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Monday, September 30, 2013

Carrot Spice Cake


The Cake

1 1/4 Cups Vegetable Oil
2 Cups Sugar
4 Eggs
3 Carrots Grated Raw
1 cup Nuts *Optional
1 Can Crushed Pineapple 8oz
1 cup Coconut Grated (Sweetened or unsweetened are fine)
1/2 cup Raisins
2 Tsps. Vanilla Extract
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour Sifted
1 tsp. Salt
2 Tsps. Baking Soda
2 Tsps. Cinnamon

The Frosting

8 Oz. Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Butter (that’s one stick)
2 Tsps. Vanilla Extract
1 cup Nuts Chopped (Again Optional)


For the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oil, sugar and eggs. Beat well. Stir in grated carrots, nuts, pineapple and vanilla. Add flour, salt, soda and cinnamon; beat well. Pour into two greased and floured 9 inch cake pans. Bake 35-45 minutes. Let cool before frosting.

For the Frosting:
Mix cream cheese and butter. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in nuts.

Friday, September 27, 2013


Ohhh ... but ..... Honey ....

A man came home from work and found his children outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn around yard, The door of his wife's car was open, as was the front door to the house and no  sign of the dog.

Walking in the door, he found even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over, the throw rug was against one wall, In the front room the TV was on loudly with the cartoon channel, the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing.

In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.

He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened. He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor. Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls.

As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel...

She looked up at him, smiled and asked how his day went.

He looked at her bewildered and asked, 'What happened here today?'

She again smiled and answered, 'You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world do I do all day?...

''Yes," was his incredulous reply..

She answered, 'Well, today I didn't do it.'

Friday, September 20, 2013

Esther Bible Series- Chapter 10

ESTHER Chapter Ten

Esther Chapter Ten

Esther 10:1-3

And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute upon the land, and upon the isles of the sea. And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.

The story concludes with Mordecai receiving a generous reward from the king. His importance also recorded in the book of the chronicles of the kings.

Compare the advancement of Mordecai with this verse:

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 4:2-7, KJV

Their story inspires believers to trust God's wisdom and timing, and to stand strong in the face of persecution.

What I personally liked most about the story is that the King is ready and willing to fight for his bride!

Thus concludes our Bible study on Esther. I hope you enjoyed it! But more importantly; I hope that you have learned your place in Christ and the love that He has for you. That's my ultimate goal for you in any Bible study that I present.

Until the next time,
Tah Tah!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Esther Bible Series- Chapter 9

ESTHER Chapter Nine

Esther Chapter Nine

Esther 9:1-3

Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king's commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them, (though it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;) The Jews gathered themselves together in their cities throughout all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, to lay hand on such as sought their hurt: and no man could withstand them; for the fear of them fell upon all people. And all the rulers of the provinces, and the lieutenants, and the deputies, and officers of the king, helped the Jews; because the fear of Mordecai fell upon them.

In the latter part of chapter eight, and now in chapter nine we see that the tables have turned. The Jews have power over the enemy. We can compare this to the power that each believer has been given by the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus was on earth with His disciples, He sent them off to preach the gospel but not without assistance.

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. ~ Luke 10:19-20, KJV

And just before His ascension in Acts chapter 1, He promised that power would come to all believers:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in
Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. ~ Acts 1:8, KJV

In much the same way that God gave strength by the Holy Spirit to all believers, Mordecai brought strength to his people.

Do a little soul searching to find the evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in your life.

1. Does it convict you?

2. Does it comfort you?

3. Does it guide you?

4. Perhaps you can think of some specific ways He's at work in your life and list them here:

Esther 9:4-5

For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater. Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.

Reading this, I'm reminded of the verse from 1 John 4:4, "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." That's powerful!

Read Ephesians 6:14-17.

1. What does God offer in order to equip us for battle? One of your answers should have been, “the sword of the spirit.”

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. ~ Ephesians 6:17, KJV

Without the sword of the spirit, believers are helpless to fight the battle against temptation, sin, and doubt. When Jesus was fasting in the desert for 40 days, He fought His temptation with knowledge of and obedience to scripture. Because of the Bible we are equipped to fight temptation too. Here is a great verse that shows us why we need to study the scripture, and why our obedience to truth is also important:

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, KJV

Knowledge of the word doesn’t merely help to defend us against non-believers who question our faith, it defends us against our own imagination, internal arguments, and disobedience. It is the light that guides our conscience and exposes sin.

