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Friday, September 5, 2014

Lessons From Esther

I am brushing off the dust and cobwebs here...I haven't been to this place in a long time. More reasons exist than I could tell, but primarily my walk with God was stumbling and I was in no position to write. Honestly, I was in a spiritual desert...I had nothing to give. Then, something amazing happened!

God used a situation that was painful in someone else's life to bring new life to mine. Like a moth to the flame I was drawn back home and here I am..jumping in with both feet..not sure I can swim these waters, but God said come and like Peter I jump...hopefully not like Peter,  I will swim!

I welcome you to the  Good Morning Girls 'Blogging Through The Bible' series!

This week, so far we have covered the Book of Esther, Chapters 1 to 6 and it has been an incredible experience. For starters, I am co-leading (for the first time) an International Group  of about 32 and I can't tell you what an awesome experience it has been to see how the group has grown. Not just that, the entire forum for this study was buzzing with activity...still is! So many women around the world wanting to get into God's word and develop a closer relationship with him. Praise the Lord!

Esther has taught me so much about standing up for my faith, about courage, overcoming fear and waiting on the Lord. From Mordecai came the lessons on humility and standing up for my faith.

Wait on the Lord  

Psalm 37:7"Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for him to act"

 For a good portion of the book, Esther, like Judith, waited and was silent until the time came for her to take action. Perhaps in the silence she was listening to God. We do know that when the time came for her to take action, she went before him in prayer and fasting with the support of those close to her.  What a great example of living out faith in our everyday lives!

We always need to be listening for God's small still voice in our hearts. We can't do that when we are rushing around, crazy busy and noise all around us. We have to find quiet time with Him. Then, we have to listen and be obedient to what He is telling us to do. Esther's directive came from God through Mordecai. Sometimes God will use other ways to communicate with us, another person, a book, a song.

 Proverbs 14:8 "The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way"

 Ah, but Esther didn't just go out and do what Mordecai said, she sought the Lord first. Another example for us.. This is what we are called to do as well. When we think that God is directing us we seek to confirm that before we go out immediately and act upon it. While she fasted and prayed, I believe that God gave her a plan. This is why she didn't immediately tell the king about Naman's treachery but invited them both to a banquet instead.

Obedience in Action/Overcoming Fear

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them , fo it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you."

So Esther went before the King...did she tremble with fear? We are told she leaned upon her maid. She must have been weak from all the fasting and even those of us with faith would tremble before a lion (except maybe Daniel!) Some translations/commentaries hold that the king was not pleased at first to see her and when she beheld his countenance she fainted with fear. It took a lot of courage for her to risk death to obey God.

I had this same experience myself when I became pregnant with my fifth child and was told it would be a high risk pregnancy due to my other 4 c-sections. Was I scared? You bet...I had made that choice to obey God and not control my womb and what if this meant I would die because of it! Yes, all that crossed my mind and I bet that thought must have crossed Esther's mind as well... BUT, our God was still in charge and upon Esther's faint the king's  heart was changed and he rushed to her side, pledging her anything she wanted. Thus, was God's plan put into motion by Esther overcoming her fear. God even used that fear to change the heart of the king. Isn't that amazing?!

Standing up for God/Trusting in Him

Psalm 18:27 "You save the humble but bring down those whose eyes are haughty"

Let's look at Mordecai, He knew that Naman held great power and influence with the king. He must have known that his continued refusal to pay him honour could have cost him his life. Yet, he held fast to his convictions. His allegiance to God would not allow him to give honour to one of God's sworn enemies. Haman was an Amalekite.. a race God had sworn to always hold as enemies after they attacked the Israelites in the book of Exodus. God came first, man and man's laws next. So it should be for us as well. We should not compromise our values to fit in with the world. These days people are attacked for standing up for God. We see it everywhere..I don't even need to give you specifics! Mordecai's courage here is to be emulated. Let us pray that if we are called upon to take a stand for God we will be brave enough.

Mordecai also trusted that God would not allow Naman to destroy the Jews because of His promises to their race. He entrusted his life and that of Esther's to God in the fulfilment of His plan even though he did not know what that may have been. Yet he expressed to Esther that her elevation to the status of queen may have been orchestrated by God for this purpose.

