Saturday, February 28, 2015

Our Perfect Leader

"This is what I order you to do: Love one another as I have loved you." John 15:12

 Jesus had so much focus on loving people, it's no surprise that He kept drilling it into his disciples. It was and still is such an important thing. He told us that the second greatest commandment was to love our neighbor as ourselves, but He is not just reiterating that again. He was reminding them of how much He loved them, and that they needed to follow his example.

I know that it is obvious, but then He goes on to say this...

"There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13

He has told them before that He was going to lay down His life, but this gives the disciples another glimpse into the mindset of their Master. He was showing them how much he loved them - that there couldn't be anyone who loved them more. That is a powerful image. I mean, Jesus wasn't the first one to die to save another person's life. Surely, there were thousands before Him.

But the thing that is astounding is this: He died for us all. For all of us - for me, for you. That's amazing. Sometimes, we have a hard time realizing this. I mean, we know that he died for us, but I was always taught that there was to be a degree of separation between leaders and the people that they lead. That they aren't supposed to be friends. Jesus throws out an entire principle of leadership.

"You're My friends if you do what I order you to do." John 15:14

Images of bossy girls from my elementary and high school years pop into my mind, but that's a little unfair. This is something that we have all done. How many times have we told someone how to do something, only to be ignored. Don't you get frustrated when a person has something bad happen to them, something that could have been avoided if they had just listened to you? Can you imagine how often we frustrate Jesus? I mean, He gave us a manual on how to live, and how often does it sit, unused, on a shelf?

But Jesus isn't like that girl on the playground years ago. He doesn't walk away from His friendship with us when we don't listen to Him. He gives us chance after chance after chance.

"I don't call you servants anymore, because a servants doesn't know what his master is doing. But I have called you friends because I've told you everything I heard from My Father." John 15:15

Jesus still wants to be our Friend. Regardless of whatever you have heard or experienced in the world, here is a Leader that loves us. That gave His life for us. That wants to be our Friend, despite our failings. He doesn't want to keep us in the dark, He tells us what is going to happen. He shows us in the Bible, and the Holy Spirit talks to us, if we listen.

He is so much better then any other leader that we have ever had to follow. And He wants us to follow Him! Now, I have been placed in a position of leadership in my job. There are some of the people under my authority that I wished weren't. Needy, uncooperative, disobedient... Sound familiar? It's a good thing that Jesus is Lord, not any one of us. Despite all the issues we have, will have, and will create, He still came for us.

"You didn't choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that doesn't pass away and to have the Father give you anything you ask Him in my name. This is what I order you to do: Love one another." John 15:16-17


Friday, February 27, 2015

"In Your Sight"

Psalm 33:1-15

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful.
Praise the Lord with the harp; Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

For the word of the Lord is right, And all His work is done in truth.
He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap, He lays up the deep in storehouses.

Let the earth  fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.

The Lord brings the counsel of nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,  The plans of His heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, And the people whom He has chosen as His own inheritance.

The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men.
From the place of His habitation He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; 
He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer! —Psalm 19:14 

Please Lord, let my works reflect Yous as I submit them all to Your will in my life!


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Runaway Fish Prophet, Part 8

He wanted to hurl a ball of fire into the side of that cracked, nasty city wall. It represented sin and destruction and every thing he hated.

Everything he had tried to stop.

He had known this would happen. Oh, how he had known! "I knew, God!" He shouted. He spun in a circle, screaming at the sky where he knew God was. "I knew this would happen!"

Stupid city. Stupid people. Once the king of Nineveh had declared a time of fasting and repentance, word had spread even faster. The change was genuine, too. Even Jonah could see that. For crying out loud, they were still praying and fasting! Jonah had just left a bonfire filled with idols and trinkets witches sold. He had been there for weeks, teaching, preaching, and declaring God's message to the people.

God had forgiven them.

"Lord," he emphatically waved at the sky. "Is not this what I said would happen when I was still in my country? That is why I ran to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful. Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Now, God, take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live."

He heard the words of the Lord. Why, this time they even sounded in his ears. "Do you do well to be angry?"

Ha! Did he do well to be angry? Ha! 

He sure did.

It was late, late evening on Day Thirty-Nine. Jonah stalked away from the city to see what would happen.

Jonah 3:10-4:1-5

At last we have it. Jonah's real reason for being mad, running away, and being a twit in general.
Goodness, God having mercy on people? Who would have thought? What was this guy's problem? Why did he want judgment and death against all those people?

Jonah was suffering from a spiritual condition we all know, and have had at one time or another. If allowed untreated, it can be spiritually deadly.

Sinner envy.

"What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war among you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." James 4:1-3

Jonah was angry that they could live the kind of lifestyles they had for all this time, and not pay the piece he had heard about for his entire life. He had to live by the rules, but they had enjoyed a lifetime of sin. It wasn't fair. It wasn't just.

Who decides what's fair and just? God.

Was it fair or just that God sent His only Son to die, so that whoever would believe on Him, would be saved? Was it fair, that Jesus died on the cross for us? Was it fair that He had to endure more pain and suffering then we will ever know? Was it fair that God even turned His back on Jesus because of our sins?

God's goal isn't to condemn and judge. It's what He has to do because of sin. His goal is to give every chance possible for someone to turn away from sin in order to choose eternity with Him instead. God's goal is to be with you.

