Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Thirsty Soul - January Meeting

Hey all of you thirsty gals!  Thought we could blog a little as we go through this study and this year.  I would love to hear from all of the ladies in all of the groups.  I hope to post a few notes about the lesson, and then I want ALL of you to blog your comments about the lessons so we can all connect with each other.  I want to know what God is teaching you about worship and becoming a true worshiper of the Most High God.

So, having done the first chapter - are you a lover who serves or a server who loves?  Are you like Martha and have those first and second  commandments out of order?  I find myself battling this ALL of the time.  The pleaser and mother in me wants to get the list checked off each day, and if I'm not careful, I look up and it's 3 pm and I still have not paused to even give the Lord a good morning. 

How about Linda's definition of true worship?

 "Worship is NOT a specific act.  It is a lifestyle.  Worship is a specific act of bowing my life and declaring, "Holy, holy, holy."  Worship is also a lifestyle oif bowing my life and living, "holy, holy, holy." (p.27)

WOW!  How many of us sit and have our little quiet time, and then mentally check Jesus off out list for the day.  Not even realizing that our short tempered response to our child or husband shows we have NOT really worshiped at all.  God desires our obedience;  "To obey is better that sacrifice."  A life of righteousness is a life that gives glory to whom they honor - and that is worship!  DOXA - is the greek word for glory.  What am I "doxaing" when I snap at my husband?  It certainly isn't my Lord.  We were created to give glory and worship to our Father.  What we lost in Genesis 3, we have been seeking ever since - glory.  The problem is we go to glory deficient people and try to receive what they cannot give.  God alone is glorious and worthy to be praised!

So, what have you learned about worship this week?  Blog a comment and may we all hold each other accountable to worship the One we were created to praise - not only through our bowing of our knees through songs and quiet time, but through our bowing of our life, through our actions!

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Yearn to Return to the Garden

Esther 8-10
Lesson 4
"A Yearn to Return to the Garden"

What is it about a fairytale that draws us into the story? Just this week, Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their upcoming royal wedding, and already we are "tuned in" to every detail. Is it because within our utmost being we long for the perfect life where we all live happily and contently ever after? I believe God has put a longing in our soul for Him, our perfect bridegroom, manifested in Jesus, our Lord. If we are not careful, we will go through life trying to fill this void with all sorts of things: relationships, position, money, things, children, etc. Our soul yearns for the perfect life with perfect relationships with perfect conditions. We long for our return to the Garden of Eden!

In the saga of the story of Esther, we find Haman, the Agagite, doing just that - he tries to get satisfaction from all the things of the world, yet he says, "Yet all this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai, the Jew, sitting at the King's gate." (Esther 5:13) Remember our title for Esther chapter seven - Haman's Hatred Had Him Hung! Let's dig a little deeper into this hatred of Haman's. In our homework, we looked back at the volatile history between the Jews and the Agagites, or Amalekites, This hatred started long ago, and God had told them to utterly destroy them and their possessions. (Ex 17) But what is the underlying source of their hatred toward the Jews? If we can discover its utmost origin, we might better understand the hatred of many of the Jews, and even of Christians as well.

To help us with this discovery, let's look back at the original sin and fall of man in the garden. We know that Adam and Eve were told of only one tree they could not eat - The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We also know that they could eat from every other tree in the garden, and hence, their need for food was met leaving hunger as no excuse for their disobedience. So, why did they take it? I propose that they believed the lie of Satan, and then focused on the god of self, and pushed Elohim, the One True God, off the throne of their heart, and let "SELF" step up on the throne. What is sin? Sin is where the one created to bow before and serve the Creator God on His throne, rises up and demands his own selfish desires, and then realizes he is a usurper of a stolen throne. So, our answer to the source of Haman's hatred and ultimately all sin is.... the god of self.

