Friday, July 31, 2015

"Today's Challenge"

    He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
    I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."
    Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.
    He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
    You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at nooday.
    A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.
    Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked.
    Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitation, No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
    For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.
    They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
    You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.
    Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
    He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver and honor him, and show him My salvation. Psalm 91:1-16

"The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." Proverbs 29:25

Truth is we all have a choice to make. We can put our trust in the words of man or the words of God. The Bible is full of examples of men and women of God showing us that they made the choice to trust God and how He kept His word to them and indeed, kept them safe!

I don't know about you, but for me, Psalm 91 is one of those Psalms that brings comfort and peace to my soul when I'm in a place where I am afraid and tempted to believe "the report" of man about a situation. We all know about the time that Caleb and Joshua challenged the people of Israel to believe God's promise to give them the land rather than the other spies' report about the giants in the promise land. That being said I'm here today to do that same thing, and issue you a challenge to trust Him as well. There are always going to be giants that will attempt to cause you to fear for your life, and there will always be those who will only focus on the giants and they too will try to convince you to fear for your life. But and this is the but that counts! But there will also always be the promise of the Most High to BE YOUR GOD and to keep you safe. His word ...His promise isn't going anywhere!

At the end of Psalm 91 we see God giving us the secret to being in the secret place with Him. Check out these phrases: "Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver and honor him, and show him My salvation." The secret to knowing the deliverance and protection that is talked about in this Psalm ...set your love upon Him and know and declare His name into the situation. Trust Him. Call upon Him and then watch and see His deliverance and protection come your way! Whose report will you believe?  Mans or the Almighty?



Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pick Up Your Fish

James sniffed the air appreciatively. Jesus had a roaring fire going, and there was already a ton of fish laid out on it. Man, was it starting to smell good!

Some of the disciples started to sit down, and James joined them. He spied loaves of bread sitting near the fire. They were about to have a nice little feast.

Jesus didn't sit down though.

James wiped the drool from his lip. Why was Jesus still standing there? James sat up straighter. Jesus had something to say.

"Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." Jesus said it simply, but he had an expectant look on his face. Which only confused James more.

Peter took off towards the boat, and James noticed that Jesus smiled proudly. Why did Peter have to go get the fish when Jesus already had a ton roasting on the fire?

The others started waving and pointing, and James turned to see what they were shouting. There was Peter, dragging the net full of fish over to the fireside group. James looked back at Jesus, and he was beaming.

Had Jesus wanted Peter to do that?

Based on John 21:9-10

"When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.'"

So after writing my last blog, I was hit with another question.

If Jesus already had some fish frying on the fire, why did He ask the disciples for more?

"So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." James 2:17

Think about this. Every time Jesus healed someone who was lame, He didn't say, "Okay, you're healed. Keep sitting. Keep resting." NO! He said, "RISE UP AND WALK!" They had to act on the
miracle, on their healing, on their faith.

Jesus had just performed a miracle, and loaded the disciples' net with fish. Now they needed to act on that miracle, and their faith in said miracle, and go get the fish!

Guys, we need to act on our faith! I know all of you have things in your life where God has spoken, so you need to act on it! Put your faith into the things God has done and the words He has spoken over you. God has already done the miraculous. Now we need to do our part.

Go pick up your fish!

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"According To His Word"

   And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word."
   Then the word of the Lord came to hm, saying,
   "Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.
   And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there."
   So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan."
   The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.
    And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
   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 says 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 the Lord which He spoke by Elijah. 1 Kings 17: 1-16

God provides. It doesn't matter if your a prophet to the nations or a simple widow caring for your son, He provides! He provides for the needs of those who put their trust in Him. If you, like Elijah and this widow in Zarephath, will trust and obey Him then He will provide according to His word! Trust Him with your flour and your last little bit of oil and He will provide cause it to be more than enough to sustain. God always provides according to His word! Trust Him!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Fish Fry

The boat scraped hard against the sand and rocky shore. They suddenly jerked to a stop, which flung John forward. He grabbed the side of the boat to keep from falling, and then hoisted himself over the side.

His stomach roared. Shaking his head, he tried to put the fact that his stomach was trying to eat his insides out of his mind.

Jesus was here, and that's all that should matter.

Peter and Jesus were hugging further up the shore, and John was flanked on either side as he and the other disciples started running towards Jesus. Soon they had him surrounded. Everyone talked and tried to hug Jesus at once. Jesus smiled and talked with them, and John felt like his heart was full.

The smell of fish frying filled his nose.

Where was that smell coming from?

That's when John saw a fire. Jesus started to lead them towards the fire. There was already fish laid out on it. There was also bread ready and waiting.

His stomach roared again, and Jesus threw him a grin. It didn't matter where it had come from, because yet again, Jesus had seen their-his-need, and provided for it.

Based on John 21:8-9

"The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread." John 21:8-9

So as I was writing my last blog about Peter pulling the 153 fish, a thought hit me.

Where did the fish that Jesus had cooking on the fire and the bread come from??? Did Jesus go fishing before them? Does He just come equipped with food?  Did God just make it appear?

Does it really matter?

No, it doesn't.

Because He knew they were weary. He knew they were out all night. He knew they hadn't had any luck. He knew they were hungry.

He knew.

So He provided.

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Just like Jesus knew the disciples needed the smells of their mama's home cooking, He knows exactly what you need, too. And He will provide.

Ain't nothing like a fish fry to tell you that Jesus will make sure every little thing will be all right.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, July 27, 2015

"Treasure In Heaven"

Today's message is just a thought I had while reading in Matthew today. Check it out.

Jesus said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

Did you catch what He said? "DO NOT lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal." He very clearly starts with the DO NOT first in His instructions. He is telling us to NOT make laying up treasure on earth the priority of of our life.

Instead He tells us to go after treasure in heaven and He ends with this statement ..."For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

So what does all that mean? Is he telling us not to put money in the bank or save up for a rainy day in case a thief comes to steal it? No, Of course not. He is telling us to to love the things of God more than the things of earth. Loving God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.

A certain someone came to mind as a perfect example of someone who treasured the ways of God more than the treasure of  earth. She can be found in Luke 21:2-4. Take a look at the treasure in her heart.

