Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hang on Sheep

Seh was transfixed. His mind swirled with Jesus' words. Jesus was telling a story about a good shepherd. It was like the story was taking place before his eyes. Seh could see it...


The good shepherd laughed at his herd of sheep. The herd was following the alpha around, and as a small rodent startled the alpha, and he jumped. In turn, each of the following sheep jumped in that same spot, even thought the rodent had long since disappeared.

Weird, silly creatures. He wouldn't trade them for anything.

These were his sheep. He glanced at them lovingly. Sure they were a pain in the rear sometimes, and man, could they be dumb! Despite their flaws, they were his.


The image faded from Seh's mind, but was immediately replaced with a new one as Jesus continued his story about a hired hand...


The good shepherd had to take a journey, and a hired hand was watching over his sheep in his absence. The hired hand didn't care about the sheep. They drove him crazy with their constant bleating, falling into ditches, and smelliness! Why, he even shoved them around!

One day, a wolf came. As soon as the hired hand saw the wolf stalking the sheep at the edge of the herd, he hid behind a tree. When he was certain the wolf hand not seen him, he ran away.
Leaving the sheep defenseless. Many died, and the rest were scattered.


Seh blinked. What a horrid ending! The hired hand should have defended the sheep. Saved them. Done something. If it had been the good shepherd, he would have given his life for the sheep, Seh was certain of it!

Then it dawned on Seh. Jesus was THE GOOD SHEPHERD. Seh shook his head in amazement. If Jesus was anything like that shepherd, he was going to follow him.

Based on John 10:11-13

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep." John 10:11-13

Jesus is comparing Himself to a good shepherd, one who cares about his sheep. Jesus says that a hired hand doesn't care about the sheep. A hired hand is just kind of there, hanging out. What if a wolf appears while the hired hand is there? The wolf is intent on harming and devouring the sheep, and a hired hand is not going to mess with him. He's going to save his own neck! So he runs away.

The good shepherd would have laid down his life for his sheep, because even though they are dumb and a pain in his rear, he loves them. His job is to protect them.

Some of you are reading this, and you come from a past filled with hurt. You feel like all God and Jesus have even done is abandon you. You need to understand that He hasn't.

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

God even gave his son to die for you. Jesus laid down his life for you, like a good shepherd does for the sheep he loves. The world is full of "hired hands" who are watching over us. Unless they are Godly people, they don't care about us. Then the enemy comes, and we are hurt.

But God has not abandoned you.

The Good Shepherd loves you. He's coming for you. And He will care for you. Don't let the enemy scatter you. Don't abandon The Good Shepherd. Even in ways we can't see or understand, He's taking care of you.

Hang on sheep. Hang on.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, June 29, 2015

"He Steps In"

   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 being 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." Luke 7:11-16

   Therefore, because the king's command was urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.
   And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into 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, srvants 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. Daniel 3:22-27
  
   And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand.
   And they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabath, so that they might accuse Him.
   Then He said to the man who had the withered hand, "Step forward."
   And He said to them, "Is it lawful on theSabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" But they kept silent.
   So when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Mark 3:1-5

   Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."
   So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink."
   And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand."
   Then she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread,  only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die."
   And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.
   "For thus said the Lord God of Israel: "The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.'"
   So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days.
   The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah. 1 Kings 17:8-16

   Then a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean."
   Then Jesus, moved with compassion, put out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed."
   As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. Mark 1:40-42

Old Testament or New, it really doesn't matter because it really is very simple. When God shows up all things are possible and ... Miracles Happen!!!

God Bless!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

"Give A Shout Of Praise!"

   Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own garments on the colt, and they set Jesus on him.
   And as He went, they spread their clothes on the road.
   Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen,
   saying:  "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
   And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out." Luke 19:35-40

Lord, I pray that we as Your disciples would be faithful to give You a shout of praise today and everyday, despite any and all opposition by those who 'don't approve.' We lift Your name on high as we to, with all our might cry, "We love You Lord."

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions
   
  

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Freely Give

"You have heard that the law of Moses says, "If an eye is injured, injure the eye of the person who did it. If a tooth gets knocked out, knock out the tooth of the person who did it. But I say, don't resist an evil person! If you are slapped on the right cheek, turn the other one, too. If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don't turn away from those who borrow." Matthew 5:38-42

I bet Jesus had people really upset about this one. I mean, going from being able to slap someone back, or poke 'em in the eye? I mean, come on, who wants to turn the other cheek when you could nail them right back? And not only that, these people are taking something from you, and you have to give them even more? How is that right?

"Give as freely as you have received!" Matthew 10:8

Jesus gave us eternal life. After that, what could compare? I mean, really, what compares to that? Certainly not money, clothes, or anything that we can find in this world. And if we have that eternal life, what value does any of our possessions truly have? Shouldn't we use anything we have to help us in our commission to preach the Gospel to every creature? And if, we have to give something up to be a witness to someone, shouldn't we do it with a happy heart? Don't begrudge anyone anything. God provides us with what we need, and often, more than that.

"Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required to whom much more is given." Luke 12:48b

Another hard message. Its frustrating, knowing that God expects so much of us. Seriously, we are only human. How can we make an impact? I guess its a good thing that he came and gave us the example to follow. He showed us how to do it. Do we actually follow his example? We can feed the thousands waiting. We can heal the sick. We can raise the dead. But before we can do that, we have to be faithful in the little things. Bible reading, prayer, worship, just spending time with Him builds us up to do the miraculous.

Be faithful in the little things so He can trust you with the big ones.

Sam

Friday, June 26, 2015

"Change Your View"

   Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.
   And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were in trouble, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.
   But immediately Jesus spoke to them saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."
   And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."
   So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
   But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!"
   And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
   And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
   Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God." Matthew 14:25-33

Have you ever really wanted to be like Peter? I know I have! The whole idea of doing something this amazing with Jesus is pretty appealing to me. Walking on water, walking in the anointing of God, with signs, wonders, and miracles all that stuff cool God stuff ... definitely has me crying out to Him, "Lord, bid me to..."

