Saturday, January 31, 2015

Do You Have Your Armor?

"Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering that you are." 1 Peter 5:8-9

Do you ever get so busy that you just forget who the enemy is? With the constant bombardment of information that we receive from the TV and our phones, it's no wonder that we get distracted. We tend to forget that, mixed in with all these distractions, are so many little attacks.

They are the little things that we are so used to seeing, like the billboards that we see on our daily commutes, the ones that make us envious of the family that gets to go on that cruise. How about the ones of the perfectly sculpted man or woman that put our self esteem to a new low?

Does that roaring lion strike when you are strong and fully devoted, or does he wait until your concentration slips? When you are too distracted to know that he is right behind you? Our enemy knows what he is doing, he has had thousands of years of experience.

"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12

God knows what we go through. He knew before we were even born. He has warned of these attacks, and He wants us to stand strong against them. He even gave us armor!

"This is why you should take God's whole armor; then you can resist when things are at their worst and having done everything, you can hold your ground. Stand, then, with truth as a belt fastened around your waist, with righteousness covering you as a breastplate, and with shoes on your feet, ready to bring the good news of peace. Besides all these, take faith as the shield with which you can put out all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take salvation as your helmet, and the Spirit's sword, which is God's Word. Pray at all times in the Spirit, using every kind of prayer. Be alert and keep at it continually as you pray for all the holy people." Ephesians 6:13-18

Are you truthful? Righteous? Do you bring the good news to people? How strong is your faith? Do you wield the Word like Jesus did in the wilderness? Are you always praying?

No wonder we are always under attack. Do you do all of this? I know that I don't. No wonder so many new Christians walk away, we soft-sell Christianity to be just, "Believe in Jesus and you will go to Heaven. Better to be safe then sorry." How unfair to those new believers, they have no idea what they are getting into. It shouldn't surprise us when they fall, not if they walked into this war unprepared.

Genesis 4:7b "... Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you..." Are you ready for it?


Friday, January 30, 2015

"His Touch"

His touch ... 'Then He took the child by the hand,' His words  ... and He said to her, "Talitha, cumi," which is translated, "Little girl, I say to you, arise," and immediately she was raised to life and those that brought Her before Him were overcome with great amazement. Mark 5:41-42

How about you? Are ready to be overcome with great amazement? Will you allow His touch, and His words to work the miraculous in your life? Do you have a need that requires His amazing touch? If so ... get ready because you to can...

Step 1. Take your need directly to Jesus as the source of the help you need.

And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell at Jesus' feet and begged Him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying.

Step 2. Don't be discouraged or begin to doubt if things begin to happen to distract you from your goal to place your faith in Him!

But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him.  Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. ------------And He said to her, "Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace."
   While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, "Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher."

Step 3. Trust Him and believe in the Word He speaks to you!
   But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, "Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well."

Step 4. Don't pay attention to or mind what anyone else thinks or proclaims. Trust Him! Get into a place where it is you and Him.

   When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, John,and the father and mother of the girl.
   Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, "Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping."
   And they laughed Him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.

Step 5. You in a place with only Him and your need will always result in step number five. His touch and you overcome with great amazement and receiving your miraculous answer!

   But He put them all out, took her hand and called, saying, "Little girl, arise."
   Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately.
   And He commanded that she be given something to eat. And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened. Luke 8:41-56

God Bless!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

We Need Family

It was madness.

Within hours, his lonely little camp of one had exploded into a bustling camp of two hundred and growing. Not that he minded. David was grateful that he wasn’t alone to wallow. This rag-tag only group confirmed what God had spoken over him through the prophet Samuel.

“David!” He turned towards the voice shouting his name.

And froze.

His father stood about thirty feet away. He had tears in his eyes, and a sword strapped to his side. David could see all of his brothers – even Eliab was there! The normally hard set lines of his face were turned up in a smile, and he had a gleam of remorse in his eyes.

His family was here.

David realized he hadn’t moved. Without thinking about what he was doing, he ran towards them. He looped his arms around as many of them as he could. Emotion closed up his throated and choked him. After all this time, after all the ways they had ignored and belittled him, he had to say exactly how he was feeling, seeing them here for him.

“I’m glad you’re here.”

Based on 1 Samuel 22:1-2

You guys may remember that last week I did a blog set in these two verses with a bunch of my favorite Psalms. While I was writing that blog, these verses popped out to me. I never found it weird that David’s family came and found him. I mean, if I was in David’s situation, I know my family would be standing there behind me like a poster of unlikely heroes in an action movie.

That’s not how it was with David’s family.

In 1 Samuel 16, David’s father, Jesse, didn’t give David the time of day. He didn’t tell him that Samuel was there to anoint one of them as future king.  None of them even considered that that David could be the one God had picked to be king.

In 1 Samuel 17, Jesse sent David to see how his other sons were faring in the war. When David got there and defended God, his brother Eliab was angry at him, an accused him of just sneaking down to see the battle.

In 1 Samuel 18-22, he marries Saul’s daughter, Michal, moves into/near the palace, and starts a life serving the king with his new family away from his old family. That is, until he has to run for his life without his new family.

We have no reason to believe that David’s family would support him during this time where Saul was bad-mouthing him and plotting to destroy him. But they overcame their differences. They stuck together. They supported him and God’s call on his life.

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8

David’s family eventually came to this conclusion. They realized that God had ordained and picked David, and that they needed to support him. Can you imagine how happy he was when they showed up to support him? I tried, but I doubt I gave it justice.

Point is, if you’ve got family who is really, truly following God, then support them. Love them. Provide for them and help them. It’s important. We all need our family to be there for us in the hard times.

I love this song about family by Sanctus Real. God bless you guys!

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

"Miraculous Opportunities Await"

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 1 Cor. 2:9
Today the thought or rather the question the Lord has laid on my heart is this; Are you ready and open to the things that God has prepared for you? No matter what? And what I mean is this: What if you were going about your business today and off in the distance you were to see, say --- a flame of fire coming from the midst of a bush and behold, the bush burned with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Exodus 3:2 Would you, like Moses say, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn?" Exodus 3:3 Or would you run away in fear or maybe even scoff at the possibility that it might be God and dismiss it all together?

