Tuesday, September 29, 2015

God Believes in You


He whirled around at the sound of his name, and squinted against the brilliant sun. A servant from his father's house was standing at the top of a small incline. He waved, indicating that David should come closer. David glanced back at the herd of sheep. Satisfied that there were no immediate dangers, David walked to greet the servant.

The servant spoke before David could say anything. "Your father requires your presence immediately. I've been instructed to watch the flock in your stead."

"Why? Is everything alright?" Worry for his family squeezed his heart.

The servant glance over his shoulder like he was worried someone could hear him. "Samuel the prophet is at your father's house." He lowered his voice. "All your brothers have passed before him, but he rejected them all. It was like he was searching for someone. He asked your father, Jesse, if there was anyone else because the Lord had not chosen any of your brothers. When your father said you were out here, Samuel insisted that someone be sent to get you. They won't even sit down to eat."

David felt like someone had punched him in the gut. Here he had been worrying about his family, and the servant tells him that they couldn't be bothered to send for him until Samuel insisted? They would have just sat down with the most famous prophet in the land without him? Clearly Samuel was looking for someone under the Lord's direction....and no one, not even the father he worked so hard to please, thought he could ever be worthy.

As David walked the dusty trail back to his father's house, his shoulders sagged and his shepherd's staff dragged haphazardly alongside him. Despite the fact that Samuel had called for him, he still felt like someone had broken every single one of his bones.

His family didn't believe in him.

Based on 1 Samuel 16:11-13

"Then Samuel said to Jesse, 'Are all your sons here?' And he said, 'There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.' And Samuel said to Jesse, 'Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.' And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, 'Arise, anoint him, for this is he.' Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah." 1 Samuel 16:11-13

I racked my brain for forever trying to think of a "Bible story" that shows just how much God believes in us. I thought about Peter and how we talked about him dragging a net of 153 fish because God's words gave him the power to do so. I thought about Moses and how God believed in his ability even when he insisted that he couldn't. I thought about Gideon who doubted that God called him to be a mighty man of valor. I thought about David and how even when his whole family didn't believe in him, God did. What about the Apostle Saul/Paul when the believers didn't believe in or trust him? They even plotted to kill him!

How do I pick just one?

Have you ever felt like Moses? Have you ever felt like Gideon? Have you ever felt like David? Have you ever felt like Saul/Paul? My family doesn't believe in me. I can't speak. I'm too young. I'm too old. I'm uneducated. No one believes in me! Send someone else!

So often we don't believe in ourselves. So often we believe the words that everyone has spoken over us. So often those lies take root in our hearts without us even realizing it. David's own family didn't believe in him, but God believed in him. God believed in every person in the Bible. He believed in their ability to do what He'd called them to do, even when they didn't.

No matter how you feel, no matter who is against you, no matter who has crushed your spirit, God is for you. He believes in you!

V. Joy Palmer

Monday, September 28, 2015

"The Punch Line"

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

Wise man or foolish? Which will we choose to be? Will we be someone who builds on the rock or the shifting sand? The choice is ours to make and the key to making it is in understanding that the wise and foolish builders were the punch line! You know how the preacher is coming to the end of his sermon and he says that he has one last point ...intended to drive his message home. That's what Jesus was doing when He said, "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them ..." He was delivering His punch line, His final illustration to drive His message home.

I say that because of the word, therefore. Therefore is a word you use to indicate what you just said matters to what you are about to say. "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them ..."  What sayings? The stuff He had been laying out before them in the preceding verses. Stuff that made His point. You choose! You choose to enter by the narrow gate. Vs.13 You choose to be known by the fruit you bear. You choose to be a good tree with good fruit or a bad tree bearing bad fruit. Vs. 16-19 You choose to enter the kingdom of heaven by doing the will of the Father. Vs. 21 You choose to call Him Lord or to actually make Him Lord. He had just told them that calling Him, "Lord, Lord" wasn't enough.  Vs. 21-23

Therefore ... the punch line! Wise or foolish?

We choose to make Him Lord when we not only say it with our lips but with our actions as well. We choose to make Him Lord when we hear His sayings and do them! That is when we truly build our lives on the rock. That is when we choose the path that takes us through the narrow gate. That is how we become a good tree with amazingly good fruit. That is how we enter the kingdom of heaven. It's when we choose to to say, "Lord, what would you like me to do?" Then, because He is Lord ... we listen and obey!

"Into The Stillness"

God is our refuge and strength, 
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, 
Though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though it's waters roar and be troubled, 
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nation's raged, the kingdom's were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.  Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolation in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nation's,
I will be exalted in the earth!

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.  Selah

Lord, help us to understand that it is only in knowing You as our refuge, strength, and everpresent help that we will come to the place of stillness in Your presence. Lord, it's in the stillness, despite mountains moving and shaking, the roaring waters, and the nations raging that we will truly KNOW You as God! Lord, lead us into the stillness of Your presence because that is where we can truly 'Fear not' and KNOW that You as the Lord our God who is with us wherever we go.

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Preparing the Way

Beginning the Good News about Jesus Christ, God's Son. It is written in the prophet Isaiah: Look! I will send my messenger ahead of you to prepare the way for You. A voice will be calling in the wilderness: "Prepare the way for the Lord; make the paths straight for Him." Mark 1:1-3

This is the beginning of the Gospel of Mark. These are the verses that describe the calling that John the Baptist had on his life. His mission. His entire purpose. His reason for being, and he would live up to that calling.

