Long Live The King

July 31, 2018

I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” Ecclesiastes 3:17

Old CrossBy assuming my place on the throne, I set myself up to be king of my world. It didn’t work out well because that’s not how I was wired by God to be at peace. I was meant to be a child in His kingdom, not the pretend-King who failed to bow to the real King of the Universe. God’s message in scripture became very clear ~ Give God back His rightful place, put the fate of those who have wronged me into His hands, trust Him to rule over them, and then live by faith that He will do so with holiness. Daily, I remind myself that my posture and mantra is, ‘Long Live The King!’

What trips up most every child of God is that God can appear inactive and and we wrongly assume that He is also uncaring. He doesn’t appear to love as well as we love our own children. When they hurt, we come running. When they are wronged, we rise to defend. When they cry that something is unfair, we listen and mediate if necessary. Yet, God tells us that He loves us purely and perfectly. He tells us that all His intentions for us are good. He tells us that anyone who messes with us – touches the apple of His eye. How do I believe that when my heart is aching with injustice?

I go immediately to the parallel of Jesus’ life on earth and my life on earth. That’s where I find so many of my answers. He was hunted down by Herod’s henchmen. That was unfair. His ministry was fraught with dangers I can’t begin to understand and God didn’t deliver Him from everyone. Some, yes. Others, no. His suffering was part of God’s redemptive narrative. What was absolutely so stunning about it all was Jesus’ absolute trust in His Father. His love and confidence in His Father never fractured while suffering. He never doubted His Father’s love and favor.

A little further in our study, we will see that Jesus had to trust God to rule righteously when relationships with people, and Satan, got dicey. He had to make the choice to live by faith and He learned this, scripture says, through obedience. His way, His path, is also my way, and my path.

You will make all things right in glory. Yet mercifully, You also do some of that now. When You don’t, I will trust You. Amen

Let Me Show You What You’ve Done

July 30, 2018

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“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.” Matt. 6:14

Forgiveness. After hearing many sermons over the years and after reading many books on the topic, I believe it should be clear what forgiveness is. The mandate, however, is to just do it. “Forgive and forget.” But having lived through multiple messy betrayals in my life, I discovered that it’s not as cut and dry as often portrayed. Nor is it instantaneous if the hurt is deep and the relationships are ongoing.

God took me on a 5 month journey of forgiveness and it was mostly new territory. I learned what forgiveness is, what it isn’t, and why it’s so hard to do. There were many roadblocks and I found little help in working through them. (Oh, but the Holy Spirit led me safely through uncharted territory.) This series will give me the opportunity to share my own journey through anger, injustice, and then trust and active submission to the sovereignty of God. I can promise you that the devotionals to follow will not contain well worn cliches. I offer nothing that I have not first tried for myself.

There was a day in early May, 1997, that God made it clear through an older woman speaking into my life, that I had not forgiven someone who deeply hurt me over a period of 22 years. I was devastated and went to God about it. I believe I heard Him speak to me deep in my spirit. “Let me show you what you’ve done, Christine. You’ve climbed the steps to the throne, looked right at me and said ~ ‘I want your seat please.’ You put my crown on your head and declared yourself qualified and capable to play judge and jury over the people who hurt you. You will decide when they’re sorry. You will decide when they deserve your pardon. You will decide how long to make them pay. But know this ~ I want my seat back. I made you to be a much loved daughter in my kingdom, not a judge. That’s my job. Put the people who hurt you into my hands and leave them there. I rule righteously and you can trust me.”

That was the beginning of my many discoveries about myself and about my King. I learned that forgiving is not letting someone off the hook. It’s taking them off my hook and putting them on God’s hook. Because He is holy, is not that the best place for them to be? Ah yes. And here’s the thing. No child is meant to wear a crown.

Lord, I pray for each person who is reading this. So many are eaten up with the sense of injustice. Lead each of them safely through these next many days. Give them freedom. Help them trust you enough to give You your rightful seat back. Amen

Final Thoughts about Esther

July 26, 2018

How much did you enjoy the story of Esther? How much did it stir your heart to live differently? Have you vowed to be more intentional to find the purpose for which you were created? As you think about her story and how she has impacted your own life, consider these amazing facts ~

The book of Esther was written nearly 2,500 years ago.

Esther wouldn’t have thought of flipping a coin about a life’s decision. Instead, she fasted and prayed.

She was married to someone who did not share her faith and she struggled to know how to serve both her husband, and God.

Her name is recorded 55 times in the Bible, more than any other woman including Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Her great grandfather was Jesse, the father of King David. That makes David her great-uncle.

Esther exhibited love, courage, wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord – all the essential characteristics of a woman who lives in the Gifts of the Spirit.

The name of God is not mentioned in the book of Esther but He doesn’t have to be mentioned to be noticed. He is seen in the light and countenance of those who belong to Him. His Shekinah – His Light – is amplified through you and affects those around you. Xerxes chooses Esther as he is drawn like a moth to the flame of the shekinah surrounding her.

