Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Be Ready

"Get up!"

Wearily, she opened her eyes. She didn't want to open them. She was quite content sleeping. Batting away whoever shook her back and forth, she moaned. "What is it?"

"He's coming!"

He's coming. Swell.

He's coming...

Oh goodness. HE'S COMING!

She leapt from her makeshift bed. She needed to tend to the dying flame in her lamp. Fumbling through her belongings, she grasps frantically for her oil. Where was it?

Her eyes slid shut.

She knew right were it was. She had forgotten it. It sat in her house next to her bed.

Around her, some of the other women seemed to be experiencing the same problem. However, a number of lamp lights flickered around her.

She didn't have enough oil. What would she do?

Based on Matthew 25:1-11

I've always felt bad for the women in this parable. In my mind I'd scream, "It's not their fault the bridegroom took forever! They had oil! He took so long it ran out so blame him! It could have happened to anyone!"

Then due to their last minute rush trip to the local oil store, they arrive to the celebration late, and the bridegroom sticks his head out and says, "Go away. I don't even know who you are."

Um, well, why were they invited dude.

But this parable isn't about all the things that go wrong at weddings. This is about being prepared for whatever God does next. Even Jesus coming back.

This is a story about the people who pretend. The ones who slip by in the shadows cast from the light of God's people. The people who don't have God/Jesus/Holy Spirit in their lives. The ones who slid in because of the knowledge they've gleaned, but never applied. This parable is about those people.

And well...I still feel sorry for them. But now I'm sorry for them because they are missing out on all that God has to offer. When they realize the truth they've ignored for so long, it will be too late.

And that's heartbreaking.

My friends, don't wait. Live for God now. Let His Spirit flow in your life. Take Him everywhere you go. You'll regret it if you don't.

"Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." 2 Timothy 4:2

Be ready.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, March 30, 2015

"Little Guy Warrior"

Here am I and the children whom the Lord has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells in Mount Zion. Isaiah 8:18


I don't  know about you but I LOVE THIS shot! This little guy is good to go! Hes got his sword, some pretty good swagger, (confidence) and what looks to me like a pretty good AAAH (battle cry) as well!

What about you? Are you battle ready?

Too often as adults we seem to think we need to see ourselves like this battle ready, armor clad grown-up before we step onto the battle field, but here is the thing that jumped out at me when I saw this amazing shot of our little guy warrior above was this truth. The key to seeing ourselves like this great warrior can be found in this statement made by Jesus in Matthew 18:3


"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. According to Jesus all it takes to be great in the kingdom is "... is to be like a little child."

I recently went up against two little guys, (a three and  four year old) armed with the cardboard tubes from the Christmas wrapping paper and I'm here to tell you,  without a doubt they landed their fair share of blows! Why? Because they were fearless! They didn't care that I was bigger and armed as well. They just knew they had a weapon and like our little guy warrior above and they were ready to go. They knew that weapon in their hand was to land blows! And they had all the confidence in the world that they could do it as well. And in case you never noticed it or not but every kid going into battle has a great (aaagh) battle cry  as well! In the end I had to call a cease fire because they don't hold back or the don't give up!

How about you and I? Do we look at our sword as a wooded plaything or the powerful weapon it truly is? Do we run from battle or rush in with the faith that we will land a blow! Do we have our battle cry ready as we rush in and take the battle to the enemy? Are we going into battle boldly armed, crying out the mighty name of Jesus as we send the enemy fleeing in its wake?

You want to be a mighty warrior in the kingdom? Be a little guy warrior first! Grab your sword! Your armor! Don't hold back and Go! Go! Go be a little guy warrior and be a sign and a wonder to the nations!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

"I Believe!"

He who believes will be saved; Mark 16:16a

"Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper." 2 Chronicles 20:20

Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."

Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" John 11:40

"And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will ..."

Salvation! 
Be established and prosper!
All things are possible!
See the glory of God!
Walk in signs, wonders, and miracles!

Just a few of the benefits you receive when you say, "I Believe!"

Read the rest of the book and you too will believe more and more and more and more and ...

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tempted Beyond YOUR Ability?

"For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

It's pretty easy to slip into sin. After all, that's our default human nature. We love our little sins, don't we? It's so easy to go back to your regular, old, sinful habits when no one is around. After all, its no big deal. Nobody's gonna know.

Now, I know what I sound like... Those silly cartoons, the ones with the demon on one shoulder, angel on the other. Doesn't mean that battle doesn't actually happen every time that you are alone.

In your subconscious, temptations run rampant. It's easy when others are around - we can be good for others. We can be the good example. But when you are alone, you're an easy target.

Our enemy knows this - this is his preferred time to strike. Pick off the member of the herd that is separated from everybody else. It is a classic technique, as old as time.

When we give into those sins, it pulls us down. It makes us feel guilty and all too often it separates us from God - because we let it. We all know that God forgives us our sins, but we aren't too anxious to go run to Him right after we have sinned.

Be careful when you are alone - know that you are in someone's crosshairs. Know that despite anything else that happens, God is still with you. The biggest mistake we make when we are alone is not sharing that time with our Maker. Temptations don't seem so insurmountable after you've spent time in the Word and talking with God.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not allow you to be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

Notice the phrasing in this verse - "He will also provide the way of escape." The way. THE, singular. As in, there is only one way to escape temptation - His Way. We can resist some temptation on our own, but we can resist ALL temptation with God. He always provides a way.

Sam

Friday, March 27, 2015

"Whys And Why Not Of Things"

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" Matthew 24:3

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast him out?"  Matthew 17:19, Mark 9:28

Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Matthew 18:21

Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. Mark 6:30

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven ?" Matthew 18:1

Nathanael said to Him, "How do You know me?" John 1:48

Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" Matthew 15:12

And in the house His disciples asked Him again about the same matter. Mark 10:10

There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?" John 6:9

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask."  ... They said to Him, "Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory." Mark 10:35-37

But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. Mark 4:10

And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." Luke 17:5

The disciples said to Him, "Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, are You going there again?" John 11:8

Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." John 14:8

What is this that He says to us, "A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me; and because I go to the Father" John 16:17

And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" John 9:2

So, after all these verses we come to the really simple point of today's message. I'm sure you noticed that each of the above verses involves Jesus, His disciples, and a question. To be honest the thing that stood out to me today as I was reading was the number of times that Jesus took His disciples aside privately to answer and explain things to them alone. The other thing was just how often it was their idea. They weren't afraid to ask Him anything from the easy questions about travel plans to the hard ones involving sin, faith, and the whys and why not of things.

