Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Latter Rain"

   Fear not, O land; Be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done marvelous things!
   Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; for the open pastures are springing up, And the tree and the vine yield their strength.
   Be glad then, you children of Zion, And rejoice in the Lord your God; For He has given you the former rain faithfully, And He will cause the rain to come down for you ----
   The former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
   The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil. Joel 2:21-24

O Lord, that we would be a people that is ready for Your most Holy outpouring in the days and times that we are in. 

Lord, we say, "Yes!" and "Amen!" As the Holy Spirit brings the anointing of Your latter rain!

"... for there is the sound of abundance of rain." 1 Kings 18:41

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Fall Of A Judge

We all know the story of Samson and Delilah, how a great and Godly man was destroyed by his sexual temptation. Not just a man, but a man chosen by God to be a judge over Israel. We sit back, thinking that we would never give into that kind of temptation. We think about how much of a fool that he was. You can find the whole story in Judges 13-16, but I just want to touch on a few verses.

"Later he loved a woman by the name of Delilah in the valley of Sorek. Them the lords of the Philistines came to her. 'Coax him,' they told her, 'and find out what makes him so strong and how we can overpower him, tie him, and make him helpless. Each of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver.'"
Judges 16:4-5

Delilah did what they asked. The Bible doesn't say a lot about her, it doesn't say if this was really something that she wanted to do or not. All that is really said about her is that Samson loved her, and not merely in the physical way. There is a distinction made between that sort of love. In verse one of chapter 16, it says, "Samson went to Gaza and saw a prostitute there and had sexual relations with her," a clear difference between "Later he loved a woman by the name of Delilah."

Three times Delilah came to him,asking how he was so strong and what could be used to tie him, what items might be strong enough. Now, if I was Samson, I would understand wanting to know the secret of my strength, but asking how to tie me up would make me suspicious. Especially when the Philistines showed up. This happened three times. How much does it take to make Samson realize he can't trust her, that he should leave? Did he think that it was just coincidence that the Philistines showed up right at that moment to attack him?

Then came the fourth time. "How can you say, 'I love you,' and not tell me your secret." - 16:15. She guilt tripped him until he gave in to her incessant nagging. The Bible says that "he got tired to death" and told her. For finally giving in, he lost his strength, his freedom, his eyes, and, eventually, his life. He also lost her. In trying to keep her, he gave her the one thing that let others take him away.

He lost everything to try and keep her.

"Love your life and lose it, but hate your life in this world, and you will keep it for an everlasting life." John 12:25

In the end, God gave him back his strength. Despite his failings, his sins, his putting this woman before his God, God was still there with him.

Sound familiar? It should. We are the same as Samson. We often love the world more than our God. By doing this, we give the world the ability to hurt us. We give it to them. We don't have to show our weakness to the world. We don't have to love the world. It keeps hurting us and we keep going back to it, but that is just what we do. We are persistent, stubborn, because we think we can make it work. We will figure it out.

Stop it. Stop before you get so compromised that you don't see the ropes that bind you. Before you end up with the enemy laughing at you, making jokes about how you used to be so strong, and now they have you just where they want you. Don't wait to call on God until you are in that position. He is with you even now.


"He Has Your Back"

   And Elijah the Tishbit, 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 him, 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. 1 Kings 17: 1-6

I don't know about you but when I think about Elijah being fed ravens it makes me remember that obedience to His Word means that I can rest assure that He has my back. God said, "Go to the Brook Cherith.Drink the water and eat the bread and meat that He had already, (before Elijah went) had already commanded the ravens to bring him." He said, "I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." Not, "I will," but, "I have."

He had a plan to meet Elijah's needs even before He sent him to the Brook Cherith. HE HAS A PLAN FOR YOU AND I AS WELL!

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Remember, if God says, "Go," be obedient, because He has your every need already in place...Even if the ravens get to be His delivery service.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Expect Something!

He was sitting on that rock again.

He couldn't actually feel the rock underneath him, but it was big and awkward enough that sitting on it for long periods of time caused his upper back to ache from the unnatural angle.

Throwing himself onto his side, he used his arms to drag himself a couple of feet. Small rocks and sand cut into his hands. Huffing, he finally situated himself against the gate once again.

"Alms!" He cried. "I've been lame since birth. Alms for the poor!"

Someone dropped a couple coins into his lap. Yes! He shifted the money into a little pouch under his robe. Squinting through the sun, he saw two men approaching. They didn't look rich, but they certainly didn't look like him. He expected that they were the kind of men to give a little money.

It was all he could do, day after day. Hope for something.

One of the men locked eyes with him. His heart beat faster with expectation. The men stopped in front of him. "Look at us," the one who had been staring at him with his intense gaze.

This was it! He was going to get something!

Based on Acts 3:4-5

"Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, 'Look at us.' And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, 'I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!'" Acts 3:1-6

The lame man went to the temple every day to beg.

Every day.

Since he was old enough to fend for himself.

Every day.

People passed by him, and others stopped and dropped a few coins into his lap. Days came and went where he received nothing.

Yet every single day he went to that gate to beg.

Expecting something.

Even when Peter and John came upon him, he expected SOMETHING.

This was all he could do. He had to go and try. He had to expect something to help him live. He had to trust that someone would have a little bit of mercy. It takes a lot of commitment to go and do that every single day, all day, through rain or shine, mocking, hatred, and ignorance.

He could have given up. He could have just laid at home and died. But he didn't. Every day he went with the expectation, the hope, of something.

Every day.

He probably wasn't trusting in God at this point in the story, but he didn't give up. Can the same be said for us? We claim to put our trust in God, but do we show the same amount of tenacity as this man? Do we go everyday expecting something, anything? Goodness, when was the last time we showed up to church expecting something?

