Monday, October 31, 2005

Celebrate the day!

Today is Reformation Day.

On October 31, 1517, (the generally accepted date) Martin Luther nailed his “Ninety-five Theses” on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This has traditionally been considered the starting point of the Protestant Reformation.

Luther wrote the theses in reaction to abuses in the sale of plenary indulgence. (In Roman Catholic theology, an indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment due to God for sin; and “plenary” indulgence is total and complete forgiveness.)

The impression was given that it would not only remit the guilt and penalties of even the most serious sins, but that its benefits could be applied to the dead in purgatory. Luther challenged this teaching because it led people to believe that forgiveness could be bought, and to neglect true repentance. In addition, he denied the pope’s power over purgatory, and stated that the believer always has true forgiveness without indulgences. Luther also condemned the interest shown in money rather than lost souls.

The fact that he posted the “Theses” in and of itself, was not a big deal. The door of the Church was often used a “bulletin board” of sorts, posting topics for debate. However, in this case, the theses which were written in Latin, were translated into German, printed, and circulated throughout Germany, arousing a storm of protest against the sale of indulgences.

A Monk by the name of Johann Tetzel, was selling the indulgences on behalf of the Pope, and making a tidy income for the Roman Catholic Church. And we all know what happens when income starts to be affected! (See Acts 16:16-24 and Acts 19:23-28 for a couple of stories of lost income.) When the sale of indulgences was seriously impaired, the papacy sought to silence Luther.

The major tenets of Luther’s theology were:
1) Sola Scriptura - By Scripture alone
2) Sola Gratis - By Grace alone
3) Sola fide - By Faith alone

And I will have to say - I agree with him!

Oh, by the way - for the Methodists who read this - It was the reading of Luther’s preface to the book of Romans in 1738 that led John Wesley to his Aldersgate experience and the feeling of his heart “strangely warmed.” This experience began Wesley’s journey to the understanding of “justification by faith alone.”

And here you thought today was Halloween!

Father, sometimes we want to raise something simply for the sake of “debate” or “awareness.” However, You have other ideas.

If we are to be the instruments of change or must take the course of leadership - give us courage to stand in the face of opposition, knowing that we never stand alone.

In Jesus’ name - Amen.

Have a great day!


Friday, October 28, 2005

I can't discuss theology with my Dad...

Daddy had chemo again today. The only good thing about sitting for 2-4 hours (depending on the amount of chemo he gets) is that it allows/forces me to sit for this period of time - and so I read.

I've been doing some study on the travels of Paul, beginning with the overview from the book of Acts, but I forgot to put that book back in my satchel this morning, so I went digging for something else to read today.

I ran across A.W. Tozer's book "Knowledge of the Holy" and decided to delve into it. Tozer begins by saying, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." And the more I thought about it, the more I realized, he is right.

On the way home, I was thinking, "I wish I could discuss this with Daddy, but he just wouldn't understand." It’s not that I question his salvation; he’s “lived” that in front of me as long as I’ve known him. It’s that Daddy only has a 4th or 5th grade education. He quit because he just couldn't do the work. He is a veteran of WWII, and a good man (well actually he is not my "real" Dad, but my so called “step”-father. But he's the only "Daddy" I've ever known.)

As I was thinking this he said, "I'm glad Mother don't have to worry about the cold weather where she's at..." (My Mother went home almost 2 years ago.)

I said, "Yeah, nor hot weather, nor anything else, for that matter."
Then I realized, no, I may not be able to discuss "theology" with him, but he knows God, and knows that where He is, there is no discomfort.

So maybe he knows more about theology than I think I do after all!


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What will the children say of us?

As I write this, I am 51 years old - what’s generously known as “middle age” (oh that I would live to be 102!) And I have suddenly come to the realization that we (our generation) are creating the lasting memories that will fill the minds of the next generation.

Let me explain.