Today I focused on just some of the questions His disciples asked Him because I felt like He was asking me  to remind You that it is not only okay to ask Him anything and everything but it is very definitely something He desires. He wants to spend time privately with you sharing not only your heart but His for you as well! He wants you to draw aside with Him and ask Him all your questions even if they are as simple as, "How?" ..."Why?" ... "Where do I go?" "What did You mean by that?" ... or it might be something as personal as, "How do You know me?"

Whatever Your question is on any given day; take the time with Him to ask it!

The other thing to note is This Fact! For every question asked, Jesus always responded with an answer as to all the whys and the why not of things!"

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Be Louder

"Put a lid on it, ya old geezers."

Wasn't that just so kind and thoughtful? The people in this town really showed their true colors.

"Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" His friend's voice boomed over the scoffers' voices.

They bobbed in this dark ocean for far too long. Beaten down and broken, they had nothing. Truly, his friendship with Brail had been the only thing to keep him afloat in this sea of darkness.

For weeks, they had heard of a man who could heal people. The blind, deaf, there were even rumors of the dead being raised. They had decided that they would camp out on the side of the major road, hoping and praying that the man called Jesus would come this way.

"Lord, have mercy on us!" He shouted.

"Son of David, let our eyes be opened!" Brail bellowed alongside him.

"Shut up." A young man's voice assaulted their ears, and somebody stepped on his outstretched foot.

"Move!" The shrill voice of a woman ordered.

"Be quiet. He won't help the likes of you." An older man proclaimed. Someone whacked his hand away.

What did they do? Give up? Shut up? Die like this?

Brail started screaming even louder. "LORD, HAVE MERCY ON US, SON OF DAVID!"

No. They would yell all the louder. Together they screamed, louder and louder ignoring the physical and emotional abuse of the crowd. They yelled for so long that their voices grew horse. They kept yelling until...

A warm hand rested on his head. An equally warm voice said, "What do you want me to do for you?"

Based on Matthew 20:29-34

"The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, 'Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!'" Matthew 20:32

This is my favorite part of this story, this encounter with Jesus. These men. Their boldness. Their courage. Their fight.

When the crowd beat them down with their words - possibly even physically - they just cried out even louder. They didn't stop. They didn't give up. They dug their heals in and let loose screams that got Jesus' attention.

What about us? When the crowds tell us that we should shut up, stand back, and go home, do we listen to them?

"Since we have such a hope, we are very bold." 2 Corinthians 3:12

Or do we cry out even louder? Do we pursue the call God has for even more? Do we cry out to God saying, "God, I need you to provide because I can't" Do you keep shouting, going, walking, and believing?

"In whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him." Ephesians 3:12

Be louder.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"Dress For The Occasion"

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations. Isaiah 61:10-11
As I read the above passage today it brought to mind this simple thought about the garments we put on. I know that when I have an important function to attend, I dress for the occasion. I might change outfits any number of times until I find the perfect one that looks right and feels right for the event.

Anyways, the above passage got me to thinking about how in the natural we make sure we are dressed appropriately for the occasion even if it means we need to go out and buy a new outfit but what about when we meet with the king of glory?  In the above passage it starts by saying, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness," Do we meet him with an attitude that says "I will greatly rejoice?" Are we clothed in our garment of praise every time we come into His presence? Is the cry of our hearts, "I will greatly rejoice in You Lord!"

"As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." 

I tend to think our bridegroom is decked out to meet with us. Are we, His Beloved, decked out in all our best garments when we meet with Him? Its His heart that our 'righteousness and praise spring forth before all the nations." Are we truly decked out in our robes of righteousness and our garments of praise as we declare to the nations that He is our Beloved? 

Our garments of salvation, and our garments of praise, and our robes of righteousness are the best outfits possible because they make it possible for you and I to be dressed in all our best finery when we approach the God of all creation.  In them we come to Him clean, and righteous, and full of joy!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

We, the Wheat

Brown, jagged, thorny plants waved in the wind along with the fresh, green crop.

When did this happen?

He felt his master's presence come behind him. The man had a very distinct persona. You couldn't mistake him for any other. It was kingly.

He shook his head slightly. "Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?"

"An enemy has done this."

Ah, yes. That explained it, but now what? "Do you want us to go and gather them?" He turned to look at his master, expecting that he would bid them to gather the harmful crop at once.

"No. If you do, you may uproot the wheat along with the weeds." His master clapped him on the shoulder. "Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I will tell the reapers to gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned. Then gather the wheat into my barn."

He looked back out at the field of wheat and weeds. Some of the wheat crop may suffer, but his master's reasoning was sound.

Based on Matthew 13:24-30

He put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him. 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' So the servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" Matthew 13:24-30

So sometimes people say, "If God is so good, why does He allow all the evil in the world?" My answer normally consists of The Fall and how we live in an imperfect world were the devil rules.

These verses show us that there's also another reason.

Can you imagine if God got rid of all the evil people in the world right now? At first we think, "Yippee!" But it would actually backfire. Don't think for a moment that the devil wouldn't swoop in with doubts about our loving God who would destroy all those people. Then, because we've never had any real reason to stand up for our faith, we would be easily swayed.

God allows evil to remain in the world for a time. Don't think that He's turned a blind eye to it, or that He's not even aware. Like the master of that field, God is just waiting for the harvest to come. Truth be told, God has plenty of reason for allowing things to be the way they are right now. Our place is to be the wheat among the weeds. Sure, we may take some damages from the thorny weeds, but the day of the harvest is coming.

"Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:16

This is what we, the wheat, need to be doing! Instead of bemoaning the thorn in our side, we should be striving to live our lives for God in these evil days. When the harvest arrives, then those thorns will be removed.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, March 23, 2015

"Jacob's Rock Moment"

Jacob woke with a start. Looking around, he calmed slightly when he realized that no one was around. Then he remembered.

That dream.

"The Lord is in this place!" There was no one around, but reverent fear consumed his soul. Looking around he spoke to himself, "How awesome is this place! This is none other then the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven." Closing his eyes, he watched as glimpses of the dream flashed before his mind's eye.

The dream was other-worldly. Heavenly. Stairs sat upon the earth, and it extended all the way into Heaven. Jacob could see the angels of God ascending and descending on the steps. The Lord God stood at the top.

And He spoke to Jacob. The words still resounded in his ears.

"I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

Orange rays of light started to stretch their sleepy limbs across the horizon. Jacob sat with his back against the rock he had used as a pillow, absorbing the dream.

God, the God of his ancestors, the God of everything, was offering to team up with him. Help him. Provide for him. What had he done to deserve this? He snorted. Nothing. He had done nothing. Jacob knew he should get the exact opposite. He had been a liar and a cheat. All his schemes had resulted in him fleeing from his angry brother who was bent on killing him.

He didn't deserve this.

Did that matter? God was giving it to him, and he wanted it. Oh, he really wanted it. He wanted God in his corner.