Don't just go through the motions anymore. Don't just show up. Expect something. God has a way of going beyond our wildest dreams and all that we've hoped for. Just hope for something!

V. Joy Palmer

"Avail Much"

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

   Then Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain."
   So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down to the ground, and put his face between his knees,
   And said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." So He went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." And seven times he said, "Go again."
   Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, "There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!" So he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.'"
   Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel. 1Kings 18:41-45

Elijah, a simple man, just like you and I, prayed earnestly and the rain stopped. He earnestly prayed and it started again!

I love that he, earnestly and fervently prayed, but to be honest, I love it because of another word as well. That word ...continuously. The truth is he continuously and earnestly and fervently prayed. He didn't give up. Seven times he sent the servant to check for rain. He didn't give up the first time when the news came back that there was no sign. He didn't give up the second time or the next or even the next. He didn't give up based on the report coming back to him, instead he continuously, fervently, and earnestly prayed because he knew in his heart ...'there was the sound of an abundance of rain."

You and I, as His people, need to remember that it doesn't take someone extra special to see the results of our prayers. All it really takes to see the abundance of rain is that we be like Elijah, a servant of God who is not afraid to continue asking even when the reports say, "No rain." Be like Elijah and continuously "...avail much!"

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What God's Love Feels Like

She could spot the look a mile away.

The young woman standing anxiously by the door was new. New to the community. New to following God. New to a life filled with love.

Her clothes were torn and dirty. Her feet were black from the dirt and lack of sandals. Her dark eyes kept glancing over to the food piled high on the table.

She walked over to the young women. "Hello." Warmth filled her heart at the startled look the young woman gave her.

"I'm new!" The young woman blurted out. "Some of the others told me to come here. I told them it wasn't necessary, but they insisted...." Her voice trailed off.

She placed her hand gently on the other woman's shoulder. "It's good that you came. You're welcome here. You're apart of the family now." The woman gave her a dubious look. "Really. We take care of each other. Once you're apart of God's family, you're apart of this family. Now let's get you some food."

Based on Acts 2:42-47

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." Acts 2:42-47

Can you feel the love?

I'm completely serious. These poured themselves into each other. Everything they had, they were giving. They took care of each other. They loved on each other, regardless of all else.

Do you have a group of people like that? Family? Church? Even a close friend across the country? Do you have your community of God people who always pour into your life? This isn't a "go to church" message. This is a "don't go it alone" message.

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

"For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!" Ecclesiastes 4:10

You weren't designed to shoulder the weight of this world by yourself. God made friends, spouses, churches, and family for us so we could lean on each other. We were designed to pour our lives into others. We were designed to give our all for love.

I love this song. LOVE IT! I love the line, "Empty never felt so full." That's what I think of when I read the account of the believers in Acts 2. They were emptying their lives out into each other, but they were full. They were blessed. They were a group of people who knew what God's love felt like.

Do you know what it feels like? If not, you need to be with a group of people who does. Your life will never be the same.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, August 24, 2015

"Ponder This"

Today, I would like to take a look at this verse. "But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19 I'm sharing it with you because of a thought I want to share with you and to be honest I hope you take the time to ponder on it the same way Mary did the things that she was told about Jesus. Ready to ponder? Take a look at Mark 10:46-52

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

In the first verse it tells us that Jesus was leaving Jericho and along with Him, His disciples, and all the people like Bartimaeus going about their every day business a great multitude was also with Him. Along with a great multitude comes a certain amount of noise and chaos....which is why Bartimaeus had to cry out to be heard. When he realized it was Jesus he started crying out ... shouting to get Jesus to noticed him. When those around him tried to get him to stop ...he shouted even louder. And here is the thing moment that I want you to ponder... it says that Jesus...stopped and He stood still. He heard the cry, stopped, stood still and called for Bartimaeus to come to Him. Jesus, in the midst of all that noise and chaos stopped and stood still! He stopped because even in the midst of a great multitude He noticed the need one blind begger! Jesus, the Son of God, halted His journey, and stood still with this question on His lips, "What do you want Me to do for you?"

So, ponder this ... the next time your feeling like you don't matter or your feeling lost in the crowd ... you have His attention! It is pretty easy in today's busy lifestyle to end up feeling a little lost in the crowd or to be feeling a little overwhelmed by the chaos of the day. So, ponder this ... the Son of God is standing still with just one question on His lips, "What do you want Me to do for you?" Why? Because of His love for you! He is not a God who is too busy to see you and your need. His heart is always to call you to himself with this question on His lips and in His heart .."What do you want Me to do for you?"  His heart is always to stand still and to bless you ans He meets your need.

God Bless!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Overflowing Praise"

Psalm 63:1-8

You are my God; Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You 
In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.

Lord, today as we seek You it is with hearts that overflow with thanks, praise, and rejoicing in Your name. 

Lord, You said that..."Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks," and Lord, today I pray that we would be a people who are overflowing with shouts of praise! Lord, as we seek You in the morning, spend time with You throughout our day, and contemplate Your ways in the evening Lord let our hunger and thirst for You be the treasure that fills our hearts to overflowing. Lord, our overflowing desire is to bless You. Amen

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Slipping Back To The World

"As God's dear children try to be like Him and live in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Sexual sins, anything unclean, or greed shouldn't even be mentioned among you. This is the right attitude for the holy people. No shameful things, foolish talk, or coarse jokes! These aren't proper. Instead give thanks. Ne sure of this, that no one who immoral, unclean, or greedy has any share in the kingdom of Christ, who is God. Don't let anyone fool you with meaningless words. These things bring anger and punishment on those who don't obey truth. So don't share their ways."
Ephesians 5:1-7

We live in a world that is so messed up, it can be hard to remember who we are, where we came from, what we are trying to do. It's not that we are trying to walk away, stuff just sneaks up on you. The stuff that you have been trying to avoid. The swearing, the dirty jokes, the mindless gossiping to fill the time at work. The list goes on. It's hard, being the light in the darkness. We tend to emulate what we see, often to our own detriment, and we don't even realize that it is happening.