All of my grandparents and most aunts and uncles have passed on. My Mother, too, has “gone home” and Daddy is growing faint. All of my husband’s grandparents, aunts and uncles are gone, plus many, many dear saints from our churches.

But still, we find ourselves saying, “Like Uncle Russell used to say…” or “Mother always said…” and “Gran always…” did this and “Mr. Cox always…” did that, and “George McNutt would always…” do or say whatever.

And we realize, these dear relatives and saints have created lasting memories in our hearts and minds that surface at unexpected times. For instance, when we see - school buses, pear trees, fried chicken, or someone sleeping in Church… these things that they said, and things that they did come to mind.

And I wonder - what will the children say of us? When they see someone wearing a hat, will they think of me? Will they quote Joe’s witticisms (of which he undoubtedly quoted an earlier source) and think of him?

But more importantly, will they remember our “stands”? Will they say, “She never waivered” or “he always believed…” Will they recall and take courage? For I know “the times, they are a-changing…” and it’s getting tougher and tougher to stand.

And so I pray for them, “Lord, help us to remember (to paraphrase a familiar quote) “the eager eyes of children are upon us…” and that we are indeed creating the lasting memories that fill the minds of the next generation…” Help us to always live out our faith, within the “character” and “personality” You bestowed upon each of us. Perhaps that idiosyncrasy will be just the thing to capture their imaginations and stick in their minds, and give them courage.

In Jesus’ name - Amen.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I thought of you this morning...

I am sending this out to my weekly e-mail list this week.

When anyone e-mails me to be added to the weekly list, they receive an e-mail late Sunday night or early Monday morning. My hope is that it is in their mail first thing Monday morning as an encouagement for the week.

Sometimes it is posted here - sometimes not. Feel free to e-mail if you'd like to be added to the list.


I thought of you this morning…

It has simply amazed me how this Prayerlogue “e-list” has grown.

What began as about a half dozen women friends that I was praying for, has grown into a rather huge weekly mailing of folks from all across the country (and even one, that I know of, overseas.)

Most of you I know - many I do not. Some are pastors, some are business owners, many are teachers and one, I found after a long time of not recognizing the e-mail, was a relative! God is so amazing, is He not?!

I just want you to know, I pray for you often. I think about you through the week, as I ask God what He would have me pray for you; what He would have me send you that will encourage you and uplift you.

As I post the addresses, I look at each one, and if I know you, I “see” your face. If I don’t know you, I quote Ezekiel as he said, “Lord, Thou knowest…” And if I know a specific need, I lift that up.

For instance, I know this past week, one’s father had open heart surgery, and one lost their father-in-law very suddenly. One is dealing with the tragic loss of her husband, and several are doing the “sandwich thing” of caring for children and parents - I pray for these things.

I am writing this on Sunday morning. We are having Homecoming today, and while I was doing my cooking, for some reason you came to mind. (I’m making chicken and dumplins - if you want my recipe, let me know, and I’ll send it.) So, just as soon as I got things cooking, I sat down to write this, for I’ve learned, if I don’t write as I’m thinking/praying it will leave me. And, at least that lesson I’ve learned.

So, as you read this Monday morning (or whenever) know that YOU are being prayed for.

Father, these men and women who listen for Your voice, I pray, that You will hear theirs. Hear their cries of anguish, reassure their hearts in pain, and strengthen their weary souls.

Lord, as we live in this fallen world, we live with suffering every day. But we cling to Your promise that You will never leave us nor forsake us. Comfort us, Lord as we wonder sometimes, “how long, oh Lord, how long…”

Then, reassure us as we look to Your coming in Glory, and may we have the courage to say, “Maybe today, Lord. Maybe today…”

In Jesus’ name - Amen.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Prayer for a young couple...

Written/prayed September 1, 2005

Oh Father, I fall on my face, prostrate before the throne of grace and pray this morning.

