September 2014


Women of Courage                Esther

People often have the impression that the Bible talks down about women, that it is an “all boys” club and women are subservient to the men.  Nothing could be further than the truth.

Women are lifted up and encouraged in the Bible.

We remember the Samarian Woman that Jesus met at the well and revealed that He was the Messiah and she shared the Gospel throughout her city. (John 4)

  1. We recall the woman with health issues that crawled to Jesus with her last ounce of strength to find healing, yet found so much more. (Matthew 9)
  2. We remember how Paul spoke of the faith of Timothy’s Mother and Grandmother. (2 Timothy 1)
  3. We remember how the chosen mother of Jesus Christ was humble and faithful in her obedience to God. (Luke 1)
  4. We see in the Bible many times how it was the women who stood strong and obeyed God and served Him and God’s people.
  5. We read time after time in the Word how we should treat women with deep respect, honor and value.
  6. The reality is:
    1. Whether Old Testament, New Testament, or today
      1. Women are special, beautiful and IMPORTANT to God!
      2. The Church has been blessed by the women of Faith who have served
  • Most, if not all, churches would be closed down or straining to survive with FAITHFUL FEMALES serving, often carrying the load of the men who are not doing their part – or simply not there.

I believe that one of the most courageous women in scripture is Esther.

  • Esther was a typical women of her day.
  • Esther was chosen for the King – and became the Kings wife
  • Esther heard that her people (Jews) were in danger.
  • Esther sought wisdom from a relative
  • Esther went and stood boldly at the Kings Court
    • An action that could have cost her her life
  • Esther told the King she was of the Nation of Israel
    • An Action that could have cost her her life
  • Esther received the Favor of the king and her KING OF KINGS
  • God saved the Nation of Israel through the faithful obedience of Esther
  • Esther brought ruin to those who conspired against the king
  • Esther brought recognition and favor to her family and her people
  • Esther was blessed by God for her faith and obedience

The key scripture in this text is a Word for her from a relative:

Esther 4:13-15 “Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  ESV

It was here that Esther came to see that God had a plan and a purpose for her, and she had a mission.

She garnered courage from Mordechai’s words and the God who spoke to her through him.

Esther was a women, a human being like any of us

What made Esther so special was her courage.

    • Courage to listen and be aware of the problems around her
      • She could have just said she was the Queen
    • Courage to seek wise Counsel
    • Courage to seek out an audience with the King
    • Courage to stand strong and plead for her people
    • Courage to be faithFULL to her God and HIS people
    • Courage to step up and fulfill her PURPOSE for GOD’S KINGDOM “for such a time as this”

It is one thing to know you should do a thing for God

    • IF we are honest we all know we should be serving God better
    • IF we are honest with ourselves we know that God has a bigger plan and purpose for our lives
  • It is another thing to agree with God that you should do this thing
    • We often can agree with God, “Yes, Lord I should go witness to that person, take a stand on Your Word about this or help this person or group.
      • Then we never follow through
    • It is another thing to COMMIT to doing a thing for God
      • In a time of prayer, revival, worship or FOXHOLE we often commit to what God has lead us to do
      • Only to “forget” after the crisis/moment is over
    • It is a WHOLE OTHER THING to step out of the safety and security you have become accustomed to and actually DO THE THING God has placed you in a position to do for Him, His Word and His Kingdom.
      • This is where we apply FEET to our FAITH
      • This is applying the principle of “for such a time as this”
      • This is where we tell our boss who we really are and that our Christianity and our fellow Christians are valuable, important and under attack.
      • This is where we move beyond our fears and apprehensions and witness to our co-worker, neighbor, politicians, friends or lepers.
      • This is where we grab hold of the gifts, talents, abilities and passions God has given us AND GET BUSY FOR HIM!
      • These works is what brings our dying faith to life
        • Faith without works is dead. (James 2)

What about you?  Why are you here?  Why are you in your neighborhood, in your family or in your job?