It is pretty easy to slip back into the old habits that we had before we were saved. We tell ourselves that we do these things to fit in, to reach the world. That is just wrong. How can we be beacons of light in the darkness when we put out the same darkness that the rest of the world does? Don't focus on the worldly garbage that comes your way.

 "Keep your mind on things above, where Christ is sitting at the right of God." Colossians 3:2

If we are keeping our focus on God, are you going to swear? Tell those dirty jokes? I think that if you truly keep your focus on God, you would find that gossip replaced by the Word.

I have a good friend at my workplace. He is such an encouragement. He fills himself with the Word. And when we get talking, he can quote verse after verse after verse. And not just the "big" ones, but the ones that you only find when you REALLY dig into the Word. He is not just a Christian in name; he lives it!

Spend your time in the Word. Don't neglect it. You can be that light on the hill, you just have to live your faith. Don't the let the world overwhelm you.


"Stepping Up"

   But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion on Him, and went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
   On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you." Luke 10:33-35

You may be wondering why we are taking a look at just the good Samaritan today and not the whole parable. The reason is because today when I read it I was struck by his immediate response and a certain reality. That reality is this ...we all have the same choice to make all the time. He saw a need and jumped right in. His first response was one of compassion and then to put actions behind it. Jesus was like that everywhere He went. A grieving widow ... moved with compassion He give her back her son. Hungry multitudes ... moved with compassion, He feeds them bread and fish. The blind, the deaf, the lame, ... moved with compassion ... He heals them all!

Joshua made a statement  ... "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15 We make the same choice everyday. Will we respond with compassion like Jesus? Will we be determined to serve Him and Him alone even if it means picking a stranger up out of the gutter? Will we respond to someone else's needs with compassion the way He did and more importantly will we be the one who is moved with compassion and steps up without waking by.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cut to the Heart

A lead weight had settled on his heart. It surrounded his heart. It squeezed his heart.

It cut his heart.

All around him, people were crying. Crying! The tears created a translucent sheen on the faces of everyone around him. It caught the late morning sun, making everyone shine.

What should he do?

"Brothers, what shall we do?" He didn't realize that he had spoken out loud. But apparently he wasn't the only one with this cry. Everyone around him was asking the same question. The disciples looked slightly overwhelmed or bewildered. The response was phenomenal.

But why wouldn't it be? Clearly everyone, himself included, had been cut to the heart by the words Peter had spoken about Jesus. Certainly the only thing he could say was what could he do? What could he do to serve God?

Based on Acts 2:37

"Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.' And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation.' So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls." Acts 2:37-41

I read these verses, and two parts really stand out to me. "Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart," and "Brothers, what shall we do?" When the people heard Peter's testimony of Jesus and who He was, they were cut to the heart. It impacted them. It touched them. In those moments, they were changed. They were so moved, that the only thing they could say was, "Brothers what shall we do?"

I read that, and wondered when was that last us? When were we last moved and cut to the heart to such an extreme point that all we could say was, "What do I do next, God? How do I serve You, God? How do I get closer to You, God?"

As unappealing as it sounds, a cut to the heart can redirect your priorities back to God.


Why does it often seem to take a cut to the heart, to get our priorities back to serving God with everything we've got?

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" Luke 12:34

Where is our heart? That's a sobering question... Usually that cut to the heart helps us realize where our heart has been hanging out. Lots of times, it's not focused on God. Our treasure is usually everything but God.

Why wait until you've been cut to the heart? Today, here, now, stop. Put you heart back on God, and let your heart's cry be, "What shall you have me do, Lord?" Make Him your treasure again.

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"Sorrowful Departures"

   Now, behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?"
   So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."
   He said to Him, "Which ones?" Jesus said, "You shall not murder," "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," Honor your father and your mother," and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
   The young man said to Him, " All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?"
   Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
   But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for He had great possessions. Matthew 19:16-22

In this encounter with Jesus we see this young man ask Jesus a question about eternal life and then end up walking away because  he couldn't quite put his faith in the words Jesus spoke to him. "But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for He had great possessions." We see that he went away sorrowful....because he knew the choice he was making. He chose his possessions rather than obedience to the words Jesus spoke. It's pretty easy to look at him with a critical eye and shake our heads at his response but I wonder how often we do the same. For example ...

How often do we seek Him for a need and we walk away ...sorrowful because we don't quite believe.  What about when we are sick and need healing? Do we believe the numerous places in the word where we are told that everyone who came to Him was healed. Matthew 12:15, 14:14, and 14:36 Just to name a few. 

What about when He tells us "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, "Be removed and be cast into the sea," it will be done. And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Matthew 21:21-22 How often do we leave the mountain and go sorrowfully around it rather than choose faith, trust, and obedience to His Word and just speak to it with a word of faith.

How often do we choose to be sorrowful about a need in silence rather than to look to His words on the subject and belive Him to "provide all our needs according to His riches in glory" Philippians 4:19

I wonder just how often we, like this young man choose to walk away sorrowful when in truth all we need to do is believe the words He spoke to His disciples at the end of this encounter. "...but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Crazy World Answers

It looked like someone had been hitting the wine flasks a little early this morning.

I slapped the shoulder of the man standing next to me.

"Can you believe these people?"

The man shook his scraggly-haired head. "No. What do you think is going on with them?"

"I think they are filled with new wine - nice and drunk."

The other man raised a bushy eyebrow. "Really? It's only nine in the morning!"

An older man piped into the conversation. "I don't think they are drunk. This looks like some sort of sign. There are so many different people here, and they are each sharing their stories in our native languages!"