I pray Father, for this young couple. I believe Lord, that they are to be in service to You (well, aren’t we all supposed to be in service to You?) But Lord, I can’t take on the world or mankind, but my hearts aches for them.

I’m afraid Lord, of what it might (what it will) take to bring them to that realization.

I know they love each other - they surely must, for no one else I know could be mad as often as they are and still continue to cling together. And to talk to each of them separately, they are crazy about each other - but nearly every time I see them, Lord, they’re mad about something.

Many times when someone is often mad, they are running from You. They are trying to stay so earthly busy, so that they won’t have to think about heavenly things. But, when You are calling - You are calling. And You won’t let them escape. No matter what it takes to bring them to their knees.

We can go to our knees voluntarily, or in despair. You (I’m sure) would rather it be voluntarily, but You will use despair…

And so, I’m afraid. Please Lord, open their eyes. And open them, together.

I want to pray, “draw them together, and draw them to You no matter what it takes” but I’m afraid Lord.

Am I afraid, selfishly? Am I afraid of what it will cost me; of how much of my time it will take; of the suffering I will have to go through? Oh God, fill me with a strength to say what needs to be said; to pray what needs to be prayed; to submit what needs to be submitted.

And so, as (in my spirit) I lay slain before You this morning, I take a deep breath and say, (oh how I hesitate to write these words…) “bring… them… to… You…”

I know how happy they will be in service. I know how fulfilled they will be following Your will. I know the joy that will be in their hearts when they are in the Will of God… but still, I say the words with trembling lips, tears in my eyes, and a catch in my throat, “bring… them… to… You…”

And whatever I have to do - I have to do.

To God be the Glory - Amen…

And now, I can “exhale” and feel the peace of grace wash over me - it’s going to be ok…
I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but it’s going to be ok…

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Study of Psalm 1

As I read this Psalm, I am struck by how it follows the pattern of the "conditional covenant" found in the Pentateuch. This is also known as "blessings and cursings" and is found often in the Old Testament. It is truly "cause and effect" - when you do this - this happens, and why...

What I didn't know was how this scripture is related to other scripture, such as Joshua 1:8. Many of the other Psalms follow this same theme. Plus, Jeremiah was apparently well acquainted with this Psalm as well. Jeremiah 17:5-8.

In Psalm 1:1 the words for the one whose counsel we are not to follow are interesting. They are not just 3 ways of saying the same thing, but 3 distinct types of "wrong." Wicked is "raw-shaw" which means "morally wrong."

"Sinners" is "khat-taw" which means "one accounted guilty, an offender or a criminal."

And "scoffer" or "scornful" as the KJV calls it is "loots" which literally means "to make mouths at or to have in derision - to mock."

We come in contact with all three of these types of people in our daily walk. The "wicked" are those who are living "self-proclaiming" lives that morally wrong.

The "sinner" is the one who "offends" the Word of God by their lives (hence, we are all sinners, albeit forgiven sinners...)

And the "scoffer" or "scornful" are those who mock the Word of God by their unbelief, neglect, or outright "derision"! These are those whose advice or counsel we are not to take. (As we are all sinners, saved by Grace, it is the unconfessed sinners whose counsel we are to avoid.)

But it is the "law of the LORD" on which we are to meditate "day and night." This harkens back to Moses' words Deu. 6:4-10 in the Shema.

This is also shows a "progression" in evil, from walking in the counsel, to standing with the "open" sinners, to sitting down and partaking of the evil.

And on the positive side (or blessings) “His delight is in the law of the Lord.” He is not "under" the law as a curse and condemnation, but he is "in" it, and he delights to be in it as his rule of life; he also loves to meditate in it, to read it by day, and think upon it by night.

Cool stuff - this!