I long to be like Peter who was the one and only disciple that dared to ask Jesus to 'bid him to come.' He then responded to that call and actually got out of the boat! Pretty amazing, right? I say that because I know from personal experience, both my own and years of watching others, that most of us have dared to call out to Jesus and asked that we might join Him in some endeavor or another. And the truth is, we all have the best of intentions when we call out to Him, asking Him to use us to further the kingdom. We all have a hearts cry to do big things for Him. That is always the intention! Then comes His response. He bids you to come and now its time to step out of the boat and step into that moment of walking with Him! Trusting Him to help us walk.

I've been thinking about Mark 16:17-18 lately where Jesus said, "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." These words are the words of Jesus to His disciples, to us who are called by His name. They are His words, bidding us to, "Come and do likewise." They question remains WILL we get out of the boat and join Him? Everywhere He went these are the things that He did with never any question about the outcome. Do we believe? Do we act like we believe? Do we have these signs following our 'beliving?' For example, do we, beliving His words, step out in faith and lay hands on the sick? Do we lay hands on them believing that healing will come?

Peter, was out of the boat because He believed and responded when Jesus said, "Come." He was out there walking when he got distracted by the wind and the waves. Suddenly the storm was bigger than being out there with Jesus. When we are laying hands on the sick do we understand that we are responding to His command and trusting Him or do we too get distracted by the sickness or others opinion? Do we truly understand that it is all about Him! He equipped Peter to walk and if we are being obedient to His command He will equip us as well and according to these, His words, its as simple as believing!

When Peter believed, he walked. When he didn't, he sank. "But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" Its important to note that as soon as he started to sink he turned to Jesus and it says that just that quick, or rather, immediately "Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" Just that quick, Peter's view changed from the storm and once again he was looking up toward Jesus. He will always respond with an outstretched hand to help lift you up, so, how about you? The next time you are being obedient and stepping out, 'laying hands on the sick ...etc.' and you are doubting or feeling less than confident, cause its a big sickness' and your just you, remember to change your view! Stop looking at the wind and waves and what you can't do! Instead, look up! His is the healing/helping hand that gets it done!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jesus Has Life

Where is he?"

Byki looked around. Everyone was asking the same question. The multitude of people searched high and low. Just yesterday, Jesus had fed them. How, Byki didn't know. There were thousands and thousands of men, women, and children here, but they had all eaten their fill.

Byki desperately wanted to find Jesus. He took care of them.

Someone screamed over the crowd, silencing them for a brief moment. "He's not here!"

So, where had he gone?

"His disciples crossed the sea during the night, but Jesus was not with them," an old man claimed. Others chimed in, agreeing that Jesus had not gone with his disciples.

Byki looked out to the calm waters. There had been a great storm during the night, but you couldn't tell from the waters gently lapping at the shore and the cloudless blue sky.

If Jesus wasn't here, when and how did he get across the sea?

Almost at the same time, the people around Byki started shouting his conclusion. "We need to cross the sea, and find him!"

Based on John 6:22-27

"When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, 'Rabbi, when did you come here?' Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.'" John 6:25-27

When reading this the other day, it struck me how Jesus said that they weren't looking for Him because of the signs and miracles. No, they were looking for Him because, well, He fed them! Jesus then took their appreciation and need for physical food to talk to them about their need for spiritual food.

It kind of amazed me. How many times do we see in the New Testament the Pharisees demanding a sign or miracle? These simple people didn't demand a miracle. Originally, they had followed Jesus to the middle of nowhere because He met their physical needs. He healed and loved them.

And that's the reason they chased after Him. Their bellies were filled, and someone who could fill their bellies was a man worth following.

Guys, are you following after things that will only fill you temporarily? Are you slaving to fill your physical needs while not knowingly starving your spiritual needs? Follow Jesus. Cause He's got both. He holds the means to fill your bellies, provide all your needs, and fill your heart completely.

These people chased after Jesus to meet their physical needs, but they left with so much more. He can meet both needs. He can meet all needs. Jesus has the eternal food, the living bread, and the never ending supply of water.

Jesus has life, in every sense of the word.

V. Joy Palmer

"Call To Duty"

   Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity;
   and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
   And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38

Today I would like to share a couple of thoughts or rather observations I was thinking about today after I read these few verses about Anna. First, Id like to make the observation that ...and I know that it seems like an obvious observation, but I still think it bears remarking on. Anna was a prophetess! That means she knew His heart. She spent time listening to and sharing His words. I know that I have read this fact about her countless times before but until today it never really hit me about what it means. She knew! She knew Jesus was there. I think I always kinda figured that God allowed her to come along at just the right time to reward her faithfulness to Him for all her years of fasting and praying and spending her time in his presence. 

It says that for eighty-four years she served faithfully day and night seeking Him with fasting and prayers. It says that, "coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem." She was a prophetess, which means it wasn't this happenstance blessing that she came along at the right time to be blessed with seeing the Messiah but God had told her! She was there because God had revealed His presence to her. It says that she came in that instance and began to give thanks and that and that she immediately started telling people all about Him.

Not convinced? Check out this verse ... Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. Hosea 3:7 This verse tells us that He lets the prophets know whats going on! The first thing we find out is her name is Anna and she is a prophetess. Would He not tell such a faithful witness where she could find him? Personally, I believe that He told, she listened, and then ...she faithfully testified!

Anna, the prophetess, answered her call to duty this day. How about you and I in our day? Are we listening?  Do we know what He is actively doing in the earth today?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Basic Needs

Adam studied the fluffy, fuzzy creature before him. It's rectangular head was covered in even more silky softness, which surrounded big brown eyes. The creature had a fluffy tail that was wagging back and forth as he walked up to Adam. The creature turned around and sat down on Adam's foot. Adam laughed, and reached down to pet his head.

"What shall we call this one, Adam?"

Adam looked over to God. "I think we should call this a dog."

God smiled. "That sounds good."

They continued with this for a while, and while the dog had apparently decided to stay with Adam, Adam was hoping to find a creature he could...relate to a little more.

God studied him. "It's not good for you to be alone. Did you find anyone to be your helper in life?"

Adam looked away. He didn't want to tell God the truth. Look at all He had done for him! All that he had created.

"Adam..." God probed.