Sinner envy can lead to terminal spiritual illness. The perfect medicine is to read about Jesus' death on the cross while asking yourself, "Was this fair?" It wasn't. He did it for us.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Great And Mighty Things"

"Thus says the Lord who made it, the Lord who formed it to establish it (the Lord is His name):  "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." Jeremiah 33:2-3

Lord, I think that all too often, when we as your people, or at least, when I come into Your Presence to call to You about a situation,  I already have a preconceived answer from You in mind and Lord, I am here today to say that I'm sorry. Lord, I'm sorry if I have set limits and not been open to receive all the great and mighty things that You have desired to share with me. Help me and those like me to call upon You with open hearts and minds. Help us to be open to all the great and mighty possibilities that lay before You as You answer our calls. Lord, Peter thought he was dreaming when You sent an angel to release him from prison; and those who had spent all their time praying for his release didn't even believe Rhoda's report that he was at the door. They weren't even open to the possibility that You had heard their prayers and a great and mighty deed was done in answer to their call....
   "Then the angel said to him, 'Gird yourself and tie on your sandals" and so he did. And he said to him, "Put on your garment and follow me." So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. And when Peter had come to himself, he said, "Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people." So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter's voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. But they said to her, "You are beside yourself!" Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, "It is his angel." Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Acts 12:8-16

Lord, as Your people let us be continually open to possibilities that You have great and mighty things in store for us! Let us be open to any miraculous or angelic intervention on our behalf. Lord, help us not be a people who misses You because our eyes are focused elsewhere. Lord, Let us be a people who believe that with You ..."All things ARE possible" simply because You have promised it.

Lord, my hearts cry, even in this moment is, "Show me! Show me all the great and mighty things that You desire. Lord, I say, "Yes!" to any "great and mighty" unknown, miraculous, sign and wonder, cool God thing that You have to offer. Lord, I don't ever want to be the one saying, "It can't be," like those who had spent the and then day praying for Peter did when speaking to Rhoda when she told them that God had heard their prayers and Peter was at the door. 

Lord ... my hearts desire ... to always be like Rhoda, so overcome and blown away by how amazing and awesome You are that I forget to open the door! Or Maybe?  My greatest desire to be like Rhoda and recognize Your "great an mighty things" when  they come knocking at my door!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Runaway Fish Prophet, Part 7

What was he hearing?

He was king after all, couldn't he fix this? Change the outcome? Turn it around? His word should be law. But according to this man named Jonah, it was out of his hands.

The doors to the chamber had slammed open, reverberating loudly throughout the court. Immediately, everybody stopped, and all eyes were on the party entering. Two of his guards escorted a man about whom he had heard wild rumors for the last day or so. The man looked rough around the edges. He had bright red sores on his face, and judging from the stains, his tunic and robe had seen better days.
The man told him of the God whom he served. He said his God had seen the wickedness of his kingdom, and had condemned them all. In forty days, they would be overthrown. 

Now they were waiting for his decision.

He stood up slowly, and cleared his throat. "By the decree of the king and his nobles," his voice sounded horse. "Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything." Some of the guards expressions changed to shock, while others in the court nodded their agreement. "Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows?" He met Jonah's stony expression with his regretful one. "God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish." 

He may be king, but he was not God. He had failed. He had done wrong. He and his kingdom had run around acting as if their grotesque lifestyles held no consequences. How wrong he had been!
If bold action wasn't taken, he and all the kingdom would pay for it very soon. 

Walking through the chamber, he tore his robe in front of everyone. Gasps filled his ears. He walked to the roaring fire, and scooping some ash out, he sat down. "Get me some sackcloth. Everyone. Do the same."

Based on Jonah 3:6-10

I like this king's response to the forthcoming doom of his kingdom. It's not one of conceit. It's not arrogance. He doesn't go, "Heh, yeah right. Off with this lunatic's head!" He didn't try to blame it on the people and say he couldn't control their sins.

Instead he took responsibility for his and his people's sin. He did the only thing he could do in that situation, and he used his authority to issue a kingdom-wide fast and time of repentance. 

Look at so many other kings or leader types in the Bible. King Saul couldn't humble himself before God, and ended up losing the kingdom for it. King David tired to cover up a murder, affair, and illegitimate child. The apostle Paul was on a Christian murder rampage as Saul. The Pharisees were prime players in the capture and murder of Jesus. King Uzziah was struck with leprosy because of his haughty attitude towards things that are sacred. Lucifer, once a mighty archangel in the presence of God, became Satan due to his desire to gain God's power. The prideful response runs deep, but humbleness, the ability to say, "Yeah, I've screwed up," is a learned habit. Some of these guys learned to humble themselves, and admit when they were wrong. Some of them didn't, and they suffered the consequences. (Yeah, Satan. I'm talking about you.)

"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself with be exalted."
Matthew 23:12

That's exactly what God did for the king of Nineveh. He saw the heart of the king and his people, and how they had humbled themselves. He spared them because of their repentance. Imagine if more fathers did this for their families. More pastors. More principles. More presidents. More people. We need to do this.    

A leader needs to know how to be humble before God. A leader needs to know when to repent. A leader needs to take responsibility. Leaders, take a minute to learn from the king of Nineveh. This guy got it right.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, February 23, 2015

"He Is Listening"

Today the message the Lord gave me to share is about a truth that all too often is taken for granted or even neglected by His people.  He would remind us by having us take a look at a guy who is not necessarily someone that everyone hears very much about, especially since he didn't do something incredibly amazing like parting the Red Sea the way Moses did. He didn't miraculously defeat a giant named Goliath like David did with just a slingshot and a stone and he wasn't one who took down the walls of Jericho with a shout like Joshua. He didn't make an uncompromising stand for God by facing lions in a lions den or get thrown in a fiery furnace for not bowing to idols. He isn't at all famous for doing something extraordinary or miraculous. But! And here is the thing, he did do something that the Lord  wishes we as His people would dare to do a little more often.

So, what great feat did he do that merits the Lord's reminder to us today? 

The truth is he actually did the one thing that you and I not only can do but should be doing!

He talked with God believing that God was listening!

So, as you may have guessed the person we're talking about today is a guy named Jabez and we can find him in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. He only gets two verse and his story is simply this...Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, "Because I bore him in pain." And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!" So God granted him what he requested." ...Did you catch his claim to  fame?

The amazingly simple thing he did that has made him famous was simply cry out to God! It is called...

