June 22, 2017

Esther Chapter 7 (Recap)

It begins with an intimate dinner.  In a private banquet room where Esther the Queen, King Xerxes, and Haman are gathered…and it ends with a man nailed to the tree until He is dead. Centuries after this supper, another supper was held in a room upstairs in a building in Jerusalem.  The disciples were there, Jesus was there, and Judas the traitor.   Like Haman, he was intent only on fulfilling his own desires.  He was willing and ready to destroy everything and everyone to get his way; and that’s exactly what he did.  That supper ended also with a man nailed to a tree.  Jesus is who you are thinking of, right?  But no, it was Judas.  Scripture tells us that after he betrayed Jesus, Judas went and hanged himself, just as Haman practically hanged himself.

Let’s start this week’s recap with Esther 7:1-6 first.  

I don’t know about you, but I’m proud of Esther.  She is finally breaking the silence and telling her man what is on her mind.  Remember earlier in this study, Esther had asked the Jews to join her in a fast for three days.  I believe it was in preparation for coming before the king and exposing Haman.  Now was her time to speak up.  The stage was set as the king, queen and the wicked Haman sit down together and wham! Esther courageously announces her nationality and exposes Haman.  Can’t you hear his jaw dropping?   And I imagine his heart stopped beating for a moment, he broke into a sweat and lost color in his face!  He learns for the first time that the Queen herself is a Jew—the same race he wants to annihilate!  Remember what Haman’s wife had said to him that day? “Since Mordechai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him~you will surely come to ruin.”  Now he finds out the Queen herself is also Jewish!

I imagine the King was speechless as well.  He didn’t know Esther was a Jew either.  He just thought he was sitting down to hear his wife’s petitions.  Now he realizes that his own wife’s life is at stake and she, herself, could die.  His own wife is not safe in his own kingdom.

Esther 7:5-6 – Recap

King Xerxes asks, “Who is he? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?”  Esther replied, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.”  Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen.

The king demands to know who is out to get his wife.  What a turn of events, what a fall from grace!  Wasn’t it just yesterday that Haman thought the king would always honor him?  Now the king wants revenge.  Yesterday Haman had the world in his hands…today his death is imminent. Now Haman is about to beg for his life….

Esther 7:7-10 – Recap

The king got up in a rage, left his wine, and went out into the palace garden.  But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.  Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.  The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the Queen while she is with me in the house?”  As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.  Then one of them, who was named Harbonah, said “Haman even went so far as to build a gallows at his house so that he could hang Mordecai, who saved Your Majesty’s life, and it’s 75 feet tall.” “Hang Haman on it!” the king commanded. So Haman was hanged on the gallows that he had built for Mordecai.  Then the king’s anger cooled down.”

Haman is a type of what the Bible calls ‘flesh.’  Meaning that he is, and has, the self-centered type of nature that we all have naturally.  We are born this way and it can dominate us just the way it dominated Haman.  Instead of us all coming together as the Body of Christ, we sometimes end up fighting the very ones we should be teaming up with and fighting the real enemy—Satan. Sometimes we say, “Well that’s just who I am, or it won’t ever change;” that’s a lie also. Sometimes, as Christians, we don’t even realize or recognize the “Haman” in us.  Yet the Bible promises us that we no longer have to be ruled by that principle anymore.  Haman doesn’t have to stay on the throne!  Stand on the promise that “in Christ” that old nature has no hold on you and you are sending it to the gallows. The Bible says “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

Revelation concerning the true nature of Haman had come to the king and he sent Haman to his own gallows and hung him.

Wk7_Spring_Esther

Have you had any revelations as to who is calling the shots in your life?  Jesus promises us an abundant life and that life comes from the joy we have in being saved by Him.  When we live and try to walk the path of righteousness and stay connected to our Lord, we are free and joyful and we walk a little lighter.  Hand over all your problems and things that are holding you captive today. Jesus took the Cross for us so that we don’t have to bear our crosses alone.

