Thursday, April 30, 2015

Amazing Strength

Pilate raised his left eyebrow as he watched Jesus.

Nothing. He was saying absolutely nothing.

Jesus was bound, hands and feet tied together tightly, and  he looked particularly haggard. Dark circles were etched under his eyes, but his steely resolution held fast in his gaze.

Pilate found it particularly intriguing.

When Pilate asked him if he was the king of the Jews, much to the displeasure of some, Jesus only answered, "You have said so."

From then on out, the chief priests accused Jesus of many things, some terrible, some a little far fetched in Pilate's mind. One particularly large man with spit accompanying each accusation was red faced as he pointed at Jesus.

Time for him to speak to Jesus again. Pilate held up one hand, effectively silencing the spiting priest. Standing, he slowly walked to Jesus, the soles of his sandals making tap-tap noises on the floor.

He was a reasonable man; He would let Jesus have a chance to defend himself. Spreading his hands out before Jesus, he spoke, "Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.”

Jesus lifted his head, and looked straight into his eyes. For a moment, Pilate thought he would say something.

But the words never came.

Based on Mark 15:1-5

"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people." Isaiah 53:7-8

This is a prophecy in the book of Isaiah about Jesus. A prophecy that He fulfilled when he stood before his accusers.

Completely silent.

"But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed." Mark 15:5

He didn't defend Himself. They said terrible, false things about Him. I don't know about you, but when people say junk about me, I want to defend myself. I want to march up to that person, look them in the eye, and give them what for.

Just because I'd never be brave enough to do that has nothing to do with my point.

Friends, take a moment here to consider the strength our Lord displayed in that trial. Anyone else would have cried wolf. He kept silent, knowing that this defamation of His character would continue to lead to His death.

And eventually our salvation.

Today, consider another facet of Jesus' strength, and His unyielding love for you.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"Amazingly Powerful Words"

Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Orphrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites.
  And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!"
  And Gideon said to Him, O my Lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the Lord brings us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites."
  Then the Lord turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?"
  So he said to Him, "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house."
  And the Lord said to him, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man." Judges 6:11-16

Today we are going to look at a thought that keeps coming back to me every time I read about Gideon and his encounter with The Angel of the Lord because I think that a lot of us at times can relate to the place we find him in. Think about it?

Maybe circumstances have you feeling like you need to keep a low profile and your trying to thresh your wheat, not on the threshing floor where you should be, but in the winepress, and its just not getting it done?

Maybe your circumstances have you feeling like you were the least of the weakest around.

Or ... Maybe ... you, like Gideon, are wondering where 'all His miracles' are in the circumstances of your life?

"The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!" These are the first words spoken to Gideon as the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and I don't know about you but I love these amazingly powerful words and not only because of the effect they had in Gideon's life but in mine as well.

Why are they amazingly powerful words? Because when I'm feeling the need to duck and cover or to hide out in the winepress, they encourage me to remember that He knows where to find me to let me know that He is with me!

Why? Because whenever I'm feeling like the least of the weakest they encourage me to remember that He sees me differently than I see myself but mostly because it means He is with me.

Why? Because whenever my circumstances try to tell me that He is no where to be found they remind me that will He always shows up to not only, encourage me with amazingly powerful words, but to remind me that even in the midst of my circumstances, ... all things (even miracles) are possible because He goes with me!

 "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor! So ...Go in this might of yours, you shall ......! Have I not sent you? Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the enemy (or your circumstance) as one man." 

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

YOU!

Jesus looked at them, his eyes blazing with fire, sending a ping of terror straight to his soul. What was he about to say?

"They need not go away. You give them something to eat."

What did he just say?

Peter looked at John. His eyes were round and bug-like, so he must have heard Jesus correctly.

Matthew bumped him on the arm. Leaning in he whispered, "Did he just say, 'You give them something to eat?'"

Peter nodded without taking his eyes off Jesus. What was he planning?

You. The word thumped around in his mind. They were in the middle of nowhere. Dirt and rocks were everywhere with patches of greenish-brown grass dotting the landscape. The sun was high in the sky, the air warm and draining. No lakes to fish. No fruit to pick. What did he expect them to do?

James piped up, sounding sheepish, but voicing the question they were all thinking. "We have only five loaves here and two fish."

Jesus grinned. "Bring them to me."

Based on Matthew 14:15-18

So I was reading this and the word "you" popped out at me. Neon, flashing, bold font. Jesus said, "YOU give them something to eat."

You.

The disciples had been with Jesus for a little while at this point. They had seen some pretty awesome miracles and heard some awesome lessons on faith. They were equipped. They could have done this. Jesus wanted the disciples to flex their faith muscles and feed the 5,000. Jesus had already given them the faith tools to do this.

The disciples just needed to take the step.

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

God has equipped us with the faith and authority to do amazing things. He's telling you to do them. Stop being afraid. Stop putting it off. Stop saying you're not equipped. He has already given you everything you need!

"The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes." Deuteronomy 1:30

You don't have to be afraid when you look at the crowd of 5,000 people waiting for you to do something awesome, because God is the one who is going to do it. But if you're willing to feed them, then He will work through you when He does it.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, April 27, 2015

"He Gets It Done"

Today we are gong to talk about someone who is commonly referred to as 'The Centurion Soldier' best known because Jesus commended him for his 'great faith.' His account can be found in Matthew 8:5-13
  
...Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented."  And Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! ... Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour.

So what is the key to 'great faith?' According to this guy it was because 'he too was a man under authority.' Just so we are clear as to what that means is that he had bosses over him that he obeyed and guys under him who jumped and did what he told them to. Or it can also be understood that - He knew how to take orders and how to give them.

He is here in this encounter with Jesus because he recognized that Jesus was the supreme authority over whatever sickness was troubling his trusted servant.  I'm here today to ask you if you truly understand that truth in your life as well?

Check out this verse. "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." Matthew 28:18 Do you really know and understand that Jesus has "all authority" in heaven and here on earth. That is why wherever He went, He healed people! That is why He cast out demons! That is why He was able to walk on water and calm the storm! It is also why He was able to raise the dead and to be resurrected Himself as well! He is the boss of sickness, decease, wind, waves, and even death, hell and the grave! He is the boss and what He says - goes. What He says ... Happens! Period! End of Story! No ifs, ands, or buts! Its a done deal! He says, "Your healed." Then sickness leaves and your healed. He says, "Lazarus come forth," and even though you've been dead three days and are already in a tomb? Ta Da ... You get up, grave clothes and all, and you come forth. John 11:17-44

Peter understood and recognized this truth as well. Look at this account in Acts 3 ... Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."  And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them--walking, leaping, and praising God. Peter spoke to the man's lameness in the name of Jesus (or rather in the authority of Jesus) and the lameness this man had experienced from birth left him.

