What Do You Do? Walking With Jesus, Esther, Part 1

IMG_0051The war began in the heart of the Creator’s anointed cherub before time existed.

His name,

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!

how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven,

I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:

I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;

I will be like the most High.” Isa. 14:12-14.

His Creator and ours answered the challenge.

“Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit…Isa. 14:15; T

In the Garden of Eden, the anointed cherub revealed himself a liar, a thief, and a murderer when he enticed Eve to deny the goodness of her Creator. The hearts and minds of mankind became his battlefield as he continued to seek the Lord God’s throne. If he could destroy God’s people, he may have believed the throne would be his, for there would be no Deliverer as promised in the Garden, to Abraham, the prophets, priests, and kings. But God would prevail.

“I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and, and thou shalt bruise his heel…Gen. 3:15;

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your  feet shortly…Rom. 16:20;

But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Gal. 4:4,5.

Although, the name of God nor Satan are mentioned in the book of Esther, both are depicted. One in the account of Haman’s attempt to destroy God’s chosen people and the other in Esther’s role in the salvation of the Lord’s people. God’s faithfulness to his word was and is greater than any scheme of the deceiver.

“Ye are of God little children, and overcome them:

because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1John 4:4

The Book of Esther depicts the Lord’s providential wisdom  in the affairs of man. Beginning with the banishment of Queen Vashti, Esther’s crowning, Mordecai’s saving of the king, Haman’s pride and hatred in the plotting of the Jews’ demise, Haman’s end, and in the end, the Jews’ salvation in which the Lord orchestrated a lost cause into a great victory, the Lord’s sovereignty unfolds.

Mordecai prophesied the Jews’ deliverance when he sought Esther’s help.

“For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

After Esther obeys Mordecai’s charge to approach the king, without being summoned, she asks Mordecai and all the Jews in Shushan to fast for her for three days and nights. Read the account to see God’s plan unfold, resulting in,

“…the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.” Esther 8:17.

For Us:

This would not be the last battle between the Lord and Satan, nor the last time God’s people would be threatened with extinction. Even now, the body of Christ, the church, comes under attack, some severely, others subtly but all by the same enemy.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Eph. 6:12.

What are we to do? Where does our help come from? The same place as Esther’s.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might…

take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand..

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,

and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Eph. 6:10,13,18.

Knowing this:

There will be one last battle.

“And when the thousand years are expired,

Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations…

And they went upon the breadth of the earth and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city:

and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone,

where the beast and the false prophet are and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Rev. 20:7-10.

The King of kings and the Lord of lords wins and all who are His will be with Him for ever and ever! I hope to see you there.

Stand brothers and sisters. Stand in His might.


When you find yourself in a battle, what is your recourse? How has the Lord showed himself strong on your behalf?

 

Do You Want to Live in Peace?

Nehemiah was a Jew living in a foreign land, the cup bearer to the king of Persia. This meant he faced death every time a drink was brought to the king. Upon returning to Jerusalem, he was appointed Governor of Judah. Above all this, Nehemiah was patriotic, persistent, positive, persevering, pure in motive, and prayerful.

His example as a leader is what we all hope for when we go to the polls and vote. Our hopes are rarely met but we can learn much from Nehemiah in how to pray for the leaders of our nations.

blogflag-186476__340Nehemiah the Patriot:

His heart longed for his homeland and those who had escaped captivity.

“That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah: and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

And it came to pass, when I heard these words,

that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days,

and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven…” Neh. 1:2-4.

His heart broke for his fellow Jews and the city of God. He did not complain or wring his hands. He took his pain to the One who could make a difference.

Nehemiah owned up to the sin of his people.

“…I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee…

blogchristian-1281948__340For Us:

Hatred and division, corruption in the highest levels, sanctioning of sin through the laws of our land, refusing God’s word as the final authority on what is right and wrong and doing what is right in our own sight, how can we hope to stand unless we first fall to our knees. It is time to…

“Repent;

or else I will come unto thee quickly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” Rev. 2:16.

