November 23, 2017

Esther – Chapter 4:1-3

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Now when Mordecai learned all that was done, [he] rent his clothes and put on sackcloth with ashes and went out into the midst of the city and cried with a loud and bitter cry.  He came and stood before the king’s gate, for no one might enter the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth.  And in every province, wherever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping, and wailing, and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.
The Book of Esther, chapter 4:1-3

Mordecai was utterly distraught.  The word, distraught, means ‘overly agitated, worried, full of grief, worked up, deeply upset, in a panic.’  In Latin, it literally means to be pulled apart.  Have you ever felt like this?  I am thinking you are nodding your head…for sure I have, too.  There are many reactions and responses to this gut-wrenching emotion of being distraught. Perhaps you might feel as Mordecai did and react by crying out loudly.  Or, rather, you might feel ‘frozen’ and not sure what to do.  Maybe you might feel like you had been punched and just fall to your knees in despondency.  These emotions—being distraught, despondent, unsure—are feelings that the enemy of our souls would want you to experience and succumb to in defeat.

However, there is One Who knows we will feel like this at times and wants us to seek Him for relief and help and deliverance.  Our heavenly Father is the One Who has put ‘feelings’ into our makeup.  Remember He formed and made us; He knows every part of our being…our feelings and our thoughts, too.

O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.
You know my downsitting and my uprising; You understand my thought afar off.
You sift and search out my path and my lying down; You are acquainted with all my ways.
Psalms 139:1-3

Almighty God wants us to come to Him at any time, with all of our feelings; yes, even when we are distraught, despondent, unsure.  He already knows we are feeling this way…He just wants us to seek Him!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.
Proverbs 3:5-8

The same feelings that Satan attempts to use to pull us down and defeat us, God can use to draw us to Himself.  Listen to the words of the psalmist when he was distraught, despondent, unsure.  Just like Mordecai, he cried out to God.

As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me.
Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice.
Psalms 55:16 and 17

With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.
I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.
Psalms 142:1 and 2

You know those times when you fall to your knees…so unsure of what to do.  God simply desires a heart of humility as You come before Him.

There is record after record after record in the Scriptures of people who loved God, and did wonderful things as they served Him…and yet, at times, were at their wits’ end.  This account in the Book of Esther is an incredible example of harrowing times—so alarming and scary!   But as we have witnessed over the past three weeks in our study, Esther’s story is one that shows the providential hand of the loving Almighty God.  As we continue our study of the Book of Esther, and Mrs. Schacht’s Esther: the Beauty of Courageous Submission, we will see how Esther also recognized her need for God’s protection, His care, His supply of her needs.

May I encourage each of you to never, ever hold back your desire to cry out to your heavenly Father.  He is always listening.  He has promised.  His promises are ours to stand firmly on knowing Who has spoken them, and Who will bring them to pass.

In my distress I cried to the Lord, and He answered me.
Psalm 120:1

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
Psalm 34:6

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Acts 2:21

He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry;
when He hears it, He will answer you.
Isaiah 30:19

* * * * *

Let’s Pray:

Thank You, Father, for Your many promises that You will hear our cry…and that You will answer.  You are a Faithful God…who never lies.  We are such blessed women that we can put our absolute trust and total confidence in You!  You are so good to us!  We praise and thank You in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Esther: Chapter 3:1-4

This week we are studying the 3rd Chapter of the Book of Esther.  Things were getting really serious!  Remember when Esther came and shared the story of God’s provision for her life with us?   If Esther were here sharing with us now, I think that she would be crying her beautiful heart out!  And this is why…

  • Uncle Mordecai is refusing to bow to  Haman.
  • This enraged Haman who decided that to kill Mordecai would be silly…why not destroy all of Mordecai’s people—the Jews.
  • Haman somehow has convinced Ahasuerus that the Jews are a threat and that they all should wiped out.
  • A date has been chosen for the annihilation of God’s people.
  • An edict has been issued, signed, and sealed with the king’s signet ring and sent round to all 127 provinces in the kingdom.
  • Mordecai and Esther’s people are to be wiped out of Ahasuerus’ entire kingdom…all this in Chapter 3!

– – – – – – – – –

Today in our study of Esther: the Beauty of Courageous Submission, Mrs. Schacht asks an important question:

If Vashti was rebellious when she refused to submit to the King in chapter one, how then was it okay for Mordecai to refuse?  We can find a clue to that answer when we read Acts 5:27-29.  What do you deduct from the example of Peter and the apostles?” 