How about you? Do you recognize who the supreme authority is? Do you as His servant speak His name and therefore His authority to ...... whatever your need is?

Guess what? It doesn't even matter how old or how young you are either! You don't have to be rich or poor or a pastor or anything special  because it is His authority that gets it done. All you have to do is, like the centurion soldier, have faith. Acknowledge that He is the boss of it all! Then say, "In the name of Jesus .................(your need goes here)....................!

Then comes the ...walking ...leaping ... and praising God! Why? Cause in Jesus name, Miracles Happen!

God Bless!!!




Sunday, April 26, 2015

"I've Got This!"

   Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
   Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
   Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
   So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
   Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
   Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear?"
   For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
   But 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 6:25-34 

Lord, help us to remember to always make You the focus of all our attentions! Lord, You know what we need and as we seek You; let us learn to trust You more and more and more so that while we are busy with the 'more trusting'  we will focus less on the striving after and worrying about things that are temporary.

Every time we see a bird or a flower in a field bring up this fancy illustration that tells us
God Bless!!!

Staff Snack Time Devotions   

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Worldly Transformations

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:2

How much of your faith do you allow the regular world to see?  I mean, do your friends know how much your faith truly means to you? Do you even let them into that part of your life? Do they know what Jesus has done for you?

When I first entered the work field at the age of fifteen, I changed dramatically. Before then, I had always been private or home schooled, never spending much time around someone who wasn't saved, at least not in an unsupervised way. It was a culture shock. I was a hard worker, but lonely. People started taking an interest in me, they became my friends, and I didn't want to drive them away by coming across as a Bible thumper. So I stayed quiet, talked to them about their interests, and was intrigued by some of them.

It wasn't long before my integrity was compromised. Bad movies, foul language, resentment towards my parents for denying things to me. I entered a rebellious phase - although, it wasn't nearly as bad as some teenagers blatant hostility towards their parents.  Still, my heart wasn't the way it used to be - innocent.

Around that time, my youth group attended a Christian special meeting a couple hours away. I went, begrudgingly, and didn't enjoy myself. The speaker was a power man of God, and most definitely anointed, but I didn't pay attention. I was ashamed of who I had become. It's not that the speaker made me feel condemned, I knew that I was failing in my walk.

I walked away from God for a while after that. I didn't want to feel that way again. Even though I knew God would accept me if I came back, I didn't want to go back. I had failed Him. It took me a few years after that to go back to Him sincerely.

Don't walk away from your faith, even a little, for the sake of your friends. If they truly are your friends, they will accept you for what you are. You won't have to hide anything. Don't pack God away from your life, only to pull Him out at the holidays, or just on Sundays. Don't let yourself become like the world. Let God make you into the man or woman of faith that he intends you to be. And for those who have walked away, come back! God's love for you hasn't changed. You can still be His child.

Sam

Friday, April 24, 2015

"Where Are You Staying?"

  Again the next day, John stood with two of His disciples.
  And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!"
  The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
  Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, "What do you seek?" They  said to Him, "Rabbi" (Which is translated, Teacher), "where are you staying?"
  He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with him that day(now it was about the tenth hour). John 1:35-39

As I read this today I was struck by the simplicity of His calling. Take a look at what happened here. John the Baptist is with two of his disciples and he sees Jesus walking by. He points Jesus out to them with the declaration about who He is - "Behold the Lamb of God!" - They decide to check Him out for themselves and start following Him as He continues on His way.  Jesus, aware of their interest, asks them point blank, "What do you seek?" which to my way of thinking is a rather pertinent question. To be honest, His question, their response, and then His command are what struck me ... "What do you seek?"  "Rabbi, where are you staying?" and then His, "Come and see."

In these three statements we see a clear picture painted for us of first, the heart of God because His heart is always and forever to meet the needs of His most precious creation. Second, we see the cry of mankind, "God, Where are you? Where can we find you?"  A then third, we see God's solution. "Come and see! Come and dwell with Me in the place I abide, the secret place of My Presence."

"For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give tou a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all you heart. I will be found by you, says, the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive. Jeremiah 29:11-14

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Before He Left...

"Let's sing a song before we leave."

Peter's eyebrows collided together. Leave? What was Jesus talking about. "Where are we going?"

"To the Mount of Olives. But first we need to sing a hymn."

Peter shrugged as Jesus  moved past him, and began to sing a popular hymn. The other men only hesitated for a moment before joining into the song. Together they sang. Their voices blended together in a Heavenly symphony.

Here on earth.

Peter opened his eyes briefly, and looked around the room. The men were all worshiping, eyes closed, hands raised, and oblivious to the world. Out of them all, Peter couldn't help but note, Jesus. The expression on Jesus' face told Peter that this was more then just a song to him. It was like this was His sustenance.

Like He needed it.

Based on Matthew 26:30

"And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." Matthew 26:30

I think this is one of the COOLEST things ever! And again, something I've never really thought about... (I'm sensing a pattern here...)

These guys got to worship with Jesus. In the flesh. Really let that sink in a moment. Was it like Heaven opening up to them? Was it like another transfiguration moment? Were they just ushered into the presence of God? How often did they get to participate in this awesome, jealousy-evoking activity?

I'm am literally green with envy right now.

But there's something else, even more important to note right now, and it's not the sickly tint to my skin. It's the fact that Jesus made sure He worshiped first before going to the Mount of Olives where the worst day of His life would start.

He worshiped first.

Too often, we go into the difficult times, days, and minutes without spending time in God's presence. Without quenching our thirsting souls. Without the benefits of worship.

"Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before out Lord, our Maker!" Psalm 95:6

Jesus knew He needed that time with God (In addition to all the prayer in the garden!) before going into the tribulation awaiting Him. Do we know that? Do we know the benefits of worship in our own life? The confidence, the revelation, the renewed strength, the life, the love. How do we make it through without that? I wouldn't want to, that's for sure.

Worship first!