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Prelude to Prayer

“Lord God Almighty,” not the “oh my god” of the sitcoms; not the god of the late night comics, nor of the movie screen. Neither the god of the philosophers or the debaters - but “The Lord God Almighty” - maker of heaven and earth, the creator Word, Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, the very One Who Jesus called “Abba, Father”, and Who knows the number of the hairs on my head… it is to You that I pray…

The Hebrews would not even say Your Name, it is so holy, and I am speechless in acknowledgement of Your majesty. There are no words to express the awesomeness of Your magnificence. With a Word, You spoke the world into existence. At Your breath clay becomes man, and at Your breath, man becomes clay…

David’s cry of “Oh LORD my Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth” becomes my song as well. “Oh Jehovah, my Adonay,” “Oh Eternal, ‘my God’,” “Oh Unspeakable, my Personal” “Oh Father, my Abba…” “Oh Without, my within,” how excellent is Your name(s) in all the earth…

And… You… want me… to pray… to You…????


My knees buckle at the very thought…

God, we pray at our “prayer times” and we pray “thought prayers” all the day long. We see a beautiful scene and instinctively pray “Thank You, Lord…” We see a need or hear a plea and send up an immediate prayer for deliverance or aid. And even expect an answer…

Yet as Christians, we almost take for granted that You are there; that You hear our every cry, that you care for every condition of our hearts, our souls and our physical needs. We know that we can come to You at any time, but Oh Lord, sometimes we fail to grasp the unspeakable, unfathomable, immeasurable, fullness of Your Glory.

But indeed, how can we? For we are just man - and You… are God.

You are the Lord God Almighty. And it is to You, that I pray…



Friday, October 14, 2005

Unleashing The Power - Part Three

Unleashing the Power - Part Three

I long suspected that praying for others was more about me, and my relationship with God than anything else. And I’ve come to believe that the best thing I can do for my Spiritual growth is to tell you that “I’ll pray for you.”

To me it is:
Outward: A reaffirming of my Faith that God is in control and can make a difference.
Inward: It forces me to look beyond myself, beyond mere thoughts. It makes me think about your pain, your sorrow, your troubles and whatever else you’re going through. Let’s face it, we don’t tell people “I’ll pray for you” when things are going well for them. (We should, you know, but we just don’t.)
Upward: It demands that I lift them up to God, that I actually “spend time” with God because of my commitment to “pray for you.”

And there’s still another unleashing of Power as well, and that is to The Trinity Himself. When I tell you, that “I’ll pray for you.” I am saying to the Triune God:
Outward, Inward, and Upward: That I am not ashamed of Jesus Christ, that I trust in His Holy Spirit, and I am saying to God the Father that I glory in His Name.

When we say to someone, “I’ll be praying for you” or “I’ll put you on my prayer list” we’re unleashing a power and we’re preaching a sermon.

When Jesus prayed at the tomb of Lazarus He said, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” (emphasis mine)

Matthew Henry, in his “Commentary on the Whole Bible” translates Jesus’ words this way, “I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always” Then Jesus adds, “but because of the people which stand by I said it that they may believe that thou hast sent me for prayer may preach (emphasis mine)

“For Prayer May Preach”

The Power that is unleashed when we tell someone that we’ll pray for them is far more powerful than any particular words we may say. So don’t worry about what you should say, or how you should actually pray for someone. You don’t have to know what God’s will is. Just unleash the Power, that “Prayer May Preach!”

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, fill our lives Upward, Outward, and Inward that the Power of the Almighty may be unleashed on, in, and through the world!
In Jesus Name and for His Glory

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Unleashing The Power - Part Two

Unleashing the Power - Part Two

Just what happens when you or I say to someone, “I’ll be praying for you?” Why not just say, “I’ll be thinking about you?” What difference does it make?

If I thought that someone was “thinking” about me, would that not still warm my heart? Would that not still bring me comfort? Of course it would. And is that not what it’s supposed to be doing - warming my heart and bringing me comfort? Then why say, “I’ll pray for you”? Why not just say, “I’ll be thinking about you”?