"So John the Baptizer came into the wilderness, preaching that people repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. All Judea and all the people of Jerusalem were coming out to him. As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River." Mark 1:4-5

John lived up to the calling that was on his life. He prepared the way for Jesus and I would suggest that, at least to some degree, that is our calling. See, we think that it is our job to get people saved. Think about that. We can't save anyone. We aren't perfect, or flawless. We didn't die for the world, and no matter how hard our life has been, we didn't go through Hell.

Our job is not to get people saved, it is to lead people to Jesus, and, along the way to prepare the way for the Lord. There is a such a huge difference there - it is not just a point of view thing. Think about it like this: you walk up to a friend, and offer them a drink. They just had a drink, they are satisfied, they don't want any. But you go on a hike with that same person, over life's hills and rough paths, over the obstacles. Then you offer the drink. They trust you, they have seen who you are. They are much more likely to accept that drink.

People are thirsty for the water of life, they often just don't know it. We need to show our friends, our family, everyone, that when that drink is offered that it is something that they want. That is our job, to prepare the way so that when they see Jesus, they want Him. That is preparing the way of the Lord in this day and age.


"The Great Quake"

As I was reading Psalm 146 today, the Lord brought  this account in Acts to mind. It is such a perfect example of someone putting into actions all that the words this psalm proclaims. We see them praising Him, trusting Him, serving Him and making Him the One to whom salvation belongs. Check out psalm 146 and see if you don't see the words echoing in the words and actions of Paul and Silas as they:   Praise the Lord!

        Praise the Lord, O my soul!
        While I live I will praise the Lord;
        I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

        Do not put your trust in prince's,
        Nor in a son of man,
        In whom there is no help.
        His spirit departs, he returns to his e a Roth;
        In that very day his plans perish.

        Happy is He who has the God of Jacob for his help,
        Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
        Who made heaven and earth,
         The sea, and all that is in them;
        Who keeps truth forever,
        Who executes justice for the oppressed,
        Who gives food to the hungry.
        The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.

        The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
        The Lord raises those who are bowed down;
        The Lord loves the righteous.
        The Lord watches over the strangers;
         He relieves the fatherless and widow;
        But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.

        The Lord shall reign forever ---
        Your God, O Zion, to all generations.

        Praise the Lord!

So we know that they praised Him in the prison and the Lord sent the earthquake. We also know that they didn't leave. Why? Because they where looking to Him and they knew. They knew that the jailer and His family's salvation was at stake! Did the earthquake come to free them or was it the means sent to open the eyes the jailer and bring freedom to His whole family? The Lord knew they were being released in the morning. So who was the earthquake for? Paul said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." He knew. He knew that it wasn't just the jailer who was about to get saved but his whole family. He knew because his hope was in the Lord his God and he knew that God had a plan. He knew because his trust was is in His God who He praised with all his being. He knew because in this case the 'quake' came not to set Paul and Silas free but instead to 'rock' the jailer's whole world.

  And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.
   Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
   But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
   Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.
   And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.
   But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here."
   Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
   And he brought g by them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
   So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."
   Then they spoke the word of the Lord to Him and to all who were in his house.
   And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.
   Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.
   And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, "Let those men go."
   So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace."
   But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us in prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out."
   And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans.
   Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. Acts 16:23-39

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Honey, Not Hair-Pulling

Another man cast him a sidelong glance filled with fear, and a little bit of hate. Saul wanted to hang his head in defeat, and shuffle shamefully from the large group of disciples. No one came near him in the corner. They didn't trust him. The people whispered and stared, but you didn't have to be God to know what they were saying.

They hated him.

And rightfully so.

He had killed, imprisoned, and tortured many men and women in God's name. And now he was here, expecting to be among them, and treated like one of them.

He shifted uncomfortable in his seat. Was it warm in here? Saul resisted from fanning himself in front of their scrutinizing gazes that seared him like the hot sun.

He closed his eyes against the memories of women screaming, men who were bloodied and dying, families who were destroyed. If only he had known then what he knew now. He laughed ruefully to himself. If only he had known he would be sitting in the same room with the same people he had persecuted months before.

Now all he could do was do what he should have done then. Be kind and gentle despite how they treated him. Act in love.

Based on Acts 8:1-3 and 9:26

"And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison." Acts 8:1-3

And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple." Acts 9:26

Did your grandmother ever say, "You can catch more flies with honey then you can with vinegar?"

Personally, I think honey is just as gross as vinegar, but you catch the drift of the saying. It's important to be nice, kind, and gentle. Nobody learns by being slapped upside the head.

"What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?"
1 Corinthians 4:21 (The Bible version of grandma's saying.)

I had a lot of trouble coming up with a "story" to illustrate this truth. Finally, I went back to Acts and looked at Saul/Paul again. Do you think he had a moment like this, when everyone was afraid to be around him and hated him? I don't see how he couldn't. I bet it was a real, humbling moment for him.

If we are going to act like God, then there is no dragging someone away by the hair. There is no slapping someone upside the head. There is not a rod used to beat sense into someone. There is just love and gentleness. That is the way someone learns, and that is the way someone has to teach. That is the way we need to handle others. Honey, not hair-pulling. That's what we want, so that's what we should give. Regardless of who they are, or what they have done in the past.