"No."

"I'll take care of it." Adam realized that God didn't sound upset or angry with his ungratefulness. He sounded like He wanted to take care of him.

Based on Genesis 2:18-23

So I was thinking about this moment when Adam had finished naming all the animals, birds, and weird things on earth. I think he was probably a little disappointed that out of all these wondrous creatures, he hadn't found someone he could experience life with.

God saw that.

"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'" Genesis 2:18

I think this verse just gives us another glimpse into God's heart. He saw and knew that Adam needed someone. God was determined to give him that, and when none of the other creatures He'd created cut it, God says, "I got this. I'll take care of it." And then He makes Eve for Adam!

God made us, but more importantly then that, He gets us. He understands us. He understands our core desires and needs. The needs for love and companionship; worth, food, and coffee. He gets it all.

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19

Guys, if you feel like Adam in those moments after you've seen EVERYTHING and NOTHING works, don't lose hope. God's about to roll up His sleeves and provide it. He knows even our most basic needs, and He won't leave you alone.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, June 22, 2015

"The Opportunity Is Ours"

   For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.
   And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.
   Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.
   And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.
   But he who had received one went and dug in the ground and hid his lord's money.
   After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
   So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, "Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them."
   His lord said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."
   He also who had received two talents came and said, "Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I gained two more talents besides them."
   His lord said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."
   Then he who had received the one talent came and said, "Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
   And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours."
   But his lord answered and said to him, "You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.
   Therefore you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.
   Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
   For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.
   And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Every day we a faced with a choice. That choice has to do with whether or not we, as His servants, will be faithful in our service to the Lord. In the above parable we are told that the three servants were given talents by the one they served. It says that their master, knowing them, gave to them 'each according to his own ability,' and what that means is he knew their abilities and their potential but what they ultimately did with those talents while he was away was theirs to make.

The Lord, has not only given gifts and abilities to each of us, but a measure of faith and unlimited opportunities to experience abundant life and a personal relationship with Him. What we do with all that He has entrusted us with is our choice. We can take it all for granted, ignore it or just bury it somewhere in the background of our lives if we choose. Or and this or is the point ... we can participate in multiplying it and causing it to not only grow but to enrich us in every way possible. The more we use it, the more it increases and the more He blesses us with more and more and more. He has entrusted us with so much 'opportunity' but the truth is we decide if we bring blessing and honor to Him with that opportunity. We make the choices that cause His heart to swell with love as He says, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."

We choose what we do with all His gifts even the most amazing gift of all ... 'the opportunity' to live an abundant life!  Will we?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

"His Actions Reveal His Heart!"

   Then He said: A certain man had two sons.
   "And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood.
   "And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.
   "But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.
   "Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of the country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
   "And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
   But when he came to himself, he said, "How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
   I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,
   and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants."
   "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.
   "And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
   "But the father said to his servants, "Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.
   'And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry. Luke 15:11-24

I know this parable is supposed to be focusing on the young man who is considered the prodigal son but I would just like to say that one of my favorite verses is the one telling us, "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him." I love that the father was watching down the road, waiting for his son whom he loved  to come home. He was watching and waiting and even when he was still a great way off his father saw him coming. He didn't sit there waiting for him to get there either. He immediately set out at a run to get to him as quickly as possible. When he got there he grabbed him in an embrace and showered him with kisses not condemnation, judgement, or even a single, 'I told you so.' Instead, he then immediately reinstated him, and not as the servant his son intended, but as his son with robes and rings and the fatted calf for the celebration. Why? Why would he be sitting around looking for the son who left? Why would the father act this way? Why? The answer is easy. It is also the simple truth that we all need to remember! Quite simply put; it is that ... His actions tell the whole story! The Father's every action is because he loved him!

O Lord God, help us to always keep this truth close to our hearts! Why? Because every one of Your actions, as our heavenly Father, declares Your love for us as well!

Help us, as Your people, to not only know You as our Heavenly Father with our head knowledge but to experience the fulness of Your loving embrace as well!

Happy Father's Day and God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Unexpected

"Get up and get dressed. Go out and tell them whatever I tell you to say. Do not be afraid of them, or I will make you look foolish in front of them. For see, today I have had you immune to their attacks. You are strong like a fortified city that cannot be captured, like an iron pillar or a bronze wall. None of the kings, officials, priests, or people of Judah will be able to stand against you. They will try, but they will fail. For I am with you, and I will take care of you. I, the Lord, have spoken." Jeremiah 1:17-19

This is how God sent out the prophet Jeremiah, a scared young man who thought that he was too young to speak for God. But God makes a habit of picking the unexpected ones. The broken ones. The hurt. The too young. Look at Moses, David, Paul. All unlikely people, each called despite apparent reasons for God not to use them.

"Look, I will send you out like sheep among wolves. Be wary as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and beaten in the synagogues. And you must stand trial before governors and king because you are my followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about me - yes, to witness to the world. When you are arrested, don;t worry about what to say in your defense, because you will be given the right words at the right time. For it won;t be you doing the talking - it will be the spirit of your father speaking through you... Don't be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill the body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both your soul and body in hell." Matthew 10:16-20,28

This is how Jesus sent out His twelve disciples. The fishermen, the tax collector, the one who would betray Him. None were Bible experts. They were normal men. Sinners. Cheaters. Cowards. Faithless. Unseeing.

"Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe. They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won't hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick and heal them." Mark 16:15-18

This is how Jesus sends us out. The imperfect. The failures. The sinners. The cheaters. The too young. The desperate.

The unexpected.

God doesn't play favorites. He loves us all the same. It doesn't matter who we are or where we have been. What matters is where we are going now that He has called us. Leave the past to rest, and answer the call unburdened by failures and sins. He called you for a reason, and He believes in you. Shouldn't you?