We need to see that in our chasing of the fairytale, it is actually a yearn to return to the perfect Garden of Eden. Nothing is this world can satisfy our souls like a relationship with our Father, and our Savior, and His Holy Spirit within us. Kay's tape approached this idea in a different way with different terminology; she compared Israel's Feast of Purim celebration of REST from their enemies to our future hope of REST from our enemies. This will occur when our heavenly bridegroom returns to this earth and places all enemies in subjection to Him. There will be PEACE, and in a sense, we will have finally returned to the Garden. We, His bride, will truly get the fairytale our soul has longed for since Genesis chapter three.

So, please know and understand this - hate's ultimate root is the sin of self on a stolen throne. Haman was the "god" of his life, and when Mordecai would not bow to him, his rage was birthed because the god of his life was not being worshipped. What a burden, trying to be god of your life. Who wants that job? Yet, that is exactly what we do when we push God out of the center of our lies, and tell Him to move over, we're driving.

So today, maybe you are absolutely exhausted - you need REST! You have been in charge of your life long enough. Dear one, in your search for the fairytale, have you told the Prince and King that came to rescue you, you don't need Him? Oh, return to Him, and let Him sweep you up into His arms and carry you through this world of trouble. And then, one day, we will all look up and see our Lord Jesus coming for us, dressed in His royal white robe, on His white horse, ready to carry us home to live with Him forever and ever. No more tears, no more trouble, no more death, no more cancer, no more wars, just PEACE! Peace in the Garden once again! I yearn to return - do you?

7Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
9And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
10And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
11And 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.
12His 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.
13And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15And 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.
16And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. Rev. 19:7-16

Rapha and Yada, Yada, Yada Him,
Be still and know that I am God, Ps 46:10

Here is part of the poem I wrote about the events of Esther:
This is just the last two chapters, it is too long to put it all:

Portions of "For Such a Time as This"
Written by Sheila Breazeale following study of Esther November 2010

Ch 9

For the dread of the Jews
had befallen all the people.
No one could stand before them
As Mordecai became greater and greater.

Thus the Jews struck down hundreds
of those that hated them.
Even Haman's ten sons were killed
then impaled on the gallows, all ten of them

Then Queen Esther asked the King
"If it please thee once again
let the edict be extended one more day
for the Jews to defend."

Now the rest of the Jews in the provinces
killed 75,000 of those that hated them
yet they never took the plunder
that the edict had allowed for them.

Therefore to this day
the Jews celebrate deliverance
on the 14th and 15th of Adar
it's to be an annual occurrence.

The Feast of Purim, how ironic,
for Pur was cast against them
yet, now it is celebrated with gifts and gladness
the lot had not destroyed them.

Queen Esther and Mordecai recorded this custom
it was written in the book
two days of celebration
preceded by fasting of which they all partook.

Ch 10

King Ahasuerus laid a tribute
throughout the entire land
He advanced Mordecai as prime minister
for all the Jews were Mordecai's fans

All the greatness of Mordecai
can be found written in the books
how he sought the good of the people
he saved a nation that had been forsook.


So here lies a story
where God seems not to be found
But if you look closely, He's there in the shadows
as favor and grace abound.

So when it seems He's missing
from your life as well.
remember God is sovereign over His children,
and His love and favor never fail.

Friday, November 12, 2010

When God Only Lets You See His Back

Esther 4-7
Lesson 3
"When God Only Lets You See His Back"

Do you ever feel like God is simply just not there? You simply cannot see Him in the everyday happenings and events of your life? Dear one, the book of Esther is for you. Though God's name is not found in any shape or form, He is within every line of the text. It is so important for us to know the attributes of our God and understand that even when we cannot see His face, we can catch a glimpse of His back, as He works His will within our lives.

Our video today by David Arthur, helped us to step back and look at the sovereignty of God in three areas of Esther.

1) God is sovereign over the timing of the events of this narrative. David showed us event after event and how each one was like a domino to the next, causing God's ultimate purpose to unfold. Though through our human eyes, we would discern God as being late or absent in the story. Even the delay of Mordecai's reward in chapter two, ultimately glorified God and His story. Do you ever feel forgotten for some great work you did? Remember Joseph in the prison? He interpreted the dreams of both the baker and the cupbearer, but he would not be remembered nor rewarded for years. It was to be in God's timing and for His purposes to save the nation of Israel.