Jacob stood up, stretching towards the awakening heavens. What could he do in return? All he had were the clothes on his back and a small bag of provisions. Giving his torn garments and moldy bread didn't exactly scream life-changing commitment.

Turning slightly, he sat down on his pillow-now-turned-chair rock.

What could he do for God? How could He show God and himself that he was serious?

Bolting upright, he spun around and dropped to his knees. The stone! He would make a pillar with the stone. Something he would see and remember. The only thing that had given him comfort since he had fled his home.

Setting it upright like a pillar, Jacob fished through his bag to find a the small vial of oil he had stashed in there. Pulling the cork out with this teeth, Jacob dumped it all over the rock.

His testament.

Standing up, he raised his hands towards the gate of Heaven, and spoke to his Lord. "If you God will be with me and keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then you Lord shall be my God, and this stone, Bethel, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be god's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you."

Now, his promise would be forever marked with the pillow stone in Bethel.

Story by V. Joy Palmer. Based on Genesis 28:10-22
      -----------------------------------------------
It is hard to believe that we are here today celebrating our second year anniversary! Amazing as it seems today is our 730th post. Now that may not seem to be 'all that' to you but to us it is amazing because it means that for 730 days straight we have looked to and received from heaven a fresh word to share with the nations!

As I end that statement I have had to stop and pause because the awe of such a thing is slightly overwhelming. I can only sit here; my heart full with such an overwhelming sense of His presence, which to be honest has also seemed to cause tears to be flowing freely! I am feeling so overwhelmed by the faithfulness and the goodness of our God that He would use us in such a way!

I say all that because 730 days ago God answered the cry of my heart for more of Him in my life with these life changing words, "Rie, I want you to start a daily devotional!" My response was short and to the point. I quickly and vehemently said, "Are You crazy! I can't! Its too hard! I don't have time!" Obviously He quickly laid to rest my excuses! He then gave me the names of three other people He wanted me to 'enlist' and here we are 730 days later, with not one, but two devotionals going out to the nations everyday. (At the end of the first year we also started Snack Pack for Kidz)

So, here we are 730 days into this amazing endeavor, declaring to you the faithfulness of our God to speak new every morning! And that also brings us to today's message. He is faithful!

I shared this message at our youth meeting a couple of weeks ago and when we were talking about what to do to mark our two year anniversary Joy said that she thought that it needed to be this message. So, Joy, in the way she does so well, has written about Jacob's moment of decision up above. In it we find that Jacob is on the run to escape his brother who desires to kill him. He has left the safety of everything he knows behind him and as it comes on nightfall, he takes a stone to use as a pillow and he goes to sleep. As you know he has a dream. It has a ladder/stairway with angels ascending and descending and it goes all the way up to heaven. God speaks to him in the dream and at the end God makes this final promise, "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Genesis 28:15

Jacob wakes and for the first time in his life realizes that the God of his father is real. "Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it." Genesis 28:16 It is at this point that he knows that he wants the God of his father to be his God! He realizes that God is promising to do just that, despite the actions that have brought him to this place.

As a youth pastor I love this! This is the moment when this church kid chooses God for himself! It is also in this moment that he feels the need to mark the occasion! So he takes the only thing he has available, the stone he had used as a pillow. He anoints it with oil to consecrate it as a symbol of his vow back to God.

God simply told him He was with him and would keep him, now, in the future, and that He would even be with his descendants. Check out his vow in the account above and you'll see that Jacob basically tells God that "if you'll feed me, cloth me, be with me wherever I go, and bring me peace with my family, I'm yours." He put himself in agreement with God's promise to him. He didn't ask for the world here. He asked for the basic necessities of life and he acknowledged his commitment to God and God's commitment to bring it to pass with a rock and some oil.

It was just a rock and a rock doesn't seem like much to you and I but the truth is it doesn't take much. Jacob took the one thing he had available to him in this moment which was just a simple stupid rock.  Then he took that rock and he used it to consecrate this moment because it was in this moment he was entrusting God's faithfulness to bring His promise to pass with his own faithfulness to serve.

What about you? Is there a specific promise that God has made to you about your life and or your specific needs? Find your stone! What can you give to Him to mark your agreement with His faithfulness to bring it to pass in your life? Find your stone! Mark the moment because He is faithful and just like in the life of Jacob (Genesis 28-33) He 'will be with you and will keep you wherever you go,' and 'He will not leave you until He has done what He has promised you.'

Find your stone and mark your moment!


God Bless and thanks for your support!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions




Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Not By Might"

"...Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," says the Lord of hosts.    Zechariah 4:6

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8

"Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:29-31 

Come, Holy Spirit! Come. Lead us in all truth! Equip us to take the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ with all boldness to every nation. Holy Spirit, share the heart of the Father with us as we strive to walk surrendered to His will. Holy Spirit, we know that we don't go in our own might, so, therefore, equip us and empower us with the signs, wonders, and miracles that we might manifest His glory everywhere we go, even to the ends of the earth.

Come, Holy Spirit, come that we, ...the Spirit and the bride, would say, "Come, Lord Jesus! Come!"

May His numerous blessing flow your way!

Staff of Snack Time devotions

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Your Esther Moment

One of the most misused verses that I have ever seen comes out of Romans 8.

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28

It has been simplified, taking away the very nature of the verse, to "All things work for good." For the unbeliever, that is not even remotely true. A moderately more accurate expression would be to say that bad things happen to "good" people (I'm not going to into the whole "Only God is good" truth).

Bad things do happen, though - to everybody. Seriously, if we think that because we are saved that we are immune to all the bad stuff going on... Well, we are in serious trouble. But that is not the point that I want to make today.

The people in the world are looking for hope. They are looking for reasons and explanations. Are we telling them the truth behind their suffering? Are we giving them the hope that they so need? Or are we chickening out?

Do we surrender to the fear of rejection? The idea of a friend, someone that you love and respect, telling you your an idiot for believing in the God stuff... That can be hard to face. But here is an even harder truth to face - if you don't, than who will? You can't count on some great revival to just come sweeping in, saving all your loved ones, all your friends. That is YOUR job.

There is a great verse that I feel applies to what I'm saying - it's Esther's classic "for such a time as this" verse.

"If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. What's more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this?" Esther 4:14

The key difference here is that we don't know that deliverance for our family and friends will come. I'm also not saying that if you don't try to reach people that you will be killed. But what if you are the only person in your friends' lives that they will listen to? What if you are the only one who can reach them? What if your Esther moment is about the salvation of your loved one? What if your the one who is meant to bring hope to the tough moments of their lives?

These are the thoughts going through my own mind this week. These are my own struggles, but I know that they are yours, too. It's time for us to overcome our fear - time for us to share God's love with the world.