V. Joy Palmer

"When He Speaks"

When God speaks it might be:


       ... the appearance of a hand and a message on a wall.
       ... the voice of angels.
       ... dreams and visions.
       ... a cloud and/or pillars of fire
       ... or even through a talking donkey!
When God speaks His voice might be:
   Found ...

       ... in a mighty wind,
       ... an earthquake,
       ... a fire
       ... or even a still small voice!
When God speaks it could be:

   With ...

       ... signs
       ... wonders
       ... miracles
       ... or even with a loud audible voice that can be heard by all!

The truth is that it doesn't matter who or how God speaks as long as you understand that when He does we need to listen! Why? Because when God speaks ... He always, always, always does what He says He will!

"For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 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 55:10-11

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wait on Tables

They wanted him to wait on tables.


On tables.

That was the big honor they had been talking about for the last half hour? Stephen glanced around the room at the six other men they had asked to do this. Some of their faces were downright incredulous. One man couldn't have looked more shocked if one of the disciples had walked up and spit in his face.

Peter smiled ruefully at them. "You are good men, full of good repute, and full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. We have appointed you to this duty for that reason. I realize it seems underwhelming...but even Jesus said he came to serve, not be served. After praying and fasting, we believe you seven to understand the difference."

Stephen's face heated slightly at the meaning behind Peter's words. Yes, even Jesus came to serve, and serve he did. If Jesus was worthy to serve, wasn't he also worthy to serve God by literally serving? What made this any less important? What made this any less of an opportunity to be used by God? What made this any less of a ministry?


Based on Acts 6:1-6

"Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.' And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them." Acts 6:1-6

These men were counted worthy to serve. Yes, serve. They weren't picked to run the church or become the new apostles. They were picked because they understood what it meant to serve.

Oh, boy...

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45

I think that so much of our time and energy is focused on the "big" stuff. It's focused on the titles and the glory when really, serving God is about none of that. It's about the serving.

Look at Stephen. In the rest of Acts 6 you see that Stephen became a mighty man of God. The Bible says he was "full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people." It's not because he was pompous, or decided that he ruled the church. It's because he willingly served. Goodness, these men were originally picked to serve tables! And if you've ever done that, then you know that it's no easy job. However, these men were counted worthy to do the work. Not only that, they counted themselves worthy to serve.

What about us? Are we focusing on the serving God by serving? Are we willing to wait on tables?

V. Joy Palmer

"The Inscription Of Your Life"

   So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor.
   And they asked Him, saying, "Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God truly:
   "Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"
   But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, "Why do you test Me?"
   "Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?" They answered and said, "Caesar's."
   And He said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." Luke 20:20-25

So, today's quick thought ...Did you notice how this really famous Jesus quote started with them watching and spying and pretending to be righteous. They (the religious leaders) were watching and spying on Him, trying to get something on Him. The question they came up with came on the heals of this declaration, "Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God truly:"  In all their spying and watching these are the things they knew about Him. He always spoke the truth. He didn't show partiality or favoritism. They knew this to be true from personal experience when He would not give them or their status a pass while 'teaching the way of God truly.' With all their watching and spying on His every move and His every word the best they could come up with was a declaration about His character and a question they hoped, might, maybe trip Him up.

The question: "Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

Jesus' famous quote: "Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?" They answered and said, "Caesar's."
   And He said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." 

He asks for the coin and then asked a question back. "Whose image and inscription does it have?"  And then ... only after they responded did He respond with His famous quote, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." 

This response, was Jesus doing exactly what they had declared about Him.  This was Jesus declaring the way of God and speaking the truth of God without favoritism. And here is the thing ... what if ... what if we considered His question about the coin and asked it of ourselves, "Whose image, whose inscription, is on our lives?" What do the people who are watching the words and actions of our life have to say about us? If asked, What would they answer to the question, "To whom do you belong? Whose image and inscription best represents the actions and words you speak?" Will their response be, "They Belong to God." 

Is the inscription of your life "... that You say and teach rightly, and that you don't show personal favoritism, but instead only teach the way of God truly." Can it be said that your life has been and is totally rendered unto God?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

"Take It To Heart"

"You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:9-10

Lord, the truth that I pray the Holy Spirit would plant deep in our hearts today is this: "Its God talking!!! It's His Promise!!!"

Lord, that we would not only know with our heads but with all our hearts that You have called us servants. You have chosen us. You have promised to be with us through any and all circumstances that might cause us to be dismayed. Lord, that we would take to heart Your assurance to be with us and to uphold us always.

Lord: It's You talking, It's Your Promise and that means we never have to be afraid because You are with us.

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, September 19, 2015

True Help

The Lord says: "Woe to the rebellious children. They carry out plans but not Mine. They weave an alliance without my Spirit in order to add sin to sin. Without asking me, they leave to go down to Egypt to take refuge in Pharaoh's protection and shelter in Egypt's shadow. And you will be disappointed with Pharaoh's protection, and you who took refuge in Egypt's shadow will be ashamed." Isaiah 30:1-3

This verse convicts me. I mean, I try to look to God, but I always find myself making my own plans and not checking with Him to make sure that is what He wants me to be doing. But that is not the hardest part for me to accept, the hardest part is the taking refuge in Egypt.

Why would that part bother me? Well, in studying the Word, Egypt is a type of the world, just like oil is a type of the Holy Spirit. When things get tough, when I get backed into a corner, who do I turn to? I look to my friends and family to help me. Yeah, I turn to God when there is nothing left, no hope, but is that really when I should be getting Him involved? Shouldn't He be first on my list, not last?

