Friday, December 30, 2011

An Unlikely Treasure—God Sees Differently


Good Afternoon dear Readers. I feel great today! Today in particular I felt like blogging before I busy myself up. I want to give you, my lovely friends, an update and something to inspire you as well. Who doesn't want to get inspired, right? I myself get inspired by your blog posts and as God has placed in my heart, I'd love to give back. You see, a certain topic has been bouncing off the top of my head and I just can't wait to share it with you: How God transforms something ordinary into something rather extraordinary! And so...let the story unfold...


One Night With the King: The Story of Esther





Oofuh! Let me just blow the dust off of my imaginary ancient bible. Many, many, many years ago, in a country called Persia (Babylon), there was a king named Xerxes and a queen named Vashti. King Xerxes ordered his wife Vashti to appear before him at a party so that he could display her beauty for all to see. When she refused, the king was furious.
In case that wasn't bad enough, a horrible man named Haman was one of the King's advisers. Haman warned the king that if word got around, all wives would disrespect their husbands in the same manner. At Haman's urging, King Xerxes ordered that his wife be "banished."
King Xerxes, with Haman's advice, ordered a search through the kingdom for a beautiful virgin girl to be his bride. These women underwent tedious beauty tests, just like a Ms. America Pageant. It wasn't too long before the King's scouts happened upon Esther. Esther was beautiful, gracious and kind -- just what the king was looking for.  After she won the King's favor, Esther was married to the king Xerxes.








Now Esther was a Jew. The Jews had been driven out of Israel, their home, about 70 years before and exiled in Persia. Although they did there best to make a living in this strange land, they prayed that someday they would be able to return to their home. Esther's uncle Mordechai, was the leader of the Jews. Mordechai encouraged Esther to hide her faith from the King and his advisers, which she did.



Haman had, by this time, become a powerful man in the kingdom - Prime Minister of Persia in fact. He decided that given his rise in power, it would be appropriate for everyone to bow down to him. But Mordechai refused to bow down to a man. Haman was very angry and asked the King to authorize a royal decree to annihilate the Jews.







Haman cast lots to determine the day this was to happen. And so it was decreed that in Adar of the coming year, on the 13th day of the month, all the Jews were to be killed, in every province and every nation of the land. There would be no place to run, and no place to hide.

This is where our courageous Queen Esther comes into the picture -- Mordechai, having found out about Haman's evil intentions, sent Esther a message. He told her what Haman was plotting and asked her to go to the King on the Jews behalf.

Esther was terribly afraid. She hadn't been allowed to see the King for a month. In fact, no one could see him without being invited. But she fasted and prayed for three days, mustered up her courage and went to see the king. Her exact words were, "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish" Esther 4:16. Although he was initially angry at her, King Xerxes spared her life and offered "half [his] kingdom for [her] wishes,"



All she asked was that the King and Haman join her for dinner that night.
As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, "Now what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted." Esther replied, "My petition and my request is this: If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king's question." Of course, both the King and Haman agreed to attend a second banquet with the lovely young Queen.

Haman was very pleased that he'd been asked to dine with Achashveyrosh and Esther two nights in a row and was filled with pride. But then he saw Mordecai at the king's gate and still Mordecai refused to bow to him. Haman was filled with rage. He decided that night to build a gallows with which to hang Mordechai and planned to speak to the king about it the very next morning. That way, he'd have the whole matter dealt with during the day and be able to enjoy the next evening's banquet in peace.
That same night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. The book was turned to the day Mordecai exposed a plot to assassinate the King. The King was reminded of this tale and asked what reward Mordecai had received. The king's attendants told him that nothing had been done for Mordecai.

The next morning, just as Haman was arriving to ask that Mordecai be hanged the king asked him, "What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?" Haman, still filled with pride, mistakenly thought the king was referring to him. So he answered the king, "For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king's most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, `This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!'"
Imagine Haman's embarrassed face when the King commanded, "Go at once. Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king's gate." Haman obeyed. He was very upset that Mordecai, his enemy, was being honored by the king. Immediately after leading Mordecai around the city proclaiming, "This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!", Haman had to go to the banquet with the King and Queen.
 
Finally Esther shared the secret of her faith and proclaimed herself a Jew. She begged the king to spare her people. Harbona, one of the king's attendants told the king of the gallows that Haman had built to have Mordecai hanged. The king was furious with Haman and ordered that he be hanged on those gallows. Haman's pride and cruelty had led to his own destruction and the brave, young Esther had saved her people.



