Monthly Archives: September 2015

REJOICE

These are lyrics to a song I have started working on:

 

Rejoice my soul;
Join this song of praise;
Twirl and dance with great delight;
Raise your hands;
Worship all your days;
Soar to the greatest height.

 

Let happy sound
Come from your inmost part;
Till all that’s found
Is singing in your heart;
Lift your voice
In joyful song and mirth;
Let it resound
In all the Earth!

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GREATER THAN ALL OTHER NAMES

This is a relatively new song by Brian Johnson.  May it bless and encourage you:

ESTHER 4

1When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. 2But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. 3In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
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I am impressed that Mordecai made such a public statement, while staying within the law.  He really got his point across!

I think there is something we can learn from this.  While I believe there might be times for civil disobedience, I think we have more powerful impacts when we can stay within the law.  For one thing, if we are acting righteously and receive punishment, no one can say it was because we acted illegally, which keeps our testimony clean.

Mordecai did not stay home and grieve in silence.  Instead, he mourned openly.  Actually, he made quite a scene:  He WAILED.  All of the other Jews did the same.

Too often, we try to put a good face on things that are not okay.  While our culture may not allow for wearing sackcloth and public crying, there are plenty of ways for us to express sorrow or disagreement with attitudes, events or practices that break God’s heart.

There is a next step for us:  To declare the truth of God’s Kingdom.  We can send the enemy to flight, just by worshipping, speaking  God’s word and making His reality known.
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4When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.6So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.  9Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said.
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I am a bit amused at Esther’s attempts to get Mordecai to dress decently.  He refuses, until he is heard.

There’s that “good face” on situations that aren’t okay.

I have often thought that “respectability” is one of the most powerful hinderances in the Kingdom of God.  It dampens so much of what we might do otherwise.  “Decency and decorum” can kill a spirit of freedom – Don’t raise your hands in worship and certainly don’t dance!  Don’t greet strangers and ask if you can pray for them…

How far outside the box are you willing to go?  If God told you to dip yourself in a river so you can be healed (from the story of Naaman, 2 Kings 5 ) would you do it?  If He told you to gather a group of young people in a city park so you can tell Bible stories, would you get right on it?  If you find yourself laughing uncontrollably during worship, is that all right?
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10Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11“All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”  12When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
15Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
17So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.
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Here is one that catches me…and lots of other believers, I dare say:  Circumstances speak louder than God’s word, or so it seems.

Esther had not been called by the King for thirty days.  He might have been busy or lost interest in her; we don’t really know.  From where she stands, he doesn’t like her well enough to give her confidence that he would extend his gold sceptor to her.  She did not believe that God would go before her and give her favor with the King yet again.  God had already done that when she was chosen to be queen.  For this reason, she wasn’t all that willing to try.

I can’t say that I blame her.  I often forget that God supplies all…that’s ALL, with no exceptions, my needs according to HIS riches.  That includes things like recognition and favor.  IF my life depended on it, I think I might resist, too.

I think of another story in the Bible, where God’s provision was absolutely necessary, yet the women were on their way when they asked, “Who will roll the stone away for us?”  (Mark 16:3)  They could have stayed in hiding:  “The stone’s too big for us.”  “What about the Roman guards?”  Somehow, they didn’t go there; instead, they went to the tomb, where they discovered that Christ had risen.

May I come to know and trust God so thoroughly that I set out to do the work He has given me, knowing that every provision is already mine!
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Esther was called to do something she was sure she couldn’t do.  Not only that, she was in peril, just for trying.  Her uncle Mordecai warns encourages her:
WARNING:  God will save His people somehow; if you don’t follow His call, you and your family will die.
That’s quite the warning indeed!
It would be tempting to say this doesn’t apply to God’s people today.  Nice try!  There are lots of ways to die.

Some will perish physically.  Harold Eberle, (worldcastministries.com) raises up pastors in Pakistan.  When each class finishes and all are graduating, the new pastors understand that 30% of them are likely to be martyred.  They obey the call on their lives anyway.

There is a death that seems more subtle, yet it is quite real:  To fall into complacency and compromise, until one’s relationship with God has grown cold and ineffectual.  This is a death in one’s soul; something that will leave us without feeling or a sense of God’s presence.  The good news is, resurrection is available.  WE call it revival.  As a guest speaker, Scott Scheile, said this weekend,  “Revival means that something dead needs to be made alive.”

I think one of the most potent ways to die is to live in disobedience.  The most basic way this happens is to choose comfort and the ways of the world over a relationship with God through Jesus.  It isn’t about following the law and rules.  Plenty of people follow rules who do not know God.  They need to be reborn into His household and  Kingdom.

The next kind of disobedience is to neglect one’s vocation.  I am not necissarily talking about ordained ministry.  God calls people to all walks of life and work.  He wants His presence to be carried everywhere.  If you are to be a wife and mother, go at it with all enthusiasm and diligence.  If your passion is to build things or have a thriving business, make it the best product around!  Again there is the promise of resurrection life.  While there are opportunities that we can miss, God has a way of providing new ones as we repent and follow after Him.

Esther chose well.  She said she would carry out her office as queen, even if she died.  In the end, she succeeds, of course:  Her people are saved; justice is served; Mordecai and Esther prosper.  All of this because she obeyed.