The man with the bushy eyebrows nodded. "Yes! I have studied several different languages, and each one is being spoken perfectly."

I snorted in disbelief. "What is wrong with you men? They are drunk and speaking gibberish, for crying out loud!"

A man started shouting, trying to be heard above the crowd's roar. We stop arguing, and I strain, trying to hear what he's saying.

"Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel."

Based on Acts 2:5-13

"And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, 'What does this mean?' But others mocking said, 'They are filled with new wine.' But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: 'Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel." Acts 2:12-16

I'm always amazed at how quick people are to jump to such a stupid and disbelieving answer. And sadly, you see this type of first response all throughout the Bible. It happens over and over. It kind of drives me crazy.

It also drives me crazy that this is often my first response.

All these people had been around. They had heard the rumors about Jesus. Some of them had seen Jesus' ministry. They had been apart of His death. They had heard about the resurrection. Some of these people may have experienced a healing and the power of God. I daresay some of these people might have even claimed to be followers of Jesus.

And yet they didn't have a clue what was happening. Instead, so many of them jumped to a horrible conclusion.

"Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" John 20:29

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

Do we really understand what these verses are saying? Do we really live them in our lives? It means when things get crazy, we don't jump to the worst conclusion. It means when God is doing a new thing, that we don't assume the people are drunk. It means that despite all the unknowns that come from walking with God, we trust Him regardless.

I don't want to be like one of those people. I hate jumping to the worldly answers. More then anything, I want to be like Peter, standing up and saying, "This is the power of God, people!" For that to be the case, it means you and I have to stop trying to explain everything. It means we really do have to put our faith in The One we can't see. It means we trade crazy world answers for being the ones who look crazy for God. And I'd rather be that any day.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, August 17, 2015

"Go Forth In Peace"

As I was seeking the Lord today, and asking what I should share He spoke to me very clearly that I should take a look at Hannah and her prayer. So I turned to 1Samuel 1 and started reading.  The long and short of it after reading through her story is this ... there were a few  verses that He highlighted and a couple of thoughts that struck me. So, let's start by taking a look at verses 9 & 19. 'So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish.'

Hannah was in the temple for one reason and one reason only, to lay her anguish, her bitterness of soul before the Lord. We know from verse 8 that her husband didn't understand the anguish she felt because or her barreness. We also know from verse 14 that Eli, the priest didn't understand what was going on as well. The thing we need to know and understand is this, it doesn't matter if people know or understand  because ... God does!

He heard her cry and sent her on her way with this promise in her heart as a replacement for her anguish. "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him." We know the anguish and bitterness she came with was replaced with hope and a certainty that He had heard her prayers based on verse 18 which tells us "So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad."  I love that a word from the Lord was all that it took to assure her that her barrenness was over!

Now, having said all that, we need to know and understand that we to not only can but should be following Hannah's example and be laying all our hearts before Him. He hears and will answer every cry, even those that no one else understands and like Hannah, we too can go forth believing that He has heard our cry. Why? Because He has promised! He has told us to:

"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3

Trust Him and let every bitterness of heart, anguish of soul, and need be replaced with a hope and a confidence that is found only in Him. Remember, like Hannah, you too can go forth in peace because ... His Word to you is this ..."Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" Jeremiah 32:27

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Forever Faithful"

Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place I have prepared. Exodus 23:20

Lord, Your word tells us that You have prepared a place for us and as we come before You today, Lord, we ask that You would help us to always remember that You have also made the way for us to get there. Lord, Your provision is always set before us, no matter what obstacles we are up against. When the Isralites were up against the Red Sea You sent a strong wind to heap the water up on the left and on the right so that they would have a dry path set clearly before them. Lord, Your sacrifice made the way to the Father and we ask that even now today in this hour You would send the Mighty Wind of Your Spirit to lead us along the way as we proclaim You!

Lord, help us to remember that it is Your plan and You will always be forever faithful to lead us and guide us in it.

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Seeking God's Guidance

"Josiah was 8 years old when he started to rule, and was king in Jerusalem for 31 years. He did what was right before the Lord, living in the ways of his ancestor David without turning from them to the right or to the left." II Chronicles 34:1-2

Here's this young boy. By our standards, he would be in third grade, but, instead, he rules a nation! That's fairly impressive. I mean, he's just a boy - I can't think of but a couple of adults who could run a country, let alone an eight year old. The awesome part is that he does a pretty good job of it.

He tears down the Asherah poles, the altars to Baal, burned down the temples to false gods. He turned his people back to God. They found the book of the law and they followed it. They celebrated the Passover. All in all, he turned them back to God completely, like they hadn't been in years.

"... As long as he lived, they didn't fail to follow the Lord, the God of their fathers." II Chronicles 34:33b

This great king restored his nation to a place of serving God. I mean, he was a good king. But even good kings have their downfall.

"After all this, when Josiah had restored the temple, Neco king of Egypt came up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out against him. But he sent messengers to him. "Leave me alone, king of Judah," he said, "I'm not attacking you now but have come to fight a dynasty that is at war with me. God told me to hurry. Don't interfere with God, Who is with me, or He will destroy you." II Chronicles 35:20-21

Josiah was warned, he just didn't listen. If he had taken to time to pray, seek God, ask the prophet Jeremiah what to do, things might have turned out a little bit different for Judah. Instead he went out to meet Neco in battle.

"But Josiah was determined to to oppose him and disguised himself to fight against him. He wouldn't listen to Neco speaking for God and went to fight in the valley of Megiddo.
The archers shot King Josiah. "Take me away," the king told his men. "I'm badly wounded."
... He died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers, and all of Judah and Jerusalem mourned over Josiah." II Chronicles 35:22-24

All Josiah had to do was listen to God. I think we all understand not trusting the king of Egypt, but you would think that before going to war, that Josiah would consult the God that he had spent his life serving.