What it you and your buddies were out in a boat in the middle of the lake and all of a sudden you see someone walking on the water towards you? Would you recognize that it is Him approaching? Will you be cringing and afraid in the boat or will you be the one who is like Peter? Will you be the one who is bold enough to say, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to You on the water."? Will you respond as He bids you to,"Come," and step out of the boat? Will you dare to walk on water with Jesus or will you be to afraid to risk the impossible? Matthew 14:28-29

If you and I are going to experience the miraculous things of God in our lives than it means not being afraid to believe! It means not being the one scoffing at the mighty rushing wind or the flames of fire. Acts 2:13 It means embracing the idea that, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 1 Cor. 2:9

You and I as His followers need to remember that God is more than capable to perform whatever miraculous event He chooses! As His people we need to be ready to step into His will even if it is beyond the realms of what is possible with our human understanding. If He wants to call to us from a burning bush or come out to meet us on a lake or even send us a mighty rushing wind and tongues of fire it is our privilege to step into His will and to walk in His ways! 

Get ready! Don't scoff! And don't be afraid because He has planed and prepared some rather cool God stuff for you!

As His people we need to get ready, don't scoff, and to not be afraid! Instead we need to embrace whatever He sends our way because He loves us and there is no telling what miraculous opportunity awaits for those of us who dare to love Him back!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An Unworthy Honor

He could feel God’s presence down here, by the shore. That was why he liked to teach down here.

Plus the location made it easy for baptisms.

Cool water lapped against his ankles as he and an eager-to-serve young man walked deeper into the Jordan River. Another man stood in the water already in order to help him lower the other man into the water.

“I now baptize you in the name of the Lord God.” He spoke some more, and he saw the man’s eyes tear up. This was a commitment. One he was not making lightly. Slowly, and with the help of another man, he was lowered into the water.

John smiled, his heart bursting with the joy of the Lord as they walked back to shore.

Another man was standing there. His sandals were already cast aside, and he was setting his robe next to it when he looked into John’s eyes.


His cousin was here.

The Savior was here.

His throat closed up, and he started to shake his head vehemently. Jesus smiled and shook his head yes.

 “No. No, no, no. I can not do this.” John pointed at his chest. “I am not worthy. You should be baptizing me.”

Jesus motioned to the water, his eyes indicating that he would not be dissuaded. “It has to be so in order to fulfill all righteousness.”

Based on Matthew 3:13-15

So we were studying this passage in church regarding an entirely different topic. That’s when this other thought popped into my head.

Can you imagine what it must have felt like to be the one to baptize the Savoir? What an honor, right? “Hi, my name’s John. I baptized the Savior.”

Funny...I never saw John do that. Nope. That wasn’t what John was focusing on here. In fact, he tried to tell Jesus the exact opposite.

He knew without a doubt that he was not worthy to do this. He cried out that Jesus should be the one baptizing him! He often told his disciples and those who listened to him preach, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” (Mark 1:7)

The honor had no affect on John. It wasn’t his heart’s focus. He knew that there was nothing he could do to deserve this honor.

But God still gave it to him.

I just find this so incredibly awesome. It’s not about the honor. It’s about the fact that God still counted him worthy, no matter how unworthy he was. John had a humbleness that I envy. He knew who he was in God. He knew his mission.

You know that phrase, “There is no honor among thieves.”? We are thieves, liars, adulterers, murderers, and a whole bunch of other unpleasant things. If you want to be technical, we have no honor. So let's not focus on that so much in our lives. It’s not about "the honor," because without Jesus, we are unworthy.

Without Jesus.

With Jesus, God counts us worthy.

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with tone mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” Philippians 1:21

This is our mission. Living a life worthy of the gospel. A life that shows Jesus.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, January 26, 2015

"Jesus Asked The Father - For Us"

Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done.  And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Matthew

Jesus is the one talking here! Jesus is the one saying, "Assuredly, I say to you." Jesus is saying to pray, believing and we would receive --- so here is my question --- Do you think that Jesus prayed believing and received what He asked when He prayed? Do you think He had any doubt when He prayed to the Father on our behalf? Think about it and check out this thought ---
"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" Luke 11:13

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son, If yu ask anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will 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, for He dwells with you and will be in you." John 14:12-17

Personally, I know that He didn't doubt! I know that He prayed that the Father would send the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit came!  I know because it is my heart to always obey His commandments and I obeyed. I did exactly what He said to do; and I asked the Father to send Holy Spirit to me and He most definitely came! He is my Comforter and my Helper each and every day!

How about you? Did you receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit into your life in response to Jesus' prayer to the Father on your behalf? After all, Jesus asked, believing that the Father would send Him as promised.

Say, yes, to the Holy Spirit and than get ready as the very best 'Helper' in all the world equips you to do 'greater works!'

Sunday, January 25, 2015

"Have Faith In God"

Then He taught, saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations?' Mark 11:17
Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away."

So Jesus answered and said to them:  "Have faith in God."

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' 
and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says. 

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. 

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.

But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." Marl 11:20-26

O Lord, that we would truly be a house of prayer, asking for the move of Your Spirit throughout the nations! Help us, Lord, to speak our blessings with the words of faith! Help us as your people to forgive others and to not speak words that curse with more passion and conviction then we do when we speak of You and Your might! Holy Spirit equip and train us up as the people of God to pray in faith, and to speak in faith, so that the nations might also know and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as both Saviour and Lord.

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, January 24, 2015

United Under God

"Teacher," John said to Jesus, "we saw a man drive out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him because he hasn't been with us."

"Don't try and stop him," Jesus said. "Anyone who does a miracle in My Name cannot turn around and speak evil of Me. Anyone who isn't against us is for us. I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward."
Mark 9:38-41

The Church in our day has become so divided. Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Charismatics, there are so many different views. We can't be like this.

"Fellow Christians, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I urge you all to agree and not be divided but perfectly united in your understanding and judgment. Chloe's people told me you are quarreling, my fellow Christians. I mean, each of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Peter," or "I belong to Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in God's name?" 1 Corinthians 1:10-13

The single biggest division in the church today is about the Holy Spirit. For example, my own church has been condemned and labeled by other churches in the area because we believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They have even "warned" people not to come to my church because of this.

I don't say this in anger, but in sadness. The Holy Spirit is so important and not to believe in Him? It astounds me.