“If we confess our sins,

he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,

and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1John 1:9,10.

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.

Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep:

let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. Speak not evil one of another, brethren.” James 4:8-11a.

Our prayer for the nations:

Our Father in heaven, Almighty God who reigns forever and ever, your word is true and right.

We as a country have sinned against you in forsaking your law, your standard of right and wrong. We have followed after the gods of power, money, and perversion of every sort. We have called evil good and good evil. May we as one see ourselves as you see us and repent of the evil we have called our god, the pride that fills our hearts with self. Forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

May our hearts be pure before you and our minds renewed in your word.

May our hearts break for the sin that breaks us in two.

May we return to you as our true Leader to follow you in all your ways.

You will judge the nations.

May we humble ourselves now that we may stand in the end.

All is asked in the name of Jesus Christ our coming King and for your glory, honor, and praise. Amen.

Will you join me for your nation as I pray for our nation? Nehemiah is all about reformation. As God brought it to pass in Nehemiah’s day, He can and will if we humble ourselves today. Do you want peace in your land? Pray.

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 2Tim. 2:1-4.

 

 

How Prepared is Your Heart?

“Blessed by the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart…and hath extended mercy unto me before the king‘s mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.” Ezra 7:27,28.

Ezra did not move forward without preparation. All along the way God’s mercy was extended to him. His heart assured him of the Lord’s presence strengthening him for the journey and work ahead.

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Retrieved from Pixabay’s free images.

Ezra’s Preparation:

“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” Ezra 7:10.

How does one prepare the heart for the work of the Lord?

“Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5.

My husband, Papa Tom to the grandchildren, played a game with them when they were younger. He laid a quilt on the floor. The grandchild would lay on the quilt. Then Papa would roll him up in it like a cocoon with head and feet sticking out the ends. After being wrapped our great-grandson said he was a burrito not a cocoon. Papa instructed him to lay stiff and still as he carefully lifted him to the couch. Then with a quick even tug Papa pulled the quilt from around the child giggling and pleading to, “Do it again, Papa Tom!”

Papa Tom’s game illustrates what it means to commit. For the word, in its original, means, “rolled upon.” As our grandson committed his trust in his Papa, so we must commit or roll all our trust upon the Lord in the way we are to go.

“I call to remembrance my song in the night:

I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.”

I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.

I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.

Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary, who is so great a God as our God; Thou art the God that doest wonders. thou hast declared thy strength among the people.” Psalm 77:6, 11-14.

When the heart is unsure, remember.

Remember:

The faithfulness of God is our hope, bringing with it assurance and joy.

When was the last time you woke in the night with a song in your heart?

The works of the Lord.

What work of the Lord has shown his Presence in your life?

The wonders of old.

What  favorite scripture reveals to you the wonder of God?

Next:

Ponder the questions in your heart and set your mind to make diligent search in God’s word. Enter into the holy of holies to find your answers.

“if ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Col. 3:1-2.

Finally:

Seek the things from above-life, truth, all that is eternal and not temporary. Think on these things and…

Give praise to our God for there is none like Him, none so great. Speak often of His wonder and works.

A prepared heart is the beginning of a life lived in integrity.


In my next post I hope to look at how the prepared heart seeks, does, and teaches others as we visit Ezra’s example and learn to grow in integrity.

Please, leave your answers to the questions in comments.  If you would like my answers ask. And thank you, for your comments and for stopping by.

As the King, So is the Country

“And immediately I was in the spirit: and behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” Rev. 4:2.

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Image by pixabay.

Only one sits on the throne. He puts kings in place and He removes them. But each has the responsibility of leading their people. Their lead determines the paths taken whether for good or evil. This is the truth found in the books of Kings and Chronicles.

Solomon began well but did not end well.

“And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice. And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods:

but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.” I Kings 11:9,10.

