When it Looks Hopeless

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is about Esther. She replaced Vashti as queen, who disrespected her husband the king. Nobody knew she was a Jew besides Mordecai, who raised her.

 

While Mordecai was sitting in the king’s gate, he overheard a plot by two of the king’s eunuchs. They were furious and wanted to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. When Mordecai told the matter to Esther, she informed the king and he had it written in the book of the chronicles.

 

Some time goes by before Haman, the highest in command, even above the princes, sought to kill Mordecai. He did not care for him because Mordecai would not pay homage to Haman because he was a Jew. Haman plotted to kill Mordecai and found a way by going after his people, the Jews. With the king’s approval, Haman wrote a decree against the Jews, guaranteeing Mordecai’s death.

 

 

We have all been there; a place where everything is set against us. It looks hopeless and we cannot see how God is going to get us out of the place we find ourselves. You may be there right now. If you are, I want you to take note of how God worked Mordecai’s situation out:

 

Queen Esther agrees to go before the king to save the Jews, even though to do so was risking her life. Back then, unless the king summoned her, she could not approach him. When she did, she found favor with the king and he asked her what she wished, up to half the kingdom. (She had serious favor with him)

 

She asks that he and Haman join her for a banquet.

 

What? Your people are about to die and you want to throw a party? That was my first thought when I read that. Then, when I saw she did it again, asked him to come to another party while at the aforementioned banquet, I figured she was stalling. Let’s see what happens:

 

Mordecai was overjoyed that he alone was invited to this banquet with the king and his bride. He even bragged to his friends and family about it. Yet, when he saw Mordecai, who would still not bow to him (don’t ever give in to your enemy), he became enraged and sulked.

 

“Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits high, and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it; then go merrily with the king to the banquet.” 

And the thing pleased Haman; so he had the gallows made. 

So Mordecai now has two threats on his life. Looks hopeless, doesn’t it? Check out what happens:

 

It says in Esther 6 that the king couldn’t sleep that night. He gets up and decides to read from the book of the chronicles. While reading, he finds how Mordecai had saved his life from the disgruntled employees. Not only that, but Haman is wondering around in the court, so the king summons him.

 

Of all people, the king asks Haman what should be done for the man the king wishes to honor. Haman, believing the king must be talking about him, draws this glorious picture of the man riding on one of the king’s choice horses with a robe the king has worn, all while it is proclaimed, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!”

 

So, first we see how God woke the king up to discover the goodness of Mordecai. (Those good deeds you thought nobody saw- God did, and He’ll use them when/if needed) Then, Haman is the one who decides how you should be honored, but doesn’t realize it’s for you so he makes it good. (“The wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous” Proverbs 13:22- The enemy will pay for your blessings) Finally, Haman goes to the banquet with the king and Esther reveals that he tried to kill her people and the king hangs Haman on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai.

 

God will work things out. Don’t be discouraged, no matter where you find yourself today. If you remain faithful to your Lord, He will come through for you!

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God did something… what was it?

All too often in our lives we can recount all of the funny episodes of our days but struggle to remember the things God has done on a daily basis. Are we walking through life ungrateful?

 Well, if you want to be truthful with yourself you’d see that you are.

Things we miss out of because we’re too busy complaining, are desensitized by society or have put things before our relationship with God are:

The fact that we woke up this morning

Our health

Our needs being met

Our salvation – so many people are praying for their loved one’s salvation and yet we all seem to forget to thank God for our own. It truly is the greatest miracle and yet we overlook it as something to be grateful for.

Those times God makes a way when there didn’t seem to be a way

There are so many things that God does, gives, says to us that we pass up the opportunity to thank Him for because we don’t consider the blessing it really is to have a God that speaks to us, works on our behalf and has in store for us.

Why not spend a moment today just thinking about the things He’s done for you this week? I bet you could list a dozen or more.

