As I did a quick online Google search for the meaning of thankfulness and gratefulness here is the slight but important difference I found. Thankful is being pleased and relieved, whereas Grateful is showing an appreciate of kindness. Being pleased, is an inner emotion whereas showing appreciate takes some action on our part.

Gratefulness must start at contentment, (a feeling of happiness and satisfaction). Many of us may view contentment as giving up, having no desire or passion, or maybe deciding to settle. Together we will see how contentment is so much more and how gratefulness is to be shown.

Luke 12: 16-21            NIV

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.

His first barn was plenty large enough to care for him and his family (if he had any). Why not share the overflow, give to those in need? Some might say that we should all prepare for a rainy day and for retirement. I would be one of those people, I prepare for just those events in my life. Then how much is enough, where is the line of overflow. The challenge centers more on the statement made by the farmer, “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry”. He is missing a very important ingredient, “being rich toward God”. Finding contentment begins with understanding you are no longer yours, but His. You see He has created you with a plan, our role is to find the plan by finding Him. Seek first the kingdom and all these things will be given to you.

Jonah 4: 5-8    NIV

Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the LORD God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.” 

Jonah had just preached to Nineveh, and they were changing their ways. He wanted more, he wanted God to destroy them. Jonah makes himself a shelter, but he doesn’t seem to be very pleased, nor does it completely shelter him. It had created it with his own hands and yet that creation did not bring contentment nor gratitude. God creates a plant that towers over his shelter and provides the needed shade. Jonah did nothing for his current state of happiness, God did. I don’t see where Jonah even offered a thank you for God’s wonderful creation, yet he sat there waiting for God to destroy a city. When the plant, Jonah had not lifted a finger to build, was eaten by worms, he was angry yet again.

Luke 17: 11-17            NIV

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 

These ten men, lived outside the cities. They who were diagnosed with leprosy and were sent away with strict rules of conduct. When talking with Jesus they stayed at a distance. Jesus tells them to go visit the priest. As they walked, they felt and saw the healing power of Jesus create them anew. All they did was listen, walk, and obey. The joy and happiness of that healing moment was huge. Nine of them kept walking but one, just one, came back to Jesus. His voice could be heard as he praised God all the way back. Arriving at Jesus there is no distance between them, he throws himself at His feet. He was pleased, happy, and relieved. But don’t you see something more here, he was grateful, unashamedly grateful, change had come, but not through his power but the power of Jesus.

It’s just far to easy to walk though this life seeing only the hurt, the difficulties, maybe the heat of the day, or lack of room for all our overflow of stuff. The burden of life can become overwhelming, and I stop myself and ask, did I build this shelter or this barn, with my own hands? Can I find contentment inside myself, the answer is a resounding NO! Contentment is only found in the arms of our Savior Jesus Christ. As we are blessed, share it. When our life is not the way we planned it out, look toward Jesus because He can grow plants that cover you and offer shade from the heat of this life.

How grateful are you during this season of life? Are you angry, or is your voice wide open in praise? Hopefully this thought comes to mind, “how do we look beyond the challenges of life and develop that spirit of Gratefulness?”

Philippians 4: 4-8 NIV

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

Paul encourages us to have joy always, become a gentle person. Gentleness is found in contentment, be satisfied with what you have in Christ, stop trying to build your own shelter. He is near and His ears are tuned to our praise of thanksgiving. When we fall at His feet there is peace. I love that Paul let’s us know that even he believes that this peace is beyond our understanding. But he knows that it will guard our heart and mind. Train you mind and your emotions, have them find the good, have them locate Jesus in every situation. All that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy – think on those things and be grateful to God that he provides them.

Redeemed Saliva

I have seen people spitting on the sports field and in the news so I cannot stop thinking about it, Why? It is a disgusting action that carries distain, unworthiness, failure, a lack of value, but it brings a sense of power to the one carrying out the action. As I dug into God’s Word, I was surprised how many times it speaks of spitting. This outward expression has been with us for centuries. So, swallow hard and let’s digest this thought together, sorry I felt I needed to attempt some humor before we moved into this disgusting topic.

Job 7: 15-19        ESV

I would rather be strangled— rather die than suffer like this. I hate my life and don’t want to go on living. Oh, leave me alone for my few remaining days. “What are people, that you should make so much of us, that you should think of us so often? For you examine us every morning and test us every moment. Why won’t you leave me alone, at least long enough for me to swallow! 

Job feels completely useless, unworthy, a complete failure, who lacks any value in himself. He is mad at God for caring about him. Job was in so much physical pain that even the simplest of actions, swallowing, caused him great difficulty and was only a reminder of his struggles. When he asks God, “at least long enough for me to swallow”, today we might say, “Can you at least give me a minute alone!” a rest from the pain and hurt that is our life. Job was considered by God and Satan as an honorable man. His friends came to comfort him but instead condemned him, with the discussion that everything done to him was a form of discipline from God. Job was sinking into depression and wanted a minute to process how he got there, “just let me swallow all this saliva.

