from the Gentiles.

Based on Galatians 2:12-13

"But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, 'If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?'" Galatians 2:11-4

When I read this, I think about stumbling blocks. Despite good or bad intentions, or being swept away by peer pressure, Peter was a stumbling block to those around him. The Jews respected Peter, so when they saw him acting hypocritically towards the Gentiles, they did as well. Even Barnabas, a minister to the Gentiles, took the "talk to the hand" route! And it was because of Peter's actions.

There's a situation that I'm going through were someone is acting quite poorly, and it's become a real stumbling block to me. In the midst of all my grumbling and heartache, I had this horrible, horrible thought.

What am I doing/screwing up that is a stumbling block to those who are watching me? (Not to mention all the things I've screwed up in the past.)

"But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak."
1 Corinthians 8:9

It is so easy for our actions to trip up someone who is looking to us to be the light. More then ever, we need to weigh our actions on the What Would Jesus Do scale. People are watching and learning from us. The questions is, are they learning the things of God, or how to be snooty and hypocritical?

V. Joy Palmer

"The Keys"




   Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon BarJonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
   And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
   And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:17-19

Lord, that we too would be blessed in our knowledge and understanding of who You are! Lord, that we would walk in such a way that we would, like Peter, reveal the understanding that You and the Holy Spirit impart to us who are called by Your name, to all those around us. And Lord, help us to know that You have truely given us the keys to the kingdom as well as the authority to use them as we bind and loose on earth and in heaven.

   Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
   Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
   Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen Matthew 28:18-20

Lord, I ask that we would never 'lose or misplace' the keys of the kingdom of heaven but, rather, Lord, that we would be continually be about the Father's business. Lord, let Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Christian Peer Pressure

His blood was starting to boil. It was like someone had lit a fire inside of him, and any second now, he would start spewing.

The gathering had turned into a party, more or less. People were talking and laughing. Sharing stories and eating their fill. It would have been a perfect evening, tainted by nothing if it wasn't for Peter.

Paul didn't want to cause a scene, but he was getting fed up. Peter was blatantly ignoring a man who had been sharing a story with him. He had been talking with everyone until the men James had sent had arrived.

Now it was like a line had been drawn down the middle of the room. Jews on one side. Gentiles on the other. Any who dared cross the line were ignored.

What was going on with Peter?

A connection formed in Paul's mind. This hadn't started until the men James had sent arrived...

He bit back a sneer. Was that it? Was Peter ashamed for James' Jewish men to see him fraternizing with Gentiles? Well, that was not okay. God loved those people, too. Peter, above all people, new that! There was no way he was just going to let Peter treat his brothers and sisters in Christ like that.

Paul marched over Peter's table, and cleared his throat so loud that almost everyone in the room stopped talking. Paul didn't care though. This was wrong, and somebody needed to call Peter on it.

Based on Galatians 2:11-12

"But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party." Galatians 2:11-12

You know, it's not just kids, teenagers, or young adults that suffer from peer pressure. It's full grown, church going, leadership wielding adults that face peer pressure, too. And lots of times, they give into peer pressure, too.

Yeah, they do.

Look at Peter. He had no hatred for the Gentiles. He genuinely cared for them. In fact, God opened up the ministry for the Gentiles through Peter! He was the first one arguing on their behalf.

But so many Christians didn't understand God's plan (the plan to save people like you and me), and they strongly, vehemently opposed the Gentiles. Some even demanded that the Gentiles start following the laws of Moses. One day, Peter gave in. His friend James sent some people to Peter, and Peter separated himself from the Gentiles, possibly in order to prevent strife among them.

Paul was right. Peter was in the wrong. For one moment, he let the opinions of what others thought about the people who ate the "wrong" kind of meat mean more the God's opinion of them. Maybe it was with good intentions...maybe he was just trying to prevent a blowout, but regardless, peer pressure was the deciding factor that day.

It can happen with any of us. It can happen no matter how old you are. It can happen to the most Godly, experienced Christian out there. When we stop focusing on God's opinions, and we start favoring man's flawed opinions, we fall into Christian peer pressure.

And Paul's right. It's wrong. Always, always, always, place God's opinion first.

V. Joy Palmer