God does something every second. Try and point some out. They’ll make your problems, fears and failures a lot smaller.

Have sex God’s way

How does God really feel about sex? Looking at some of the scriptures in the Bible I would say that He’s all for it. (Not a newsflash, I know) God created sex. Everything God created was good. The problem comes in with the devil.

 Looking at the law of first mention

“In the Beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth and it was GOOD.”
What happened?

Tohuw and Bohuw

What is that, you say? “without form and void.” The actual translation from the Torah says “Tohuw and Bohuw. If you look those words up you’ll come to the conclusion and answer I did: the devil. Somewhere between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 is where Isaiah 14:12 comes in.

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!”

When Satan fell to the earth he brought Tohuw and Bohuw with him so all that was created “good” became infected. Including sex.

  • God never intended for people to be ashamed of their bodies- that was the devil’s doing.
  • God never intended for people to have sex outside of the covenant of marriage- devil’s doing.
  • God never intended for sex to be an act of self-gratification- devil’s doing.
  • God never intended for people to need to ask questions about sex- devil’s doing.

God is all for an intimate, open relationship between a husband and wife without any form of fear. Unfortunately, today what you find is fear in many different forms haunting and polluting married couples.

Women come into marriage thinking that they must be XY and Z in order to be a good wife. Sometimes past relationships paralyze their ability to enjoy their husband intimately. Other times they’re plagued with images of women in such a fashion that they don’t feel beautiful any longer, or they feel they are only loved for the wrong reasons.

Likewise, men have been so invaded with images of women that it is difficult for them to keep their minds pure and faithful to their spouse. Another issue men face is the unreasonable expectations women hold for their husbands based off of fantasy novels and “fairytale” movies and television shows. Most of the expectations women enter a marriage with are nothing more than unattainable.

So what do you do?

Have sex God’s way.

  1. Keep your mind set on things above- I don’t mean to think about God while having sex, either. I mean to keep your mind (soul) centered on the things that please God. Pornography, lust, manipulation and selfishness are not of God.
  2. Do everything in love. I am not talking about just loving the person you are with. Walk in love when it comes to that person. Be patient, kind, don’t envy, don’t seek your own, don’t be easily provoked or behave rudely, believe the best of your partner, hope for the best and endure everything that comes.
  3. Another part that goes with love- “Perfect love casts out fear.” When you really love someone, there should be no fear. You shouldn’t fear whether or not they’ll cheat on you, whether they really love you or if they might hurt you. If you have any of those fears then you need to work on your concept of love. (noted)

I’m going to end with this thought: If God created sex and it is “good”- why are so many people settling for the alternative the devil has offered?

Studying the Bible Naked

“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:25

 “You will never be naked and unashamed until you can be naked and unashamed with yourself.” ~ Yvylyn Lawson

When you are ashamed it is because you feel condemned. You are judging yourself against something, whether it is the Word, friends, family, society or your own personal endeavors.

~Condemnation keeps you ugly, unworthy and unnoticed.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not

walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in

Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1

     I have had low self esteem most of my life. The things I saw in myself nobody else did. The compliments continued to come, but I became ugly in my own eyes. When that took place my self-worth deteriorated as well. I didn’t feel I deserved the love of my husband; I only made friends with people I felt I could measure up to; and I overworked at everything to try and find worth.

     As I said before, the compliments continued even though I thought I was ugly. Likewise, all of my efforts were recognized, accolades were given. Yet, everything I did went unnoticed to my mind because I knew those things that I didn’t do, or realized how much more I could have done.

     I became my worst critic. Nothing I did mattered, nothing I had to offer was good enough and I never looked good enough in my own eyes. The underlying root in all of these is sin, and my knowledge of it. Our cognizants of the sins we commit often times blinds us and keeps us in shame; paralyzing our ability to keep growing.