Numbers 12: 10-14     ESV

As the cloud moved from above the Tabernacle, there stood Miriam, her skin as white as snow from leprosy. When Aaron saw what had happened to her, he cried out to Moses, “Oh, my master! Please don’t punish us for this sin we have so foolishly committed. Don’t let her be like a stillborn baby, already decayed at birth.” So, Moses cried out to the LORD, “O God, I beg you, please heal her!” But the LORD said to Moses, “If her father had done nothing more than spit in her face, wouldn’t she be defiled for seven days? So, keep her outside the camp for seven days, and after that she may be accepted back.” 

Miriam is touched with Leprosy, often in the bible we see a view of sin through this illness. God is showing Moses a visual sign of their sin. With Leprosy, you lose the sensors in your mind that warn you of pain. God gives Moses another example, the pain of having your own father spit in your face. As a daughter you would be broken, how did you fail so miserably, causing such distain and unworthiness from your own father. Certainly, she would leave home, take a moment and swallow. How do you return, where do you find the strength to return and walk back into your home?

Deuteronomy 25: 7-9 ESV

“But if the man refuses to marry his brother’s widow, she must go to the town gate and say to the elders assembled there, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to preserve his brother’s name in Israel—he refuses to fulfill the duties of a brother-in-law by marrying me.’ The elders of the town will then summon him and talk with him. If he still refuses and says, ‘I don’t want to marry her,’ the widow must walk over to him in the presence of the elders, pull his sandal from his foot, and spit in his face. Then she must declare, ‘This is what happens to a man who refuses to provide his brother with children.’ 

To preserve the name of her husband, the brother-in-law living on the same property of his deceased brother must marry the widow and bring a child to continue the fallen brothers’ name. This is so interesting to me and in today’s world it seems so foreign. But even beyond the continuation of a name and a family line, this widow is without a means to survive. In the economy of this era, value was found in childbearing.

She sets a time to meet with the town leadership and explains the unwillingness of the brother-in-law to provide her a son that would carry on the name of her fallen husband. Then the town leaders speak with him, but he still refuses. Another visual sign is given in front of several witnesses and the town leaders. She must bend down and remove one sandal. Then standing up, she spits in his face with a declaration of his disgrace, his shame, and his unworthiness.

Mark 8: 23-25 ESV

Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?” The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.” Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. 

Wait, we moved from the Old Testament to the New Testament, but why is Jesus spitting in someone’s eye. This is not the only time that we find Jesus spitting by the way. Each time it is to heal someone’s blindness. Job was asking for a moment to collect his saliva, his mind set was only on his hurt, he couldn’t see the work being done in his life.

Just before this passage the disciples are discussing the fact that they had forgotten to bring bread. In verses 17 and 18 of chapter 8, Jesus replies, “Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? They had personally witnessed the provision of His hand, for he had fed the 5000 and the 4000 with very little. Could they not see or understand?

Jesus gives them yet another visual. Jesus had come to redeem, to set in proper order even the disgraced, the worthless, and the devalued. Being blind was a sentence of loneliness, your family left you only to beg on street corners for any hope you might have of survival. At one encounter the disciples ask Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” Jesus using the act of spitting to heal not to hurt, to improve a life, not devalue it. This man’s life is forever changed and for the better. Unlike Miriam who was an example of the pain of sin, this man was an example of the redemption from sin, offered by God through Jesus.

Matthew 27: 28-30     ESV

They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. 

In Deuteronomy we saw the sister-in-law making a public display of her distain for the man that should have carried on the name of his brother but refused. Here we see Jesus being made into a public display of mockery, shame, and to appear valueless. Jesus was going to redeem this visual. They came to Him, no kneeling and no sandals to remove but they then spit on Him in an effort to bring disgrace. They went so far as to publicly beat Him as they proceeded to take him outside the village and crucify Him.

Matthew 27: 45-48     ESV

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” 

Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 

One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. 

Jesus could feel the pain and hurt with each breath. Some even thought he had a dry mouth and offered Him some drink but even then, it was sour wine. Why does He make so much of us and think of us so often? The words of Job are so fitting, even now.

God utilizes every form of learning that allows us to see how much He cares for us. If it takes the visual of saliva to help us understand his redeeming power, then He will. Do you understand, can you see, have you heard, or do you remember, the great love He has for you. He wants to redeem your life. He desires to change the hurt into joy, the pain into love, and our unworthiness into honor. He values you and is willing to do whatever it takes to redeem your life.

Living in God’s Will

The busyness of life is slowing, the challenges are being set right and the rest are moving forward again. Not sure if I can write every week but I will return to this love and passion of mine, writing. I had the privilege this week of writing a new devotional for our morning class at church. I asked the group to send me their favorite characters and if they could change something, if they had all power what would they change? Here is what I received and placed into words.

Romans 12: 2

2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 

I dare say that anyone one of us if given the sovereign will and power to perform any action, would declare something meaningful, something worth value, and something that changed people’s life for the better. The effects of Sin would be gone, never to be seen again. So why? Why, did God with all His sovereign power, with the very words He speaks, not create a World were Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control ruled the day?

