Honor to the Leader

Posted by Paulyn on Thursday , May   30 , 2013 at 7:30 am

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Esther 1-3

Message

In chapter 1, we find that for 180 days, King xerxes displayed, showed off the wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty.  At about the same time, Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the same royal palace.  On the 7th day, the King ordered for the Queen to be brought before him, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and the nobles.  The queen refused to obey his command, and the king was furious and burned with anger.  After consulting the experts of the law, Queen Vashti was removed from her throne, and the king issued a royal decree that she may not enter the presence of the king, and that she be replaced with a woman who is better than her.  It was also proclaimed that all women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.

In chapter 2, a search was made for Vashti’s replacement.  Esther, an adopted daughter of Mordecai was one of the candidates.  She had not revealed her family background, in obedience to the instruction of Mordecai.  The king was attracted to Esther more than any of the other women, so he made her queen in replacement of Vashti. 

During a time Mordecai was sitting at the King’s gate, he overheard two of the king’s officers plot to assassinate the king.  Mordecai informed Esther about this, and she reported it to the King, giving credit to Mordecai.  After investigation, the two officials were impaled on poles.

Chapter 3 King Xerxes promoted Haman, gave him a seat higher than all other nobles.  All royal officials at the king’s gate paid honor to Haman, but Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.  Because of this, Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews by telling the king that the Jews do not obey the king’s laws and that they should be destroyed.  He even offered money to the king so that the king would issue a decree to destroy them.  The King declined the money, but took his signet ring and gave it to Haman, giving him the authority to do what Haman pleased.

Promise
Esther was an obedient young woman.  She obeyed her father’s instructions, and she won the favor of the king, and was crowned queen, in replacement to Vashti

Command
We must submit to the authorities the Lord has appointed to us.  Queen Vashti was commanded by the king to come before him but she refused to obey the king. 

Warning
Disobedience has consequences.  When Vashti refused to obey the king’s command, she was removed from her throne.

Application

God has appointed leaders for us to obey.  God has provided us the Holy Bible as the manual of life, to guide us in our day to day life.  God has sent the Holy Spirit to bestow upon us the wisdom to understand and obey His will.  God has given us His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to save us from sin.  We have been blessed with all the graces of God’s love, and we simply need to be obedient and submit to God’s will in order to gain Everlasting Life.  Queen Vashti was an example of disobedience to the authority that God has appointed above her. Because of her disobedience, she was removed from her throne, and was replaced by Esther. 

Let us submit ourselves to the will of God.  God has assigned us the leaders who will lead us along the way.  Let us honor and obey our leaders and we will receive our blessings from God.  If our leaders have committed sin, live an evil, corrupt life, let God be the judge of him.  We should remain obedient, unless we have actual knowledge and evidence, not hearsay, of the sin he has committed.  When we do have this evidence, we should immediately separate ourselves from any connections with him.  But God alone can be the judge of him.  It is our duty, as followers to obey and honor these leaders who have been appointed to us.  When we honor God’s delegated authority, we honor God. 

John 13:20 (NIV) "Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

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Keeping our Promises

Posted by Paulyn on Tuesday , May   28 , 2013 at 7:59 am

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Nehemiah 10-13

Nehemiah 10

After confessing their sins in Nehemiah 9, the people created a binding agreement, and put in writing, where all who were able to understand had signed their commitment to follow the Law of God given through Moses. They had made their promise not to marry their children to foreigners, and not to work on the day of Sabbath or any holy day. They also made their promise to give their offerings, and to never neglect the House of God.

Nehemiah 11

On this chapter, the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem. One of every 10 people was to live in Jerusalem, and the remaining 9 will stay in their own towns.

Nehemiah 12

This chapter tells us about the priests and Levites who returned to Jerusalem, and the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem. This was a meaningful event, where they celebrated joyfully with songs of thanksgiving. The priests and Levites had purified themselves, then purified the people and the the gates and the wall.