This is why. When I tell someone, “I’ll pray for you.” I am unleashing a Power that has 3 channels of distribution – outward, inward, and upward. And not only that, but it is a Power of Trinitarian proportions! This “outward, inward, and upward” contains Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all three within each direction, with each direction glorifying the Three in One!

And it’s a Power that is unleashed exponentially on mankind. In other words, the “type” of power unleashed is multiplied by, and depends on, the person experiencing the words, “I’ll pray for you.”

First, there’s the “Committed Christian”, that person who knows and loves God. These are the people we’re more likely to say this to - those who understand and believe like we do. To them it is:
Outward: A “Bond” of sharing our mutual Faith in God.
Inward: It’s giving a “peace that passeth all understanding.”
Upward: An opportunity for praise to The Father.

Then there’s the “Casual Believer” – that person that is not actually an atheist, they know there is a God, but they don’t think a whole lot about it. They’re not committed to Him. They may or may not be a Christian. These are the real tests to our witness. To them it becomes:
Outward: A witness, or stand, that I am not afraid or ashamed to make.
Inward: It is a comfort to them that they are being thought about.
Upward: It is a challenge to them to think about God.

To the “entity” – that “group” of people we pray for; “The Church”, or “Our Country”, or “The Armed Forces”, or any group of people, there is still another release of “Power”.
Outward: It is an affirmation of God’s Sovereign and Omnipotent Power.
Inward: It is God’s Omnipresence – His being with everyone, everywhere, all the time.
Upward: It is His Omniscience that He knows all and loves all, and wants all to be His children.

By saying to someone, “I’ll pray for you” also unleashes a Power to me as well.

To be continued tomorrow…


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Unleashing The Power - Part One

This is another in the "Sermon Series."

Unleashing the Power - Part One

John 11:41b-42
Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it that they may believe that thou
hast sent me.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Prayer. I seem to be coming in contact more and more with people who have needs. I mean serious needs: illness of a child, themselves, or a parent; loss of a job, financial and emotional needs; family, personal, or spiritual needs. And my immediate response is always, “I’ll pray for you.” or “I’ll put you on my prayer list.”

And the more I did that, the more it began to burden me. Not the fact that there were so many to pray for, but just “why?” Why did I think I could make a difference? Why did I think my prayer would carry any weight, especially when a lot of the time, I really didn’t know what to say anyway. Either I didn’t know the whole story, or I couldn’t discern what might be God’s will.

It’s like a ballgame, both teams pray to win, but, well, somebody’s prayer is not going to get answered; at least not the way they wanted it.

And what’s one more prayer anyway? God is not the kind of god that would say, “Oh well, if you’d have had just one more prayer, then I would have answered…” NO! That’s not God! God doesn’t “keep score”. He doesn’t answer prayer based on the number of people we have praying for us. The scriptures tell us that God knows our needs before we ever ask anything, and even before we know we have a need!

So what’s the deal with prayer?

The more I thought about it, and meditated on it, the more I began to suspect that there was more to it than I realized; more than what to say, more than how to say it, and more than remembering all the names.

Just what happens when you or I say to someone, “I’ll be praying for you?” Why not just say, “I’ll be thinking about you?” What difference does it make?

To be continued tomorrow…


Sunday, October 09, 2005

"Sandwich Generation" prayer

God, it’s exciting to watch our children grow up - to watch them reach milestones - college, careers, marriage. But at the same time, as they grow up, we are aging. And if we are aging, then our parents are aging as well.

And as our parents are aging, we watch the deterioration of their bodies - their growing dependence on us. Thus we become the “sandwich” generation. But in reality, every adult generation is a “sandwich” generation. It’s been this way since the children of Adam and Eve had children of their own.

Every adult generation has had to watch their parents grow older and eventually, die. That doesn’t make it any easier, though.

Oh, it is easier in some respects to know, that everyone has to deal with it. No one is exempt from this culmination of the life cycle. But, it is, after all, our parents… and that makes it difficult.