1. What are some specific ways that knowing the Bible might protect us from sin?

2. Can you think of any time in your life when conviction, knowledge or obedience has been there to save you?

3. Do you read the Bible on a regular basis?

4. Do you see a need to improve on this area of your life?

Esther 9:6-11

And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men. And Parshandatha, and Dalphon, and Aspatha, And Poratha, and Adalia, and Aridatha, And Parmashta, and Arisai, and Aridai, and Vajezatha, the ten sons of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews, slew they; but on the spoil laid they not their hand. On that day the number of those that were slain in Shushan the palace was brought before the king.

An interesting thing to note here is that the Jewish people didn’t lay hand on the spoil. However in Esther chapter 8:11, the King had given them every right to:

Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey. ~Esther 8:11, KJV

It is evident by their actions that there were fighting for their life not for the things of this world. This is the same fight that we’ve witnessed in Esther throughout the story. She is always focussed on the goal ahead which is to attain life for both her and her people.

1. What are some of the things you like about the character of Esther?

Esther 9:12-14

And the king said unto Esther the queen, The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the palace, and the ten sons of Haman; what have they done in the rest of the king's provinces? Now what is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: or what is thy request further? and it shall be done. Then said Esther, If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews which are in Shushan to do to morrow also according unto this day's decree, and let Haman's ten sons be hanged upon the gallows.And the king commanded it so to be done: and the decree was given at Shushan; and they hanged Haman's ten sons.

We know from the previous verse that Haman’s sons were already dead, so why would Esther request that they be hanged? My understanding of this is that a public execution would put fear into the people.

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. ~ 1Timothy 5:20, KJV

Esther 9:15-16

For the Jews that were in Shushan gathered themselves together on the fourteenth day also of the month Adar, and slew three hundred men at Shushan; but on the prey they laid not their hand. But the other Jews that were in the king's provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey.

Again they had opportunity to take the riches, but the Jewish people took none.

Esther 9:17-21

On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far,To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly.

This feasting of gladness is still celebrated every year amongst the Jews on the 13th of Adar, it is called the feast of Esther. That is followed by Purim which begins at sunset of the same day and end at sunset on the 14th. However, Sushan Purim is celebrated on the 15th of Adar.

This is how Wikipedia explains it:

It was decided that while the victory would be celebrated universally on Adar 14, for Jews living in Shushan, the holiday would be held on Adar 15. Later, in deference to Jerusalem, the Sages determined that Purim would be celebrated on Adar 15 in all cities which had been enclosed by a wall at the time of Joshua’s conquest of the Land of Israel. Also, a very interesting fact to note on this day: it is commonly accepted by scholars that Moses was born on the seventh of Adar and therefore, if Moses was circumcised six days later, this ceremony would have taken place on the 13th of Adar— the same day that the Jews triumphed over the Persians!

That’s very symbolic since circumcision represented the cutting away of the flesh, and the putting off of a former life. I love little facts like that!

Have you exchanged your sinful life for a new life? If not, you can make that decision right now by bowing your head and asking God to forgive you for your sins and inviting Jesus into your life. He promises new life to all who put their faith in Jesus.

Esther 9:22-23

As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them.

Rested”  ...  did you catch that?

The Jews finally found rest from the enemy. The New Testament talks a lot about rest, in fact so does the Old Testament, since the beginning of time when God rested on the seventh day.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ~ Matthew 11:28-30, KJV

What this verse is referring to are those people who are trying to get right with God on their own merit. It can’t be done. The Old Testament laws were full of commandments and ordinances that were impossible for anyone to keep. There were so many laws within laws that trying to keep them was not only a burden it was impossible.

Righteousness” is one of the main themes in the book of Esther. This story has taught us that righteousness is imputed to us. It’s given to us freely through faith in Jesus Christ. The only thing that Esther did was come boldly to the throne. That is what each and every one of us is asked to do, “Come unto me...”

Sin is the enemy that condemns us to death, but those who come to the throne of grace find forgiveness, righteousness, and rest.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. ~ Romans 8:1-2, KJV

Remember—there were two decrees that went out in this story: the first one sentenced the Jews to death, and the second offered them life.

Those two decrees were symbolic of these two laws:
1. The law of sin and death
2. The law of the spirit of life

1. How does trying to get right on your own merit differ from living in obedience to the King?

It might be a tough question, but I'd like you to think it through taking into account everything we've studies in these nine chapters.

