June 22, 2017

Esther – Chapter 8:7-8

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness,

faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

Oh, how I love this scripture, sisters!  We looked at it when discussing our “beauty regimen” in chapter 2 and now, as we revisit it, we see those “fruits” are also the proof of the Holy Spirit living and working in you! (But first, let’s get back to Esther….)

Things are FINALLY looking up for her, Mordecai, and the Jews!  Haman is gone, Mordecai and Esther have been redeemed and in verses 7-8 we see that the estate of Haman has been given to Esther.  Moreover, another decree is now being written in the King’s name on behalf of the Jews which not only allowed the Jews to protect themselves, but also to destroy anyone that attacked them AND plunder the property of their enemies.  This decree we see is sealed with the King’s signet ring and signifies the irrevocable nature of the new decree.  Hooray!

Darlene then compares this seal to the seal, or mark, of the Holy Spirit, which is given to us when we become a child of God.  Let’s look at the Scripture she provides: 2 Corinthians 1:21-22.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (NIV)

My Study Bible gives this further explanation regarding the seal of ownership: “It was both the first installment on a loan and a guarantee of its complete payment” (Quest Study Bible).  So if the Holy Spirit is a deposit and a guarantee of future payment – how amazing will the payoff be??  How exciting!!

The Holy Spirit is vital to your life as a believer!  Darlene provides a sampler of Scriptures to discuss the role He plays in our lives.  We see:

  • that He is a counselor (John 14:16)
  • that He will convict the world in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11)
  • that He is a guide into all truth (John 16:13)
  • that He glorifies Jesus (John 16:14)
  • and He testifies about Jesus (John15:26)

Think of the Holy Spirit as the ultimate Guide to help you navigate your way in this life and help you enter Heaven with as many rewards as possible!  In fact, different versions of the Bible will translate “Counselor” in John 16:7 as “Advocate” or “Helper.”  (For an incredible, in-depth study of the Holy Spirit and His role in your life, may I recommend “The Helper” by Catherine Marshall.)  But just like Jesus, the Holy Spirit will not work in your life against your will. We must choose to cooperate with the Holy Spirit.  Example: My GPS will give me the correct directions to reach my destination, but if I don’t turn it on, or if I ignore its instructions, it can’t help me!

How do we know if the Holy Spirit is guiding us down the right path?  How do we know that He’s working?  Well, that brings us back to Galatians 5:22-23, the first Scripture mentioned today.  When you see a tree, you know what kind of tree it is because of the fruit that is hanging from it.  Likewise the “fruits of the Spirit” are evidences that can be seen in our lives that we are allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us.  The more we allow the Spirit to shape our lives, change our thinking, and mold our behavior, the greater the evidence – the greater the harvest of fruit!

So…. How are YOU doing??  I’d love to know!  Is there a fruit that is your favorite?  And which one do you need to cultivate more often in order for it to grow in your life?

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father – You are a kind and gracious God!  Thank You for redeeming us from our enemies.  Thank You for sealing us as Your children and giving us the Holy Spirit, not only as a promise for the future, but to help us in the present!  I ask You to help me listen to the guidance that Your Spirit longs to give me and help me to blossom into a beautiful, fruit-filled tree for all to see!  Thank You for Your blessings, Your goodness, Your grace and Your love.  May I be able to show those qualities to someone who needs them today.  In Your Son’s name we pray.

Amen.

 

“I AM” Chapter 7 – Day 1: 7 “I AM’s” in Revelation

2Chron7_14_IAM

Revelation is more than just the end of the Bible.  It is more than the end of time, or the end of the world.  A revelation is a new realization of something you previously had not known or understood.  It could be revealing of a secret.  A revelation is definitely a gaining of knowledge you can use to apply to your life.

Here we are at the end.  The last week of our study.  The omegathe last.  There are seven more “I AM’s” for us to look at this week.  As we conclude our study together, we find that four of them use the term “Alpha and Omega”.  The word nerd in me had to look these up for us.  Let me show you a couple of things I have learned.  (Warning: This will be cheesy!)