His claim to fame was that he was a man who prayed his prayer in faith believing ... And God granted him his request! The key to his claim to fame is not just that he dared to ask but to receive as well because God granted him is request.

He simply asked God ... to bless him, ... to give him favor by enlarging his territory, be with him, and help not to sin and cause others pain. He simply put the desires of his heart before God who not only heard his prayer but as it says,  'He granted him his request' which simply means ... He got what he wanted!

"And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Matthew 21:22

"And I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Luke 11:9-10

"If you ask anything in My name, I will do it." John 14:14

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives it liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, ..." James 1:5-6a

"Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, an you will have them." Marl 11:24

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." John 15:7

The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like our, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:16b-18

And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 1 John 3:22

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. 1 John 5:14-15

Jabez's claim to fame?

His hearts desire laid before THE GOD he knew was listening!  He believed that ...
     The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
     To all who call upon Him in truth. Psalm 145:18

I challenge you to take time today and everyday to trust Him with your hearts desires! His heart is that we as His people would  takethe time to talk with Him! He hears our prayers, and as our heavenly Father, it is His heart to give us the kingdom!

His heart is Indeed: ... to bless you, give you favor, prosper your way, help you in EVERY area of your life.   ...TAKE THE TIME TO ASK...HE IS LISTENING!

God Bless!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"In The Stillness"

And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

So he said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."

Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountain and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here Elijah?" 1 Kings 19:9-13    
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah     Psalm 46:10-11
Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When You said, "Seek My face," My heart said to You, "Your face, Lord, I will seek." Psalm 27:7-8

Lord, I come before You in this moment to ask that as Your people we would always seek Your will, Your voice, Your face in whatever 'cave' we find ourselves in. Lord, as we are zealous to do Your will help us to always find a place where we get still before You just hear Your voice! And  Lord, as You speak let us go forth equipped with the sword of Your spirit and the power of Your word to be and to say and to do all that You command. Please Lord, in the stillness of the moments of our days let us truly listen for the words of Your Spirit, and Your still small voice in our lives and then, Lord, as You speak let Your words be reflected in the things we do to further Your kingdom. Amen.

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Why Behind Your Faith

Why are you a Christian? Is it from a genuine belief in and desire to serve God? Is it something that you were born into, like I was? Or maybe it is the benefits, like going to Heaven and other blessings that are promised in the Bible?

I'll start with myself. I have been a Christian from a very young age, so young that I do not even remember accepting Jesus. Both of my parents were pastors, and soon after I was born my entire family relocated to New England to start a church. I grew up with duties in the church, which, in my teenage years, cause me to question my faith more than once. This wasn't something that I chose, I was born to it. Like so many stories, I felt like a prince who had no choice - I was going to be part of the Kingdom, like it or not.

Now, I am a bit of an over thinker, and the "like it or not" bit was never said by my parents. But, still,
it was ingrained. I spent big parts of 6 out of 7 days of the week in Christian School, Church, or Youth Group. I had no choice. Until the day I realized... Of course I had a choice! Regardless of whatever my parents wanted for me, whatever my friends thought of me, how the world might treat me afterwards - the choice was MINE. No one could choose for me.

I chose to follow my Lord and Savior. Yes, there have been times when I failed. When I have faltered. When I have turned my back. I have had to recommit myself to God, more than once. But my faith is stronger now than it has ever been, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

So, I'll ask it again: Why are YOU a Christian? Not why did you become one, but why are you still one? Is it for the right reasons? Are you there out of a sense of duty? Are you just trying to earn your salvation? Have you been there so long that you just don't know anything else?

It's time to re-evaluate your faith.

"But I, the Lord, search all heart and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve." Jeremiah 17:10

"A man thinks all his ways are right, but the Lord weighs hearts." Proverbs 21:2

"God does not see as man sees, because a man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7B

God knows everything, even our own reasoning. Be sure that your reasons line up with how He would have you be.


Friday, February 20, 2015

"Filled And Equipped"

  Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit returned from the Jordon and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.  And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." But Jesus answered him saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'" 
   Then the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. "Therefore, if You will worship me, all will be Yours." And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord Your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"
   Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: "He shall give His angels charge over You, To keep You,' "and, 'In their hands they shall bear You up, Lest You dash Your foot against a stone,'" and Jesus answered and said to him, "It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'"
   Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.   Luke 4:1-14

I just have a simple thought or rather more of an observation that I'd would like to share with you today. Did you notice how this section of scripture, which is commonly known as 'The Temptation of Jesus,' started and ended? It starts with Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit and ends ... with Jesus still full and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit! Nothing the enemy brought to the table changed that even though he tried his whole bag of tricks. Verses 13 tells us that 'when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.' He tried every temptation. 1John 2:15 says that there are three avenues in which the enemy can tempt and they are:

    #1 - 'the lust of the flesh' or in this case, because he saw Jesus was hungry he tried, "command this stone to become bread."
    #2 - 'the pride of life' as he appealed to His spiritual nature and His pride, he used, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: "He shall give His angels charge over You, To keep You,' "and, 'In their hands they shall bear You up, Lest You dash Your foot against a stone,"
    #3 - 'the lust of the eyes' by presenting the kingdoms of the world before Him, "I give it to whomever I wish. "Therefore, if You will worship me, all will be Yours."

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

The thing I really want to note here is this: Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit and fully equipped with the sword of the Spirit effectively defeated every temptation the enemy put before Him. The word tells us that He ...returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region. and He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.Luke 4:14-15 He then proceeds to go to Nazareth and read His famous reading from Isaiah 61 and and proclaim, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Luke 4:21

He went in full of the Holy Spirit. He returned full of the power of the Holy Spirit! He continued from there on anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit as He ministered and touched lives. What does that say to us as we look to Him as our example? Being filled and equipped makes all the difference!