Esther 9:24-28

Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them; But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them, The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year; And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.

The other Jewish feasts have been ordained by God, but this one was ordained by the Jews and has since continued throughout the generations. As I pointed out earlier, it is an important feast among the Jews even to this day.

Esther 9:29

Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim. And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth, To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry. And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.

Every time I see that Mordecai is penning a letter I’m reminded of the Bible written by holy men of God who were moves by the Holy Spirit. It says, that Esther and Mordecai “wrote with all authority.” There are many people who will scoff at the Bible saying that it is written by man, but those who have faith in Jesus Christ believe that it is inspired by the Holy Ghost. One of Jesus’ closest disciples— Peter, on who he proclaimed to build His church--confirms this to be true:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. ~ 2 Peter 1:20-21, KJV

As I mentioned in a recent chapter, Mordecai represents the Holy Spirit, and we've really seen that symbolism come out in this chapter.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Esther Bible Series- Chapter 8

ESTHER Chapter Eight

Esther Chapter Eight

Esther 8:1-2

On that day did the king Ahasuerus give the house of Haman the Jews' enemy unto Esther the queen. And Mordecai came before the king; for Esther had told what he was unto her. And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it unto Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.

Let’s start by back tracking a little bit… remember in Esther 7:4, she told the king that they had been “sold.” This signified Esther’s need for a redeemer.

In a nutshell, redemption is repurchasing something that has been sold, and it also means to set free. In Old Testament times, slaves could be redeemed (bought back) but only under certain terms.

Because Haman had betrayed the king by deceiving him, his entire house became the property of the king including the lives of the Jews that he had purchased. And so, the second verse is very significant as the “ring” is a symbol of mutual possession.

Jesus redeemed us by giving His life as a ransom for our sins. Those who believe are under His possession, and in return we possess something of value—a Savior. I wish I would have understood the symbolism behind the wedding ring when I got married as it would have made the ceremony that much more significant. But at least these are lessons I can now pass down to my children.

1. What other elements of a marriage ceremony do you see as typifying our relationship with Jesus Christ?

Esther 8:3-6

And Esther spake yet again before the king, and fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman the Agagite, and his device that he had devised against the Jews. Then the king held out the golden sceptre toward Esther. So Esther arose, and stood before the king, and said, If it please the king, and if I have favour in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which are in all the king's provinces: For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?

Once again we see Esther’s passion that ALL of her people would be saved. She and her cousin Mordecai had already been redeemed by the king, but she couldn’t bear the thought of others losing their life.

She is an incredible example to believers that we must keep on praying for the unsaved. We can’t give up. It is not God’s will that even one should perish, but yet so many around us are still under bondage to Satan.

Think of some of the unbelievers in your life.

1. Do you pray for them enough?

2. Make a list of them and either put it in your prayer journal or keep it in your Bible, as a reminder to pray for them often.

Compare Esther’s attitude in the three verses above to that of Vashti’s in the first chapter.

1. What difference(s) do you find?

Esther 8:7-8

Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews. Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's ring: for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse.

Historically kings wore rings that had a unique stamp in them. These rings were used as a type of signature that when pressed into a soft surface such as wax, they left a distinct and binding impression. In these verses, the king is instructing Esther to send out letters of freedom marked with the binding seal of the king.

Compare the symbol of the king’s seal with the following verses:

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. ~ Ephesians 1:13, KJV

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:21&22, KJV

The "seal" is a mark that is put upon us the moment that we become His. It’s the gift of His Holy Spirit that literally becomes a part of who we are. The Holy Spirit dwells within each believer, which is our seal of ownership. Here is a short list of Bible verses concerning the Holy Spirit.

What do each of these say about the role of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life?

A.  John 14:16

B.  John 16:7-11

C.  John 16:13

D.  John 16:14

E.  John 15:26

F.  What fruit should be evident in a spirit-filled believer? (Galatians 5:22-23)

Esther 8:9-14

Then were the king's scribes called at that time in the third month, that is, the month Sivan, on the three and twentieth day thereof; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded unto the Jews, and to the lieutenants, and the deputies and rulers of the provinces which are from India unto Ethiopia, an hundred twenty and seven provinces, unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writing, and according to their language. And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus' name, and sealed it with the king's ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries: Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey.