Perhaps God has a purpose for you “for such a time as this”

Will you STEP UP and be a Women, a Man, a Youth or a Child for SUCH A TIME AS THIS?

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2 Kings 5:1 – 14                     Trust God’s Ways

We all have problems. Health/Financial/Family/Relational/ and more.

    1. Having trouble does not make you unique
      1. It makes you NORMAL
    2. There are approximately 7.25 BILLION people alive right now with trouble of one thing or another
      1. We live in a world INFESTED with problems
      2. This world is far from perfect
    3. Where is God?
      1. Right here amongst all 7 billion PLUS of us
      2. I believe God listens and has answers for us about our problems. He is speaking through His Word, His Church, Prayer and in those issues.
        1. God is doing more than we give Him credit for!
        2. God is working
  • Miracles happen every day
    1. Do we see them?
    2. Do we accept them?
    3. DO WE REJECT THEM?
  1. I do not think the problem is that God is away on vacation and we are left all alone.
    1. I think the problem is that WE ACT LIKE GOD IS NOT HERE AND WE ARE ALL ALONE
  2. We read the Bible, we listen to God’s spokesmen
    1. We refuse to follow what God tells us we should do
    2. We reject the good
    3. We embrace our problems and shrug
  3. The question is are we listening and looking for His Word?
    1. If we find His answer are we following Him with Faith?
    2. If not we are rejecting Him, His Word and His Promises
  4. We are just like Naaman
    1. He was told there was a Prophet of God who could help
    2. He obtained permission to go seek the Prophet
    3. He made the Journey
    4. He sought permission to see the Prophet
    5. He saw and heard the Prophet speak God’s Word
    6. Got angry and rejected the Prophet and Word of God
      1. He said he could have done that at home
      2. He said it was foolish – “Why should I have to do that?”
  • He wanted the MAGIC SHOW
  1. He wanted the EASY WAY
  2. He wanted the BLESSING without the FAITH
  1. Left with more problems that when he arrived
    1. Arrived a Leper with some glimmer of hope
    2. Left an angry leper who had rejected that hope
  2. This is a good word for all of us to know, accept and follow the Word of God
  3. There is also a good word for us believers to be encouragers for hurting people.
    1. Too often we turn away from those who are hurting
    2. They are Lepers, we do not want see them OR touch them
    3. In Naaman’s case it was his servants who were the voice of faith and encouragement
      1. God has said this! Why will you not follow?
    4. Naaman followed the Word of God as given by the Prophet of God as he was encouraged to by the people of God and he was healed by the power and love of God.
    5. Many of us have been challenged by the Word of God to be obedient and faithful
      1. Maybe by our scripture reading
      2. Maybe by our prayers
      3. Maybe in Sunday School by our teachers or church family
      4. Maybe by our Worship service
      5. Maybe by the message of a pastor/Preacher/Evangelist Maybe in the circumstances we find ourselves in and know what we should do
    6. What is keeping us from faithful obedience?
      1. What are we doing to reject God’s best for our lives?
        1. Baptism? Prayer? Sharing? Love?
        2. What act of love and obedience are we angry about?
          1. WHY?
        3. God has given us so very, very much
          1. He has loves us too much to now reject and walk away
          2. EMBRACE GOD and HIS WORD and find HEALING