Will you do this with me?

Sam

Friday, March 20, 2015

"Giving Glory To The One"

Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" So when He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." and so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" and He said to him, "Arise, go your way, Your faith has made you well."  Luke 17:11-19
This is an extremely well know account in the life of Jesus with an extremely well known message. If you've been a believer for very long you've heard it more than once. Why? Because it is a simple message that can't be missed - Don't forget to thank Him! Give Him the glory!

Ten men crying out their hearts desire, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" And of course, Jesus, being who He is, sees them, hears their cry, and answers it with all the love and compassion He has for all of us! He meets their need with the desired mercy and of course the healing they so desperately needed. 

Ten men leave having been shown the mercy they had cried out for, but and remember, this 'but' is pretty important to the truth of this message. But, only one, 'returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving thanks.'

The truth is, that chances are pretty good, that we have all had moments in our lives when we have fallen into both categories! There have been those moments when we've been the one who returns to glorify and praise Him for His love, His mercy, and His touch on our lives! Chances are just as good that we have also had those moments when we have been like the nine who had more of a 'take the money and run' type of response. 

Today's question? Which moment are you in right now ...in this moment? The nine who left taking His amazing gift for granted or the one who gave praise and glorified the One who had proved Himself worthy!

I must admit that the real truth that hit me today is this. It seems to me, judging by His final statement  ...that Jesus considered this man's act of faith to be the steps he took to return to give glory to God! From what He said, Jesus considered his act of faith to be tied up with His act of worship!

So, once again the question of the day? Where will your faith find you? On the road - or - at His feet giving God all the glory?  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Worshipers March into Battle!

Thousands of swords gleamed in the distance.

Zamar glance over her shoulder, and thousands of other swords winked at her. Her heart was racing like the horses that would soon be colliding.

And somehow she was in the middle of it all. King Jehoshaphat had ordered that singers, worshipers, and musicians lead the way into battle. The people were gathered together to do their part. Praise the Lord as they marched into battle.

"Adonai," she breathed out. Their enemy looked ready for battle. Swords drawn. Evil glares on their faces. They were the epitome of intimidating.

A high-ranking soldier walked before the group. "It's time."

Every one picked up their instruments. They started playing. At first the notes sounded stale and fraught with fear. A spirit of worship settled on them. Their voices raised and mixed into a beautiful melody of praise. The music was intense. Tambourines and clashing cymbals. High notes from the string and wind instruments. The beat urged their feet forward. This was the cry of their heart. One fit for battle.

One fit to win.

Based on 2 Chronicles 20:20-22

I sing on the worship team at my church. I have ever since I was eleven years old. I cannot even fathom my pastor announcing one day that we were going to go to war, and that I would be among the ones to lead the congregation into battle.

All of a sudden there would be a puff of smoke and a hole in the door shaped like me!

We can't even picture this scenario today! But that's what they did back then. Why, even before going to the battlefield one of the things Jehoshaphat and the people did was worship God!

The thing is, shouldn't the worship leaders be the ones leading the way into battle? Especially in today's day and age when our battles are more often a spiritual one. We shouldn't be afraid to lead the way into battle.

"Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him lute and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!" Psalm 150:1-6

If that doesn't describe worshipers going into battle, I don't know what does. In a church service, the worship team leads the way, storming through all the things of the world, and into the presence of God. Worship takes you through the physical and into the things of God.

That's where the battles are won. Use worship! It is one of your greatest weapons!

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." Matthew 18:20


V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"How Important Is It?"

Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament! Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with high sounding cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! Psalm 150

So how important is it really that we as His people take time to praise Him?

We are told to eleven times in this one Psalm. Eleven times in these six verses. Seems to me that it is not only important but a necessary part of our relationship with Him! We see the importance of Praising Him throughout both the Old and New Testaments!

Check out Paul and Silas. '...Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one's chains were loosed. ..." Acts 16:24-36

Thrown in jail. Put in stocks. Time to mummer, grumble, and complain right? NO! Do you need a victory or to see God move in a situation? Than praise Him in it! Than watch and see what happens because praise will always change the atmosphere you find yourself in. Why? Because you will reap what you sow! If you will sow praise into the heavens than you will reap the benefits and blessings of heaven flowing back to you.

We see the importance f this truth in the life of David in the Old Testament as well.  ...And it was told King David, saying, "The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God." So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the city of David with gladness. And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep. Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. And as the ark of the Lord came into the City of David, Michal, Saul's daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. So they brought the ark of the Lord, and set it in its place in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. And when David had finished offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts. Then he distributed among all the people, among the whole multitude of Israel, both the women and the men, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and cake of raisins. So all the people departed, everyone to his house. Then David returned to bless his household. and Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, "How glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself today in the eyes of the maids of his servants, as one of the base fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!" So David said to Michal, "It was before the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the Lord. "And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. But as for the maidservants of whom you have spoken, by them I will be held in honor." Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death. 2 Samuel 6:12-23

This is just one example out of many in the life of David that we can see it laid out pretty clearly how important it is that we not be afraid but rather that we should be able to loose ourselves in an attitude of all out praise for our God! In this example David didn't just say praise the Lord with words but with his whole being. He not only offered sacrifice and offerings, but praised Him with singing and the words of his mouth. I think its important to note that he didn't stop with music and singing either but instead, he went one step further and as it says in Psalm 150; 'he praised Him in the dance.'

Michal on the other hand had an taken a "That not proper" judgemental attitude about his praises for God. She felt he needed to be more reserved and set a 'proper' example. Seems to me, he already did! He had sowed wholehearted his praise unto God and look what he reaped back from God. He came into this place of praise and adoration and was able to do something pretty cool because of it. Take a look!

"And when David had finished offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts. Then he distributed among all the people, among the whole multitude of Israel, both the women and the men, to everyone a loaf of bread, a piece of meat, and cake of raisins. So all the people departed, everyone to his house." David out of his attitude of praise was able to feed the nation (both men and women) a triple portion. It said that after he fed the nation he went to bless his own house (Michal) with this triple portion but instead he was met with her 'attitude' and she missed out! Because she couldn't embrace the need to praise God wholeheartedly she ended up barren all her days!

Jesus said, "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:23-24

Its time that we as believers stop worrying about the opinion of others and instead praise and worship our God with a heart that declares, "I will be even more undignified than this' as we pour out all our worship and Praise Him!

Like David and Michal we have a choice. We can praise Him, reap the benefits, feed the nations with a triple portion! Or like Michal we can choose to not praise and go forth bitter and barren all of our days.
 
As for me ... I say, PRAISE THE LORD!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Crazy Dream

Joseph dropped into a restless sleep. He was as emotionally exhausted as they came, given the kind of day he had. Finding out your fiancée was having another man's baby was very taxing.

