Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lessons from a Queen!

The story of Esther has so many great lessons and just plain interesting things in it.

First of all, this book of the Bible is a great example of how NOT boring the Bible can be. Many people think that the Bible is boring, but Esther is far from it. I’ll leave it at that and you can read it for yourself to find out why I say that!

One lesson found all throughout the book of Esther is the importance of obeying the King’s commands or you may end up in trouble. There are several cases throughout the book of Esther where someone went against the King and they ended up being killed by the Kings orders. The King James Version says they were hung on a tree. The New International Version says impaled on poles. The New King James says hanged on a gallows. The New Living Translation says they were impaled on a sharpened pole. Either way, I wouldn’t want that to be me in any case!

Interesting Bible Fact: Esther 2:12 - Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.

I’m not sure if a whole year of beauty treatments would be heaven on earth or torture! I mean think about it. We do crazy things now days like plucking eyebrows. What did they do back then? I don’t think they had tweezers! I’m just saying, Bible time beauty treatments could be a little scary.

Life Lesson #1: Esther listened to her “father”. Mordecai had essentially adopted Esther when she was young, but she respected him and listened to him when he asked her not to reveal to the king that she was Jewish. Had she told the King she was Jewish at first, she likely would not have been his choice to be queen and would not have been able to save her people. We need to listen to our Heavenly Father and follow his instructions. He knows best!

The King had a right hand man, Haman. He was not impressed with Mordecai because Mordecai would not kneel down and pay his respects to Haman as a royal official. This infuriated Haman and he not only wanted to kill Mordecai, but he wanted to kill all of his people as well. When he went to the King about this, the King just handed over his seal and told him to do with the people what he wanted. When Mordecai found out about it, he was distressed and asked Esther for help.

Interesting Bible Fact: Esther 4:11 - 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.

How awesome would it be to be able to banish everyone you didn’t want to see and only see the people you summoned! I’m just saying, that sounds like a perk to me for being the King!

At first, Esther didn’t want to go to the King as Mordecai asked her to, because she was not supposed to go to the king unless he summoned her. Mordecai said something to Esther that makes me stop and think. He said, “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For 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?”

Wow, what a statement. First of all, someone will deliver the Jewish people if you don’t! Secondly, why do you think you were put in a position of power? Don’t you think this could be the reason you are queen? How many times do we think we have no authority in a situation? But what if we are in just the right place at just the right time? We just have to step out on faith and trust that we will make a difference if we do the right thing.

The king liked Esther so much, that when she approached him, he asked her what she wanted. He said whatever she wanted up to half of his kingdom could be hers. She invited the king and Haman to a banquet. At the banquet she invited them to a second banquet. This is when she was going to tell the King what she wanted.

In the meantime Haman passed Mordecai again who would not show the respect he wanted. Haman was furious and at the suggestion of his wife, he set up a pole reaching a height of fifty cubits and was going to ask the King in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it.

The king that night didn’t sleep well. He was thinking about the person who exposed an assassination attempt on him. When he discovered it was Mordecai, he wanted to properly show his appreciation.

So, the King asked Haman what he should do for a man who the King wanted to honor. Haman responded thinking the king was speaking of him. He named off a list of great honors to bestow on the man.

Life Lesson #2: Vengeance is Mine sayeth the Lord! Once Haman listed all the honors he thought should be bestowed upon this man, the King told Haman to go and bestow these honors on Mordecai! (He had to personally honor his arch enemy)! Haman was mortified and ran home, but he still had a banquet to attend. When Esther finally made her request to the king (to spare her people from being killed) the King wanted to know who had planned this terrible act. Esther told him it was Haman. Haman ended up being ordered to be impaled on the very same pole that he had set up for Mordecai and Mordecai was honored. How ironic is that? Not only is he embarrassed by having to honor Mordecai in the streets, but he is killed on the same pole he had set up for the king to impale Mordecai on!