 

 

 

 

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, We love You and praise You today.  Lord, keep us humble and bring to light anything that would hinder us from receiving Your full blessing.  Help us to realize who the real enemy is and join together and celebrate each others victories and love each other like Jesus loves us.  Lord, we nail our flesh to a tree, and we walk in Your Spirit always.  Life is so amazing every day with Your fingerprints all over our lives.  In Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Esther – Chapter 2:16-20

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Esther asked for little and was given much! The Word doesn’t say that after a period of time King Xerxes decided he “liked” Esther. It says when Esther was taken into his presence, he “loved her above all other women.” And not only that but she also “won his favor (grace) and approval more than any of the other virgins!” (Esther 2:17).  To show his affection and approval, the king elevated Esther from a lowly position of a concubine (for that’s what she would have become had he not chosen her; Esther 2:14) to be his queen, and gave her a royal crown so no one would mistake her position in the kingdom.

Our author, Darlene Schacht, has us reflect on Hannah’s prayer of praise in I Samuel 2:4-8, which comes after years of barrenness and humiliation.  As background in I Samuel 1: 1-28, we read the story of Hannah and Elkanah.  In the eyes of their society, Hannah was “a nobody” and a disgrace to Elkanah since she hadn’t borne him any children.  But Elkanah didn’t see her that way.  No matter what…he loved her for herself.  And God loved her and had a plan.  In His timing, God took a humiliated, barren woman and honored her by blessing her with Samuel who would serve the Lord in the temple all the days of his life.  Hannah saw first-hand how God would “lift the needy” in His timing, and she raised her praise to Him in prayer.  From barrenness to blessed.  From humiliated to honored.

Esther was one of the Jewish exiles who lived as a common citizen of the community surrounding the palace, even though Mordecai, her cousin, sat at the king’s gate and had responsibilities in the palace (Esther 2:5-7).  She was lowly with nothing to offer the king—but her submission and trust.  The king saw that and more in her, and he lifted her up and blessed her.  The king presented her before his people and celebrated with a great feast in her honor.  From “barrenness” to blessed.  From humbleness to honored.  With grace and honor, he set her among his royalty and crowned her to share in his throne and kingdom!  And perhaps, Esther prayed Hannah’s prayer of praise, especially I Samuel 2:8,

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.

From my perspective, I’m like Esther was—just a common citizen with nothing to offer the King of kings, but my submission and trust.  Ephesians 2:4-7 tells “the rest of the story”:

But because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in Heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Wow, what an honor—what a celebration! And I praise my King!

Did you notice in Esther 2:18-20, that even in the midst of all the honor and celebration, neither Esther nor Mordecai forgot their relationship and responsibility to each other?  Even though Esther was now in a pretty secure position, she still respected Mordecai’s wisdom and submitted to him because, I believe, she knew he loved her and had her best interests in mind.  God has our best interests in mind, too.  And, like Mordecai, the Holy Spirit of God is standing close by watching over us, loving and guiding us in all His grace and wisdom.

One other point from Darlene about this relationship: Esther was an orphan and Mordecai had taken her in and cared for her as his own.  As we follow this story we see that Mordecai continued to watch out for her best interest.  Darlene points us to James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion (unstained devotion) in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”  Mordecai demonstrated pure religion as he watched over Esther.  He “walked his talk.”  In the Book of Ruth, Ruth demonstrated pure religion by caring for her widowed mother-in-law (Ruth 2:17-18).  God wants us to demonstrate our pure religion by living out our faith. Perhaps we should check ourselves each day with this question, “Am I walking my talk?”

*****

Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord,
We thank You, Lord, that when we were “a nobody,” like Esther, we were a “somebody special” to You.  We have nothing to offer You except ourselves; and, come to find out, that’s exactly what You are looking for!  You are looking for our obedience and courageous submission so that we can come into Your Presence, as Esther came into her king’s presence.  You are eager to lift us up “from the ash heap” and seat us with You, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Help us to remember that You have our best interests in mind.  You have promised us that Your Holy Spirit will be close to us to guide and comfort us.  Please Holy Spirit, help us daily to “walk our talk” so others will see You even when we don’t speak Your Name.  In Jesus’ Name.