  • The New Testament was written in Greek, the Old Testament in Hebrew (mainly).  Alpha and Omega are the first and the last letters in the Greek alphabet and signify the “beginning and the end” or eternity.    The Greek “alpha” was derived from the Hebrew “aleph.”  (Doing a Happy Dance!)  The Hebrew name for aleph sounds like “eleph” or ox.  An ox is a leader and leads the other letters in the alphabet.  (Get it?  The alpha – bet?)
  • Ox comes into play in our culture, too.  How many times have we signed a greeting card with oxoxox?  Did you know you were actually sending God’s love to that person?  These are Christian symbols introduced through the ages, based on the Bible and the Great I AM.  Don’t get me started on crossing your fingers….
  • The Hebrew word for truth – “emet” is made up of the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet.  This kind of consistency makes me dance with joy.  Our God is a God of order.  No matter what language or dialect you speak, His TRUTH will always be the same.  He is “I AM”.

From the Prophet Isaiah, “I AM the first and the last”  (Isaiah 44:6) to the Psalmist, “From everlasting to everlasting thou art God” (Psalms 90:2), to John, “I AM the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8), the message of the Bible DOES NOT CHANGE.

This “I AM” is important because Jesus is telling us He was before creation and will be after the end of time.  He is eternal.  When we see or hear Alpha and Omega (AΩ or ox) we are seeing the “I AM”.  Because of our relationship with Jesus (The Great I AM) we can claim the “Truth.” 

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
even when we were dead in our transgressions, made alive together with Christ
(by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him,
and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus
Ephesians 2:4-6

As a member of God’s family, seated in the heavenly places because of Jesus, we are in His KINGDOM.  A kingdom is where the king is.  The Kingdom is where the KING lives.  If you have received the gift of salvation offered by Jesus, you are in the Kingdom and the King lives in you.  Did you hear that?  The KING lives in YOU!!!  The Kingdom is not a far away land, it is here now.  If the King lives in you, the kingdom is hereon earth.  The kingdom is not broken down into small factions of fighters in their own corners doing their own thing.  We are ONE Church, ONE body of believers, living in the Kingdom of God RIGHT NOW!!!!  Let revival begin with us!

We have received a revelation over the last seven weeks.  Now, we have a responsibility to share the good news with others.  Listen to the prayer of our hearts as we declare our allegiance to the King of Kings.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father, King of Kings,

We praise You for the HOPE You have placed in our hearts as we have drawn closer to You.  We thank You for the great LOVE You have shown us that while we were yet sinners, You wanted us.  Lord, we want to let this fire burning within us to be seen by the world.  Heal our hearts and heal our lands so that we may serve You.  We ARE the ChurchSend us out to do Your work while we are here on earth.  We are YOUR church…One Body, unified for Your purpose.   Live in us.  Bring Your Kingdom now.  We are ready.  We love You, Lord.

AMEN

“I AM” Chapter 6 – Day 1: I AM…Significant

Eph2_10Have you ever thought about yourself as the person you might become?  Have you ever wondered why you struggle when you are doing everything right?  Have you sensed the spiritual battle around you?  The enemy knows your secret.  Do you?  Your life is more about who you might become than who you already are.   Your life is a threat to the enemy of your soul.  You are important.  It’s time to make your life meaningful.

As we turn the page to Chapter 6, we are beginning to see ourselves as SIGNIFICANT.  I took a survey to see what makes something or someone significant and I was met with blank stares.  As I asked more questions, I realized the definition of the word was the problem.  Do we not think we are significant because we do not know the definition of the word?  What else are we missing simply because we never defined the words in our lives?

In our study this week, we look at the word “significant.”  Today I want to introduce another word: POTENTIAL Potential is who you could become if you pursue who you are meant to be.  Please don’t leave this world with unused potential.  Use it all up!

po·ten·tial  /pəˈtenCHəl/

Adjective          Having or showing the capacity to develop into something in the future.

Noun                  Latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.