   Then He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts in the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites.
   So He said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, bur she out of her poverty has put in all the livelihood that she had."
Remember, the treasure in your heart... is the thing or the ONE you love the most. DO NOT  let it be anything or anyone other than the "treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal"

God Bless!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"Get To Know Him"

Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel: "Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon. in the valley of Aijalon."
   So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies.
   Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.
   And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel. Joshua 10:12-14

Have you ever really stopped to wonder why Joshua would even think about doing something like speaking to the sun and the moon and telling them to stand still? Why would even think that anything like that was even possible? I think it has to do with the times he spent hanging out with God when no one else was around. Joshua knew God would come through for him in his time of need because he knew God from all the time he spent with Him. We know that He spent a lot of time in God's presence from the verse in Exodus 33:11 where it says that even when Moses would leave and return to camp that Joshua would stay behind in the Tabernacle. We also know that he knew God really well because of the way he acted and the way he lived his life as a testimony to Him. We know that he had a love for God's presence and therefore a knowing and a confidence of who he was in God. We too can have the kind of faith in God that causes us to speak to the sun and the moon if necessary ...knowing that He will heed our words of faith as well and it comes from spending time in His presence! Get to know Him and your confidence in what He will do on your behalf will increase as well.

Lord, let us live our lives as a  declaration of our faith in You. Lord, that both the words of our mouth and our deeds of faith would declare to the world around us that we too have made a choice to serve You! Lord, that we would be a people who are not afraid to put the sun and the moon on hold as we do our best to bring glory to Your name.


God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Purpose Of Life

Have you ever pondered the meaning of life? I'm sure most of us have at one point or another. Some have even made that the purpose of their lives. Philosophers have been trying to figure it out since the beginning of time. The wisest man who ever lived tried, too, but all he did was destroy himself and lose all hope.

"Absolutely pointless!" says the preacher. "Absolutely pointless! Everything is pointless." What does a man get for all the hard work he's doing under the sun? Ecclesiastes 1:2-3

I used my wisdom to study, search, and explore everything done under the sun. It's a sorry task that God has given people to weary themselves with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun. It's all pointless, like trying to catch the wind. Ecclesiastes 1:13-14

What does a man get for all his work and striving with which he wearies himself under the sun? All his life is painful, and his work is troublesome. Even at night his mind can't rest. This is also pointless. Ecclesiastes 2:22-23

Again I thought of all the people who are oppressed under the sun; there are the tears of the oppressed with no one to comfort them. I congratulate the dead who are already dead rather than the living who are still alive. But better off than both of them is one who hasn't yet existed and hasn't seen the evil that is done under the sun. Ecclesiastes 4:1-3

Talk about hopeless. He says it's better to have never been born than to have see this world. Solomon thought to use the wisdom that God gave him to puzzle out the meaning of life rather than honoring the One who gave it to him in the first place.

Despite all his wisdom, his knowledge, he got the question wrong. "What is the meaning of life?" should be replaced by "What is the purpose of my life?" It seems the same, but in reality, it's different. Our purpose should be to be pleasing to our Creator. Rather than looking for existential meaning, we should be giving our lives that meaning by serving our God. It's a fundamental difference that completely changes the game. Many people lead meaningless lives, searching for something to give them purpose. Don't be one of them.

Sam

"In His Moment Of Knowing"

   Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.
   After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
   Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, "Lord, are You washing my feet?"
   Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this."
   Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part in Me."
   Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.!"
   Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you."
   For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, "You are not all clean."
   So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?
   You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.
   If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
   For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.
   Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he  who sent him.
   If you know these things, happy are you if you do them." John 13:3-17

Jesus makes the choice, as one of the last lessons with His disciples, to take action and portray this dramatic foot-washing scene. Along with teaching them about sin, forgiveness, and being clean spiritually He was also giving them an example of humility and their need as His disciple to be servants the same manner that He was to them. The thing that jumps out at me today is His statement, "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you." His example, here in this instance, is that He humbled himself and took on the role of the lowest servant and ...washed their feet.

That being said here comes today's main point ... He didn't just wash the feet of  John, 'the disciple whom Jesus loved.' John 21:20 He didn't just wash the feet of  Simon Peter, the disciple whom He had said, "on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18 Jesus, in this moment of  'knowing' what was about to happen chose to wash all their feet. All their feet! In this moment of humility He even washed the feet of the one who was about to betray Him. He knew what Judas was about to do and He still humbled Himself for Judas as well. In this moment of 'knowing He even chose to serve the one who was about to sell Him out as part of His 'example' for His followers.

 "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he  who sent him."

I wonder? Do we, His servants, follow His example? Are we humble servants to our brother's and sisters in the Lord? Are we humble servants to those who betray us or spitefully use us?

"If you know these things, happy are you if you do them." John 13:3-17

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Can You Move 153 Fish?

Peter stumbled onto the shore. His hands and knees stung from where small rocks and sand had cut into him. He blinked rapidly to remove the water from his eyes.

Where was he?

There!

Standing, he started running to Jesus. Then like a child running to their father, he threw his arms around him. Even though this wasn't the first time Peter had seen Jesus since his death, this was the first moment he'd gotten alone with Jesus.

The sound of wood scrapping against sand and rocks filled his ears. Moment over. The other disciples filed in around Jesus, talking and trying to hug him as well. Jesus gave out warm hugs, and led the group towards a fire he had started. There was already some fish roasting on the fire, as well as some bread laid out! Where had he gotten all that?

Peter didn't have time to dwell on the question. Jesus turned to look at him, while speaking to the group at large. "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught."

He shot towards the boat. The net was overflowing with fish! There had to be over a hundred! Several fish were flopping on the very top. He could grab those...

Instead, Peter gathered two fistfuls of the net in each hand...and started pulling. He pulled and tugged, and was surprised to find the net moving rather easily. His blood pumped through his veins. He was doing it! How was he doing this?

But Peter knew how. It was because of him. It was because of Jesus. He could do anything because of Jesus.

Based on John 21:9-11

"When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.' So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn." John 21:9-11

So I've been mulling over these few seemingly unimportant verses for a few days. I just couldn't get them out of my mind, and now all this stuff is popping out at me! Don't be surprised if we are here for a while... ;)

I've been chewing over the significance of "the net was not torn." Why should that resonate within me like it's something important?

It is important. Besides being awesomely cool (I mean, seriously! He dragged a net overflowing with a 153 fish, and it didn't break!), it's an awesome reminder of something so simple.