Amen.

 

“I AM” Chapter 7 – Day 3: I AM..the LIVING ONE

2Chron7_14_IAM

What a wonderful way to close out this study knowing that our God is the “Living One.”

 Our Living God from A – Z

A- AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH (HEBREWS 12:2)

B- BREAD OF LIFE (JOHN 6:35)

C- CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD (ROMANS 8:39)

D- DELIVERER (ROMANS 11:26)

E- ETERNAL LIFE (1 JOHN 5:20)

F- FAITHFUL AND TRUE (REVELATION 19:11)

G- GREAT HIGH PRIEST (HEBREWS 4:14)

H- HEAD OF THE CHURCH (EPHESIANS 5:23)

I- I AM (JOHN 8:58)

J- JESUS (MATTHEW 1:21)

K- KING OF KINGS (REVELATION 17:14)

L- LIGHT OF THE WORLD (JOHN 8:12)

M- MEDIATOR (1 TIMOTHY 2:5)

N- NAZARENE (MATTHEW 2:23)

O- OUR PASSOVER (1 CORINTHIANS 5:7)

P- PRINCE (ACTS 5:31)

Q- QUINTESSENCE – THE MOST PERFECT EMBODIMENT OF SOMETHING (REVELATION 1:8)

R- REDEEMER (JOB 19:25)

S- SAVIOR (LUKE 2:11)

T- TEACHER (JOHN 3:2)

U- UNMATCHABLE – NO ONE IS EQUAL TO HIM (ISAIAH 40:28)

V- VINE (JOHN 15:1)

W- WORD (JOHN 1:1)

X- EXCELLENT (PSALM 8:9)

Y- YOURS – HE IS FREE TO YOU IF YOU BELIEVE (ROMANS 10:9)

Z- ZION, KING OF (PSALM 9:11)

Revelation 1:18  I am the living one.  I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever!  And I hold the keys of death and the grave.

WOW!  God’s Word speaks for itself to show us Life (living life-Himself)

People go around asking all kinds of questions daily.  Some of the many questions we have heard are: Who made the trees?  The flowers?  The birds?  The animals?  The earth?  The rocks?  The stars, sun, moon, ocean, mountains?  Who made you and me?  And the answer is:   Someone who is greater, more intelligent than all, made them!

That Someone is the only true and living God. He is invisible to our eyes, because He is a Spirit.  He lives in heaven.  He is eternal.  He has always existed and He always will.  We know Him because we see the things He has made and because He has given us His book called the Bible in which He reveals Himself to us.  We don’t find His bones in a grave, like other gods who have died, because our God lives!

Do you know the only true and living God?  If not, would you like to?  Do you want to be free from your daily burdens of sin and have a sweet assurance of “living” with the “Living One”?

If you are ready to meet the “I AM” and “live” with the “Living One” for eternity then all you have to do is ask Him.

“Dear Lord Jesus, 
I know that I am a sinner, I believe Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood for my sins, was buried and rose from the grave.  I ask You now, Lord Jesus, to come into my heart, and take away my sins, and save my soul.  Change my heart and life, Lord, to be what You want me to be!  I thank You, Lord for the forgiveness of my sins, Your gift of salvation and everlasting life, because of Your mercy and grace!  AMEN.

Oh what a precious journey you will have as you will get to know the “I AM” – the “Living One” now that you have accepted Him as Christ your Savior.  I may not ever get to meet you personally here on this earth, but know, my friend, that I will be praying for you as you begin your new life with Him, and on the day He returns I will meet you in heaven!  Hallelujah!

**********

Let’s Pray:

Dear God,

I thank You for these past seven weeks that we have been able to dig in Your Word together, Lord, and truly get to know Who You Are and who we are in You.   I thank You for any that have received You as Savior and I ask that You help them to continue to dig in Your Word and become the beautiful creation that You intended for them to be and help them to spread this wonderful news of salvation with the world.  In Your name, I 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 3: I AM The Way

John15_11

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“I AM THE WAY”  is a bold statement.  It’s an exclusive statement and an inclusive statement.