Do you see how the king has given every Jew instructions to stand up against evil? This is the same commandment that believers are given as we struggle against sin:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. ~ Ephesians 6:13, KJV

The important thing to note however is that we are not left standing without protection from the King! Read Ephesians 6:14-17.

1. What does God offer in order to equip us for battle?

Esther 8:12-14

Upon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar. The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, and  that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king's commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace. And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad.

There is so much to say about these verses, it’s incredible!! Mordecai’s outfit signifies that he was the temple of the Holy Ghost.

Compare the fabric to this scripture:

Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet. ~ Exodus 26:1a, KJV

It's interesting to note that while the tabernacle was made up of three areas: the outer court, the inner court, and the holy of holies, we each consist of three parts: body, soul and spirit. But that's a whole other study, let's get back on track here.

Purple dye was extremely expensive which is why it is usually associated with royalty. It’s really quite interesting when you research how the color purple was obtained in ancient cultures; check it out sometime when you have a minute. It was worn by kings and queens because it was so costly and hard to come by. Because Mordecai belonged to the king, he was dressed in the finest garments.

As we discussed in a previous chapter, the Bible talks about believers being clothed with a robe of righteousness. Note here that the person of Mordecai was helpless to help himself. Everything he had was a gift from the king. All was grace.

The golden crown is the crown of life given to all believers who endure temptation until the end:

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. ~ James 1:12, KJV

Esther 8:16-17

The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour. And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.

If we look at this in context with Jewish history, we see that this was definitely a time of celebration for the Jews! We learned in our study of chapter three that the initial reason that Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to Haman was because the Amalekites were long-time enemies of God’s people, the Jews:

And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi: For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation. ~ Exodus 17:15-16, KJV

Now finally the Jews were not only given their life, they were given honor and were exalted above the enemy!

When we recognize the symbolism of this victory we also have reason to rejoice. The rise of the Jews represents the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the power that brings to all believers through Him. There is victory in Jesus!

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. ~ Romans 16:19&20, KJV

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Esther Bible Series- Chapter 7

ESTHER Chapter Seven

Esther Chapter Seven

Esther 7:1-2

So the king and Haman came to banquet with Esther the queen. And the king said again unto Esther on the second day at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition, queen Esther? And it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? And it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom.

Setting the stage here, we know from chapter six that they had all experienced a big day. King Ahasuerus hadn’t slept much the night before, and Haman was no doubt feeling the sting of that afternoon’s events. They return to the banquet where the king is anxious to finally hear Esther’s request. Again he says, “What is thy request? And it shall be performed, even to the half of the kingdom.”

This offer is generous, but scholars say it’s not one to be taken literally. It was customary for kings to say this, with the intention of giving a generous gift.

Compare, this portion of scripture from Mark 6:

And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.

This is the third time that Esther is offered a generous gift from the king, and each time she refuses to value the riches of this world over “life.”

Let’s look at Matthew chapter 18 where we see the account of Jesus talking to the rich young ruler:

And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? (v.18) Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. (v.22-23)

The point here isn’t that believers can’t have money, a nice house, or a car. What it does mean is that eternal life should be more important to us than anything this world has to offer. The riches of the world aren’t necessarily monetary either. They can be anything from the praise of family and friends, addictions, and lust, etc. Any of these things can draw our hearts away from the prize ahead, which is eternal life with God.

Consider your life.

1. Is there anything that draws you away from your relationship with God, or distracts you from serving him.

2. If you have friends or family that disagree with your faith, ask yourself if you are driven to satisfy them or to live for the Lord.

Esther 7:3-4

Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request: For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage.

Notice in verse four that Esther says, “For we are sold…”

What I am reminded of here is that all humanity was sold and sentenced to death by the sin of Adam and Eve. It was because of that original sin that we were born with a need for redemption (someone to pay a ransom for our sins).

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. Romans 7:14, KJV

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: ~ Romans 5:12, KJV

Looking at Esther 3:9, we are reminded of who it was that purchased them:

If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I [Haman] will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring it into the king's treasuries.

Esther 7:5

Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said unto Esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?

As we read these words I can only imagine the terror in Haman’s mind. The king asks, “Who is he, and where is he?” Up until this point, king Ahasuerus wasn’t aware that his beloved wife, Esther was sentenced to death by his own hand. He was only aware of the situation according to what Haman had told him, which we have known all along was driven by nothing but pride. In fact he had outright lied to the king in Esther 3 verse 8 when he said, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people; neither keep they the king's laws: therefore it is not for the king's profit to suffer them.”