Luke 24:49 "And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven."

Acts 2:1-21 "On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.
   At this time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.
   They were completely amazed. 'How can this be?' they exclaimed. "These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! Here we are Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene visitors from Rome(both Jews and converts to Judiasm), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!" They stood there amazed and perplexed. "What can this mean?" they asked each other.
   But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, "They are just drunk, that's all!"
   Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, "Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o'clock in the morning is much too early for that. No, what you see was predicted long ago by the prophet Joel: In the last days," God says, 'I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants - men and women alike - and they will prophesy. And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and in the earth below - blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'"

I would ask of everyone who doesn't believe in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to read your Bible. You won't find a place in Scripture that says that the baptism of the Holy Spirit doesn't apply to us today. Then, look at the major revivals going on in the world, like in Africa and China. You won't find a major revival without the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

I ask that you disregard all of the human opinions you have ever heard/read regarding the Holy Spirit, and to look in your Bible for the truth. Regardless of what you find, do not judge your fellow believers on whether or not they believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We are not to judge each other.

"As the body is one and yet has many parts, and all the parts of the body, many as they are, form one body, so is Christ. By one Spirit all of us - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - were baptized to form one body, and that one Spirit was poured out for all of us to drink." 1 Corinthians 12:12-13


Friday, January 23, 2015

"This Is That"

   Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
   Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterances.
   Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.
   Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? -------------we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God."
   So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?"
   Others mocking, said, "They are full of new wine."
   But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel:   And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.------------------------------ Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do then?" Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.  Acts 2:1-39

Did you notice how amazing God is? Did you notice how He kept His Promise to send the Holy Spirit and did you really take notice of just how awesome an event it was? Mighty rushing wind, tongues of fire, huge crowd gathered completely amazed! There is one line in here that causes me great concern. ---we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God." So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?"
   Others mocking, said, "They are full of new wine."

It saddens me so much that there were those that even though they heard them speaking "the wonderful works of God." in their own language could still mock and not acknowledge this amazing Holy Spirit event! The thing that saddens me and takes me to my knees in intercession is the fact that there are still those in the church today who mock and refuse to acknowledge the fact that the Holy Spirit is still at work in the world today.

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells us a parable about ten virgins. Five were wise and five were foolish. I don't know about you but it I am concerned because the only thing that separates them is that the wise have oil and the foolish don't! We all know that the oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit throughout Scripture so what does that mean for those who, in today's church refuse to acknowledge the Holy Spirit? I hope that this parables isn't prophetic and that half the church won't be ready because they don't have oil!

Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. Acts 2:38-39

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cut and Paste Desert Psalm

David sighed deeply. Somehow he was now responsible for over four hundred people.

He leaned back against the cool, rough rock wall. He could hear water dripping somewhere in the intricate network of caves, and a number of contented snores floated to his ears.

A multitude of people showed up looking for him, and somehow word had exploded from there. When his family heard what had happened, and where he was they had...well they had also showed up looking for him. But it didn't end there. Anyone who was in debt, distress, or bitter in soul. They left their worlds behind to unite to a new cause.

They united to David's cause.

David wasn't really sure what his cause was anymore.

All he knew was that he needed help. More help then he could possibly give.

"Lord...," he whispered. Then he got up, and after rummaging through his personal belongings for a few minutes, walked outside the cave and into the moonlight.

This is what he did when he needed to work stuff out. When he needed to talk, ask forgiveness, or get angry.

He talked to God.

Lowering pen to paper, words spilled out of his heart and ascended to God's ears.

"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge..."

Based on 1 Samuel 22:1-2, and Psalm 57:1 (Note: I am not saying this is when, how, or why David wrote this Psalm 57. I linked these two events together based on the information I could find, but this is not something I know for certain.)

"Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me." Psalm 66:20

"Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him!" Psalm 68:4

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26

"I said, 'Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.' Then my spirit made a diligent search." Psalm 77:6

"You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways...Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me." Psalm 139:1-3 and 7-10

These are some of my favorite verses in Psalms. It's like a cut and paste Psalm. Most of these words were written by David, but not all of them. One thing we do know is that these words are written by men of God who went through hard, heart-breaking times, but came out of those times still connected to God.

There are seasons where you feel like you are wandering a desert. There are times of battle. There are times of trials and difficulties and confusion.

But you don't walk away from God!

David went through so much junk in his day. In the Psalms, you see him vent his frustration and confusion to God. He often didn't understand why things were happening this way, but he prayed, sang, and worked out his frustration talking to the One who was his strength. He never turned his back on God. He cried out to God for help.

I find this song to be very fitting. Desert Song by Hillsong.

This is one of my favorite, "I will not give up!" worship songs. I hope you guys liked it. Remember that no matter what you are going through, or who is standing against you, that God is with you. Cry out to the One who rides through the desserts. The One who has not removed His love from you. The One who hears your prayers. Give it all to Him, and grow closer to Him.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"The Real Pearl Here?"

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of the soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

I don't know about you but I love this verse! What a thought - "The word of God is living and powerful." Today I want to talk to you about two verses that have been just that at different times of my life. They can be found in Matthew chapter 13 and they are verses 45 and 46. They tell us about a parable, that Jesus shared with His disciples in order to teach them (and us) a great truth! It is commonly known as 'The Pearl Of Great Price,' and here is what it says:   "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it." These two little verses teach a great truth about what it means to 'value' something so much that we are willing to give up everything to have it!
The question I always wonder and ask myself when I read this is, "In this parable, are we the merchant, or the pearl?"

If we are the pearl than Jesus is the man who thinks that we are of such great value that He sacrifices everything to obtain us ...which He did when He died for us on the cross!

But, if we are the man and the pearl is Jesus, than it means we recognize that He is of such great value, that He is worth giving up everything else  ... so that we can have Him in our lives!

I'll be honest with you and tell you that there have been times in my life when I read this 'living, actively powerful word' and all that I could see was what I needed to hear at the time. That He loved me! I was the pearl and He loved me so much that He sacrificed it all to save me. What an amazingly comforting revelation  when I needed to know that I was loved! Then at other times what it revealed to me was my need to see Him as the pearl! It spoke to me of my need to change my priorities so that He was the pearl and it was about my need to give up my wants and desires and to love Him above all else! Again, what an amazing revelation to speak to my heart! Not my will but His be done! Why? Because I love Him above all else!