 These three words have powerful meanings:

Bold ~  assured, confident

Exclusive ~ the only one

Inclusive ~ covers all cost

 The definition of “The Way” ~ “an opening for passage”

Do you see it?

We have a definite and planned path to get to the “I AM.”

John 14:6  Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

The Bible does not teach, “For God so loved the world that He gave the world many ways to himself.”  What does John 3:16 say?

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever (that’s the INCLUSIVE PART)  believes in Him (that’s the EXCLUSIVE part) should not perish but have everlasting life.

When Jesus uses the phrase, “I AM,” in Exodus 3:14 He is claiming the name for Himself. He is announcing Himself to us as the One who has come to fulfill His covenant and keep His promise.

When Jesus uses the word “I” in John 14:6,  He declares Himself to be the embodiment of “The Way.”  His planned path is wrapped up in a person.

Without the way there is no going

Without the truth there is no knowing

Without the life there is no living

People are always challenging this verse from the Bible, but this verse will help us to see God has bridged the gap between man and God and Jesus is the one who succeeded in making this bridge the reality for each of us.   Let’s look a little carefully at the statements in this verse:

  •  I Am The Way ~ this statement is not saying He is showing us the way, but that He is the way, He is the journey, He is the opening of the passage, He is the way for us to God, He spans the distance between sinners and God.  When we are all alone, or lost in our daily path we walk, we must remember Jesus is the path. Jesus spells it out so that there can be no mistake of how we get to Him. No one comes to the Father except through Him. No matter how important we think we are. No matter how religious or spiritual we are. No matter how many followers or friends we have, or how many people we have influenced. No matter how good or kind we are.  No matter how devoted we are. No matter how genuine we are.  Everyone who rejects Jesus Christ cannot come to God.
  • I Am The Truth ~ the Bible teaches that truth is not just something that is simply intellectual; it also has a moral dimension to it. John 3:21a refers to doing the truth: “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light…” Jesus reveals God and exposes guilty people. Hebrews 13:8 states: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”.

Do you remember that scene from “A Few Good Men” when Jack Nicholson said to Tom Cruise, “You can’t handle the truth?” Well what about it? Can we handle the truth?  Let’s not run away from what is right in front of us!

Pilate voiced the question on many minds today. Even though Jesus was standing right in front of Him, he asked in John 18:38: “What is truth?” He didn’t take the time to find out.  We will find what we are looking for in Christ as John 8:32 declares: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

  • I Am The Life ~ the Bible describes life in Genesis 2:7 as “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.”  God Himself gave life when He formed man and breathed life into him and He gave us life again when He gave us His Son to die for our sins.   In simple words God gave us His Life, then and today. We would be dead without His Life. We become alive when we surrender ourselves to Him. John 5:24 says : “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”  Since Jesus is life, we will only find meaning when we commit to His Lordship. John 1:4 says: “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.”

BOLD ~ Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Jesus is bold all throughout Scripture that He is the only way to the Father, to heaven.  Are we being bold enough with others in our daily walk to teach them the same, or are we holding back from telling others of this truth and giving them the same opportunity to knowing who “The Way” is?

EXCLUSIVE ~ 1 Timothy 2:5-6: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all to be testified in due time”

Jesus is exclusive all throughout Scripture sharing truths of Him being the only One, the only Way to Him.  He is the only God who is not still in a tomb! He arose and is waiting for us.  Have we shared these truths with others or are we allowing them to somehow think there are other ways to heaven?

INCLUSIVE ~ John 6:37 states: “All those the Father gives me, will come to me and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

Jesus is inclusive all throughout Scripture describing to us that He covered the cost of salvation for us and all we have to do is say “yes”.