But something we don't fully understand.

"For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

Yeah, we all know this verse. It's probably one we have memorized. You probably even remember the reference! It's one that's drilled into our heads all... the... time.

But man, does it apply to me?

PETER DRAGGED A NET OF 153 FISH SIMPLY BECAUSE JESUS ASKED SOMEONE TO BRING OVER SOME MORE FISH!!! That's not normal. That's not easy. It seems so simple, but it was something he couldn't have done without Jesus' words giving him the ability to do it.

So guys, remember that Jesus/God/Holy Spirit has already equipped you to do awesome stuff! He has given you the strength, and there isn't nothing you can't do! We are super heroes in Him!

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"Great Expectation"

   "Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.
   And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it.
   Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth.
   But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away.
   And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.
   But the other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred."
   And He said to them, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" Mark 4:3-9

I saw this picture today and it made me think about the parable of the sower. The sower goes out to sow seed and as we all know that seed is the word. The word is the thing that we as believers can place our expectation/faith in. The good ground yielded a 'crop' because they didn't let the birds of the air, the scorching sun, and or the thorns be the deciding factors it its ability to grow.

The truth is the word of God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It doesn't change. The seed will always do what it is meant to do. Grow a crop. The soil on the other hand ...? It can be ...? We, as His disciples can be good soil and give the word a place to grow a crop in our life or we can let it fall by the wayside, be scorched and let it wither away, or even just let it get choked as we turn our focus onto other things. We determine what soil we are. We can choose to have 'great expectations' from His word, planted in our hearts. We can choose, like Abraham, to understand that 'He who promised is also able to perform' His word in our lives. Romans 4:5

The thing is ...good soil is the person who has this promise in their heart: "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11 Good soil yields an amazing crop because they let the seed/word do its thing/grow in their lives. Their 'great expectation' yields an amazing crop because they trust that the word will do what it says it will!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Next Step

So what do they do now?

Peter stared blankly out the open window. The sky looked so blue and bright, like it was full of hope and promise just waiting to spill out on them.

Yeah, right.

It had been days since they had last seen Jesus. Truthfully, they were all going a little stir crazy. Life was starting to return to normal around them. The people finally settling down after Jesus's death, and they were getting on with their everyday lives. While rumors of Jesus' appearances to them were being spread among his followers, they were still just that. They were still rumors to most of the world.

So where did that leave Peter and the other disciples? Should they get on with normal lives, too? Where do they go from here?

So many questions bounced around in Peter's mind. The more Peter thought about it, the less crazy the idea seemed. Sure, it kind of felt like he was taking three steps backwards, but the looming questions remained intimidating and demanding answers.

Peter pushed away from the chair, clearly startling James and John. They turned to look at him as one. He couldn't sit here forever. This would be his first step towards normal. Peter smiled and looked at the beautiful, blue sky once again. "I'm going fishing."

The brothers didn't even exchange a look. Instead the words just tumbled out of them separately, but at the same time. "We will go with you!"

Based on John 21:1-3

Jesus had died, and their worlds had been turned upside down. Then Jesus was raised from the dead, and even though they had seen Him and spent time with Him, they still don't know what they were supposed to do next. A question was bouncing around in their heads.

Where do we go from here?

So they returned to fishing. They went back to what they knew. Their old life.

After you go through trials, do you return to the old you because you don't know what to do next? When you experience those amazing, glorious moments of freedom and life with God, do you just kind of slump back into your old world because you don't know how to function at that spiritual high? Is returning to the norm safer then giving God your all?

Why go back?

The disciples not catching fish is symbolic of their old life, before Jesus found them. It was the same old, same old. That lifestyle was dead. Just like our old lives are dead. Just like our old selves are dead. Just like back then, Jesus is standing on the shore saying, "Have you caught anything? No. Well, here you go."

You've got it all in Him.

But you need Him for those new things. That next step. Phase two.

"We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin." Romans 6:6

Your old self is gone once you've got God. While it's incredibly tempting and incredibly easy to return to the lives we had before Him, they are not our lives anymore. They died. They died so that we wouldn't be enslaved to fear, doubt, sin, and mediocrity.

"So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:11

You have a new life waiting for you, but you need Him for those new things. Jesus is that next step. Jesus is where you go from here.

V. Joy Palmer

"No Matter What"

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig, tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls--
 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

 The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer's feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills. 

'Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.' Pretty powerful life changing words for any and every believer.  Why? Because its easy to praise Him and rejoice in Him when everything is easy or seemingly great. But when things seem tougher and times are hard praising Him and rejoicing in His presence is a choice that we make. When we choose to not look at  the circumstance and we choose to rejoice in His presence and to trust His word on and in and throughout the situation than that means we are truly walking in faith. Proclaiming and walking in such a way as to be praising and rejoicing in Him despite good or bad times means we as believers have come to the place that our eyes are on Him and not the storm raging all around.

Every time I read or think about these words it always brings to mind Acts 16:22-40 and especially verses 25 and 26 ..."But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed." If anyone had good reason to not be rejoicing in Him, it was Paul and Silas. Beaten and thrown in jail with their feet in stocks. Sounds like a good reason to be complaining but not these guys. They understood the meaning of, 'Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.' Because they not only understood it and put it into practice in their 'circumstance' they saw and amazing result. They got to hear the jailer say, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved!" They got to lead, not only the jailer himself but his whole family to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Praise Him! Praise Him in the morning! Praise Him in the evening! Praise Him all day long! Praise Him in good times and hard times! Praise Him with a heart that cries out: "Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Why? Because ...The Lord God is my strength; and He will makes my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills." Praise Him ...no matter what and you'll get to see ... what or rather who matters most to Him. YOU!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

"In Your Presence"


   So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle.
   And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses.
   All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door.
   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. Exodus 33:8-11

O Lord, I pray the we, the people who are called by Your name, would follow the example set by these two heroes of faith. Help us, Lord, to always, always, always speak with You face to face as a man speaks with his friend. And Lord, that we, like Joshua, will always desire Your Presence. Help us Lord, so that we too would make the choice to not depart from Your presence in neither words nor our deeds! Help us to know and experience just how amazing time with You truly is.