Synonyms

ADJECTIVE        possible – feasible – eventual – contingent

NOUN             possibility – potentiality

 

Your life is FULL of potential, usefulness, meaning, expressiveness, eloquenceand significance.  What are you willing to do to reach that potential?  It’s not too late to expand your life’s vocabulary.  Let’s make the enemy mad and GROW.

Think of some of the most significant people in our history, our culture, or in your family.  Can you imagine what would have happened if Billy Graham decided to stay home even one night of his crusades?  Can you imagine a world without a Billy Graham Crusade?

What about India without Mother Teresa or Ghandi?  Or South Africa without Nelson Mandela or Angus Buchan?  Or the United States without George Washington or Abraham Lincoln?  The list is long of people who have chosen to make a mark during their time on this earth.  What will your mark look like?

  • Each of these people are just like you.  They were born, they grew, they made choices, and they lived out their convictions.  There were crossroads and milestones in their lives along the way.  Hard choices had to be made.  If we could sit down with each one of them they would have a story to tell of good times and bad, successes and failures, hurts and blessings.  Their lives were not easy, but they lived them so we can benefit from their sacrifice and contributions.  We remember their names even after they have passed on from this world.  Their lives were significant.  Can you imagine our world without them and their influence?

The future is up to you.  Take a moment today to ask God what HIS desire is for your life.  The enemy already knows you have potential, do you?  God wants to use your life to bring His Kingdom here and now.  The choice is yours.  Will you let God change you to be who you were created to be?

Worship with me as we offer this prayer through the song “Starts With Me” by Tim Timmons.

Let’s Pray:

Father God,

You have created us with incredible potential.  Help us to accept ourselves as valuable to You and to submit ourselves to do Your will.  We want to allow You to change us into someone useful and meaningful.  We want to leave a legacy that will be remembered long after we have left this world.  Father, place the desire to be significant deep within our hearts and give us the strength to see our purpose through to the end.  We want to finish this life well.  We want to be able to lay our crowns at Your feet and bring You glory.  We love You, Lord.

AMEN

 

“I AM” Chapter 5 – Day 1: Who I AM in Christ

Memory Verse:

Heb4_16

___________________________________

I AM Accepted…

I have a dream that burns within my heart.  I was very young when I first felt the fire of that dream.  Its warmth has kept me going down a different path that separates my way from the world.  Even in church circles I am different.  A square peg trying to find my way through the round hole.  Maybe you are too…and never realized it.

As a Christ-follower I never really understood why there were “denominations” of believers. To me, a denomination is a mathematical term used to quantify or an English term used as an adjective to describe the more superior word (noun).  Why do we need denominations in the family of God?  My experience has been that denominations are exclusive, divisive and, well, negative.  You must join, perform, and perpetrate the belief for that church  to flourish.

A few years back, my “word of purpose” was Unity.  There should be unity in the body of Christ.  Unity in the Church (with a capital “C”).  Does this thought ever cross your mind?  Look at what the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:4-6:

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

UNITY means we are all ONE.

Jesus established the Church.  The members of the church were followers of the Way (John 14:6).  The Way is a person: JesusJesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Lord of All.  When we each stand before God we will be asked  ”What was your relationship with Jesus?”  The question will NOT be “What denomination did you belong to?”  The question will be “Who do you belong to?”

When Paul stood before the council of Jews (as reported in Acts 24) he talks about his experiences and commitment to the Way.  He was asked about his beliefs because they were radical.  Paul lived his life following Jesus’ example.  He was “All In.”

There is another word that describes someone who strives to live like Jesus:  Christian.  Because Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah and the Son of God, He is known as Jesus Christ.  Those who choose to live life by His example can call themselves Christians.

Unfortunately, the world hears the term “Christian” and thinks “Pharisee,” “Hypocrite,” and “Judgmental.”  Do those words describe your walk with the Lord?  If we truly live our lives like Jesus, we will show love and compassion, grace and mercy, and generosity.  The world will want to know us and our Savior.  Jesus’ life changed the world.  Jesus living in you will change the world also.  Let’s change our world in Jesus’ name and live it by His example.