   But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 
   But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
   Therefore, brethren, we are debtors--not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
   For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.    Romans 8:9-14

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Runaway Fish Prophet, Part 6

It was Day Two of his journey through the city of Nineveh. Nineveh was quite large. When he first arrived at the bustling city of sin, he was told that it would take three days to walk straight through the city, from end to end. Feeling the Lord move his spirit that this was the best course of action, he started walking straight through the city, proclaiming the message of coming judgment.

He was sick and tired of this trek. His feet hurt. His neck hurt. His voice hurt. Day Three couldn't come fast enough.

And the things he had seen made him sick. Literally. He had been physically ill while viewing a sacrifice to one of the many idols that were seemingly everywhere.

He cleared his throat before yelling. "In forty days, Nineveh will be overthrown!"

People were listening though. Not everyone, and not immediately, but in the wake of his message, there was change. Jonah had been held up for hours yesterday answering questions and telling people about his mighty God and His fierce judgment due to their abominable ways.

Many had collapsed then and there, wailing and crying out for mercy. They covered themselves with ashes and put on sackcloth. He had even heard them calling for a fast. Jonah imagined that word would soon reach the king. That's when things could get really interesting.

For all he knew, he could be dead by the dawn of the next morning.

"Yet in forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" He screamed at the top of his lungs.

"You there! What's the meaning of this, man?"

Jonah turned to the gravely voice that addressed him. The man was wearing a uniform, and he had a spear pointed at Jonah. Oh goody. He took a deep breath, and looked the soldier in the eye. "God has condemned this city to destruction due to your wickedness. In forty days, Nineveh will be overthrown!"

Jonah closed his eyes, expecting a spear to slide through his chest.

Instead, he heard it clang as it fell to the ground.

Based on Jonah 3:3-5

When I read these verses, a mental image goes through my mind. Jonah is the light of God, and as he walks through that city proclaiming God's message, it's like he's turning on the God light in the minds and hearts of those people. I just picture a rising sun. The darkness fading away the more he shouts his message. The more he shouts the more the people respond sincerely.

Soon, there was real change.

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:5

The people of Nineveh had previously refused to change. In Jonah 1:2 God said to Jonah, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me." Because God sent Jonah with a message of coming destruction, they could see that they were indeed darkness.

"God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, (Selah) because they do not change and do not fear God." Psalm 55:19

So they changed. They repented. They stopped their wicked ways.

But what if, what if Jonah hadn't?

"For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light." Ephesians 5:8

If Jonah hadn't obeyed God, there would have been no light for those people to see. So my question for you guys today is, do you walk as children of the light? Do people see God in you? Is your witness like the rising sun? Does darkness run when you come? In order for people to see the darkness, they need to see the light. That's how they know the difference. You and I, we need to be the difference. We need to be the light.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"A Single Opportunity"

 "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
 "Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
  "Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.
  " But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
  "On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.' Luke 10:30-35
I know that the parable of 'The Good Samaritan' is one that is very familiar to everyone and that every one  knows the point Jesus was making in answer to the lawyer's question of, "Who is my neighbor?" We know that he understood what Jesus was saying to him because at the end Jesus asked him, "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" The lawyer answered, "He who showed mercy on him." I know that Jesus said it best when He responded with, "Go and do likewise." Luke 10:36-37 but today when I read through this account the thing that jumped out at me was and is .....How many opportunities to do I miss each and every day?

I ask this because I realize that Jesus was using the 'Good Samaritan' as an example of how we are to be but the truth is Jesus is the best example to follow at meeting the needs of those who have fallen into the hands of the thief who came to kill, steal, and destroy. Jesus was always willing and always compassionate to those He came across. He was continually reaching out to heal, to deliver, to forgive, and to raise up as He made a way for a future and a hope.

For example:
   And Jesus went about all the cities an villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the  kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Matthew 9:35-36

   And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.  Matthew 14:14

   And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well. Matthew 14:35-36

   Then a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." Then Jesus, moved with compassion, put out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." Mark 1:40-41

So, the point of today's message - Don't be like the 'certain priest' or the 'Levite.' Instead determine in your heart to be more and more like Jesus. Be faithful to show compassion as you make the choice to not pass by a single opportunity to meet a need or to touch a life!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Runaway Fish Prophet, Part 5

The sky was so blue.

Jonah laid on his back on the beach were the great fish had vomited him.

The sky was just so, so blue.

There was a gentle wind, and something within his soul stirred. He knew this feeling. Jonah could already feel the fire burning within him.

"Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you."

The word of the Lord.

For the second time.

Jonah looked out to the ocean. The waves rose and fell, before finally coming to rest near his head. He had a choice. He could obey God this time, or for the second time, he could ignore His word.

And suffer the consequences.

Jonah stood up, and brushed the sand off his arms. He started walking up the small incline to the nearby road. God sure picked a convenient spot for the great fish to vomit him. The road led straight into the city of Nineveh.

"I promised I would do your will this time, Lord."

Based on Jonah 2:10-3:3

Second chances. We all love them. We are unbelievably thankful for them. Without second chances and God's unending mercy, we would be in a lot of trouble right now. 

"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

The Lord basically gave Jonah a message of doom for the city of Nineveh. Jonah didn't obey God the first time, and ended up in the belly of a giant fish. Then he repents, and God calls him again. 


Despite the gray, cloudy message of doom and gloom, God's ultimate goal was that the city of Nineveh would repent and be saved. So he was patient with Jonah's pigheadedness, and He gave him another chance. 

"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

God gives us second chances all the time because of His love and mercy for us, but also so that "all should reach repentance." He has great patience. He doesn't zap us for our foolishness because if He did that...well, we are all so foolish that there might not be anyone left. 

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

Now, let's take our second chances, and do something good with them. Let's use them to show God to others. So that no one should perish.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, February 16, 2015

"The Go To Guy Of His Time"

"I have heard of you, that the Spirit of God is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you." Daniel 5:14
I don't know about you but I love this verse and every time I read it, it makes me hope and pray that I too would have such a witness from those that my life touches. One of my heart's desire is to have a testimony that reaches out to the people in my life that don't know that His love for them is real.