I personally tend to think that Jesus told it they way that He did on purpose. Maybe He meant for us to not know for sure because this way it is can be a great example of us placing 'great value' on the other. It not only reveals to us His love and sacrifice for us and but it can also paint a picture of how much we should love Him! Maybe what it really does, is teach us to 'value' both sides of our relationship, and maybe, just maybe, that nugget of truth is the real pearl here? 

So, the next time you see a pearl? Will it remind you of His amazing love for you ... or .... how much you love Him ... or ... that our relationship with God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is really about the fact that we both place 'great value' and treasure each other!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Choice

There he was, with a crowd around him. Figures. It didn't matter. He would just march up to him, and start talking.

He squeezed by a large woman, and then dodged  to the left to avoid hitting a man and his son who were walking away from Jesus.

Here goes nothing.

He cleared his  throat. "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" That wasn't so hard. It was a simple question, and surely one Jesus would be able to answer. This way he would never have to give it another second of thought.

"Why do you ask me about what is good. There is only one who is good. If you would enter into life, keep the commandments."

Keep the commandments? That was it? How was he supposed to keep all of those commandments, every second of every day? Then he perked up. Maybe he meant a couple of specific commandments? Now that I can do.

"Which ones?" 

He cringed. That earned him a few looks from Jesus' friends. He held his hand up to eyes, shielding them from the afternoon sun.

Jesus' right eyebrow raised ever so slightly. "You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. Honor you father and mother. You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

His smile got bigger and bigger as Jesus talked. He had already done all that! All of it! Was his eternal life already bought? "All these I have kept since I was a child. What do I still lack?" He smiled broadly, expecting a pat on the shoulder and an enthusiastic "Good job!"

Jesus' eyes pierced his. He swallowed around a lump in this throat. "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

Now that was not what he was expecting.

Nor was it something he could do...

Based on Matthew 19:16-22

So do you remember falling in love, but you were unsure if the other person loved you back? You were all nervous, fidgety, and self-doubting. Pulling at your shirt sleeves, looking away really fast, and then looking back as you try to glimpse into their soul to see what they haven't shared with you. All you knew was one thing...

You wanted to be chosen.

Well, have you ever stopped to consider that God wants to be chosen?

Our lives are a big, epic love story with God. It goes either one of two ways. We reject the Lover of our soul. Or we pick God.

Why do you think God gave us free will? He's never wanted to force Himself on us. He has always wanted us to choose Him.

This rich, young ruler wasn't motivated by his love for God. He was motivated by his love for himself. And at the end of this encounter, you see him choose himself. This epic love story of our lives is a series of choices like the rick, young ruler made. Big and little. Every day we make choices to put aside us, our desires and our motives, and to choose God first.

What choices have we made today where we put God first? When did we choose Him?

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, January 19, 2015

"The Time For Faith Is Now"

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.  Hebrews 11:1-2
The first time God ever spoke to me personally through His word can be found in Ezekiel 3:17-27 I was a new believer and I was praying and asking God to show me what He wanted me to do with my life. I was just learning how to listen and to hear His voice. I heard Him say, "Ezekiel 3." I turned there and immediately my eyes were drawn to verse 17. It is where the Lord says, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from my mouth, give them warning from Me."

Obviously it goes on, but to summarize He is explaining to Ezekiel his need to speak what He has given him to say. He explains it using four types of people with for different results. He explains it to him in a way that reveals to him it is his job to speak what God gives him, period, and then the results of what happens is up to the hearers and God. He is to speak and then they will have the choice to respond. God makes His command for Ezekiel to speak clear to Ezekiel because He also gives him a warning that if he has a warning for the unbeliever or a righteous man who has turned a way from God and he doesn't give it and they die in sin that God will hold him responsible.

Now as a new believer I was terrified by such a thought. I am not one for the spotlight. I am pretty quiet, especially in a crowd and I was not known for my boldness! In high school I would take a 0 rather than give an oral report. Suddenly in answer to my cry of, "Use me. Send me. I want to hear Your voice." it appears that He is calling me a watchman and is gong to require me to speak. With my heart in turmoil I decide I must have heard Him wrong! There is no way He wants me to have to speak out. I'm a nobody special, from no where special. I'm too young and too afraid. So, the next thing I do is to cry out and tell God I'm sorry I heard wrong, and can we try again. I listen. I hear Ezekiel 33. I sigh with relief. I did hear wrong. I turn to chapter 33:1 and I started reading:

     Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them:'When I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life.
     But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand.'
     So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.
     When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you shall surely die!' and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. ... Ezekiel 33:1-10

It was the same word as Ezekiel 3! I didn't hear wrong! He was calling me to be a watchman ...

I tell you all that to say this: It is 35 years later. I am still no one special from no where special but I have spent those 35years faithfully sharing and speaking His word! I no longer question or doubt when He speaks to me. I know the sound of His voice and today is a day when: IT IS TIME TO BLOW A TRUMPET!
As I read the verse above in Hebrews 11 today God spoke a word for you and I, His people. It says ...Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.  Hebrews 11:1-2

Chapter 11 then proceeds to give the list of all the good testimonies that by faith the elders received. The word He spoken to me to speak you today comes from this phrase 'For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.'  The IT in this phrase is faith. Seems obvious and therefore why am I pointing it out? Because too often today the faith in the lives of those who profess Him as Lord is missing! The church today proclaims that they believe but...? Do we truly have faith to believe all things are possible? Do we truly believe that mountains will move? The Lord directed me to Jeremiah 32:27 where He declares to you, "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh." and then He asks you, "Is there anything too hard for Me?"

Take a minute to contemplate His question to you! Is there anything too hard for God? Do you really think that there is anything in your life that He can't handle?  Do you by faith trust Him with everything?