Because of Solomon’s disobedience to the word of the Lord, God would tear his kingdom away from him in the days of his son’s rule. For David’s sake the two southern tribes would remain in the Davidic dynasty. The ten northern tribes would come under the rule of Jeroboam.

“After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places.

And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth…

For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water,

and he shall root up Israel out of this good land,

which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river,

because they have made their groves, provoking the LORD to anger.

And he shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin.” 1Kings 13:33,34; 14:15,16.

For the divided kingdom things went from bad to worse. The Northern Kingdom had no kings that followed the Lord. All followed the ways of Jeroboam. Their sins captured them in the Assyrian take over.

“For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets.

So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day.” 2Kings 17:22,23.

Judah didn’t fare much better. A few of their kings did lead them in short-lived revival. Most, “did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.”  As was the king, so went the country. Eventually their sin defeated them through the Babylonians.

“Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand…

And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia.” 2Chron. 36: 17, 20.

Would the LORD God forsake his people, his covenant with Abraham and with David? Would he deny himself? Paul answers these questions in Romans 11.

“I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid…

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits;

that blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.

And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written,

There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes; but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”

In 1948 Israel returned to her land as a united nation. We wait with them for the revelation of their one King and ours to sit on the throne of David and reign in righteousness forever.

“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,

upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, 

to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this…Isa. 9:7

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last…

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.

I am the root and the offspring of David,

and the bright and morning star…

Surely I come quickly.” Rev. 22: 13, 16,20.

Let’s remember to pray for the peace of Israel, learn from their hard lessons, and carefully choose the leaders we will follow. For as the king goes, so goes the country.

How are you preparing for the coming of our King?

How Will You Respond?

“The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” Matt. 12:42.

Some say Solomon is a portrayal of the wisdom of Christ.

“And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men…And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five…And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.” 1Kings 4:29-34.

Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. Did all his wisdom go to his head rather than remain in his heart?  I leave that discussion for another time, possibly when we get to Ecclesiastes. Solomon’s wisdom  came as a glorious gift from the Lord God. But even it could not compare with the glory of the temple.blog temple

“And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that  the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD…

Solomon’s Response:You can find Solomon’s complete prayer in 1Kings 8 and 2Chron. 6.

And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven; and he said,

LORD God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart…

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded…”

The shekinah glory of God filled the house giving Israel a glimpse of the glory that was to come.

Jesus Response:

“But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple…” Matt. 12:6;

Daniel saw him in a night vision.

“…behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given to him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13,14.

Daniel’s Response:

“…As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.” Dan. 7:28.

John, the Revelator, saw a glimpse of the risen Christ in his glory as King ,Conqueror, and the temple. (Scriptures found in Rev. 1, 19, and 21).

“And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man,

clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow;

and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace;

and his voice as the sound of many waters.

And he had in his right hand seven stars;

and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword:

and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength…

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse;

and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns;

and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.

And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood:

and his name is called The Word of God…And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS…

And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it:

for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”

John’s Response:

“And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead…” Rev. 1:17.

We, too, have beheld the glory of Christ, at least partially.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:14.

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us:

that the world  may believe that thou has sent me.

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one…

I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am;

that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”(From John 17).

Our Response:

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth…Phil. 2:9,10.

If not now, when?

What might your response be when you see Jesus in the fullness of his glory?

 

A Man of Confidence

David stepped into the limelight of Israel after the Spirit of the Lord left King Saul. David stood  with no armor , his weapon, a sling shot, and five smooth stones. He, a good-looking teenager, faced Goliath, a man of war standing over nine feet tall, ready to battle. The giant couldn’t believe what he saw as the youth faced off with him and proceeded to mock him. David’s answer?

“…Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.

This day

will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee[remember, he didn’t have a sword but a sling]

and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands.” 1Sam.17:45-47.

Looking with the eyes, one would have thought David a cocky teen about to meet his death. But by what is heard, we know he was a man of confidence, not self-confidence but confidence in:

the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.

Confidence is born of the knowledge of truth.