Life Lessons to take with us

God has a plan for you and for me...we may not know what it is yet, but we can keep on listening, try to discern His will and be faithful and courageous to act if we are called to do so. Whatever life is throwing at us, TRUST that God has a purpose and plan for this as well.  When he calls you...be ready to act because God blesses our obedience.  Remain humble and don't seek recognition...God will reward our good deeds in his own time and we all know that His timing is perfect!

Next week we'll be finishing the book of Esther and I'll be finishing this article..there is still more to come.

 Note: The gorgeous pic above was taken by my sister in law Francine at the beach house we stayed in last weekend.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Natural Inclinations

Hello, Happy New Year and all God's blessings to everyone. I apologize for the long absence...a whole year long!  So much has happened in that time, I cannot account for it all right now, but first let me say that I have truly missed blogging and I am still without a computer. This post comes to you courtesy of my little kindle, so I hope you bear with any errors...it is tedious and very much not to the standard I hold myself to.

I want to thank Velia from my bible study group since it was her interest that prompted me to attempt this after not wanting to try...perfectionist that I am. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, I have come to the realization that my pride should not stand in the way of spreading God's love and His Word.

This post is about just such a tutorial and conviction from the Holy Spirit. Our bible study
 this session is called Intentionally Focused. This is our third week.

 It is leading us to become more intentional and passionate in our walk with God. Simultaneously, I am also doing a book study on Courtney Joseph's book "Women Living Well". I find that the two are complimenting each other very well.  Check it out...I am learning so much!

This morning I prepared to have my quiet time with God and decided that I wanted the biggest cup of coffee I could have so chose a mug my husband had given me a few years ago with a scripture verse and proceeded upstairs. Before starting though I decided to strip my bed and somehow managed to let the tail end of my quilt knock the cup off my bedside table. Coffee everywhere...my cup chipped and my bed and pillow soaked. I was ANGRY...cursed the devil (for who else would want to disrupt my time with God) and decided to beat him at his own game by putting on some worship music while I cleaned the mess.

As I settled into a worship session with the music my tears fell and I could not understand why...now I know that the Holy Spirit was convicting my heart. I know that I seem to be rambling...I'll  get to it...this lot of words is rather painful to type on a kindle let me assure you!

As I read the scripture for today (Romans 8:1-8), this leapt out

"Those who live by their natural inclinations can never be pleasing to God." Romans 8:8

 I had just finished begging God to help me with my weaknesses using those very words! As I read this  I reflected on  just what are those natural inclinations.  Pride, selfishness, envy/greed, self-indulgence, laziness. Oh, the list is never ending!  It is most definitely easier to give in to our weak and selfish natures, but scripture tells us that with the help of the Holy Spirit, we CAN control our natural inclinations.

We can conquer our pride with humility, our selfishness and self-indulgence with a desire to serve and give joyfully of ourselves.Through the Spirit we will hunger and thirst for godly rather than earthly things. God can help us to overcome our weariness with the zeal that the Holy Spirit will put into us. Fear will be replaced with boldness in the Spirit.  One thing is clear.


Yet, we foolishly try. I have been very foolish indeed in forgetting that and it is not surprising that I have felt weary and resentful, beleaguered and discontented. I did not have strength because I have failed to go to the one who is the source of my strength. My thoughts went to Philippians 4:13

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

 and then to  2 Cor. 12:9

"And He said to me 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness..."

Yes, Lord, without you I can do nothing!

 I ended my session and went about my chores, but when I picked up my poor coffee mug I saw that it is cracked and unusable, whereas I had thought it only chipped. I couldn't help but reflect that this is the sorry state of our souls too. Ah, but through our beloved Lord, we may be cracked and rendered useless to the things that we filled ourselves with before, but we can now be used in a different and better way. Just like my mug, which will now stay on my prayer altar as a reminder of this valuable lesson.

The events of this morning were all His doing, even the coffee spill and my cracked mug. How am I so sure?  Well, the scripture verse on my mug is none other than 2 Corinthians 12:9. How's that for Holy Spirit power?

To Him be the glory...FOREVER AND EVER AMEN!!!