I find it inspiring because of the fact that these words were spoken to Daniel, by Belshazzar, a heathen king, just after Daniel was summoned to help him. A hand had appeared and had written a message on the wall at the king's great feast and none of the king's 'wise men of Babylon' were able to give him the interpretation of the message.

Daniel, because 'the Spirit of God was in him' was of course able to interpret the message for him! Daniel's reputation was such that when 'the incredible' happened and an explanation was needed he was the one they turned to. Why? He wasn't one of them. He served a different God. He kept himself apart from them and diligently stuck to serving his God and his God alone. Still when they needed help he was the one they sought out. Why? This verse says it all. Because the Spirit of God was in him and where the Holy Spirit is, light, understanding, and excellent wisdom can also be found!

Take a look at the meanings of these spiritual qualities according to the Strong's Concordance: light is from - 5094 - and it means; illumination. Understanding is from - 7924 -and it means; intelligence; prim. root word meaning - to be (cause make or act) circumspect and hence intelligent. Excellent is from- 3493 - and it s meaning is; preeminent - from prom. root word meaning - to jut over or exceed; by implication to excel. And the word wisdom is from - 2452 - and its meaning is wisdom; a prim root - to be wise (i.e. intelligent, skillful, or artful) Sounds like a pretty impressive reputation to have!

I don't know about you but being the one unsaved friends and family turn to for help, or rather illumination in times of trouble sounds like the perfect opportunity to share the love of God to me. The thing is Daniel didn't seek after the reputation. It was the result of something pretty significant. It was the result of his surrender to the Spirit of God in his life. It was the result of a young man who was 'hard after God' and God alone! When he was captured and brought to this foreign land he was determined to bring God with him. He didn't turn on God! He didn't blame him for the situation he found himself in, but instead it says that 'he purposed in his heart to not be defiled' in other words to not compromise his dedication to the purposes of God in his life. Instead he trusted God to be in this new land with him and judging by the king's statement, and Oh yeah, the fact that the lion's didn't eat him, it is pretty safe to make the assumption that the Spirit of God stayed with him.

Daniel's reputation as a man that God revealed himself to was the result of a young man's 'purposing in his heart that he would not defile himself'. Daniel 1:8  His reputation was a result of his dedication to his determination to not defile himself  but to keep his heart right and his life clean as he surrendered and submitted it to the Spirit of God. No matter what he encountered in the Babylonian kingdom he was determined even from the beginning of his time there to keep God with him at the very center of each and every word and deed he performed. And, and this is a big and, because of this His love for God showed in every thing he did and he gained a reputation that made him the 'go to guy' in times of need because people saw and knew that the Spirit of God was in him. There was no doubt that light and understanding and excellent wisdom were found in him.

How about you and I as His representatives in the world today? Are we the go to guy in the lives of family, friends, and co-workers? Are we truly His ambassadors in the world today? Are we determined enough not compromise our faith but to instead simply pursue His holiness in our lives?

Do people see that the Spirit of God is in us, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in us? Have we, like Daniel, purposed or as the word really means; have we put it in our hearts to pursue God and God alone? Can it be said that we are we the 'go to guy' for our generation?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

"Look To The Lord!"

Psalm 123:1-2

Unto You I lift up my eyes,
O You who dwell in the heavens.

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the Lord our God,
Until He has mercy on us.

Psalm 121:1-2

I will lift up my eyes to the hills--
From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

Habakkuk 2:1-3

I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart,
And watch to see what He will say to me,
And what I will answer when I am reproved.

Then the Lord answered me and said:

"Write the vision and make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak,
and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. 

Lord, I pray that as Your people we would always, in all ways and in all our circumstances look to You as our help. Lord, that we look to You every day as our one and only source and as we do help us to boldly proclaim Your provision to the world that others might also partake of Your love, mercy, and all Your amazing provision!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Provision

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Don't Forget Your Sword

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two- edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12

Sometimes, I think that we forget how important the Bible is to our lives. It show us so much about the character of our Lord. It can show us so much about our own character, things that might even surprise us.

How often are we training with it? Yes, I said training. We have been given our armor, and this is our weapon. Do we think our weapon is to be picked up just once a week to take it to church? NO! We should be practicing with it, being ready to fight off the devil and his minions without any notice.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where the devil continued to tempt Him for 40 days. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over, He was hungry.

The devil said to Him, "If You're God's Son, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread."

"It is written," Jesus answered him, "'A man doesn't live on bread alone.'"

The devil took Him up and in a moment showed Him all the kingdoms of the world. "I'll give You all this power and glory," the devil told Him, "Because it was given to me and I can give it to anyone I please. So, if you will worship me, all this will be Yours."

"It is written," Jesus answered him, "'Worship the Lord, your God, and serve Him only."

The devil took him into Jerusalem and had Him stand on the edge of the temple. "If You're God's Son," he told Him, "Jump down from here. It is written: 'He will order His angels to watch carefully over you. they will carry you in their hands and never let you stub your foot against a stone."

"It is written," Jesus answered him, "'Don't test the Lord your God.'" When the devil had finished every way of tempting Him, he left Him until another opportunity would come.
Luke 4:1-13

Every time the devil tempted Jesus, Jesus had a scriptural answer. His answers came out of the book of Deuteronomy, verses 8:3, 6:13, 6:16.

Now, if Jesus took the time to answer with the Word of God, don't you think that He was trying to show us something? I mean, did Jesus EVER do anything without a point? I mean, this was the SON OF GOD, filled with the Holy Spirit. Couldn't He just say "Be gone!" and the devil would have to listen to Him?

He is showing us the way to send the enemy running, yet we leave our sword to gather dust on shelf, only to take it out once a week. You are missing out on so much if that is what you are doing.