“David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.” 1Sam. 17:37.

Before facing Goliath, the Lord had shown himself as David’s deliverer. Later in life he would say,

“The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.” Ps. 34:7-9.

David’s confidence was in the Lord.

Our Confidence:

“Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust[confidence] have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God:” 2Cor.3:3-5.

Confidence is only as good as its foundation.

Our Deliverer:

“But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us.”2Cor. 1:9,10.

“ Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Col. 1:12-14.

Christ is the foundation. 

David’s confidence manifested itself in bold courage against his enemies.

“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us: Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us. Then the waters had gone over our soul. Blessed be the LORD, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” Ps. 124:2-8.

Our Confidence and Boldness.

“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. \

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need…

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:

because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (Phil. 1:20,21; Heb. 4:16; 1John 4:18).

David’s Confidence Waited for God’s perfect timing.

“And David said to Saul, Wherefore hearest thou men’s words, saying, behold, David seeketh thy hurt? Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee; but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD’S anointed.” 1Sam. 24:9,10.

Throughout Saul’s reign, 42 years, he sought to take David’s life. Twice David had opportunity to take Saul’s life knowing the throne was to be his, but he would not. Instead of trying to make God’s will happen and rid himself of an enemy, David chose waiting on the promises of God.

“Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.  How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence…

My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Ps. 62:1-3,5.

David’s expectation was met in 2Samuel when he was crowned king of Israel.

Our Confidence Waits for the Promise of God.

“And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises…

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry…”(Heb. 6:11,12; 10:35-37).

“And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Rev. 22:12,13.


We will walk with Christ next time to complete the journey through Samuel’s writings.

A Man of Excuses

The Kingsmen, a southern gospel quartet, recorded a song called Excuses. I’ve included a link to the song at the end. It’s good for a laugh until you realize excuses are no laughing matter.

King Saul, the first king of Israel, found out the hard way the Lord accepts no excuses and there is nothing funny about the consequences. He reigned for approximately 42 years but lost his dynasty and his life in the end.

“But if ye will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was against your fathers.”1Sam. 12:15.

blogmistake-1966448__340EXCUSES:

For what it’s worth, my definition is, justifying disobedience with one’s own reason. King Saul wears the definition well.

SAUL’S FIRST EXCUSES:

Saul’s army faced the Philistine army of over 36,000. Many ran, others stood trembling as they waited for Samuel to come and seek God’s favor through a burnt offering. Saul, fearful his whole army would flee and the Philistines would come upon them, set himself up as priest and offered the burnt offering.

“And Samuel said, What hast thou done?

And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD; I forced myself therefore, and offered a burn offering.

And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast no kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.

But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people,

because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.” 1Sam. 13:11-14.

 Saul’s excuses pointed the finger at others supposed weaknesses refusing to take responsibility for personal actions.

Saul’s excuses relied on human understanding fueled by fear rather than trusting the word of the Lord.

TO REFUSE EXCUSES:

“Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass… Ps. 37:5;

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.Prov. 3:5;

Trust ye in the Lord for ever; for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength .Isa. 26:4;

The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe…Prov. 29:25;

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isa. 26:3.

MORE OF SAUL’S EXCUSES:

Samuel spoke the words of the Lord to Saul, leaving nothing to wonder about.  The whole account is found in 1Samuel 15.

“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”

Saul’s response:

“But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly…

And Sameul came to Saul:

and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD; I have performed the commandment of the LORD.

And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

Saul blamed the people and refused to admit his own sin or name the Lord as his God.

“And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord…and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites,

 but the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.”

Pride produces excuses. Excuses birth disobedience and disobedience grows into rebellion. Rebellion brings judgment.

“And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

Saul admits sin but refuses repentance. The Spirit of the Lord leaves him and he is troubled by an evil spirit from God until his life and Jonathan’s, his son, ends in their final battle.