Queen Esther could not have done this alone.  She needed the people of God to join with her.  They, along with Esther and all of her attendants, fasted and sought the Lord for three days before she went before King Xerxes.  Then, with God’s provisions of favor and wisdom, she fulfilled her mission.

We need each other in the same way.  There are all sorts of passages in the Epistles that say we are the Body of Christ.  We cannot live apart from Him; we cannot make it when we are separated from each other.  It is only when we spend time with God, individually and corporately, that we can fulfill the missions God assigns to us.

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Encouragement:
who knows but”…that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Here’s a thought:  We are living in the time, place and position that God has  design and chosen for us!

I think of such wonderful Scriptures as, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do all the good works that He has given us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)  Or “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

To me, this means I can trust God to provide all that I need for my assignments:  Connections, opportunities, materials…  How cool is that!

Moreover, I live and work as a princess – one with royal position and authority in my Father’s Kingdom.

I used to know a man who lamented that he wasn’t born 100 years earlier.  He loved everything that pertained to that time, idealizing the way of early 20th century life.  He also blamed his father for urging him to get a degree in accounting, instead of encouraging him to follow his own desire to teach.  The result was that he was not able to settle and enjoy life.  He could have returned to school for that education degree, but worked in an office instead, never taking responsibility for his own choices.  When I last heard from him, he was still searching.  What a loss!  He was excellent with children, very creative and tender hearted.  Had he been able to embrace the time and  place that God had designed for him, he and others might have shared in many blessings.  Thanks be to God who provides another way when one of us doesn’t obey:  Those who might have benefitted from his ministry have received provision from God through other people.

May each of us come to know Papa God’s love and hope for us so profoundly, we embrace our lives, positions and assignments with great joy and expectancy.

ALL AND NOTHING

How does knowing that God is good, that He is always in a good mood; that He loves you intimately and completely affect the way you live?

 

I heard a talk several months ago, in which the speaker said that most of us practice what he would call ,practical atheism.”  We believe in God; yet when it comes to making decisions, we rely on ungodly counsel or use our own wits, instead of asking God what HE wants us to do and cooperating with him.  Interesting.  After pondering this for a long time, I have decided that his point has merit.

 

I remember what big news it was to me when I learned that the saying, “God helps those who help themselves” isn’t true.  I was in college.  As I read the Bible for the first time, really, I discovered Scripture passages like these:

 

“I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:19

“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”  Mark 10:27

“God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

 

My pastor says that there is no problem or situation that would not be radically changed if we really knew how much God loves us.

 

What do you say?  Is my pastor right?

 

Most loving Father,
We receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation that You give to us so that we know You better.  Open the eyes of our hearts so that we really get how much You love us.  By Your grace, we lay down all atheism and put our whole trust in You.  Thank You for Your goodness.  Amen.

 

(…spirit of wisdom and revelation is from Ephesians 1:17)

EXPECTATIONS

There is an aspect of prayer that I have been pondering for a while:  Expectations.  This matter seems quite basic; yet it is so powerful, we do well to consider it with all diligence and care.

When you pray, what kind of answer do you expect to get?

Does knowing that God absolutely loves you with all that HE is change your expectancy?

I love scales!  That’s because almost all of life happens in degrees and we move one way or the other.  Here then, are my scaling questions for you:
0=Not at all – – – – – – – – – 10=absolutely; without reservation

Does God love you?  0 – – – – – – – – – 10

Does He provide for you?  0 – – – – – – – – – 10

Does He heal all wounds and diseases?  0 – – – – – – – – – 10

Does He forgive all sins?  0 – – – – – – – – – 10

Does HE protect you?  0 – – – – – – – – – 10

Does He give you things that you would like to have, but don’t necessarily need?  0 – – – – – – – – 10

Do you trust Him, even when circumstances are hard?  0 – – – – – – – – – 10

Do you expect to hear and understand when you ask God questions?  0 – – – – – – – – – 10

Do you expect blessings in this life?  0 – – – – – – – – – 10

Does God like you?  0 – – – – – – – – 10

Does He think you’re awesome and precious?  0 – – – – – – – – – 10

Does God answer prayer in a timely manner?  0 – – – – – – – – – 10

 

I could probably come up with plenty of questions, but I’ll get to my point.

According to Scripture, the answer on every scale is “10:”  Absolutely; without reservation.  We have a hard time living at that level of expectancy, however.  Experience, inner struggles, lies we believe and the fact that God is so much greater than our own understanding get in our way.  The challenge is, we are called to grow into this level of absolute trust.  That is part of what being changed from glory to glory is all about.

 

Just to add emphasis and challenge your thinking a bit, consider this prayer from Ephesians 3:

“That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend (some versions say “grasp”) with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

 

Such wonderful paradoxes!  He is able to do above and beyond; yet He wants us to grasp the height, depth and bredth of His love…Wow!!

 

In what ways are you most challenged when you consider trusting God and expecting answers that bless?  Confess your struggle to Him; ask for His help; be ready for His answer.

 

When do you find that you trust Him more readily?  Thank Him for His grace that makes this possible; ask for even more in this area.
What do you want most from God?  Ask Him for it.  When you get your answer, please come back and share:  Testimony is a strong faith builder for all of us.