Dr. David Jeremiah stated in one of his devotions: How did Jesus provide the way, truth, and life? Did He just say the words and walk away to do something else? No. He backed up what He said, He made good on His words by acting on them. He gave His own life on the Cross.  He died on Calvary’s tree to provide us the way, the truth, and the life. To not accept Jesus on this very point is to declare (I’m afraid), “Jesus, you can’t be trusted,” or even worse, “Jesus, you’re not telling the truth.” By God’s grace and goodness, we know better than that.

With the answer to this verse now explained you may be asking “How do I get to “the way, the truth and the life?”   It’s simple:  Romans 10:9-10 says, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  So confess, believe and receive today!

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord, I pray for every person who has read Your Word and this lesson and I lift them to You right now asking You to speak boldly to the hearts of the ones who may have never received You as Savior and open their eyes to this new truth they just learned today; that You are “The Way, The Truth and The Life” and the only way to You is through You.   Help them to say yes to You today, Lord, and receive the best gift ever given.  Help the ones who are already believers in You to share this same truth with the world and bring new souls to Your kingdom.  We know better —so let’s show it better, in Your name I pray.

AMEN!

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

 

Memory Verse:

John15_11

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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!

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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” Week 3 – Day 5: Malachi: The Bridge

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

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We have been so very inspired (perhaps revived?) as we have spent the past three weeks considering the character of the Great I AM as He has made Himself known throughout the Old Testament.  How AWEsome is He!

The Great I AM deserves our all—our love, our obedience, our worship, our devotion, our service, our focus, our praise, our whole heart, our everything.  Actually, He requires our all.

When Moses gave the Law to the Israelites, he said:

These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe…so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.  Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Deuteronomy 6:1-4 (excerpts)

The prophet Jeremiah was given a compelling message to send to the exiled Israelites who had been carried into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar and his army.  Think about how comforted they might have been hearing God’s Words!

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord,
thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil,
to give you hope in your final outcome.

Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you.
Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity]
and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
I will be found by you, says the Lord….
Jeremiah 29:11-14

Our Lord also gave this same convicting message to His followers.

And one of the scribes came up…and asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”  Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:28-32

We know from the Scriptures that God desires us to–

  • Trust Him with all of our heart (Proverbs 3:5 and 6)
  • Work heartily as if for Him with all of our heart (Colossians 3:23)
  • Seek Him with all your heart (Deuteronomy 4:29 and 30)
  • Serve Him with your whole heart (1st Chronicles 28:9)
  • Love Him with all our heart (Matthew 22:37)

Our author, Teresa, asks the following question today in our study…

What would it take for you to give service “your all?”
Go “all in?”  Be “sold out” for God?

Have you answered that question yet?  Would you share your answer (below in the comments) with all of us?

Friends, whether the anointed words of this song—this prayer—cause you to throw your hands in the air raised in praise, or fall on your face in humble submission, may you voice your commitment to the Great I AM with all your heart!  <3

Praying for each of you!

♥  coleen

Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord, You have heard the cry of our hearts…we each do SO want to love You with all our hearts; to serve You with our whole heart; to obey You with our whole heart; to seek You with all our heart; to trust You, and You alone, with all our heart!  We choose You, Lord…You are the Great I AM Who deserves our love with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength!  May our words accompanied by our strong conviction, and commitment be pleasing to You!

Amen.

“I AM” Chapter 3 – Day 3: God’s Judgment

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

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Three different prophets…yet all three present similar messages of judgment to the people.

Obadiah – He shares with the Edomites that disaster is coming, due to their blatant arrogance toward God and persecution of God’s children. He told them in verse 15 that all their evil deeds will fall back on their own heads.

Micah – He shares with the people of Israel that judgment will come because of the sins and rebellion of Israel and Judah and he lists their sins (fraud, greed, debauchery, oppression, hypocrisy, heresy, injustice, extortion, lying, murder and many others). Micah does give them hope and consolation as he describes God’s love, when he says the truth is that judgment comes only after countless opportunities to repent, to turn back to true worship and obedience. His message to them was simple:

  • Do what is right
  • Love Mercy
  • Walk Humbly with your God

God shows His anger in action as He judges and punishes sin, but He also shows His love in action as He offers eternal life to all who repent and believe.

