No Matter What

Queen Esther agreed to do what Mordecai asked of her. She chose to believe that he was speaking from a godly perspective. She also realized it would be God, and God alone, who would keep her alive when she went before the king, uninvited. She chose to put her hope, faith, and love for God above everything else, above even the strongest desire of the flesh, food and drink. She asked her people to do likewise in hope that humbling themselves before God, putting Him above all else, would move the heart of God to bring mercy and favor so their lives would be spared.

“Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” Esther 4:16

Someone has said that faith requires a thousand deaths.

I have never faced the fear of death as Esther did.

To write from her perspective is impossible.

But along my journey of life, as God has been growing my faith; I have faced “deaths” to self; my desires, comfort, and agendas, that have required me to fear God and not man.

Even the seemingly small things I do can bring situations that I need to die to.

Whenever we do things that have eternal significance it will require dying to self.

This is a busy week as I get things ready for the Living Nativity. But as I take some time to write, I’m reminded of the situation Mary faced when the angel came to her one day.

In many ways Mary’s situation was similar to Esther’s.

Mary was betrothed to Joseph, which meant that legally and religiously they had entered into marriage, but hadn’t yet consummated the marriage. Mary was waiting for the “home-taking” when Joseph would finish building their house and would come and take her to their new home, where their marriage would be completed.

So when the angel came and said to Mary…

“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” Luke 1:30-32

Mary was confused and didn’t understand.

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” Luke 1:34

So the angel explained.

“The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35

This meant Mary would be pregnant while betrothed.

Mary would have been seen as committing sexual sin, perhaps adultery.

According to the Law, sexual sin was punished by cutting the offender off, and adultery was punished by stoning.

As the word from Mordecai pronounced an almost certain death sentence over Esther, this word from the angel also brought a possible death sentence to Mary.

When Esther realized that perhaps she was in the palace for such a time as this she willingly obeyed no matter what the outcome would be. Mary too accepted her position as a servant of God and willingly received the word from the angel of God, no matter what she would face.

“Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Luke 1:38

These two young women found favor with God, and were chosen by Him for a specific purpose, at the specific time.

These two young women had a destiny to save their people.

These two young women faced possible death sentences.

These two young women chose to fear God, above the fear of death.

These two young women lived to see God work the impossible, accomplish the miraculous, and saw the salvation of their people!

In light of what these two women faced, the “deaths” I face while planning and preparing for the Living Nativity seem insignificant. Yet, I am convinced kingdom work has resistance in the spirit realm. When I consider the eternal possibilities of what can be accomplished through the Living Nativity I realize the enemy doesn’t want it to take place and will do whatever he can to stop it.

When we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas through drama and reading aloud the Christmas Story from the Bible, singing Carols and songs that lift up the name of Jesus, sharing a short message of the Love of God, and gathering together around cookies and hot chocolate, this has Eternal Significance! This has the potential of “saving” people! This is what I am committed to no matter what!

I have been encouraged by Esther and Mary. Their stories remind me that I have been positioned for such a time as this, and that as a favored servant of God I’m not alone as I plan and prepare for the Living Nativity. This is something God has called me to and I can look to Him for help, and I can trust Him to provide everything needed to make this Living Nativity a “success” and to use it to bring salvation to many! Esther called her people to join her in fasting for God’s mercy and favor, an angel came to Joseph to tell him of God’s plan for Mary, her baby, and him as her husband. The love and support of those around them enabled them to  carry out the destiny God had for them. I too am thankful for the help and support of many around me that share the work and the joy of making the Living Nativity a reality!

It is my prayer as the Living Nativity is presented this Christmas that many people will come to know the true meaning of Christmas; that Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, will be born in the hearts of many!

Please come and join in this celebration of Christmas…all are welcome!

 

Living Nativity

Saturday, December 16

Solid Rock Day Camp

37 Stephens Road, West Milford, NJ

Two out-door Performances

4:30 and 7:00

Each followed with Cookies and Hot Chocolate

Dress Warmly, Bring a Friend

Rain / Snow Date – Sunday, December 17, same times

It’s a Matter of Perspective

What do you do when you receive bad news?

“When Mordecai learned about all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on burlap and ashes, and went out into the city, crying with a loud and bitter wail. He went as far as the gate of the palace, for no one was allowed to enter the palace gate while wearing clothes of mourning. And as news of the king’s decree reached all the provinces, there was great mourning among the Jews. They fasted, wept, and wailed, and many people lay in burlap and ashes.” Esther 4:1-3

While Mordecai was dressed in burlap, covered in ashes, and crying out to God, Queen Esther was unaware of the evil plot against her people.