“Forgive and you will be forgiven… For with the same measure that you use, it

will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:37b, 38b

First of all, that includes YOU! If you don’t forgive yourself then God can’t. I didn’t say He won’t… He can’t. That scripture, like many others in the Bible, is a spiritual law (principle). God follows those laws just as there are natural laws that we must follow.

~Law of gravity~ The gravitational (natural force of attraction) of the mass of a celestial object (as earth) for bodies close to it.

On Earth, if you throw something up then it must come down due to the law of gravity. On the moon, that law does not apply. In the spiritual realm there are laws as well. God gave us these laws so that we could operate and live effectively with them. He is not trying to keep people in sin or give them room to be unforgiven.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promises, as some count slackness,

but is longsufferingtoward us (you), not willing that any should perish but that

all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

So we must forgive ourselves. Period. It doesn’t mean to justify what you did. Forgiveness is recognizing what Jesus di on the cross to cover your sins and make you the righteousness of God as enough. If you can’t forgive yourself then you are bound by those sins. When you are boung then you will never see the beauty God has put into you and wants to show through you.

 

“Likewise, we will become sick with ourselves if we reflect back on all that we have done in life . In fact, one of the quickest ways to resurrect your old self is to begin remembering the “old days”. You risk the spirit of shame and guilt overtaking you if you are not careful.”

Resurrecting the Wrong Life~ Yvylyn Lawson

The Bible tells us to forget those things behind us. We have to let go of all of the failures, mistakes and even the intentional sins we have committed. Until we do, we are still placing ourselves under their control. If you are born again then the Spirit should be what controls you, not your past. When you see yourself through the eyes of God and what He says about you in His Word, then you will have no reason to be unashamed.

 

“When we hold on to a part of our past that has hurt us we are actually giving it control of our lives. In my marriage, my past hurts were controlling my marriage and the love that I would release or receive. We must render our past helpless, yet more and more we are helping it control us by submitting to its’ trap of fear and resentment.  “

Resurrecting the Wrong Life ~ Yvylyn Lawson

 

I began writing this from notes that I had taken. I had just ran a couple miles, came home and mowed the lawn, and was trying to cool down. I took my shower but when I got out, my body temperature was still pretty high. So I didn’t want to get dressed. As I sat on my bed with just my towel on, I picked up my Bible to do some reading and wait to return to a cooler temperature before getting dressed.

While reading, my towel, which I had not sufficiently secured, fell to both sides of me. My first reaction of course was to stop reading and cover myself once more. It was at that moment that God spoke to me and said, “Why are you so ashamed?”

We both knew why and I started to cry. I didn’t like the way I looked and didn’t want anyone else, not even myself, to see my naked body. No, there was nobody else in the room, but be honest with yourself: when was the last time you studied the Bible completely naked?

Then, this thought came to mind: We cover ourselves with clothing, blankets, towels, make up, hats, shoes and personas because we’re trying to cover the very thing God fashioned us to be. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we all start walking through life literally naked. It is time, though, for us to shed the fears, shame, masks, hesitations and doubts. Get before God and let yourself be naked. Let Him see those areas of your life that you’re trying to ignore or cover. It is only then (through admission and repentance) that you’ll be able to be naked and not ashamed…

 

How far is too far?

The age-old question that so many teens ask their parents, youth leaders and counselors: How far is too far?

“You can go as far with your boyfriends as you are comfortable doing in front of your father.” (Lisa Bevere)

How’s that for an answer? Most children hold respect for their fathers and so this answer is a good guideline. If you are thinking about doing anything other than what you’ll do in front of dad (or mom, if you come from a single-parent household) than you are awakening something not yet ready for you.