Let’s look back at Genesis and the Garden. We find Adam and Eve living the very life I just described. They personally walked with God, talked with God, and learned directly from God. You could say they were being created in Mind, Body, and Spirit allowing them to see the new creation as God saw it. God knew that if there were to live with a true Love, and a deep Joy, with lasting Patience, and all that followed, His creation would need the option of choice. He plants one tree in the Garden that is forbidden, “Don’t eat this fruit, it brings with it Death!”.

Adam, standing at the side of his wonderful gift Eve, watches as evil starts talking. Temptation is speaking and the new creation is hanging in the balance. Adam remains silent and God does not swoop in to save the day. Eve takes the bite and hands it over to Adam, still silent he eats. They enjoy the fruit, but something starts to change, they are being transformed into the very beings they were never created to be, they became human, and Adam knew it would happen but gave into the pleasing fruit hanging on that tree.

The sea of Humanity continued to fall deeper in the pit of sin. Marriages coming and going, families torn apart, children left alone or worse hurt and beaten. They left their God given instinct and performed all manner of evil toward each other, there was no true Love, or deep Joy, or lasting Patience, Self-Control was all but gone. So, a flood came, God wiped out all that He had created, he even regretted making Man.

A new creation was started with Noah. Trouble started again almost immediately, the people were united, they all spoke the same language, and even had a central focus to build a tower. The structure would reach the skies, and in so doing they lived in peace and harmony. What was the challenge, this should be a great time in Humankind’s history? But the foundational goal of the tower was, “to make a name for ourselves.” We wanted to be God, we wanted to control our own destiny. If we could build this what else can we do as a unified group of people? God in his sovereignty, gave them different languages and spread them throughout the World.

He then chooses Moses to lead His people to a promised land where they could be His chosen people. They would learn to live a life separate from the world around them and trust God for all their needs and He would direct their steps. Instead, they grumbled and complained. They wondered around for years looking for this promised land and then when it was there, just over the river they were scared and frightened. God, in His faithfulness still moved them toward their new homeland, their new life with Him as the central focus of all they did. They wanted a king; God was their King, but they wanted to be like everyone else in the land and have their own flesh and bone, king.

God gave them several visual moments allowing them the opportunity to turn back to Him. One of those moments was Ruth, she wasn’t born into the family that God had chosen but she married into it. She lost everything, her husband died, she left her homeland, and she left everything she knew of life. Why, because she fell truly in Love, finding Kindness, Goodness, and Faithfulness in her mother-in-law.

Ruth 1: 16-17

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 

17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 

Now in God’s sovereignty He sends His only Son, Jesus to lead us back to Him. I wonder how I would have sent Jesus, maybe it would have looked a great deal like the disciples thought it would. Jesus would come and take over the World and set us right by His power and might. But instead, He came as a small baby boy, living in a carpenter’s home, following the law, and learning the traditions of men. In my sovereignty, if I were granted any, He would have chosen an army of the best trained and brightest minds. In God’s sovereignty, he chose fishermen, he chose the unloved, and he chose a tax collector.

In God’s sovereignty he met a young lady who was full of demons, Mary Magdalene. He released her of this evil and drove them out. The sin, the evil, the thoughts she once had are now gone. Her life is now a clean slate, she gets to start over, but how do you start over? What is her new purpose in life and what is God’s will for her life? In His sovereignty, why Mary, if we think about it why Noah, why Moses, or why me? Mary is the first to the tomb, the first to see Jesus alive again, the first to tell the others, WHY, transform this little girl that had fallen into a life of demon possession.

You see Mary transformed her thoughts and way of life, how? In the book of Revelation, chapter 4 we find several images around the throne of God. Let’s focus in on four creatures: a lion, an ox, a human face, and an eagle. They have eyes behind, forward, and all around. They seem to be able to see the past, the present, and the future. But having multitude eyes that can not only see but understand what they are taking in. They are brave like a lion, strong like an ox, having a breath-taking view as an eagle, but looking like us all the while with a human face. What are they doing each day, giving praise “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty! The one who was, who is, and who is still to come.” Mary now saw her life intertwined with the Almighty Savior, and it consumed her to the point of continual praise.

We find Paul telling us in 1 Thessalonians 5, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you, who belong to Christ Jesus.” Paul, is God telling us to be thankful for Adam’s disobedience, for those who lived united in Babel but focused on the wrong goal, for the children of Israel’s constant complaining, for the evil we see today, even on the smallest of us, our children?

It all seems too much, when we look at life through our eyes and our own thought process – it is all overwhelming and so difficult to take in. So, let’s go back to Romans 12, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. You see, this is the will of God, this is God’s command for us. In His sovereignty, he has placed His spirit inside of us. We are to be His people consumed with showing forth the wonderful praises of his Glory and Grace.

So, take a bite of God’s spiritual fruit, and live out the will of God with a new mind set, a mind set on your heavenly Father who wants to walk with you each day. He will talk with you and create inside of you a new mind, a new body, and a new spirit that lives in God’s perfect will and sovereignty.

Galatians 5: 22-26

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.


Time to Pause

I want to thank each of you who have been so gracious in your comments and being faithful in your reading of this Blog that God has allowed me to be a part of.

This work is a project of love and not my main focus. My pray is that one day I will have more time to study and write, until them my Blogs will continue to be inconsistent in their timing. I appreciate your patience and your prayers as I work through the last few years of my career. I will continue to write as time allows.