Pick it up and give it some exercise.


Friday, February 13, 2015

"Touch Lives Today"

"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand,"COME, YOU BLESSED OF MY FATHER, INHERIT THE KINGDOM PREPARED FOR YOU FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me."

Then the righteous will answer Him saying ... "Lord, when ?"did we see You hungry and feed You, or thitsty and give You a drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, "ASSUREDLY, I SAY TO YOU, INASMUCH AS YOU DID IT TO THE LEAST OF THESE MY BRETHREN, YOU DID IT TO ME."

Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 'for I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in; naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'

Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?" Then He will answer them, saying, 'ASSUREDLY, I SAY TO YOU, INASMUCH AS YOU DID NOT DO IT TO THE LEAST OF THESE, YOU DID NOT DO IT TO ME.'

"And these will go away into everlasting punishment, BUT THE RIGHTEOUS INTO ETERNAL LIFE."

I couldn't help but to think and meditate on these words of Jesus found in Matthew 25:31-46 today. As I did it made me wonder and then to ask myself if I was doing enough? Do I see Jesus as I react and treat the needs of those around me?

As a foster parent I do have opportunities to give food and drink and clothes and even a home to strangers. Its pretty easy in one respect, they are little and easy to love but is that enough? Shouldn't we as 'sheep' following our Good Shepherd remember that we are those that He was saying, "Come, blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," because we did for Him by doing for the least of these. It seems as though He is saying that treating others with the same care that we would Him matters even if it is simply motivated by compassion.

Think about it! We all come across 'the least of these' opportunities to bless other as we live our lives. And, apparently, based on what Jesus had to say here, what we do with them matters because it helps to qualify us as sheep ... or ... goats!

Touch lives today and God Bless!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Runaway Fish Prophet, Part 4

Days and night blurred together. The burning sensation was all that Jonah was aware of now. It was constant. Unending. Part of him would say anything to get out of this pit.

In fact, he had tried that. God didn't listen to his half-hearted attempt.

How many days and nights had he been here?

"Argh," he moaned. If only he had just obeyed the word of the Lord. No matter what he thought of the people, he should have done the Lord's will.

He get...out...of here.

He started to pray. He wasn't sure if he was praying out loud or if it was all in his head, but he prayed. He tried to take a breath. This part he had to say out loud, from the belly of this great fish, God would hear his cry.

"But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; What I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!"

Looking back, Jonah was pretty sure he had passed out after that. The next thing he remembered was sliding through stomach bile and saliva before landing on the sea shore.

Water burned in his lungs. Something slimy was wrapped around his leg. He didn't dare look.

There was splashing, and Jonah turned to glimpse the behemoth-like fish swimming back into the dark deeps.

Slowly standing up, he coughed hard in an attempt to clear his lungs. The exaggerated cough only pained him more. Avoiding the burning light of the sun, he wiped the slim from his eyes.

Based on Jonah 1:17-2:10

Jonah doesn't reveal his real reason for running away from God until the end of the book. So I need you to ignore that while you answer this question.

Why did God tell the great fish to spit Jonah up on the dry land then?

The answer is in the last two sentences of Jonah's prayer from the fish's belly.

"But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; What I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!" Jonah 2:9

He came to grips with the fact that no matter how he felt about the situation, he was supposed to do God's will. Period.
"And Samuel said, 'Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.'"
1 Samuel 15:22

In modern speak, Jonah was basically saying, "I will thankfully sacrifice my will to your will. What I promise to do, I will do it. Save who you want to save! I'll do what you tell me."

It wasn't his heart towards the people of Nineveh that had changed. No, it was his heart towards doing what God asked. Once Jonah got that through his head while in the belly of the fish, that was when God told the fish to spit him out. He finally got it.

The question is: do we, or do we need to have a close encounter with fish guts? Our job is not to critique God's plan. Our job is to do what He has specifically called us to do, regardless of what we think of the whole crazy, strange plan.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"More than Enough"

The example we are going to look at for the start of today's message can be found in three out of the four gospels but the account we are going to look at today can be found in John 6:9-11 ..."There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they among so many?" Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish as much as they wanted... I find it really cool and truly amazing that Jesus took the little bit of bread and fish the boy offered Him and it became more than enough to feed this huge crowd of people just because Jesus did a miracle with it and multiplied it!

The point being? Jesus took the little the boy gave Him to use and multiplied it until it fed thousands of people. There were those that scoffed at the boys offering because it was obviously not enough to go around, but the boy gave it anyways. Jesus took it despite words like, 'what are they among so many' and then He caused this amazingly cool miracle to take place. How about you? Do you believe He can use your gifts to do the same today? Maybe you feel like you don't have a lot to offer? Maybe you feel like you only have one talent and its not really enough to bother with? You may even be wondering what if anything you can offer up for Him to use?

Lets check out our next story from 2 Kings 5:1-18 ...Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman's wife. Then she said to her mistress, "If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy." ... If you were to keep reading you would see that Naaman is indeed healed by God as he heeds  the word spoken to him by the prophet. His healing took place because a little girl who had been taken captive brought something with her into captivity. She brought her faith in God and His ability to heal with her. She didn't leave it back in Israel! She not only believed it for herself but she even dared to share her belief with those that she served. She gave what she had to give, a good report about her God. She offered up her faith that God was more than able to heal Naaman and He did just that!

Maybe we don't have a lot of money or ? to give but the truth is we can do the same thing the little maid of Israel did and just like the little boy who trusted Jesus to feed the thousands with his little bit we too can trust Him to take the 'testimonies' and the 'good reports' that we have about Him and work miracles in the lives of our listeners. He will  use our faith, our good reports to touch lives if we will stop with the negative attitude of,  "What are they among so many?"  He will use our good reports if we will stop doubting and believe that with God all things are possible. In His hands a little bit will always be more than enough.