I'm really not saying that friends and family are the world, but should we turn to them before we turn to God? I think that we all know the answer. Let me give you an example of something that's more akin to what these verses are saying.

Recently, in the past few months, my wife was taken out of work due to medical complications regarding her pregnancy (we are expecting our first addition to our little family in November), and while having her removed from work has improved her health, it has put some extra stress on me. She brought in 60% or so of our income, so to have the bulk of our money disappear, well, needless to say, it got me worried. I started to get really worried. My initial reaction was to stop almost all purchases, save for groceries. The second one was to start using my credit card, a very foolish thing to do.

I started looking to my creditors to get us through this rough patch. I took my eyes off God, put them on this situation, and saw that there was nothing that I could do to replace that income. So I looked to the world. I looked to the banks. I was even getting ready to look to the government. I talked about that with my wife; that she needed to look into disability or unemployment, whatever there was to help people in situations like this.

When I asked about it a few days later, my wife looked at me and told me that she hadn't looked into any of that. She felt that if went to the government for help, that we were not having faith in God. I knew that she was right, and that it was time to really start living what I believe, and even though I didn't see how, I knew that God was going to take care of us. And He has been, and I don't think that He will ever stop, so long as we genuinely trust in Him, the way that He has always wanted us to trust Him.

Friends, don't make God the last, desperate call you make. Make Him the first. Don't turn to the world, don't run to Egypt to be saved. The help you will get is summed up in verse 7, "Egypt's help is worthless, futile." Get some real help. Go to God and trust Him.


"They're All Around Us"

   And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
   He said to Him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?"
   So he answered and said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind," and "your neighbor as yourself."
   And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live."
   But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
   Then  Jesus answered and said, "...The Parable Of The Good Samaritan" Luke 10:25-37

Jesus answered the question by telling us all about the Good Samaritan. He tells how both the priest and the Levite saw the injured man and than passed on by on the other side while the Samaritan went out of his way to not only help but to go above and beyond. So how about you and I? When you read through this passage does it make you stop and reflect? How would we have responded? Would we have stopped to help or would mind our own business and keep moving?

Do we ever stop and ask ourselves should we get involved when we see a need around us? Do we wonder, can we really make a difference? Are we too busy rushing on to our next destination afraid that it will cost us to much? Do we help even if and when it costs us? Are we willing to go above and beyond?

Do we ...love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our minds," and "our neighbors as ourselves?" Or do we try to justify ourselves with questions like, "Who is my neighbor?" The truth is ...they are all around us!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Figuring It Out

These men and their stupid ideas. Gamaliel shifted uncomfortably in his seat while yet another Pharisee started listing his extermination ideas. He rubbed his face in frustration. When were these men going to get it? Why did they keep fighting this? These men were opposing God, and until they got it through their thick noggins they would be in this place forever.

They were being completely foolish.

Gamaliel stood up, and a hush fell across the room. "Take the accused men outside for a little while." Several guards helped the men in chains from the raised dais in the middle of the room. He waited until the men had filed out of the room before turning towards the particularly pompous group of Pharisees.

"Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!" His voice rose quite high as the final word pierced the air.

Gamaliel's chest heaved up and down. The other men shifted their eyes around the room, anywhere around the room to avoid looking directly at him. The truth of his words had hit them like a donkey kick to the gut.

The oldest Pharisee of the bunch, the patriarch of the group, stood up. "I agree with Gamaliel." The others around the room slowly started to nod their consent.

Based on Acts 5:33-40

"When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, 'Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!' So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go."
Acts 5:33-40

This is a nice reminder that we don't want to be in opposition to God.

If only the Pharisees had figured this out sooner and stuck to it, eh?

But have we figured it out?

So many times in the Bible, you see ordinary, clueless people who were stuck in their ways, desperately trying to cling to their idea of how God works. They resisted God with the force and passion of a raging typhoon.

Is that us? It's difficult to take a close look at our hearts and admit if we are resisting God. It's hard, uncomfortable, and usually not something we want to acknowledge. However, the alternative is actively resisting God... The thought of doing that because of my stubbornness and pride makes me want to cry. That is the last thing I want to do!

Let's take a look at our hearts, and see if we are resisting God's will in an area of our lives. If we are, let's relinquish control. Let's stop fighting God. Instead of pointing at the Pharisees and others who haven't figured it out, let's figure it out ourselves.

V. Joy Palmer

"Mercy And Truth"

Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart, Proverbs 3:3

I love this verse. I love it because its a verse that speaks an amazing promise to me. And it does that because it doesn't stand alone. What I me about that is this ... it's a comma. Not a period that ends a sentence and thus the thought, but a comma, which means what comes next in verse 4 brings so much more to the words that are being spoken. Check it out.

Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, 
Write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.

See what I mean? Get a hold of His mercy and truth. Love it when it is at work in your life. Love it when you see it at work in the lives of others. Take a hold of His mercy, His truth and fill your heart with a love for His Word, His mercy, His truth and then watch as they go to work in every area of your life. Fill your heart with a love and appreciation for His mercy and His truth and what comes next ... ? According to this verse ... favor and high esteem in the sight of both God and man!

If you'll fill your heart with a love for His mercy and truth than what flows out of the abundance of your heart will be His mercy,  His truth! Then comes 'favor and high esteem' with both God and those whose lives He touches through you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

God Doesn't Free Us so We Can Hide

The dank scent of the prison filled and choked his lungs with each breath. He was trying desperately not to gag at the smell of urine mixed with mildew. He was failing.