9 – 14 – 2014        1 Chronicles 4:9-10   Prayer of Jabez

Enlarge my border/Coast:  Properly – a twisted cord: by implication: a boundary

We know very little about this guy called Jabez

    1. Jabez was a good guy
      1. At least more honorable than his brothers
    2. Evidently his mom had a hard delivery
      1. Much pain
    3. Jabez called upon God
      1. Jabez prayed
      2. Jabez had faith
    4. Jabez asked for a blessing
    5. Jabez asked for more area – more land
      1. Extended boundaries
      2. Jabez wanted to reach beyond what he was able to reach now
    6. Jabez wanted God’s hand with Him
      1. Guidance
      2. Protection
      3. No Pain from God
    7. God said Yes!
    8. Jabez wanted God’s Best (outline from Jack Peters)
      1. Jabez wanted God’s Blessing – Oh that you would bless me
      2. Jabez wanted God’s Influence – and enlarge my border
      3. Jabez wanted God’s power – and that your hand might be with me
      4. Jabez wanted God’s Protection – and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!”
    9. God gave Jabez His Best
      1. Because of Jabez’ Faith
    10. We often forget that GRACE comes before gifts
    11. We often forget that FAITH comes before FREE STUFF
    12. We often forget that OBEDIENCE comes with LOVE
      1. “If you love me, obey my commands”
    13. The prayer of repentance and receiving Salvation MUST precede a prayer like the prayer of Jabez
      1. Without faith, these are just words mumbled and wasted

I fear that we, as people, usually get too “hung up” on the blessings Jabez received and NOT the heart that requested them OR THE GRACE that provided them.

We lose sight of HUMILITY and LOVE in this prayer.

We get so excited (GREEDY) about getting what we want that we forget the GIFT OF GOD and the LORD who PROVIDES!

Three things to look at as we petition God

Are you living an HONORABLE life?

    1. A life lived right by God’s Standards – NOT MAN’s
      1. Righteousness
      2. Holiness
  • Obedience
  1. FAITH
  1. Is your life making a difference
    1. For God
    2. Does your life carry Spiritual “weight”
  2. Do you know God as God
    1. The RIGHT God – the ONE God
    2. The God of Israel
      1. The GREAT “I AM”
      2. Creator
  • Sustainer
  1. Savior
  1. Your God
  2. Lord and King
  3. Are YOUR desires truly HIS desires
    1. Are you concerned about HIS WILL being done
  4. Are you asking Him
    1. Fervently
    2. Humbly
    3. expectantly

James 5:16-18 “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”  ESV

What God can do                    1 Kings 18:20 – 46

 

A four-year-old girl had to have an x-ray taken at the medical office where I worked. She had been in an accident with her bicycle and the doctor was afraid she may have broken her wrist.

The girl, however, was very concerned about the procedure, and no matter how her mother tried to calm her, she kept putting up quite a fuss as we led her into the x-ray facility.

When she came out a few minutes later, however, she was calm and all smiles. “They just took a picture of my bones,” she explained to her mother.

“Yes, dear,” her mom replied. “I told you it was easy. Did everything go well?”

“Yup. It was great!” the child exclaimed. “I didn’t even have to take my skin off or anything!”

 

How many things in our world are we afraid of because we either don’t know anything that is going to happen or we do not trust the ones who are involved

 

  1. You will never know everything
    1. I know that it is tough to hear that; BUT Deal with it
    2. Reality may hurt, but it is reality
    3. God is able to do WAY BEYOND what our feeble minds can invent.
      1. God KNOWS EVERYTHING!
    4. Elijah did not know everything: BUT Elijah knew God
      1. Elijah knew God was able to do more than he understood
      2. But, this face off with false prophets was new territory.
      3. Elijah did not know what God would do
        1. but He know God
      4. Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith
        1. Medical stuff is scary, but things like X-rays, Mammograms, surgery, Chemo, stress tests, etc. are important.
        2. Go ahead
          1. The news may be good and off you go
          2. The news may be bad but now you know
            1. Either way, you are better off knowing the truth
          3. Elijah had a faith that was built by a life of Faith
          4. He had seen God do mighty things
          5. He had seen God do exactly what He said He would do
          6. He KNEW God is trustworthy
          7. Elijah had a FAITH built FAITH – MATURE FAITH
        3. No matter what is going on you can have faith in the One who made you!
          1. God is TRUSTWORTHY
          2. Have Faith in God, even in tough times: He ain’t done yet
        4. What will it take for you to admit God is Lord?
          1. Today, we are “manufactured” with the Truth of God built into our operating system. (Romans 1)
            1. We know there is a creator
            2. We know there is a greater power
  • We know His invisible hand is at work
  1. The question is whether or not we will believe, honor and praise God as Lord. (Romans 1)
  1. How long will you go limping between two different opinions?
    1. CHOOSE
    2. To not make a choice is to choose false gods and destruction
  • If the Lord is God then Choose Him
    1. With all your heart, soul and mind.
  1. There is no fence to straddle
    1. Yes or No
    2. Believe or do not believe
    3. God or Ba’al
  2. Here we see you have a choice
    1. But know the results
      1. Life or death
      2. Miracle or disaster
      3. Heaven or Hell
    2. You know what God can do
      1. BELIEVE!