The elders received a good testimony by their faith! They knew that He was God and that He would reward them by performing His word. They didn't waver in their faith because they knew that whatever He said He would bring to pass! In Hebrews 11:6 it says, 'But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.' Read Hebrews 11. Look at the testimonies. Do you see results that you would like in your life? Do you to want to be listed as ... those who received? Then by faith take a stand and believe! Is He the same God who said, 'Let there be light" and created and set the foundation of the world in place?  Is He? Do you believe that He is the same God who parted the Red sea? Is He the same God who sent manna? He the same God who sent His Son to redeem us? Is He the same God who sent His Spirit to empower the new testament believer? Do you believe He is the same God who not only performed and did mighty acts int the lives of the old and new testament believers but that He can and will do great and mighty things in and through you as well? Will you have faith and believe Him to be well able to deal with whatever you need in your life?

In His warning to the church of Laodicea He said,  "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot." and it is His warning to the church today. We are too lukewarm in our faith!  It is too easy to look to the things of world for answers. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God." It is time to be a people that seeks from Him first! It is time to be a people of faith to not be afraid to say something as impossible as; 'Bid me to come, Lord, and I'll walk on the water with You!' It is time that a people of faith, dare to believe that He still heals the deaf ears and the blind eyes! He still raises the dead back to life and that He still moves and that the the power of His word still accomplishes all that it is meant to! When is the last time you believed for the impossible? Get ready! Pray! He says to you, "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know!"

It is time for His people who are called by His name to believe for the impossible! It is time for the people of God to not only speak His word but to be a people who by faith not only receive, like the elders of old, but also reflect in all their ways, a great testimony of faith!!! The time for faith? IT IS NOW!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

"A Glimpse Of The Heavenly Realm"

Therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. 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 6:14-17

Lord, I pray that you will open the eyes of the people of this generation that they too might get a glimpse of the heavenly realm!

Show us, Lord, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, that greater are those that are with us then those that are against us. Lord, in times when we are afraid help us to see that You go with us!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Always Growing, Always Learning

Discrimination is almost always heavy topic in the news. Somebody hurt someone of a different color, or someone feels like their rights are being trampled. But there is another type of discrimination that we Christians need to be on guard for, and that is discrimination about our fellow Christians, or people who are thinking about getting saved.

"For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in shabby clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, 'You can stand over there or else sit on the floor', well doesn't this discrimination show that you are guided by the wrong motives?" James 2:2-4

In a society where most everything is tolerated, we need to guard our hearts about judging others. It is such an easy thing to do. For example, in my church, a young adult got saved. This person most definitely had a heart for God, but also had a very obvious lip ring. Another member of the church was talking to me in a private conversation about a month or so after this young person got saved, saying that now that young adult needed to lose the lip ring.

I was kind of surprised by the attitude, but I spoke up this defense of this new Christian. I reminded the church member of the verse in 1 Samuel 16 about the Lord looking at the heart, not the outward appearance. They agreed, and the subject was dropped. But the next week, the piercing was gone.

You see, somewhere in the week, the young adult realized that they didn't want or need that piercing anymore. They didn't need another Christian to point out this "fault", - as a side note, I do not believe that piercing or tattoos are evil - God showed this new believer that he/she didn't need it anymore.

The point that I am trying to make today is two-fold. First, don't make the mistake of judging new believers, old believers, or potential believers by your standards. The Bible says in Matthew 7:1, "Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them." It is not our place to judge anyone. We are not blameless. We, too, stumble and fall.

The second point is that we cannot expect new believers to be perfect on day one, nor should we try to force them to be. That is not our job. Our job is to raise them up, to teach them what the Bible has to say, to answer their questions, to support them.

When my father got saved over 30 years ago, he was a smoker. It wasn't until a few years after he was saved that God convicted him that he shouldn't continue to smoke. God did the heavy lifting. My dad didn't need to be forced to quit by a fellow believer. We need to remember that a believer is always learning, even those of us who have been around for decades. Our journey is never over, and none of us will ever be perfect.


Friday, January 16, 2015

" A Testimony Of Their Own!"

And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard." Acts 4:18-20
I don't know about you but I love Peter and John's response after being thrown in jail and then commanded to be silent about Jesus being the source of the miracle that had healed the lame man. Actually, the truth is, I love that they took every opportunity they could no, matter what the outcome, to tell 'about what they had seen and heard.'

I had someone tell me the other day that they didn't know how or that they weren't comfortable witnessing to others about Jesus because they were unsure about what to say and how to say it. So here is my best advice and the point of today's message. It is just as simply as this, share what you know. Tell your story about what Jesus has done for you. If you'll do that God will do the rest and work in the hearts of those you share with. Your story, your testimony, about who and what Jesus has done in your life is powerful weapon!

Check out these two examples when someone did just that! The first example can be found in Luke 5:12-15
It is the account of the man with leprosy coming to Jesus and saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." Jesus responded by telling him He was willing and He proceeded to touch him and heal him. He then told the guy "To tell no one ... But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded." Then the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities."  In  Mark 1:45 we see that the reason 'the report went around concerning Him' was because the man who had been healed of his leprosy didn't stay silent the way Jesus had told him to. It says that instead he, 'went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every quarter.' He talked ... Actually he blabbed ... and just a little but to everyone he could. He told them all about what Jesus had done for him and the result was ...crowds came, believed for themselves, and then they too received their own healing as well.

Example number two can be found in John 4:28-30 with the woman at the well. We know that she was at the well in the heat of the day all alone so that she could avoid contact with other people but after her encounter with Jesus it tells us that she sought them out so that she could tell about what He did for her. ' The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 'Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" Then they went out of the city and came to Him.' She shared her encounter with others and the result?  "...And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, 'He told me all that I ever did.' So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Himto stay with them; and He stayed there two more days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, 'Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world." John 4:39-42

Be faithful to share your testimony 'of all that you've seen and heard' because you never know what the Lord will do with it in the hearts of those who hear!  They could very well end up with a testimony of their own!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Always and Never

They were running through the crowd. The sun shown in his eyes, momentarily blinding him, but he didn't care. None of them cared.

He was so excited.

"Wait up, son!"

He whirled around, and saw his mother and father pushing through the crowd. A swarm of parents walked behind them. They were all coming to see Jesus.

And he was so excited!

He ran over and grabbed his mother's hand. "Look! That's Jesus! That's Jesus!"

His father smiled. "Well, let's go meet him."

The walked towards Jesus. He was sitting on a rock, talking to a small cluster of people. They were almost there, when a tall man stepped directly in front of them. The tall man crossed his arms over his chest, and a scowl marked his face. "You can't go there."