Settling onto his soft bed, the one he would have shared with his wife in a few short months, he blew out the candle. The smoke wafted towards his nose, and the darkness claimed his eyes.

The darkness was his friend. There was nothing different about it. It was always the same. No surprises.

Always dark.

But then there was light. Bright, blinding, Heavenly light. It radiated from something in the center.

Joseph squinted. Someone. Someone in the center.

Could that be?

"Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

Yup, that was definitely a being straight from the throne room of God. An angel.

Joseph opened his mouth to talk with the angel, but it turned away from him. He lept out of bed to catch him.

His eyes flew open. A dream. It was a dream. Nothing more. His heart beat rapidly. Every time he blinked, he saw the Heavenly creature speaking to him. That was more then just a dream. Joseph had been sent a message. A peace settled over his soul, but his instructions continued to echo in his ears.

He knew what he must do.

Based on Matthew 1:20-24

Joseph had just received the most devastating news. Then in a dream, God sends him a message: Go, marry this lady. She didn't cheat on you. The child is mine, conceived supernaturally through the Holy Spirit, and He will save the people from their sins.

Do you ever have something really bad happen to you, then you have a wistful thought that maybe, just maybe it will all turn around. Only this wasn't wistful thinking. This was real, and it opened up a whole new can of olives. (I hate olives, so they are the equivalent of worms for me.)

I think about the fact that Joseph listened. He obeyed. He didn't dismiss God's message as "just a dream." He took it seriously.

"When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife." Matthew 1:24

Not once, but three times. (Which you can also find in Matthew 2:13-15 and Matthew 2:19-23.)

"Again he appoints a certain day, 'Today,' saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.'" Hebrews 4:7

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." James 1:22

It took guts for Joseph to step out in faith like that. He based major life decisions for the next several years on "dreams." Would any of us be so bold? He didn't chalk this up to wistful thinking. He took God's message, believed it true, and lived it.

What if we were a little bolder? A little more willing to step out in faith. Even if the ideas seem crazy. Take that step.

You're not crazy.  ;)

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, March 16, 2015

"Stop! Now Consider This!"

And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was able to perform.     Romans 4:19-21

According to these verses it says that Abraham was not weak in his faith because he didn't look at the deadness or rather the impossibility of the situation but instead he was strong in faith because the thing that he looked at was the promise God made to him. It says he did not waver because of the deadness of things in the natural. He didn't focus on the hopeless impossibility of the situation but looked to the fact that he knew because he knew that God was well able to perform His word and bring it to pass in his life!  According to the Strong's the word perform means; 'to make or do.' Jesus' would refer to such a stand as having 'great faith' whenever he saw others who believed in like fashion.

How about you? Have you ever had a prophetic word spoken by God over or into your life? Do you have faith that God will bring you into your destiny, or your calling to accomplish all that He has for you to do? Do you ever doubt that what He has prophesied will come to pass?

If so, stop! Now consider Abraham's example and be fully convinced that He is well able to bring it to pass!

If so, stop! Now consider all the wonderful examples of the men and women throughout the Bible that put their faith in His ability to bring His words to pass.

If so, stop! Now consider this example in all of Genesis chapter 1 ...starting in verse 3 'Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. ...Was He not well able to speak and then bring all of creation to pass just as He had commanded?

If so, stop! Now consider this promise made by God Himself to reassure you! "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11

Are you convinced yet that we as His followers 'must not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but be strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and be fully convinced that what He had promises He is able to perform?"

Still a little doubt there about your "dead situation' or that God's call on your life will come to pass?

If so, stop! Now consider this example of how He caused even the smallest details to be fulfilled in this rather important moment in the life of Jesus, the most perfect example of all.

   Therefore, because it was Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, "Not one of His bones shall be broken." And again another Scripture says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced."

It doesn't matter how big the event or how small the detail, If He said it ... It will come to pass!

Fix your eyes on the prize and step into every call, sign, wonder, and miracle He has promised because He is well able to perform it!

God Bless!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

"Thirst For Him"

Psalm 55:1-6 

"Ho, everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; 
 And you who have no money, 
Come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk 
Without money and price.

Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.

Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you--
The sure mercies of David.

Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people,
A leader and commander for the people.
Surely you shall call a nation you do not know,
and nations who do not know you shall run to you,
Because of the Lord your God,
And the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you."

Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near!

God Bless you as He quenches your thirst when you draw near and enter into His Presence!

Staff of Snack Time devotions




Saturday, March 14, 2015

Yelling at God

"Can anything ever separate us us from Christ's love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?"
Romans 8:35

You ever have one of those days? One of those days where things just keep coming and it feels like the world is kicking while you are down. You know the expression - when it rains, it pours.

Do you ever get angry with God about days like those? What about something that happened that day? You ever just stop, look up at the sky, and yell "WHY!?!?!? God, what did I do to deserve this?!?"

I, much to my great disappoint, have. I have had my "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" moment. I literally said those words, and now, I am ashamed that I did. To say THOSE words for what, at the time, seemed like the worst thing that ever happened to me was the very height of hubris in my life.

Why, when bad things happen to us, do we turn on God? We should know better. Do we really believe, that despite all the things that the Bible says to the contrary, that when you serve God, things are easy? Look at Job, Elijah, David, the Apostles, and even Jesus. Were things easy for them?

Job lost everything. Elijah was being hunted and thought that he was the last of God's faithful. David was forced to run from King Saul, lost a beloved child, and was forced to run again - from his own son. The Apostles were all executed, save one, and they tried to kill him, too. Jesus, the very Son of God, was hated, persecuted, beaten, tortured, killed, and SEPARATED FROM GOD.

Compared to those problems, how small are our problems? And we still get angry and frustrated with God? I have heard it said that its OK to get mad at God, as long as you go talk to Him and get it sorted out. But do we really need to think that God is doing this to us?

Then a hand touched me and roused me to get up on my hands and knees, "Daniel, a much loved man," He said to me, "pay attention to what I'm telling you and stand  up straight because I have now been sent to you." When he said this to me, I stood trembling. "Don't be afraid, Daniel," He told me. "From the first day when you made up your mind to understand, humbling yourself before your God, what you said was heard, and I have come because you spoke. The prince of the Persian kingdom opposed me twenty-one days, but then Michael, one of the leading princes, came to help me, and I have left him to oppose the kings of Persia and have come to help you understand what will happen..." Daniel 11:10-14a

There is opposition in this world right now, same as there was in Daniel's time. Bad things do happen to good Christians. The stronger the Christian you are, the more opposition will come against you. Don't blame God for you earthly woes. He loves you, He doesn't persecute you. Don't make that mistake. Give your purposes, your goals to Him, and don't be frustrated if they don't happen in your own timeframe. He will hold onto them, or He will replace them with something even better.