Have you considered her question yet?  How about we look deeper in detail at this record….   Whenever I read this chapter in the Book of Esther, I always think that Mordecai was so similar in heart and his actions to Jesus’ apostles.  He would not bow to any other than Almighty God; and they would not bow to any other than their Lord, Jesus.  Let’s look at the Book of Acts, Chapter 5.   Acts 5:18-41   Take a few minutes, if you would, and read through this incredible record; then come back here, ok?

We see this record opening with some of our Lord’s apostles being put in jail (verse 18).  One of these men was Peter.  Don’t you just love Peter?

  • He was a fisherman who cast down his nets when Jesus said, ‘Follow Me.’
  • He was one of Jesus’ closest companions
  • He was one of the three that Jesus took with Him to pray on the night He was arrested
  • He was a very passionate man
  • He was the one who lopped off the ear of the high priest’s servant in the garden of Gethsemane
  • He was also the one who denied being with the Lord three separate times during Jesus’ trial
  • He was also the one who heralded forth the truth about Jesus on the day of Pentecost

Peter, and the others, were committed to telling others about the Lord Jesus Christ.  They weren’t afraid.  They weren’t timid.  They didn’t hold back.  Now, it doesn’t appear that they were trying to be radical or revolutionary.  They just were NOT going to back down, close their mouths, and not speak.  Just Like Mordecai could NOT bow down to <hiss!> Haman <hiss!>….they just could NOT not speak!  Now the following, I think, is the ‘clue’ that Mrs. Schacht was referring to in her question.

But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison,
and taking them out he said,  “Go, stand and speak
to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.
Acts 5:19 and 20

They were directly following the command given to them by an angel sent to them by the Lord.  How about you?  If an angel brought a message to you from the Lord, would you hesitate to go and do it?  Not at all, I am sure!

As we read in the context of this record, upon being sprung from prison by the angel, they immediately went to the temple and began to speak.  Needless to say…they were confronted and accosted again.  When asked why they would continue to do so, here is what they responded.

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.  He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.  And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
Verses 29-32

I am sure I do not need to tell you that the officials (the Sanhedrin) were livid upon hearing their words.  But one them spoke up and suggested that they just let Peter and the others go…and see whether anything would come of it.  “…for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God”  (verses 38 and 39).

They went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
Acts 5:41 and 42

So, do you have an answer to Mrs Schacht’s question?

* * * * *

Lord, You have given us so many examples throughout the Scriptures of Your people who have boldly stood for the TRUTH.  Help us, Lord, to have the same commitment, the same —the same love and devotion to You, and You alone.  We love You, Lord!

Amen.

“I AM” Chapter 7 – Day 2: Alpha and Omega

2Chron7_14_IAMAlpha and Omega

These are two very powerful words; they are strong and demand attention.
But for me these words also bring comfort.  Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega; the Beginning and the End. There is so much in between those two words, in between those two names.

Alpha (Friend. Redeemed. Forgiven. Free. Confident. Assured.) Omega

This is who I am in the great I AM.  This is who you are in the great I AM.
When I look at this title, and what the Alpha and Omega truly means, it reassures me that I will never be left alone.  Christ has been with me from my start and He will be with me through my finish. He will be with me when I need a friend; when I need redemption; when I need to be forgiven; when I am seeking freedom; when I need confidence and when I need assurance.

By having a relationship with Christ we can feel these things, we can develop a relationship in which we will always know our Beginning and we will always know our End. To quote Teresa from this book, “Jesus wants to be your best friend.” He wants us to have all of these things in abundance. He wants to be there in our Beginning and in our End.

 ____________________________

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for showing us our beginning and our end. Thank You for being there in our lives for both, and through all the in-between. Lord, You offer us friendship and redemption.  You offer us things we do not deserve; Your love always remains. Your gift of friendship always remains. Lord, help us to walk in the power of Your promises and in Your covering.  Most importantly, help us to be an example to others of what it means to be a friend of the I AM.  In Jesus’ 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 3: I AM…God’s Workmanship

Eph2_10

Have you ever wondered just how God made everything?   Have you been sitting outside during the summer looking up at the beautiful sky with all the twinkling stars shining like diamonds, the bright moon shining so bright you didn’t need a flashlight?  What about walking along the beach as the sun begins to pop up on the horizon with it’s beautiful orange canvas?  What about when the skies turn dark and thunder is clapping so loud you need earplugs?   These ladies are some of the many wonders of our Lord from His artistic hands!