2) God is sovereign over the minds and hearts of mankind. We saw repeated words like, favor, kindness, grace, mercy, best, and beautiful. All words used in Esther to describe favor from one man or woman to another man or woman. We know God stirred the heart of King Cyrus to let Israel return home in 536BC. God also stirred the hearts of the people to return home and rebuild the temple, and He stirred the heart of Nehemiah to rebuild the wall. God is sovereign over even pagan king's hearts, and He turns it like a ship's rudder to do His Will. It says in Proverbs 21:1 "The king's heart is like channels of water in the hands of God; He turns it wherever He wishes." So, do you have some issue with another person, and you somehow believe that God has no control over it because this person is an unbeliever? Oh dear one, He has them and the situation in His hands. Pray specifically like Nehemiah did to give you success and compassion before this man.

3) God is sovereign over exalting and humbling men. God took one of the most powerful kings of the world, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and caused him to eat grass like a cow and have dreams of the future. It says in Daniel 4:32, "You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes." Until he did what? Recognized that there is a God in heaven, and that He is the Most High God. Did God humble the proud Haman? Oh yes, irony played out as He escorted Mordecai through the city like a king, and as He was hung on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai. Pride leads us to all sorts of sins. In Haman's case, it caused him to HATE Mordecai for not bowing, not standing, not trembling before him. Haman's Hatred Had Him Hung!

So, in your life story, when it seems that God is not written within the pages of your life, step back and know that He is sovereign over the timing of all the events in your life, He is sovereign over the hearts of all men, and He is sovereign over both exalting and humbling both us and others. There is an old song that says, "When you can't trace His hand, trust His heart.." So today, "Be still (rapha, relax your hands, let go), and know (yada, to know Him by experience), that He is God!" Ps 46:10 He's in the everyday events of your life, even when He only lets you see His back!

Rapha and Yada, Yada, Yada Him,


Friday, October 29, 2010

For Such a Time as This

Esther 3-4
Lesson 2
"For Such a Time as This!"

"When the enemy plots your demise, the King is planning your reward,"
from Tommy Tenney's
12 Protocols of the Palace.

Israel's future is at stake, hanging in the balance; how will they survive another enemy that wants them ALL wiped out, driven into the sea? With God's sovereign hand, that's how! He is sovereign over kings and kingdoms; "The King's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes." Pr. 21:1 Have you noticed in Scripture how God always fulfills His purposes through the most unlikely characters? A meek shepherd boy became king, a harlot is in the bloodline of Christ, a Moabite woman leaves her homeland and returns with her mother-in-law and marries into the lineage of the Messiah, a Jewish baby placed in a basket floats to a maiden in the palace of Egypt where he would be prepared to deliver his people, a simple young girl and young man engaged to be married, would have their fairy-tale interrupted so that she would give birth to the King of Kings! Get the picture? God's ways are not our ways. Esther is a rich "fairy-tale like" story buried in the heart of the Old Testament, where a simple Jewish girl is given access to the throne room of the greatest kingdom on earth. Only our Great God can do that!

If this were a drama on today's television, the cliffhanger from today's episode would be, "Will Esther risk her life and go into the King, interceding on behalf of her people?" Tune in next week! What about that life in the palace? We learned today using a timeline that Esther has now been in the palace for five years before the events of Esther chapter three occur. Life is going great; lots of pretty things, parties, and oh, the decor. She is in "high cotton" as we say in the south. Isn't that the way life is at times, just when you think all is well, then it happens - something hits your life and rocks your little palace, and you come to a crisis of belief. What will you do? Will you bow to the "Haman's" of this world? Or will stand in your faith and refuse to pay homage to the enemy? Mordecai had fear, but not of man; he feared his God and rested in the deliverance that he knew God would deliver.