Sam

Friday, March 13, 2015

"He Highlighted Verses For Me"

Then they came to Jericho. And as He went out of Jericho with His disciple and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man saying to him, "Be of good cheer. Rise. He is calling you." And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. And Jesus answered and said to him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" The blind man said to Him, "Rabboni, that I may receive my sight." Then Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road. Mark 10:46-52

As I read this passage in Mark today, He highlighted three phrases for to me. Take a look!

First - 'Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.'

Second - 'Be of good cheer.'

Third - 'What do you want Me to do for you?'

Our blind man in this example was just in the midst of his everyday 'blind begging' routine when he heard a big commotion as a large crowd approached. When he heard that it was Jesus he started crying out, trying to get His attention. The people around him tried to silence his cries for Jesus' attention but He ignored their warnings and cried out even louder. Jesus heard Him! even in the midst f all the 'large crowd' noise and commotion Jesus heard him, stopped and called him to himself. He offered a word of encouragement and then He asked him what it was he wanted Him to do for him.  Our blind guy asked Him for his sight. Jesus commended him for his faith and immediately he received his sight!

Take a look at what these highlighted verse spoke to me!

First: If your in the midst of something and you are calling out to Him; He always, stops and takes notice! He will always have ears to hear your call! His heart is to always, always, always, ALWAYS answer your call for help with a call to Himself!

Second:  He will always, always, always, speak just the right words to bring comfort, encouragement, and hope whether it is to a blind beggar beside the road, a boat full of scared disciples, (Matthew 14:27) or even a worried father who just received bad news about his daughter. (Mark 5:36) He will ALWAYS speak a word/promise that motivates our faith to ask and believe for answers!

Third:  His heart is always, always, always, ALWAYS to bless you and to meet your needs. He wants to know what you need.  James 4:2b '...You do not have because you do not ask.' His heart is that you talk to Him. Tell Him what you want Him to do for you. Its His question! He is the one asking it and He is waiting for your response. He is listening and it is His heart to meet your needs and to give you the desires of your heart!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Little Like Joseph

Joseph rubbed his face. How? What? When? Where? His mind was a swirling whirlwind of questions. There were no answers. Only more questions.

And pain. Unmistakable pain in his heart.

"How did this happen?"

She wasn't there anymore. She had left hours ago. Joseph could still see Mary's broken face as she tried to explain that she was pregnant. She didn't stay long. Just basically dumped the news and left.

Joseph picked himself up off the floor where he had collapsed at some point. He started pacing.

What did he do?

He would have to divorce her.

The thought literally pained him, but what else could he do? She hadn't remained faithful to him, to their oath. He cringed thinking of how she would be treated by the people once word got around.

He genuinely cared for Mary. Maybe even loved her. He couldn't stand the idea of how she would be treated.

Maybe he could divorce her quietly. Yes, that's what he would do. Joseph stopped pacing and stared at the wall. She didn't deserve it, but he couldn't bare the idea of shaming her.

Despite the way she had brought shame to him.

Based on Matthew 1:18-19

"And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly." Matthew 1:19

I just want to start off by saying how cool this is.

Did I confuse anyone? Stay with me.

Let's think about this logically. Joseph didn't know that Mary had indeed remained faithful to him, and that the Child (Jesus) was supernaturally God's. So. If a man found out his betrothed, which in Bible days basically meant you were legally married in all ways except the physical, had cheated on him, there are some typical responses.

1. Pretend it never happened.
2. Murder.
3. Yell/scream and divorce the person in a very loud, awful way.

You don't see a person who is willing/wants to divorce the other person quietly because they don't want to shame them. You just don't see that. Joseph was concerned about what people would do and how they would view Mary. He cared about her reputation, not his own reputation.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Joseph. He was a cool guy. A good guy. Joseph didn't know at this point that Mary was pregnant with Jesus, the Son of God. Based on that, he had to be upset by anyone's standards.

Can people say about you, "Willey, a just man who is unwilling to put someone to shame."? It doesn't matter if the person deserves what you want to dish out. Your reputation is determined by how you treat another's reputation.

"Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation." 1 Peter 2:12

How you treat the people who treat you like dog poo is important. It makes or breaks your reputation. I want to have the kind of reputation that points back to God. That shows compassion and care. Unwilling to shame others.

Like Joseph.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"Need Not Fear"

Today I have a quote for you. ... "Arise, and do not be afraid."

Can you tell me who said it? ... Also, Do you know to whom it was said?

This was one of many quotes I used in sharing a message at chapel with a room full of  kids today. It was also the one that no one in the room could identify.

How did you do?  Did you immediately know who said it and to whom? If so, congratulations! If not take a look at the following account and you'll see that Jesus said, "Arise, and do not be afraid." to His disciples at an event that was truly amazing.

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, brought them up on a high mountain by themselves, and was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for  us to be here; if you wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid."  And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead." Matthew 17:1-9
Have you ever really stopped to consider how many people throughout scripture end up on their faces when God shows up? The disciples were no different. It says, that "Jesus was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him." They were filled with how awesome all this was but it wasn't until ... "behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 

God the Father showed up in a cloud and spoke and just that quick they fell on their faces! 

Out of all the quotes I used today to show these young people that the heart of the Father, Son, and Spirit, is to bless them; this is the one that has stayed with me all day long. I'm not really sure why.  'Arise, and do not be afraid." Its a pretty simple statement, but it is the statement that Jesus made to His disciples after the Father showed up and spoke! Maybe, that is why? Maybe its because I love the fact that it is the first thing Jesus said to them after the Father had ended His statement about Jesus with, "Hear Him!" God speaks from the cloud that had overshadowed them, reaffirms and authenticates to them both the person and the word of Christ, and then, He ends His statement to them with, "Hear Him!" 

Jesus immediately goes to them, touches them and says, 'Arise, and do not be afraid.'  

I love that Jesus' first words and His first actions are to bless them with both a touch and with the right words to reassure them that they need not fear the Presence of God.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Speaking Like Jesus

Archegos studied the man teaching them. He had heard rumors that his name was Jesus.

He studied Jesus some more. His clothing was simple. Not fancy, but functional. He didn't wear any extra adornments, just the basics. Jesus stood before a decent sized crowd, talking. No, that wasn't right. He was...teaching them. It was incredible.

Archegos had been amazed as he listened to the man. He moved around, and looked the people in the eye, like he could really relate to them. What was even more impressive was his authority. He didn't talk like a shy newbie. He didn't talk like a pompous know-it-all. He didn't stumble over words that were laced with uncertainty. He spoke with authority. Archegos had never heard anyone speak like that.