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"The Alert Messenger"

   "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
   Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
   Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
   But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
   And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!'
   Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.
   And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'
   But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.'
   And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
   Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!'
   But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.'
   Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming."Mathew 25:1-13

Today as I went about my day this one line from my morning time with the Lord stayed with me. It was verse 6 and it reads, 'And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!' I realize that this parable is about the five wise and the five foolish having and not having oil for their lamps, but all I could think of today was the thought that while everyone else slumbered and slept there was someone awake enough to give that midnight cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!' Someone wasn't slumbering and sleeping but was alert and watching for the bridegroom to come fetch His bride. Someone was awake and in tune with the bridegrooms movements. Someone was awake at the midnight hour! Someone cried out and alerted the ten virgins to wake up, trim their lamps, and be ready to go out to meet the bridegroom.

How about you? Are you watching and alert? Is yours the voice that alerts the wedding party to trim their lamps? Are you in tune with His movements? Are you prepared to be a messenger in the midnight hour?

Is yours the voice of the midnight cry encouraging the bride with ...'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!" or will yours be one of many sleep filled voices saying, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'?"

Will yours be the voice that can be heard in the earth today? Will yours be the voice of  the alert messenger?  Are you even now crying out, "Wake up! Get ready! Trim your lamps with oil!" or even, "Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!"

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

Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. Amos 3:7

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Welcome!

His wife was yammering on about the Passover feast she was preparing again. If Tzad had to hear anymore about figs versus grapes, he would go insane.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Tzad jumped up from where he had been sitting with his wife. "I'd best go see who is at the door, my dear."

She rolled her eyes, clearly seeing that Tzad was all to happy for the escape, but he didn't care. Throwing the door open, Tzad's greeting hung on his lips. He didn't know these men.

"What can I do for you?" The sun illuminated the men. They couldn't be more different. They looked just as uncertain as he felt about this situation.

A slightly taller man with dark facial hair spoke. "The Teacher says, 'My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'"

"What? Who? The Teacher?" His furrowed brows started to rise as he realized WHO they were talking about. "Jesus?"

The men nodded in unison.

Tzad knew two things for certain. He had no preference over figs or grapes. And he would absolutely welcome Jesus' presence in his home.

Throwing the door open, he bellowed, "Come in! Come in!"

Based on Matthew 26:17-19

I don't know if I've ever really thought about this man before, but he's a pretty cool dude. The disciples show up during a busy time of the year for the Jewish people. Then they drop a bomb. "We're going to have the Passover here!"

I have an amazingly awesome family. They will do anything for each other. But if some distant relative showed up on Christmas saying, "My family and I are going to have Christmas here," they would be a bit put out. And put off. You just don't do things that way.

By all appearances, this man wasn't. He welcomed them into their home.

Not a lot of Christians would do that. Not a lot of Christians would just welcome Jesus into their homes like that. Not a lot of Christians welcome Jesus into their hearts like that.

Do we have a welcoming attitude towards Jesus? No matter when He shows up, no matter how inconvenient a time, no matter what holiday we are celebrating, do we welcome Jesus? We need to welcome Him in - always.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20  

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, April 20, 2015

"Believe That ....."

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

"Believe that you receive them," sounds simple, right? Check out my logic or rather this conclusion ...

First, before you answer the above question we are going to take a look at the meaning of the word believe according to the Strong's Concordance; 4100-to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), i.e. credit; by implication to entrust (especially one's spiritual well-being to Christ)

So, do you believe that the words of Jesus are the truth? Have you entrusted Jesus with your well being?

When Jesus spoke the above words to His disciples it was in answer to the disciple's incredulous realization that the words Jesus had spoken to the fig tree actually caused it to 'be dried up from the roots' and it had withered away just because He told it too.

How about you? Do believe that His words have the power to cause what He speaks to come to pass?

In Luke 6:46-47 Jesus also said, "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like.' (a wise builder who builds his house upon the rock) You know, someone who believes His words are truth and that they will come to pass.

What about John 8:28 and John 14:10 where Jesus said "...and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things." "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works," So, according to Jesus He speaks only the words that the Father gives Him to speak and what that means is He cursed the fig tree and spoke,  "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Mark 11:24 to His disciples, His followers,  because Both He and the Father wanted them and us to understand that we can entrust them with the things we bring before them!

Jesus said, "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” So, the question remains, Do you ask believing? Are His words truth? Is it really that simple?

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13


Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Grace Paints Us A Picture"

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Ephesians 4:7
But to each one of us God's unmerited favor was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9
And He said to me, "My unmerited favor is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." 

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart God's unmerited favor to the hearers. 

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17
For the law was given through Moses, but God's unmerited favor and truth came through Jesus Christ.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
For by God's unmerited favor you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His unmerited favor. 

But He gives more grace, Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." James 4:6
But He gives more unmerited favor,  Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives God's unmerited favor to the humble." 

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18
But grow in the unmerited favor and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 

Thank you Lord for the picture this paints for us about just how much you truly love us! Amen!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time devotions

Saturday, April 18, 2015

When Life's Not Fair...

"Don't get upset about evil people or jealous of those who do wrong. Like grass they soon wither and fade away like a green plant." Psalms 37:1 and 2

This is something with which I have always had a problem.  I mean, how is it right that I work so hard and get nothing, but watch the lazy do nothing and get praised?++ Or people who don't even work and rely on others to take care of them have an easier time than I do? What about the truly wicked, the ones that cheated, lied, manipulated, and flat out stole to be in their million dollar homes? How is it fair?

I grew up hearing the expression "Life's not fair" from my mother. I didn't like it then, and I still don't like it now. I've come to realize something - this world is broken. Everything about this natural world is broken, including me. And that God is the only way to fix it.

Adam and Eve gave away our paradise. The devil now rules this world, if only for a time, and because of him, evil thrives. But we don't have to live with the devil in authority over us. We don't have to be separated from God anymore. That curse is broken.

Psalms 37 has so many promises for those who love and serve the Lord. I intend to write these verses on the tablet of my heart, so as to never let them go. Here are just a few of the promises this chapters has to offer...

"Stand still and look to the Lord for help. Don't get upset when somebody is successful and accomplishes the evil he plans." Psalms 37:7

"Better is a little that the righteous man has than the wealth of many people."Verse 16

"The arms of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord helps the righteous." Verse 17

"The Lord takes care of the innocent day by day, and their inheritance will last forever. They will not be miserable in bad times and in days of famine they will eat all they want." Verses 18 and 19

"The Lord loves what is right and will not desert those devoted to Him. They will be preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut down." Verse 28

"But the Lord saves the righteous and keeps them safe when trouble comes. The Lord helps them and rescues them; He rescues them from the wicked and saves them because they came to Him for shelter." Verses 39 and 40

The next time you see someone wicked prospering when you yourself are struggling, remember these verses. Their days of fun will soon be over. Don't lose sight of that, or the promises that God has given to those who love Him.