Let this be a lesson to us. No matter what you have done to serve the Lord in your life, don't forget to ask Him what to do in the important things. He does answer, but the answer might come from an unexpected place. Know when God is speaking to you, ask Him for discernment. Don't get into a fight that God doesn't want you in.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Cure to Being in Limbo

Moments ago the silhouette of a man had rested against the brilliant blue backdrop.

Now there was only blue sky.

Matthew stared at the sky. A breeze was pushing a few small clouds into his field of vision. The breeze cooled his face, and he tilted his head even higher to enjoy every second of it.

Jesus was gone.

Jesus was really, really gone this time.

The reality settled on him, and he choked on the air trying to fill his lungs. What were they going to do now? Judging by all the soft gasps around him, the realization was hitting the others, too.


Twenty-two eyes swung the direction of the voice. Two angelic men stood a few feet away dressed in glorious white robes.

The slightly taller man smiled. "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?"

Were they supposed to answer that?

 The second man spoke up then. "This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."

 What did that even mean? What were they supposed to do? Wait, like Jesus had said? Matthew glanced back at the blue sky. How were they supposed to pursue that?

Based on Acts 1:9-11

"And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.'" Acts 1:9-11

What would you have done?

Jesus had told them not to leave Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them. But they had literally just watched Jesus rise into Heaven, and now he was gone. I just imagine each of the disciples thinking, "Umm...what are we really supposed to do now?" They must have really and truly felt alone. I don't know about you, but I would have been freaking out.

Talk about being in limbo.

Transitional periods are the pits. You're simultaneously spinning, turning, flipping, and trying to figure out which way is up.

They key to making it through these seasons with your stomach intact rests in what the angels said to the disciples.

"Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."

That doesn't seem like much... They didn't tell the disciples what to do next, but they didn't need to because Jesus had already told them what was coming next. The angels were saying the next step wouldn't be found looking backwards. With Jesus gone, their next step was to await the Holy Spirit and receive further instructions.

Do you guys feel like you're in limbo? Are you trying to figure out what comes next for you in your walk with God? The answers won't be found staying where you are, staring into the sky. Looking backwards is the easy thing to do, but it never leads you where you need to go: forward. The disciples locked themselves into a room and prayerfully pursued the Holy Spirit until He arrived (Acts 1:12-2:4).

The cure to being in limbo is prayerfully pursuing the next step - no matter how vague - instead of looking backwards.

V. Joy Palmer

"He Said So!"

   Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry.
   And seeing a fig tree by the road, he came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, "Let no fruit grow on you ever again." And immediately the fig tree withered away.
   Now when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither away so soon?"
   So Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea, it will be done.
   And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Matthew 21:18-22

Today as I was reading through, the disciples question jumped out at me? "How did the fig tree wither away so soon?" Seems to me this is a rather silly question for them to be asking at this point in the game and what I mean by that is this ...They saw and heard Him speak to the tree!

They had seen and heard Him speak to and or perform any number of miracles, signs, and wonders as they traveled with Him. They were there in the beginning when He turned water into wine, spoke and calmed the storms. They were there when He called Lazarus forth from the grave even though he had been dead and buried for three days. They where there when He walked on water, multiplied food, cast out demons, and when He healed people on a daily basis! They were there seeing over and over the ease with which He walked in the power and anointing of The Father and still they asked, "How did the fig tree wither away so soon?" Even though they had been around all that He said and did they still asked, "How did the fig tree wither away so soon?" Seems silly? Doesn't it? I say that because it seems that the answer is obvious especially considering all that they had seen and heard during their travels with Him  ....Because He spoke and told it to! Jesus Christ, the Anointed One told it to ..."Let no fruit grow on you ever again." And (Of Course) immediately the fig tree withered away.

So now that we are busy thinking the disciples are silly because of their question lets take a look at what Jesus answered.  "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea, it will be done.  And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." I love this answer. Look at it. He doesn't point out their lack of faith or understanding. He doesn't respond they way that I would! I would be saying, "Where have you been?  Haven't you been paying attention? I told it too!"  Instead, He takes the opportunity speak faith into their hearts.

He spoke to the tree and the fig tree withered! The next words He spoke, were in response to the word 'how.'  "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea, it will be done.  And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." He spoke and the water turned to wine. He spoke and the storm was calmed. He spoke and the sick were healed. Etc. Etc. Etc! He spoke and the dead were raised to life. He spoke and gave the key to 'how' to His followers.

Now, here today, you and I as followers, have a choice to make. Are we, like the disciples, going to spend our time wondering and asking, "How?"  Or will we let the words He spoke plant faith in our hearts and believe? Will we let His words accomplish what they were intended to?

He told the fig tree to stop bearing fruit when He said, "Let no fruit grow on you ever again," and it immediately withered away. With His next words He told you and I to have faith and believe. He said, "Assuredly, I say to YOU ...if YOU have faith and do not doubt, YOU will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if YOU say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea, it will be done.  And all things, whatever YOU ask in prayer, believing, YOU will receive."

Have faith! Believe! Go move some mountains! Why? Because ... He said SO!

(Fig tree obeyed ... Will You?)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Never-Ending Legacy

Ink dripped onto the scroll.

Followed by another drop. And then another, creating a big, black splotch. It was dark, and the small chamber was lit by a few candles. Using the sleeve of his robe, he attempted to wipe away the ink splatter.

He was hesitating.

Should he say more? Did he need to say more? What did the people need to know?

He had thought he was done so many times, before the Spirit of God urged him to add more. Another teaching. Another healing. Another moment. Wouldn't it just be better if he recorded it all?

He already knew the answer to that question.

There was just too much.

Jesus had done so much for so many people. How could he possibly record it all? There were so many things he hadn't even seen! There was no way one book could contain it all. Truthfully, he didn't think there was a way for the world to contain the number of books that would need to be written to describe all that Jesus had done.