When Queen Esther heard about Mordecai she didn’t understand and was worried about him. She sent clothes out to him, but when he didn’t receive them, she sent out her servants to find out what was wrong.

Mordecai sent word to Queen Esther explaining why he was mourning. He told her about the decree, sent along a copy, and told her about the money that Haman promised to put into the treasury. Mordecai also asked Esther to go before the king and to beg for mercy for her people.

Sometimes life is suddenly invaded with bad news.

Sometimes life requires that you do the impossible.

What was that last thing Mordecai said to her? ” …go to the king to beg for mercy and plead for her people.”?

I’m sure Esther felt bad about the decree against her people. I’m sure she wanted to help Mordecai and the Jews to be saved from the evil plot, but to go before the king when he didn’t call for her, that was more than she was willing to do.

This was her response…

“All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter. And the king has not called for me to come to him for thirty days.” Esther 4:11

From Esther’s perspective Mordecai’s request meant certain death. 

Because Mordecai responded to bad news by humbly “mourning” and crying out to God, God enabled him to see things from a different perspective. 

“Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14

In God’s presence everything changes!

In that place alone with God, He gives you insight and wisdom that aren’t from your own understanding, but from His heavenly perspective. God enables you to see the big picture and He brings comfort, strength, and hope to do what He puts on your heart, even if it does’t make sense.

In God’s presence Mordecai was reminded of God’s love and faithfulness to His people.

In God’s presence Mordecai was given divine revelation.

Sometimes God calls us to speak into the atmosphere words of faith that will fulfill our destiny.

From Mordecais’ perspective he saw this “divine positioning” as perhaps God’s way of working all things together for the good of His people, for such a time as this!

From Esther’s perspective, living as queen in the palace she found herself distant from her people, unaffected by the decree, and unwilling to risk her life to plead for the king’s mercy.

Sometimes we must heed the advice from someone who sees our situation from a different perspective.

As Mordecai explained to Esther the bigger picture; as he told her that she too would be killed along with all the Jews, when he reminded her that God is a loving God who is always faithful to rescue His people, and as he shared his thoughts about why she was chosen as queen…

his words caused her to look beyond herself, to see from a different perspective, and to consider the greater purposes of God. 

Through the years Mordecai raised Esther she learned to respect and obey him. Esther found favor in listening to and submitting to his advice and suggestions. So now, when Mordecai asked her to do something that was literally a matter of life and death, Esther was willing to trust him.

Esther’s respect and obedience to Mordecai was based on her fear of God. She realized that what Mordecai was saying and what he was asking her to do weren’t just his ideas based on his own understanding, but in fact he was speaking words from God.

God used Mordecai’s words of faith to change Esther’s heart.

“Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same.” Esther 4:16

Esther began to see the bigger picture; that it wasn’t just about her life, or even her death. The evil plot was meant to destroy all the people of God. And if she really was in the palace for such a time as this, to save her people, she was willing to lay down her life for their salvation.

It was no longer about self preservation, but about fulfilling destiny!

“And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.” Esther 4:16

May we learn from the examples of Mordecai and Esther and choose to draw near to God to receive His perspective  in times when we are faced with bad news or an impossible request.

 

Legal Rights

Have you ever wondered why some prayers go unanswered? Are there some strongholds in your life that you just can’t get breakthrough? Have you ever wondered why the same situations keep following in your family line? It may be because the enemy has been given legal rights to a strategy meant for your harm.

King Xerxes promoted Haman as his highest official and commanded that the people bow down to him in respect. When the officials who worked with Mordecai saw he didn’t bow down to Haman they asked him why he didn’t obey the king’s command and when he didn’t listen to them they told Haman about it. Mordecai’s answer isn’t recorded, but he did them that he was a Jew, and perhaps he told them that he only bowed down to God alone.

When we chose to worship God and God alone we will be persecuted by accusations.

“For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them
before our God day and night.” Revelation 12:10

“When Haman saw that Mordecai would not bow down or show him respect, he was filled with rage. He had learned of Mordecai’s nationality, so he decided it was not enough to lay hands on Mordecai alone. Instead, he looked for a way to destroy all the Jews throughout the entire empire of Xerxes.” Esther 3:5-6

Haman was filled with rage, a rage that wasn’t going to be satisfied by just destroying Mordecai… it was a rage that rose up against all the Jews. 

Haman went before the king with accusations against the Jews to obtain a legal right to destroy those he hated.

