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, October 7, 2011

Love is not blind, it sees through God’s eyes.

Scripture Read: Esther 8:8-12 “Now you write to the Jews as you see fit, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for a decree which is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s signet ring may not be revoked.” So the king’s scribes were called at that time in the third month (that is, the month Sivan), on the twenty-third day; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded to the Jews, the satraps, the governors and the princes of the provinces which extended from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to every province according to its script, and to every people according to their language as well as to the Jews according to their script and their language. 10 He wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, and sealed it with the king’s signet ring, and sent letters by couriers on horses, riding on steeds sired by the royal stud. 11 In them the king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble and to defend their lives, to destroy, to kill and to annihilate the entire army of any people or province which might attack them, including children and women, and to plunder their spoil, 12 on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (that is, the month Adar).

Application: The real picture of a person’s character is displayed, when they can do anything they want yet choose to do the right thing. Mordecai allows us a view of his heart from his actions. He has the power of the Queen’s position with the authority of the Kings ring to do anything he wants to do. The King has given Mordecai the freedom to deal with this problem the way he sees fit. Mordecai knows there are others who hate the Jews, just to hate. This is what being a bigot is – you hate just to hate. I observed this very quickly at one of the Pastorates I served. At first, I thought prejudice was the same as bigotry. I was wrong. A prejudiced person is ignorant and can learn that their ignorance is causing this sin in their life. They can learn from the Spirit and change – I saw a man who’s relative was very high up in the Klu Klux Klan realize that his prejudice was a sin and repent in an incredible way. Bigotry, on the other hand is not about education, it is about hate. No amount of learning will change that person because they are blind and deaf to truth. Only the supernatural work of God can change that heart! It was hard to try to help people that claimed to be Christian, based solely on family habits, they were church going and had the desire to go to heaven – yet because of their hate and bigotry they prove they did not have a relationship with God. John makes this clear in Scripture:

1 John 4:20 (NASB95) 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.

So here Mordecai, knowing there are many bigots out there could have written a more aggressive letter giving the Jews the right to attack anyone they thought hated them yet he did not. Notice it says “they may defend themselves from attack.” This is a sign of his integrity! Mordecai does not go beyond what You would Lord. It is evident many knew about Haman’s plot, so I am sure everyone would know the power Haman was given. This action by Mordecai is not only merciful but allows all to see the mercy of the True God that the Jews served. All could see how You, Lord saved them yet extended mercy to all. Father help us to be like minded! Showing mercy even when we could justifiably attack. Help us to see the BIG picture that Your mercy works. The salvation of human souls!

Meditation Questions: Do you dislike a group of people? What does that say? Do you ever think that a certain group of people all act the same way? When you tell a story do you have to add the race or gender of the person even if it does not matter to the story? When you have the authority to hurt someone do you? How do you feel about it? What is your definition of defend? 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

When pride is King, disaster can happen

Scripture Read: Esther 8:1-8 On that day King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had disclosed what he was to her. 2 The king took off his signet ring which he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. 3 Then Esther spoke again to the king, fell at his feet, wept and implored him to avert the evil scheme of Haman the Agagite and his plot which he had devised against the Jews. 4 The king extended the golden scepter to Esther. So Esther arose and stood before the king. 5 Then she said, “If it pleases the king and if I have found favor before him and the matter seems proper to the king and I am pleasing in his sight, let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces. 6 “For how can I endure to see the calamity which will befall my people, and how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?” 7 So King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Behold, I have given the house of Haman to Esther, and him they have hanged on the gallows because he had stretched out his hands against the Jews. 8 “Now you write to the Jews as you see fit, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for a decree which is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s signet ring may not be revoked.”   

Application: Here is an example of the difference between our idea of authority and Your idea Lord! We humans are so full of pride that even though we know we make mistakes, in our arrogance we will not back down. So much harm has been done in history because of this terrible character flaw. Here, Esther has exposed the evil plot by Haman, and her husband the King has had his eyes opened. He punished Haman, yet due to the arrogance of one man, the dilemma remains. Lord I know You are perfect and make no mistakes – but I also know due to Your perfect integrity, if You were a flawed human with the character You have, if You made a mistake You would admit it and do what is right. I know this because the way You honor anyone that humbles themselves after a mistake and comes to You to make it right. You do not taunt them or belittle them. You lift them up and restore them. Esther’s husband the King was trapped by the arrogance of human pride, this whole standard that was prominent in so many of the world’s kings. I realize that being a King is a tremendous task, and there is much pressure if that King is truly trying to govern in a way that will promote life in his kingdom. So the authority of a King is essential for his rule, but there is a line where a King must see the difference between human kingship and divine kingship. A honest King will be able to see that when his decision is a wrong one, or what he may consider even stupid later, as King he has the right to adjust it. Too many of this world's kings forget they are only human and try to ascend to deity only to cause themselves and their kingdoms great harm. Your Word has example after example of kings that have found themselves in this situation:

Daniel 6:13–15 (NASB95) Then they answered and spoke before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you signed, but keeps making his petition three times a day.” 14 Then, as soon as the king heard this statement, he was deeply distressed and set his mind on delivering Daniel; and even until sunset he kept exerting himself to rescue him. 15 Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Recognize, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or statute which the king establishes may be changed.”