"The Lord makes a man walk firmly and He is pleased with his way. He may fall but will not be thrown down because the Lord's hand holds him." Verses 23 and 24

Sam

Friday, April 17, 2015

"Eyes On The Prize!"

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 1 Corinthians 9:24
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

I recently had a vision of this very idea of pressing forward in our 'upward call' so today I would like to encourage you to do this very thing. As a kid running on the track team at school one of the main thing I remember them stressing is, "Don't look back." "Look at the finish line and keep your eyes on the prize." Why?  Because if you take the time to look back and check out where your opponents are then it will slow you down and those few seconds could cost you the race.

As believers we too need to keep our eyes on the prize. We too need to stay focused on moving forward in the things of God. The word tells us that we go from glory to glory and we need to pursue the deeper things of God. The same way that we run a race in the natural, with our eyes focused on the track before us and not looking at who or what is behind us. Too often Christians get distracted by the things from the past. Old sins, old worries, old ways. But here is the thing that has to be the purpose of our heart ... 'but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.'

Remember how Jesus told Martha, 'that one thing is needed and Mary had chosen that one thing?' Luke 10:42 Here is the same point. One thing is still the thing needed. Forgetting the old stuff and pushing forward with His will and purposes. The one thing needed ...Keeping our eyes on Him in every area of our lives. Why? So that we too might 'lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.' Jesus paid a price so that we could have an abundant life! We are to make Him the 'one thing' we focus on so that we can walk and talk and look and live like the anointed child of God He made it possible for us to be! 

Don't lose those precious seconds looking over your shoulder at the things you've left behind when they could be spent with Him in the glory instead! Eyes on the prize!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hungry Hands/Hurting Hearts

What were those miscreants doing?

The warm sun caressed all the people gathered to hear Jesus, but the bright light cast its harsh glare over the people around Din.

 Din, a devote Pharisee, and a number of others came to hear Jesus speak. There was quite a commotion about him among the people. Din suggested they go see about this man for themselves.

Now they were here, and while everything seemed rather harmless at first, it was rapidly spiraling out of control.

Din watched in horror as the men closet to Jesus, those rumored to be his disciples - who Din thought were really just glorified errand boys and traveling companions -  started to eat.

Without washing their hands!

Din turned away just as a bushy haired man plopped a piece of fig into his mouth with his dirt caked hands. Oh, the disgrace!

One look at the other Pharisees showed they were just as appalled as him. He motioned towards Jesus. "We must talk to Jesus about this. This is unacceptable!"

They marched up to Jesus. Din spoke loudly, looking pointedly at the grubby men. "Why do your disciples not walk according to the traditions of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?"

Din expected Jesus to thank them for their observation, and for him to discipline the ghastly men.

But to Din's dismay, he did no such thing.

Based on Mark 7:1-8

When I was a kid, I was always told to wash my hands before dinner. "Get them clean!" What a pain in the rear! ;)  I was in need of food, not clean hands!

In this story, the Pharisees are obsessed with washing hands. They see some of the disciples with broken fingernails and dirt caked into the crevasses of their hands. They couldn't believe that the disciples would disregard such a critical tradition.

When the Pharisees whined to Jesus about this, Jesus said, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men."

Now, I have nothing against hand washing, but there's an important factoid here. The Pharisees cared less about starving men, and more about honoring man-made traditions.

That's a problem. It didn't stop there. No, they cared about their traditions more then seeing the lives of so many broken people restored. They didn't care about the robes of sin being cast aside in exchange for robes of glory. They didn't care about the Messiah right there in front of them ushering in the days they claimed to "thirst and long for."

It's true, God does want obedience. But obedience was never intended to replace God, Himself. When we focus more on rules or make up our own, that is what causes the church to fall apart. Judgment steps in, and people are hurt.

"For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment." James 2:13

We are supposed to be a people of mercy. Love. Compassion. Traditions are not supposed to rule us. God always steps in and shakes things up. Can we go with His flow, or will we be stuck in the muddy traditions of men?

V. Joy Palmer

"Draw Near And --- Listen"

Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel! And Samuel answered, "Speak, for Your servant hears." 1 Samuel 3:10

Have you ever really thought about this moment in the life of Samuel? It is the moment when He gets to recognize the voice of his God. The God that from this moment on he spends the rest of his days serving. I was thinking about this moment today because I quite often get asked the question, "How do you  know what to write? How do you get your message?" My response is always to say, "I share what He tells me to. I pray and ask Him and then I listen and go where He leads." It is then I often get the stare and then the, "How do you know if it is God speaking?"  "How do you hear Him?" My response at this point in my walk with Him is this, "I know its God because I know His voice! I have been listening to His leading on a daily basis now for 35 years and I know His voice!" I'll admit when I was new to the kingdom, I wasn't always sure and like Samuel I would run to my version of 'Eli' unsure of what to do or how to respond but now ...I know when He is speaking.

As I was pondering Samuel today He wanted me to remind you of a couple of things that He brought to my attention to share with you. The first is found in verse 1 of 1 Samuel chapter three and it is found at the very beginning of Samuel's first encounter with God. It says, "The the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation." Sounds very much like today doesn't it? I say that because of the stare I almost always get when I say, "God told me ..." People today think your nuts if you tell them that God told you anything. And like in Samuel's day it might be rare but it is none the less very real when He does. Just because it isn't commonplace for people to hear God's voice in the world today doesn't mean that you can't. God still speaks to anyone who has a heart to draw near listen.

The second point is this ... God spoke three times and three times Samuel ran to Eli thinking it was him. He heard Him three different times but didn't recognize the voice calling Him as the voice of God. It tells us that it wasn't even until the third time that Eli the priest recognized that it was God speaking. At this point he tells Samuel what to do. Go back and listen again! Wait! And then when God calls to him to say, "Speak, for Your servant hears." It was in this moment, not the three times before that he learned the sound of God's voice. It was here in this moment of expectation and waiting that caused him to hear so clearly and to know without a shadow of doubt that this was the voice of his God. It tells us in verse 19 that ' Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of of his words fall to the ground.' What that means is from this moment on Samuel knew the voice of God and delivered and obeyed His words the rest of his days.

