Baptism at Singles Retreat - 147 Baptized!!!

*******************Baptism at Singles Retreat 147 Baptized!!! ***********************

* Sharing times in the Word and looking for growth. Let's Commune Together!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Agendas always have an author, we need to identify that author

Scripture Read: Esther 3:7-8 In the first month, which is the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, Pur, that is the lot, was cast before Haman from day to day and from month to month, until the twelfth month, that is the month Adar. 8 Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of all other people and they do not observe the king’s laws, so it is not in the king’s interest to let them remain.  

Haman cast the lot—pur is the Persian word for “lot”—to determine the day most favorable to wipe out the Jews. In the pagan ancient Near East it was unthinkable to make plans of this magnitude without astrological guidance. The lot supposedly revealed the day most propitious for this act.[59] The official casting of lots happened during the first month of each year to determine the most opportune days for important events.[60] This may explain why Haman cast lots in the first month and chose a date so much later to annihilate the Jews. However, God controlled the lot-casting (Prov. 16:33) and gave the Jews almost a year to prepare for conflict with their enemies. Archaeologists have found quadrangular prism type dice at Susa, and perhaps it was this kind of device that Haman used to make his decision on this occasion. [1]

Application: Father this text should scream to us in the day and age we live in! Today everybody is offering his or her opinion, whether wanted or not. Many people turn to individuals for counsel that they do not even know. Just because they have a degree, have written a book or are well known for being well known. Because they are a popular speaker on the radio or T.V. We need to take seriously what voices we are allowing to influence us. Many times the voices we are listening to may be very much like Haman. The King did not have an issue with the Jews, but opened his mind to the influence of someone he did not know had an agenda. We can’t know the heart but we can see the works and behavior if we look. Yet this is where the enemy wants us many times. He always has an agenda and his desire is to move us to thoughts and actions that we would not have arrived at on our own. Still we are not absolved of any of the responsibility of our choices. You Lord, do not deal with us based on the actions and input of others. You Lord, are consistent and we are always only held accountable for our response, reaction or decision. Other people and circumstances will be what they will be – You only will look at what we did when we are facing You at judgment. So it is incumbent on us all to make sure we are evaluating what advice we are getting – not on the surface outcome it may have, not based on what is easiest or less painful – but what we will say to You when we stand before You for that choice. The scriptures encourage us to seek counsel – but we must be honest about what kind of counsel we are getting? Are we listening to Hamans that have their own agenda and will not answer to the Lord for what we do? Father guide us to examine all counsel in Your light so we can agree that the path we are on is the one we prayerfully chose, not one we jumped on because we were sloppy and listened to counsel that was not approved by You. 

* Meditation Questions: What inputs are you allowing into your life? TV, Radio, News, Books, Seminars, Counsel? How is it impacting you?  When you hear negative comments about a person. What do you do with that? Do you think you lead people to positive thoughts or negative thoughts?

[1] Net bible Constable Notes

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hate can be righteous or unrighteous

Scripture Read: Esther 3:5-6 When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage. 6 But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him who the people of Mordecai were; therefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.   

Application: I find the meaning of word “rage” most enlightening:

חֵמָה (ḥē∙mā(h)):  Venom, snake poison, i.e., the fluid by-product of a snake that causes injury and/or death, possibly as an extension of heat as a feeling in the body when one is injected with the poison (Dt 32:24, 33; Ps 58:5);  Anger, wrath, fury, rage, i.e., a very strong feeling of displeasure, hostility, and antagonism, usually in relation to a wrong, real or imagined, as an extension of the heat and burning feeling one can have when one is emotionally worked up and in strife and turmoil (Lev 26:28)[1]

This kind of rage is a poison to our soul. When dealing with a poison we must be very careful because it can infect us as easily as anyone else. Whether it be legalism or holding on to our rights – both paths lead to the wrong direction. Because hate is a most dangerous emotion, we have to see it for what it is and act accordingly. Hatred of evil is a good thing. The scripture tell us to “hate what is evil” (Rom 12:9) So not all hate is wrong – but because it is such a strong emotion we must identify immediately what is the object of our hate and why? The more we hate sin the more our lives will desire to live righteously. That is a very good thing. When we see a person do evil – we must be quick to separate our emotions toward the action and the person – If we do not we will not be able to love that individual enough to hope and pray for a way to share the good news of forgiveness with him. Most hate is not from a righteous heart, because we are sinners by nature. This is when this emotion is so deadly. It breeds disdain, envy and revenge. Driven by hatred humans have done many terrible things, even in Your name Lord. Though You did not give approval Lord, You have still received the blame. What we fail to understand about this emotion is that, it takes on a life of it’s own. When we think we are in control it stealthily has become the master and it is driving us. One of the worst lessons about hate is found in this book, I call it “the Haman principle”. Note the progression of hatred: It was not good enough for Haman to destroy only the one that offended him, this emotion spread like the disease it is, desiring all Jews to die.  Father, as we begin seeing the trap Haman layed for himself, allow us to look in the mirror and see if we are harboring hatred for our enemies or people we struggle with. Enable us to see Christ, help us overcome this evil with good. Spirit of God open our eyes to see these dangerous behaviors and let us flee from them!