This exposes the lack of REAL authority. A real King bows to no one, including himself. If he is King, then he can change any decision he desires. The real issue is not authority, but omniscience. If a King convinces himself that he is divine, then he cannot make a mistake. Human Kings should know in their heart they are not the final authority. Here, King Ahasuerus is faced with this problem. He does not want to destroy the Jews for Esther’s sake, but he cannot change a law and appear flawed. How tragic! Yet, we too are often unwilling to face our own mistakes, and either continue in them or blame others. Father, illuminate our eyes to see You are so eager to restore, lift up and even make us feel good about ourselves, if we only would be real with You. You do not delight in belittling us, the enemy loves to do that. Father direct our steps and lives to walk in a way that keeps us from tripping and falling due to our pride.

Meditation Questions: How hard is it for you to admit your wrong? What does that show you? When you are in the midst of something, but you realize your going the wrong way, how difficult is for you to change direction? What does that show you? Have you ever had someone in authority over you refuse to admit they were wrong? What did you feel? Did you respect their authority more or less? What do you think produces respect for authority? 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Evil takes on it’s own life

Scripture Read: Esther 8:1 On that day King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had disclosed what he was to her.   

Application: Victimless crimes? “I’m hurting no one but me!” These and other statements were ones I heard as I grew up by people that wanted to justify their actions. The truth is, there was no truth in what they said. Evil always seeks to impact as many as possible. It takes on a life of it’s own. This is especially true with “the Haman principle”. The evil that was planned for someone else traps the one that made the plan, but it also has many ripple effects to those around. A recent example for me was Saddam Hussein, he not only destroyed himself, but his entire family. His sons had become animals and were shot down like wild beasts. How tragic! All the evil he did and passed onto his sons came back with a vengeance and sent he and his sons into an eternity separated from life and forever punished. In this scripture, we see the end of “the Haman principle”. 
We do not know the details, but all that Haman had – his wife, his kids, servants and property were given to Esther. What she did with them we will never know – but the point is made. Haman’s self made trap caught not only himself but engulfed his family as well as others that were pulled into the evil of the plan. We need to reject evil and stay far from it. I love history, and when you study it you will be amazed how many people allow the evil they most likely would not have executed on their own, become involved in due to the fact that they allowed the seed of evil to be planted in them. As a child, living in Germany, I met some of the Germans who had gone through the War with Hitler. Some were very open to me I guess because I was a child and they were trying to warn me of the consequences of evil when it is left unchecked. They shared how they had no hate for Jewish people, yet Hitler was able to sweep up some of their friends and, even some of them into the movement. They had allowed the seed that he planted to grow. It may have started from fear, laziness or hidden sin, I do not know, but people that had lived side by side with Jewish people for years found themselves either allowing persecution or even participating in it. When the trap sprung it turned on the whole nation, not just one very evil man. The bombs that were dropped did not hit only the homes of committed Nazis, they wiped out whole cities. We cannot control evil anymore than Haman could, that is why it is best to stay as far away as we can. Oh Lord You are so wise – seeking to spare us from “the Haman principle” You have told us to make NO provision for sin: (Romans 13:14  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.) (NASB95)  You, Lord know better than anyone else the real cost! It cost You Your Son!

Meditation Questions: Do you believe the evil you do only impacts you? What does that show? Have you ever become a part of something and later wonder how you became involved? What does that show? If you follow someone that leads in the wrong direction, who do you think will be held responsible by the Lord for where you end up? If you agree that evil can be contagious, how should that effect what you do? 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The ultimate trap = The Haman Principle

Scripture Read: Esther 7:5-10 Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?” 6 Esther said, “A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!” Then Haman became terrified before the king and queen. 7 The king arose in his anger from drinking wine and went into the palace garden; but Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm had been determined against him by the king. 8 Now when the king returned from the palace garden into the place where they were drinking wine, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, “Will he even assault the queen with me in the house?” As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. 9 Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs who were before the king said, “Behold indeed, the gallows standing at Haman’s house fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai who spoke good on behalf of the king!” And the king said, “Hang him on it.” 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai, and the king’s anger subsided.