Father, I pray today for a friend whose father is near death. I have been through it with my Mother, and my Daddy is in very poor health now as well. My husband’s father is also in poor health and his Mother is only alive in body - her mind having long since “died” (as far as we are capable of knowing.)

And so, I pray for this friend who must make the journey we all must eventually make. Give him strength Lord, in this time of struggle. Give him comfort in knowing that it is indeed a part of the all-encompassing cycle of life. But also, Lord, give him peace in the knowledge and faith that Christ has conquered death. He was the first, and only, to go into the grave and come back out for all of eternity. He liberated our souls from the tyranny of the grave and we with Paul can proclaim, “Oh death where is your victory, oh grave, where is your sting?”

But it still hurts, Lord. We cannot fully separate our mental/spiritual affirmation from our broken hearts. Our arms will ache with a longing to hold them just once more, for a long time to come (possibly forever?) However, on the other hand, Heaven will become more real to us than we ever thought possible. And Your promises will sustain us.

Blessed be Your Holy Name.

In Jesus’ name - Amen.

Betty J. Newman

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Interesting Observations

I’ve attended 3 funerals this summer. As I’ve thought about them, I’ve come up with some interesting observations:

All 3 were men.
1 in his 30’s, 1 in his 40’s and 1 in his 80’s.
1 had a 15 year marriage, 1 had a 20 year marriage, and 1 had 60+ years.

1 was a long term illnesses, one was a culmination of things, and one was a tragic accident.
All three men were singers
1 did “old harp” singing - 2 wrote, sang and played instruments.

All three had funeral processions - seemingly rare these days; one was several cars long; one was about a mile long, and one was “farther than the eye could see…”
All three had photo boards - a new trend.
2 were closed caskets - one was open.

2 services had “congregational” singing, 1 did not.
1 had a praise team and 1 had hymnals.
2 had multiple speakers, one - just the single pastor.

2 had women pastors in attendance.
2 had black pastors speaking, with one being a black woman.
All three were different denominations.

1 service comforted my heart. (Singing “It Is Well With My Soul”.)
1 service proclaimed God’s Victory! (Singing the newer “praise-type” songs.)
And one service made me a little uncomfortable…

All three men were known far and wide for their service to God - 2 in multiple churches/denominations, 1 in only his own denomination, as they do not believe in attending other denomination’s churches.

All three men claimed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

This reminded me of a prayer I wrote earlier this year when the band John plays with performed in a Pentecostal Worship Service/revival. (John’s first experience in hearing “tongues…”)

Many Hearts - One Song

Father, what is it about us that makes us think that the way “we” worship You is the only “correct” way? We are all Your children, but we all worship You so differently. Some of us are quiet and reserved, some of us are spirited and emotional, and some of us a combination of both, but still, we are Your children.

Lord, I look at my own children and see that they are quite different, but both my children. I know they both love me, and I love them, but as You well know, they are so different. Why can’t we, as Your children, realize and understand that about each other?

Father, I’m not even talking about other religions, but just within the family of us who claim the name “Christian.” Those of us who claim Jesus’ declaration of “I am the Way the Truth, and the Life” seem to maintain that “our” definition, of which “way” the “Way” should be proclaimed, is the only manner in which to experience it… how much we are missing by this assertion …

How much we are limiting our praise and worship by doggedly holding to our own methods without drinking from our brothers’ cups. Yes, we may go back to our own cup, but we will have tasted that there are other flavors and other aromas to be experienced.

Just as the one body has many parts, each with diverse gifts and functions, so there are many ways to worship You. Each will be fulfilling to different people in different ways. Let us not think that our way is the only “correct” way, and thus hinder or impede another’s relationship with You.