Our God of the universe created all this beautiful artwork and more. As you sit and think on these, your mind is captivated by ALL the wonders of God’s creations; and yet, in all these things happening around us, there is still MORE!  Something even greater that He is molding into being.

 His greatest masterpiece of all time = You and Me!!!

God created the heavens and earth and He knew it was good, yet there was still something missing….It was US!!    So He decided He needed to make man in the image of Himself.    We were created to have fellowship with Him.   We were not just an after dinner thought.   We were the special finishing touch to His creation!

Zechariah 2:8 says ”For thus saith the Lord of hosts; after the glory hath sent Me unto the nations which spoiled you; for He that toucheth  you toucheth the apple of His eye.  He says we are His workmanship.”   How about that?  We are His greatest work of art.  We are so valuable that He tells us we are the apple of His eye!

Ephesians 2:10  says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Did you know there is a Master at work in you?  Did you know your life is a priceless work of art? He is the Master Artist, who is painting, sculpting, chiseling away each day as He envisions you to be.  With every stroke He is shaping your identity in His image.   You can depend on His Masters Art Degree.   You will experience every day as He chisels at you that what you end up with is a “one of a kind”  “not for sale” masterpiece.

Do you have a hard time believing you are God’s masterpiece?  That you are special to Him?  If you question this at all, then that means olslewfoot (Satan) is trying to convince you otherwise.  Don’t let him come in and fill your head and heart up with all kinds of lies.  This is definitely not what our God thinks of us!

How about taking a trip to the closest mirror in your housegoright nowthen come back….and take a long hard look while you are there.

OK, so what did you see?  I pray you saw a beautiful cherished creation, a treasure, a masterpiece!  Because that is what God created when He made you.  But maybe you saw some things when you looked in that mirror that you didn’t like.

Think of your life when you look in the mirror as a canvas that began empty with nothing there but as soon as you were born He began a new work in you creating an astounding depiction of His glory and grace.   I know sometimes you may think “But wait, God…this part of my life is a waste;  don’t draw that!”   But remember these are some special strokes and chiseling that God is having to apply as He is growing us, changing us into His special masterpiece.

Are you willing to let Him paint, chisel you until He gets you right where He wants/needs you to be?

 You are His most prized possession and what matters most to Him is you!

So why not let Him be the creative Master artist that He is and let Him transform you so that you reveal His beauty, His glory and His love, His MASTERPIECE!

A lovely work that comes straight from the Master’s hand.

 When you looked in that mirror did you question, “God, am I your masterpiece?”

If you feel or have felt this way at any time in your life,  open your heart, your ears, and watch this video and allow God to show you who you are or who you can become.

Now say this  “(your name)  is God’s  original Masterpiece!”

 

Let’s Pray:

Dear God,

Sometimes it is hard for me to think of myself as a piece of Your artwork, created to be just who You wanted me to be.  Help me to acknowledge and embrace who You have made me to be.  I’ve had areas in my life that needed or still need chiseling, and I thank You for continuing to be a Master Artist and stroking me daily in areas that need to be fixed.  Help me, Lord, to fully be that person You had in mind as You made me.  Help me to live to glorify You and to fully reveal this wonderful masterpiece that You continually grow and chisel each day!  In Your name I pray.

Amen!

“I AM” Chapter 6 – Day 2: I AM…A Branch

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  

Galatians 5:22-23

You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.   Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

 John 15:3-5

 

I am a branch; this is a title that I willingly accept in my life.

When I think of a branch the first thing that comes to mind is the extension of a tree; simple, right?  A branch is a part of something much bigger than itself but plays a very important role in the success of the tree as a whole.  A branch at any time may be full of fresh green leaves, fruit, flowers even, but at other times the branch may be bare.  It is still alive and still connected to the tree but it is in a season of waiting—a season of needing to be content until it is time to bear fruit again. There are also those times when a branch may be broken, when the gardener needs to reattach it to the tree in a way only he can…to allow the branch to become reconnected to the tree.