Peter could hardly see in the dark cell. Matthew and John had been shoved into the same cell as him. The other apostles were strewed about in the prison, but he could only hear their prayers and snores bouncing off the walls. He rubbed his face. He just wanted to get out of here and go home to his family were it was safe.

Suddenly the prison door crashed into the stone walls, and their doors to their cells swung open. A majestic being in brilliant white robes that lit up the whole prison stood in the doorway of the prison. Peter took a tentative step towards the door of his cell. The other apostles flooded the doorways to their cells, but no one dared moved towards the angel of the Lord. He stood blocking the exit as if waiting until he had their full attention.

"Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life." With that, he turned and disappeared through the doorway.

Peter swallowed the lump in his throat. He wanted to go home. Truthfully, even more then that, there was a part of him that wanted to hide. He wanted to lay low for once instead of constantly dealing with threats.

But to run away and hide wouldn't be putting his trust in God. Peter had learned that was more dangerous then anything.

Glancing around the room, he could tell the others felt the same way. However, God had given then a task. An order. A battle to fight. So they would go into that temple and do what God had asked.

Regardless of the outcome.

Based on Acts 5:17-21

"But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 'Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.' And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach." Acts 5:17-21

I'm a wimp. I'm just going to get that right out there. I'm a chicken. If I had been thrown in prison, and God miraculously saved me, my next, immediate course of action would be to run and hide. Get away from the bad guys! That's me.

But that wasn't what God wanted. He told the apostles to go into the temple and preach to the people. So at daybreak they went into the temple and taught the people. They didn't even try to hide in there. They even ended up getting arrested again.

God doesn't free us so that we can go hide.

"The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe." Proverbs 29:25

Despite the fact that they were in prison in the first place, and then imprisoned again, they were safe because they were trusting in God. They didn't hide. They didn't give into fear. What they did wasn't natural. It was supernatural.

God doesn't free us so that we can go hide. He frees us so that we can fight some more.

V. Joy Palmer

"He Goes With Us"

Run in such a way that you may obtain the prize! 1 Corinthians 9:24

Yesterday, I shared about the first two verses of Hebrews 12"... let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

I was meditating and praying about it today since I couldn't seem to shake the feeling that He had more to share on the subject. During that process He showed me a picture of someone who totally and perfectly exemplifies laying aside the sin that tries to ensnare for 'race set before Him' Take a look ....

   Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.
   The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
   And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand.
   So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put in his hand.
   So it was, from the time that he made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field.
   So he left all that he had in Joseph's hand, and he did not know what he ate. And Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.
   Now it came to pass after these things that his master's wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, "Lie with me."
   But he refused and said to his master's wife, "Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand."
   There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How than can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"
   So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.
   But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, 
   That she caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me." But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.
   And so it was, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside,
   that she called to the men of he house and spoke to them saying, "See, he has brought in to us a Hebrew to mock us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice.
   "And it happened, when he heard that I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me, and fled and went outside."
   So she kept his garment with her until his master came home.
   Then sho spoke to him with words like these, saying, "The Hebrew servant whom you brought to us came in to me to mock me; so it happened, as I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me and fled outside."
   So it was, when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him, saying, "Your servant did to me after this manner."
   Then Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king 's prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison.
   But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
   And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing.
   The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph's hand, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper. Genesis 39:1-23

Joseph made a choice to not be ensnared and do what was right. And even though in the eyes of the world it looked like it didn't work out so good, what with prison and all, he was still set on the path with the author and finisher of his faith. The thing about running this race that is set before us is this ... He is the author and finisher of it and we are not running it alone. HE GOES WITH US ... and His mercy and His favor will always prosper our way as we make the choice to lay aside anything that would hinder us from running our race with and for Him.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

"Consider Him"

"... let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

Lord, that we, as Your people, would always remember to consider You and Your sacrifice as we go about our day, making the choices to live according to Your example. Help us Lord, to choose to lay sin and selfishness aside as we look to Your sacrifice. Lord, that we would choose to keep it set before us as You continue to equip us to run hard after You.

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Fear or Faith?

The chronology of the book of 2 Samuel has left me with questions. Clearly, when you delve into some of research involving the timeline of the book, there is some jumping around, some things that appear out of order. Then something clicked in my mind: the story of Bathsheba.

"In the spring, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel, and they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbath. But David stayed in Jerusalem." 2 Samuel 11:1

It always bothered me that the great king of Israel, the man after God's own heart, didn't go out to battle. That he sent his men out to war, while he stayed in safety in his palace. But then, I ran across this scripture.

"Once when David and his men went down to fight the Philistines David became exhausted, and Ishi-benob, a descendant of the Rephaites, who had a bronze lance weighing eight and one-half pounds and new armor, fastened by a belt, intended to kill David. But Abishai, Zeruiah's son, came to help him, struck down the Philistine and killed him. Then David's men promised him with an oath, "You will never go out into battle with us again; you must not put out the lamp of Israel." 2 Samuel 21:15-17

His men, who had fought them for him for years, would not let David go out to battle. He had squared off against a giant, it's no wonder that he was exhausted. Surely, he had been exhausted before, battle is fundamentally exhausting from the start. Was it just because he was king now, or was this just a closer call?