Then there is Esther, sending Mordecai the messages to change his clothes, stop his mourning; what is wrong with you? Mordecai sends her a message of what has happened and how the edict has been sent to kill all of the Jews, and that she must intercede on their behalf. I can so relate to Esther, I would have done the same thing, quoting rules and laws, excusing my way out of the conflict. - did we not all see what happened to Queen Vashti? And then comes the infamous lines from Mordecai to Esther, "And who knows whether you have attained royalty for such a time as this?"

What have you attained for such a time as this? What sphere of influence do you have? Will you go in, count the cost, deny yourself, and lay down your life for someone else or something you believe in? Kay's tape today began with her posing to us two questions:

1. What am I living for? For what reason do I live the way I live? (For such a time as this)
2. What would I lay down my life for? (If I perish, I perish)

Esther became more than just a pretty face; somewhere between message two and message three from Mordecai, she rolled up her pretty little sleeves and changed from a meek girl taking commands from Mordecai to a strong woman instructing him to have the people fast for three days. Then she said, "And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish." Somehow, Esther was able to step back and look at this moment in her life as God's calling for such a time as this.

God has a purpose for you as well, dear one. Everything we do should doxa, or glorify Him and testify to the world that truly God hath sent His Son. When we use our gifting, in our sphere of influence, we are "Esther's" in our own little world. Kay gave us four points that support this truth:

The Reason I Live...
1. The reason I live is to bring God pleasure. (John 10:17, 2 Cor. 5:9)
2. I live knowing that God is going to bring His kingdom on earth. (John 4:34, 5:30, 6:38-39)
3. The reason I live is to bring Him glory. (John 17:4)
4. The reason I live to His glory is because there is a reward. (Rev. 22:12)

What will you do when an old enemy comes knocking on your palace door? Will you pack your bags and run? Will you make up excuses and compromise? Will you go in to the throne room and risk your life? These are not easy questions for any of us, but they are questions we need to think about, for who knows, perhaps we are studying Esther so that we will be equipped "For such a time as this!"

Laboring with you and through Him,

Phil 1:6

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Power of One Encounter

Esther 1-2
Lesson 1
"The Power of One Encounter!"

Oh, what a story! A simple peasant Jewish girl, taken from her home, put within a palace, groomed for her one encounter before the king. We tend to look at this almost from a fairytale perspective, but if we are not careful, we will miss God within the pages of the story. I have often wished I could travel back in time and observe history as it unfolds. We need to put ourselves in Esther "high heels" and really think about what she might tell us about her "bath and body works" experience. Would she tell us how she felt God's favor in all of this? I can only speak from my viewpoint, but I do not believe we would find her jumping for joy in this circumstance. We need to remember, they were still captives in a foreign land; the Persians were still ruling a vast empire. Esther was taken from the only family she had; there was no carriage with horsemen nor any glass slippers to try on! Yet, as we step back and view this vignette as it fits into God's huge story, we can see God's favor, favor, favor! God's hesed - His lovingkindness, mercy, benefit, favor - just because He chooses to, not because He is obligated to!

This lesson so impacted me that I could not go to sleep Wednesday night, and then God awakened me at 4:30am. I know what you are thinking, that's not God, that's hormones! Oh no, dear one, I know the difference. I could not get this Hebrew word, hesed, off my mine. Remember, as we studied Nehemiah, how we saw God stir hearts and minds to do His will? I told you about Old man Hankins, and how I saw God's stirring of his heart, and how it impacted my life, receiving a full paid scholarship to attend Louisiana College. As God spoke to me in the early morning hours, I sensed His revealing more to my encounter with Mr Hankins. Years ago, as I sat in Mr. Hankins living room, God not only stirred Mr. Hankins heart to give, but I received God's hesed - His favor, His mercy, His grace, His lovingkindness. I asked Him, 'Lord, why would you do such a thing for a little girl from nowhere - without even a zipcode? He spoke and still speaks as I write this, "Because I can, because I choose to!" I can't even type this without tears of joy running down my face, as I reflect back at the power of one encounter.