Sam

Friday, June 19, 2015

"Thus And Thus"

  
Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.
   And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman's wife.
   Then she said to her mistress, "If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy."
   And Naaman went in and told his master, saying, "Thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel."
   So the king of Syria said, "Go now, and I will  send a letter to the king of Israel." So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing.
   Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said, "Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy."
   And it happened, when the king of Israel read the letter, that he tore his clothes and said, "Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy? Therefore please consider, and see how he seeks a quarrel with me."
   So it was, when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, "Why have you torn your clothes? Please let him come to me, and he shall lnow that there is a prophet in Israel."
   Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
    And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean."
   But Naaman became furious, and went away ans said, "Indeed, I said to myself, 'He will surely come out to me, and stand and call out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.'
   "Are not the Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israe? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage.
   And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean?"
   So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
   Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him, and he said, "Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant."
   But he said, "As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive nothing." And he urged him to take it, but he refused.
   So Naaman said, "Then, if not, please let your servant be given two mule-loads of earth; for your servant will no longer offer either burnt offering or sacrifice to other gods, but to the Lord.
   "Yet in this thing may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the temple of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon---when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord please pardon your servant in this thing."
   Then he said to him, "Go in peace." So he departed from him a short distance. 2 Kings 5:1-19

There are a number of players in this account that we can take a look at today, ranging from Elisha, the kings, Gehazzi, and of course Naaman himself and while I love sharing about these guys today I want to look at the servants. This whole account takes place because starting with the little maid who served Naaman's wife, a servant was faithful to speak on behalf of the God the truly served. The little maid told about the man of God in Israel who, "would heal him of his leprosy." She didn't say maybe, or even could, but 'would heal him of his leprosy.' I love that she was confident not only about God's ability to heal but that it was a done deal if Naaman was in the presence of the man of God as well.

Next comes the servants that convinced Naaman to be obedient to the words that Elisha spoke to Naaman. Naaman was walking away in anger because it wasn't happening the way he thought it should. But his servants saw only his need to be healed and stepped up to persude him to give God a try.  "And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean?" Because these servants made a stand for the words God spoke Naaman had a change of mind and decided to be obedient to what he was told. Because these servants spoke up ...the outcome was ..."and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." Because these servants made a stand for God we also see that Naaman became a servant of the the Lord as well! ..."Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel; now therefore, please take a gift from your servant."

So as you can see the word that kept jumping out at me today ...servants. Servants of the Lord gave testimony about their God and His ability to heal and because of that very simple act ...lives were changed! Naaman's life was changed! He was healed and and restored and serving God because servants were bold enough to speak on behalf of their God. My favorite line in this whole account (at least for today)  "...And Naaman went in and told his master, saying, "Thus and thus said the girl who is from the land of Israel."
Naaman went to the king with the words this little servant girl spoke. How about you and I. Are we, the servants of the Lord in the earth today, telling people to get in His presence. Are we telling them he has the power to heal, and to restore? Are we challenging people to trust the words of our God and seeing lives changed? Are we being faithful to speak boldly on behalf of our God? Are we being the kind of servants of the Most High God that never hold our peace when we see a need? Is someone quoting us and saying, "She said, "Thus and Thus about the Lord?"

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Even Though...

Such seriousness.

Peter sipped his wine. Jesus had been talking about very serious stuff for awhile now, and he didn't seem like he was going to let up anytime soon. He glanced towards the end of the table. Philip and Thomas looked like they were about to fall asleep.

Jesus looked straight into Peter's soul just then, and his drink lodged in his throat, causing him to almost choke.

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."

Part of him wanted to burst out laughing. Part of him wanted to roll his eyes. Part of him felt the words grip his soul, warning him.

Peter had to control himself from physically shaking it off. He turned a blind eye to his pride. How could Jesus think that? "Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death."

Jesus smiled, but there was a hint of sadness in his eyes. His face morphed into yet another serious expression. "I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day until you deny that you know me three times."

Peter tried not to shake his head. That just wasn't going to happen.

Based on Luke 22:31-34

I have always known that if I was in Peter's shoes, I would have felt awful. Like beat myself up for all eternity awful. And then I always have to remember the hard truth: I have done that.


Then I hate myself.

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." Romans 8:1-4

Guys, we have all screwed up and betrayed God big time, many times. It's a fact. But before you plan to loath yourself for all eternity with a grudge modeling Elizabeth Bennet's, remember that Jesus told Peter he was going to betray Him. He told him. He already knew he was going to screw up. But Jesus loved Peter anyways. God called him anyways.

We all screw up, but God doesn't want us to hang onto that guilt and condemnation for life.

"Jesus stood up and said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.'"
John 8:10-11

Even though He knew how badly we would fall, He doesn't condemn us. He loves us. So go and sin no more.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"He Sees It all"

  Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away.
   And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray.
   Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land.
   Then He saw them straining at the rowing, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.
   But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out;
   for they all saw Him and were troubled. And immediately He talked with them and said to them, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."
   Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. Mark 6:45-51

Today I would like to share a simple truth that we all need to remember! That truth? He sees us! He sees when we are in the midst of a storm. In this example above we see that the disciples were doing exactly what He had sent them to do. Get in the boat without Him and go across the lake. In the midst of this process of being obedient and doing what He had told them to, a storm arose that caused them they to have difficulty rowing against the storm. Take a close look and you'll see our key thought of the day. It says that while He was alone on the mountain praying, spending some alone time with the Father, He saw that they were in trouble. He then proceeded to go to them. He even walked on the water to get to them.

The next thing we see is that they almost missed Him. He showed up and they almost didn't realize that it was Him. Because of their fear they saw a ghost instead. Crazy, right? But here's what we need to understand. They were being obedient to His instructions and a storm still came along. He saw their need and responded by showing up and even though they were all wrapped up in their fear and almost missed that He had arrived He spoke a reassuring word and revealed to them that He was there to calm not only the storm but their fear as well.

Too often as believers we get distracted by the storms that come as we are going about His business. Too often we are so distracted by our fears that He won't see our need that we too, like the disciples in his account, almost miss the moment when He shows up to speak that word of encouragement. Know and understand that not matter what the 'storm' in your life He sees! He sees your staining to row through and He will show up to calm the storm. His word was and is and always will be, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." Don't forget to look for Him in the midst of the storm ...because He will show up! He will cause the wind to cease!

God Bless!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Does Your Heart Go Ping?

Matthew nudged his friend, Abel. Once Abel looked at him, Matthew discretely nodded his head towards the man walking with them. They had asked his name, but the man had simply smiled.