Whatever the reason, they didn't want to lose him, and they let that fear have a place in their lives. And they used that fear to pressure their king to stay home, leading to what might possibly be David's worst sin and mistake - taking a married woman to have as his own, and killing her husband to keep her.

Fear is a few steps removed from David's actions here, but fear is what put him on this course. If fear did this to King David, what could it to to us? It could ruin us, like it almost did David. How hard would it have been for him to turn his back on God because of the death of his child? We have all heard stories like that; it is not far-fetched.

When we walk in fear, we don't walk in faith - they are dynamically opposed. Fear leads us to the places that we aren't meant to be. It takes us off of God's path and puts us in the way of temptation, seeing things that we wouldn't see if our eyes were fixed on God.

Don't let fear pull you out of the fight. Stand strong in your faith that the Lord is with you.


"By Rote ... Or?"

Psalm 23:1

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

I love that this verse is such a bold declaration of faith by David. I say that because I tend to think that we, as believers, quite often take this statement for granted. Think about it. We can all quote the 23rd Psalm without thinking and without hesitation. It just comes flowing out by rote. Believers and nonbelievers alike can recite it, but ...

The but ... here is this, do we really know and understand that they are not just the words we spew by rote but that they should be the words that we declare because they overflow from the depths of our heart. David knew. He was a shepherd boy and he knew exactly what it was that he was declaring when he declared, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." He knew exactly what He was declaring because he knew what the role of shepherd entailed. He knew that he would keep and care for his sheep in the natural, even to the point of laying down his life to protect them if necessary. (For example taking on a lion or bear)

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." Bold words. A strong declaration! Words that overflowed from the heart of a man who used them to declare his trust in the Lord as His guide, protector, and constant companion. They are the words David used to say, "You are my 'Good Shepherd' and I know your voice."

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

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." 

Everyday common words we speak by rote ... or the declaration of who the Good Shepherd is in our lives?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

God Knows

They thought they were all so stinking perfect, didn't they?

Ananias wanted to spit on them, but that would probably only solidify the "truth" in the minds of the apostles.

The truth that Ananias wasn't as good a Christian as the others.

He tried. He tried desperately, but failed again and again. He and his wife, Sapphira, diligently tried to help, serve, and give. But it was never enough. Others were always praised instead of them. Now people much poorer then them were selling all they had to help their brothers and sisters in Christ. Ananias envied their freedom of spirit to just give all they had without worrying about their simple needs. However, he couldn't do that. He had bills and cares and needs that needed to be meet.

He supposed Peter would say that meant he wasn't putting his trust fully in God.

Ananias kicked a small rock. He was walking the dusty grounds of a piece of property next to their home. He had bought the land some time ago, and it had served him well. It had certainly been worth the small price he had paid for it.

An idea started to swirl within Ananias's heart. It picked up, gaining intensity like the evening wind stirring dust and leaves at his feet. They could sell this piece of land for a nice profit! Then Ananias could take a portion of the profits to the apostles, and tell them that was the profit they had received from selling the property. It was perfect! No one needed to know the truth! He ran towards the house to tell Sapphira his plan.

His happy steps faltered a little. What about God? Would this matter to Him? He glanced over his shoulder as if expecting to see someone standing there pointing a finger at him.

Ananias shook his head. No. This was silly. He was still giving to God. This white lie wouldn't matter...

Based on Acts 5:1-2

"But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.' When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, 'Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.' And she said, 'Yes, for so much.' But Peter said to her, 'How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.' Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things." Acts 5:1-11

When I read this account, it's very obvious to me that Ananias and Sapphira's great sin, their undoing, the fateful event that led to their downfall was trying to lie to God. Now when I read this, I often gloss over the part about lying to God to get to the point of "don't try to obtain men's praises." I focus on that so much that I just gloss over the "lying to God" point. Probably in a sad effort to avoid thinking about how guilty I am of the same thing.

Because let's face it. We've all tried to do it.

How many times have I tried to fool myself and others that my intentions were really Godly? How many times have I tried to pass my actions off as Holy? How many times have I claimed to be something I'm not? How many times have we tried to lie to God?

No matter how small, slight, or hidden the lie is, it's an abomination to God. It hurts Him. He is all-knowing, all-loving, grace-overflowing, and all-forgiving. Even a stupid lie goes against everything He is. So why do we try to fool ourselves, others, and even God when we know He knows the truth?

Let's be honest with ourselves. God knows that we aren't half the things we claim to be, but He still loves us. So let's stop hiding behind our fake, perfect masks and be the broken, imperfect people we are. God loves that person. God wants that person. Not the fake one.

V. Joy Palmer

"Siritual People"

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in You? 1 Corinthians 3:16

Well, do you? Do you know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? It seems to me that it is a valid question to be asking. I say this because as believers we all want to be 'more' like Jesus and we know that He knew! We know He knew because He told us. '...  Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body. John 2:19-21 He knew that He was the temple of God. He knew that He was the way that we, as believers would come to to meet with and get to know the Father. He knew that He was the one who would teach us how to truly worship God. He knew that it was in Him that we would experience the forgiveness of sins, holiness, and righteousness. He knew that as we go deeper into holiness through Him that we to would get to experience the power that is only found in His presence. Jesus knew ... but the question still remains ...

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in You? 1 Corinthians 3:16

This is the question that Paul asked the Corinthians just after he talks to them about being carnal instead of being spiritual people. He said, "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?" 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 He wanted to be able to talk with them as spiritual people who understood that they were the temple of God with the Spirit of God dwelling within them and not with mere men who were acting like ...well... like mere men.