Oh, dear one, don't you see it? Even in exile, even in captivity, even in a pit, even in a trial, even in "Podunkville," even in our utmost horrid circumstances, WE CAN RECEIVE HIS FAVOR! When you think about it, are we not all exiles? We were brought out of captivity when Jesus saved us, but we are still aliens on this earth? It says in Heb. 11:13, "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth" If this is true, and were are simply sojourners in this world, what are we to be doing? It tells us in Jeremiah 29:1-11:

A Letter to the Exiles

1 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 (This was after King Jehoiachin and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) 3 He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:
4 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." 8 Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them," declares the LORD.
10 This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

In a nutshell - Pray for your country and government, submit to the authority that God has placed you under, get married, have children, LIVE LIFE! And as you do that, never underestimate the power of one encounter. Be prepared and know that favor happens when preparation meets opportunity. God is large and in charge, but you have to do your part. He has plans for you, plans for your future. He stirs the heart and He gives the favor, but you have to go to the interview to receive the scholarship!

All powerful, all knowing Elohim, thank you for Your favor, Your hesed on my life! Just because You can - just because You love me! Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. Ps. 139:6

Laboring with you and through Him,

Phil 1:6

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

Friday, October 15, 2010

You're in my Seat!


Nehemiah 11-13
Lesson 5
"You're In My Seat"

Monday, I flew back from Williamsburg, Virginia from Atlanta, and the flight was full. As I was waiting seemingly endlessly to get down the aisle to my seat, I was listening to the conversation behind me. They were talking about a brawl that almost ensued on a flight where two people were assigned the same seat. How can that happen with the computer systems these days, I thought as I made my way toward row 29 seat D? And then, wouldn't you know it, a lady was sitting in 29D, so I made a comment about what her ticket as I sat down in 29C, Keith's seat. She pulled it out and hers also said 29D, so I just sat there waiting for Keith and the flight attendant to clear up the confusion. The lady very firmly stated that she HAD to get to Atlanta, and if anyone was bumped, it would NOT be her! A sweet older lady sitting beside me almost got upset on my behalf, but I told her it would be find that they would get it worked out. Well, the flight attendant took up both our tickets and about ten minutes later, she returned and spoke with the lady and said, "Are you aware that you are on flight #2485, and that you are suppose to be on another flight about an hour later? Shocked and upset, she abruptly got up and grabbed her bags to get off the flight. I mentioned to the flight attendant that the seat behind our row was vacant, but the flight attendant reminded me that FAA rules and post 911 policies are that you cannot be on a flight without your luggage. As I pulled out my Bible Study materials and began to prepare for today's lesson, my mind keep thinking about how the lady was so demanding and upset, but the rules said she could not stay on this flight. Then, I thought of our eternal flight home, and how many will be SHOCKED to find themselves on the wrong flight, without any ticket or luggage that shows they are suppose to be there?

As I was studying for this lesson, I was thinking about Nehemiah wanting to be remembered for good. How do I want to be remembered? Do I want to be known for being good or doing good? Nehemiah, one man, made a difference in a world filled with conflict and opposition. He never draws attention to his own good qualities or his long resume'; he simply wants to be remembered for DOING GOOD! His bags were on the correct flight home to be with His Father, his seat was secure. I had to ask myself some tough questions as I thought of the lady in seat 29D. When was the last time I lead someone to Christ? I thought of this lady's shock as she thought she had the correct ticket, and how she was not allowed to stay on the plane. She was not permitted to take the vacancy because her bags were not on the flight. Oh, dear ones, where have you checked your bags and on what flight? What have you mailed ahead that will last for an eternity? You must fly home to your Father with your bags, and you will stand before the judgment seat of Christ where you will be judge according to your deeds, NOT YOUR SIN! Do you see the difference? We are each given a God given gifting and sphere of influence. We are all Levites and priests, serving, teaching, discipling, and evangelizing a lost world. Our world needs a Savior, and as I mentioned from the video clip from Dr. Landry's message, "Do we hate the lost that much that we have chosen NOT to tell them the "good news?" Do we know the word so well that we have literally become prophets? Yet, Dr. Landry said, "The world does not need a prophet, they need a Savior." We are also gatekeepers and watchman on the wall, as we war in prayer for ourselves and others. Guard those gates!