How about you? Isaiah 55:2-3 says, "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."

Want to hear His voice? Draw near and listen!

"... and the sheep hear his voice; He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out His own sheep, He goes before them; and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice." John 10:3-4

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Those Unknown Moments

"Mom, where is Daddy?"

Her words were weak. She wasn't sure her mom had heard her at first, but then she grabbed her hand.
"He will be back soon, darling. Save your strength and rest, my love." Her mother's eyes shone with tears, and she squeezed her frail hand twice before laying it next to her.

Everything hurt. Everything. In her young life, she couldn't remember a time when she wasn't in pain. However, in the last year, things had gotten dramatically worse. Bringing her to this point.

Death's door.

Sure, her mother and father claimed that would not be the case. They promised that she would get better. But she wasn't eleven anymore. With her twelfth  birthday came the realization that this could be her last.

Her parents had perked up in the last few months. Rumors of a man named Jesus who could heal any type of aliment came to their door on the lips of well-meaning friends and family. Her father, Jairus, clung to this notion. When word arrived that Jesus would be in the area, her father had made it his mission to find him.

And get her healed.

But each day brought her closer to death's icy grip.

She had woken up knowing that today something would happen today. She had begged her father not to go. Exhausted, she had fallen asleep a short time later, only to find out that he was gone. She was fading fast. The world was going dark, and her mother's cry echoed in her ears.

"Jairus, please hurry!"

Based on Mark 5:22, 35-43

I have read this story many, many times. I have heard it preached even more. I have blogged the perspectives of some of the people in this encounter.

I have NEVER thought about the little girl. I knew she was dying, and that at some point she died. Then Jesus raises her from the dead. I know she was 12 years old.

But I've never really thought about her roll in this story. Probably because she's not around for most of it. Recently, I read this section of Scripture again, and all I could think about was her. What was she thinking and feeling while she lied in her bed at home? Was she angry at her father for leaving her? Was she aware of how serious her illness was? How long had she had this illness?

Was she scared?

Or did she believe in the man her father was tracking down?

I don't have any answers. I am faced with the unknown, just like she was.

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?" Psalm 56:3-4

When faced with the scary darkness of uncertainty, do we continue to trust in God, or do we give into fear? Even a sick child as young as 12 can choose to trust in Jesus.  So what about us? In those paralyzing moments, do we know our Father is coming with help?

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, April 13, 2015

"The Key To Doing"

Today I want to talk to you a about something that I think that is key to the life of each and every believer!

So to start with we are going to look at this verse in Daniel in order to discover this key:

 "...But the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits."  Daniel 11:32

I love this verse! After all it contains the promise of great exploits! And isn't that what we all want; to do a daring acts of faith or a bold deeds for our God? I mean who doesn't want to be the hero who takes down a giant with a slingshot and a stone? Or how about Joshua's great exploits? He spoke to the sun and the moon and they stood still. He took the down the walls of Jericho with a march and a shout. What about the day Moses stood at the edge of the Red Sea and it was parted to make a way for God's people?

The Bible is full of such adventures where ordinary men and women are doing great exploits of faith on behalf and with the help of the God they loved and served!

How about the fiery furnace and our three young heroes who after refusing to bow to the king's golden idol are about to be thrown in. They tell the king, "We know that our God is well able to save us! But even if He chooses not to, we still won't bow!" Daniel 3:16-18

Do you think surviving this fiery furnace was a great exploit? I do! Why? Because they went into the furnace knowing who their God was! They knew that with God all things are possible and that He was more than able to save them. We all know what happened next. The king cried, "Look! I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." Daniel 3: 25 They knew God. They made a stand for God and their great exploit and God's faithfulness are still being talked about today!

Take another look at our verse. Can you spot the key to doing great exploits for and in God's name?

  "...But the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits."  Daniel 11:32

If you want to be strong in God and do great exploits you have to.....know Him! David took time to know God long before he took on Goliath. He had a history of the lion and the bear with Him. He had time where he praised and worshiped and talked to Him. Read the Psalms. He knew God was with him stepped out to meet the giant. Take a look at Exodus 33:11 'So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.' This one verse shows us that both Moses and Joshua spent time getting to know God. Moses knew God and spoke spoke to Him as a friend does face to face. Joshua stayed in the tabernacle spending time in His presence even when Moses would leave.

The secret to doing great exploits is knowing God! They key is to taking time to praise and worship Him. Taking time in His word and learning everything you can about Him. Most of all it is taking time to listen! It is His heart to share Himself with you! Take time to know Him so that when you are faced with a situation you too can say, "I know that My God is with me and that He is well able!"

Get to know Him and then watch out because you will do great exploits in His name!

God Bless!!!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"Clothed And Adorned"

Isaiah 1:18

'Come now, and let us reason together," says the Lord,
"Though your sins are like scarlet, 
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson, 
They shall be as wool. 

Isaiah 61:10-11
 
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, 
My soul shall be jotful in my God;
For He has clothed me withgarments of salvation,
He has covered mr with the robe of righteousness, 
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, 
And a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its bud, 
as the garden causes the things sown in it to spring forth,

So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise 
to spring forth before all the nations.

Revelations 19:7-8
"Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory,
 for the marriage of the Lamb has come, 
and His wife has made herself ready." 
And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen,
 clean and bright, for the fine linen 
is the righteous acts of the saints.

Thank you Lord, that you take our filthy rags and instead clothe and adorn us in garments of salvation and with robes of righteousness. O Lord, the fact that You see past our filthy rags and instead see us as Your Beloved, adorned in righteousness; the righteousness that You made possible ... it fills our hearts with awe and wonder as we acknowledge ... Your great love for us!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions





Saturday, April 11, 2015

Live in the Spirit

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as ransom for many." Matthew 20:28

Do you know what my single biggest problem is? Pride. It is my greatest weakness. I have always thought that I was smarter than most, stronger than the rest, and more capable than everyone. While others thought and debated, I knew what to do and did it. I knew that I was a little arrogant and self-righteous, but I told myself that, as far as flaws go, those ones aren't too bad.

I have always been a natural leader, and that was amplified several years ago when I was first given a leadership position in my job. By that point, I knew my pride was a serious weakness, but I thought that I was dealing with it. As you would guess, I was wrong, at least to a degree.