I continue to serve at my local church as teacher and leader of our Senior Adult Ministry and restarting that ministry along with the pressure of work, this love of mine will be available from time to time as I find the new normal.

In God’s love and in His great spirit of growth I will reach out again soon, maybe next month. But for now, remember God works with us through the basic’s so that we can go deeper with Him.

Faith, In Closing

I asked this question in the first Blog I wrote on Faith, what is Faith? After writing and studying on the subject I believe that I have an answer.

Mark 4: 2-4                             New Living Translation

He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one: “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 

It is absolutely amazing, how does so much beauty come from such a tiny seed. You dig a hole and place the seed in the ground, add the needed nutrients, and water from time to time. Before long that seed cracks open, falling apart in the ground releasing the beauty that was buried inside. The stem pushes its way through the dirt – finding the sun and blooming where it had been planted. The seed becomes the very thing it was created to be.

In this parable, it has always struck me odd that the farmer is just tossing out seed in some type of uncontrolled process, but God’s message is for everyone. It appears that some seed has found its way to a footpath where birds come and eat of it, never having an opportunity for growth. The seed never has a chance to die, never the opportunity to open. It stays incased within the hardened shell it wears.

Mark 4: 5-6                             New Living Translation

Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it did not have deep roots, it died. 

Here we find another grouping and thankfully the seed found some soil, shallow as it was. This seed believed that life could be better, that there was a higher calling. But it was only able to cover itself with some soil. The stem began to grow seemingly without much difficulty and then it bloomed, so pretty. The heat of the day fell on the beautiful plant which caused this tremendous need for water. Dried hardened rock was all it found for there was no passage built to dig deep to find the answer the plant needed. It died.

Mark 5: 7                                New Living Translation

Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants, so they produced no grain.  

This grouping fell in amongst some weeds that required all the same soil, nutrients, and needed water. They grew up together to the point it was hard to tell one plant from the other. Well, until it was too late, there was not enough room for our seed to bloom, to grow into the very object it was designed to become. The crowd around it had taken everything, it could no longer see the sun, or feel the rain. No room for deep roots because all its time was spent searching to be seen, to stand out, or to be noticed for who they could become, among the weeds of life.

Mark 4: 8-9                 New Living Translation

Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” 

Our final grouping of seed in this story from Jesus finds its way to the fertile soil. This soil had been prepared – softened, tilled, turned, and filled will all the nutrients needed. When the seed landed it just fell in between layers of brown soil and the first drops of water seemed to seal it in place. The seed began to crack the hard shell it had been carrying for so long, broken and gone where the cares of the past as the water and soil washed over it. The stem began to move upward finding the sun and blooming. The leaves were so pretty has they soaked in the new world around them. The plant started to produce fruit perfect for refreshing the soul. This plant is not taken by the birds to eat, or to be seen by others, no, this plant had discovered a wealth of strength by digging deep into the soil. The heat of the day fell on our plant only to strengthen the resolve as it clung to the depth found in the roots.   

John 15: 5-13              New Living Translation

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

In the parable retold by Mark, the seed represents us, and the soil is the Message of God’s Word. The final group of seed fell in the richness of God’s Message and cracked under the weight of such incomparable love. “For apart from me you can do nothing”, hold on to that statement, it dwells at the very foundation of faith. “You can ask whatever you will”, we will work through this statement by Jesus. If we are still living on the bird feeding path, or in the soil without depth, or even among the weeds, we are standing without Him. But, when we are living in and from Him, we can ask whatever. You see it is only when our hearts are aligned with His heart that we understand how to ask, how to seek, and how to knock. “Your joy will overflow”, no matter the situation when we are connected to the true vine our joy will overflow from His love toward us. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” We are His friend, His loved one, and his family when we are connected to Him.

What is Faith – Finding the rich soil of God’s message and burying ourselves in Him.

Faith, Close to Perfection

Get to know Him by leaving yourself behind

I found a few examples of pure faith in action. Here are some questions we should be asking ourselves, what does it take, what must I do, and what does it look like in human form.

Matthew 8: 23-27                   New Living Translation

A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.” But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed. 

The lesson here in Matthew 8 is so interesting especially when you lay it alongside the one in Mark 9. In Mark 9 we have a father and a son, the father has sought out anyone who can help his son but to no avail. Then Jesus appears and talks with the father. The father is faced with the challenge of his belief, his trust, and with his relationship to Jesus as he pleads for the health of his child, “Help my unbelief”.

In Matthew 8 we find a non-Jewish woman who has faith, so I cannot help but notice that Jesus begins to test that very faith. “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep”, the test begins, did she understand who she is? The test gets more direct as Jesus explains that her background does not allow her a chair at the table. (But for Jesus and the Grace of God do any of us have a chair at His table.) What a wonderful statement of faith she comes back with, “but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their master’s table.” Her daughter is healed instantly.

Luke 7: 6-10                            New Living Translation

So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, Ihaven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed. 