So he would have to stick to this one, because it was the one that God had told and guided him to write.

However, he had another feeling that even this wasn't the end of Jesus legacy.

Based on John 21:25

"Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." John 21:25

I'm a writer, avid reader, and something of a obsessive book buyer. This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible because it talks about books. Just the thought of all the books that could be written recounting all the things Jesus did makes me border-line insane with giddiness! We truly see so little of Jesus' three year ministry, even though we know He was surrounded by people constantly. All the conversations we didn't hear... All the people we didn't see healed... All the teachings we didn't get to read...

I don't say any of this to complain about what we've got. I'm saying how incredible is it that Jesus did so much awesome stuff, that there was no way to include all of it in the Bible. Some people have a few hundred books written about them, but that's the best it gets for even the most extraordinary human.

What an awesome legacy!

"We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done." Psalm 78:4

But He's not even close to done. He's not done doing awesome things for his people, and my question is this: are we helping to share what God is doing? We are followers of Jesus. Disciples. Christians. Jesus freaks. Whatever term you want to use, we are the product of Jesus' ministry. We are part of His legacy. Are we sharing the amazing things God is doing in and through us? Or are we letting those amazing stories die with us?

Are we sharing His never-ending legacy?

V. Joy Palmer

"Moments To Treasure"

Today has been one of those crazy, crazy, crazy, busy days where everyone and everything needed my help or attention. This is the first moment all day that I had to sit down and get quiet before Him. It is the first chance I had to get quiet and seek Him, to listen to His voice. This realization reminded me about a time in the life of someone else who needed a moment of stillness to heed His voice as well. Take a look.

   And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the lord came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
   So he said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword, I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."
   Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind;
   and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
   So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here Elijah?" 1 Kings 19:9-13

After the chaos of the events that led him to be in the cave in the first place, as well as the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, it says that Elijah heard a still small voice. According to the footnote in my bible  the words 'still small voice' literally means 'the sound of gentle stillness.' After all the chaos of the wind, earthquake, and fire Elijah literally heard the 'sound of the gentle stillness.'  That sound of stillness seems to have beckoned to him and the word tells us that it was at this point that He actually went out to meet with God. The Chaos of the wind, earthquake, and fire had caused him to have retreated back into the cave. ( So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave.)

All too often, we, like Elijah, allow events and circumstances and especially the day to day chaos of life to cause us to withdraw from from His presence and His direction. Our lives are full of demands on our attention because circumstances and situations come up throughout the day. And, like Elijah, we might miss God in those situations! In truth we must always remember that it is in those moments of stillness, where His voice beckons; and we take time to lay before Him our hopes, dreams, fears, and hardships that we also need to be still and listen to His direction. It is also these moments that we should treasure the most because it is in these moments of stillness were His voice comes through loud and clear!

It is in these moments of stillness that His voice speaks to the fulfillment of our hopes and dreams and brings comfort to all our hardships and fears. When His still small voice beckons it means its time to listen!

His still small voice ... is calling! He awaits His time with you!

God Bless!!!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

"Get Thirsty And be Filled!"

Psalm 141:1-2

Lord, I cry out to You; Make haste to me!
Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You.
Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

Psalm 143:5-6

I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your works;
I muse on the work of Your hands.
I spread out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You like a thirsty land.


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6

Lord, we take this opportunity to lift up a word of praise to thank You that you always hear the cry of our hearts and the longing of our soul to know You in all Your glory. Lord, fill us with more of Your righteousness as we thirsts for Your glory to be made manifest in our lives.

God Bless

Staff of Snack Time Devotions


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Use Your Faith

We continued our sailing, going from Tyre to Plotemais. There we greeted our fellow Christians  and spent a day with them. The next day we left and came to Caesarea. We went into the home of Phillip the evangelist, one of the seven, and stayed with him. He had four married daughters who prophesied.

While we were staying there longer than we had expected, a prophet by the name of Agabus came down from Judea. He came to us, took Paul's belt, tied his own feet and hands, and said, "The Holy Spirit says, 'This is how the Jews in Jerusalem will tie the man this belt belongs to and hand him over to the non-Jews.'"

When we heard this, we and those living there urged him not to go up to Jerusalem.

Then Paul answered, "What are you doing - crying and making me weak in my purpose? I'm ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.

When He would not be persuaded, we were silent and could only say, "The Lord's will be done."
Acts 21:7-14

Can you imagine how difficult this was for Paul? He knew that this was coming - the previous chapter was him saying goodbye to the believers in Ephesus, knowing that he would never see them again.

Paul knew what was going to happen. He KNEW. And it did not shake his resolve, it only strengthened it. He was not afraid, he was ready. But his friends weren't ready. They heard the prophesy, they knew what would happen IF he went to Jerusalem. But they didn't understand what was being said. This wasn't like the warning that Jonah gave to Nineveh, "Turn back or be destroyed!" This was different, it wasn't a warning to change paths, it was a heads up, a call for Paul to be ready.

Sometimes when we see hard times on the road ahead, we turn around. Our nature is to avoid the difficult things, the things that challenge us, that test our faith. We should not be turning away from those things. Its like when you hit a icy spot on the road, and you start to panic. You can yank the wheel around and try to escape, resulting in totaling loosing control of the situation. Or you steer into the skid, facing the problem directly. Trying to escape problems or tough situations often just makes things worse.

Guys, when we square off against what seems like an awful situation, that's when we can really trust God to be there. That's when our faith actually gets used. It's one thing to have faith, it's something completely different to use it. Use yours, don't just let it sit there.