Pride is my besetting sin, as it is for many. So many times I had thought that I had beaten it, only to have it come waltzing back into my life when I least expect it.

"As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly." Proverbs 26:11

We don't have to live like this, returning to our own foolishness every so often. It's our human nature. We find comfort in our old sins, even as our spirit is sickened by them.

"I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. I'm willing, but not doing what is right. I don't do the good things I want to do, but I do the evil I don't want to do. Now if I do what I don't want to do, it is no longer I who am doing it but sin living in me. So I find this to be a rule: When I want to do what is right, evil is there with me. In my inner being I delight in God's Law, but all through my body I see another law fighting against the Law in my mind and making me a prisoner to the sin ruling my body. What a miserable man I am! Who will rescue me from the body that brings me to this death? Thank God - He does it through our Lord Jesus Christ! So I serve the Law of God with my mind but the law of sin with my flesh." Romans 7:18-25

We have already been rescued from our sins, why do we keep going back to them? We aren't walking with God the way we should if these sins keep coming back on us.

"And so, fellow Christians, we don't owe it to the flesh to live according to the flesh. If you live according to the flesh, you will die. But if by the spirit you kill the activities of the body, you will live." Romans 8:12-13

Stop going back to your old sin. You don't have to live this way. I don't have to live this way. We overcome these sins by staying in the spirit.

Some days, on my way to work, I just know that it is going to be a bad day. You know what I do? I worship. I put music on in my car, and I sing to my Lord on my way to work. This doesn't change the bad things that are going to happen, but it changes my reaction to them. I stay with my Lord, humming along to whatever song stays in my heart. You don't have to live in the flesh. I don't want to live in the flesh. I want to be free of this carnal prison. Fight to be free.

"But in all this He Who loved us helps us to win an overwhelming victory." Romans 8:37

Sam

Friday, April 10, 2015

"The Invitation"


And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding." But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. Matthew 22:1-6

When I was reading through this parable today the words above in the italics jumped out at me. As I read I had two thoughts about the words 'and they were not willing to come,' and 'But they made light of it and went their ways,'  The first was that it sounds very much like the reactions people have towards the gospel today. So often when I share Jesus with the world around me people are just not even the slightest bit willing to listen or if they do listen then there are those who end up treating their commitment lightly. People seem to often times make light of it and are far more interested in jobs, reputations, wealth, and attaining more and more material things.

Shortly after I recognized this similarity I had my second thought because not only did He highlight the problem but he showed me this as well!

Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. Matthew 22:8-10

The fact that some 'weren't willing' and that some 'made light of it' didn't stop the invitations from going forth! Thank God that He doesn't stop the inviting until all who are willing to come, Come and enter in! 

God Bless and keep sharing ... you don't know who will be willing to accept His invitation to come!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Kind of Crazy

John noticed another woman scrutinizing him for afar. One eyebrow was raised, and her chin was tilted down as she surveyed his appearance.

His unruly appearance.

But he didn't care. He used to care, but it was hard to care when one was so focused on the Lord, and all He had in store. And it was a lot.

Honestly, his appearance didn't bother him. Not even when a little girl called him a camel, and tried to pet him. What bothered him was when people like that woman, used it as a justification not to listen to the truths he was proclaiming.

John just had to believe that those people weren't ready yet. People from all over Judea and Jerusalem were flocking to hear the new things he was saying about God. It had been a dry and thirsty time for his people. They were eager to listen. Eager to receive. Eager to welcome the amazing things God was about to do among them.

So John kept proclaiming the Lord's message. While emphatically using his hands to share these amazing truths, John saw out of the corner of his eye that the woman was walking away from the group.

He ignored her. It wasn't important.

Based on Mark 1:4-8

"Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey." Mark 1:6

I don't know about you guys, but this just paints a wild picture in my mind. I just see a man with wild eyes. His hair sticking up in every which direction. His clothes are worn and torn, and frankly a little weird given that they are made out of camel's hair. A leather belt is tied sloppily around his waist. To complete the picture, he's scooping honey-covered locusts out of a bowl with his bare hands.

Right? Right? The kind of image that makes you want to steer your children away from him. It's not exactly the capable, altogether image we Christians try to maintain.

So what?

What does it matter. John the Baptist looked kind of crazy. I am kind of crazy. We should all be really crazy for God. So what do our looks matter?

Nothing.

I'm the kind of person who is fairly trendy. I don't live for the latest styles, and it's been almost a year since I've gone clothes shopping, but I keep up with more current styles. And there have been times in my life that I've kinda snubbed people who dressed like they just leapt out of the 1960's. But that's not right.

The people flocked to hear John the Baptist speak. Flocked. What if they had all stayed away because of something superficial like how he dressed? Would the heart's of the people have been prepared for Jesus?

I like a new pair of jeans as much as the next gal, but it's not the thing that counts. What counts is that these people are earnestly serving God. That we are earnestly serving God.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

"Its Worth It"

Have you not know? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. There is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31 

I don't know about you but these are some of my favorite verses. When ever I am in a tough situation or going through a hard time this is where I find myself. To be honest I can open my Bible and it will open to the page these verses are on because it is a well read page! I find His promise to give power to the weak, increase my strength, and to mount up with wings like eagles to be just the right words to encourage faith when I'm feeling the pressures of life.

These verses tell me that all I have to do to receive His power and strength when I'm feeling weak and powerless is to wait on Him. Simple right? Actually it is! The word wait here means 'to adhere to' according to the Strong's Concordance. So every time I'm feeling like I need strength to get through the day I 'adhere' to Him and receive His strength. Every time I'm hit by a storm I 'adhere' to Him and He gives me the strength to ...'soar with wings like eagles' which is actually my favorite part of this promise because of the truth it reveals. It means that if I 'adhere' to Him and His word in my life then I get to do what eagles do in a storm. An eagle doesn't go to ground when a storm hits like so many of us do. An eagle takes to the sky and soars till he is up high above the storm. What that truth speaks to me is simply this ... If I 'adhere' to Him, I also get to soar high above the storm instead of having to suffer under the brunt it!

God Bless and don't forget to "adhere!" Its worth it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What's Going On?

Why did he feel this way?

He wanted to kill him. Wanted to see him dead. He didn't care anymore. It was strange. Only a short time ago, he hadn't felt this way. He had always felt off in the group of men, but he hadn't wanted anyone dead. A switch had been flipped in his spirit, and he didn't care about Jesus. He cared about the one thing he had never been able to achieve.