I love how the relationship between God and man is illustrated.  I love how He can take something as simple and beautiful as a tree and give us a visual concept that applies to our everyday life.

Like Teresa said in today’s reading, bearing fruit means more than winning souls to Christ (although that is a task we are assigned with).  Remember, being a branch means that we are an extension; we are to display the characteristics of Christ.

Love – Joy – Peace – Longsuffering – Kindness – 

Goodness – Faithfulness – Gentleness – Self-control

Displaying these characteristics is part of being a branch.  “We can only bear this fruit by the work of the Holy Spirit in our life.”

What is listed above is a lot of fruit—a lot of characteristics that we are commanded to display. This can be very intimidating.  Yes, I pray that I can display all of these fruits of the Spirit.  But I understand that I am a maturing Christian, I am a maturing woman.  There may be times when I don’t display any of them, and times where I only display one or two.

God’s grace reminds me that His love for me surpasses my lack of bearing all the fruit at once. His grace also reminds me that I may be called to bear different fruits in different circumstances.

God has already “pruned and purified us.”  He has already accepted us and appointed us. Ladies, let us daily remain in Christ so that we can bear His fruit and so we can be examples to others of the joy that comes from being branches of the I AM.

Don’t forget this week’s Memory Verse!

Eph2_10

_____________

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us these fruits of the spirit.  Thank You for making plain what is expected of us.  Lord, please place on our hearts what fruit we need to display at what time.  Lord, remind us that we need to stay rooted in You, through prayer and through studying Your word in order to bear fruit.  In Jesus’ Name, we pray.

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 3: I AM…Free to Be ME

GFCHmemverse3

As I thought about this lesson and what God would have me share, two words kept coming back at me and I thought “really God that is what you want me to talk about?” And He kept saying yes, so here we go!

 Do-Over    (what is it?)

In our family, a do-over has consisted of many things in our daily lives, but the most constant one has been when we have been playing Putt-Putt at Myrtle Beach.  Every summer the kids would always have at least one hole they didn’t do so good on and they would ask us, “Can I have a do-over?”  My husband said that is called a “mulligan” and the kids would say “Well, whatever.  Can I have one?”  So right then we made a rule that on every Putt-Putt game we ever played together in our lives we would always allow one “do-over” *(mulligan)* during the game.   Sometimes we would pick the “do-over” on the right hole, but sometimes we didn’t.

As I thought about this story of our family I began to think about our daily lives and how we need do-overs in them too!  Sometimes we say something too quickly to someone or hit the send button on an email, and both times wishing we should have thought a little longer about it before we spoke or wrote.

Have you examined your life lately?  Where are you spiritually?  Are you wishing for something different?  Are you living the life Jesus wants for you?  If all of a sudden you feel burdened by any of these questions…don’tbecause you must remember our God is a God of “do-overs!”

No matter what the mistake, the pain, or any hardships, we can call out “Do-over!” and we can start fresh and new!  In order for us to have the freedom that knowing this truth brings we have to truly mean it, not just say it and then do the same thing again.  But to truly mean it— we have to live it!   You may be asking, “Well how do I do that?”  “How do I break those bad habits?”   Here’s your answer…turn your life over to God fully and let Him RENEW you!

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

 When you turn your life over to God He is giving you a “do-over” from all your past; you will see a whole new view of yourself.  You will also realize two truths:

  • God does not see you as a struggling, troubled, or horrible person.
  • Instead, God sees you as His beloved child, made in His image.

It is then we will begin focusing on God and not our mistakes.  We will see that God can renew us.   When we see that by placing all the pieces of our lives before God and staying alert in the ways of God, and by seeing His divine nature growing in us, we will begin to take advantage of the blessings of all the do-overs.

There have been many in the Bible who had opportunities to step up in their journey of faith and yet were not only offered a “do-over” but also new opportunities to serve:

  • King David after his affair with Bathsheba
  • Saul of Tarsus after he hunted down Christians
  • Church of Laodicea after they let their faith fade from passionate to lukewarm

There were also people in the Bible who discovered the blessings of do-overs:

  • Jacob and Esau  (Genesis 33)
  • Both Joseph and his brothers got to start over (Genesis 45)
  • After Peter denied Jesus, he got another chance to stand up (John 21:15)
  • And then there was Paul, he got an entire life do-over!   As Saul he persecuted Christians, but he was transformed on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), received Christ, and began spreading the gospel instead of persecuting it.