Ruth – Our Need for Relationships that mean something

 

The Book of Ruth teaches us how important it is to have real, committed relationships with other people and Jesus Christ.

 

  1. Naomi had lost her husband and her sons
    1. Means Ruth lost her husband
    2. Most would have went home to their own parents
      1. Protection, support, love
    3. Ruth and Orpah said they wanted to stay with Naomi
      1. Even when she went back to Judah
    4. Eventually Orpah did go back to her parents – at Naomi’s urging
  2. Ruth was committed to Naomi
    1. She devoted her life to the care of her mother in law!
      1. Where you go I go
      2. Where you live I live
  • Your people are my people
  1. Your God will be my God
  2. Where you die I die
  1. How we keep our relationships in challenging times and/or with challenging people SHOWS the truth of our love for them.
  2. While foraging (gleaning) for food one day Ruth met Boaz
    1. Boaz was a relative of her husbands
      1. Her husband was dead now
    2. Boaz was older than Ruth
      1. He first called her daughter
    3. He helped her
    4. He protected her
    5. He provided for her
    6. He blessed her
  3. Many times God cares for His people in unusual ways
    1. But provide for us He does
  4. Ruth and Boaz developed a relationship based on the customs of their day and the leading of God
  5. Boaz redeemed Naomi
    1. Relatives had first right to redeem the property and family of a lost relative
      1. They paid the price for their land and heritage to stay in the family
    2. There was a closer relative who had “first rights” to redemption
      1. But, he bailed on that responsibility and passed his right to Boaz.
    3. Boaz redeemed Naomi, and took Ruth to be his wife in the process
      1. And they had kids and multiplied
    4. A couple of things to catch in this text
      1. Everyone was nice, decent and respectful
      2. They were always saying words of blessing to each other
      3. Sometimes those closest to us will let us down
        1. we need to give our relatives a break
        2. They are not perfect – EITHER
          1. I do not think less of Orpah for going home
          2. It sounds like Naomi was not always a joy to be around either – at least after losing her husbands and sons
          3. Sometimes they leave us hanging
  • Love them anyway
    1. Just as you would want to be treated – TREAT THEM
      1. Sometimes that means sacrifice
      2. Sometimes that means to be tough
      3. Sometimes that means to yield
      4. Sometimes that means to serve’
      5. Sometimes it means you say “No”
    2. It is sometimes necessary for us to make sacrifices for family – others
    3. We all need a KINSMAN REDEEMER
      1. Ours is Jesus Christ
        1. He is willing to pay the price for our redemption
        2. He will provide for His children
        3. He will protect His children
        4. He will bless His children
        5. He is willing to step up and be for us when no one else will
      2. Please do not be like Orpah and leave – forsake your opportunity to be “taken under God’s Wing”
        1. Sheltered
        2. Fed
        3. Cared for
      3. With God you are more than a relative!
        1. I have relatives I have never met
          1. I have some I wish I had not met
          2. There are some that wish they had never met me either!
        2. When a creation of God becomes a Child of God we become more than a relative
          1. We become part of a COMMITTED FAMILY!

Remember When…..

Remember when America was the example of freedom?

Remember when America wielded the biggest stick; the mightiest, most feared military in the world, with humility.

Remember when no country, group or organization dared harm an American citizen because they knew they would incur the wrath of a country united?

Remember when America worked hard and tried to develop a brighter future for the next generation?

Remember when America looked to the Constitution and Bill of Rights as the guiding Documents for our leadership and actions?