Jesus gave us a gift.  Have you accepted it yet?  Just like with any new gift, we have to learn how to use it properly.  Apply yourself to learning who Jesus is and what His life was about.  Jesus will Rock your World!!!  So, back to denominations…

Paul, in his letter to the church in Corinth addresses the division in the church over which leader they were going to follow (1 Corinthians 1).  The man leading the church was not as important as Jesus Christ as the head of the church.  The Corinthians received correction over their wrong thinking.  We need to check our allegiances, too.

If this topic of Unity of the Body of Christ has sparked an interest for you, please read First Corinthians Chapter 1, ask God to give you an understanding of being “One with Christ,” and a part of a larger body of believers (The Church).

Look at these words of beauty and warning:

“Every word of God proves true.  He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.  Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.”

Proverbs 30:5-6

“And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book:  If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book.”

Revelation 22:18

These words are from the book of wisdom and the best friend of Jesus.  Follow the Great I AM.  Accept His Gift, it’s free.  Learn the Truth, follow the Way and let Him show you how to LIVE.    You have been chosen by Jesus.  You have been ACCEPTED into the family of God.  What is your response to Jesus?

We are a City on a Hill.  We are to be shining the Light.  We are ONE.  United we will Stand. Divided we will FALL.

Let’s Pray:

Dear Jesus,

You are the Christ, the Messiah, the One who gives us Life and Love, Grace and Mercy.  Teach us to love like You.  Help us to accept our place in Your Church body.  We all have a part to play as we reach the lost for You, Lord.  Open our eyes so that we can see where we have gone astray.  Give us the desire to be one with our brothers and sisters.  May our love for You bind us together and the divisions be erased.  We want to be the Church—Your Church, ONE CHURCH.  Father, gather Your children home.  Thank You for making us that City on a Hill leading the lost to You.  We love You, Jesus.

AMEN

“I AM” Chapter 4 – Day 1: Jesus is the “I AM”

 

Memory Verse:

John15_11

___________________________

I am full of questions today.  Why is it important for people to know us?  What difference does it make if people REALLY know who we are?  Does it hurt us when people get the wrong impression of us?  If I needed someone to write my life story, what kind of person would I choose to do that for me?  How would I go about finding someone who could accurately portray Who I Am to other people?

If you are still following along with us after three weeks of learning who the Great I AM is through the Old Testament, then hold on to your seat, because Jesus is going to ramp up the study!  Jesus was like that, you know.  Wherever He found people, He would push them outside their comfort zone, challenge their beliefs and get them to really see themselves for who they really are.  Have you begun to look at yourself a little differently yet?

As we cross the Bridge from the Old Testament to the New Testament we walk across 400 silent, unholy, mixed-up years.  God is preparing the world stage for the coming Messiah.  The people were living life the way they wanted to, making gods of whatever they found valuable to them at the time.  The Bridge crosses a silent ocean of godlessness.  The picture of the Bridge in my mind sags in the middle.  The first part is downhill, bottoms out at a very low point and then there is an uphill climb to get off on the other side.

Look at our memory verse for the week.  It is John 15:11.  If you notice in your study guide, there is a typo in the “I AM’s” of Jesus.  It should read John 15:1 for that section.  As I began to prepare for the study, I had all these questions, so I took them to Jesus.  He turned that typo into our memory verse for the week and the answer to ALL my questions.  He will do that, you know.  There are no dumb questions when you seek Him with ALL your heart.  He will give us the answers we need so our JOY will be FULL.