The reason it is so important to wait for all the “other” stuff is because those are reserved for your husband or wife alone. Joshua Harris has a book out called, I Kissed Dating Goodbye that I would recommend to anyone that is not yet married. In one of the chapters he argues that dating:

  1. leads to intimacy but not necessarily to commitment
  2. tends to skip the “friendship” stage of a relationship
  3. often mistakes a physical relationship for love
  4. often isolates a couple from other vital relationships
  5. in many cases, distracts young adults from their primary responsibility of preparing for the future
  6. can cause discontentment with God’s gift of singleness
  7. creates an artificial environment for evaluating another person’s character

He also asks two piercing questions:

-Does love motivate the guy who sleeps with his girlfriend when it will scar her emotionally and damage her relationship with God?-Does sincerity motivate the girl w;ho leads a guy along then breaks up with him when she finds someone better?

Going “too far” doesn’t just affect you if you get pregnant, contract an STD or die from A.I.D.S. The moment you have sex outside of marriage you open yourself up to the many different facets of sex that can cause pain, pressure, fear, anxiety, resentment, regret, distrust, doubt and lust; all of which have never been a part of God’s plan for intimacy.

I would liken premarital sex to driving a leased vehicle. I’ve never leased one, but I believe what you do is basically make payments, just as if you were buying it, but there’s no commitment. At the end of the terms you return the vehicle and the payments due stop. How frightening that would be to someone like me who doesn’t even like to test-drive a vehicle if it’s not mine. With a lease, there is no commitment. That vehicle is no more yours than a child is that you babysit.

Commitment, as in a marraige covenant, brings peace of mind, respsonsibility, diligence, integrity and a sense of comfort. Back to the leased vehicle, you don’t know what you will be driving at the end of the lease. You are most likely not going to take as good of care with the lease as you would one you were buying. Finally, there is no comfort in driving around someone else’s vehicle. Likewise, the person who is having sex outside of marriage does not have the assurance that they will be with that person after a couple of years, or months even. There is no commitment to stay with them so there is no comfort in knowing that you won’t be alone in the future.

Another aspect of leasing a vehicle is that if you do have damage on the vehicle at the end of the lease, or if you have driven it too many miles (please don’t go there with premarital sex) then there is a fine, or penalty that you must pay. Now, you can pay the total cost and just own the vehicle in the end (although that may have not been your choice in the beginning) or you may just fork over the extra cash.

I see an analogy to a girl getting pregnant before marriage here. The guy (or girl) may not have made up their mind if this was someone they wanted to raise children with. That option is out the door now. (Unless the guy leaves, an abortion is performed, or adopted is opted) All of those cost money (the penalty we talked about). Otherwise, now a commitment is required, but they weren’t necessarily your “dream car.” Get me?

I’m going to finish this blog with some excerpts from a summary of I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Tim Grissom:

“I do not believe that dating is sinful,” writes Joshua Harris. “I view dating in a similar light as I view fast-food restaurants–it’s not wrong to eat there, but something far better is available.”

Most kids grow up thinking that dating is an essential part of being a teenager. To them, life is a series of one-girlfriend (or boyfriend)-after-another, which really amounts to one-heartache-after-another. A two-year relationship seems like a long-term commitment. Even those who make it through the junior-high and senior-high years with their sexual purity intact will often emerge with damaged emotions, bitterness, and cynicism. To be sure, much of the damage may have been inflicted by the individuals involved, but likewise the system itself is faulty. There must be a better way to interact with members of the opposite sex, a less hurtful means to find a suitable life partner.

So how do we avoid defective dating? How can couples meet, romance one another, and nurture a relationship that might someday bloom into marriage? It’s one thing to spot the flaws, but what are the Solutions?To begin with, we must stop abusing the word love. Our meaning is far below God’s, yet it is His blessing we want and his best we pursue. Understanding what God calls love is our first step.“Like a fruit picked green or a flower plucked before it blossoms, our attempts to rush God’s timing can spoil the beauty of His plan for our lives.”

Man’s view of love contains several notions that are contrary to God’s, and should therefore be contrary to the way we pursue love, especially love in the deepest and most intimate of human relationships. We must reject the philosophy of love that holds comfort of self as its chief end, reduces love to a mere feeling, and believes that love is beyond control. According to God’s Word: love seeks first the good of others, must not be measured by feelings, and is capable of being controlled responsibly.

