One Year…

 Just when your “enemy” seems to have the upper hand, place your trust in God and realize that the day set for your destruction may actually be the day of your deliverance. ~ Angela

“In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month…they cast the pur in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month…” Esther 3:7

One year….did you catch that?

The Jews had one year to prepare for the day of their deaths. The month and day for the Jews extermination, set by Haman, was one year away. Can you imagine hearing that one year from now, all Christians in our country – from youngest to oldest, men, women and children – will all be killed? I shudder to think what it must have felt like to live with that threat looming over their heads for a full year? The stress, the anguish…the fear.

Once the date was set, Haman approached King Xerxes with his evil plan. Notice how cunning and sly Haman was when he told King Xerxes about these “certain people” in verses eight and nine.

First we see that Haman depersonalized the Jews by not mentioning their name; instead, he refers to them as a “certain people.” We have seen this same tactic in the Nazi death camps of World War II when Hitler had numbers tattooed on his Jewish prisoners arms and deliberately took away their names. Numbers are anonymous, vague and don’t initiate emotions…but names do, “Mordecai the Jew.” Names are personal, specific and recognizable.

Haman goes on to describe how the Jews are “dispersed and scattered in all provinces”, throughout all areas of King Xerxes’s kingdom…a kingdom that included Israel.

Their customs are “different from those of all other people”, in other words they don’t fit in. Nothing could be further from the truth. We learned from Joy’s post on Monday, that the Jews assimilated almost too well into the Persian culture. King Xerxes himself didn’t even realize his own queen was Jewish.

“They do not obey your laws”…if I’m not mistake, wasn’t it Mordecai, a Jew, who protected King Xerxes from an assassination attempt by his own personal guards?

It is not in the “best interest to tolerate them”. In other words, it was not in Haman’s best interest to tolerate them. Remember, Haman was an Agagite, a descendent of King Agag of the Amalekites who happened to be ancient enemies of the Jews (Exodus 17:16, 1 Samuel 15:20 & Deuteronomy 25:17-19). Hatred has a history and is passed down from generation to generation. No one is born prejudiced; we learn it and then pass it on to the next generation.

Finally, we see Haman even throws in the added bonus that he will help pay for this evil deed (verse 9). And where do you think Haman planned on getting the money to pay for the men who would carry out this decree? Why from the Jews themselves, of course! Haman planned on plundering the homes and businesses of all the Jews who would be killed, pocketing some for himself I’m sure, and then enticing the king with the rest.

Make note: even though Haman was a half-truth speaker, a deceiver and finally an all out liar, he was not dumb man. Through the cunning and crafty use of his words, Haman was able to convince King Xerxes to put this horrible plan into action.

But remember – what Satan plans for evil, God uses for good.

Though this decree was unthinkably evil, God used it to unite His children. Despite what Haman claimed, maybe the Jews had assimilated a little too well into the Persian culture. Maybe, just maybe, God was allowing this to happen so that His children would remember who they were, how He had delivered them from evil in the past through their dependence on Him, so they would once again turn back to Him.

I believe we all, at one time or another, have “Hamans” in our lives. People who speak lies about us, hate us for what we stand for, men or women who are prejudiced against us for one reason or another and even sometimes devise “decrees” to do us harm. But take heart my sweet friends! Though in this life we will have trouble, Jesus reminds us in John 16:33 that HE has overcome the world!

I think it’s time for His children to once again unite, stand firm on His Word, and pray our hearts out for a world that doesn’t know Him. In faith we can trust Him in the hard days knowing that He is at work.

Our lives are a lot like Esther’s. We may not see Him, yet we know He is with us, working in and through all the different events of our lives. Nothing is random.

Sweet friend, I don’t know what “Hamans” are in your life right now but I do know this: God can bring growth out of your pain. Though you may feel unseen, He sees you right where you are. Just when your “enemy” seems to have the upper hand, place your trust in God and realize that the day set for your destruction may actually be the day of your deliverance. Press on, persevere and look for His fingerprints in your life!

 

Let’s Talk! Share with us what God is teaching you through this week’s verses!

 

Love God Greatly!

Angela- Good Morning Girls

Esther Week 3- When to stand and when to kneel

Esther Week 3 Header

Hello from Uganda! Welcome Ladies to our study of Esther Week 3! I am really excited to be here with you all!