Life Lesson #3: Think before you speak! I am pretty sure that at this point Haman’s wife was wishing she had given him some different advice! Not only did she lose her husband in a humiliating way, she lost everything that belonged to him.

In the end Esther and Mordecai were given Haman’s estate and were able to write their own edict signed by the king to protect the Jewish people.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Don't Let Satan Steal Your Blessings!

I want to take a few minutes to share a little bit about my last semester in college and something incredibly important that I learned from it.

As an adult student, married, with a child, and working full time, finding time to get things done was very difficult. Anything that seemed to be “extra” just didn’t get done. I would go to work during the week from 8:00-4:30 Monday –Friday. After dinner, I would try and work on homework or study. I would spend all weekend, Friday night through Sunday night doing homework and studying and somewhere in between would try to squeeze in laundry and a little housekeeping (and I mean a little). My husband would cook dinner most nights and he would help out with some laundry and dishes.

One thing about me is that I will work hard at whatever I’m doing, but I can’t do it on limited sleep. I don’t function well on just a few hours of sleep, so giving up sleep to find time for other things was not the best option for me. Although I did have some nights of a few hours of sleep, I couldn’t do that every day. I had to find other ways to get things done.

While I was saved, and had a relationship with the Lord, it was not what it needed to be. When life was overwhelming and I was trying to balance the 24 hours I had in the day, it was difficult to balance things. One way that I dealt with balancing my time was skipping church. I told myself that it was ok because I prayed at home and I would watch preaching on TV. At the time it all made sense to me, I got extra stuff done and I felt like I was still OK with God.

Here is what I learned this semester. THAT WAS A LIE FROM SATAN!! Satan convinced me that my life was just fine the way that it was, but let me share with you some of things that I was missing out on by missing church. I found these things out this semester after I started going back to church regularly.

Friendship – support, love, and prayers from other Christians change who you are. Without that, you are missing so much in your life. Hebrews 10:25 says - Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (NIV)

Being in the Presence of the Lord – Matthew 18:20 says “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." While you can pray and read the word of God at home, there is a much stronger move of the Holy Spirit when you are gathered with other believers. The Lord shows up among a body of believers.

The infilling of the Holy Spirit. While I know different people have different beliefs about this, I have to tell you, this is so real. There are many places in the Bible that speaks of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Act 9:17-18 is where Saul was baptized in the Spirit. “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized”.

While you can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit without someone else laying hands on you, for me, it took someone laying hands on me. But I had spent years wanting it and seeking it and it took one Spirit Filled Believer, listening to the Lord, stepping out and approaching me, laying hands on me, and it came. I have heard stories of people being alone somewhere and being baptized in the Holy Spirit so it can happen when you are alone or with other believers but either way, it will change your life! I am a different person now than I was before this occurred.

Intimacy with God and a Connection to the Throne. All of the things I said above impact the intimacy level you have with the Lord. He wants to give you all he has and He just needs you to open up to Him and allow him to give you more of Him.

Friends, don’t miss out on what the Lord has for you. Let me tell you, this last semester of school was both the best and busiest one of them all by far. I had many more assignments, projects, tests, quizzes, and papers this semester than any other. Mostly due to the nature of the last few classes I had to take to graduate. Two of the three classes included exit exams and assessment exams to evaluate the program and the university in how well it did preparing us to graduate. More work and no more time in the day to complete it all. But, I CHOSE this semester to be in church and let the Lord help me deal with the rest. He blessed me so much this semester because of it. He came through for me and I came out at the end of the semester with grades just about the same as any other semester. So, really, there was no loss in productivity on my part. If anything, the Lord helped me out and increased what I could get done in a short amount of time.

DON’T LET SATAN STEAL YOUR BLESSINGS. Don’t let Satan keep you from allowing God to bless you. The Lord is waiting for you to come to Him and He WANTS to bless you. I heard this from someone before and heard from another person today and I have continued to come back to it. “You can have as much of the Lord as you want to have”. He is waiting to give you more. Lay it all down, trust in Him, and He will work in ways you could not imagine in your life. Satan wants you to think that your life in Christ is fine just the way it is. He wants you to think that you don’t need more. But he is a liar! The most spiritual person on the face of the earth can still have more. If anyone thinks they have enough, they are missing out. THERE IS ALWAYS MORE IN HIM!!!!