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions
  

Saturday, July 18, 2015

No Condemnation

While they were listening, the men of the council became furious and ground their teeth at him. But he (Stephen), full of the Holy Spirit, gazed up to heaven and saw God's glory and Jesus standing at God's right hand. "Look!" He said, "I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at God's right hand."

But they yelled at the top of their voices, held their ears shut, and all together rushed at him. They threw him out of the city and started to stone him. The witness had laid their outer clothes at the feet of a young man - his name was Saul.

While they were stoning Stephen, he called, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then, kneeling, he called out loud, "Lord, don't hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.

And Saul approved of their killing him... Saul was trying to destroy the church.
Acts 7:54-8:3a

I don't want to talk about Stephen and his incredible speech and sacrifice today. Instead, I want to talk about Paul. Big surprise, right? It's always one or the other. This is an awesome portion of Scripture (it's all awesome, truth be told), and people use it all the time. It's one of my favorites. Here we see this young man, smart, respected, well-versed in theology. And not only is he OK with killing this man, he goes the extra mile to lock up every Christian that he can find.

And yet... God still had plans for him. Despite all the evil that he did. Despite his hatred of Jesus and his followers, God still wanted to use him. So Jesus interrupted Saul en route to Damascus, forever changing this villain into a devote and dedicated man of God, newly christened Paul.

So, Jesus sent Paul to Ananias in Damascus, and God warned Ananias in a vision that Paul was coming to see him. Ananias was so concerned as to protest, "Lord, I've heard many tell how much this man has done to Your holy people in Jerusalem, and he's here with authority from the ruling priests to put in chains all who call on Your name."(Acts 9:13)

When God has placed a call on someone, its not our place to refuse to help them. It doesn't matter who they were or what they've done. In situations like this, we have two options: Despite our misgivings and protestations, we can follow God's direction, like Ananias, or we pull a Jonah, running in the opposite direction of the person that God wants saved, because we know the evil that this person has done and that we don't want them saved. We all know the right answer, its no surprise.

It doesn't matter who or what these people are or have been. We like to forget our own sin, while remembering the evils that others have done. If Jesus has thrown their sins as far as the east is from the west, who are we to go looking for them? Who are we to remember them? Even as Christians, we all make mistakes - who are we to judge someone who isn't saved, or even another Christian, for what they do wrong? Be like Ananias and don't condemn any for the sins of the past, or like Stephen, who didn't even hate the people who were killing him.

Sam


Friday, July 17, 2015

"The Best Testimony!"

   By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death, "and was not found because God had translated him"; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. Hebrews 11:5

   Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah.
   After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and begot sons and daughters.
   So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years
   And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. Genesis 5:21-24

So, we don't know very much about Enoch but the one really important thing we do know is that he had the best testimony! Why? Because he walked with God and because he walked with God, he pleased Him. We also know that God rewarded him and translated him to heaven.

What about you? What will your testimony be? Will it be like Enoch's? Don't forget his was 'for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.' Is your faith in the word of God evident in all your actions? Is He the one your truly in step with? Amos 3:3 says, "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" When you are truly walking with someone than you agree on a destination and then you match your steps with theirs, and so that you stay together and arrive at the same time.  The word tells us that Enoch walked with God for over three hundred and years as he went about his life here on earth. He walked with God throughout his day to day comings and goings, as well as in his raising sons and daughters.

I personally think Enoch has the best testimony going because it shows us that matching our steps in faith with His word will definitely bring us into agreement with Him. Especially about our destination. Eternity in His presence!

Match steps with Him and you too can have the best testimony going ... one that declares you spent your life pleasing the Almighty!

God Bless!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Moment

He felt like he was suffocating. Joseph tugged at the collar of his tunic. Suddenly the loose fabric felt like a noose around his neck. He glanced nervously at the guards walking on either side of him. They held their spears casually, but Joseph knew that if he made one wrong move, he would be turned into a skewer.

He had been granted an audience with Pilate.

The large doors scrapped open, and Joseph was ushered into the chamber. Column's lined the sides of the walls, and sitting on a raised platform was a large, throne-like couch. Pilate reclined on the couch. The guards escorted Joseph closer to Pilate, and then stopped. Joseph caught a whiff of meat being roasted somewhere else in the palace.

Once the guards stopped, Joseph dropped to his knees and bowed towards Pilate.

"Rise." Joseph scrambled to his feet, his heart thudding in his chest as Pilate studied him. "What is it that you want?"

Joseph took a deep breath. "My Lord, I wish to be granted the body of Jesus."

He could see Pilate's raised eyebrows, and the thundering in his heart grew louder. Was Pilate going to kill him now?

Pilate stood and took three steps towards Joseph. "Why?"

"I wish to take his body and prepare it for burial."

"Yes, I understand that. Why?"

This was it. There was no more avoiding it. This was the moment. "I am a disciple of Jesus, or rather, I have been secretly. I...feared, uh...." Words faltered Joseph, and he closed, opened, and then closed his mouth again.

To his surprise, Pilate nodded like he understood what Joseph was trying to communicate.

"You may take his body." With that, Pilate turned away, and Joseph found himself being escorted from the chamber by the guards.

Based on John 19:38

I've always really wondered one thing about this. Why was the secret disciple taking care of the body of Jesus? Where was everyone else? Where were the ones who were devoted to Jesus? It didn't fully hit me until I was writing this, and imaging this moment from Joseph's perspective. There can't be any secret disciples, just like there can't be any disciples who are devoted in the good times and not in the bad.

You have to be fully devoted.

I don't know if Joseph of Arimathea had enough clout in the Roman Empire that he could just ask for the body of Jesus, no questions asked, and be given it. I tend to doubt it. I realized that this was a huge moment for Joseph. He was going before the man who, as far as he understood the situation, sentenced Jesus to death. What if this request got him killed, too? What if Pilate asked why? What would he say?

This was the moment where Joseph's faith had to come out of the closet. This was the moment where he stood up and said he was a follower of Jesus. This was the moment he fully devoted himself to Jesus, and stopped trying to serve in secret.

Guys, are we trying to serve God in secret? Are we hiding? Are we scared of what other people will think?

"Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you." 1 Samuel 12:24

Isn't God worth it to stop pretending for Him? People who are fully devoted to God tend to ruffle some feathers. They are not politically correct. They are not always well liked. They are not silent when it comes to their faith. They are not secret Christians. They are bold, devoted, known Christians. Just like Joseph, we all have a moment. A moment where we stop trying to toe the line, and just live fully for God.

Will you live up to your moment?

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"Ripple of Faith"

 
Have you ever really thought about how the ripple effect applies to our faith in Jesus? Are you aware of just how important it is that we are faithful to share our encounters with Jesus with others? Take a look ...

  And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."
   Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him.
   And He charged him to tell no one, "But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded."
   Then the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities.
   So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.
   Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal.
   Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed. And they sought to bring him in and lay him before Him.
   And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.
   So when He saw their faith, He said to him, "Man, your sins are forgiven you."
   And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"
   But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, "Why are you reasoning in your hearts?
   Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Rise up and walk?'
   "But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"--He said to the man who was paralyzed, "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house."
   Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
   And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, "We have seen strange things today!" Luke 5:12-26

It all starts with the one man with leprosy. He gets cleansed when he comes to Jesus who, 'was willing' and then he and those that witnessed his encounter blab up a storm about it.  The result  ...  "Then the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities." Crowds came, not only to see Him, but to hear Him teach, and to receive their own healing as well. The paralytic and his friends were those included in that crowd. They too had heard the report about Him and they too came full of faith believing that they could receive; and of course, Jesus did not disappoint! They came because the truth is, one encounter with Jesus is never enough! One encounter will always spark another because the report of who He is and what He does will always spread. The question is ..."Will you be the one spreading the report? Will you be the reason that your loved one gets to hear and receive? Will you be the one blabbing, "He is willing. He will meet your need!"

Will you be the one to start a ripple of faith?


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Proclaiming Jesus

Light tinted darkness surrounded him.

At his command, the guards had blocked all windows and doorways with long drapes. However, the sheer number of windows as well as their height resulted in a dimly lit room.

Pilate had no desire to be apart of the "festivities" outside his walls. He was sending every type of message to show that he was opposed to this heinous murder.

Pilate turned to the scraping of heavy doors against the marble floor. "My Lord," one of his guards bellowed from his bowed position. "The chief priests of the Jews request an audience with you."

He rolled his eyes. The last thing he wanted was another encounter with those men. Nevertheless, he motioned with his index and middle fingers that the guards could escort them into the chamber.

The blithe men didn't so much as bow. They marched into the chamber as if they were the ones in charge. They probably thought they were based on their manipulation of him. It appeared they were going to start without so much as a, "How do you do, my Lord?"

A large, round man spoke for the group. "We have seen the inscription you have ordered written for the traitor, Jesus of Nazareth. We do not think 'The King of the Jews" is an appropriate description. Rather write, 'This man said, I am King of the Jews.' Implying that he is a king is offensive to Caesar. This shows what happens to men who liken themselves unto the magnificent Caesar."

Pilate stood from his couch in a rage. How dare these men continue trying to manipulate him like a toy in their twisted game! They didn't care about honoring Caesar. They merely wanted the world to view Jesus as a fool and a liar. Well, Pilate had had enough. They had got what they wanted, and Jesus was about to die. He charged to the group of hypocrites, and stood nose to nose with their speaker. While pointing his finger in the other man's face, Pilate spoke low and menacingly. "What I have written, I have written. I think it's time you remember who is really in charge here."

Turning sharply, Pilate motioned to the guards to get them out of his chambers. More guards moved from their hidden alcoves to the center of the room, each with their spears pointed towards the men stumbling from the room like drunkards.

They could kill Jesus' body, but they wouldn't kill him. Pilate would see to that.

Based on John 19:16-22

"From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, 'If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.'" John 19:12

"So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.' Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, 'Do not write, "The King of the Jews," but rather, "This man said, I am King of the Jews."' Pilate answered, 'What I have written I have written.'" John 19:16-22

I have to say that I'm quite impressed with Pilate here. These men clearly came to him trying to manipulate him even more with their thinly veiled threat of what Caesar would do if he found out Pilate was sparing a traitor.

What hits me most is how Pilate was searching for God ... and found Him.

"Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."

Pilate came to know who Jesus was. While the Pharisees were trying to squash any claim of who Jesus was, Pilate acknowledge it to the world.

I'm not saying I know what Pilate's heart was, or that he understood that Jesus was the Son of God, Savior of the world. That's between him and God. What I am saying is that this ruler in the heathen nation proclaimed Jesus when the religious leaders - those who were supposedly trained to recognize Jesus - killed Him.

"So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven." Matthew 10:32-33

What I'm saying is that we need to look at ourselves. Who do we most resemble when the fire is turned up?

V. Joy Palmer

"Of More Value"

   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 a 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 see. 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

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your hearts.
Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as light, and your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him,  Psalm 37:3-7a

Trust Him! Trust Him with all your needs! It doesn't what the are. He doesn't care whether they are physical, emotional, spiritual, or even financial in nature. He can and will provide! Why? Jesus Himself tells us why. Because 'Are you not of more value.' His love for you motivates Him to take care of you and to provide for all your needs.

Trust Him when He says, "I will." because He loves you and because your the treasure He values most of all.

God Bless!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

"Let The Walking, Leaping, And Praising Commence"

   Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.
   And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.
   And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, "Look at us."
   So he gave them  his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
   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.
   And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
   Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:1-10

Lord, our prayer is that today would be the day that You would meet the needs of those who are looking to You with an expectation to receive!

Even now, in this moment, we speak those same powerful life changing words to those in need of Your healing touch!

"In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, receive your miracle today!"


God Bless and ...let the walking, leaping, and praising commence!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions


  

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Don't Forget the Little Works

"Why are you living in luxurious house while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you! You have planted much but harvested little. You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up. You have wine to drink, but not enough to satisfy your thirst. You have clothing enough to wear, but not enough to keep you warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes.
This is what the Lord Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you!" Haggai 1:4-7

This message was given after the exiles returned home to Jerusalem. Their city was destroyed, they  had no homes, and no temple to worship in. At first, when they had returned, they had started to rebuild the temple, but for whatever reason, they stopped. It doesn't really matter what the reason was. What matters is simply that they stopped rebuilding the temple, and started focusing on the physical things that they needed, rather than what God needed from them. What it boils down to is this: they didn't trust God to provide for them, or to wait until God was taken care of first. Their priorities were all messed up.