NO MORE EXCUSES:

“When pride cometh, then cometh shame, but with the lowly is wisdom…Prov. 11:2; Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud…Prov. 16: 18,19;

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith,

God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

Submit yourselves therefore to God.

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.

Cleanse your hands, ye sinners;

purify your hearts, ye double minded…

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:6-8,10.

No excuse tempts the Lord to overlook sin.

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;

which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord,

and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?”Heb. 1-4.

When are you tempted to offer God excuses instead of obedience?

How do you overcome the temptation?


Check out, www.lyricsbos.com/the-kingsmen-excuses for the lyrics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Man of Worship

Three men take the stage in First Samuel; a man of worship, a man of excuses, and a man of confidence. Then in Second Samuel there were two.

Samuel: A Man of Worship

Samuel was born out of prayer:DSCF4721

“And she (Hannah, Samuel’s mother) said, Oh my lord (Eli, judge and priest), as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.”1Sam. 1:26-28.

Samuel, Hannah’s child, served Israel as a judge, prophet, and a priest. In all we find, “And he worshipped the LORD there.

Samuel’s life began through the humble worship of his mother’s prayer. She sought the Lord’s help. He heard her cry. This is worship.

Our Worship:

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Rom. 10:13.

The Judge:

“And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went from year to year in circuit…And his return was to Ramah; for there was his house; and there he judged Israel; and there he built and altar unto the LORD.” 1Sam. 7:15-17.

Samuel remained faithful to the Lord’s calling on his life. This is worship.

Our Worship:

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called…Eph. 4:1; Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us and offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour…Eph. 5:1-2; I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service…Rom. 12:1; Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” Matt. 24:46.

The Prophet:

blogprophet-312156__340“And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision…And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth…And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him,

and did let none of his words fall to the ground.

And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.” ( portions of 1Sam. 3).

Samuel spoke the words of the Lord. This is worship.

Our Worship:

“So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith…Rom. 1:15,16; Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15.

The Priest:

blog priest“And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.

 And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart;

And turn ye not aside for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain.

For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.

Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:

Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart:

 for consider how great things he hath done for you.

But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.”1Sam. 12:20-25.

Samuel prayed for Israel. He taught them the good and right way. He called the people to remember the great things God had done for them. This is worship.

Our Worship:

Pray for one another.

“I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day…

Remain Faithful.

Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus…

Teach others the way.

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (Portions from 2Tim. 1&2).

Remember the great things God has done for you.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Eph. 1:3. For more of God’s blessings read this whole chapter.

How do you describe one who worships God?

Next time we will examine a Man of Excuses. Speaking of excuses, I am late in posting because my internet has been down. Thank you for your patience and faithfulness to visit. I do pray what you read each time encourages you in the love and good works God has prepared for you.

 

 

 

Hope

“Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecc. 4:11,12.

When, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” three, Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz, chose to do what was right in the eyes of God, even when hope stood on the brink of despair.

WHEN HOPE SEEMS LOST

Naomi:

God has much to teach us through Naomi concerning hope when we have all but given up. She left Israel during a famine with a husband and two sons. When she left Moab to return to Bethlehem, Naomi left a husband, two sons, and hope in their graves. She shared her testimony with her neighbors.

And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” Ruth 1:20,21.

Naomi believed her hope of bringing Israel’s redeemer king into the world lied buried with her sons. Eyes blinded by circumstances couldn’t see the cord of hope in the daughter-in-law following her to Bethlehem. She felt forsaken.

For Us:

 “For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee. O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD…Ps. 31:22-24; Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God…Ps. 42:11; Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.” Jer. 17:7.

Praise is hope’s song.

NAOMI’S FIRST CORD OF HOPE

Ruth:

While Israel walked in idolatry without a king, one Gentile woman turned from idolatry to follow the King of kings. Her words stand as a testimony of commitment to Naomi, her people, and her God.

“And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God…So they two went until they came to Bethlehem…” Ruth 1:17, 19a.

Ruth’s life reflects her commitment.

“And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust…2:11,12.