Why? He looked at his mom before looking back to the mean man. "We want to see Jesus!"

The man ignored them. His father tired to reason with the tall man, but he wouldn't budge.

A hand clapped the tall man's shoulder. It was Jesus! He gave the mean man a stern look. "Let the children come to me."

Jesus to the rescue! His little heart started to pound. Jesus was right there!

"But sir!"

"Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God."

"Yippe!" He walloped and jumped right into Jesus' arms.

Based on Mark 10:13-14

"Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me." Psalm 66:20

My soul latched onto these words because no matter who else did, my God hadn't rejected me. My God still loved me.

"As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1 Peter  2:4-5

I don't know a single person who hasn't been rejected by mankind in some form or another. I know no one who has been rejected by God. You need to know, that you are precious and chosen in God's eyes. The world may see you and think, "Eh, only okay," "She's lame," "Wow he's annoying. He's so not right for this," or "That person is just not worth the air they breathe," but do you know what God thinks when He sees you?

"That one is mine. Chosen. Precious. Mine."

As difficult as their words and opinions can be to hear, they don't matter. The only words that matter are God's. He's set you up as a royal priesthood, fit to offer sacrifices.

I don't know how much you know about Israelite history, but in the Old Testament, only the tribe of Levi was authorized to do "Temple" work. Within the tribe of Levi, only the sons of Aaron were allowed to offer sacrifices to the Lord.

Now it's many years later, and we are under the new and improved covenant, where Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice, but we still offer sacrifices to God all the time. Praise, time, our lives for instance, but the cool thing is that we are allowed to do that. God has not rejected or prohibited us from offering spiritual sacrifices to Him. In fact, it's a must for our spiritual growth. We are so blessed to live in this time because we can go before God like that. He put us in this time for a reason, and He specifically gave us direct access to Him! That is how much God wants you!

The world will do what it wants. People will do what they want. Even Christians can wound the soul and remove their approval. But God has never and will never reject you. His steadfast love is always on you.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Imparting Grace"

"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgement. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Matthew 12:35-37
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. Therefore be followers of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma. Ephesians 4:29-5:2

As I was reading in Ephesians today I was struck by a phrase that captured my attention. '...that it impart grace to the hearers.' jumped off the page and it immediately brought to mind this song 'Speak Life' as well as the verses in Matthew about the good or evil treasure of our hearts and the idle words we speak. It also made me wonder ... ? If I were to evaluate every word I spoke today would my words be 'idle' ones or would they in any way reflect 'corrupt communication?'  Do the words I speak reflect the 'good treasure' I so desire? Do the words that flow out of my heart to those around me 'impart grace?' Do my words reflect to others that He is my Father and I His dear child?

O Lord, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my God, my strength and my redeemer! Psalm 19:14

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It Doesn't Stop with You

Samuel looked around. He shook his head. "He's not here." A sea of people from the tribe of Benjamin stood before him, and a man named Saul was missing.

"Well, where is he?" A man shouted. Others echoed his agreement. Samuel looked to the sky...and shrugged.

That was a good question. A good question indeed.


Saul tried to steady his heartbeat. Was that the trampling of feet he heard? It was hard to tell, being buried under a pile of baggage.

Something was definitely coming closer.

"Pull the baggage away!"

He definitely heard that.

The pile on top of him seemed to disappear instantly. He could feel the sun shinning on the back of his neck. He looked up from the bag where he had buried his face. A huge crowd of people stood around him.

He should probably stand up.

Slowly, he stood up, straightening his robe and tunic as he did. He was shocked to see just how many people were gathered around him. He stood at least a head taller then everyone else.

An older, stately man looked him up and down. "Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? There is none like him among all the people."

The Lord did what?

He looked around frantically, but all the people shouted, "Long live the king!" Saul gulped. He was their king now. Lord, help me...

Based on 1 Samuel 10:20-24

God is sovereign. He knows who will choose Him and who will ultimately turn their backs on Him. He knows it all.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.And those whom he predestine he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." Romans 8:28-30

God knew how much Saul would screw up, and how he would completely abandon him after he became King.

God knew.

So why did God allow Saul to become King? Better yet, why did God even pick Saul to be King? Wouldn't stuff have been so much easier if God had just said, "Yeah, you're going to mess everything up. I'll find somebody better, somebody loyal to Me for the job instead."

God has always got a plan. He invented the "man with the plan" expression because he is the one with the plan. He can work everything to the good of His ultimate plan.

"For I know  the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

 God still gave Saul the opportunity and choice to serve Him. Despite knowing what his choice would be later, God still gave it to him.

There are so many people in the world who truly feel like God does not want them. They say, "I've screwed up too much for God to want me. He could never love me. How could I be around someone that holy after all the terrible things I've done?" Maybe you are a person saying that...

You need to know that God does not feel that way. Not now. Not ever. He loved Saul. Genuinely loved him. Saul used his free will, and walked away from that love, but that doesn't change the fact that God loved him.

If God could love Saul that much and still make him King, why would His love stop with you?

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

It wouldn't. Choose Him.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, January 12, 2015

"The Almond Branch"

I saw this picture the other day and I saved it because, let's face it, it is inspirational and Jeremiah 1:5 is definitely one of my favorite verses.

As a youth pastor I have often taught using this verse to inspire my young people to pursue their calling in serving the Lord. Today is no different. I have a challenge to issue to you to step into the things of God to a deeper degree as well!

I didn't know it when I saved the picture but the Lord has a different message today than is normally preached with this verse. Normally, at least for me, I have taught it with the idea of, 'God knows you and has a plan for you in mind' as the central theme of the message. After all it is perfect for such a message! "...Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; And I ordained you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5  Before. What an amazing truth this key word unlocks in the hearts and minds of those who hear its call.  'Before I formed you.' 'Before you were born.' Long BEFORE you were even a speck in your mother's womb you had a history with God or rather a better way of putting it would be, He has a history with you; of knowing you, of loving you and planning a future for you! As awesome as this truth is it is not the message that He has for us today.