* Meditation Questions: When you feel rage and hate what do you do? How do you process righteous feelings of hate toward evil? When we hate evil what is the danger? What about when you deal with feelings of hate that you know are evil? What do you do? What’s the difference to being tempted to hate and sinning by hating?

Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Doing the right thing with our rights

Scripture Read: Esther 3:2-5 All the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage. 3 Then the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why are you transgressing the king’s command?” 4 Now it was when they had spoken daily to him and he would not listen to them, that they told Haman to see whether Mordecai’s reason would stand; for he had told them that he was a Jew. 5 When Haman saw that Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage to him, Haman was filled with rage.  

Application: It is noted that Mordecai uses being a Jew as the understood basis for not obeying an edict requiring all to bow down. It is also interesting that he revealed exactly what he told Esther not to reveal. Yet this section really brings to light two sins that so many of us wrestle with. The funny thing is they both have the same root problem. I guess all sin has the root problem of … pride, but these two also are connected by another root sin. The King’s servants are filled with jealousy toward Mordecai because he is doing something they either wished they had the courage to do or were mad because if they have to bow and pay homage, everyone should! This is the jealousy all legalist are driven by. They are never content to do what they do just because they believe that is what they should do. They make it their duty to make sure everyone else does it too! This sin has wreaked much damage in the Body of Christ for hundreds of years. Haman also falls into this sin, but it is a jealousy driven by being offended that he did not get what was due him. We need to seriously look at this point – because the enemy gets us off on debating whether or not if it was our right or not. We must avoid this trap! Whether or not we are in the right or not – it never justifies wrong reaction! Not only do we offend God – which is the most important – we also place ourselves into a very dangerous place where emotions controlling us can entrap us. We know this story and that is what happens. Father, we need to look at how we handle our reactions when someone denies us our rights. If we hold our rights tightly we will react with jealousy there by bringing shame to You and most likely be entrapped by our reaction.

* Meditation Questions: What do you do when someone offends you? When you know you are right but you are treated as if wrong, what do you do? When you are not given what is due you, how do you feel? What do you do with that emotion? What do you think s the balance between your rights and God’s testimony?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Remember, authority is authority whether we like it or not, but it is not God!

Scripture Read: Esther 3:1-2 After these events King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and established his authority over all the princes who were with him. 2 All the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman; for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai neither bowed down nor paid homage.

Application:  This is one of those passages that should cause us to stop and think and most likely leave us with a Duet 29:29 situation. Was Mordecai right to do what he did or not. Several things must be considered here. What does the word homage mean?

Homage - חָוָה (ḥā∙wā(h)): bow down, prostrate oneself, i.e., take a stance of bowing low in an act. of respect or honor, but not necessarily worship of deity; bow in worship, prostrate oneself, i.e., make a low stance as a sign of honor, worship, and homage of deity, with an associative meaning of allegiance to that deity (Ex 4:31)[1]

It is clear that this word has to have context to really be understood. It can mean just showing honor all the way to bowing in worship. If the Kings command was that all were just to show Haman honor, then Mordecai is not honoring what God has taught throughout His Word. We are to “show honor to whom honor is due”. Romans 13:7 The scriptures are full of examples of this. If this was what was expected from the King then all should obey, for God placed this King over them. However, if the homage paid here to Haman is in the form of worship, Mordecai would be obligated to God not to bow and show homage to a mere man. We are not told which one this was, although most believe that it was about worship and that is why Mordecai refused. The context of this book and Mordecai’s character would support this conclusion. But we must leave it in the unknown category because the Word is silent. Even so Lord, we have two great applications here. First, do we honor all that we should, even if we do not like them personally? Do we pray for our leaders even though we may think they are wrong or immoral? How we respond to those placed in authority over us states a lot about our submission to You. Second, have we honored other people or things over You? We don’t have to bow to a statue to commit idolatry! We must make sure that You alone hold Lordship in our life. Open our eyes to look honestly at ourselves Lord.