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At first Glance, to many, Esther might have looked average. Just like any other "Jewish" girl but she was not. In God's eyes she was a brave hero, while she herself probably looked in the mirror and saw a frightened young nobody. Because Esther feared and obeyed God, she saved the lives of her beloved people. Did Jesus not do the same for us? The difference here is that God did not spill her blood. God honored Esther because like David, she did not fight greatly... she believed greatly. What must she have felt in those trying moments of life and death? We too face moments in our lives where we have to make a decision: Are we going to listen to what God commands us to do or are we going to run from the call? Like Esther, we must have faith that our God will come through for us. Yes, our situation may seem impossible and, yes, it might seem like there is no hope but...we serve the true and living God who has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. A God, like the word says, who is not a man to lie nor a son of man to change His mind. If He said that He would never leave then He will never leave us;However, it's up to us to believe. Like Esther was told that if she did not obey God she would either way perish, we will also face worse things if we do not obey God. He would never let us suffer without He Himself being there on the other side to comfort us, but we have to be brave and go forth in the name of the most powerful God in whatever we do or face. You and I might think of ourselves as ordinary but God sees differently. And what God sees is far more important than what man sees.


(1 Samuel 16:7) But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bundle Of Hope



Once upon a time, approximately 2,000 years ago, there lived an extremely powerful King. Now this king was not just any ruler, oh no, no, no, He was the ruler of the entire universe. Creator of every star, planet, space, and pebble. He owned it all. One day however, he looked down from His thrown and saw that His people had gone completely astray. They were so lost, committing indecent acts, that he became angered and hurt. You see, His very own people had forgotten about the King's rules and commandments. The King could no longer watch, who He called His children, perish. They were blind and destined to go to hell. Powerful and merciful as this King was, he knew the answer to the problem because he had planned it ages ago. He new this sad day would come when his people would turn away and forget about His love and compassion. So worried about His children, the King went himself in the form of man to save man. The best part of Him went: His Son...the prince.

Born out of the womb of human being the King's son walked amongst the people who hated and despised His father's ways. How hard for the prince to see these things but deep down He knew His mission. He knew why He was sent to earth-- To Save! This babe was given the most important name in all of history. Such a name brings healing and restoration. Such a name brings comfort and peace. Such a name makes the demons tremble and flee. His name was, continues to be, and will always be JESUS. And for all of those who call upon His name and accept Him into their hearts as the son of God, He continues to do the very same sacrifice. The day that Jesus Christ was born into this world was the day that my hope was born. We had no hopes of life until Jesus. So many times has the story been told but so few times has it been understood my the hearts of men. The reason we breathe every morning and the reason why we believe is in Christ alone. (John 3:16) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 

Let us all never forget what matters most on Christmas. Gift giving is beautiful but always keep in your hearts that one gift will always remain and that is Jesus. (Isaiah 9:2) The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. His grace is enough for us all. Never forget. Nunca te olvides. (Isaiah 9:6) For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.


I encourage you to enjoy the holidays with your families and to be the one who lets Christ shine on the special day. May God bless you all friends and if you'd like to join my family and I, At 12:00 on Christmas eve we will be grabbing our guitar and worshipping God for the huge bundle of hope that he sent us many years ago. We're going to be praising the living Christ because he is no longer on the cross but alive in our hearts and in His throne of glory! Merry, merry Christmas to you all and may the Lord continue to bless you!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Not-So-Much Plain Jane


Today was one of those pajama-wearing, bible-reading, and alone-time-spending kind of days. I love my alone time...I think every human being needs it now and again, that is, if we want to stay sane. Dead-set on spending time with my true love (God of course) I grabbed my sister's awesome tricked out teen girl's bible in hopes of discovering some inspirational women. I've really been thinking and reflecting on the kind of women I want to be known as. I mean, the day I get married I want to give the best of me but now and forever I want to give all I am to God. I've really been giving this a lot of thought. Deborah is known for her leadership and Hannah for her commitment and unfailing faith but, what am I known for. You see I don't just want to be a nobody...I want to touch God's heart and forever leave a legacy that will make Him proud. One woman who really inspired me was Jael. If you'd like to read the story you can find it in Judges 4.