  • Why is it important for people to know us?  We were placed on this earth for a purpose.  If we don’t share ourselves with others, we are missing our purpose.  Don’t miss your purpose for living.  Share your life with others.
  • What difference does it make if people REALLY know who we are?  If you do not show them who you really are, they will make up their own story.  Some of it may be true, but it cannot ALL be true.  Truth is important!  Let others into your life so there is no question where you stand on important matters.
  • Does it hurt when people get the wrong impression of us?  Absolutely!!!  There is nothing more painful than having someone tell a lie about us and have others believe it.  It hurts even worse than when the story is true.  We can grow through that pain, too.
  • If I needed someone to write my life story, what kind of person would I choose to do that for me?  I would want someone who was known to be truthful, honest, and fair.  Someone who had taken the time to get to know me and my heart.  Someone who would not back down when others had a different story to tell.
  • How would I go about finding someone who could accurately portray Who I Am to other people?  I would take the time to reveal myself to others so they could make up their own minds about me and let them write the story based on their own experiences with me.  Each story would be different and unique—just like the relationship between us.  By reading the stories of each writer, others would be able to get a fuller picture of who I really am.

Who did Jesus choose to reveal His character to?  He chose to share His life with strangers who HE turned into disciples.  He said, “Follow Me” and they did.  The disciples got to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of living life as Jesus.  Just like us, Jesus had best friends.  John was Jesus’ closest friend and gives us our first seven “I AM’s.”  If I truly want to know who Jesus is and what He is like, I want to talk to His best friends.

You are writing your life story RIGHT NOWWhat would those closest people to you be able to reveal about your character?  It matters, you know.  If you aren’t showing them the example you had hoped, there is time to make changes and reflect the Light inside you.  You can open the Door and offer Bread.  You can point people to the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Your story isn’t finished yet.  Finish it well!

__________

Let’s Pray:

Dear Jesus,  Messiah, Lord of ALL,

We thank You for making Yourself known to us.  Thank You for loving us in our sinfulness enough to give Your life for ours.  Thank You for showing us what it means to develop friendships.  I pray for each person seeking You today.  I pray they find You right where they are.  We allow You into our hearts so that Your Spirit can change us from the inside out.  We want to reflect Your Truth, Your Light, and Your Way.  We can feel that JOY welling up now.  Help us to reach the overflowing mark.  We love You, Jesus!

AMEN

“I AM” Chapter 3 – Day 1: The Great I AM in the Books of the Minor Prophets

Memory Verse

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:19

____________________________

As we begin our week examining the books of the Minor Prophets, we begin with Hosea and Amos.  Do not be fooled by the size of their writings because their message is mighty.  Through Hosea’s life we see God revealing Himself (for the first time) as a Faithful Bridegroom and the children of Israel as His bride.  That imagery runs all through the New Testament.  What a legacy!

For thousands of years and many generations, God has been patient with His people.  God demonstrated His love for His people using marriage as a metaphor.  Ouch!  If our life was a metaphor for our relationship with God (and it is) what would it say to the people around us?

In looking at Hosea’s story, I noticed seven ways God used Hosea’s life as an example to the people around him.  Let’s see if they might pertain to our lives as well.

  1.  Our relationship with God is like a marriage.  From “Will you…” to “I do”… to “?”
  2. God uses our struggles to display His POWER through us.  Not what we can do on our own.
  3. God uses our challenges in our relationships to reveal His LOVE to others.  We have a choice.
  4. God calls us to love the unlovely – even those who have hurt us deeply.
  5. Our disobedience to God brings judgment and severe consequences.
  6. God calls us into a covenant relationship with Him. He WANTS you!
  7. God expects us to live in a manner that would connect others to Him.

From the moment we say “I Do” to a relationship with the Great I AM we are in a committed, monogamous, covenant “marriage.”  Why does God use marriage as an example of His relationship with us?  Marriage is that object or state of being we have sought after (in one form or another) most of our lives.  When we were young, we would dream of our perfect wedding to the perfect person and we would live a perfect life.  Happily Ever After, right?

Then maybe we found that perfect someone, promised a perfect “forever” and began to live that dream.  Then…that “perfect” life hit a few bumps along the way.  Our perfect marriage gets rocky…then what?  Dreams are shattered, hearts are broken, eyes are opened.