Let’s dive right in…

Our verses for today are Esther 3:1-4 and Psalm 95:6. We see in the Esther verses that Mordecai has decided finally to stand up for what he believes in. Up till now he has stayed a bit quiet, bowing to the King and keeping his customs and practices in line with the customs of his surroundings. He has encouraged Esther to “fly below the radar” and keep her identity secret and follow along with what they ask her to do in the palace.

But why does Mordecai decide to take a stand now? When he is asked to bow to Haman, he refuses, and this leads to consequences. But why now? One reason is that Haman is an Agagite, and the Agagites are a long-time enemy of the Jews. Mordecai has finally decided that enough is enough and he will not defile his beliefs any longer by bowing to his enemy.

1. It is never to late to take a stand.

Even though Mordecai didn’t stand up from the beginning, he decides to take a stand now. And we can do the same. We can choose this day to say, “No more” to the things that we have been letting slide that we know we should really take a stand for. Is it a TV show that we really know isn’t benefitting us? A gossip conversation that we have been a part of that we know we need to stop? Even if we have failed to take a stand in the past, it isn’t too late to say today is the day!

2. We can choose to bow to the Lord our God. 

Psalm 95:6 invites us to worship and bow down before the Lord our God our Maker. Take a moment to read this verse and let it sink in. What have you been bowing to other than the Lord? Idols have a way of creeping in without us even realizing it! Take a moment to think about what has become an idol in your life, and confess. Then choose to bow to the Lord!

3. Let’s kneel.

“Let us kneel before the Lord our God our Maker.” Let’s really kneel, physically kneel, before the Lord this week. And this is our Week 3 Challenge:

{Week 3 Challenge}

Week 3 Challenge - Each Morning this week, take five minutes to get down on your knees and kneel before the Lord, your Maker. Spend time worshipping Him.

{Week 3 Video}

{If you cannot see this video, please click here to watch it!}

{Week 3 Reading Plan}

WK 3 Reading Plan

{Week 3 Memory Verse}
Esther week 3 memory verse
All for Jesus,

joy signature

 

 

 

JoyForney.org

 

Previous blog posts in this study:

Week 1
Monday- Fear or Faith…We all have a choice
Wednesday- Lifting the name of Jesus high (when plans don’t go our way)
Friday- God is at work

Week 2
Monday-Living wise in a corrupt culture
Wednesday- Because I might not be able to reach the world, but I can reach one…
Friday- Wisdom and jelly shoes

Wisdom and Jelly Shoes

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. Proverbs 19:20

I should have listened when my mother told me not to go into the river wearing my brand new, sparkly jelly shoes. Man, I loved those shoes. I loved how they felt and how they looked. Mine were clear slip ons with sparkles imbedded in them, how I imagined Cinderella’s slippers. Most of all I loved the sound they made when I walked on certain surfaces, almost like high heels.  Those were the “in thing” in the 80’s and I had received a brand new pair right before we went to the river with my Aunt and cousins.

The problem was that I hated walking around in the river. The slimy feel of seaweed, the fear that something might bite me, and the jagged rocks that kept poking my feet had to be avoided. So when we took a boat out to another sandy spot I wore my jelly shoes into the water. That was another great thing about them, they could get wet!

I was waist deep when I got knocked off my feet and one of my shoes slipped off. I frantically looked everywhere for it, but it was gone. Dread is not even close to what I felt walking out of that water. I cried, of course, but that didn’t bring back my wonderful shoe. If only I had listened.

It’s a silly story, but it still tells the truth about wisdom and folly. A wise person listens to the advice given by others, especially those who are older and wiser in the faith and in life.

Had I listened to my mother’s wisdom I would have kept my shoes. In Esther, we see wisdom shared and heeded leading to a much more important outcome.

Esther was now queen. God had placed her on the throne for a very special purpose–to protect his people. This account should remind us that God has placed each of us where we are for very specific purposes. We may not know all of them at the moment, but we do know many of the purposes for our lot in life. If you have a husband and a family then it is to minister to them and point them to Christ, their only hope for salvation. If you have friends then it is to be a godly example to them and encourage them. If you have to “clock in” at the workplace then it is to show honor to God through your faithfulness and work ethic.