Haman is a devil type who prowled around seeking for ways to destroy God’s people.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: ~ 1 Peter 5:8, KJV

One of Satan’s weapons of destruction is the opposition of unbelievers.

1. In what ways has he used unbelievers against you?

2. In what ways can you prepare yourself for the next attack?

Esther 7:6-7

And Esther said, the adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen. And the king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath went into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king.

When you feel overcome by evil, remember that Satan is terrified of the wrath of God, in fact we are told that the demons believe and they tremble (James 2:19). You’re not going to see this however, because evil is driven by pride and does everything in its power to conceal its fear of God's wrath.

Because of redemption through Jesus Christ, we are overcomers in this life. Faith in God tells me that trials, pain, and suffering are here for a season, but there is coming a day when Satan and his angels will be punished and put away once and for all. We have access to throne of God, we have been saved by His grace, and we are the beloved Bride of Christ.

Look at the similarities in the following scripture when we hold it up for comparison to the events of this chapter. I went looking to paste one little verse here, but when I read the passage in its context, it only made sense to share this in its entirety with you.

Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:31-39, KJV

Imagine our King Jesus saying to you, “Who has put this charge against you?! Who is he that condemns you?! You are MY bride. Nobody can touch you, and nothing can separate you from my love!”

Can we all say a big “amen?!”

Look at the trials that you’re facing in your life. Whether they are big or small, write them down on a list. Now take that list and bring it to God in prayer trusting that He is willing and able to fight for His bride. But before you do that, look at that verse again, 2nd paragraph. It doesn’t say that you can conquer these things. It says, we are MORE than conquerors through Him that loved us.

That’s a powerful statement!

Esther 7:8-10

Then the king returned out of the palace garden into the place of the banquet of wine; and Haman was fallen upon the bed whereon Esther was. Then said the king, Will he force the queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of king's mouth, they covered Haman's face. And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon. So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified.

Things went from bad to dreadful for Haman as he started to unravel before Esther and the king. Haman rose to plead his life to the queen and fell on her bed.

If you’re confused about the word bed here, let’s look at the following verse for some clarification. This same verse in the NIV is translated as “elegant couch.” So it would seem that elegant couches (also called beds), were placed in dining areas:

And satest upon a stately bed [elegant couch], and a table prepared before it, whereupon thou hast set mine incense and mine oil. ~ Ezekiel 23:41, KJV

Throughout the entire story we see God’s thumbprint at every turn, and this time is no different. I believe that Haman falling on Esther’s bed was an act of God that moved the king to further see the extent of Haman’s evil. If not the fall itself, then the timing was.

Would it not have been for Esther, Mordecai, and the Jewish people fasting and praying beforehand, things might have turned out quite differently. They sought God with all of their heart and the reward was far more than they expected. Haman was put to death, and they were given their lives.

Many people wonder why Haman’s face was covered, but the truth is that we don’t know for sure. It could mean that he was being sent to his death as criminals often went to the gallows with their heads covered, or it could be that covering one’s face represents shame.

Look at these two verses:

I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. ~ Isaiah 50:6, KJV

My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me. ~ Psalm 44:15, KJV

In the last chapter, Esther 6:12, we see that right after Haman led Mordecai around on horseback he, “hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered.”

I remember doing this exact same thing once when I was in grade school and got my first big fat red F on a book report. I well recall that I pulled my coat over my head and laid my head on my school desk. I think it’s in our nature to cover our head or face when we’re put to shame, but it was also a custom executed by others.

Now compare that, with this and we see the flip side:

Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me… But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. ~ Psalm 3:1&3, KJV

Finally, a good lesson in all of this is the reminder that everything we do will be revealed. There is nothing that we can hide from God:

For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. ~ Luke 8:17, KJV

It is important for us to live an authentic life that is grounded in Christ.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Esther Bible Series- Chapter 6

ESTHER Chapter Six

Esther Chapter Six

Esther 6:1-3

On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. And it was found written, that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him.

This portion of scripture reminds us that God’s is working to save His people. And that those things we count as “coincidence” are often a matter of God’s hand at work in our life.

In these verses the king is referring to the events that transpired in Esther 2:21-23. In that chapter, I asked you two questions:

1. What transpired in verse 21?

Two of the king's chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hands on the king  Ahasuerus.