For Us:

Our world turns as Naomi’s and Ruth’s, committing themselves to whatever is deemed right inthe ir own eyes. As believers we are not of this world but are seeking a kingdom from above. Here lies our commitment.

“Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday…Ps. 37:5,6; For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day…2Tim. 1:12; Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”1Pet. 4:19.

Commitment to the King of kings secures our hope.

NAOMI’S SECOND CORD OF HOPE

Boaz:

He brought hope as a man of integrity, a man who walked in truth.

“And Naomi said unto her daughter in law, Blessed be he of the LORD, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Naomi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen…Then said she(Naomi),  Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day.” Ruth 2:20; 3:18.

Boaz followed the law of redemption found in Leviticus 25:23-28 and Deuteronomy 25:5-10. He would not rest until his kinsman’s inheritance, Naomi, and Ruth were under his care. He would serve as their kinsman redeemer.

For Us:

“For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth…Ps.26:3; Teach me thy way, O LORD: I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name…Ps. 86:11; Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, not handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”2Cor. 4:1,2.

Integrity and truth are the fruit of our commitment to our faithful God. It is manifested in our daily lives and is a springboard of hope.

NAOMI’S THIRD CORD OF HOPE

Obed:

“So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life…they called his name Obed; he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.” Ruth 4:13-15a, 17b.

The Lord restored Naomi’s hope in the birth of Obed. Little did she know how great the blessing she held. For she held the grandson of Israel’s greatest king, who would be the ancestor of the King of kings. She held the one through whom would be the restorer of life and the sure hope of man.

Hope rests in life and ends in glory.

For Us:

“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not then do we with patience wait for it…Rom. 8:24,25; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory…Col. 1:26,27;

Hope fulfilled.

When is it hardest for you to wait patiently for the Lord to act on your behalf?

Have you ever despaired of hope? How was it restored to you?

 

 

Here Come the Judges, Part 4

SWIFT, STRONG, SERVANT

These words typified three judges barely noticed in God’s word.  And then there was a fourth.

Swift

Ibzan, his name means swift. He may have been a Gentile for he sent his daughters abroad to find husbands and brought wives from abroad for his sons. I wonder if his name characterized him. Was he swift to exact judgment on his enemies? The word doesn’t say. But his name turns my mind to a day when the Lord will act swiftly to exact judgment on those who are the enemies of the cross.

“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be…Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matt.24:27,44.

Strong

bright countryside dawn daylight
Photo by Serge on Pexels.com

Elon, meaning oak, judged Israel for ten years. Was he fearful and learn to trust in the Lord’s strength even as Isaiah did centuries later, and we can today as we face our enemies?

 

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isa. 41:10.

Servant

Abdon, the servant, was a man of great possessions. Did his possessions possess him  or did he use them as his name indicates to serve the Lord by serving Israel? Did he serve knowing what we know?

“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:” Heb. 12:28.

The Fourth

Samson, meaning distinguished, was set apart before birth as the Lord’s servant to deliver Israel from the Philistines. When wronged he reacted swiftly in revenge, using the Lord’s gift of strength for his own advantage. His lack of wisdom and commitment to the Lord’s design for him, eventually, ended in his captivity and the loss of his physical strength. It is in his weakness he cries out to the Lord and serves God’s purpose.

“And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.” Judges 16:28-30.

Samson’s parents committed him to the service of the Lord before he was born, and in his death he fulfilled the commitment. His story is found in Judges 13-16. The conclusion is found in Hebrews 11:32-34.

“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae: of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”

LET US:

Be Swift to Obey

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“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Heb. 5:8,9.

Strong in the Lord

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Eph. 6:10,11.

Featured Image -- 4621A Servant of God

And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many…Matt. 10:44,45; I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Rom. 12:1.

We met famous judges and obscure judges, each name recorded in God’s history. Your name will never be found in the scriptures but is it found in the Lamb’s book of life?

One final chapter remains to finish our walk with Christ through Judges. I hope you will join me next time.