He blinked. He had never heard anyone speak like that! No one! Not ever! Archegos had been going to the synagogue with his family his whole life. He had grown up around Godly men, but none of them, not even the priests, Pharisees, or any other religious leader that he could think of had ever spoken with such authority.

Looking around, Archegos could see that he wasn't the only one to who had noticed the difference. The man seemed to posses some kind of Heavenly power. It radiated from him, and into the crowd of people.

People started to talk around him. Due to his dazed realization, Archegos had missed Jesus leaving, but he guessed that the trail of people moving away from the group were following after him. 


Archegos pointed in the direction that Jesus had gone. "Did you see that? Did you hear how he spoke? It was incredible!"

Based on Matthew 7:28-29

"And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes." Matthew 7:28-29

Isn't that incredible! The people noticed such a huge difference in how Jesus spoke. He taught with authority.

And the religious leaders of that day didn't.

Guys, we need to have that same authority in our lives when we talk about Jesus, God, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit. We need to be confident in who we are in our Lord. I don't want to be talking about how cool Jesus is in some lame monotone. Imagine someone falling asleep while you talk. What if you don't really believe the things you are saying? How does that look to people? Not good!

I want the people who hear me to be convinced that I know what I'm talking about. I want them to feel convicted, excited, and eager all rolled up into one. I want to speak with the authority of Jesus.

"So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:10-11

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, March 9, 2015

"Has He Got Our Attention?"

Today I want to talk to you about a scene with two of my favorite people. Their names are Mary and Martha and we can find their story in Luke 10:38-42 This story is only five verses long but it still speaks to me every time I read it.

   Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.
   And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word.
   But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."
   And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.
   But one thing is needed and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

Mary and Martha are two of my favorite people because the truth is I can relate to them! Sometimes I'm so much like Martha and I'm distracted by ALL the things that I need to get done. Other times I'm like Mary and ALL I want to do is sit and listen and spend time with Jesus even though I know there are things I should be doing. I'm like Mary in those moments when He is my only focus!

The thing is that both sisters loved Jesus! It says that Martha welcomed Him into her home. She welcomed Him into her home and when you have guests in your home you feel responsible to look after them, to make them feel welcome.  It also says that she had a sister named Mary who ALSO sat at Jesus' feet which implies that it was something that Martha did as well. Instead of staying there she got distracted with serving because the truth is its the thing we do. Don't forget that it wasn't just Jesus she welcomed in either. There were twelve other men that traveled with Him as well, so it was a crowd she was hosting! Is it any wonder that she got distracted and left His feet to serve? Wouldn't you? Don't we when we get caught up in work, family, friends, and of course, the big one, serving in our ministries?

Martha was working hard serving Jesus and the disciples when she realized she was doing all the work by herself. She looked over and saw her sister, sitting there, totally absorbed in the things Jesus was saying and next thing you know, she is focused on that instead of what Jesus is saying. And now? Now she is angry and feeling put upon. How about you? Have you ever got distracted from listening and next thing you know your 'worried and troubled' about others or even worse with them.  Martha's distraction caused her to be open to a root of bitterness towards Mary because she perceived Mary's listening to mean that she was being blessed in a way that Martha herself was missing out on.

The truth is that all too often we are like Martha. We love Jesus but get distracted with the things we have to do for others or even by what we see others doing.

Then there is Mary. There are times when, like Mary, nothing can drag me away from His presence. I love when, like Jesus said to, "I choose the one thing necessary" and sit and listen and I don't let life or what other people are doing distract me from hearing all He has to say. Did you know Mary isn't the only one who took time and sat and listened despite the tasks of the day? '...Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight. He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.' Mark 1:35 '...And when He sent the multitudes away, He went up on a mountain by Himself to pray. And when evening had come, He was alone there.' Matthew 14:23 Jesus knew the importance of spending time talking and listening to the Father. There is a reason He was able to say, "...that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him." John 8:28-29

We are all a lot like both Martha and Mary at different times of our lives and as we grow in the things of God we need to learn to spend more and more time listening at His feet and less time 'worried and troubled and distracted' by the world around us. The truth is He is the 'one thing' that matters most and by putting Him first everything else will fall into place and be taken care of! Jesus is our perfect example and He always, no matter what His day was filled with, took time to make His Father the focus of all His actions; whether it was in taking time alone with Him or any and all the ministering He did throughout the day. It was all about being and doing His Father's will.  

"Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:33-34 Taking a look at this illustration in the lives of Martha and Mary is a great way for us to ask ourselves, "Are we making Him 'The One Thing' necessary in our own lives the way Jesus did with His heavenly Father? Has He got all our attention or is it the world around us? Is He the focus of our day?"

Sunday, March 8, 2015

"Broken"

  And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains ha been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him.
  And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and n the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.
  But when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him, And he cried out with a loud voice and said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me."
  For He said to him, "Come out of the man, unclean spirit!"
  Then He asked him, "What is Your name?" And he answered saying, "My name is Legion; for we are many."
  And he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountain.
  And all the demons begged Him, saying, "Send us to the swine, that we may enter them."
  And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea.
  Now those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. and they went out to see what it was that happened.
  Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Mark 5:2-15
O Lord, we speak the healing word over each and every life that this message touches today!

Lord, we ask that as we speak this amazingly powerful word you would break every chain that binds.

Today as we speak forth Your healing word and as we speak Your most holy name into and over lives we ask that by the power of Your Spirit, Your people would be set free from anything that hinders them from being found in Your presence, whole and well and in their right mind.

Lord, the word we speak ...That name above all other names! ... Even in this moment, right now, we would stand in awe and watch as we say, "In the name of the Jesus Christ of Nazareth be set free! Be healed. Be whole!

Lord, we give You all the praise and all the glory as every chain that is tasked with the purpose of destroying life is broken! Right now, in this moment, Lord, we know that it doesn't matter whether it is a physical chain like sickness and disease, or a spiritual one that binds the soul; we know that by the power and authority of Your name its hold is BROKEN. Amen!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Battling My Idol

"Stay awake and pray that you may not be tempted. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Mark 14:38

I have heard this verse at least a thousand times, but I have a new-found understanding of it after the events of last week. You see, I have tried to fast before, but I have never been able to make it more than a meal or two before I caved. I would tell myself that I loved food too much. I knew it was an excuse. But what I didn't realize was that that stupid excuse was ACTUALLY TRUE.

I had set such a high value on food that I wouldn't surrender it. To some of you, this probably seems foolish, but I am sure that there are some out there that understand completely where I am coming from - I mean, a day without food? That's crazy! But I seriously felt that I absolutely needed to do it.

I know about idols in the lives of Christians. They aren't just little statues that people would bow to in the Old Testament; they are the things in your life that you value too much, so much that you place them above your relationship with God.