Simply put, the style of dating so prevalent in Western culture is little more than a series of short-term relationships, a training ground for divorce. Where’s the responsibility? Where’s the sincerity? Where’s the love?


For the rest of the summary, or to buy this book, goto http://www.joshharris.com/ikdg/summary.htm

Blessings and Shalom
 

Are you Running?

Are you running?

 

I am training for a marathon right now and many things have been on my mind while I run:

 

One- when you run long distance it is way different from running shorter ones. You have to eat better, sleep better, take care of your feet better, have better shoes, and run more often.

Advice about marathons:

 

         Don't worry about making a time goal. Your focus should be on finishing.

– Don't go out too fast. It's very tempting to crank it up because you feel great and the adrenaline is rushing at the beginning of the marathon. Resist the impulse.

– Know the course. This means study it, and know where the elevation gains are, so you can plan your strategy accordingly. For example, all the hills in
New York are after the halfway mark.

– Do the long runs

– Wear what you'll be wearing during the marathon on long runs. Things that normally don't chafe at 5, or even 10 miles, begin to be a nuisance at over 20.

– Eat and drink what will be available at the marathon course during the long runs. You don't want to find that a gel upsets your stomach or a sport drink gives you severe crapititis during the marathon. Better to find this out during a long run than the actual event.

– Stay hydrated! One of my friends passed out at mile 24 of the NYCM.

– Your feet are going to take a lot of pounding. Make sure your shoes are in good shape and cushioned. The shoes you take on the long run should be the shoes you take on the marathon.

Now for the analogy: 

Time- take one day, one opportunity, one step at a time. Don’t be in a rush with friendships. Don’t be hurried to share the gospel- be led by the Spirit. 

Too fast of a start- How many Christians are on fire for God in the beginning only to dwindle (or fall out) in the end? Grow slow and steady and you’ll maintain the ground you’ve made. 

Know the course- the only way to know what lies ahead of you is to seek God every morning FIRST THING. “Early will I seek Thee” 

Long runs- this just simply means “Practice makes perfect”. Once in a while do something extraordinary with your faith. Don’t think that you’re limited to what you’ve done before… Lay hands on the sick. If you don’t see the manifestation- pray about that. Ask God if it was their faith or yours. “Get out of the boat!” 

What are you wearing- so many people put on the full armor of God only when they feel the “need’. Hello? Are you on this planet. You need it DAILY! Don’t wait for a storm to come to try and find it. Put it on daily… then no matter what type of run you are running (trials and fire) you’ll be ready. 

Feed yourself- Another activity people change when they find themselves in a storm or trial in life- they start engulfing themselves in the Word of God. Duh! You should be doing that daily as well. Don’t wait to NEED the Word. Put it in you so that when you need it It is there, in you. 

Hydrated- “Come drink from the waters” Spend time with Jesus. Read about Him. Talk to Him. Pray in the Spirit, “building yourself up on your most holy faith” Some people ask “How much water should I be drinking?” Here is my advice: Take your body weight, divide by 2 and drink that many ounces a DAY. Well, if you are in the Lord, you need to be increasing your prayer time, fellowship time and Word time as you grow as well.  

Your feet- You better have the right shoes on! Too many people are “shodding their feet with the preparation” of other people’s gospel. Get in the Word yourself. Ask God for a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Seek Him for yourself and don’t count other people’s word (including your Pastor) as Truth. Only the Word is Truth. Get it for yourself and walk in peace. 

*We are all running a race (Hebrews 12:1) but not all are running the same event. You have Christians who get their life insurance and that’s it. (sprinters) Then you have those who go to church, pray once in a while and read their Bible on Sundays. (Milers) Then you have those we call “long distance runners”. They don’t stop after the mile. They keep going. One thing I love about running distance is the point where you get in the “zone”. If you’ve ever ran a couple miles then you know what I’m talking about. Your breathing is normal, you don’t think about running, you feel peaceful. This is true for spiritual long-distance runners as well.  