If we want to be 'spiritual people' then we must understand what He did. We are the meeting place for others to see and meet with the Almighty. We are the temple of God and it is the same Holy Spirit that dwells within us to equip us to do the will of the Father a well.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

For Family

What should he do? He stared vacantly out his window. The sweet scent of figs danced around his nose in a rhythm similar to the dance his dilemma performed. His gaze swept the lands outside his window, but the fertile, green fields held no answers.

Yesterday he had a very disturbing conversation with a new follower of Christ.

This man and his family were starving.

The father of the family worked hard, and his older children did all that they could to help provide, but there were just too many mouths to feed.

But he felt this tugging on his heart, urging him to do something to help them. Truthfully, so many new believers were suffering from the same problems as this family. How was he supposed to help them though? What was he supposed to do?

He wished he could feed and care for them himself, but he didn't have the money.

He stared at the land.

Land he didn't really use...

Land that could bring in a nice profit.

Land that he could sell! Then he could bring the money to the apostles, and tell them about the need he felt to help his family in Christ! They could to distribute it to as many families as possible!

He leapt up from his seat in front of the window. It wasn't much, but it was a start. And it was something he could do to help.

Based on Acts 4:34-35

"There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need." Acts 4:34-35

The people didn't give like this to impress the apostles or God. They didn't give all they had in order to be praised. They gave because that's what you do for family.

In my family, if a family member needs help, you do whatever you have to to help them. Period. When my mom moved my siblings and I away from my abusive father, my grandparents took us into their home. When my husband and I got married, my in-laws gave us a place to live. When I was taken out of work due to complications with my pregnancy, my mom has continued to help with the things my income had previously covered.

The people did this because they cared about the well-being of their family, and they were doing what needed to be done to help their family. Their spiritual, Christian family.

So when I read this passage, I have to ask myself this question: Am I doing all I can to help care for the well-being of my spiritual, Christian family?

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:4

"In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35

For these people, their concern was making sure that their family was taken care of, and that they didn't have any needs left wanting. Are we doing all we can to care for our family?

V. Joy Palmer

"The Testimony"

As I was reading today these words from 1 John 5:11-12  jumped out at me.

And this is the testimonyThat God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 

The testimony, the truth, that we all need to understand, to believe, and to walk out is that God has given us eternal life. Period. Its a done deal. He did His part and has given it to us. He has made the way and provided it for us to realize the benefits of this gift of eternal life. We do that by accepting His provision. We do that by understanding that we have the gift of life eternal through His Son. The thing that I love knowing is that He has given not will give but has given. It already exists for us. He gave it to us through/via His Son. 

Think of it this way ... you live across the country, far from your family. You dad goes out and purchases for you, what He consider the perfect gift, to make your life amazing just because He loves you. The delivery man drops it at your house and you have this terrific gift sitting there that will make every area of your life better. Do you open it?

The Father has given us the gift of eternal life and He sent it to us via His Son. Do we start living it? It's an amazing abundant life that begins the moment you take delivery! Start living it today! Don't wait and don't waste it by leaving it unopened sitting on hold. 

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit love you and their gift of eternal life is truly the most perfectly amazing gift you'll ever get.

Monday, September 7, 2015

"Imparting Grace"

For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another. Mark 10:49-50

Lord, that we would be the salt in the earth today, bringing to each person we meet the seasoning that Your word brings to each and every life it touches. Help us, Lord, to be ready in season and out to always have the right word to share as we testify of You! Lord, that no corrupt communication would proceed out of our mouths, but instead only what is good for necessary edification, that it may always impart grace to its hearers. Ephesians 4:29

God Bless!!!

Staff of Snack Time Devotions

Saturday, September 5, 2015

God Rescues His People

The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said to the Israelites, "I brought you out of Egypt into this land that I swore to give your ancestors, and I said I would never break my covenant with you. For your part, you were not to make any covenants with the people of the land; instead, you were to destroy their altars. But you disobeyed my command. Why did you do this? So now I declare that I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a constant temptation to you." Judges 2:1-4

The people of Israel went into the Promise Land with a clean slate. There was nothing to hold them back. But they didn't do what they were supposed to, they didn't wipe out the enemies that would plague them for years to come. They didn't destroy the altars and the idols, the asherath poles. They let them be, and those things would ensnare them time and time again.

We do the same thing. We have allowed those things that tempt us to stay in our lives. Those besetting sins that we just can't seem to shake. We should recognize those things, realize the traps that they truly are.

God hasn't left us alone in this, nor did He leave the Israelites. "Then the Lord raised up judges to rescue the Israelites from their attackers." Judges 2:16

Every time the Israelites cried out, God heard them. He sent people to rescue them. Every time he sent a new judge to save them. The judges accomplished their missions, they saved the people and turned them back to God. But the return to God didn't last. When that judge died, the people walked away. Every time there wasn't someone to watch over them, they went back to their sinful ways.

Don't be like the Israelites were. Don't turn away from God when you walk away from church on Sunday. Don't keep going back to those sins. The Lord rescues His people. Don't let His rescues go to waste.


