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God: The Great Reverser

3 Apr

God created light and lit the darkness. God reverses.
Jesus gives us life instead of death. God reverses.
The Spirit guides us when we would wander aimlessly. God reverses.

What do you need reversed today? You’re probably chuckling, if you’re anything like me, and saying, “Where should I start?”  Here’s where I started:

  • Today I prayed that God would reverse the negativity that I’ve been experiencing at work and it’s already lifting and turning to a new excitement in my teaching.
  • I also prayed that God would reverse my tendency to internalize  my emotions when life hurts.  I need to cry and not bottle things up!  I’m going to continue to pray the same.  I feel no results, but know that God is working.
  • I prayed that God would reverse a terrible situation in the life of a loved one.  I see no results.  But faith is not based on what I can see.  I will just keep praying.

I’ve been teaching Beth Moore’s series on Esther in our church here in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and it’s been such an encouragement to me in so many ways.  Today, I studied the reversal that happened when the King granted Esther her petition and she and Mordecai drafted a new proclamation and sent it out all over the Kingdom.

First, Haman–using the King’s authority sent out an “order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods.” Esther 3:13  The Jews reaction was four-fold:  In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.  Esther 4:3

We are under the same type of order:  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. (John 10:10a)  The thief can be thought of as Satan or false teachers.  Satan often whispers lies in our ears to steal from us.  The world often whispers lies to us.  False teachers on television can whisper lies to us.

The new edict gave the Jews the right to ” assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies.” Esther 8:11

The situation was totally reversed.  For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor.  Esther 8:16  (The word “honor” means that they realized how precious this gift was.)  Jesus is the Great Reverser.  He says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10b

Ask for reversals in your life.  Find scriptures that apply to those reversals and memorize them.  God CAN REVERSE!

I AM the First and the Last

31 Mar

Look at HIS creativity!!

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God. Who is like Me? Let him [stand and] proclaim it, declare it, and set [his proofs] in order before Me, since I made and established the people of antiquity. [Who has announced from of old] the things that are coming? Then let them declare yet future things. Fear not, nor be afraid [in the coming violent upheavals]; have I not told it to you from of old and declared it? And you are My witnesses! Is there a God besides Me? There is no [other] Rock; I know not any.   Isaiah 44: 6-8 Amp.

“Fear not” means to dread not.  According to the Cambridge dictionary dread means extreme fear or anxiety about something that is going to happen or might happen.  “Nor be afraid” means to not have the unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful or bad that is happening or might happen.  Literally, it means to be astounded or distracted with fear.

That’s a mouthful, but you get the idea.  Fear can be for the present, the future, or the possible future.  I love the phrase “in the coming upheavals.”  Are you experiencing upheavals?  Great changes?  Difficulty?  Troubles?  When you watch the news and see the chaos in the Middle East and Africa, are you distracted by fear? Then these verses are for you.  I know they’re for me.

The bottom line is that God knows. He knew all along.   He’s here.  He IS NOT SURPRISED.  He is the rock.  The only rock.  Our stronghold to take refuge in, and our solid foundation to build on.

God, King of Israel,
your Redeemer, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says:
“I’m first, I’m last, and everything in between.
I’m the only God there is.
Who compares with me?
Speak up. See if you measure up.
From the beginning, who else has always announced what’s coming?
So what is coming next? Anybody want to venture a try?
Don’t be afraid, and don’t worry:  Haven’t I always kept you informed, told you what was going on?
You’re my eyewitnesses:  Have you ever come across a God, a real God, other than me?  There’s no Rock like me that I know of.”  Is. 44:6-8 Msg.

Disabling Fear: Fearing the Opinions of Others

20 Feb

The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.  Proverbs 29:25 MSG

The fear of man is a snare,
but the one who trusts in the LORD is protected.  Proverbs 29:25 HCSB

We are often faced with a choice:  Will I please God or (fill in the blank)?  I think we most often face this is little issues, as few of us have to decide whether to deny God or lose our lives.  Our issues are more like:  Will I laugh at the dirty joke so people don’t think I’m sanctimonious?  Will I gossip with my coworkers so they don’t think I’m holier-than-thou?  Will I evangelize a friend who may laugh at me or put me down?  Will I make a difficult choice as a parent?  The fear of man is a snare, bait, or a trap.  Bait leading to lack of trust in the Lord.

Trust, or batach, means to trust in, to have confidence in, be confident in, to be bold, and to be secure.   And be safe in that trust!  I love the meaning of the word for safe.  It means to be set in a high and inaccessible place where nothing can get to us.  I want to batach God today.

Whose Kingdom is It?