If He can use the words of a little slave girl and a little boys lunch to work miracles and touch lives He CAN an He WILL use you if you will let Him!

God Bless!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Runaway Fish Prophet, Part 3

How exactly does one go about tossing someone into the raging sea?

Because he didn't think he could do it.

The day had started out like any other. The sky was blue, the cargo was loaded, and the sea was calm.

Perfectly calm.

Now the waves rose higher then the sails, the sky was black, and rain pelted his face. A passenger claimed it was his fault because he was running from his God. He told them to throw him into the sea, but he couldn't do it. He had instructed his men, much to their dismay, to keep rowing.

It had been hours. 

A tempestuous wave slammed into the boat, knocking him off his feet. Struggling to stand, he knew what he had to do, no matter how horrible the idea sounded. There was no other solution. 

The man - Jonah - locked eyes with him. He held Jonah's unyielding stare, and nodded. 

"Grab him." His voice broke. He looked up to the darkened heavens. "Lord, don't let us perish for this man's life. Don't lay on us innocent blood, for you, oh Lord, have done as it pleased you."

Several of his men picked Jonah up without any struggle. Then they tossed him into the raging deep.

And then the sea ceased its raging.

Based on Jonah 1:12-15

How exactly does one go about tossing someone into the raging sea?

I mean, really. Think about it.

How does someone with a soul do that to another person?

I've never really thought about the captain's (group of men, or whoever ultimately decided to throw him into the sea) part in this chain of events. He was clearly resistant to the idea. The men kept rowing and rowing, desperately trying not to toss this crazy man to certain death. This man didn't believe in God, and he didn't want to kill Jonah. 

So what was he supposed to do?

"Therefore they called out to the Lord, 'O Lord, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, Have done as it pleased you.'" So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows." Jonah 2:14-16

Sometimes I feel like God doesn't make sense. 

But then I read something like this, and I remember how intricately God has woven the details of our lives.

If this captain had kept fighting God's will for Jonah, then he and his crew would have died. Jonah could have died a prophet who abandoned God. Instead, all of the men on that ship turned their lives over to God, and Jonah had another chance to turn from his sin.

God, you are so cool!

"So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11

Sometimes God's will seems like a big bag of weird. It just doesn't make sense, but it doesn't have to make sense to us. We just need to stop fighting Him so that He can turn the raging sea of our lives into the calm water in His plans.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, February 9, 2015

"Spread The News"

   He said to them, "Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping." And they laughed Him to scorn. But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went out into all that land.
   When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, "Son of David, have mercy on us!" And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to him. and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said, "Yes, Lord." Then he touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith let it be to you." And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, "See that no one knows it." But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country.
   As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, "It was never seen like this in Israel!" But the Pharisees said, "He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons."
   And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
   But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest. Matthew 9:24-38
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?" So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:16-17

Today's message is completely and seriously about, "Whose report will you believe?"  In the above accounts from Matthew 9 we see some perfect examples of people believing and not believing. The truth is we all fall into one category or the other.

We start with some non believing people who 'laugh Him to scorn' when He told them to stop crying and carrying on; that she was just asleep and not dead. He along with her parents (Who are believing) go in and guess what? Not dead! Why? Because He takes her by the hand and she arose, healed and well and very much alive.

From there a report of this miracle and what happens spreads to two blind men and they start to follow Him. Why? Because they heard the report and decided to believe. He even asks them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They respond with a resounding, believing "Yes!" and guess what? They too get their miracle! Why? Because they believed the report about Him raising up the little girl.

The thing is it doesn't end there. They too are not able to contain themselves and spread the matter of their miracles throughout their communities as well and then others believed their report and they brought Him a man, mute and demon-possessed.Jesus takes care of the demon and then we get to see some more unbelieving people. They are the Pharisees or rather the non-believing who are accusing Him of casting out the demon with the power of a bigger one.

News spreads! The reports are flowing! He healed a dead girl. She was dead and now shes alive. The blind see! He casts out demons! He heals the sick! Those that believed the reports flocked to Him. It says that from there 'Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.' Every sickness! Every disease! People came and flocked to Him with all their needs because they heard the reports and they believed.

There are always going to be those who laugh and mock and try to discredit the report of those He has touched but the truth is that everywhere He went, a report about what He did in the lives He touched, always found a way to the heart of the next believing person. Every deed, every word He spoke, was passed on as someone reported to someone else. All that He had done and was doing in the lives of those who believed was reported and then as they believed the next miracle and the next report to spread the matter would take flight. 

So the question of the day, "Whose report will you believe?"

Will you believe that He is who He says He is? Will you believe that His compassion is more than enough to cause Him to meet your need? Will you 'laugh Him to scorn' or believe in faith that He can raise you up and make you whole? Whose report will you believe? The words that bring life or death?

Last question of the day is this: "Whose report will you be spreading?"

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest. Matthew 9:37-38

Sunday, February 8, 2015

"Time To Look Around"

Psalm 19:1-4

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.

Lord, it is so easy to get caught up with our busy lives and circumstances; jobs, relationships, tasks, duties and obligations, even to the point that we might forget that you are at the center of it all! You alone are in the midst of it all. Help us Lord, to take the time to notice that You are all around. As we take time to look around help us to see You each and every day! Help us to notice the beauty of Your creation whether it be the beauty of the heavens or the firmament around us. Most of all Lord, help us to see You as we look into the face of Your greatest creation. Those You created in Your image.

 God Bless!!! 

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Be Generous

"Don't love money, be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you." So we can say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?" Hebrews 13:5-6

With tax season upon us, these are important words to remember. Some of us aren't getting a tax refund from the government this year and might even have to pay in this year, some of us are getting a moderate amount back, and, of course, some are getting a lot back.  But regardless of your personal situation, we can still take what the Bible says to heart.

See, in my wife's and my situation, we could easily look at that money and say, "Well, that's our next heating bill." Living in the north country definitely has its downfalls, but I'm not going to sit here worrying about our bills.