Protect us from thinking that just because another worships You differently than we, that they are not quite as “spiritual” or as close to You as we are. Only You know the heart. For all who are led by Your Spirit are Your children. We have not been given the spirit of bondage but of adoption to which we can all say, “Abba, Father” whether we sing it, shout it or whisper it…

May we always remember that as many parts make one body, so many hearts make one song. Give us grace to allow our brother to worship You in accordance with how You made him. And give us courage to worship in the manner to which we were called.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May God bless you in your worship.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Doctrine of Divine Providence or Bloom Where You Are Planted - Part Four

The Doctrine of Divine Providence
Bloom Where You Are Planted - Part Four

What does this have to do with us here today? Two things.

First: how we treat the Jewish people and the Jewish nation is of extreme importance, but even more important than that is that we MUST realize that GOD is in control. Not only is He in control of history, and nations, and peoples, but He is in control of individual lives as well.

What began in the book of Esther with a drunken orgy, and the queen being deposed, culminates, through a wild set of circumstances with a young Jewish woman on the throne, in just the right place and just the right time to save God’s people. What happens next? I don’t have time to tell the rest of the story. You’ll have to read it for yourself. It’s suspenseful and riveting as we ask, “What will she do?” You see, God is in control, but there is that matter of “free will.” And Mordecai tells her
"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place but you and your father's house will perish. But who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

Who knows, but that you are here today for a definite reason? Who knows, but that you have a particular job for a reason? Who knows but that you are in a specific class in school for a reason, and interact with specific individuals for a reason? I can look back over the years and see circumstances and so-called “coincidences” happening that culminated with other things happening and certain people put into places that left on their own, they would have never been!

We are to “bloom where we are planted.” We are to serve where we have been set. If you’re going to wait until you’ve got all your ducks in a row, if you’re going to wait until everything is perfect to serve God, you’ll never serve Him.

Who was it? John Lennon? Who originally said, “Life happens while you’re making other plans.”
Make no mistake, God’s will, will ultimately be done. And who knows, but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this…

Let us pray;
Father, as we live the ordinary lives of very ordinary people, may we see Your hand on history, your movement in the world, and your presence in our own lives. Lead us to “bloom where we are planted” for the Glory of the Kingdom, that Your will may be done, on earth as it is done in heaven. In Jesus’ name AMEN.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Doctrine of Divine Providence or Bloom Where You Are Planted - part three

The Doctrine of Divine Providence
Bloom Where You Are Planted - Part Three

This is not the first time that God has positioned one of His own in a place of great power and influence in another country. Genesis 39 tells us the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers and God brings him to the house of Potiphar, one of the King’s officers in Egypt, and the scriptures tell us that Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his house and everything he owned, being, eventually in the right place at the right time to save his own people from famine.

Daniel was carried into captivity, and we are told, God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials. God’s emissary in the right place and the right time, do you think they wanted to be there? NO! But they were there, and they served God there.

Esther’s older cousin, Mordecai who raised her after her parents died, was in a little different situation, he had come to be right where he wanted to be. He had a political position - prestige and power - no wonder he didn’t want to go back to Israel. However, he was still a Jewish man living in an anti-Semitic world. He warned Esther not to reveal her Jewish background, but the times and circumstances come when Mordecai himself can no longer keep it a secret. He is a proud Jewish man, and when faced with the situation of having to bow down to another man, he refuses. Mordecai may not have been a devout Jew, but there were still some things that he wouldn’t do - and bowing to anyone or anything but God, was one of them.

The man he refuses to bow down to is Haman, Ahasuerus’ right hand man. Haman was a scheming and conniving man, and when he found out why Mordecai wouldn’t bow to him, that Mordecai was a Jew, he was insane with anger. Haman’s ancestry had been enemies of the Jews for over 600 years. He wasn’t content with the thought of just destroying Mordecai; he sought to destroy all of the Jewish people throughout the kingdom. And there were Jews in every province.