Another example of someone without a Jewish heritage, a Roman soldier. He served under authority and at the same time had authority over others. Jesus served under the authority that His Father had given Him to accomplish. Our Roman soldier also gave out orders to others and they followed his command. Jesus gives direction to those who follow Him, and they are to live out those commands. This Roman understood to whom he was making his request. Jesus is to be about His Father’s business which includes setting things right that had turned in the wrong direction. The Roman soldiers display of faith causes Jesus to turn to the crowd, “I tell you; I haven’t seen faith like this”. Jesus makes a point in telling all who could hear him, this Roman understands my mission.

Mark 5: 22-23             New Living Translation

Then a leader of the local synagogue, whose name was Jairus, arrived. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet, pleading fervently with him. “My little daughter is dying,” he said. “Please come and lay your hands on her; heal her so she can live.”

It is noteworthy to mention that we have seen; a mother and daughter, a father and son, a man and his friend, now we are looking at a father and daughter. The lesson I am learning is that faith is not required of the person in need. In each of these cases someone else has brought them to Jesus. This is a local synagogue leader, the first time in this study we have seen someone involved in the church. He asks Jesus to come and lay His hands on his daughter. The other examples do not mention the laying on of hands either. Although I do know plenty of verses where the laying on of hands is encouraged but for our discovery of great faith, I felt this fact should be highlighted.

Mark 5: 25-28             New Living Translation

A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” 

In the middle of the march to the leader of our local synagogue a woman fights her way through the crowd maybe on her hands and knees just to touch His robe. Like our man in Mark 9, she had tried everything to the point of exhaustion along with depleting her finances. Our woman in the crowd had gained faith upon learning of Jesus but our man in Mark, well he struggled.  

Mark 5: 30-34             New Living Translation

Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?” His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. 

And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” 

Jesus had asked many questions to check the faith of those who had made request of Him. This time, the questions fell on the disciples and those around Him. “Who touched my robe?” He continued asking those crowded in around Him, “I felt healing power has gone from Me, who was it?” Twelve years she had suffered with this blood issue which brought about so much personal loss, now she is being singled out for that very issue. Jesus does not test her faith but proclaims that faith to all who are listening.

Mark 5: 35 – 36, 39, 40 – 43

While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. Holding her hand, he said to her, which means “Little girl, get up!” And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. 

Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.

Remember, this started as a walk over to the local synagogue leader’s home to touch his daughter. The woman that touched His clothing, stopped the trip. The news is bad, friends came to tell Jairus that it is too late, death had taken his daughter and there is no need for the teacher. The crowd has begun to offer their sympathy to the family. It is over and nothing more can be done. This local synagogue crowd does not understand who is coming to visit this little girl.

I see that I have written more in today’s blog then normal, forgive me but we must dig a little deeper. I mentioned that faith is not required of the person in need, someone else can have that faith for them. Then we see a single woman, full of her own faith, crawling through the crowd to touch his robe. Next, we have a little girl who has her supporters losing hope. Jesus gets the fathers attention and says, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” We have seen Jesus test each person coming to Him so that they can understand their place and their need for Him. So many times, we come to Jesus last, after attempting all we know to do. We have come to the end our ourselves and realize that He holds the answer.

One last thought for today, in the other examples Jesus points out to all those listening that the faith they witnessed is worthy of discussion. The local synagogue leader is told something different, “I am giving you strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened.” When Jesus awakens the girl inside the home, we find Jesus, three of His disciples, along with her mom and dad. Jesus was demonstrating his authority to these 5 people for soon He would be awakened from death himself. When Jesus raises on that third day, Jairus will need to fall back on this moment and remind his synagogue crowd something he was once told, “do not be afraid but have faith?

Where is your level of faith, is it a secret or is it shared for all to learn who Jesus is and who we are?

Faith, So Close

I recently took the time to read through some of my past Blogs, so many of you have started reading and enjoying. So, I took the time to read back over those same Blogs. I have decided that you are far too kind, I am just not particularly good at writing. My sentence structures, spellings, and mis-placed words distract from what I am attempting to say. I just do not have the education needed to professionally write for the public. I take the time to read over my Blog’s three times and allow the computer to read it to me once. I let it rest a night or two, read the post once more before it goes out and although I catch so many errors, there are still those that leak out. Maybe today, this blog can teach me and hopefully you something about how faith works in moments when we are distracted by our own shortcomings.

Matthew 8: 23-27                   ESV

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

“O you of little faith?” What does it mean to have only a little of something? “I only have a little bit of money on me”, is that a nickel, a dollar, ten dollars, or just enough money for me? I know so little about the English language even though it is the only language I know.

My Pastor is speaking on Spiritual Battles over the next few weeks, and he said something that stuck with me, “the opposite of Faith is not Doubt, the opposite of Faith is Fear.” Let us take another look at the phrase Jesus uses here, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” These men lived their lives in a boat, they were fishermen. They had some knowledge of what a real storm looked like, but here they find themselves in fear on the water. They did at least have enough faith to awaken Jesus and plead with Him, “Save us; we are perishing!!!!” I added a few explanation points to make a point, they were scared for their life.