Many critics decry the fact that Esther did not live as a true Jewish woman should, denouncing the fact that she did not adhere to the strict Jewish diet while in the palace. Yet Esther was more about her relationship with God and her soul was not defined by what she ate. Intuitively, she knew this even before Jesus preached it 450 years later in Mark 7:18-20:

“Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart buy his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods. And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles man. ‘”

Esther’s willingness to serve her God was stronger than her fear of death. Even more so, she understands that perhaps she was born “for such a time as this.” God put her on this earth for a reason, and He was giving her His ultimate purpose for her life. If she was destined to die, then so be it. She had her solid trust, and faith, in God. She took Proverbs 3:5-6 (written by her cousin King Solomon) to heart:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

How glorious and wonderful to know how much God loves you as much as you love Him, and to know that He made you exactly the way you are, and the time where He placed you, for His glory and for His purpose. You are special to Him just like Queen Esther– don’t ever forget that. His purpose for you is to further His kingdom, and He has put you where you are, with specific people surrounding you, for a reason and for a purpose. And He will lead you to it, if you only ask.

Taken from a great online article. https://womeninscripture.com/esther-a-woman-born-for-such-a-time-as-this/

What Makes a Man Great

July 25, 2018

Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people. Esther 10:3

The book of Esther concludes with a twist. Esther, the heroine, is not on center stage anymore. It is Mordecai who enjoys the spotlight.

His love for people has shaped his style of leadership. He knows that just because a person has the clout to make others fear him doesn’t mean that person should use it.

There are people in government who enjoy the heady feeling they experience when they write new laws. To imagine millions under their control, following their regulations to the letter, inflates their sense of importance. It’s the fodder of Pharisees.

Parents also bark orders and cause children to cower in submission. A mother or father who experienced helplessness as a child often makes the most dangerous kind of parent. The wrong kind of power never buys love. Others obey out of fear but love and respect are absent.

Mordecai was a type of Jesus. He was not self-obsessed. He rose to power only because his love for others was stellar. He was a forerunner to Jesus who came to serve mankind. Jesus showed the power of restraint. Instead of assuming a throne and using His muscle to force the world to bow at his feet, His power hid behind the face of tenderness. He declared His love, proved it at Calvary, then asked us to willingly kneel at His feet. Causing us to tremble and simply give lip service was not His style.

Today, every person in the Trinity still rules with the power of love. They call to us to intimacy, hoping we’ll take them up on their invitation. Today’s verse could be re-written. “Jesus is held in high esteem by his many followers because He works for the good of His people.”

I will use power over others today. Will I serve them or use them to feed my anemic ego? Make me like You, Jesus. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

It’s Gonna Be Okay

July 24, 2018

So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Xerxes–words of goodwill and assurance. Esther 9:27

“You’re going to be fine!” is wonderful to hear as long as this news is coming from the right person. A doctor may speak them following a high-risk surgery and if I’m the patient or a family member of the patient, I breathe a sigh of relief. However, when they come from someone who has a history of dismissing my pain, the pronouncement is hollow. The power of the words depends on the credibility of the speaker.

The last letter that had gone out on royal steed to the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Xerxes delivered news of doom. I can well imagine that the mood of the people, when the second letter arrived, was one of anxiety. Perhaps trembling hands held the document. The people anticipated an announcement that would end their world. Instead, they received a pronouncement that they were a blessed people; ones who would enjoy favor, prestige, and unlimited power.

I look forward to my time of writing every morning. It’s my chance to share words of goodwill and assurance. They don’t originate with me, for who am I? I’m just the King’s messenger. He, however, is all-powerful and trustworthy. You can take God’s messages as Gospel truth. Dare to rejoice! His Word to you is clear.

He is not mad at you.
He longs for your company.
He is waiting to forgive your sins.
Your soul can live in peace.
You have a glorious future.
He does not play favorites.
And you are the daughter, or a son, whom He loves without reservation.

If I’m not moved by Your words, my heart is ailing. Heal it and soften it so that my joy may be full. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Throw a Party!

July 23, 2018

Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. Esther 9: 20-2

Mordecai had supernatural eyesight. He was able to see thousands of years down the road. Because he declared the day of Jewish freedom a holiday, he invented an annual party. To this day, the Jews tell the story of Esther, Mordecai, and Haman to their children and they celebrate the deliverance of their ancestors.

“Review and Remember” is a continual theme throughout scripture. We are to commemorate the moments of God’s faithfulness with joyful celebration. We’re encouraged to tell others the stories. I can imagine that Jacob told his children, and his grandchildren, the account of the incident at Bethel. It became a familiar bedtime tale. The Jewish people of old did not need to fabricate fairy tales to entertain their children. Instead, they related the narratives of their own lives. Interesting plots were plentiful.

I recall the many years I had little news to tell. My spiritual life was uneventful. I knew theology and could certainly talk about that but passing along theological information divorced from the context of a personal relationship with God is always as dry as dust.

new-years-eve-food-idea-chinese-year-table-centerpiece-centerpieces-decor-simple-decorations-decoration-ideas-for-good-looking-decorating-inspiring-romantic-and-elegantJohn Wesley said, “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians of England.” Each of us has a story. There should be at least a handful of life- defining moments spiritually. Does anybody know yours? We should invent some personal holidays, invite our extended families to the party, and start telling the stories of our lives. The point is not to make myself the hero! While I’m certainly one of the main characters on stage, God is the star of the show. The glorious moments He revealed His hand and left His fingerprints are the point of it all. May our descendants ‘remember and review’ our spiritual legacies for the sake of inspiration and instruction.

It’s time to open my mouth. May I not go to the grave silent and rob my family of knowing Your power and glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.