Don’t let the circumstances of life hold you back. Jump in head first and let the Lord handle the circumstances of life. He is better at it than we are anyway!

The moral of this story is not so much about church attendance (that’s just what it was for me). The moral of this story is that until we reach the throne of Heaven, we haven’t had enough. There is always more. DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS THAN WHAT GOD HAS FOR YOU!!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

We Are More Than Conquerors!!!!!

Romans 8:37-39, NIV
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For those of us who are Children of God, hold fast to these promises in Romans 8. If you are a born again believer in Christ, absolutely nothing can separate you from His love.

I’m no Bible scholar, but I can tell you some things that stand out to me in this scripture. First and most importantly, the whole message of this verse is that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.

The verse starts out by saying, “In all these things we are MORE than conquerors”… If we were ONLY conquerors, that would be awesome. To be a conqueror would be plenty and we would have won, but that wasn’t all God had for us. Through Him, we are not only conquerors, but we are MORE than conquerors.

The next sentence in this passage lists things that specifically cannot separate us from the love of God. The very first thing listed is death. We instinctively think of death as a separation. When we lose a loved one and they are no longer here on earth with us, there is an obvious and painful separation. So this analogy makes perfect sense to most people. As Children of God, earthly death is the doorway to living with Christ forever! Earthly death is not a loss; it is only a gain for God’s Children. It allows us to go home to our Father who loves us more than we could ever imagine.

The next part says that life cannot separate us from the love of God. What exactly does that mean? Life is hard and full of things that we are often taken back by. We spend so much time just trying to get through this situation or that one. We are constantly hit with situations that we cannot change or control, but just have to walk through. If we are not careful, we can focus too much on life and less on Jesus. If we put our trust in Jesus, we will not only be closer to Him, but we will have help dealing with life’s circumstances. Focus on Christ and let him lead you through.

We are human and Christ is not. The fact that we are human and Christ is not does not matter. Christ love reaches beyond the bounds of humanity. Just because we do not take the same life form as He does, doesn’t keep Him from loving us just as much. God created us as humans while He was still a spiritual being. He created us just the way we are and loves us for who we are. And as I said before, life eventually leads to death, and death leads to ETERNAL LIFE in Christ!

The next part says neither angels nor demons (and later nor any other powers) can separate us from the love of Christ. This one is fascinating to me also. God created humans as well as angels (demons being fallen angels). Even though the Bible says that we were made a little lower than the angels, the angels cannot stand in our way of God. Demons (or fallen angels) cannot stand in our way of God and His love for us. So, when Satan is on your back or you feel defeated, don’t forget, Satan and his demons have no power over you. God is in control of your life and neither Satan nor any of his demons can separate you from God.

Neither the present nor the future can separate us from the love of Christ. This is good news for me. This means that I can stop worrying about everything! I am such a worrier and to know that the future cannot separate me from Christ’s love is huge for worriers like me. But, my goal is that in Christ, I will go from being a worrier to a warrior!! With the Lord’s help, that is the direction I am moving.

Neither height nor depth can separate us from the love of Christ. There is no amount of space in any direction that can separate us from Christ’s love. No matter how far away we are from other people we love, Christ’s love is never far away. So in those lonely moments in life when you feel like no one is there for you, lean on the Lord and let His love hold you.

Nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. What a way to sum it up. NOTHING AT ALL can separate us from Christ’s love! Thank you Lord for loving us as much as You do!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Change is Coming...Ready or Not!!

Life is full of changes, both good and bad. It is just part of living. If things stop changing, you aren't living anymore. How we handle change can make a huge impact on our lives and the lives of those around us.