Look at God’s example.  He used Hosea’s life and Hosea’s marriage and Hosea’s service to speak to the Israelites about their “marriage” relationship with God.  Just as those “perfect” dreams were shattered, our relationship with God becomes broken.  It is at this moment of broken dreams that we find we have a choice.

We can choose to honor our marriage vow or walk away.  We can choose to love the unlovely one or cast them aside.  We can stand firm when the going gets tough or we can faint in the face of struggle.  We can choose to OBEY or expect the consequences of our actions.

We can break our promise to God.  We can leave those “other people” out there in the dark instead of leading them to the Light.  We have a choice.  Because we chose to say “I Do,” we get the blessings of a life in relationship with the Creator of the Universe.  Because we said, “I Do,” we have a Helper, a Leader through our struggles.  Because we are “one flesh,” we are loved when we are un-lovely.

So how can God use us  –  You and Me – to lead others to Him?  How can God use a broken heart and a broken spirit to shine its LIGHT?  He changes our heart.  We were born with a heart problem, but God is our Healer.

The prophet Amos (who studied under Hosea) told the Israelites their words were empty without the right heart.  They needed the heart of a worshipper and the heart of a servant.  Oscar Wilde once said,

“Every Saint has a PAST.  Every Sinner has a FUTURE.”

God showed Hosea how to love his wife, Gomer, the way God loved Israel; the way He loves you and me.  Hosea forgave Gomer, rebuilt the marriage and taught others to follow God.  Hosea’s struggles did not disqualify him from service.  Gomer’s wicked ways did not prevent Hosea from being used by God. Their children, who were given very unfortunate names by God, were restored and dearly loved in the end.

We were born with a heart problem, but we have a choice.  We can choose to live with a bad, broken heart, or we can give the pieces to God and let Him make something lovely.

Let’s Pray:

Lord, We bring You the pieces of our broken hearts and our broken lives.  Thank You for loving us when we are un-lovely.  Thank You for making a way for us to go from an unfortunate name of “I am not your God” to “I AM your God.”  You asked us “Will you?”  We want to say “I Do” and live under Your Protection all the days of our lives.  We love You, Lord.

AMEN

 

“I Am” Chapter 2 – Day 3: People Around Us Will See God

Perspective.

That word just grabbed hold of me during my reading of this section and it is just rattling around in my brain incessantly.  How we view our life circumstances and, more importantly, how we react to those situations and struggles will either reflect God’s saving power in our lives or show that we do not truly trust what He has done for us.

It is not easy to walk through this life. It can seem downright impossible sometimes. There are multitudes of things to worry about. It is difficult to see an unbeliever reaping what seems to be every earthly reward while you are suffering through heartbreak and distress. Why is this person getting everything they want or need and you are hurting so much you can barely get through the day? Doesn’t God care? Doesn’t He see?

Yes, He cares. Yes, He sees.

Girlfriends, no earthly reward will ever compare to the ultimate reward we have in Jesus Christ. There is nothing in this world that will ever compare to Him. No matter what goodies your neighbor gets, what new gadget your best friend has, or how much money they make, the only reward worth fighting for is the relationship you have with your Lord and Savior. Nothing is more important. Nothing.

How do you react when someone gets an earthly reward that you coveted? Now consider it from God’s perspective. Does your reaction, internally and externally, reflect the Lord’s power working in your life? Does it show that you fully trust Him with every decision, every moment, even if it does not go your way?

One of God’s many promises is to provide us with safety and security when we acknowledge His lordship over our lives. What is your vision of safety and security? God’s plan for you may make you very uncomfortable. It may pull you out of your comfort zone. It may not make you FEEL very secure at all. But, when God is fully in control of your life and you allow Him to lead you in the path He wants you to go, your relationship with Him deepensYour trust in Him increases. You trust in His protection and in His sovereignty.  You know that His plans for you are perfect and without fault.

Ladies, the Lord is calling you by name to walk the path He has set before you. It may only take a change in perspective to see the bountiful blessings He wants to pour out on your life.