"Wow!" Abel whispered.

"I know!" Matthew shook his head. "He just explained the Scriptures to us with ease. And what about his explanation about Jesus, about how he had to suffer these things! Wasn't that what Jesus used to say?"

"Yeah, it is!" Abel frowned. "But he called us foolish," Abel mumbled.

"It's not like Jesus didn't say that to us when we were being foolish." Abel reluctantly nodded his agreement. Matthew squinted and shielded his eyes with his hand. He could just make out the village ahead of them. It stretched across the horizon like thick, black ink.

"We are nearing the village," the stranger said. "I'm afraid we will be parting ways there, as my business will take me further."

Without thinking, Matthew whirled to face the stranger. The three of them stopped abruptly. "Stay with us. The day is spent and evening is near."

The stranger started to shake his head in protest, pointing beyond the village, but Abel jumped into the conversation. "Stay with us. We've enjoyed talking to you, and truthfully, we want to hear more."

After a moment the stranger nodded his head in agreement. Relieved, Matthew led the way into the village. They were going to spend every minute they could talking with him.

Based on Luke 24:13-34

"While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him." Luke 24:15-16

"When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, 'Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?'" Luke 24:30-32

I wonder how stupid these guys felt after realizing that they had spent the day with Jesus, and didn't even recognize Him. I know, I know, it was kept from them at the time. I'm not condemning these men. I just know that if it had been me, I would have felt like an idiot for not recognizing the man I had been following around for the last few years. For not realizing that He was talking about the same things as the last few years. For not recognizing that burning in my heart for a knowing it was Him.

I would be shattered. I would beat myself up. I would be forced to take a long, hard look at my relationship with Him.

Do we immediately recognize God for God, or do we have to wait for God to give us a mental slap?

When John the Baptist was a baby inside his mother's womb, he recognized God for God. That's how I want to be. I don't want any question about whether someone is of God or not. I don't want any doubt over the words that God has given me to speak. I will know because I know because I know that that's not my voice, but God's guiding me. Can you imagine being so in tune with God that you know it's Him, all the time, every time? That's how our relationship needs to be with God.

What if those guys had recognized Jesus? The time spent together would have been far different, but instead, Jesus was covering the same topics as before. John the Baptist's relationship went deeper. He had the kind of faith were he just always knew it was God and who Jesus was. That's the dream.

I have a question for you guys. Does your heart go PING within you when God is near?

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, June 15, 2015

"How About You?"

As a youth pastor one of my favorite passages of scripture is this account of Jesus as a young man. I love to read about it because it reminds me of a truth that I think we all, both young and old alike, need to be reminded of from time to time. I must admit that my favorite line is the last one because isn't it what we all want, ... 'to increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men?' I know that when I was a 'baby christian,' new to things of God, all I wanted was to grow! I wanted more of His wisdom, more of His favor, and more blessings because I longed to be in the very center of His will! As we take a look at this account we see that a willingness to be 'about the Father's business' is key to seeing that increase of the things of God in our lives.
 
   So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.
   And when the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
   His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.
   And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.
   When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Bot Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it;
   but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day's journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 
   So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.
   Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers , both listening to them and asking them questions.
   And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
   So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously."
   And He said to them, "Why is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?"
   But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.
   Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.
    And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:39-52

Every time I read this account of when Jesus was young I think about how Jesus was willing to 'be about His Father's business' even when He was young. I think about the future that was laid before Him and about the fact that, even when He was young and growing up, His willingness to serve the Father was at the very center of who He was, which, to be honest, is the truth that we all need to understand.  I say that because every time I read this, and see this truth in the life and actions of Jesus as a young person, I also think about how you and I, as believers, can be like Jesus and purpose in our hearts to 'be about our heavenly Father's' business as well!

Jesus' willingness is key to everything that He ever said and did! For example '...Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done." Luke 22:42 It is also the key that made those next words possible, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."

How about you? Would you like to see an increase of the Lord's wisdom in your life? What about seeing an increase in the favor of God in your life? If the answer is, "Yes!" Then you need to understand that your 'willingness to be about His business' is key and that is very much a choice that only you can make for your life! Reading through this account and the verse in Luke 22:42 we see that Jesus was willing even when He was both young and old ... How about you? What does your willingness look like?

God Bless!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

"You Truly Are..."

Psalm 121

I will lift up my eyes to the hills---
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord, 
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out
 and your coming in
from this time forth, 
and even forevermore.

O Lord, we take time today to look to You and You alone as the maker of heaven and earth! Why? Because You truly are the only Source of help in all our times of need. We come before You this day to give You all our praise and all our thanksgiving not only because of what You do for us but also because of who You are, our Creator, and the keeper of our souls! You truly are the one we look to and not only to preserve our coming and going but also as the one and only source of strength throughout all the days of our lives!

Lord, we look to You and You alone with both our eyes and our hearts as focused on seeking Your face!

Lord, the truth is, that You and You alone are the One we are to lift up our eyes to for help, and Lord, the cry of our heart today is that You, and You alone, would be our Help. Help us, Lord, to establish this truth in the very depths of our hearts as we live our lives in a way that brings glory to Your Most Holy name.

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Thorns

It's hard to have a weakness for something, isn't it? Something that plagues you, something that you have a hard time overcoming yourself. We all have things in life that distract us from our walk with God, or at least try to. I'm not talking about the things that we have chosen to do, like hobbies and interests. God wants us to enjoy ourselves, and take pleasure in things, and as long as they don't take precedence over Him, they are OK.

I'm talking about the things that we genuinely struggle to get past, the things that can compromise our walk, the things that cause nagging doubts about our faith. The things that make us question God and His love for us.

"Even though I have received wonderful revelations from God. But to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud.
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, 'My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.'" 2 Corinthians 12:7-9a

I mean, that is sooo not that answer that we would want, right? I mean, you struggle, you fight, you ignore it. Try not to give into the flesh and to honor God. And then He says "My gracious favor is all you need"? I mean, that's pretty frustrating. You need His Help, you cry out to Him, and it kinda feels like He's blowing you off. Even Paul didn't like the answer he was given - he went back two more times. "Three different times I BEGGED the Lord to take it away..." and the answer didn't change. Stop looking for a different answer, and accept what He has given you.