So Haman went to Ahasuerus and told him this wild story, that there was this people scattered throughout the provinces who wouldn’t keep the king’s laws, and that it was not in the king’s good interest that they should live. And not only that, but that Haman, himself, would pay 10,000 talents of silver (about 20 million dollars) into the king’s treasury when they were destroyed. Now, he had the king’s attention. Remember that battle against Greece that the king had planned? They did indeed attack Greece and were soundly defeated, and were mightily in debt, so as we say, money talks! The problem is, Haman didn’t know that Esther was Jewish. He didn’t know that Esther was Mordecai’s cousin.

The king didn’t ask who the people were. He didn’t know and didn’t care that they were Jews. It simply didn’t matter to him. But it DID matter to God. God made a promise to Abraham that He would make of him a great nation; that all the peoples of the earth would be blessed through him; and that God would bless those who bless the Jews and curse those who curse the Jews. And you only have to look at history to see that the Jew has seen the downfall of every nation that has tried to exterminate them. The Assyrians couldn’t do it, the Babylonians couldn’t do it, Rome couldn’t do it, Hitler couldn’t do it, Stalin couldn’t do it and the Arab nations won’t do it either! The Children of Israel may be out of the will of God, but they will never be out of the hand of God.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Doctrine of Divine Providence or Bloom Where You Are Planted - Part Two

The Doctrine of Divine Providence
Bloom Where You Are Planted - Part Two

Esther is one of only two books in the Bible that does not mention the name of God. (The other is the Song of Solomon.) Not only does the book of Esther not mention God’s name, nowhere is He alluded to, praised, worshiped, nor acknowledged. It has been said that God’s name is not in it, but His fingerprints are all over it!

There may be times that we, like the children of Israel, are out of the will of God, but we are never out of His reach. At first that may sound scary, but in fact, it is very loving and comforting. In other words, as Christians, (not as unbelievers, but as Christians) we may be out of His will, but we are never out of His Love.

The story of Esther is an exciting one. It has all the makings of a riveting novel. It has everything - an orphan child raised by her cousin, a beauty pageant, romance, intrigue, attempted assassinations, conspiracy, comedy, mistaken identity, spies, greed, pride, and even a last minute rescue.

But if you look closely, at every twist and turn, at every path and plot, you will see God’s hand upon it. You will see God’s Divine Providence at work, even in the midst of a people who did not acknowledge His presence.

You may remember the story (and I’m not going to tell it all, because I want you to want to read it) but in the third year of his reign, King Ahasuerus gave a great feast for all the princes, their attendants, and army officers of his 127 provinces. People came from everywhere from India to Ethiopia, and it lasted for 6 months.

The reason for this feast was to showcase the might and wealth of the kingdom in preparation for battle. In other words, Ahasuerus wanted to prove to his whole kingdom that he had the ability to sustain the attack on Greece that he was planning. Whether they all came at one time and stayed, or came and went over the 6 month span, we don’t know. At any rate, it was a big deal.

And after that, he gave another feast lasting an additional 7 days for anyone who might have been left out of the first feast! And while he was giving this party, his wife was giving one for the wives of these men, soldiers and dignitaries.

At the end of this second feast when, as the scripture tells us, “the heart of the king was merry with wine” he called for his wife to come and “display her beauty” to these drunken men. Aaaand she refused. The king was furious! So he called for the royal lawyers, “What shall I do?”

They said, “You can’t let her get away with that. If you do, none of our wives will ever obey us again. Make a decree that she can never come into your presence again. Then, when the women throughout the kingdom hear of it, they will respect their husbands whether they are rich or poor.”

So, that’s what he did. And thus the stage is set for an orphaned Jewish girl to enter a royal beauty pageant and be chosen the new queen. The things that happen to put Esther in the royal palace sound either like pure fiction or a wild set of coincidences. However, one of my favorite quotes is: “Coincidence is when God acts, but prefers to remain anonymous!”

(Stay tuned for part 3 tomorrow...)