Remember when the Declaration of Independence meant something?  That the reasons for our separation from Britain resonated in our culture?

Remember when opponents did not have to be enemies?

Remember when opponents were trying to win and not destroy

Remember when our congressmen could argue and debate all day and enjoy a meal together in friendship in the evening.

Remember when we were allowed to disagree…without becoming disagreeable?

Remember when we allowed the 10 Commandments to guides our behavior, our culture and our country, regardless of our religious affiliation?

Remember when we held people accountable and didn’t make excuses for bad behavior?

Remember when the news channels reported the news in an unbiased way, regardless of their own beliefs?

Remember when America stood up to bullies

Remember when America stood with our friends

Remember when America stood for something

Remember when people of other nations sought to Immigrate to America for opportunity and not for handouts.

Remember when community matters?

Remember when neighbors cared and helped each other

Remember when neighbors knew each other?

Remember when neighbors watched out for each other, and didn’t need “neighborhood watch” signs to care?

Remember family?

Remember when how we presented ourselves mattered?

Remember when we cared about politeness and propriety?

Remember when we cared about our country?

Remember when we cared?

 

What happened?

We became lazy.

We became complacent.

We became satisfied.

We became apathetic.

We simply stopped caring

We said, “let them handle it”

We allowed scandal and infighting to become normal and acceptable

We decided that “that’s just the way it is”

We came to believe that we did not matter, and quit.

We allowed others to bully our country, and gave no response other than to apologize.

We accepted that these attacks were “normal” and ok, somehow we deserved them

We gave others power and authority over us

We turned the leadership of our lives over to government.

We forgot that ours is to serve.

We sought to be served.

We allowed the government to assume the responsibilities that we should bear or our community should bear.

We stopped going to church’s, synagogues, or other houses of worship

We lost community.

Hedges and white picket fences were replaces with chain link, block or solid wood barriers.

We do not even no our neighbors names.

We stay inside, pull our blinds and lock our doors.

We yielded our streets to criminals

We gave up our right and ability to protect and defend ourselves, our loved ones and our property.

We gave up our right to free speech by refusing to speak.

The press became political/ideological tools instead of independent fact reporting agencies

We crawled inside the internet and forgot about what is happening in the real world.

We are quick to respond to the newest challenge or social media trend

We yielded our right to vote by not voting

We yielded our right to vote for the candidate or issue in an informed way by refusing to be educated.

We yielded logic and wisdom to emotion and mob rule

We decided that others could work so we could reap the benefits of their hard work.

We removed any accountability from society.  Whether it be God, the Bible, the 10 Commandments, rules, victory by hard work, or responsibility.

We began to teach our kids that they were ok, even if they were not.

We began to kill our children

We stopped growing as a nation.  In number of citizens or in innovation.

We stopped monitoring our borders and who was coming into our country.

We stopped enforcing our laws and restricted Law Enforcement from doing their work.

We cut our military

We became more concerned with compromise and “cease fire” than victory.

We forgot that without real victory there can be no real peace.

We told our men that they should not act like men

We told our women that they should not act like women.

We became selfish, self-centered and arrogant.

We said guns are evil and nobody needs them

We stopped letting our kids play army in the back yard and placed them in front of a game console killing virtually instead.

We became wimps

We reverted to babies.

We became pampered. 

We are losing America.

 

How do we improve?

Repent

Change course

Return to our roots of Patriotism

Return to our roots of responsible citizenship

Turn away from wimpyness and embrace strength

This will take hard work

This will take hard choices.

This will take dedication

This will take some house cleaning.

Build our military into the mighty force it should be

Take back our streets

Take back our borders

Be prepared to defend ourselves in our homes, our communities, our nation and overseas.

Live and enforce our Constitution and Bill of Rights

Demand that our leaders do the same

Stop making and accepting excuses

Stand Up and Speak Out

Do what is necessary to reclaim our America

Go to Church

Read the Bible

Go knock on your neighbors door with a plate of Brownies and introduce yourself

Research the candidates and the issues

Be involved

VOTE