“Then Haman approached King Xerxes and said, “There is a certain race of people scattered through all the provinces of your empire who keep themselves separate from everyone else. Their laws are different from those of any other people, and they refuse to obey the laws of the king. So it is not in the king’s interest to let them live. If it please the king, issue a decree that they be destroyed, and I will give 10,000 large sacks of silver to the government administrators to be deposited in the royal treasury. The king agreed, confirming his decision by removing his signet ring from his finger and giving it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. The king said, “The money and the people are both yours to do with as you see fit.” Esther 3:8-11

This story reveals two kingdoms;

the heavenly Kingdom of God, represented by Mordecai as a man chosen of God who worshipped Him alone.

and the earthly kingdom of Satan, represented by Haman who brought an evil plan, a plan of rebellion against God and His people, to King Xerxes to obtain a legal decree of destruction.

These two kingdoms remain today.

The hatred and rage Haman had towards Mordecai and the Jews is still at work bringing accusations into the heavenly throne room to obtain legal rights to bring destruction to the people of God.

Sins committed by past generations opened doors that led to lifestyles and mindsets and are passed on through families. These lines of iniquity give the enemy legal rights to bring accusation and keep his lies and deception working in the lives of all who are in that bloodline. That is why we see addictions, poverty, fear, lust, sickness, disease… follow through many family members from generation to generation.

Word curses; spoken over us or by our own mouths give the enemy permission to bring accusation against us. Words like, “You never do anything right.” “You’ll never amount to anything.” “I’m so stupid.” “I’m afraid…?” The enemy uses these words, what we believe to be true, as legal rights to bring these very things upon us.

Just like Haman, Satan hates those who belong to the family of God. Satan mocks, belittles, and accuses with whispers of doubt and unbelief so we lose sight of who we are as a child of God and give up on God completely.

Those unanswered prayers…

The block to your breakthrough…

That same situation that has plagued your family for generations…

May have their root in a legal right that the enemy has obtained.

Thankfully the story doesn’t end here! As this story continues there is much to be learned from how Mordecai and Queen Esther respond to the evil strategy that was meant to destroy them.

 

 

The Secret of a Thankful Heart

Thanksgiving –  It began as a day of giving thanks for the Pilgrim’s first harvest, and became a national holiday day set apart to give thanks for the blessings of the preceding year.

How much of my celebrating Thanksgiving is about truly being thankful? How much of my celebration is spent giving thanks to God for the blessings of the preceding year?

The Lord impressed this upon me the other day…

Wilma, the ways in which you celebrate Thanksgiving Day shows how you give thanks on every other day of the year.

At first I tried to justify why this wasn’t a good barometer of my thankfulness, but as I continued to ponder it I had to agree that there was truth to it.

So I began to take a look at how I celebrate Thanksgiving…

I begin to plan…

Who is coming?

What time we should eat?

What should the menu include?

Then I begin to prepare…

Look up recipes…

Make a grocery list…

Go grocery shopping, several trips…

Clean the house…

Decorate the house…

But, Lord, these are all good things.

These are what keep the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving with family.

What is it that You want me to see about thankfulness?

“Wilma, these are good things. They are part of tradition and celebration, but it is the value you place on them that is what I want you to see. Whenever you put more value on your plans and on your preparation than upon Me it isn’t about being thankful, it is about striving and meeting expectations. Remember what I spoke to Martha…

“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me. But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Oh, Yes, the Mary, Martha story!

Martha was caught up in the plans and preparations, striving to have her house look immaculate, and her food taste delicious. Martha’s heart was caught up in the things that didn’t matter, things that didn’t have eternal value. It was her heart that was revealed when she went to Jesus and asked Him to tell Mary to help her. Martha became overwhelmed with all the work and when she wasn’t able to meet her expectations she became offended toward her sister. It was her heart that Jesus responded to. Martha’s heart wasn’t focused on the one thing that was worth being concerned about.

A heart that is driven by expectations becomes easily offended when those expectations aren’t fulfilled.

Thanksgiving Day, just as any other day, can become all about my plans and my preparations, my striving to fulfill expectations that keep me from sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to His words.

Jesus told Martha that Mary chose what was best, and that it wouldn’t be taken from her.

A heart becomes thankful in the presence of God. Sitting at Jesus’ feet, and listening to His words instills perspective and brings a deep appreciation to God that results in an outflow of thanksgiving. Jesus knew the importance of sitting at His feet, listening to His word. Jesus honored Mary’s choice, He affirmed what she had discovered, and told Martha that it would not be taken from her.

Lord, thank You for challenging me with Your word about thanksgiving. May this Thanksgiving Day truly be a day of thankfulness expressed towards You. And may I rediscover the importance of sitting at Your feet, listening to Your words, each and every day so that my heart is filled and overflows with thanksgiving to You.

 

 

 

Game Changer!

Queen Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, served at the king’s gate. One day he over heard two of the king’s eunuchs devising a plan to assassinate the king. Mordecai passed this information on to his cousin, Esther, and as queen, Esther was able to relay the information to the king. She included that it was Mordecai that heard of the plot, and it was recorded in the history book.