*****

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father,

We come before You today asking  for Your divine help. Our perspective on certain situations and decisions may be very clouded. Lord, please open our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds to Your guidance. Let us be open to a change of thought. Help us to see things from Your view and to focus on You instead of the situation that is plaguing us. We know it is difficult to walk this life, Lord, and we can only do it with You right by our side. Guide us, Lord, and give us eyes to see You and ears to hear from You. In Jesus’ Name we pray.

Amen

“I AM” Chapter 2 – Day 1: The Great I AM in the Book of Ezekiel

Have you ever watched someone worship and wonder, “How do they do that?”  I have.  I think I have “worship envy.”  Maybe it was my upbringing in a conservative church environment, maybe I care too much what people think, maybe I have never totally surrendered myself to worship.  The reality probably lies somewhere in between.

As I read the Book of Ezekiel, I found myself in awe again of someone so sold out for God that he was willing to do whatever to get God’s message across.  Ezekiel was “All In.”

If God said lay in the street on your left side for 390 days and then on your right side for 40 days…Ezekiel did it (to teach a history lesson).  If God said shave your head and divide your hair into three piles to explain a prophecy…Ezekiel did it.  If God asked Ezekiel to NOT mourn the passing of his beloved wife as an example to the Jews…he managed to do it.

God said, “Teach” and Ezekiel had the responsibility to teach the captive Jews discipline to follow their God.  Discipline doesn’t always have a positive feel to it, so I looked it up for us.

Discipline

1)       Training to insure proper behavior;

           the practice or methods of teaching and enforcing acceptable patterns of behavior.

2)      Training that corrects, molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.

The Israelites found themselves in captivity…again.  Sometimes we think God isn’t paying attention to our lives when times get hard.  I think it is just the opposite.  Those hard times are to drive us toward Him.  How do people survive without God?  We were created to need Him.  If we leave Him out then we deny a very important part of ourselves.

God sent Ezekiel to help the Jews adjust to their captivity.  He gave them hope to carry on and a way to return to a right relationship with God.  “God never forgets those who are faithful to Him” (pg 25).   He won’t forget you either.

Do YOU know Ezekiel’s God?  Ezekiel 16:62 says,

 “I will establish my covenant with you, and YOU shall know that I AM the LORD.”

God’s promise to establish His covenant was for anyone who would obey Him and follow His commands.  That’s what the name LORD means.

As we see in Ezekiel’s story, there is not one sedate and reverent way to worship God.  Neither is there always craziness associated with worship of the LORD.  Worship happens as we seek His face.  As we offer our lives to Him, He chooses how to express His love to us.  Give your life to the ONE TRUE GOD and be part of the Body of Christ.

If you search for the I AM, you will find Him…He wants to be found.

Let’s PRAY:

We come into Your presence to acknowledge that YOU are LORD.  You are Sovereign and You know what is best for us.  Thank You for loving us enough to reveal Your character to us.  Ezekiel has shown us that You can breathe new life into our dry, dead lives if we only have faith in YOU.  Change our hearts so that we can more fully submit to YOUR will and not ours.  We want to worship you in freedom.  Lord, teach us!  We love you, LORD.

AMEN

“I Am” Chapter 1 – Day 3: Suffering Savior

David is a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Although he made many mistakes and suffered the consequences, he had a real, intimate relationship with His Lord. His writings in the Psalms are raw and beautiful. They have, and will continue to, spoken to the hearts of those who read them. The Psalms reveal the humanness that we all feel – the pain, anguish, defeat, weariness, longing, sorrow and fear. They also show that despite those negative emotions, David continued to give thanks and praise to His God. He found joy in the Lord, in following the path set before him. I actually look to David as someone to model in this regard. Yes, he made some terrible, regrettable mistakes (me, too!), but his heartfelt prayers to His Lord are sincere and genuine. He laid all of his emotions at the feet of God, baring his heart and soul. Do you notice that many of his Psalms begin with anguish but end with praise and thanksgiving toward the Almighty? Through the process of praying and telling God his needs, his attitude is transformed from sorrowful to thankful. I think that is pretty incredible.