Something that my Pastor/father drilled into me for years was that, regardless of your situation, the first thing that you do is set that 10% tithe money aside. God won't let you fail if you do that.

"Bring all the tithes into the storehouses so there will be enough food my my Temple. If you do,"says the Lord of Heaven's Armies, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!" Malachi 3:10

That doesn't mean that you get to be stupid with the rest of your money. You still need to pay your bills. But when your money doesn't quite stretch to cover your bills, that's when God works a little miracle in your favor, and problem solved. I have had this happen to me several times. Maybe the bills were a little smaller than expected, or the money in my account seemed not to run out until the bills were paid.

So, this year, don't forget to be generous with your money. And I'm not talking about the tithe, that money is rightfully God's and it doesn't count as giving. So, find somewhere that needs the money, a good charity or maybe a freewill offering to a church. Maybe sponsor one of the thousands of kids in need.

"Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full - pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back." Luke 6:38

"Remember this: If you sow little, you won't harvest much grain. But if you sow generously, you will harvest much grain. Everyone should do what he has made up his mind to do, not with regret or being forced, because God loves anyone who gives gladly." 2 Corinthians 9:6


Friday, February 6, 2015

"The Psalmist's Heart"

Psalm 111:1-10

Praise the Lord!
I will praise the Lord with my whole heart,
In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.

The works of the Lord are great,
Studied by all who have pleasure in them.
His work is honorable and glorious,
And His righteousness endures forever.
He has made His works to be remembered;
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion.
He has given food to those who fear Him;
He will ever be mindful of His covenant.
He has declared to His people the power of His works,
In giving them the heritage of the nations.

The works of His hands are verity and justice;
All His precepts are sure.
They stand fast forever and ever,
And are done in truth and uprightness.
He has sent redemption to His people;
He has commanded His covenant forever;
Holy and awesome is His name.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all who do His commandments.
His praise endures forever.

As I was reading and asking God what I should write to share with you today I ran across this Psalm and as I read I was struck by the Psalmist's heart for God and it made me wonder about how often we as His people take the time to 'write' Him a Psalm from our hearts today. If you look at this one it begins with praise. It then moves from a place of praise into a place of declaring who God is and what He does and has done for His people. It talks about who and what He is as well as declaring what He can be counted on to be and to do for His people in the future.

I wonder if our conversations, our prayers, our time with Him even come close to expressing who He is? Do we take the time every day to express our love for Him not only because of what He has done for us in the past or the present but also for the blessings yet to come? How well do we understand our need to love Him and how often or maybe even how well do we express our love for Him? Do we do it enough or do we have an attitude that takes 'His knowing' for granted. After all, He is God so He knows we love Him, right?

I'm thinking, that we might, just maybe, sometimes have a little of Peter's attitude. Think about it. When Jesus asked him this question, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?"  for the third time, how did Peter answer?  "...and he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." John 21:17 

I think that maybe we, the redeemed of the Lord, could, or maybe even should, express our love and appreciation for who He is, a little more often! We need to be saying, "I love You!" both to Him and about Him. 

Oh give thanks to the Lord. for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy. Psalm 107:1-2

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Runaway Fish Prophet, Part 2

The nasty looking sailor who had collected Jonah's money grabbed him by the arm. Another hand grabbed his other arm, and Jonah saw another, albeit nicer looking member of the crew holding it. Once all the cargo had been thrown overboard, he had slipped below deck before the captain could demand again that he call on the name of his God.

"You've got to come with us. We are going to cast lots." The first sailor said as they dragged him back onto deck. He tried to walk with the men, but they were a good deal taller then him. Combined with their speed Jonah stumbled forward more then walked.

The captain and the other passengers were waiting in the middle of the deck. The captain narrowed his eyes at Jonah, but didn't say anything. The entire crew as well as the other passengers all crowded together to form a large circle. Rain pelted them from all sides, and Jonah was convinced that the thunderous roar of the waves would drive him deaf.

Reaching into his worn cloak, the captain pulled out the dice. One by one, the others were eliminated. Until only Jonah remained.

Accusing eyes turned his way. Everyone started talking at once.

"Tell us why this evil has come upon us!"

"What is your occupation?"

"Where did you come from?"

"What country are you from, and who are your people?"

He cleared his throat. "I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, God of Heaven, who made the sea and the dry land." As he told them his story, the wind and sea seemed to get angrier.

Fear descended on the group faster then the pouring rain. The captain bellowed, "What have you done? You fled from the Lord? What are we going to do to you, in order to quiet the sea?"

Jonah looked out into the raging tempest. There was only one thing. "Throw me in."

Based on Jonah 1:7-12

This is a good example of owning up to your actions, even if it means you get thrown into the ocean.

Hmmm. Thrown into the ocean... Maybe it's better to keep things secret. Keep quit like Jonah did at first, possibly hoping the lots wouldn't land on him.

"Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy." Proverbs 28:13

At first glance, Jonah's decision to tell the truth probably didn't look too smart. I mean, he ended up being tossed into the ocean. And it's not like Veggie Tales where the vegetable man had a little life preserver. He was tossed into the middle of an ocean with no exit strategy. He was literally at God's mercy.

At the hands of God's mercy isn't such a bad place to be when you've messed up.

In 2 Samuel 24 after David had sinned by trying to determine his own might, God gave him the choice of three punishments. David picked that God would punish and judge him. He said, "Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man."

David knew that God's judgment was better than man's judgment. Even if it doesn't always seem like it. Even Jonah experienced God's mercy. God could have left him in that ocean to die. God could have found someone else who was willing to do His will. Instead He sent a great fish to swallow him whole, and give him another chance to change his answer and his heart. Don't be afraid to go to God. Don't wait. No matter how badly you've screwed up, God still loves you. Having God's love and mercy always outweighs everything else.

V. Joy Palmer