This isn't the first idol that I have battled, and I was determined that I was going to strike a blow against it. I thought about fasting a day, but that seemed too small. So, I decided on a week. My wife talked me down from that. It's not that she doubted my conviction, but she knew that I am a big guy, with a demanding physical job. That it wasn't smart to go from 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds. She also stood beside me in my fast - both of us fasted for three whole days.

THREE. WHOLE. LONG. UNBEARABLE. DAYS.

Or, at least, that is what my mind was screaming by the first afternoon. But I was determined, committed to giving something over to my Lord that I had never truly given before. I stood resolute that I would not fail. And I did not fail. My spirit was willing.

I personally saw something in my life that I heard about from different pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and teachers.

The spirit trumps the natural. It truly does, you only need to commit yourself to it. I mean, all my previous attempts ended in failure. But in each of those, I wasn't committed. I caved after a meal or two, but not this time. This time, I gave the times of my meal to God. I read my Bible, prayed, and thanked God for the things that He has done for me. I made it through the three days. And I am so glad that I did.

I have felt my relationship deepen with God because of this fast. That idol of food has been pushed back, and I need to be vigilant that it doesn't return.

I would challenge you - find something that you have never given over to God completely and give it to Him. He will honor that.  We have those "hidden" little sins and secrets. Start letting them go. They are only weighing you down. In my case, that was literal.

Sam

Friday, March 6, 2015

"Alabaster Jar Moment"

And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "To what purpose is this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor." But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you will have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her."  Matthew 26:6-13

As I was praying and asking God what today's message should be about He brought to mind this moment in the life of our Lord. It is the moment when as Jesus put it, 'she poured a fragrant oil on His body to anoint it for His burial.' The disciples missed it. All they saw was a woman wasting the fragrant oil the alabaster jar contained. They missed the significance of what she was doing. This was a moment that was worth remembering according to what Jesus said, "Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her."and what that means is it was going  be remembered and talked about.

While the disciples were busy misinterpreting the scene they witnessed, Jesus knew and appreciated her gift. He knew that she was there with her most precious gift, an alabaster jar,  its very costly fragrant oil, and a heart that had one desire, to use it to bless Him. You and I can't anoint His body for burial BUT ...

What we can do is ... come before Him with a heart that is intent on blessing Him. Some might look at a time of praise and worship as a waste of time. They might misunderstand or even misinterpret its significance in the life of a believer BUT.... In reality, Our Lord knows better. He sees our heart and He knows when we come before Him and it is an Alabaster Jar Moment. An alabaster jar moment is the moment in worship when its not about what He has done for us. It is not the moment when we are focused on what He is doing for us or even what He will do for us. An alabaster jar moment is the moment when all our focus, our whole hearts desire is simply, to bless Him! To Jesus it is not a waste ... it is a moment to be remembered!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Runaway Fish Prophet, Part 10

If that blasted, scorching wind blew on his head for another second, he was going to put himself out of his misery. Another gust blew on his sun-burnt head, and it truly felt like someone was dragging knives across his skull.

"It is better for me to die than to live." He mumbled. Jonah knew that He could hear him.

"Do you do well, to be angry with the plant?"

He could hear the voice, too. As uncomfortable and hot as he was, Jonah knew he wasn't crazy. The voice was real, and it was God's voice.

Jonah spit, and watched as it sizzled on the dry ground.

That was it.

"Yes!" He struggled to his feet, and shook his fist at the sky. "Yes, I do well to be angry. Angry enough to die." His stupid plant died, and he was being burned alive. Why couldn't God have just let the plant live? After all that happened, why couldn't he have at least done that?

"You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. Why shouldn't I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?"

Based on Jonah 4:5-11

And we come to the infamous end of Jonah's short story. We don't find out if Jonah asks forgiveness, or realizes the errors of his ways. We don't have any closure regarding the death of Jonah's plant. It just ends on a question. (Just for the record, I like to believe he did. Who couldn't after a heart-wrenching reprimand like that?)

So here's what God showed me.

"Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly." Proverbs 14:29

Sometimes, we are angry about the wrong stuff. Sometimes, our priorities are a seriously screwed up. Sometimes, we need a little reality check.

Jonah was angry about the sinful people of Nineveh being given unlimited grace and mercy. Then he was mad that a plant that sprung up behind him died. He was upset about the wrong things. Jonah cared more about the plant then he did about the people of Nineveh.

God cared more about His creation, His people, and the souls of the people of Nineveh. The people mattered most.

Guys, we need to focus on the stuff that matters. Compared to a city of lost souls, a dead plant doesn't matter that much. Instead of focusing on all the other junk, distractions, and the things we don't like about life, we should be focusing on God's children.

Are you focusing on a dead plant in your walk with God?

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"A Touch and a Word"

Now when Jesus had come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her. Then she arose and served them. When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon possessed, And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet saying: "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses." Matthew 8:14-17
     
I love that when Jesus came as a guest into Peter's house he did something that we all kinda take for granted if we have been in ministry for very long.  He took care of the home front. As He entered the house He saw that Peter's mother-in-law was sick with a fever. He went over and took her by the hand and the fever immediately left her whole and well and full of strength. Sometimes I think that we are so busy ministering to the world at large that we forget to make sure to bring Jesus home to our loved ones. In this case Peter's mother-in-law was sick with a fever and Jesus immediately took care of it. I love that Jesus doesn't just take care of all the needs of the world out there but the fevers, headaches, and colds in our homes as well. Big or small He cares about the things that affect us.

As I read this today it just made me smile as I thought about how Jesus cares about those that we do. He immediately took care of the fever and she was able to get about the business of her life as she started to serve them. It spoke to me about how He takes care of all the little things that effect us. We all know that He took care of blind eyes, deaf ears, leprosy and even raised the dead but in this case He took care of  a loved one who was sick with a fever. He cares about all the things that affect our lives. Even fevers!

It says that by evening, 'they brought to Him many who were demon possessed, And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick.' With a word and a touch He healed and set free any and all that came to Him. The thing that I noticed is this .. as He healed everyone, and everything He was 'fulfilling that which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet saying: "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses."

The word that Isaiah spoke all those years ago was being fulfilled every time Jesus touched a fever, a blind eye, a deaf ear. That word was being fulfilled every time Jesus spoke a healing word or cast out a demon. It was being fulfilled as He came into Peter's home and tended the fever of Peter's mother-in-law and it is fulfilled every time you or I as His disciples act in faith and speak a healing word or lay hands on the sick in His name. "Silver and gold I do not have, but in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." Acts 3:6

He came in power and with a touch and a word... He took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses! It is our job to go and do likewise ... and fulfill the words He spoke to us ...And He said unto them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. he who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe. In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them, they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." Mark 16:15-18