Application: Self destruction brought on by “the Haman principle” is thorough and complete and in this case final. Once trapped the end in inevitable, and when we try to get out of it ~ it becomes worse. What would have happened if Haman had fallen before King, the person really in charge, and admitted his evil and begged for mercy? We will never know. In his panic and perhaps desperation, he instead appeared to be aggressively attacking the Queen, exasperating the situation. With the King’s anger pushed to the limit – nothing Haman could do at that point would save him now. 

The scene is quite a difficult one to imagine – as something was put over Haman’s face to cover him and quiet him before the King. The King would no longer have to look upon him. That’s an angry king! Imagine the fear and terror in Haman’s heart as he realized the last thing he was going to see was the material that was covering his face. Yet consider how many times in this story Haman could have had humbled himself and he could have changed the direction of his actions. We can learn from “The Haman principle” and what it can lead to when we plot evil and persist in it – we can push the situation until God just turns us over, then we will not be able to stop it. How many times did Judas have a chance to stop his plan and repent? He might have paid a heavy price with the Jewish leaders but he would have gained his soul. How many times could King Saul have yielded to God’s direction and seen his family still blessed by God, just not as King? My heart aches for Haman and what he must have felt as he dropped for so long before that rope around his neck ended his life! Yes, he deserved it, but as a sinful human I cannot escape the fact that You oh Lord extended me grace and mercy when I deserved the same sentence. Help us Father to learn the futility of evil plans and living, so that we will escape “the Haman principle”. Let us live close to You and allow us to refuse to join the plans of others when they plot evil.

Meditation Questions: When you are wrong what do you do? If you are caught doing evil what do you think is the best thing to do? Why? How often to you bring your plans before the Lord before you move? What does that show? If you do wrong and have to pay the price, what is the safest thing you can do? Why? Is it wrong to ask for mercy when your actions caused the problem? What does your answer show you believe? 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Data is just data, Wisdom is from above

Scripture Read: Esther. Chapter 7:1-4 Now the king and Haman came to drink wine with Esther the queen. 2 And the king said to Esther on the second day also as they drank their wine at the banquet, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done.” 3 Then Queen Esther replied, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request; 4 for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained silent, for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance to the king

Application: Wisdom is a difficult thing to have when needed. Many people seem to think Wisdom is the same thing as knowledge, it is not. Knowledge is the accumulation of data. That is important, but very limited in it’s use because data is not worth much unless you know how to use it. Throughout human history, we have seen the outcome of people who had knowledge but not the wisdom to use it. Often the outcome has been disastrous! It is well stated, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. Having just enough data to sound like you know what you are doing, but lacking the real tool to accomplish the desired outcome can really hurt a lot of people. I would not want to be in a plane when the pilot had all of the book knowledge of flying, but no real experience. The obvious example would be the Jewish leaders at the time of Christ. Many of these men knew exactly what each scripture stated about the Messiah, but they had no understanding. Although, the idea of slavery should be repulsive to us, we must understand the culture of Esther during her time so we can see the wisdom of her actions . 

Many Kings and rulers could be described as arrogant and selfish. For some, nothing mattered more than they did! It was wise not to try and find out what kind of King you were approaching, a mistake could be a very costly one. It is better to treat all with the honor they expected. Even Nehemiah understood the risk he was taking to show a sad face in front of the King. Also, it shows an understanding of proper cultural protocol to “show honor to whom honor is due”. Esther showed us the wisdom God had granted her for her request. Notice she appeals to the King, as he is the central figure, most important and honored. She showed us how to use timing, and a balance of intellect and integrity. We do not need to lie, or step over that line into sin. True wisdom will never sin, yet it may not always appear to be the truth. Remember Christ after the resurrection. When he asked the two on the road “what things?” He was not lying, but with wisdom He was opening a door for these two to enter into a conversation with Him, as a teacher helping them “discover” what He already knew (Luke 24:13–27) Esther shows the King that because the issue is so dire it was imperative she ask him and bother him to intervene on her behalf. Brilliant! Lord You show throughout Your Word that when we need this wisdom we can ask and it shall be given; Daniel, Joseph, Paul – the list is endless. Grant us the knowledge of James 1:5 and the humility to apply it! Thanks for Your generosity Lord. This kind of wisdom can only come from You Lord.

Meditation Questions: How much do you know? How much of what you know can you use? How much of what you know do you bring before the Lord and ask Him how to apply it? When you seek counsel of how to behave or how to accomplish something, whom do you talk to? Why? What does that show you? When was the last time you experienced knowledge you already possessed applied in a way that you know did not think up yourself?