Today's message comes from the words He spoke next because the truth is, these were just the first words that God spoke to Jeremiah at this, His moment of choice. God spoke these words to Jeremiah as He was calling and commissioning him into his call as a prophet. As God spoke them to Jeremiah He was putting him on notice. He had a plan. He had 'ordained' him or as some translations put it, 'set him apart' to be a prophet to the nations in Jeremiah's day. God's words, while intending to reassure Jeremiah of His presence in Jeremiah's life, didn't really convince him based on Jeremiah's first response to his call. 'Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.' Jeremiah 1:6 If your going to be a prophet you  kinda need to be able to speak with some kind of authority and Jeremiah immediately goes to what he sees as a weakness in fulfilling the mission God has asked of him. He considers his youth and his inexperience to be the cause of that lack of authority and a valid reason for seeing himself as less than the perfect choice. God of course didn't agree!

God's response is one that again speaks to his plan, his purpose, and most importantly, His presence in the fulfilling of His word. "...Do not say, 'I am a youth,' For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you." says the Lord. Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, To root out and to pull down, To destroy and to throw down, To build and to plant." Jeremiah 1:7-10

To be honest I think the action God took next is what confirmed to Jeremiah more than the words God spoke that God would be with him as he went forth to prophesy both destruction and blessing.  Take a look at what came following God's spoken affirmation that Jeremiah was well equipped with His presence to go and do all that He required. He proceeded to give him two visions, the first being the point of today's message. "...Moreover the word of the Lord came to me saying, "Jeremiah, what do you see?" And I said, "I see a branch of an almond tree." Then the Lord said to me, "You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word."  He gave him a vision and then confirmed it to him. It was a vision of a branch of an almond tree. Jeremiah understood  the meaning of this vision! He knew that the almond tree was often called the 'awake tree' because in Palestine it is the first tree in the year to bud and bring forth fruit. Its blooms precede its leaves as it comes into bloom the end of January. Jeremiah's vision of the almond branch was God's confirmation to him that He is watching to see that His word is fulfilled. Jeremiah understood that it was God's assurance that He was awake and watching over His word to make sure that it came to pass. God himself reassured him of its meaning, "...for I am ready to perform My word."

God's heart, even right now, in this moment as you read this word; is to speak the same reassurance to you and the call that He has on your life! He has set your feet upon a path and He has set your call before you. Jeremiah made a choice to respond and go forth not fearing, but trusting God to go with him to deliver him. To lead him and to guide him in all his ways. He went forth ready to speak every word that God put in his mouth to every person God sent him to. Jeremiah made his choice. He went forth with the fire of God's words shut up in his bones. Jeremiah 20:9

I say all that because today the word that God has for you, His people is this: "Even now in the natural the almond tree is about to break forth and bud. It will blossom and bring forth its fruit as a sign to you, My people that you would know that I am ready to move in the earth today. It begins now with you My people answering My call to go forth in the power of My might. Go where I send you, Speak the words I have put in your hearts, your minds, and especially in your mouths. Stop saying, 'I can't,' and trust that I am with you because I have called you! I know what I have called you to. I am well able to equip you and to deliver you! Don't be afraid!  My power, My Spirit will lead you and guide you. Before I formed you in your mother's womb, I knew you; and before you were born I ordained and sanctified you. I have called you My own, My remnant in the earth today. I have called you My beloved. I have called you to stand in the gap for those I have placed before you. I have given you a choice this day to see the almond branch and know that I am ready to perform My word. Trust Me and obey all that I have given you to do. Speak the words to tear down and to build up when I command it. For I have called you My servant and I am ready to perform My word!"

Sunday, January 11, 2015

"Declare His Praises!"

Psalm 22:22-31

I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the congregation I will praise you.

You who fear the Lord, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!

For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
But when He cried to Him, He heard.

My praise shall be of You in the great congregation;
I will pay my vows before those who fear Him.

The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.
Let your heart live forever!

All the ends of the world 
Shall remember and turn and turn to theLord,
And all the families of the nations shall worship before You.

For the kingdom is the Lord's,
And He rules over the nations.

All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive.

A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation,
 They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,
That He has done this.

Lord, I pray that we will, without question, perform our vow to praise and worship You as we continue to declare Your praises to the next generation. Lord, we will declare Your name to our brethren; and in the midst of the congregation we will praise you as we declare Your righteousness!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Rivers in the Wasteland

"For I am about to do something new. See I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland." Isaiah 43:19

This is the verse that I am claiming for us, all of us. The verse, that as soon as I saw it, I knew it was mine. I have been feeling God move in my own life as well as in my church. I know that it is just the beginning! We have no idea, the things that God is going to do.

This world has become a wasteland, desolate of good and Godly things. Rampant sexuality, politics, racism, and drugs dominate this land. Where hurting people turn to drugs, alcohol, doctors, and the government for help, not God. This way is not working. You don't have to look to far to see that.

We need to be showing people the way. God is looking for the people who are willing to leave the safety of unanimity, to seek those who are lost. It's not like we have to go far. How many friends do you have that you have never spoke to about God? How many people know that you are a Christian?

I had a favorite church song as a kid. I don't remember the name, but the chorus was "There's a river of life flowing out of me, makes the lame to walk and the blind to see, opens prison doors, sets the captives free, there's a river of life flowing out of me."

I want to have that river flowing out of me into this dry wilderness. Don't you? It's time to take a step back from the distractions of the world, to focus on God. To grow our relationship with our Lord. To not let anyone rob us of our fire for God.

Join me in claiming that verse as your own.


Friday, January 9, 2015

"Strengthened In Faith"

He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving gory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was able to perform. And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. Romans 4:20-24a

Everyone, if they have had any kind of relationship with the Lord for very long knows that the Lord, in teaching about the Word, often likened it to a seed being planted. The most famous example being the parable of the sower in Mark 4:1-20 Today I just wanted to offer a small reminder and a word of encouragement to trust and believe every word that God speaks into your life. Every promise, every exhortation, every single word that He speaks is seed that you will allow to drop by the wayside and disappear or you will allow it to to be planted and to take root in faith.
In the above verses in Romans it begins by saying, "He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving gory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was able to perform." Abraham didn't waver at the words that God spoke to Him. He didn't waste time wondering about the promise coming to pass. It tells us that not only did he not waste time in wondering and second guessing God's promise to him but instead he was fully convinced that God was not only able but that He would bring it to pass and proceeded to give glory to God for it. When God spoke His promise to Abraham the seed of that His promise was planted in Abraham's measure of faith causing him simply trust God to do what He said He would.