Though Esther was queen she did not disregard the advice which Mordecai gave her (to keep her ethnicity a secret). She honored him not only by listening to his counsel but by doing what he advised.

There are two beautiful things seen here.

1. The Honor of Age

Many people ignore the elderly. They are viewed as irrelevant and unnecessary. In the West we place them into communities where they can live with others their age. Sometimes we do this to alleviate ourselves from having to care for them, listen to them, and practically love them. For the most part we do not honor those with gray hair in American culture. But Esther respected Mordecai, an elderly man, and listened to what he had to say. With age comes experience and wisdom. “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” (Prov. 16:31)

2. The Honor of wisdom  

Esther respected Mordecai. She did not nod her head and patronize the man. She listened and followed his counsel. She knew that he had more insight than she did. She knew that “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” (Job 12:12)

We need wisdom. And God is faithful to supply it to those who seek it; to those who ask for it (James 1:5). We must be ready to seek it when we need it, and heed it when we hear it. The book of Proverbs tells us over and over again about the beauty and value of having it. It is a mark of someone who fears the Lord, who is mature in the faith and who will have an impact on others.

Looking To Jesus,
jen-sig

 

Because I might not be able to reach the world, but I can reach one…

A hand extended.  A selfless act.  A step of faith.  Will you be the one, in Jesus' name? Because you never know when reaching one might just reach the world...

I have a lot to learn about parenting, but if there’s one thing that I’m sure of, it’s Taco Fridays at the middle school.

Look, I know it’s not healthy. Physically anyway.  But when you’re in middle school, tacos are the language of love, and they’re worth it. Don’t hug me in public mom. But tacos? Tacos are cool.

So every other Friday, I hope in the ol’ minivan, grab a twelve pack in the drive thru, and pray hard for the conversations I’ll have. You can learn a lot in thirty minutes at the middle school lunch table. You can learn even more when tacos are present. Heh. They talk about last night’s football game, their Math assignment, and how bad the cafeteria food is. And they don’t stop talking, because someone is actually listening.

And then there’s this boy I’ll call Max.

The first time I met Max, he walked up to me with his sparkly brown eyes and thanked me for his taco. And then he hugged me out of the blue, and next out of his mouth – like it was no big thing - he said, “I’m adopted, you know.” And before I could even get a word in, he proceeded to talk nonstop to me for that entire thirty minutes. He said a lot of stuff in that time, but what he really meant to say was…

“Do you see me? My story looks different than yours, but am I worth loving anyway?”

_____________________

It was 2010, and I remember the Haiti earthquake like it was yesterday.  Pictures of the broken capital city flashed across the screen, and I was affected deeply. I had been there in college. I’d walked the streets. I’d fallen in love with the people, and I’d cried out to God on their behalf over and over again. And now - all these years later – I was a mom, and I couldn’t look away from their deep brown eyes. Orphan eyes that spoke of their hurt. Their unimaginable loss.

And I wanted to save the world in that moment.

Max had that same look in his deep brown eyes. He was no longer an orphan, but his words and his telling eyes were still filled with void.

He headed back to his table - you know, the one where he sat completely alone – my heart now connected to him in an overwhelming sort of way. I asked God right then how I could be a difference-maker in his world. How I could show Max God’s love.

Because I might not be able to reach the entire world, but I can reach one.

______________________

As I read through the pages of Esther, I am astonished at how God’s providence lights every single twisted turn. A beautiful girl is orphaned, and her cousin steps in to care for her.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” ~ James 1:27

A hand extended.

A selfless act.

A step of faith. 

An intentional decision that said to one orphan girl, “Your story looks different than mine, but you’re absolutely worth loving anyway.” Little did Mordecai know that when he reached out to meet the needs of one, he would end up impacting an entire nation.

_________________________

You know when God just keeps putting something -  or someone – right in front of your face and you can’t ignore it – them – any longer?

Well, in my life – in this season – his name is Max.

When I asked the Lord how I might make a difference in Max’s life, in my small faith I honestly didn’t think it would amount to much. But just in case: every Taco Friday – before the boy ravagers dove to the middle of the table and let loose on the coveted brown box, I intentionally saved out one taco just for Max. And because God sees that boy down deep and knows that his soul needs fed more than his belly, He didn’t stop there.