Matthew 17: 19-20                 ESV

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Seeds are so small compared to what they become. Take a watermelon seed, inside this small seed is a large fruit that satisfies a need. It just happens, the seed is planted, and the vine grows producing several watermelons, in fact. Some of those watermelons are large and long, while others are small circles. But each is a watermelon just the same. This implies that we must trust the gardener to water and prune so that we can become the fruit he intended.

Jesus is not measuring their faith by the size of a tiny mustard seed, but He is explaining that even the smallest seed can do great things when they know the gardener and the purpose, He has planted in them.

James 1: 19-22                        ESV

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore, put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 

Focus in on these two words with me, “implanted word”. I had knee surgery last year and for them to implant the new knee they had to remove some of the old arthritic knee. God is asking us to read His word with meekness, in other words, not making it about us but about others. Let us be quick to hear others, think through how we respond, and slow to respond back in anger.

Taking another look back in Matthew 8 when our disciples are riding in the storm with Jesus asleep. They wondered what type of man could enjoy so much calm in the middle of a storm. And then, for their sake alone and not His, He just speaks peace to all the turmoil around them. What we are learning today is that we have a small portion of God’s Spirit planted inside of us, that expects to be at peace in all the turmoil and then speaks peace to others, let us start allowing Him to farm His new implanted word inside of us.  

Matthew 14: 26-31                 ESV

When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So, Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 

“In their fear, they cried out”, the opposite of faith if fear. Give some grace to Peter, he got out of the boat and walked at least a step or two. Then the fear level kicked in and he looked at the waves and felt the wind, he lost his balance. He at least knew who to cry out to, certainly not the disciples still in the boat. He cries out to Jesus and of course Jesus rescues him, that is what He does.

Have I learned anything from this Blog, today? Faith is not based on the circumstances around me, the wind, the waves, or my poor writing. Faith is based solely on Jesus Christ and my ability to keep my focus on Him. Regardless of what is happening around me or how I am accepted or rejected. My faith begins when my abilities end. I will ask for you to forgive my errors as I place my focus on Jesus.

What can you learn from this Blog, today? Regardless of what you are doing or what you are involved in. I would suggestion one thing to you, walk with Jesus as your focus and stop looking at your circumstances, failures, and flaws. He has planted His Spirit’s seed inside you, allow it to grow. We do have some responsibility to get better and we should strive to be better in all we put our hands to do. Do not place that burden on you alone, focus your attention and direction on Him. Do not worry, Jesus will pick you up when your fear level kicks in.

Faith, Up-Close

What is Faith? In my most recent Blog I asked a great deal of questions regarding your interaction with faith. Today, we will take an up-close look to answer a few of those questions.

Believe is word that is often substituted for Faith. I located this definition for believing – accept (something) as true or hold (something) as an opinion. I believe that Star Wars is the best Sci-fi story ever told. I can believe (hold an opinion) that this statement is true. Some may notice that I am able to discuss the story line. They may see my figurines on the shelves inside my home near the many books on the topic. But do I have faith in Star Wars? I believe (hold an opinion) that it is a well told story, but my life is not better, I do not find purpose, nor do I exceed because of this closely held belief.

Today we will take and up-close look into two Bible characters. Did they believe (accept or hold an opinion) or did they have faith in God? Starting first with Sarah the wife of Abraham, who was promised by God to become the father of a great nation of people. Then I want to take a look at someone you may not know as well but still listed in our chapter of faith in Hebrews 11, Gideon.

Genesis 16: 1-2                       New Living Translation

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.”

Genesis 18: 12-13                   New Living Translation

So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?” Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ 

Abraham was given the promise of children 10 years before Genesis 16 and 24 years before the passage in 18. God directly told them that they would have more children than the stars that shined above. How? She was 65 years old when they heard the promise of children? Now, years have passed, and they wonder if maybe God had another plan, so she placed the wheels into motion and Abraham had a child. They soon learned that their plan was not God’s answer to the promise. In chapter 18 above Sarah is 89 years old and without a single child. She laughed to herself and simply ask, “How?”

Hebrews 11: 11-12                 New Living Translation

It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so, a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them. 

Sarah after 25 years from the first promise, she gives birth to a sweet baby boy named Isaac at the age of 90. Taking an up-close look into this passage, let us read slowly through verse 11, “though she was barren and was too old. She believed!” Sarah had nothing in which to believe (hold an opinion), she was barren and old! Maybe just maybe, within the moment of her laugh she understood the meaning of faith, for faith begins when our abilities end. Wow, that really hit me, I hope it does you as well.

Hebrews 11: 3 2-33                 New Living Translation

How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 

Here is a quick list of Kings, Generals, Judges, and Prophets of God who each have incredible stories of their own. And shutting the mouth of lions must be Daniel. He trusted God in everyway and with every detail of his life. But what about Gideon, what is his story and how does he make this list?

Judges 6:11                             New Living Translation

Then the angel of the LORD came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. 

Gideon is hiding in a basement. He created his own plan that would save the little bit of food he had from the enemy, down below the winepress. He and his people were hungry, the enemy had been raiding their food for some time now and he needed to feed himself, family, and friends. He does not stand up to the enemy, instead he hides.

Judges 6: 12-13a                     New Living Translation

The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the LORD is with you!” “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about?