Deborah, a prophetess and leader, told Barak that she had everything under control so that he could deal with Sisera because the Lord wanted to rescue the Israelites. Barak refused to go unless Deborah herself accompanied him and she answered:

“Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.”

There Deborah prophesied that a women would receive the credit for killing Sisera. War broke loose and the Lord caused Sisera to flee, and as Barak chased him, he ended up taking refuge in the tent of a woman named Jael. Because there was an alliance Sisera trusted her to hide him, but Jael was wiser and was able to to do what Barak himself did not. She killed him. The prophecy that God had given Deborah came to pass because God delivered Sisera into the hands of Jael.

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Sometimes many of us girls might feel like Jael. We feel unnoticed or like plain Janes, but that's not what God sees. He uses the most unexpected people to fool the wise and receive glory. Wow! How amazing is that?! If you read along you'll also see that God gives a tribute to her through Deborah's song. Yes, Deborah ended the great victory with worship!

What I hope to get across by sharing this story is: don't feel like you're too simple or ordinary for God to use. If you do feel this way then you are exactly the kind of person that the Lord wants to use! How awesome is that? The girl that nobody noticed was the girl that God used to take out an oppressor. While everyone else fought with swords, she fought with her wit and the backing of the Lord. If you thought that you weren't anything special I hope you learned from Jael's story. I sure did. You see, God wants to use us...all of us. Whether we're a Deborah, a Hannah, or a Jael, God wants to use us and has a special purpose for each and every one of us. So like I stated before, I don't want to be interpreted as a plain Jane because according to God I'm so not and neither are you.

I want to be known for my love of God, passion for worshipping, artsy talents, funny sense of humor, maturity, sensibility, understanding, and heart.                                                              

I am who I amGod's daughter. And that is definitely enough...it's everything!

(Psalm 139: 13-14) For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bold And Unashamed!


Hello to all, as promised I am back from exams and with very good news, as also promised. The Lord is faithful! My Psychology Exam went really good and I was completely overjoyed when my American Heritage Professor passed out the Frederick Douglas Essay I had submitted last week. The book, first of all was touching and heart-wrenching. The unfaltering faith of this slave made my heart grow more and more at the turn of every page. The point of the assignment was to "Explain how Frederick Douglas viewed his life" and my main argument was that he viewed his life not through the size and outlook of his slave-holders and society, but through the Eyes of God. He no longer saw himself as a captive but as a free man because to God he was a free and much loved son. I don't know if I caused my professor or student teacher to reflect on a few things but I know the grace of God was with me because I received a 150/150 = 100! The Lord, once again came through for me.
Love you God!

Here's a little excerpt from my essay:
All of his new found knowledge comes from reading and in a sense causes Douglas to experience freedom of the mind, because although the earth labels him as a captive, his thought and his faith provide an open door into liberty. Douglas no longer settles for the life of slavery he has always known because now he understands the word of God that his masters manipulate to excuse the horrific punishments that they inflict upon their slaves. Douglass distinguishes and draws the line between religion and true Christianity as he states, “in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me through the gloom. This good spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving and praise” (75).

Well, my advice for you today my friends is to not be ashamed to show off who you really are no matter where you go. Sometimes it can be intimidating to talk about Christ in a term paper that gives the opportunity to do so because of the ruff and tough outer-exterior of professors but...go for it. Pray before doing so, so that God can inspire the proper words. Do something different and most importantly don't be ashamed. The word of God says in (Mark 8:38) "If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." I don't blame Jesus for saying this at all. Can you imagine? The son of the most powerful and majestic king of all the nations leaves the comfort of his loving home in order to come to a land where by most he is despised. He no longer wears his crown for all to see and dresses in what some wealthy people might call rags under the identity as the son of a carpenter (so teased some people). The Innocent son of a king sacrifices his life and blameless reputation in order to brutally die for a nation that rejected and wrongly judged him. To this day this nation continues to do so and at one point we were all participants in this horrid act until the Lord, in his abundant grace, opened our eyes. We need not be ashamed of our king or the prince of peace that saved our souls because this is not fare to Him. So I say, we might be able to escape the embarrassment of testifying about Jesus in front of our "friends" or certain crowds but there will come a day when we will be in the presence of the Lord's crowds who will all be ashamed of those who laughed at Jesus, their prince and king. If anyone reads this and knows that they they boldly represent the kingdom of God then congrats! I hope to see the day when every knee bows down to our savior and together we offer Him our worship and undivided attention. 
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