There is a “rest” for God’s children but not all will enter it. (Hebrews 4:6- 11. We can enter into that place where things are in order, we know the Word, we hear God’s voice clearly, we are bearing fruit and have total peace….  

So… are you stopping at the mile mark? Have you never “ran long-distance before”? It doesn’t matter what event you have been running- you can run a marathon if you train. Get on board and start training- there’s a race to be won!

Perspective

What’s your perspective? 

1 Kings 19:1-4 “1.And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. 2. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.’ 3. And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to
Judah, and left his servant there.
          4. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough! Now Lord, take my life! For I am no better than my fathers!’” 

Verse one we see that Jezebel was told all that Elijah had done, she didn’t see it first hand. Back then, when someone said something, it was believed. What she heard from someone else, she believed so much that it caused her to threaten Elijah. 

Verse two says that she threatened Elijah with the very thing that he was able to do by the hands of God. She used this threat because Elijah had a good picture in his mind still of what she was talking about. The devil will not threaten you with something that you cannot, or have not seen already. 

Verse three said, “…when he saw that”. When he saw what? He saw, or a picture was brought to his mind, about what she threatened him with. He could see himself being like those he just defeated. Her words alone produced a picture in him, so much so that he became afraid and “ran for his life.” 

Verse four tells us how scared he was. He “went a day’s journey into the wilderness…he prayed that he might die.” Elijah was so scared by what Jezebel said (through a messenger) that he wanted to die! That’s some serious fear. So here is a good illustration of how the things that we hear can produce fear in us, and that fear can cause us to see something that doesn’t even exist.  

Perspective – a particular evaluation of a situation or facts, especially from one person’s point of view; a measured or objective assessment of a situation, giving all elements their comparative importance; the appearance of objects to an observer allowing for the effect of their distance from the observer 

~OR~ 

Viewpoint, standpoint, outlook, point of view, view, side, angel, or picture 

So, our perspective is the picture or viewpoint that we give to something or someone. How we see something gives us our prospective. 

What is your perspective of your present situation? 

How do you change your perspective? 

Romans 10:17 tells us that “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” 

You can see with two different set of eyes; either eyes of faith or eyes of fear. In order to see with eyes of faith we must have faith. The scripture we just quoted tells us that it comes by hearing the Word of God. So, the more you hear the Word of God the more likely you are to see with eyes of faith. 

Likewise, fear comes by hearing. When you are engulfed in negative surroundings or news all of the time, you are going to start “seeing” with eyes of fear. If you consistently listen to music or television programs that speak of doom and gloom, then it’s going to be hard for you to “see” the world around you in any different light. 

It is so important to have a good perspective because your perspective influences what you see; what you see influences what you think; what you think will influence what you do and what you do influences your life. 

Ways to change your perspective are: 

1)   Don’t watch negative television.

  • News
  • Degrading sit-comsc
  • Horror movies
  • immoral dramas

2)   Be careful what you read

  • Magazines with pornographic or suggestive material
  • Novels that promote immoral behavior
  • Propaganda

3)   Pay attention to what you are listening to

  • Music (Big one)
  • Friends and family
  • Pastors (Be sure you know the heart of the one who leads you)
  • Television (again, very suggestive)
  • Read your Word
    • If you’re not filling your head with God’s Word, it will be full of something else and nothing is as powerful or true
    • Read other Christian literature that will edify you
    • Listen to Christian music that inspires and speaks the Word 

5) Pray- spending time in prayer allows the Holy Spirit a chance to reveal to you areas that need to change 

6) Do positive things         

  • Helping others
  • Giving to others: time, treasures and talents
  • Pray for others          
  • Meditate on the Word