David anguished over being scorned and despised, poor and needy, insulted and lonely. He suffered and was in pain. Do you think any of those apply to Jesus? He was mocked, ridiculed, unfairly judged, harshly criticized, and unjustly punished. And this is the Savior of the World! His own people did not believe He was the promised Messiah!

As we read through the Psalms, we find prophecy of our suffering Savior, our Messiah, Jesus Christ. These messianic psalms were written hundreds of years prior to Jesus’ birth! The Great I AM knew that His begotten Son would be the Savior of the world. Every detail throughout the entire Old Testament all leads up to the revelation of Jesus and the fulfilled prophecies in the New Testament. Can you find examples of prophecy in the Psalms and corresponding fulfillment in the New Testament?

Savior_OpenArms

Sometimes we may have a difficult time relating to Jesus. We may have an inaccurate view of who He is based on our past or on preconceived ideas. We may see Him as this thundercloud waiting to strike us down if we do something wrong. Girlfriends, I just want you to know one very important thing as we begin this study – Jesus is and always will be LOVE. Satan will do anything in his evil power to make you think negative things about Jesus. That is the enemy’s job. Jesus loves every single one of us with an all-consuming love. That is why He came to earth as a human, suffered and died a sinner’s death. It was out of LOVE for us. He wants to know you. He wants to walk through life with you. There is not one situation in your life that He does not know about and want to help you with. He may not change your circumstance, but He just might change YOU.

Our suffering Savior is waiting for you with open arms. Are you ready to take the journey with Him?

God Bless You!

Jennifer

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Let’s Pray

Father God, thank You for the Psalms. They are filled with so much raw emotion that we can relate to on a very deep level. They help us through so many circumstances that we face in our lives, giving us hope and comfort and peace to take one more step forward when we just want to give up. We know, Lord, that You divinely orchestrated this entire world and every single one of us that live in it. Reveal Your power and love to each one of us today, Father. Give us the strength we need to fight off the enemy’s attacks. In Your Son’s Name we pray.

Amen

 

Girls with Swords: Chapter 14: Our Cross-Carry (pgs 214-220)

Going through this book I have loved the various crosses that we are to carry. I have loved learning of the true power that we have as girls with swords.  I have loved learning about the true power that those swords possess.  We are instructed to wield different kinds of swords, to possess different characteristics; and, yes, I have asked, “How, Lord? How do I do this and do it the right way?”

Two words:  “Follow Him.”

Jesus spoke the truth, fed the hungry, cast out demons, healed the sick, confronted religion, and raised the dead. He did this to show love, forgiveness, healing, freedom, and redemption.

Christ:

Loved the people

Matthew 4:23 (NKJV)

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.  

Forgave the people

Matthew 9:2-8  (NKJV)

Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”  And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”  But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said,“Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house.  Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men. 

Freed the people

Acts 10:38 (NKJV)

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 

 

Redeemed the people

Psalm 107:2 (NKJV)

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.

 

One of the things that stood out to me the most is the need for us to follow Him, for us to model our lives, words, actions, and thoughts after Him. Lisa said more than once that this generation, the world we live in today, needs these things more than ever. We need love and forgiveness, we need redemption and freedom. We need miracles, and we need signs and wonders. We need to follow Him in His actions, in His efforts to draw others closer to Him. We need to show that the Cross was the “ultimate display of His unconditional love for us” (pg. 214).

The Cross is our sign and you are His wonder.”  We were placed here to pick up our swords.  We were placed here to follow Him and to build the kingdom of Christ.

The final verse of this section touched my heart:

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NKJV)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Love. Forgive. Free. Heal. Redeem. Encourage.

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example You offer to us.  We see so much hurt and pain in our world.  We know that we have the sword and we know that we have the power, but how to use these sometimes escapes us.  Lord, remind us to follow You, remind us to model after Your example.  Most importantly remind us to love.  Through love so many other tasks can be accomplished.  As You instruct in Hebrews 10:23-25, let us stir up love, let us stir up good works, let us lift one another up.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.