Are our priorities messed up as well? I'm not saying God comes first, don't go to work and neglect your family for His sake. What I am saying is this: when was the last time you actually did something that God needed you to do? We think of God as someone who doesn't ever need anything from us. The verse about the stones crying out if the disciples were to keep quiet in Luke 19 comes to mind. People think that God is God, and needs nothing from us. I disagree.

God needs us to be His hands and feet. He has jobs and plans for us. Luke 10:2 says that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. And we can't forget our churches. Our bodies are our temple, but that doesn't mean that we can neglect our churches. A place of prayer and of worship, a place that has been dedicated to the service of God. What does it show the world if our homes and lawns are perfect, but our church needs a new roof? Or it needs a new coat of paint? Or the lawn just needs to be mowed?

Don't overlook the little things that need to be done for the Kingdom. The time that you spend doing those things we not return void. We do things for the people we love, and the Bible tells us that faith without works is dead. It doesn't say miraculous works, or great works. It just says works. Be faithful in the little things.

Sam

"An Expression Of Love"

   And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. And she broke the flask and poured it on His head.
   But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, "Why was this fragrant oil wasted?
   For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor." And they criticized her sharply.
   But Jesus said, "Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.
   For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.
   She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.
   Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the whole world, what this woman did will also be spoken of as a memorial to her."  Mark 14:3-9

I must admit, I love this account! I love it for a couple of reasons but to be honest, its mostly because it always reminds me with a gentle nudge in my spirit of my need to bless Him. I say that because the truth is we can't do what she did exactly. We can't walk up to Him break the flask and anoint Him with a costly oil. But here is the thing we can do what she did! We can do a good work for Him! We can show our love and adoration for Him. We can give Him glory, honor, and praise. We can take the time to anoint Him with the fragrance of our praise and worship.

The next reason I love this account is because it always gives me a gentle nudge in my spirit to bless Him despite the opinion of others! I love that she didn't care what others thought of her. She was there to bless Him. He was her focus. Blessing Him was her focus and even though 'some were indignant' and 'they criticized her sharply' she still made blessing Him the priority of her heart.

Another reason I love this account is because it always gives me a gentle nudge in my spirit to remember that Jesus, will always come to my defense when others 'criticize sharply' my need to bless Him not only in worship, but in words and deeds alike. He honors me when I honor Him with my good works for Him.

I love this account because it always reminds me with a gentle nudge in my spirit that any expression of love on my part is nothing compared to His for Me.
   

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Truth Is Waiting

Pilate studied the bloodied and beaten man before him. He wasn't much to look at - especially right now. He had average looks, was of average height, and resembled the average criminal in his torn rages.

But there was a fire in his eyes.

He took a sip of wine before standing up to walk closer to Jesus. There was a cut on his lip, and his right eye was turning black and blue. However, he held Pilate's gaze, the fire never dying.

His curiosity spilled out of him. "Are you the King of the Jews?"

 Jesus didn't look away. "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say this about me to you?"

Pilate blinked, and walked towards the left, trying to determine how to answer him. He stopped and turned on his heel to look at Jesus again. "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?"

"My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world."

"So you are a king?" Despite his appearance right now, Pilate would believe it. There was something about this man, and it screamed truth deeper then he could comprehend. Pilate wanted to know.

Jesus stared straight into this eyes. "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice."

"What is truth?" He desperately wanted to know.

Based on John 18:33-38

I find it interesting that Pilate asked Jesus what is truth, and then went to tell the Jews that he found no fault in Jesus.

He was looking for truth.

Sure it may have started with him trying to determine if Jesus was a troublemaker or not, but he came to the right conclusion soon enough. This question and answer session turned into Pilate desperately trying to find the truth.

And he could tell just by looking at Jesus that He had the truth.

Guys, have you been looking for the elusive truth? Something to make sense of the world? Something to explain your lot in life? Something to give your existence meaning? Something to give you real and true hope? Are you searching like Pilate was? Despite all the wealth and power Pilate had, his soul still longed for The Truth.

"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

There are so many people who are looking for The Truth. They long for The Truth. Their heart's cry echoes Pilate, "What is truth." Guys, The Truth is Jesus. Once you know Him, you are set free. However, don't be like Pilate. Pilate had the truth at his fingertips, but he let it slip through his grasp. In the end, he let the world take The Truth from him, and kill it.

Each and everyone of you can be free. The Truth is waiting for you. Don't let Him go.

V. Joy Palmer

"One Thing I Do"

   "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. Revelations 19:7-8
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


The bride knows. She knows that one thing necessary to be ready! She knows that the one thing she needs to do is to look to her bridegroom! 

God Bless!!!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Be God's Friend

He darted around a Pharisee whose arms were raised so high and straight, Chatta was amazed they didn't fall off from weariness. Goodness, they hadn't even entered the temple yet!

Chatta rushed into the temple, head down, eyes focused on the dirt he didn't deserve to touch. The Pharisee's endless prayer seemed to echo off the walls and bounce into his heart. He skidded to a halt  at the Pharisees next words.

"God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector."

Why did the words sting so much? It was like a lion had run his mighty paw down his face, ripping away the fa├žade and exposing just how worthless he was. Why was he even in here? He shouldn't be.

His voice broke as he uttered the only words he could say to God. "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!"

It was all he could ask.

Based on Luke 18:10-13

Do you ever feel like the confused main character from a Disney movie?

I grew up on Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid. One theme I always see is self worth.

The characters always discover their self-worth by the end of the flick, but our lives are not an hour and a half movie filled with soul-bearing songs and talking animals. So how do we figure out our self worth in the real world? How do we determine our self worth when it comes to God.

It's easy. God's already given it to us.

"No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:15

Friends of God. Friends of the King. Friends of the Creator. I mean, is there a higher honor then that? Our worth has never been determined by our actions. Our worth is off the charts high because of God's love for us.

"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'" Luke 18:10-13

Look at the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee. The tax collector knew how retched and horrible he was. Everybody did - the Pharisee made that clear. None of that mattered though, because God's love covered the tax collector just as much as it covered the Pharisee.

You don't have to be the self-righteous, pompous Pharisee to gain God's love, or to understand your worth in Him.

You just need to understand this verse.