"A Challenge Of Old"

   And it was so, when midday was past, that they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.
   Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come near to me." So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.
   And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, "Israel shall be your name."
   Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed.
   And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, "Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood."
   Then he said, "Do it a second time," and they did it a second time; and he said, "Do it a third time," and they did it a third time.
   So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.
   And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, "Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel, and that I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word.
   Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again."
   Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
    Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!" 1 Kings 18:29-39
I love this section of the word!!! I love it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because it ends with the people of God proclaiming, ..."The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!" 
I love it because of the way this one man of God stood strong in his faith, issued a challenge, and proceeded to do ALL that was necessary to see it through. ..."he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, "Israel shall be your name." Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood,"

I love it because it reveals the silence that rings out when you put your faith in anything or anyone other then the LORD who is truly God. ..."But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention."

I love it because Elijah begins when and he calls to the people, with the words that we know to be the Lord's heart, ..."Come near to me."

I love it because we get to see God come through in an amazing way as He goes way beyond what He could do and instead of just consuming the sacrifice He  ..."also consumed the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench."

Truth is, I love it because it is not just a challenge of old that was issued by Elijah but because it is also a challenge for me as well. It challenges me to pray like Elijah that people would see God in my life and in the stands that I make as I declare that He is my Lord. My God.

It challenges me to pray daily, ... "Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again."

Thursday, August 6, 2015

In Our Heads

Was it over? Please, please, let it be over!

Peter rubbed his face, avoiding eye contact with Jesus. He could feel Jesus' gaze on him still, despite his attempt to study the blinding sun, the brilliant water, the tan sand, or even his own dirty feet. Anything but Jesus' face.

He understood why Jesus had asked him that same, heart-wrenching question three times. He had denied him three times. But still. His horrid mistake was not something he wanted to relive ever again, let alone in front of all the disciples.

Peter shuffled a small rock in between his feet. The smell of fried fish and dead fish still hung in the air. Kicking the rock with his left foot, it flew several feet behind them only to be stopped by another foot. Peter shifted his eyes up, and saw John right there.

Emotions flooded Peter. Why was he following them? What did he hear? John and Jesus were good friends. Out of all the disciples, he was probably the one to whom Jesus was closest. He seemed so perfect. Peter wanted to pick up a boulder and throw it at him.

Words tumbled out of Peter's mouth. He desperately wanted something to take the pressure and guilt off of him. "Lord, what about this man?" He waved his hand towards the magnificent John.

Jesus didn't even glance his way. "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!"

Peter shifted his eyes towards John one more time, then brought them back to Jesus' blazing eyes before nodding slowly.

Based on John 21:20-23

"Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, 'Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?' When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, 'Lord, what about this man?' Jesus said to him, 'If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!' So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?'" John 21:20-23

I read this section, and I feel like Peter is trying to shift some of the focus off of him and his big mistake. He sees John right there, and he knows that Jesus and John are tight. Then he starts comparing. "What about him?" Translation: Doesn't he need to be told to love and serve you? Doesn't he need to be reminded? He's not perfect either. But Jesus said, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is it to you? You follow me!"

It's hard not to look at the people we feel like God is "favoring" and compare ourselves to them. It's hard not to pile all our mistakes next to someone who appears perfect. It's hard not to point fingers and say, "They're not perfect either!"

"Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding." 2 Corinthians 10:12

Those comparisons are all in our heads. Jesus doesn't compare. He's never cared if you are a man or a woman. A tax collector or a fisherman. A Samaritan, Jew, or Gentile. He cares about whether or not you follow Him. We can compare ourselves all we want, but at the end of the day the important thing is whether or not we followed God. We. You. Me. Us. We are accountable for ourselves.

"You follow me!"

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"And God's Response Is ..."

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; and I ordained you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you." Jeremiah 29:11-12

Both these verses are used often to inspire and encourage men and women in the service of our God. Both are used often to relay the idea that God knows you and has a calling on your life. As I was reading in the books of Acts today they both came to mind as the scene played out to reveal just how amazingly true they are. Don't believe me? Check out the scene below and you'll see for yourself. He knows and He does have a plan!

   Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
   And as he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him in heaven.
   Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
   And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" And the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads."
   So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" And the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
   And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.
   Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
   And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
   Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."
   So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.
   And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight."
   Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.
   And here he has authority from all the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name."
   But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel, for I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."
   And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
   Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
   And when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Acts 9:1-19

As you can see even before Saul became Paul the Apostle He knew him. He knew who and what he was about, was persecuting those that served Him. He also knew that He had a plan for him; and that his calling would really begin the moment he truly encountered Him as Lord. He knew that from that moment on Saul would be stepping into the future and the hope that He set before him.

My favorite part of this whole encounter is the moment when Ananias is telling God that Saul is the bad guy (Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from all the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.")  and God's response is ... (But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel, for I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake.") God knows his plans for us! He knows us as chosen vessels!  Ananias was looking at Saul, based on his actions of the past. There are people all around us that just see the things we have been in the past. But here is the thing ... God sees us for who we are in the future. The future that He opens up to us the moment we truly encounter Him, as Lord.

Remember ...He knows you! He knows the plans He has for you and He has set your future before you! You are His chosen vessel and those thoughts He thinks about you, started before you were even born!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Guy on the Shore

John studied the man who had been standing on the shore.

"Come and have breakfast," he said.

Now that Peter had dragged the net of fish over, the group moved to sit around the fire again. John took a seat beside Jesus.

Jesus started passing out bread and fish to the disciples. Everything tasted just as good as it had smelled while cooking. While John nibbled on his bread, his mind wandered to another time the group had seen Jesus, only that time, they hadn't recognized him so quickly.

And it wasn't because of the wind and waves.

It was because they hadn't really known Jesus, even then.

John shook his head. This time none of them had dared to ask "Who are you?"  They all just knew. They knew Jesus was the man on the shore.

The man who had ever so patiently waited for them to recognize him.