Nahum – Nahum’s message is one of judgment against Nineveh and the Assyrians. The Assyrians were a continual thorn in Judah’s flesh. The oppression Judah experienced seemed never ending. In the midst of Nahum’s pronouncement of judgment came a word of comfort, a vivid reminder to Judah of God’s relationship with them.

As I studied these three books dealing with this lesson today many thoughts were racing through my mind, but the one for us to focus on today is this word “judgment.”   Most people don’t like this word.  They find it harsh and basically a “finger pointing” kind of word.Girlfriends Coffee Hour

This word judgment is used in many different ways in the Bible.   Some references teach us it has to do with being judged for doing bad things to other people. Other references pertain to exercising sound judgment or showing a lack of judgment.

This word judgment has a function:  the Bible says that, “When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world,” so judgment is actually to save us rather than to condemn us (1 Corinthians 11:32).

This word judgment also gives us caution/warning:  we are warned in the Bible to be careful about judging others. When we do, we are condemning ourselves because we do the same things to others whom we are passing judgment onto (Romans 2:1).  Society typically judges by appearances rather than by the things that truly matter (John 7:24). The Bible says that “God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14), so we do not need to sit in judgment of one another.

This word judgment will also provide us with solutions/remedies:  It tells us to “stop passing judgment on one another. Don’t put stumbling blocks or obstacles in our brother’s way” (Romans 14:13). Instead, we should judge ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:31).  Mercy triumphs over judgment: “So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you. (James 2:12-13).

I studied a little deeper in the book of Nahum during today’s lesson probably more than others, as this prophet of comfort gave us three truths in Chapter 1, verse 7 about God’s relationship with us:

  •  “The Lord is good”   I believe Nahum wanted the people to remember that God knew what they were experiencing. He wasn’t oblivious to their sufferings, and He had always been and would continue to be faithful to them. God is not oblivious to what is going on in our lives either, and we must remember that God is absolutely faithful to us everyday.
  • God is “a stronghold in the day of trouble”  The phrase “day of trouble” is a reference to any tragic experience of life we will face. Nahum is reminding us that God is our stronghold, He is our fortress behind whose walls we can find our only real security in life. There will be tragedies and problems that creep into our lives but, what God promises is that when that “day of trouble” comes, we are so secure in Him that no situation in life can change His love for us.
  • “He knows those who take refuge and trust in Him”  Nahum points Judah to a relationship of trust in God and that God is completely sufficient to those who take refuge in Him. God knows each of us as intimately as He knew Judah and is fully sufficient to meet us when our life explodes out of control.

Nahum gave a message of hope for God-followers and yet a message of doom for those who oppose Him.

God gives a message of hope to those who repent, believe & receive:     “At one time we, too, were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” Titus 3:3-7 NIV.

And yet God also gives a message of doom to those who oppose Him:    You will ultimately stand before Him on the day of judgment, and when your name is not found in the Book of Life, you will be thrown into the lake of fire Revelation 20:15.

This word “judgment” begins in our life from the day we are born and will follow us all the way through to our moment standing in front of our Father.

Is there anything we need to change in our life today that will affect the outcome of our coming judgment?  If so, will you make the choice to follow God and live? Or disobey and face the coming judgment?

 It is God’s will for everyone to experience His love and mercy. None should suffer needlessly unless they choose to.

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Let’s Pray: 

God, I thank You for each person who reads this lesson.  As they seek the stories of Your judgments in Your Word help each one to see and know that they have a choice: one of hope or one of doom in the decisions about following You/choosing You. Guide them, Lord, to  “do what is right” to “love mercy” and to “walk humbly with You, Lord,” instead of seeking revenge and wanting to make judgments ourselves on others or situations.  Help us to fall at Your feet for You, O Lord, are the only one in a position to judge the actions of others. In Your Holy name I pray.

Amen