"No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:15

You are God's friend. You are worthy because He said so. Stop trying to do everything right. Stop trying to ignore your faults. Stop trying and just be. Be God's friend. You are worthy because of His love and grace. If it can cover a tax collector, a Pharisee, a murder, and endless other sinners, it can cover you.

V. Joy Palmer

"His Determined Purpose"

   And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.
   For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
   I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
   And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
   that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5


I love that Paul knew and understood that it was never going to be about him and his might and abilities. He said, 'For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.' His one purpose was to declare Jesus! He had put that purpose first and foremost in everything that he said and did. He himself shared that he knew he wasn't there because of his great oratory skills. He said that he didn't come because of his 'excellent  speech' or his own great 'wisdom' but that he was there for one purpose and one purpose alone; to share Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul knew that everything he said and did was due to the power of God at work in and through him. He knew that 'his speech and his preaching weren't his persuasive words of wisdom, but  in reality they were the demonstration of the Spirit and of the power God at work.' He knew that everything he did was motivated by the purpose in his heart; to share Jesus. He had determined that one thing!

He confessed that he was there 'with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.'  Despite his weakness, his fear, his trembling ...He declared anyway! He put his one purpose ahead of his own weakness, fear, and trembling! He didn't allow his own personal feelings and or his reputation to take center stage! He didn't claim any of the glory for his success for himself, or allow his own self-image issues to take that center stage position in the grand scheme of things either. Paul didn't allow anything to stop him from accomplishing the one thing that was in his heart to accomplish.

His one purpose was to declare Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Why? He told us the answer. It is so that 'your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.' 

His one purpose was to declare Jesus Christ and Him crucified so that you and I could have the opportunity to declare for ourselves that we too could have the chance to give Him center stage and to proclaim for our selves:

God Bless!!!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

"Heroes Of Faith"

   By faith ...Abel ...Enoch ...Noah ...Abraham ...Sarah ...Isaac ...Jacob ...Joseph ...Moses ...Joshua ...Rahab
   And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also David and Samuel and the Prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouth of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of aliens.
   Woman received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Hebrews 11:1-35

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

Lord, that we would be faithful in bringing You pleasure as we live a life of faith. Lord, help us to live in such a way that proclaims not only our belief that You are God but Lord help us to live in such a way that our every action declares our faith! Lord, that we would know beyond a shadow of doubt that You and only You are at the other end of every Promise! Let us raise up a standard in both words and deeds that not only declares that You ARE, but that You CAN, and that YOU WILL fulfill every word!

O Lord, I pray that we, in this day, in this hour, we too would arise as heroes of faith to 'subdue kingdoms, work righteousness, etc. like the excellent witnesses that have gone before us!' I pray that we too would not waver at Your promises through unbelief, but instead that we would be strengthened in faith, giving glory to You, being fully convinced that what You have promised You are more than able to perform. Romans 4:20-21 

God Bless!!!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Spiritual Duct Tape

   "One day the widow of one of Elisha's fellow prophets came to Elisha and cried out to him, 'My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.'
   'What can I do to help you?' Elisha asked. 'Tell me, what do you have in the house?'
   'Nothing at all, except for a flask of olive oil,' she replied.
   And Elisha said, 'Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting the jars aside as they are filled.'
   So she did as she was told. Her sons brought many jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim!
   'Bring me another jar,' she said to one of her sons.
   'There aren't any more!' he told her. And then the olive oils stopped flowing.
   When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, 'Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and there will be enough money left over to support you and your sons.'" 2 Kings 4:1-7

This is a story of a mother and her debt. Her husband, who had served the Lord, was dead, and things were so bad that the man who she owned money to was going to sell her sons to pay off her debt. She had no money, no way to pay. Things looked like they were over.

Enter another man of God, the prophet Elisha. He knew that God had not forsaken this woman. She probably thought that he had, but this is God we are talking about. The God who has promised never to leave us or forsake us.

When Elisha asked what she had in the house, do you think it was coincidence that the one thing that she had left was olive oil? When you hear about olive oil in the Bible, it is a picture of the Holy Spirit, or God's anointing. That is why kings and prophets were anointed with it, to show that God was anointing them to be something great. It's also why James 5:14 talks about anointing those that are sick among us with oil. God's anointing fixes things, it's like super duct tape, holding us together when we, without Him, would be falling apart.



I know its a foolish analogy, but seriously, but not a bad one. I've seen duct tape fix countless things such as pipes, cars, shoes, and any number of others things as well. I've even seen clothes MADE of duct tape. Some people use it on everything, to fix it, or just to reinforce it.  And that's just how we should be with God. When something goes wrong, we just slap some of God's anointing on it, and we are good to go. Those problems don't have to stop us.



The jars in this story are also symbolic. The Bible talks about God being a potter (Isaiah 64:8), making us as He would clay jars. God saved this woman by doing something that He does for us, pouring His olive oil (His anointing) into clay jars (people) and filling them up to the brim. And then, she sold them, sending them out into the world, just like God sends us. I think that this symbolism is so cool! And, of course, it was no coincidence - God planned it that way.


God knew the troubles that this woman had. He also knows the troubles that you have had, the ones you have now, and ALL the ones that you will have. And He has prepared a way for you to survive them. Don't forget, He knows. Listen for when He has a solution, and don't get bogged down trying to find your own way. And most importantly, keep your duct tape handy.

Sam

"The Big Miraculous Rescue"

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob.
And who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
And through the rivers,
They shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire,
you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.

For I am the Lord your God,
 The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; Isaiah 43:1-3

I think that sometimes in today's world its easy to forget that no matter what the situation, God will see us through! So often the words, "Fear not," or "Don't be afraid," are spoken throughout the Word of God just before He does something to do the big 'rescue.' He always comes through because it is His promise, to us whom He has redeemed. It is His words that say, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, They shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you." His words. He is telling us that we can trust Him to take care of us and to keep us, no matter the situation. 

So how about you? Do you have a need? Do you look to Him for the solution? Is He the one you put your trust in? We know that He parted the Red Sea to rescue the Israelites and to make a way for them leave their life of bondage in Egypt. We know that He rescued the three young men from the fiery furnace and that they were completely untouched by any effects of the fire. We know that the Word, from beginning to end is full of occasions were we see Him coming through with the 'rescue' as people turn to Him in faith, trusting Him to bring His words to pass in their lives. What about you? Do you let His words, His promise to you win out? Do you expect Him to 'rescue' you or do you look elsewhere for the solution?