A “Mighty Hero”, since when do mighty hero’s hide in the basement? At this time Gideon, our hero (?), lacks any signs of faith, he wonders why God would even allow this to happen. “God are you still there? We could one of those miracles right now.” I am not even sure at this point that Gideon still believes the stories his parents and grandparents told him about God.

Judges 6: 15-16                       New Living Translation

“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” The LORD said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.” 

Just like Sarah, Gideon is well aware of his shortcomings, his family is the weakest in his tribe, and he is the least of his entire family. Sarah laughed and Gideon hides, both of these people are listed in Hebrews 11, our hall of faith. Then the Lord says, “I will be with you!” Read more of his story in Judges, absolutely amazing what is accomplished though the life of Gideon because he stepped out of himself and understood that faith begins when our abilities end.

I do not believe (opinion) that I am done posting regarding our study on faith. There is more to come, I have just scratched the surface. I am learning that Faith begins when I have come to the end of myself and my plans, allowing God to work from me.

Faith, A Closer Look

I am going to take us on a deep dive into the word Faith. This will take several Blogs and I have been praying and digging into this already. Today’s Blog is not meant to answer questions but to cause you to question how you relate to your Faith. Let us dig in and see where God takes us.

What is Faith? I took the opportunity to post this question on my Facebook page and received several insightful answers. I want to share a few of the examples that were posted:

If I believe a dog is behind me, hearing a bark come from that direction only increases my faith that it is there even if I cannot turn around and see or touch it.

Faith is a muscle, the more you exercise it the stronger it becomes. I always presumed that I had faith. Then came a situation, a huge danger, in which I had no choice but to throw my faith, my hope, upon my Lord. And He rescued me!

When you stand in a dark room sitting in a chair the light in the room reveals that the chair is there. You did not need the light to know that, but it did encourage your faith that the chair was real. With the light off and the darkness all around you, doubt may very well tell you that you are sitting on a pile of clothes.

Faith is not lessened by proof but affirmed. In the kitchen it reminds me of yeast, proof(ing) gives it time to feed, expand and multiply. First time I successfully made bread I was blown away by how much the dough grew.

These are only a few of the wonderful thoughts that were posted to my page. I wish that I could include all their comments, they were so well thought out.

Hebrews 11: 1-2                     New Living Translation

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. 

I am going to ask a few questions to get you thinking about why you have faith, “Do you believe?”. Your answer may be, “do I believe in what or whom?” Or your answer may very well sound like this, “Yes, I believe in the Bible! I believe in God and that Jesus came to save our souls!” Do you believe that there is a promise land, that heaven is just a breath away? Why? Do you have confidence in the hope of seeing Jesus on golden streets? Can we see our final destination; you have seen funerals and people’s bodies placed in the ground. You heard the minister talk about the person walking in heaven without pain and heartache. Do you believe in eternal life?

Hebrews 10: 35-36                 New Living Translation

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

Here are the words of the author of Hebrews just before he pens our faith chapter in 11. Do not throw away your confidence. They believed, but life was getting in the way. Their good reputation of trusting God was being ridiculed, abused, jailed, and separated from their families. Patient endurance, the toughest words ever joined together. Patient, are you willing to wait? Maybe when life is good, we can wait it out, we can trust in God. He is asking us to be patient with endurance. I get this mental picture in my head when I hear the word endurance, a long distant runner. Running 5 minutes is endurance for me but others can run for miles up hills and down into the valleys. Their legs screaming in pain and their mind ready to shut down at any moment. If we stop running, we will not reach our goal.

Hebrews 11: 3             New Living Translation

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. 

The United States has landed another rover on the Planet Mars. We are constantly striving to learn more about this universe. We wish to find knowledge that there is life out there. Worldly hope rest in the faith that we are not alone. There is an overwhelming belief that our universe was not created by a living God but by a scientific method. I tell you it takes faith in both camps to believe each side of the story. How does something come from nothing?

Romans 8: 24-25                     New Living Translation

We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) 

Salvation brings a new life, the old is dissolving and the new is growing. Our old life was built on a hope that we could handle whatever came our way. We had the plan, we had the process under control, and we had our best interest at heart. The moment comes when we realize that the life, we had built our hope on was faulty. Hope needs to be founded in righteousness, in truth, and in love. Since we were born in sin from the time of the garden, there is no righteousness, truth, or love! That life must be dissolved; it takes time to change what we naturally lean toward. So, at salvation we are given a new hope and a new vision of a more rewarding life. We must live patiently and confidently looking forward to our growth in Him.

Hebrews 12: 1-2                     New Living Translation

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 

The writer of Hebrews has just finished the greatest assembly of believers inside God’s word. He has walked us through men after men, ladies after ladies, and we now find ourselves at our greatest example of faith, Jesus Christ. This group of witnesses to the life of faith help us strip ourselves of every weight that trips us up. I picture the grandstands on either side of the track with thousands screaming on our success; “You can do this!”, “I fell plenty and God will be there for you!”, “I gave up everything, so can you!”. Down at the end of the track is a figure; strong and tall, He seems to be waving us in. As we get closer the figure seems totally different; His arms are stretched out and His head is bowed. We keep our eyes glued on this person who has already completed his race. He has been beaten, bloody, and scarred as you quickly look down you cannot help but see similar marks on your body. The race has been painful, life has been full of body blows. The pain is felt only when you take your eyes off the Savior. Faith grew as you placed your hope in Him. Because of the joy set before Him, He endured. You set your eyes back on Jesus and pick up the pace as you endure the miles, the heartache, and the pain. The witnesses never stop cheering you on as you read each of there own life stories.