"My Certainty Matters"

   Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a ventilation came to Him, saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented."
   And Jesus said to Him, "I will come and heal him."
   The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed."
   For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, "Go," ad he goes; and to another, "Come," and he comes; and to my servant, "Do this," and he does it."
   When Jesus heard it, He marvelled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even I Israel. And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing
   Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour. Matthew 8:5-13

Every time I read this encounter it makes me remember just how important it is for me to KNOW that His authority can reach across any and all distances to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. It also reminds me that my intercession for a loved one is important as well. The centurion knew that Jesus was the answer to his servants need and he proceeded to show that with every word he spoke. Jesus told us "that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks," and the only words that came out of his mouth were words that revealed his faith in Jesus and the authority He walked in. The only words that came from the overflow of his heart were words that confirmed his certainty about who Jesus was and what He could do. He knew that Jesus had the power to heal!!! He knew and because of that certainty his servant was healed!!!

This account reminds me that my certainty ...in Him ...in who He is ...in what He does, and  even ...in His power to heal can make a difference in the lives and circumstances of those I intercede for. My certainty and the profession of my faith matters to the outcome my loved ones see as I bring them before the Lord.

It reminds me to "...Ask in faith, with no doubting ..." James 1:6

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Twitch-Free, Bold Moments

There was a part of Peter that couldn't believe he was speaking like this. Normally his knees would be weak by now. Wait a second? Was the voice speaking even his? It was so bold and full of confidence. There was even authority!

What was going on?

It was one of those moments where he felt like he was watching himself. The bold man standing there speaking to the religious leaders was not the wimp he felt like inside. The group of Sadducees were glowering at him, and the sunlight was a hot spotlight, but it didn't phase him at all. He was a lowly fisherman. He wasn't educated. He had no money to his name. He was essentially nothing.

Peter smirked a little and then quickly moved his mouth to a more neutral expression when one of the Sadducees glare turned even harsher.

He knew the reason.

It was Jesus. All of his hope, trust, and faith was in God now. He didn't care how they perceived him. He didn't care if they knew he was uneducated. He didn't care that he used to be a fisherman. He was doing God's work. The rest didn't matter anymore. He had given God his faith and trust, and in return, God had made him bold.

Based on Acts 4:13

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13

Ah, boldness. The gift that has always seemed to dodge my clumsy advances.

See I'm the type of person who was always told to "Speak up! I can't hear you!" in school. The high school student whose eye started twitching in speech class so that it looked like I was winking around the room like a sociopath. The scared little girl who wouldn't dare tell anyone how badly she wanted to sing with the worship team. The girl who literally made herself sick before pitching her book at her very first conference. The girl who rehearsed lessons so she didn't sound like a bumbling idiot in front of the youth group.

Please tell me it's not just me. ;)

I read about the bold apostles and disciples and I am green with jealousy. How do I get that? How do I, an uneducated, common person (See, I'm partway there!) get that boldness?

I've found a common denominator.

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

It's that faith in God. It's putting our trust/our faith in God that makes us bold. It's the amazing revelation of what He's done for us!

My eye usually doesn't twitch anymore. That comes from putting more stock in what God wants to do, then what I want to do. When it doesn't matter what I want from the situation, it's much easier to be bold for God. Those twitch-free, bold moments are because I put all my faith and trust in God's will.

V. Joy Palmer

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Our Job Is to Share

He could smell trouble a mile away. And with this many unwashed people gathered into one place, it was much easier to smell trouble.

"What's going on?" He directed his question to the group of Sadducees standing on the outskirts of the people. His ornate robes swirled around his sandal-clad feet as he swooshed to a stop.

A large crowd had gathered around some rather plain looking men. Their group stood just inside hearing range of the men speaking.

An older Sadducee glared and answered gruffly. "They are talking about Jesus."

"And the resurrection from the dead," another younger Sadducee added.

Anger and annoyance bubbled inside of him. This? Again? They were supposed to be done with this! He squinted at the men speaking, and felt his annoyance rise even higher just from looking at them.

He pointed his stocky finger at them. "We need to get rid of them. Something! It is not their place to be teaching the people, and it is certainly a grave wrongdoing to allow them to fill the people's minds with false doctrine."

The rest of the Sadducees nodded their agreement. They planned to arrest the fools, drive them out of the country, and be done with this business once and for all.

Based on Acts 4:1-2

"And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand." Acts 4:1-4

I, like many of you, have friends and relatives that are not Christians. Every time something comes up on Facebook that is not "politically correct," I hesitate sharing the article because I think of them. I worry that they will think I'm trying to shove my views down their throat. I don't even comment on the things they post that are so wildly wrong because I don't want to get into an argument.

What should I do?

Don't get me wrong. The stuff that makes me "me" is still on there. I always share all of my blogs, and you don't have to read those for very long before getting a good picture of my beliefs. But sometimes I wonder if I'm still being too much of a chicken.

Then I read a section like this. It gives me a little perspective, and honestly, a little comfort.

No matter what we do, there will always be people who will become "greatly annoyed" by what we are sharing. Always. They will always be there. So I shouldn't let them impact me so much that I remain quiet. Don't misunderstand. I'm not saying we should shove and preach to the point of alienating everyone around us, as that's certainly not the point of the Gospel. I'm saying it's not worth worrying if we will offend someone, because someone will always be offended.

Our job is to share. God's job is the heart.

V. Joy Palmer

"Thanks! Lord"

   He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.
   Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall,
   But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
   They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
   They shall run and not be weary,
   They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31

Thank you Lord, that You are always the wind that helps me soar!