The next thing it says is, "And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness." Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us." Because the promise was planted and Abraham believed it was accounted to him for righteousness.  I love these next words! 'Now it was not written for his sake alone but for us also!' It was written down in His word so that it would be 'seed' planted in our measure of faith and that we to would not waver but trust and believe that He is well able to bring it to pass in our lives. It is written for us as well so that we would know and understand that not only did God 'impute' it to Abraham as righteousness but when we trust and believe and act in faith and in accordance with His word than it too is imputed as righteousness too us as well!

The truth is like Abraham we need to give His words good ground to take root in. We need to ...hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit of righteousness in our lives!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Last Words

The boat rocked gently, and water sloshed onto his feet. He was trying to focus. Really he was.

But his heart was focused on other things. Things he needed to say. Things he needed to make right.

The invisible hand around his soul wouldn't let go, and the last two times he saw Jesus, its hard grip only tightened.

Peter squinted against the blinding sun as the rays of light bounced from one wave to the next, like children playing a game. Another sleepless night with no catch.


Peter looked towards the shore. A man stood there alone... This was starting to feel very familiar.

The man cupped his hands around his mouth. "Children, do you have any fish?"

"No," James yelled out.

"Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some."

Without hesitation, they cast the net. Without delay, the net was filled.

John stood up so fast, the boat shock mightily. He pointed. "It is the Lord!"

Peter stood up, his heart pounding. Jesus. That was Jesus! He tossed aside his cloak, barely thinking about what he was doing. He could hear the others shouting their joy, and a couple of them realized what he was doing, and shouted for him to stop, but he wasn't going to stop. Seconds later, the cool waves greeted him. Kicking his feet, his head bobbed to the surface, and he began slicing through the water. He needed new last words.

Based on John 21:4-7

The concept of last words kept coming to my mind over the last week or two. The very last, meaningful thing you say to a person you love. When I think about these types of things, I always think about my grandmother. When I was sixteen, my grandmother went to be with Jesus. It was a really rough time for our family. She was the matriarchal glue that held all the different fractions of our family together.

One of the most traumatic parts of this situation for me was that I couldn't remember the last thing I said to her. Did I say I love you? See you later? Thanks for everything you've done? The dog keeps licking my pants? I don't have a clear memory, and it's haunted me every since.

Because of this, I've also been thinking of people who had dramatic last words in the Bible. The first person who came to mind was Peter. His last words about Jesus was a denial of everything they had shared. It was more then just denying his friend. It was denying his Savior! I know I've talked about Peter a bunch of times... Oh well. There's just so much there!

I think Peter was a little bit desperate for those words not to be the last words spoken directly between him and Jesus. Think about it. The man ran everywhere trying to be the first to see Jesus! He loved Jesus. When Peter saw Him on the shore, he went overboard so that he could get there quickly! He wasn't even willing to wait for the boat.

This was the third time Jesus had revealed Himself to the disciples, but Peter still had to wait for that cleansing moment. When it finally came though, it wiped away all the other junk...

We can't always take back those last words. We don't always find closure. We can control what we say in the here and now. We can use it for words of love and affirmation. Most importantly, we can use our words to bless God.

What would your last words to God be? That's a sobering thought? Have we even spoken to Him today? Did we bless Him? Thank Him? Tell Him we love Him? Do you remember the last thing you said to the Lover of your Soul?

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." Psalm 19:14

If you keep that at the front of your mind, they will always be good ones.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

"Thy Kingdom Come"

Today I'd like to talk with you a little bit about the kingdom of God and it is a message that has been on my heart for a while now. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 that we should "...Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."  Also, while teaching the disciples how to pray He said, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:10 So what I really felt like I needed to say to today is this. Seek Him! Seek His will in everything that you say or do! Seek Him first!

Seek Him First. Its an easy thing to say, but not always something that is easy to do and I think it is because with all our human understanding we miss what is really being said here. Too often we get caught up in the circumstance and forget to look to Him and instead spend to much time looking for Him instead. I think too often we see the word 'seek' and it causes us to think in too small a way about God. When we see the word seek it makes us think in terms of searching  for something that is missing or lost. Both of which are not true about God. We don't seek Him first because He is missing or lost but because He isn't!!! When He said to "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." it isn't because He is missing and needs us to find Him it is because it means that we are acknowledging Him first! Looking to Him and His sovereignty first and foremost because we have found Him and His kingdom is ours as well. When we seek Him first, it to look to Him first because He is our sovereign Lord and we are His to provide for and His to command.

God showed me an example today in His word that I would like to share with you. It starts by taking a look at this in Matthew 13:31-32 where it says ...Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches." The thing is once you have received even the smallest of seeds from the kingdom of heaven it will grow till it provides all that is needed!

In Mark 5:24-34 we see the story of a woman who had been sick for twelve years. She had tried everything including everything a whole bunch of different doctors tried. Nothing worked! As a matter of fact, it tells us that she only grew worse. Check out what happens when she takes her mustard seed faith and seeks putting it to work.

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment; for she had said, 'If only I may  touch His clothes, I shall be made well." Immediately the fountain of her blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. Mark 5:27-29.

As soon as she received or rather heard about Jesus; her seed of faith started growing and as soon she went to seek help from Jesus and things in her life changed!  She decided once she had heard about Him that He was her answer. She pressed through the crowd seeking just to get close enough to touch the hem of His garment and because of her seeking, her pressing in, she received the healing that had escaped her for twelve years while she looked elsewhere

"Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven" ... Seek Him for the answers you need and as He has said ...all these things shall be added unto you. We need to know and understand that our faith in the things of God might start small but if we will seek Him first and that means looking to Him as our source in and for all things than our faith and our reception of the things of the kingdom will increase as well! Just as He promised.  He told the woman , "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction." His provision is waiting for us. Seek Him. Look to Him and Him alone as His righteousness and His provision awaits!

Look to Him first and foremost as you pray, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." and then be blessed as you hear Him say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant, you were faithful over a few things, I will make your ruler over many things, Enter into the joy of your Lord." Matthew 25:21