Know that the Blood of Jesus has us covered. Know that His Grace is sufficient for us. Know that He wasn't the one to walk away from us - it's always us that are the ones to walk away.

It's not about us being the perfect person that has it all together. It's not about us never failing. It's about us trusting Him, even when we are failures, in spite of the fact that we are failures. It's about knowing that His perfect love is there despite everything else.

Stop looking for different answers when he has already given you what you need to stand tall against the evil in the world. He knows your weakness, and has you covered. He not only has your back, he goes before you and makes your path ready. Don't let the thorns along the way slow you down.

Sam


"My Prayer For You!"

   Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.
   Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.
    Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:2-6

As I was reading today and came across these verses I was struck by this thought. This is Paul talking! Paul the apostle. The guy who was called and anointed to such an extent that sick people were healed because his shadow fell on them as he passed by. The guy who we see do amazing things for God as His witness to the Gentiles. Paul who walked in the power of the Holy Spirit doing signs, wonders, and miracles in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I say that and stress it because look at what he is asking. He is asking the brethren to continue earnestly praying. To be vigilant in their praise and thanksgiving  and to also be vigilant in lifting him and his endeavors up to God as well. Paul the apostle felt the need and the strength that comes from knowing that others are praying for you. Look at his words and what he asked them to pray "...praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak." He was asking that the brethren would stand with him in prayer and he was asking for the very thing that was his hearts desire; to have open doors to share the word and that the power of the word would be made manifest in the lives of those who were to hear his message.

Look at what he said next. As and because of diligent prayer we can walk in the wisdom of God in all our dealings with those that need to to yet be redeemed. We have a hand in redeeming the time as and if we are diligent to walk in such a way that responds to the "open doors" that come in answer to our prayers for opportunities to share the Gospel of Christ.

We, the brethren, have a hand in redeeming the time as we, "Let our speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that we may know how we ought to answer each one." If Paul the apostle felt the need for the agreement of the brethren in prayer that he might be "salt" in his generation how about you and I. Are we praying for doors and opportunities for the members of the body we know, or do we just take it for granted?
Are we lacking in opportunities and results in our efforts to further the Gospel because we forget to be diligent on our asking? Is it truly a case of ..."You have not because you ask not." James 4:2

Brethren, lets remember to be diligent in our prayers for one another asking for open doors! Then lets walk through them in equipped with His wisdom and with just the right words, seasoned with grace that we would be the 'salt' in and for our generation!

Remember, Paul the apostle thought it was important enough that he asked for those very same prayers to be prayed on his behalf!

Just so you know ---its my prayer for YOU!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Noah Level

In an effort to drown out their words, he smashed the hammer down harder.

It didn't work.

"You old fool." The group had set themselves up to be his personal mockers. On a daily basis. They stood and sat far enough back that they wouldn't actually be associated with helping him, but close enough that he could hear every scathing word. "You are an idiot, old man. Give up and die!"

Noah's face pinched in anger. When was it going to be enough already?

Sometimes, he asked God that. He sit out here at night, surrounded by the chaos of a partially built boat, and ask God when it would be enough. Would it always be like this? Would it ever get easier?

Most of the time, he just heard some animal in the distance.

But there were nights, like last night, were he felt God's presence. His reassurance. His strength. It strengthened his commitment. He knew he could do this. Because God believed in him.

So he kept pounding the hammer while ignoring those fools.

Based on Genesis 6:22

"Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, 'I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.' Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him." Genesis 6:11-22
"Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth." Genesis 7:6

I was writing a children's blog for our spin-off blog, Snack Pack for Kidz, and I wrote about Noah. Good, solid story for children. But the more I wrote, the more I remembered that Noah was a really cool guy! Some people think it took Noah as many as a 100 years to build the ark. That's impressive. That's devotion, people. Me, I work on something for a few years and think I'm a hero. Reality check.

I think Noah is one of the MOST committed to God people in the entire Bible. Every day he worked on a huge boat for the flood - an anomaly that had never happened before this. Every day he had to listen to people taunt and laugh at him. Every day he was faithful to God's call.

"Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'" Luke 9:62

This always struck me as harsh. I mean, what's wrong with looking back! What's wrong with remembering? What's wrong with a quick glance over the shoulder? But then I think about Noah. I don't think he could have finished the huge task God had entrusted him with if he was constantly looking back thinking, "I don't want to leave. I don't want to change. Why is this necessary?" He wouldn't have been the man God had picked.

I think about this, and I feel the impact all the way to my soul. Is my commitment to God that strong? Strong enough that I can handle endless, taunting abuse? Strong enough that I can work towards a goal for a hundred years with no proof in sight? Strong enough that I can always look to God instead of looking back?

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

If you've felt the convicting hit, too, stop beating yourself up. Be faithful to confess this failing to God. Then from this point on, strengthen your commitment to God. Strive for that Noah-level of commitment.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"His Amazingly Glorious Presence"

"Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:22
   Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod.
   When the Philistines  took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon.
   And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of he Lord. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again.
   And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold;only the torso of Dagon was left of it. 1 Samuel 5:1-4

Every time I read this section of Scripture I am once again struck with JUST HOW AMAZING the presence of our God is!!! There was no prophet, no man of God declaring Dagon's end just His amazingly glorious presence and Dagon was toppled. In His presence nothing else can or will prevail. I don't know about you but it brings to mind another verse ..."Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

Seek His face and live in His amazingly glorious presence!

God Bless!!!
  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Don't Give Up

She walked to the local court for the hundredth and second time.

Just to hear the cruel judge deny her plea for justice for the hundredth and second time. He normally didn't even bother to actually listen to her, but that didn't stop her from stating her case.

She walked into the court, and patiently waited at the back of the group. There were a lot of people here today. Sighing, she slowly shifted forward.

Finally her turn arrived. She bowed slightly in respect to the judge. He looked up, and recognition lit his eyes. With a wave of his hand, he motioned for her to plea her case, but not before rolling his eyes.