16 Feb

Or know ye not that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God? and ye are not your own;  for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body  1 Corinthians 6:19,20

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.  Romans 12:1

1 Corinthians 6:19,20 may be speaking of sexual sins, but using Romans 12:1 we can think of it in a much broader context:  all that our body says and does.

When my kingdom is at stake–my reputation, my quest for being loved–there is much to lose.  Out of fear I commit myself to self-protection.  Does this sound familiar?  When the things we value are threatened, we protect them.  In this case it is the same as protecting ourselves.  The alternative is to lose my kingdom and be a simple servant of the Most High God.  His kingdom is never threatened because he is all-powerful and he doesn’t need anything from us.  He calls us to love and worship him, but he doesn’t need it in the sense that we talk about needing love and affirmation. –Edward T. Welch, Running Scared

Last night Mike spoke a friend who has a degenerative, fatal disease.  His wife said, “You know, we never know how much time we’ll be given.   Jesus is still on the throne!!”  They are a great example to me of people who have presented their bodies as a living sacrifice.

Coming to Grips With Hope

9 Feb

Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.  John 16:20

Jesus often uses the word verily before making statements that are controversial or difficult to believe.  When He repeats verily it was an indication to take special note of the statement that follows.  (By the way, this would make an interesting Bible study–doing a concordance search of all the times Jesus used the word verily.)  The word verily is the word amen in Greek.

The word “amen” is a most remarkable word. It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek of the New Testament, then into Latin and into English and many other languages, so that it is practically a universal word. It has been called the best known word in human speech. The word is directly related — in fact, almost identical — to the Hebrew word for “believe” (amam), or faithful. Thus, it came to mean “sure” or “truly”, an expression of absolute trust and confidence. (Online Bible Greek Lexicon)

In context of John 16:20, Jesus is speaking of His crucifixion and resurrection.  He knew that it would be difficult for his followers to believe that He would come back from the grave and so He called attention to the trueness of His statement by repeating the word verily. Truly, truly, he said.  So be it, so be it.  This is really going to happen!! Listen up!!!  As a result of His resurrection and ascension we have a living hope:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  1 Peter 1:3

This living hope is vigorous and alive and is restored as we meditate on the resurrection moment by moment in our lives.  Allowing hope to be extinguished goes against our nature as members of God’s family.  We must pray for hope to be sparked and renewed when it seems to flicker out.

Grappling With Hope

7 Feb

“Did I ask you for a son, my lord?” she said. “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?”  2 Kings 4:28

The Shunnamite woman spoke these words to Elisha when the son God gave her died.  She’d been through much disappointment as a childless woman, and finally had given up hope of ever having a child–so much so that she hadn’t even wanted her hopes raised with a promise of a child from the prophet.  (v.16)

I’ve spoken with many people who’ve grappled with dashed hopes in their lives:  single people who want to be married, childless parents who want children, people with unsaved loved ones, diseased people.  All of them have something in common.  Their hopes were raised only to be dashed and they are afraid to allow themselves to hope again.  The Hebrew words for “Don’t raise my hopes” literally mean “Don’t deceive me.”  God cannot deceive, but I know how the Shunnamite woman feels.  She doesn’t think she can bear the pain of having her hopes dashed again.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.  Psalm 39:7

BUT NOW:  There are times in life when all we can do is throw ourselves at the foot of the cross.  All we can do is bring our pain to Him.  All we can do is be honest with Him.  We’re afraid to let hope bloom again.   We’re not feeling much of anything because any feeling is too painful.

WHAT DO I LOOK FOR?  Consolation?  Change?  Communication?  A miracle?  Guidance?  Faith?  Or the ability to hope again?

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:23

Sweet is it that our hope should rest in him who is never shaken: should abide in him who never changeth; should bind us to him who can hold us fast to himself, who alone is the full contentment of the soul; should, as it were, enter into him; since in him is our being, who is love. E. B. Pusey, D.D., 1853

Doug’s Birthday

5 Feb

A tired and nervous new mommy and Doug.

Today is my son’s birthday which, of course, takes me back to the first time I saw him, the first time I held him, and the love that instantly began to flow through me toward him.

I’m thinking today about the hopes and dreams we have for our children.  And the fears we have for them.  I remember talking with my mother-in-law about this during a particularly tumultuous time during my sons’ teenage years.  I asked her how she managed her fear, because she has 17 children.  She looked at me with what I swear was confusion on her face and said, “Sue, I gave them to God when they were born.  Why would I be afraid?”

For her it was a done deal.  For me?  I keep giving and taking and giving and taking.  What about you?

When I get really afraid
I come to you in trust.
I’m proud to praise God;
fearless now, I trust in God.
What can mere mortals do?

Psalm 56:3,4 The Message