Take note because His word to you today is, "Fear not!"  Fear not because He won't let you be drowned by you situation if you'll look to Him. He won't let you be burned and consumed in the fire of your event if He is the one you'll put you trust in. 

His word to you today is simply, "Fear Not ...I've got this!" 

If you'll trust Him and believe He will come through even if it takes a miracle to do it! After all He has heaped up the waters before. And don't forget, He is not afraid to be the fourth man in the midst of the fire either. He will show up with 'the big miraculous rescue.' Count on it! Why? Because He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and more importantly, because He said He would!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

How Many Times?

Peter massaged his chin. So what was Jesus saying? He had just been talking about forgiving a brother who sins against you, and while everyone was nodding their heads like they understood exactly what Jesus was saying, Peter wanted to know more.

When is it enough?

His spine stiffened as he thought about the people who had wronged him in life. When did he have Jesus' permission to stop forgiving them? When could he tell them exactly how horrible they were?

Seven times? Yes, that seemed like a good, complete number. Once was just barely. Twice was probably enough, and three seemed like pushing it. In fact, Jesus only went to three times in his example about what to do when a brother sins against you.

Seven times, however, that was a lot. Peter smiled. Jesus would probably say, "No, that's too much."

Peter stood and walked towards Jesus. What an impressive question he was about to ask! The people and the rest of the disciples would be amazed at his attention to Jesus' words.

"Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? As many as seven times?" Peter stood tall and waited to hear Jesus' praise.

"No, not seven times, but seventy times seven!"

Peter's smile wavered and then fell off his face completely. Wait, He was serious!

Based on Matthew 18:21-22

"Then Peter came to him and asked, 'Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?' 'No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, 'but seventy times seven!'" Matthew 18:21-22

I'm going to be brutally honest with you guys. Sometimes, I really struggle with loving and forgiving people. I've been burned a lot in my life by people who are supposed to love me. At some point, I start to shut down, shy away, throw up walls to stop them from hurting me.

How long do I have to forgive people who keep on hurting me?

I've asked this out of a place of desperation. This is a cry, a plea, a genuine question the broken, weary, bruised, and beaten down ask. I'm writing this to those of you who've ever felt like that. Those who are ready to give up. Those who genuinely want to know when enough is enough. Those who know to forgive, but still need to know when pull away from those hurting you. Those who feel like they have forgiven 490 times.

There is still no magic number.

Honestly, every situation is different, and God will direct you to do different things in every situation. However, there are two things God will never tell you to do differently: To forgive and to love. Those are not easy. They can feel like someone has your very soul in a pressure cooker, but these two actions are unchanging.

If you take away God's love and forgiveness, what are we left with? What's the point? There is no point anymore. While someone telling you for the 748th time to forgive so that you can be forgiven may make you want to punch them in the face, God says it for a reason.

We treat love and forgiveness like two separate things, but they go hand in hand. To fully love someone, you need to forgive them. To fully forgive someone, you need love. Not just any love. God's love. This doesn't mean you let those hurting you run your life, but it does mean that you operate in God's love and forgiveness.

Unrelenting. Unchanging. Completely. All the time.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"His Report To You"

   So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him.
   And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell down at Jesus' feet and begged Him to come to his house.
   for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him.
   Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any,
   came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped.
   And Jesus said, "Who touched Me?"When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, "Master, the multitudes throng You and press You, and you say, 'Who touched Me?"
   But Jesus said, "Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me."
   Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.
   And He said to her, "Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace."  
   While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue's house, saying to him, "Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher."
   But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, "Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well."
   When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, John, and the father and mother of the girl.
   Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, "Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping."
   And they laughed Him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
   But He put them all out, took her by the hand and called, saying, "Little girl, arise."
   Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat.
   And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened. Luke 8:40-56

Today's message is about a moment that we all experience. It is the moment where we come face to face with a choice that only we can make. It is the moment where we make the choice about, "Whose report will we believe?" (Isaiah 53:1, Romans 10:16) In the above account we see the moment when Jairus was faced with his moment of decision. We know that he was 'a ruler of the synagogue' which means that he was fully aware of all the talk/debates of the religious leaders about who Jesus was and what he had doing. He may even have known about some of their attempts to 'trap' Him into saying or doing the 'wrong' thing. Truth is we don't really know what he had seen, heard, or believed about Jesus up until this moment. What we do know is that when it came to the welfare of his only daughter Jesus was the One he had come to with at least a measure of hope that Jesus would be able to help her. It says that he came 'And he fell down at Jesus' feet and begged Him to come to his house,' which gives the impression that by begging Jesus to come he is feeling that Jesus represents the last bit of hope that his daughter has. So, at this point he has seen or heard enough to feel that Jesus represent 'a chance' of life for his daughter.

Next comes the whole delay as Jesus deals with the woman with the issue of blood. He sees the healing that she receives just by touching Jesus, which must have sparked an increase in his anticipation for what Jesus could do for his daughter. At the same time he must have been feeling a certain amount of fear and anxiety caused by the delay. On the heals of this universal struggle (fear for his daughter, hope at the woman's healing represents as he sees it happen right there in front of him)  the news he fears most comes.  "Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher." In and instant he receives the worst report possible! Hope dies.

This is that moment for Jairus. This is the moment when he lets hope die or he chooses to believe the words that Jesus speaks? Jesus had already agreed to go with him. The outcome was already decided the moment Jairus had believed in Him enough to ask Him to come and Jesus had started along the way. It says that, 'when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, "Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well." Jesus is always going to let you know that ... It is never too much trouble! Over and over and over and over He was always telling people to believe and that believing is what gets it done. Believing will move mountains! Jesus had already told him He would come and it doesn't matter what report comes after that! His is the report we need to believe! His report tells us that 'by His stripes we are healed.' Isaiah 53:5 His report tells us that 'signs and wonders follow those that believe,' Mark 16:17 etc. His report tells us that it really is just this simple. Believe His report! His report tells us ...He always wins!

Remember this; the next time a bad report tells you to not to bother or that you are faced with the struggle of which will in win your situation, fear verses hope. Remember that His report to you is, "Do not be afraid; only believe."