Passionately she laid out her case before him, but his face remained the same - bored and uninterested. She ended her petition with, "Give me justice against my adversary."

She lowered her head, expecting to hear the familiar no at any second.

"I will give you justice."

What! Her head shot up, and her eyes were wide. Her shock must have been evident to the judge, because he rolled his eyes again. With another flick of his wrist, he indicated that she should leave.

She walked out of the court completely dazed. He had granted her justice! She had gotten justice! To think, she almost hadn't come today, but thank the Lord that she had. Her persistence had paid off!

Based on Luke 18:1-8

"And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, 'In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, "Give me justice against my adversary." For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, "Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming."' And the Lord said, 'Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?'" Luke 18:1-8

This is a parable talking about a woman seeking justice. Unfortunately, too often we use it as a reason to bombard God with our own personal agendas. I get a little frustrated when people take this section of Scripture to justify nagging God. God never said He would grant our every wish. He did say that He would always give justice to His people.

Guys, what about justice? What about Christians fervently seeking God's will on the earth? What about people who pray without giving up, losing fight, calling it a day?

Jesus said something very serious at the end of this section, and it resonates within my soul. "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Will He find you and me, praying in God's kingdom, or will we have completely abandoned the cause?

Jesus was saying DON'T GIVE UP!!!!!!!!!!!

"But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded."
2 Chronicles 15:7

The judge in this parable was an earthly man who didn't care about serving God or issuing justice. He gave into the woman's request because he was annoyed! God is not like that! Jesus was saying how much more would God deliver justice on behalf of His people. We just can't give up. We can't quit. We need to hold onto that faith and onto that promise. God will not break His promise. In the meantime, can we promise to hold onto our faith until then?

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, June 8, 2015

"Its Our Choice"

Today I would like to take a look at the response of two brothers had to a request that their father made. 

   "But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.'
   He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went.
   Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go.
   Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said to Him, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him." Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus asked the pharisees which son did the will of his father, the one who said, "No," but did what was asked or the one who said, "Yes," but didn't. So what do you think? If you answered, "The first," like the pharisees you would be correct as well. The first son, even though he started out refusing to do his father's will changed his mind and made the choice to ... obey.

Today we are talking about the choices we make and as you can see in this parable it is easy to recognize that its not just about the choice you say you make but what you do that matters most. The truth is that we all at various times in our life can relate to both theses sons. But as believers we need to try to be willing and obedient to the Father's will. It is our job to hear Him and to obey His word in our lives.

Jesus set the best example possible! He not only heard the Father but always did what the Father said. The truth is it is always about choice. We will always have to choose the same way these two sons did. Will we do the work of the Father or not? Will we like Jesus say, "Not my will but thy will be done." Do we as sons and daughters of the Most High God really mean it when we pray and say, "Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

The point of today's message is simply a reminder that you and I like these two sons make our own choice and our choice is made with more than with just our words but our actions as well. Remember '...whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31 We should also remember that our choice needs to be made with this in mind - Obedience to the Father's will is important!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

"One Lamb At A Time"

"For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost." Matthew 18:11



  "What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?
   And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.
   Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."      Matthew 18:12-14

Lord, lead us to the lost sheep of this generation! Help them to see by our actions what Your love looks like as we go the extra mile so that they can come to the place of knowing You! Help us to always, always, always, do what it takes to seek after the lost even if, its only one lamb at a time!

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Rash Vows

"Again, you have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Do not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.' But I say don't make any vows! If you say, 'By heaven!' it is a sacred vow because heaven is God's throne. And if you say, 'By the earth!' it is a sacred vow because the earth is His footstool. And don't say, 'By Jerusalem!' for Jerusalem in the city of the Great King. Don't even swear, 'By my head!' for you can't turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, 'Yes, I will,' or 'No, I won't.' Your word is enough. To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong.
Matthew 5:33-37

Have you ever made a vow that you would come to regret? I'm sure everybody has at least once. I have. When I was a teenager in school (I went to a small private school), I was sitting at the high school lunch table. A couple a girls were talking about the upcoming kickball game, the one that took place everyday after we ate. One girl, named Joy, was saying how she was going to kick a home run. I started laughing, because here was this tiny girl, who wasn't the most coordinated person on the planet, bragging that she was going to kick a home run.

Needless to say, that didn't go over well. I was so confident of my judgement of her, that, after some barbs traded back and forth, I vowed that I would eat my shoe if she was able to kick that home run. In the end, I lucked out. My team stopped her at third. But it was too close for my comfort. I promised myself that I would never make a vow that I might come to regret again. And despite that promise, I still have made commitments that I have come to regret.

We all have promised and vowed stupid things, whether we meant to or not. A vow is not to be made lightly. I'm sure everyone who gets a divorce has come to regret the vows they made the day they got married. But that's a pretty extreme example. Let's look at one that's even more extreme.

"And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord. He said, "I will give to the Lord the first thing coming out of my house to greet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering." Judges 11:30-31

I'm sure most of us know the result of his poorly made vow, but let's take a look anyhow.

"When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter - his only child - ran out to meet him, playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy. When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish..." Judges 11:35a

Now, there is some debate on what actually happened to her. Some say that she became like an Old Testament nun, forever a virgin. Others say he actually did sacrifice her. I say that I don't think that God would have let him go through with it, He stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. And there were loopholes where he could have redeemed her. You can do your own research if you so desire. But the point is that he made a rash, stupid vow that he would come to regret.

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:37 "To strengthen your promise with a vow shows that something is wrong." Jephthah didn't trust that God would deliver this victory to him, and so he promised God something that God didn't need or want. 1 Samuel 15:22a says, "But Samuel replied, 'What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, or your obedience to His voice?"

Friends. don't get caught in a place of regretting what you have vowed to do. Let your "Yes," be "Yes," and your "No," be "No."

Sam

PS - That girl, Joy, back in my high school days? I married her ten years later. Funny how things work out.