Power. Success. Money. Riches.

They were all eating. Judas shoved a piece of dried fruit into his mouth, and then washed it down with a swig of wine. He wanted out of here.

"Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." Judas perked up at Jesus' words. What was this now? His heart sped up. What did he know?

If Jesus knew, he hadn't given any indication. The other disciples were shocked at this heinous declaration. Over and over they kept saying, "Is it me? Is it me, Lord?"

It was sickening. Weak.

"He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born."

He rolled his eyes. Please.

Uh-oh. Peter saw him. He was giving him a look. Clearing his throat, he asked Jesus the same question to keep up pretense. "Is it I, Rabbi?"

"You have said so."

He didn't look at Jesus, but reached out to dip his bread. Only to find another hand. Looking up, he saw Jesus' face studying his.

His irrational anger built once again. And he pushed away from the table at Jesus' next words.

"What you are going to do, do quickly."

Based on Matthew 26:20-25, John 13:21-30

I'm always struck when I read the accounts leading up to Jesus' death by one single thing!

EVERYONE COULD HAVE STOPPED IT!

Starting first and foremost with this. The disciples saw Jesus acknowledge Judas as his betrayer. They had been listening to Jesus talk about his death and resurrection for some time now. Why is it that nobody stopped him? They didn't even realize what was going on when Judas left the group.

"Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, 'Buy what we need for the feast,' or that he should give something to the poor." John 13:28-29

But God didn't want it stopped. All this had to happen to fulfill Scripture. To give us a just Savior Who was not guilty, but willing to die for us anyways.

However, the point I want to make is that there are signs. When God does something on earth, He always tells His people first.

“For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets." Amos 3:7

In this case, quite literally.

I want to be the kind of follower of God, who understands what God is saying. I want to be in the know of what's going down. Even if I don't like it, I don't want to be blind to it. The disciples were completely oblivious to what was happening when Jesus had all but pointed and said, "This is the guy." While I understand why, I don't want to be like that in my walk with God.

When I walk into the middle of the conversation, I want to know what I missed. I will say "What? What?" more times then a broken record, but am I like that with God? When God stuff is going down, I don't want to be asking, "What is going on?"

I want to know. I want to understand. What about you?

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, April 6, 2015

"Show And Tell"

Today I shared this message as the devotional I wrote for Snack Pack for Kidz, the devotional we do for the kids. I felt that the Lord wanted me to share it with you as well as a reminder that our young people aren't the only ones that make choices that others see. It also serves as a reminder that our actions and our words are the testimony of who God is in our lives. It serves as a reminder that we as His people need to not only tell others of His love but that we need to reflect it in the lives of others by our actions as well.

   ---------------------------------------------------
Hey guys! I hope you had a great Holiday and that you  took some time to let Jesus know you love Him!

So, today I have a quiz for you. I'm going to show you six pictures. You see if you know who it is in them. Okay?

# 1. 
 # 2.
# 3.
# 4.
 # 5.
# 6.
So did you know them all? Check your answers below.
   # 1. Daniel and the lions in the lion's den
   # 2. Samson
   # 3. Adam and Eve and the snake
   # 4. David and Goliath
   # 5. Jonah and the big fish
   # 6. Jesus and Peter walking on the water with the rest of the disciples still in the boat.

I bet you did really well and got most if not all of them correct, right? I bet your wondering why the quiz? whats the point and in order to make it I need to ask you to stop and think about how you knew the right answers. How did you know who these people were?

Actually the answer to that question is pretty easy but it has two parts to it. The first part is to say that it is because of their actions. Daniel is known for his stand. He is famous because he refused to stop praying and serving his (and our) God. Samson is famous for his long hair and his strength being tied to his vow to God. Adam and Eve are known for being the first humans created by God. They are also known for the mistake they made in listening to the lie of the snake and thus walking away from God. David is known for being the one who slayed Goliath who is also known for being a giant Philistine who mocked God and his people. Jonah is known because his actions caused him to show us both the results of his disobedience and his obedience as well. We know it was Jesus, the Son of God because He was the one miraculously walking safely and securely on top of the water. We know it was Peter because we know he was the one who was known for his boldness to get out of the boat. We recognized them because they were known for their actions.

The same can be said for you! Did you know that it says in Proverbs 20:11 'Even a child is known by his deeds, By whether what he does is pure and right.' Our actions help us gain a good reputation or a bad one.
Check out the books of 1st and 2nd Kings and while you read you will see these two statements a lot. "And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father ....had done" or "And he did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart all his days from the sins of ....who had made Israel sin." Over and over those words tell the tale. They did right or they did evil. The were known by their actions and the choices they made to serve God ...or not.

Every time you choose to do right right it gains you a reputation of doing right in heaven. You will be known by the choices you make to do right!

Remember I said there were two parts to the answer to the question about how you knew who they were? We just established that the first part was that we knew who the were because of there actions. They were famous for what they did. The second part of this answer is even simpler. Someone told you. Someone shared their story with you. You knew who each of these people were because their exploits both good and bad were shared with you and from that you gained an understanding of who they were.

Did you know that part of wearing your armor of God is to have 'your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace?' or that in Romans 10:14-15 it says, "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good thing!"

All that is a fancy way of saying, "How will they know about Jesus unless you tell them?" You knew about all these people in the Bible because their actions became know to you and because someone told you about them. If we want people to know that we love God we need to show them with our actions as well as telling them with our words.

We need to tell people Jesus didn't just say "I love you!" he came to earth as the Son of Man and He showed us with His actions as well!

We need to Spread The News by showing and telling others that!

God Bless!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

"Isn't It The Point?"

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!   Romans 3:23

"Teacher, this woman was caught in ..... So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman was standing in the midst. When Jesus raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." John 8:4-11

Now I know this is not the typical 'Resurrection Sunday' message but it seems to me it is kinda the point, isn't it?  After all isn't it why ... He made Himself of no reputation, took on the form of a servant, and came in the likeness of men? Isn't it why ...He being found in appearance as a man, humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:6-8

Isn't it why He, as the last Adam, became a life-giving spirit? 1 Corinthians 15:45

Isn't it why He swallowed death and its sting up in victory?  1 Corinthians 15:54-55

What about those moments on the cross when the Father turned away and He cried, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?"  and when He said, "It is finished," and paid in full our debt, our sins? For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him 2 Corithians 5:21

Isn't the point of His death and resurrection so that we can have our moment when we look Him in the eyes and hear Him say, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." John 8:11


God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Best Laid Plans...