It's graduation season. Many high school seniors are getting ready to walk across their graduation stage and cross over into an entirely different part of life. Some will go on to college while others will join the workforce. Either path will be vastly different than going to the same classes in the same building with the same people every single day.

Going back to school after being married and having a child creates its own unique circumstances. Everything from paying for college, to finding time for everyone and everything, to finding time for myself. There just aren't enough hours in the day for everything and somewhere along the way someone has to give something up. Now that I am getting to the end of this part of my life, there are so many decisions that I need to make. Looking to the future is just as scary or maybe even more so than it was when I graduated high school. You see, as a non-traditional student, married with a child, any decisions about my future affect at least two other people. I have to consider my husband and my child, it isn't just about me. With student loans as a way to finance my education, I need to make more money. I need to figure out how to pay the extra bills that we will have because of me graduating.

So for now, maybe I'll just have a little more free time (although I have some projects in mind already that I want to do), but very soon, everything will be changing. I can feel it in the air already, I just don't know what is coming. I am praying for guidance for my family as we move on the next stage of our lives. While looking for a better paying job is probably the first step, I feel like there could be an opportunity here for the Lord to use me and my husband in a different way than before. The Lord knows what we need to get the bills paid and I fully trust that He will lead and guide us in the direction that we need to be going in.

While change is inevitable, it is important that when change is on the horizon, we stand firm in the Lord. Lucky for us, He will never change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever! That eases my worries a lot. To know that there is one thing in my life that will never, ever change, helps me get through each day.

If you are going through a change in your life, hold fast to the promises of the Lord. He will guide you and direct your path and He is the one who already knows where your path is heading. Lean on Him and let Him lead you!

Proverbs 3: 5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Psalm 91

Psalm 91 has meant a lot to me lately and I wanted to share it. I do want to point something out though. I have read a lot of scripture lately that has made me realize that for a long time, I have read scripture with the wrong perspective (or maybe just listened too much to other people instead of reading it for myself). There are many scriptures that people use to make others feel good. They quote many scriptures to uplift others, but a lot of the ones that people use to be uplifting have the stipulation in them that these things are true for the believer. It does not promise them for the unbeliever.

Psalm is incredibly uplifting for those who fit the qualifications of verse one, but if you don’t, then this isn’t referring to you. If you don’t meet the qualifications of verse one, take time right now to ask the Lord to forgive you for your sins and ask the Lord to bring you into the secret place of the Most High! It is truly the best place to live life anyway.

Psalm 91(AMP)

1 HE WHO dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].

2 I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!

3 For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.

4 [Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day,

6 Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.

8 Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,

10 There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent.

11 For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service].

12 They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

13 You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot.

14 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Strong Enough

I absolutely love this song and have since the first time I heard it. The official music video is even better! This song is the ultimate in "real life" situations, but an ultimate reminder of what the Lord is doing behind the scenes.

You don't realize at first, but each scene in this music video is another member of the same family going through some problem in life. The dad gets fired, the son gets bullied, the daughter has to resist a boyfriends advances, and the mom is stressed over the bills. This is real life, we could add a million other situations and scenarios to this list of real life, every day struggles.

Satan is attacking families left and right these days. Anything he can use to tear a family apart, he is. There is hope in the Lord though! We do not have to go through life alone. Not only are we not alone, we can turn to the Lord for love, strength, and anything else that this world can not give us.

It is time for our families to take a stand! As a Christian, I know how things will end. Satan will not win in the end and he doesn't have to win now! Whatever circumstances he is throwing at you, take a stand against him. I know when you are in the midst, that is easier said than done, but when we are weak, the Lord is strong. He is strong for us.

I don't think I will ever forget what I heard Friday night. The Lord wants to help you in your struggles. He is saying, "Let me hold your worries, while you take your stand"! The Lord NEVER expected us to struggle through this world alone. That is not His plan for you!

Stand firm!

Ephesians 6
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, BE ALERT AND ALWAYS KEEP ON PRAYING FOR ALL THE LORD'S PEOPLE!