And so we come to the end of this beautiful story of one man that made a huge difference. What applications - or "so what's" have we learned? Remember, we are not trying to just get "information" but also "transformation!" This letter could not contain the applications from this study, but let me put a few down for you to ponder from today's lesson:

1. Have I stored anything in my temple that is of the world? Have I let an alliance with someone of the world bring junk into my temple - God's dwelling place? THROW IT OUT! Utterly destroy it lest you find it standing in your face talking smack like Goliath did to Israel. All because they did not push them out like God had commanded.

2. Am I tithing to my local church? Does my Pastor have to have a second job because the church fails to support him? Did you notice that Nehemiah kept calling it the contribution or consecrated portion - it is to be set aside as Holy to the Lord. And now we know why Malachi speaks so much about the tithe - he was prophesying during the time of Nehemiah, hence, he adds commentary to the days of Nehemiah.

3. Do I observe a Sabbath rest - a time where I close the gates of my life and rest in Him? Or, perhaps I try to earn God's favor and grace, and in a sense negate the work of the cross. We as believers, are already in our salvation rest the work is done - It is finished. (see Hebrews 4 for scripture support)

4. Do I realize that sin causes captivity? Israel continued for years of breaking God's laws and His heart; He finally had to judge them with 70 years of captivity in a foreign land. Nehemiah was not afraid to contend with sin - even to the point of striking some of them and pulling out their hair! Here is a poem by John Newton that describes so perfectly how we end up in sin. Note the bolded portion that so well describes our fall into Satan's sin trap:

Sin, when viewed by scripture light,
Is a horrid, hateful sight;
But when seen in Satan’s glass,
Then it wears a pleasing face.

When the gospel trumpet sounds,
When I think how grace abounds,
When I feel sweet peace within,
Then I’d rather die than sin.

When the cross I view by faith,
Sin is madness, poison, death;
Tempt me not, ‘tis all in vain,
Sure I ne’er can yield again.

Satan, for awhile debarred,
When he finds me off my guard,
Puts his glass before my eyes,
Quickly other thoughts arise.

What before excited fears,
Rather pleasing now appears;
If a sin, it seems so small,
Or, perhaps, no sin at all.

Often thus, through sin’s deceit,
Grief, and shame, and loss I meet,
Like a fish, my soul mistook,
Saw the bait, but not the hook.

O my Lord, what shall I say?
How can I presume to pray?
Not a word have I to plead,
Sins, like mine, are black indeed!

Made, by past experience, wise,
Let me learn thy word to prize;
Taught by what I’ve felt before,
Let me Satan’s glass abhor.

5. How do you want to be remembered? Have you written up all your accolades, club memberships, offices held, charities, etc for your obituary? What will your epitaph say? Nothing wrong with these things, but we are to be about our Father's business - bringing in the lost sheep, teaching the word, discipling the believers, healing and ministering to the sick, feeding the poor, standing in the gap and being a watchman on the walls in prayer, and rebuilding walls, both spiritual and physical! As Kay says, "There is no retirement in the time of war!"

As we close this book, I look forward to our 52 day celebration on November 4th, 12:00 pm in Calvary Hall. Please be thinking and praying about something you could share that God has taught you through this 52 Day Challenge or the course itself. We will have food, fun , and songs of praise and thanksgiving - just like Nehemiah celebrated. So, come with a shout in your heart and a praise on your tongue as we dedicate the repairs we have made to our gates. Please RSVP so that you can have your "assigned seat" - we don't want anyone to have to "get off the plane!" That's kind of a good analogy for heaven isn't it? Heaven - RSVP required! Send your luggage ahead!

Laboring with you and through Him,

Phil 1:6
"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Decked and Ejected

Nehemiah 6-7
Lesson 3
"Decked and Ejected!