"I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on Him. I have put my hope in His word."
 Psalm 130:5

Do you truly hope in God? I mean, when your stuck, the chips are down, and there is no way on earth that you should have any hope? Do you pull back, letting hope die, or do you trust in Him?

I did that this week. I pulled away instead of trusting in Him. I have been going through some trying times at my job. It hasn't been a good situation and I knew that I needed to get out of there. I had a good opportunity to do that, though. I have been trying to get promoted for over two years, and three positions were listed in the last month. I was interviewed for all of them, but in the end, I didn't get any of them.

I was hurt. I worked hard, proved myself, and hadn't earned any of the three. Guys, just in case you didn't know, rejection hurts. But there was still hope - another opportunity in a newer location that might suit me even better. Until, that, too, was taken away.

Guys, when life seems to be coming after you with a vengeance, what do you do? It's easy to say that you would trust in the Lord, but when our own plans come crashing down, things change. But they shouldn't.

"Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him, and He will help you." Psalm 37:5

Do you commit everything you do, everything you are, to God? I have always prayed for His help when I need it, but that is not the way I should be doing it. I have been doing this backward. Commit before you start something. Don't wait and ask for help after. It makes such a huge difference. I'm sure it would have for me. I might have know that it wasn't God's plan for me to get those jobs, that He has a different plan for me.

The next few verses are probably my least favorites in all of Scripture, but the ones that I most need to take to heart.

"Look here, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.' How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog - it's here a little while, then it's gone. What you ought to say is, 'If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.' Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil." James 4:13-16

Look for God's will in what you do. And when you do go to make plans, seek His will. Avoid the heartache that I had this week. Let Him reign in your life.

That last opportunity, the one that was taken away, has been brought back to me. I still have a chance, but it wasn't anything that I could have done to bring it back. God brought it back to me. I WILL trust Him with this, and not rely on my own strength.

Sam

Friday, April 3, 2015

"He Shows Up!"

   Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd.    And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was carried out , the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her.
   When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep."
   Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise."
   And he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.
   Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen up among us"; and, "God has visited His people."
   And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region. Luke 7:11-17

The perfect example! Or how about this one?

   And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
   Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, "Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "True, O king,"    "Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."
   Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here." Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire.
   And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king's counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.
   Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship nor worship any god except their own God! Daniel 3:23-30

Is it comforting to know that no matter what it is He shows up and is there in the midst of it with you?

God Bless!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Desperate for Dirt

Healed. Fresh. New.

Like never before.

Naaman couldn't stop staring at his skin. It looked like his son's skin when he was first born. Soft and creamy. Elisha the prophet and his servant smiled at him.

"I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel. Please, accept a gift from your servant."

"As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none." Elisha declared.

Naaman tried to argue with the old man, but he stood his ground, and urged him to return home.

His heart jumped up and down at the thought of telling his family about all that had happened. He was certainly anxious to see their responses.

Home. The word brought a plethora of good and bad emotions. He didn't want to return to the man he had been? How did he stay devoted to God, when he had to accompany the king into the temple of a false god?

Oh, if only he could always stand on this ground. This ground changed his life!

Wait a second...

"If you will not receive my gift, please let there be given to your servant two mules' load of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. But may the Lord pardon your servant in this matter. When my master goes into the house of his god to worship there, leaning on my arm, may the Lord pardon your servant when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon."

He held his breath. If he could just have the dirt, it would be his constant reminder and declaration of his changed life.

Elisha smiled. "Go in peace."

Yes!

Based on 2 Kings 5:15-19

Naaman was desperate for dirt.

DIRT!

With or without the worms.

He was desperate for dirt to pray on because his life had changed so dramatically on that dirt. He was healed. He was renewed. He was saved. The thought of going back to his land - a land without God - was too much for him. He wanted that reminder of his commitment.

So he begged Elisha for dirt where he could offer sacrifices and pray. He knew this land was special because God dwelt there.

I just love how Naaman had to have the dirt. Dirty dirt. Why not something fancier? He was the head of the army of Syria after all. He could have gone to the market and purchased something expensive that would have been just as good of a reminder.

But it wasn't about the expense. It was about his devotion to God.

Are we that devoted to God? So devoted that we would beg for dirt to pray on just so we could be closer to God?

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33

Seek the kingdom of God. Seek God! Let your hearts be thirsty for more of the Lord. Draw closer to Him no matter how bizarre it seems. Stand on your kitchen table and reach out to God!

Get your dirt. Don't forget ignore your commitment. Keep it real.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"The Nations"

Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possessions. Psalm 2:8
Today I was thinking about the prayer of Jabez which can be found in 1 Chronicles 4:10. One of the key things that Jabez requested was that God would enlarge his territory. It also tells us that God granted him his request. This made me stop and think? How often are really willing to look to God for more than our immediate sphere of influence? And what I mean by that is this ..... we can all faithfully believe for our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. We can easily believe for family, close friends and even our co-workers as well. It is easy to ask and to keep on asking that those that we love or those that pertain to us would come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We obviously love them and want them to be added to the kingdom, but ...? How often do we give a thought to the millions and millions of strangers out there? How often do we ask God to enlarge our territory and to take us outside our comfort zones?

I wonder, are we like Philip? Philip was open and available enough to hear, "Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. and sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, "Go near and overtake this chariot." Acts 8:26-29 We all know the rest of the story. The eunuch not only got saved but baptized as well at which point Philip was then translated off to Azotus by the Spirit of the Lord to share the gospel of Christ there as well.

An influential eunuch on a desert road one minute, the city of Azotus the next. Seems to me Philip was available to more than his immediate family and friends and, while I believe with all my heart that family, friends, and the people in your sphere of influence are important shouldn't we also have an eye on the bigger picture? Shouldn't we be asking Him to enlarge our territory to include nations? Shouldn't we be willing and available to go out on a desert road as the Spirit leads because God knows that there is a heart ready to receive the truth of the gospel?And here is the big question, are we willing to be wherever He needs us even if it means the Spirit of God carries us there? Are we willing to have a heart for people everywhere or just our own immediate back yard?

How willing are we really to let Him enlarge our backyard to include the nations of the world? How often do you ask Him to enlarge your territory or even  ... to give you a heart for the nations?