Mordecai was at the right place and responded in the right way to make the difference of life and death for King Xerxes’

An evil plot had been formed to kill the king.

But, God had salvation for the king, and positioned Mordecai to be the one to save him.

This evil plot to kill the king is one that is still against every person alive today. In the story of Esther the enemies were of flesh and blood, but today our enemy is in the spirit realm. We don’t battle against flesh and blood, but the powers of Satan who come to steal, kill, and destroy us.

Like King Xerxes’, we aren’t aware of the evil plot against us. Satan uses lies and deception to keep us unaware of his strategies.

We need a “Mordecai” to expose the evil plot.

Because God loves us and wants us to be saved He works in ways to reveal the evil plot. He positions “Mordecais,” in our lives to tell us. It may be a friend, a family member, a pastor, or the Holy Spirit that tells us of the evil plot the enemy has against us.

When we realize there is an evil plot against us; the sin nature that we have been born with, meant to steal, kill, and destroy us…

When we realize there is nothing we can do to stop this evil plot against us, and that we need a Savior…

When we realize the truth in John 3:16,

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

And choose to believe that God loves us and sent Jesus to die on the cross so that our sins are forgiven and rose again so that we too will rise to new life…

That’s when we stop the evil plot of Satan devised against us.

That’s when we are saved and begin to live the abundant life Jesus gives us here on earth, and we receive the promise of living forever in heaven with God!

That is the game changer, the difference of life and death!

The positioning of Mordecai saved the life of one man, the king. Yet, it was the game changer in this story that takes it from being about the salvation of one man to the salvation  of the Jewish people.

Sometimes we can take our salvation for granted. We can forget the evil plot that was against us and how God showed us the truth that set us free. We can take the “life” that God gave us through Jesus’ death on the cross for granted and keep living as though nothing has changed.

King Xerxes’ did just that. He put to death those who plotted evil against him, but then went on living for himself. He forgot about the evil plot and the one who saved his life.

But, God didn’t forget! 

God had a perfect plan!

God’s salvation of one, lead to the salvation of many!

God doesn’t save us just for our own sake. God intends that our salvation brings salvation to many!

He wants to position us in places so that we expose the evil plots against others so they too will be saved.

It was a normal day of work for Mordecai when he heard the two men discussing the evil plot against the king. Mordecai could have responded differently…he could have chosen to not listen, thinking it was none of his business. He could have ignored their words, thinking he didn’t want to get involved, or he could have been afraid of what might happen to him of he told anyone what he heard.

One thing I have learned is that the enemy will go to many extremes so that others won’t hear of his strategies against  people. He will wrap his evil plots in deception, in secrecy, in shame, or even pride so that they stay hidden, so nobody else finds out.

What about you?

Are you as King Xerxes’ who has an evil plot formed against you that needs to be exposed so that you can be saved?

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.” Romans 3:23-25

Or… Is God calling you, positioning you to be a “Mordecai” for someone who has an evil plot formed against them?

This past weekend I had the opportunity to be a “Mordecai” to a friend. We were sitting at the breakfast table just chatting when she began to tell me some things she experienced which she had never told anyone about. As she shared what others had done and spoken over her, anger rose up within her. I saw her hurt and pain. I could see how those experiences kept her in a prison of fear; living defeated. But as we talked she began to realize that it wasn’t the people in her life that hurt her, it wasn’t the experiences she went through that defined her, but it was an evil plot of the enemy that was stealing from her life and destroying her. Then she saw something she never saw before, she saw it was jealousy of others that brought their hatred and accusations. It was the “Jesus” in her they didn’t like because it made them feel “bad.” By putting her down, accusing her, speaking evil over her, it made them feel better. Once she realized it was a battle in the spirit realm her anger turned from people, to Satan. It was no longer a conversation of how awful people had been to her. Her real “enemy” was exposed. His evil plot was revealed. It now became a matter of prayer before the throne of God. Together we renounced the lies, the word curses, and the generational lines of iniquity, that were meant to destroy her and  we took those evil strategies of the enemy to the cross of Jesus. We proclaimed the words of Jesus over them, “It is finished!” We applied the blood of Jesus to wash and cleanse her. And we called forth the truth of God’s word, and claimed the promises of abundant life over her.

I’m so thankful for God’s positioning. For giving the opportunity for Holy Spirit to reveal the hidden secrets and lies that my friend experienced in her past. What seemed like a normal day, sharing breakfast together, turned into a game changer…a matter of spiritual life and death!

And I am confident it wasn’t just to save my friend, but it was intended for the salvation of many others who will hear her story and be forever changed!

Who is God calling you to be a “Mordecai” to?