How do you respond to opposition? Are you patient and self-controlled when you receive verbal threats or even physical threats? I wish I could say that I have always done the "Nehemiah" thing, but I would not be telling the truth. When I was playing basketball at Louisiana College, one pre-season game, we were scrimmaging a team from Fort Polk Army Base. These gals were tough, and about half way through the game, the girl guarding me preceded to absolutely verbally come at me over and over. I tried to just ignore her, but she became more and more aggressive reaching the point of physically directing "cheap shots" to me. Allow me to define - it is when you punch, poke, or hit the other team when no one else can see it happening. The best time to do this is "away from the ball" while the referees is not focusing on you. She began to pinch and punch me in the abdomen more aggressively as the game progressed. Finally, I had had enough! She hit me in the stomach; I then turned and decked her, and of course a brawl ensued. Needless to say, we were both ejected from the game for fighting. Even though I was not the instigator, this was not the way to handle the situation. I should have reported it to the officials, in other words, I should have taken it to the authority on the court. I'll admit. I got distracted by her attacks, and it resulted in literally taking me out of the game. This is exactly what DID NOT happen to Nehemiah, though he would have been seemingly justified in retaliating against his enemies. Yet, because he was able to trust in his God, the authority over his enemies and the situation, Nehemiah completed the rebuilding of the walls and gates despite the atmosphere of conflict.

Why can't we control our emotions and fears within conflict? It is because we are frightened, and then our human defenses go on attack. A confident warrior, stands on the fear of His God, the only authority he ultimately must answer to. We saw where the word for fear is "yare," which means to give awe. We are NOT to give awe to a mere man.

Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; For why should he be esteemed? Is 2:22 And it says in Pr. 29:25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Does this mean we are NOT going to fear? No! At times, we will be very much afraid just like Nehemiah was, but what we do with that fear is the question? Will we run to out God, our "referee?" Or will we run to a mere man? Will we run to an addiction? Will we run to depression? We have a choice to pray then act accordingly like Nehemiah did, or we can let the flesh lash back without even a glance toward heaven and get ourselves not only kicked out of the game, but also, unable to finish the task that God had called us to do.

David Arthur gave us six key statements about the opposition believers should expect to face in this world:
1) Opposition is personal
2) Opposition is persistent
3) Opposition will use propaganda
4) Opposition will use deception, lies, rationalize the rules(It's ok to take a short cut, the end justifies the means)
5) Opposition can come from within your own people or family (Our most intimate earthly relationships can become a foothold for the enemy - Our relationship to God must come first above all others)

David then listed some key characteristics of Nehemiah and his great leadership abilities:
1) Focused
2) Resilient
3) Determined
4) Disciplined
5) Discerning
6) Devoted
7) Organized

Were these attributes the "secret to his success?" Can we accomplish great feats for God because we have it all together? NO! So did the ENEMY! It's NOT ABOUT US! Nehemiah shows us this over and over as he continually ran to his God in prayer and re-focused the people to who God was and what HE had done for them!

The secret to Nehemiah's success and to ours as well is a life lived at the center of God's will with no compromises! Then, when the enemy seeks over and over to frighten us, to disable us, to distract us, so that we STOP the work, we can stand in faith in who our God is and what He has done for us! I like this definition of faith - "acting on what I know to be true about God." So, with that definition, what is important for my faith to grow stronger? I have to learn who my God is, and the best way to do that is to study His word and watch His people as they have peace, joy, and unity in the mist of trouble and adversity. In other words, they are able to re-build the walls and the gates while the enemy is "pinching" and "hitting" and throwing "cheap shots away from the ball." The difference in my basketball game and life is "my referee" is ALWAYS watching, but I still need to go report it to Him before I open my mouth or lift one finger toward my enemy.

So, before you deck your opponent and get kicked out of the game, go to your God and tell Him what they are doing. Trust Him with all your heart and soul - Faith it! Emunah (Amen) it!

Laboring with you and through Him,

Phil 1:6

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."