2. What two things came of it in verse 23?

Mordecai notified Esther who sent word to the king, and the men were both hanged. Finally (but no doubt due to God’s timing) the king notices the records and inquires about the incident: The king asks, “"What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?"

When I read this I got to thinking… Okay, truth is I got excited and then I got to thinking… How many times have I done a good deed that went unnoticed? There’s been more than a few. And then it hit me — the reason our good deeds go unnoticed is because God has a better plan for our lives than we have for ourselves. What if God purposely held back a reward to show His glory in my life? Wouldn’t that be so much better than getting recognition from my peers? Absolutely!The glory of God trumps self-gratification any day of the week!

Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. ~ James 5:7, KJV

1. What are some areas of your life where you seek self-recognition?

2. In what ways could you change your focus?

Esther 6:4-9

And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king's house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. And the king's servants said unto him, Behold, Haman standeth in the court. And the king said, Let him come in. So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself? And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: and let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.

The bigger the tree is, the harder it falls. Think about that… If a seedling falls to the ground, no one hears the rumble of its collapse, but when an enormous tree is taken down at the roots, the thunder of its fall is unmistakeable. So it is with those that God strengthens before a fall.

Compare the events that are transpiring with Haman to that of Pharaoh in the story of Moses:

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be
declared throughout all the earth. ~ Romans 9:17, KJV

If you remember the story at all, you'll remember that God sent many plagues upon the Egyptians including the death of the firstborn in each household, but each time Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go. Incredibly stubborn and full of pride, he even changed his mind and pursued them after they left, which ultimately resulted in his death. He was like Haman in so many ways.

What we see in this chapter is pride (Haman) warring against humility (Mordecai). This is a common battle within each and every believer, which is why we must be alert to the dangers of pride. Haman didn't only give in to his pride, he was driven by it.

It’s God’s style to wait until the storm has reached full force before He calms the waves. That’s when we see the glory of His mighty power.

We see the same thing happening with Haman as he has risen to a position of authority, and dining at the kings table. He has no idea what is going on behind the scenes, but he is about to fall -- and fall hard!

The king asks Haman, “What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour?” And Haman said to himself, "Whom would the king desire to honor more than me?"

The irony is rich here as God is about to let Haman use his pride as a weapon against himself.

Haman offers two suggestions:

1. Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head.

2. And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king
delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him.

Esther 6:10-11

Then the king said to Haman, Make haste, and take the apparel and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai the Jew, that sitteth at the king's gate: let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken. Then took Haman the apparel and the horse, and arrayed Mordecai, and brought him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaimed before him, Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour.

Here we see that Haman himself put the robe upon Mordecai and led him through the streets proclaiming, "This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!"

Remember as you’re reading this that we were told in chapter three that King Ahasuerus promoted Haman above all the princes. This would have been a very humbling experience for any ruler, not to mention that this is one of the highest rulers who had serious contention with the man in the royal robe upon the horse.

Let’s also look at the spiritual symbolism here:

1. The horse is a symbol of power and strength. (Job 39:19-22)
2. The crown is a symbol of holiness. (Exod. 39:30)
3. The robe is a symbol of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10)

Esther 6:12-14

And Mordecai came again to the king's gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered. And Haman told Zeresh his wife and all his friends every thing that had befallen him. Then said his wise men and Zeresh his wife unto him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but shalt surely fall before him. And while they were yet talking with him, came the king's chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared.

Chapter six ends in a similar way to chapter five did, with Haman going home to complain to his household about his struggle with Mordecai. This time however his family isn’t as positive as they were the first time. Even they are starting to see that his plan is coming apart.

This entire chapter has a strong focus on the dangers of pride and the blessings of humility. It is further exemplified here as Mordecai is exalted and Haman is cut down.

Compare this verse:

A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. ~ Proverbs 29:3, KJV

1. What are some of the ways that you might protect your heart against pride?

In an article called, How to Fight the Sin of Pride, Especially When You are Praised, John Piper writes, “I strive to cultivate a joy in Christ and his wisdom and power and justice and love that is more satisfying than the pleasures of human praise, with the goal that, by the Spirit, I would be granted the miracle of self-forgetfulness in the admiration of Christ, and in love toward people.”

Friday, September 13, 2013

Esther Bible Series- Chapter 5

Esther Chapter Five

Esther Chapter Five

Esther 5:1-2

Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house. And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the scepter.