Based on John 21:12-14

"Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus." John 21:4

"That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!'" John 21:7a

"Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.' Now none of the disciples dared ask him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish." John 21:12-13

I want to call to remembrance the time when the disciples were on a boat in the middle of a storm, and they see Someone walking on the water towards their boat. They thought Jesus was a ghost. Jesus had to call out to them in order to calm them down. "No, guys! It's me!"

Now they are in yet another boat, and a man is calling to them, only they realize pretty quickly that it's Jesus.

I love that. I love that they understand who Jesus is now. I love that they are not questioning things anymore. I love that they don't jump to the worst case scenario anymore.

Have you been praying for providence, only to get a raise? Coincidence? Nope. Have you been praying to be used by God, only to be offered a chance to really serve in a type of ministry? Coincidence? Nope. Have you been desperately trying to determine your worth and purpose as a person, only to find the most perfect, random Bible verse? Coincidence? Nope.

Are we at the point were we can see the guy standing on the shore for who He really is?

Our Savior.

Or are we still scared? Are we still questioning who He is? It's okay. He will always answer, "It's me! I'm here to provide!" But one day, will you be able to recognize Him and all He does? He's patient enough to wait for us recognize him.

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, August 3, 2015

"Manifesting His Glory"

   On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.
   Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.
   And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine."
   Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come."
   His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."
   Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece.
   Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they filled them up to the brim.
   And He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it.
   When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom.And he said to him, "Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then that which is inferior; but you have kept the good wine until now."
   This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. John 2:1-11

The thing that I wanted to share with you today has a lot to do with the servants at the feast. Stop and think for a moment about what they, just because they were servants, got to be apart of. These servants, because they were obedient to the words that Mary spoke to them, got to be a part of the first miracle that Jesus performed and it was a pretty amazing thing to witness! One minute water ...the next wine!  In truth these servants were the up close and personal witnesses of this amazing miracle, that only the anointed one, sent by the Maker of heaven and earth, could perform. They personally put the water in the containers per His instructions.  And ...six waterpots later they were also the ones to personally draw it from those same six waterpots. Then they were the ones to serve it to the master of the feast. These obedient servants were the ones who got to not only see but to be a significant part of it all, first hand!

How about you? Would you, like these servants, like to have first hand experience with being a part of manifesting the glory of God in the earth today? If so, the key is in the words that Mary spoke, "Whatever He says to you, do it."

The word is full of signs, wonders, and miracles that are performed by or as a result of those who are being obedient to do all that He asks and thinks. The word tells us that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. So what that means is that if you and I as His servants in the earth today can also be up close and personal witnesses of the signs, wonders, and miracles being performed by Him in the earth today. How? By being ...  His servants. Servants that do all that He says to do even if it means filling six waterpots with water.

Who knows? Maybe you too will get to witness first hand, the 'new wine' miracle that follows a servants simple act of obedience. I say that because of something else that I noticed. I noticed that the master of the feast called the bridegroom to compliment Him on the excellence of the wine and said to him, "but you have kept the good wine until now." This leads me to think that it was part of the bridegroom's responsibility to provide the wine for the wedding feast. Jesus, as our bridegroom, has done just that when He said, "Wait for the Promise of the Father, which you have heard from Me, for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.  ...... But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:5-8  We also know that this 'new wine' outpouring took place when we read about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with the sound of a mighty rushing wind and tongues of fire! Acts 2

The disciples, from this moment on performed 'new wine' miracles which started immediately following with this bold declaration shortly after they receiving the power of the Holy Spirit in and upon their lives.

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall .... And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord--Shall be saved. Acts 2:14-21

Are you looking to be a part of manifesting His glory in the earth today?

Be a servant. Do what He says to do! And then taste of the 'new wine' that Jesus, our bridegroom, has provided. I guarantee that He too, as our bridegroom, has 'kept/provided' the best for last!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

When Christians Fight...

After a while Paul said to Barnabus, "Let's go back and visit our fellow Christians in every town where we told them the Lord's Word, and let's see how they are."

Barnabus wanted to take along John, who was called Mark. But Paul thought it best not to take the man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them into the work. They disagreed so sharply that they separated, and Barnabus, taking Mark along, sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and started out, his fellow Christians entrusting him to the Lord's grace.
Acts 15:36-40

There are many lessons that could be drawn from this lesson, and there are some debates as to who was in the right. In the end, I don't feel that it truly matters for us who was in the right, as we can learn lessons from both Paul and Barnabus.

For Paul, he saw this guy who was, at least as he perceived, unfaithful. He had let them down before, he very well might let them down again. Paul hadn't really seen him since he abandoned them in Pamphylia,  and he didn't know if Mark's heart had changed, or if he he might run away at the first sign of trouble. Or maybe he was just having a hard time forgiving Mark for running away. Maybe it was both.

Barnabus, on the other hand, was ready to give Mark a second chance. Maybe he felt there were extenuating circumstances for why Mark had left them. Perhaps he was just moved to forgive Mark.

The bottom line is, here were these two great men of God, and they were split up by a disagreement. In other words, even among Christians, fights happen. They can be seemingly unavoidable. But what is truly important is what you do after a fight. Although they separated, Paul and Barnabus did not let this stop them from serving God. They didn't let this take them out. They kept on serving God. That is the single most important thing that you can take away from this lesson: whatever does happen, never stop serving God.

Despite any trial that might cross your path, no matter how bad it hurts, never walk away from Jesus. He knows how it is to be betrayed. He knows how it is to be hurt by someone you love. He knows how it hurts when someone walks away from you. Keep your eyes focused on Him, and things are gonna work out.

"Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he's a good help to me in my work." 2 Timothy 4:11

In the end, Paul knew that Barnabus did the right thing by giving Mark a second chance. Be open to the fact that maybe you could be in the wrong in the next disagreement that you have with someone.