Just last week, He moved Max into a house right on our very street.

I sit here shaking my head with a grin on my face because I can hardly believe it myself. Yet I shouldn’t be surprised. Isn’t that just like God?

To take our loaves, fish… and our tacos for crying out loud… and turn them into something so.much.more?

A hand extended.

A selfless act.

A step of faith.

Even when that faith was much smaller than it should have been…

Sunny skies and seventy degrees found me with windows down, music blaring, and my singing uninhibited in the ol’ minivan on my drive home last week. And then he saw me.

“Hey, Jack’s mom!”

But what Max really meant to say was…

“I’m here. Can you see me? My story looks different than yours, but am I worth loving anyway?”

Right on my street. Right in front of my face once again, begging to be loved. And in that moment, I was reminded that I too had been adopted. No, not by an earthly family like Max, but by a Heavenly Father who saw me in all of my sin, and who reached down and loved me anyway. And if Jesus could have whispered to my heart right then and there, I think He might have said something like this:

“Whitney, I see you. I know your story looks different than mine, but don’t you see… that’s why I came. Now go and reach out to just one in my Name, and watch what My power can do.”

Tell me, who is in front of you… just waiting to be seen and to be loved with the love of Christ?

Your child… who wants you to look away from your phone and into their eyes and really hear what they have to say?

Your friend… who longs for someone to ask how she’s really doing?

Your family member… who can’t explain her emptiness, yet knows there’s something so much more to life?

Your husband… who craves your smile, your respect and the affirmation that you once gave freely?

The widow. The orphan… who desperately want to know that they’re not alone in this world?

The lost soul… who will never feel whole until she’s introduced to the One who sees and knows and loves perfectly, no matter what she’s done?

 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”~ Matthew 25:40

A hand extended.

A selfless act.

A step of faith.

Will you be the one, in Jesus’ name? Because you never know when reaching one might just reach the world

At His feet,

*LET’S TALK: Is there someone that God has put in your path, waiting to be seen? What first step can you take to reach out to that person with God’s love this week?

Esther Week 2…

Esther Week 2 Header

Welcome to week 2 of our Esther study.

The verse for today is found in Ephesians 5. I have been thinking about this for a while now and just want to share a couple of things with you.

Ephesians 5:15 says “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,”

Why are we to live as wise? Paul tells us in verse 16, “because the days are evil.”

There was a lot of evil during the time of Esther… just like there is today. This week Esther will be called to the court of a King whose lifestyle is extravagant and excessive. This will become quite clear when we study how he went about finding a new queen. Esther will have to tread carefully and live wisely in order to save her people.

When it comes to evil our culture is not much different.  You can’t turn on the TV without seeing some of the horrible things happening in the world. Some of it is saddening, and some of it is terrifying. I am also positive that there is evil in our own hometowns, whether you live in a small town or large city. Evil is everywhere.

Paul is reminding us that because there is sin and evil in the world, we must live carefully.

So how do we then engage our culture that has so much evil in it? Here are a few points that will help us think about our culture.

1. Reject what is evil

There are a lot of terrible things in our world. Evils like human trafficking, porn and racism are just a few of the obvious ones. But there are also some that are not so obvious. Materialism, discontentment, selfishness, laziness and entitlement are also evils that need to be rejected and fought against.

2. Embrace what is good

There is a lot of beauty and truth in the world. All humans are created in the image of God, which gives each human value and meaning. Creativity is one of the characteristics we have because we are created in God’s image. Therefore we can enjoy and appreciate some amazing art and music. We can also embrace humanitarian causes, disaster relief, random acts of kindness, and many of the festival and fairs our communities put on.

3. Redeem what is broken

But there are some things in our culture that are broken and need to be redeemed. Things like the educational system, government, families and marriages, peoples lives, and neighborhoods just to name a few.

The world is a dangerous place, but we have been sent here. While we are not to view this world as our home, we are to be in it but not of it… and this takes wisdom. The same wisdom that Esther needed to save the Jews.

 

 

WEEK 1 READING PLAN

WK 2 Reading Plan

WEEK 2 MEMORY VERSE:
Esther Week 2 Memory Verse

WEEK 2 CHALLENGE

Week 2 Challenge

Looking To Jesus,
jen-sig

 

 

jenthorn.com

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