There is so much symbolism in these two verses that I can’t help but get excited when I read them! I feel like a layer of scripture has been lifted to reveal the depth of God’s plan for man. I knew that there was symbolism in this story, but in these two verses alone there are three things to note:

A. Esther’s royal robe
B. The inner court
C. The golden scepter

(A) After fasting for three days, Esther approached the king in her “royal robe.”

In chapter one, we talked about a robe of righteousness that is imputed to us through faith in Jesus Christ. When we come to the throne of God, we cannot approach Him on our own merit as all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We must be clothed with the righteousness of Christ.

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. ~ Isaiah 61:10, KJV

(B) Now let’s talk about “the inner court.”

The Old Testament Tabernacle as described in Exodus, was divided into three parts. There was an outer court surrounded by a wall, with a gate to enter in. Within that area was a tent known as the tabernacle. It consisted of two areas: the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies--a veil dividing one area from the other.

What we know from scripture is that the priests entered the Holy Place to make sacrifices, but the high priest—and only the high priest entered the Holy of Holies — once every year. This was known as “the day of atonement.”

Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people. ~ Hebrews 9:6-7, KJV

If anybody other than the high priest entered the holy of holies, he would have been put to death. Here the king’s inner court signifies the Holy of Holies. Esther knew that entrance to the room was punishable by death, unless she was invited there by the king himself. I can't help but be reminded of our relationship with God. It is only by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ that believers are united with God and invited to sit by His throne:

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. ~ Hebrews 4:16

(C) The third thing we should look at is the golden scepter.

This represents the grace of God on those who believe. It’s through faith in Jesus Christ that we have access to the throne and peace with God.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. ~ Ephesians 2:8, KJV

Take a look at the following verses to see how well they are reflected in the story of Esther:

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. ~ Hebrews 10:19-22, KJV

You see? I told you that those two verses were packed with symbolism. I’m excited to read more!

Esther 5:3-5

Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? And what is thy request? It shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom. And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him. Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared.

Here we see that Esther had a chance to save herself and gain riches, but rather than seeking his riches, she continued with the plan of salvation. She invited both the king and Haman to a banquet of wine. This is a wonderful example of how we can approach God in our prayer life. Unfortunately many believers use prayer in hopes of material gain, rather than pleading for salvation of the lost, and offering service to the King. This is not to say that we shouldn’t ask God to supply our needs - we should, but we must keep our focus in check since so many people are lost.

Consider your own prayer life.
1. Do you pray for unsaved people often, or do your prayers tend to be self centered?

Esther 5:6-8

And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed. Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request is; if I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king hath said.

Again the king offers Esther whatever she desires, and again Ether delays her request by inviting Haman and the king to a second banquet. Scripture doesn’t tell us why she delayed her request, but because all things worked out better than planned, I believe that it was a matter of God’s divine timing.

It could be that she had full intention of making her request known that night, but God has a way of changing our plans according to His wisdom. Either way, it is evident that His mighty hand was at work in her life.

Consider your life.

1. Have you seen evidence of God’s timing?

2. Do you wait upon the Lord, or do you tend to rush in to situations?

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31, KJV

Esther 5:9

Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai.

The greater one’s ego, the harder he falls. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. ~ Proverbs 16:18, KJV

Matthew Henry’s Commentary says:
Self-admirers and self-flatterers are really self-deceivers. Haman, the higher he is lifted up, the more impatient he is of contempt, and the more enraged at it. The affront from Mordecai spoiled all. A slight affront, which a humble man would scarcely notice, will torment a proud man, even to madness, and will mar all his comforts.

Carefully examine your life to see where you may be driven by pride. It feels good to hang onto pride at the time, but the end it leads to destruction.

1. Are there situations in your life that you need to change so that you are handling them with humility?

Esther 5:10-14

Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate. Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.

Haman has everything he could possibly want, but because one thing is out of place--one thing isn’t going his way, he is angry. “Yet all of this does not satisfy me every time I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate.”

Remember how I said in chapter three that Haman and Mordecai represent the flesh at war with the spirit in a believer’s life? Here we see a strong example of that fleshy nature in the form of greed. Haman’s greed is a polar opposite to Esther’s desire for life.

We are warned against greed in scripture, while we are instructed to be content:
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. ~ 1 Timothy 6:69, KJV

1. What things can you thank God for today?

Look for ways to be content and avoid the pitfalls of lust that lead to destruction.