Friday, June 5, 2015

"The Right Response"

   Then the servant took ten of his master's camels and departed, for all his master's goods were in his hand. And he arose and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor.
   And he made his camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water.
   Then he said, "O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham.
   "Behold, I stand here by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water.
   Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, 'Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink'--let her be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master."
   And it happened, before he had finished speaking, that behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, came out with her pitcher on her shoulder.
   Now the young woman was very beautiful to behold, a virgin; no man had known her. And she went down to the well, filled her pitcher, and came up.
   And the servant ran to meet her and said, "Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher."
   So she said, "Drink, my lord." Then she hastened and let her pitcher down to her hand, and gave him a drink.
   And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, "I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking."
   Then she hastened and emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran back to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.
   And the man, wondering at her, remained silent so as to know whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.
   So it was, when the camels had finished drinking, that the man took a golden nose ring weighing half a shekel, and two bracelets for her wrists weighing ten shekels of gold, and said, "Whose daughter are you? Tell me, please, is there rooms in your father's house for us to lodge?"
   So she said to him ... Genesis 24:10-25

Today when I asked the Lord what He wanted me to share, He said, "Take a look at Rebekah at the well." So here we are and to be honest the thing that struck me was the ten camels! I don't know that I ever really thought about how much work she had to do to carry through with her commitment to not only give the servant a drink but all ten camels as well. Did you know a camel can drink from 20 to 40 gallons of water in in one session which means that Rebekah may have carried anywhere from 200 to 400 gallons of water for the camels. And the thing that struck me is that she didit willingly. She wasn't asked to do it, she volunteered. "And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, "I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking. Then she hastened and emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran back to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels."

So what does it take to be the one who is chosen? It takes someone who has willing heart to do the work! This was no small effort that Rebekah put forth for a stranger just because she saw the need. It says that the servant stood by watching her efforts because lets be honest... who would do so much work for someone they didn't know? "And the man, wondering at her, remained silent" How about you and I as His followers? We all know that Jesus was willing to do whatever was necessary, for example,  "...Nevertheless, not My will but thy will be done." But the question for us today is still this, are we willing to have a response that always looks to the needs of others? Will we be willing to carry the 'living water' that He provides to a dry and thirsty world?

What if it means a lot of work to make sure that everyone who comes near gets a drink? Do we consider all the effort -- worth it? Jesus said in John 7: 37-38 that we have the living water available to give to people. "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, "out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." Do we understand that we to have access to the well? Do we understand the significance of Rebekah's actions as she proved herself to be the chosen 'bride' for the master's son by her response to the man's request for a drink? Her willingness to work and carry pitcher after pitcher of water till all ten camels had their fill was the response that determined her destiny as the chosen bride. Did you notice that as he stood watching he waited till she had completed the task. It wasn't enough that she had said she would do it. 'And the man, wondering at her, remained silent so as to know whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.' He waited and watched to see if she was really the one because she didn't just say it, she followed through and did the work. Good intentions or follow through? Which are needed?

So, anyways ... who is willing? What girl would really volunteer to carry gallons and gallons and gallons of water? The one who is the 'chosen bride' for the master's son, of course!

How about you? Are you willing to draw living water for those that thirst around you? Are their any in your life who are asking you, "Whose daughter are you? Tell me, please, is there room in your father's house for us to lodge?"

What will your response be?


0-25 gallons in ten minutes
Up to 40 gallons in one session
Up to 50 gallons in one day
Rebekah many have drawn as much as 400 gallons of water, if the camels had not had any water for a while! - See more at: http://www.catholic-convert.com/blog/2012/06/15/how-much-can-a-camel-drink/#sthash.NzTKSfHr.dpuf
0-25 gallons in ten minutes
Up to 40 gallons in one session
Up to 50 gallons in one day
Rebekah many have drawn as much as 400 gallons of water, if the camels had not had any water for a while! - See more at: http://www.catholic-convert.com/blog/2012/06/15/how-much-can-a-camel-drink/#sthash.NzTKSfHr.dpuf

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Last Coin

She tossed the mattress aside. No! Still not there! She needed that coin. A panicky feeling started to grip her heart, but she fought the feeling with a few reassuring breaths.

Breathe In. Out. In. Out.

A coin doesn't just get up and walk into the night.

She needed to retrace her steps. Closing her eyes, she thought about the previous night. She had come home from the market with a two new silver coins. She had dumped the leather pouch onto the mattress in order to count how many pieces of silver she had now. She remembered counting the ten coins, and then using her hand to sweep the coins towards the edge of the mattress and into the pouch.

One must have fallen off the mattress and rolled away.

Grabbing a broom by the side of the door, she started to carefully sweep every inch of the little house, hoping to coax the coin out of hiding.

Still no coin. She had swept almost the entire house, and was about ready to tear the house apart, piece by piece in order to find this coin to provide for her family. She plunged the broom beneath a table.

Something rolled between her feet. Dropping the broom, she fell to her knees and pawed frantically for the wayward coin.

There! She clutched the coin to her chest, and heaved a sigh of relief. She had found what was missing.

Based on Luke 15:8-10

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10

 So I was reading this chapter a few weeks ago, and I was thinking about how this is kind of viewed as the "lost get found" chapter. You have the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal (lost) son. I think we most often think of these parables in the context that we were lost, and God found us. Good and true, but I wanted to look at the parable of the lost coin a little differently today.

What if we flipped it? Instead of thinking that we are the coin, and God hunts through the house trying to find us, what if it's the other way around? What if God is that treasure, and we are the ones hunting for Him?

 No, God's not lost, but sometimes people don't know where to look for Him. Sometimes people look in all the places they would expect to find fulfillment - God. Maybe you look to relationships. Maybe you look to your work to fulfill you. Maybe you look to your family to be everything you need. Maybe you put your faith in yourself.

 But you don't find God in any of those places.

Do you feel like something is missing? You're one coin short. It's time to do a thorough sweep in your heart's home. The woman in the parable had nine other coins, but she wouldn't stop looking until she had everything she needed. All that she had originally. We were made to crave and seek God, but society has taught us to fight that feeling. Instead we are supposed to be content with what we have, but you will never be content until you have found that last coin - God.

"That they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for 'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we are indeed his offspring.'" Acts 17:27-28

"You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

Are you like that woman, diligently seeking God, not resting until you find Him? The coin missing from your life is God, and He's waiting to be found!

V. Joy Palmer