Talk about a do-over, that is a total newly born, born again believer! He is a new creation!

If God offers us this kind of do-over, then why is it that we feel trapped, paralyzed; we want to make a change but just unsure about how to do it.  Most reasons we feel this way is because once we’ve messed up we are labeled as a failure by others, we aren’t looking at ourselves like God would.   That’s what needs to change!

We need to realize that we aren’t living the way God wants us to and that we need a spiritual “do-over,”  so how do we get one?

  • Submit
  • Surrender
  • Yield to God

If we aren’t where we need to be spiritually what is keeping us from asking for a “do-over?”  Why are we having a hard time letting go?

Paul has painted us a beautiful picture in Phillipians 3:13-14, to forget what is behind and reach for what is ahead!

As I thought about writing today’s blog God showed me there are two kinds of people that will be reading today: 1) those that have had a “do-over” and, 2) those that need to have a “do-over.”

For those who need a “do-over,” what would it look like for you to be free from your past and become a new creation—a new-born believer?

We serve a God that allows “do-overs,” He will accept you, forgive you, and grow you into a new person.   Yes, this is YOU I’m talking about!  No matter what you’ve done or said, no matter what,  He allows us to start over!  Here’s a good verse for you to consider.

Psalms 116:12-13 says, What shall I render unto the Lord for all of His benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.

 Your “do-over” is up to you.

 When we surrender our lives to You, God, we stop fighting with ourselves.

If we truly want a “do-over” we can have it.

All we have to do is “ASK”.

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Let’s Pray:

God, I thank You for “do-overs.”   Help each of us today to feel new, act new, think new; help us to love others like we never have before.  Help us to realize that You are there every moment of every day to help us when we need a “do-over” and to make a fresh start to something that started not so good.  God, I lift up a special prayer for the ones who are reading this that need a total “life do-over;” they need You as Savior!  Help them to see You are waiting in the wings of their day for them to call on Your name, asking to be made a new creation.  Help them to know You give “do-overs” and are ready to give them one right now! And when they receive it, help them lift their hands in praise to You and tell the world!   In Your name I pray.

Amen

“I AM” Chapter 5 – Day 2: I AM Family

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Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. 

Ephesians 1:11

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Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Colossians 3:12 

Chose. That word says so much. Here are a couple of definitions that I found for this word; looking at the definition helps me to better understand the full impact of the meaning of a word.

  • To want; desire.
  • Make a deliberate decision: to make a deliberate decision to do something

We can’t choose our earthly family, we are gifted (doesn’t always feel like it but yes) with them by God; they are genetically ours.  We love them for their good characteristics and pray them through their bad; as my son says “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”   This principle can be easily applied to our earthly families because, like Teresa said, these relationships are tangible, we can see the connections and they are sometimes easier to grasp than the concept of a spiritual family, whose connections we cannot see with our eyes.

Our spiritual family is different. It’s a family chosen by God; we’re related by blood,—but not flesh and blood like siblings are related—but by the blood of the Lamb.

We don’t choose our family in this life, but God chose us.  He picked each and every one of us.  If nothing else this gives us reassurance that we are part of the I AM’s family; take confidence that He wanted us!  He knew our past, present, and futures and still chose us.

He desires to have a relationship with us.  He made a deliberate decision to call us into His family.

There’s something that Teresa wrote that truly touched my heart: “When it comes to our spiritual family, we like to pick and choose.”  We walk around life looking at those around us, questioning why we have to accept them, and questioning why God chose them.  They may have hurt us, we may know things about their past, and we may wonder why we have to accept them.  I know I have been guilty of this.

Look at Colossians 3:12 again…and see how we are to interact and love our spiritual family:

Tenderhearted – Merciful – Kind – Walking in Humility – Gentle – Patient

 Why?

Because He chose you.   Because He chose me.
Because we are the family of The Great I AM.

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for choosing me despite my past, despite my present, and despite what my future holds that does not live up to Your word.  Lord, please give us the hearts to accept our spiritual family as You have accepted and chosen us.  Lord, please guide us and give us the opportunities to walk with a tender heart, with mercy, in kindness, with humility, gently, and with patience. Help us to embrace that we are a part of Your family.  Thank You, Father.  In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen

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

Memory Verse:

Heb4_16

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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