 * Meditation Questions: Do I pray for the leader of my country? Even if I dislike that leader do I talk about them with respect? When I disagree with someone over me in authority, including in ministry, how do I treat them? Have I compromised my stand for Christ because of a person or a circumstance? What does that say?

[1] Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The unseen may be the real thing!

Scripture Read: Esther 2:21-23 In those days, while Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s officials from those who guarded the door, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 22 But the plot became known to Mordecai and he told Queen Esther, and Esther informed the king in Mordecai’s name. 23 Now when the plot was investigated and found to be so, they were both hanged on a gallows; and it was written in the Book of the Chronicles in the king’s presence.

Application:  So many times things happen and we may not sense the importance of them at that time. This event is important to the King and to Mordecai – that is clear – but behind the scenes that no one sees except You Lord is how important this will become to the people of Israel. You are always working behind the scenes. How did Mordecai discover the plot – it does not say, but You worked it out to be so. You had it recorded in a book, and though it appears that Mordecai was not honored for his part in this, You made it possible for the King to revisit this event. We need to ask ourselves how often we are anxious by what we see. We forget that what we see is only a part of the whole story. Where we cannot see – that is where You are! Working Your purpose and plan. We need to remind ourselves of this at all times. It may not remove the nervousness of a moment – we are human – but it will remove worry and anxiety. Realizing that what we see is not the whole picture, we can through faith cast our care on You and trust in what You are doing. The more we do this the more maturity we will experience. Instead of over reacting in any given circumstance, we will focus on coming to You and seeking Your direction. Even when the circumstance goes in the direction we did not want, like illness or even death, if our focus is on You we will be sustained through it. This is a lesson we all need Lord. We must remind ourselves of the countless number of stories in Your Word where You were working, undiscovered, in the background. We can find true comfort in the unknown when we know that the One Who controls all is in control even of the unknown future we are going through. Father direct our eyes onto You and not the surface circumstance!

* Meditation Questions: When you are in the middle of a real trial, do you believe that what you see is all there is? How often do you ask the Lord to open your eyes to what is happening behind the surface? When was the last time you sensed that there was more to a situation than what appeared on the surface? What did you do about it?  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Feelings and “senses” – not all good, but not all bad

Scripture Read: Esther 2:18-20 Then the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his princes and his servants; he also made a holiday for the provinces and gave gifts according to the king’s bounty. 19 When the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 Esther had not yet made known her kindred or her people, even as Mordecai had commanded her; for Esther did what Mordecai told her as she had done when under his care.   

Application: This passage brings some real interesting thoughts – none that have direct answers because only the people involved could speak to the specific issues – but the thoughts can cause us to meditate on some important things also. First – It would be interesting to understand what love from this King means. He clearly cared for Vasti in some way because he regretted what he did after he had reacted in anger to her. It has to be more than just physical because he has a harem. Now with Esther he is so happy he gives gifts to people. I am sure in this century my concept of love is quite different, but it is healthy for all of us to examine our own ideas of love. If they turn out to be shallow or selfish, it could explain some of the unhappiness in our life. How much of our love is driven by our senses versus how much is driven by our willful decisions. Falling in and out of love as fast as people do today exposes that what they are feeling is infatuation not love. The other issue this passage brings to us is Esther’s response to Mordecai. Again, this is a totally different culture for many of us and a different era for all of us – but Esther must have sensed inside this was the right thing to do. Whether out of obedience which this era demanded or just a sense that her uncle was correct only Esther can tell us, but we can still learn how important it is to listen to our inner voice. We must be careful because we can deceive ourselves, yet many times God moves in us through our senses. The Word tells us to test everything; spirits, teachers, and even ourselves. So we cannot follow our senses – the enemy can mess with them also, but we should take the time to examine what we are sensing in situations and bring those before His throne. Father, as we open ourselves to You help us evaluate our love. When You speak to us through our senses let us bring that before You and validate it. 

Meditation Questions: How do I use the word “love”? What do I think the difference is between “love”, “like” and “infatuated”? How much time of silence do I give myself each day? Have I ever felt strong about something and ignored it? What happened? Do I see my relationship with the Holy Spirit so close that many times what I sense is His promptings?