You can do this, for it is by Grace you have been saved through Faith!

A Scripted Life?

I have had some time over the last few months to just sit and think. While watching one of my favorite shows, regarding jury trials. In this episode it does not look good for the defendant, they are up against a larger, wealthier, and more powerful accuser. The hour is coming to an end when all the sudden one of the lawyer’s spots something on a video that changes everything. The jury deliberates and comes back with an innocent verdict, all is right in the world. Fairness and justice have prevailed.

Esther 2: 5-7               The Message Bible

Now there was a Jew who lived in the palace complex in Susa. His name was Mordecai. His ancestors had been taken from Jerusalem with the exiles and carried off with King Jehoiachin of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon into exile. Mordecai had reared his cousin Hadassah, otherwise known as Esther, since she had no father or mother. The girl had a good figure and a beautiful face. After her parents died, Mordecai had adopted her.

Mordecai and Esther, torn from their homeland and family, made a life for themselves in Susa. Strangers among the people, making the best of their situation, they become a family to survive. The King and Queen of this new land threw a large over-the-top party that lasted six months, as he invited leaders from around his kingdom to show off his wealth and power. The final week of the party, their king commanded his queen to appear before him and his visitors. Now he commands his Queen to parade around in her finest, showing off his greatest jewel in his kingdom. She refused to be retrieved and then shown off, causing the King some embarrassment in front of the visiting leaders. The King sent her away.

Esther 2: 8-10             The Message Bible

When the king’s order had been publicly posted, many young girls were brought to the palace complex of Susa and given over to Hegai who was overseer of the women. Esther was among them. Hegai liked Esther and took a special interest in her. Right off he started her beauty treatments, ordered special food, assigned her seven personal maids from the palace, and put her and her maids in the best rooms in the harem. Esther did not say anything about her family and racial background because Mordecai ask her not to for fear of her safety.

The King needs a new Queen. It might be hard to read some of this story within the framework of our culture today. But this is the life that these two fugitives were living in a land that was not theirs. She continued to hide her race and family background during the selection process.

Esther 2: 16-17           The Message Bible

Esther, just as she was, won the admiration of everyone who saw her. She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal palace in the tenth month, in the seventh year of the king’s reign. The king fell in love with Esther far more than with any of his other women or any of the other virgins – he was totally smitten by her. He placed a royal crown on her head and made her queen in place of Vashti.

Esther had lost her mom and dad and was raised by a second cousin, and now finds herself the Queen of Susa. Meanwhile, her adopted Father has been causing “good trouble” at the gate of the castle every day. Queen Esther, so proud of Mordecai, but cannot share their relationship or she loses everything.

Esther 3: 8-9a             The Message Bible

Haman then spoke with King Xerxes: “There is an odd set of people scattered through the provinces of your kingdom who don’t fit in. Their customs and ways are different from those of everybody else. Worse, they disregard the king’s laws. They’re an affront; the king shouldn’t put up with them. If it please the king, let orders be given that they be destroyed.

Haman is one of the King’s top advisers and he is racist toward the Jewish people who have settled in their kingdom. Haman, wishing to kill all the Jews, even places his own money in the treasury to pay for the added military expense. The King allows Haman to move forward with his plan against the Jewish people. The plan is in place and the Queen is told of the news, what should she do, tell the King that she will also be destroyed if Haman can proceed or does she stay quiet as her people are destroyed?

Esther 4: 13-16           The Message Bible

Mordecai sent her this message: “Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.” Esther sent back her answer to Mordecai: “Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together. Fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, either day or night. I and my maids will fast with you. If you will do this, I’ll go to the king, even though it’s forbidden. If I die, I die.” 

Our scripted story has just taken a terrible turn. Esther is being told by the very man she respects the most, the man that raised her when she had lost her parents. When she first heard the plan to wipe out her fellow Jews, she was scared. Now, Mordecai is asking her to use her influence to persuade the King. You did not go to the King without an invite, even the Queen did not have full clearance to approach uninvited. She asked for everyone involved to go to God and pray, seek His face. Then she says the most incredible thing, “If I die, I die.”

Esther 7: 2-6               The Message Bible

At this second dinner, while they were drinking wine the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what would you like? Half of my kingdom! Just ask and it’s yours.” Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your eyes, O King, and if it please the king, give me my life, and give my people their lives. “We’ve been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed – sold to be massacred, eliminated.

The Queen finds the courage to tell the King what Haman had planned, the King turns the tables on Haman and the Jews were rescued. My favorite line in this story is, “For such a time as this.” You are here for a reason and regardless of your stage in life, God can rescue you. It will not be the life you have scripted but it will be a life scripted to place you in such a time as this.