Nehemiah 13

When the Book of Moses was read aloud, the people learned that the Ammonites or Moabites should not be admitted into the assmebly of God, so all foreigners were all excluded from Israel.

During the time that Nehemiah returned to King Artaxerxes, Eliashib the priests who was in charge of the store rooms of the HOuse of God, had provided Tobiah with a room. Tobiah was the Ammonite who opposed the rebuilding of the wall in Nehemiah 4. So When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem and learned about this, he threw all Tobiah’s household goods out of the room, then purified the room and put back the equipment and the grain offerings and the incense of the House of God

.

Nehemiah learned that the people had neglected the House of God during his ablsence, and saw people working on the Sabbath,and that the people married foreigners. Nehemiah questioned the people, reminded them about the calamity their ancestors had gone through for disobeying God’s word.

Nehemiah prayed to God and asked God to remember him with favor for all he had done.

Promise

God keeps his promises to us, blessings,graces and protection throughout our life for as long as we remain under His protection, obey His commands and live by them all the days of our life.

Deuteronomy 7:9 "Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments."

Command

Nehemiah 10 discusses to us the commands of God and all the promises that the people have made in their covenant with God – not to marry their children to foreign people, not to work on the day of Sabbath, or any holy day, to give their offerings and contributions to the house of God, and to never neglect the house of God.

Warning

Nehemiah 10:29 "all these now join their fellow Israelites the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the LORD our Lord."

Application

How consistent are we with the promises we make – to people around us, more importantly, to the Lord our God? In chapter 10, we saw that the people made their vows and promises to God, pledged to submit to God’s word. However, in Chapter 13, they had broken all the promises they had made.

Let us all admit that we fall short, we break our promises and mess up. Sometimes we pray so sincerely but later on, we tend to forget that we made our promises to the Lord, and backslide to our old worldly habits. How often does this happen to us?

When Nehemiah came back to Jerusalem and found out that the people had backslid to their old habits, he immediately corrected the mistakes, and the people accepted and corrected the mistakes they had committed. Sin is not something we linger around with. We immediately take action in repentance and resolution for the sins we committed. However, making mistakes in our life does not disqualify us from having a relationship with God. God does not doom us forever when we sincerely repent for our sins. Let’s not let our past hold us back from renewing our relationship with God. Our God is a great God and He will give us the chance to change our ways.

It is never too late to do what is right. Difficult times will come and go, but let us not let these times separate us from God. When temptations arise, let us be strong, to call upon the Lord for help, strength, for in these difficult times, God is closer to us and all we need to do is to reach out to Him.

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The joy of the Lord is our strength

Posted by Paulyn on Monday , May   27 , 2013 at 7:56 am

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Nehemiah 7-9

Message

Nehemiah 7

After the walls had been rebuilt, Nehemiah put Hanani in charge of Jerusalem and Hananaiah commander of the citadel.  He assembled the nobles, officals and the common people for registration by families, by genealogy.

Nehemiah 8

On the 7th month, they came together and Ezra the priest read the Law before the assembly.  The people weeped as they listened to the words of the Law, and Nehemiah, the governor, told them not to mourn or weep, and instead, to go and enjoy food and sweet drinks for the day is holy to the Lord, for the Lord is their strength.  The people built temporary shelters, following the book of the Law, and lived in these shelters during the festival of the seventh month.  Ezra read the Book day after day, for seven days, and on the eight day, there was an assembly.

Nehemiah 9

On the 24th day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, praised the Lord, and confessed their sins

Promise

If we recall, on Jeremiah 29:10-14 NIV the scripture says: "This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Now we see that in Nehemiah 7, God has kept His promise to the people.  They have returned to their home, and now they have begun registering the people who have returned. 

Command

The Word of God is our hope.  In it we find God’s loving words, God’s perfect plan for our lives.  As Ezra read the Word of God, the people wept.  But Nehemiah told them not to weep or mourn.  Nehemiah 10: "Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Warning

Nehemiah 9 tells us that the Israelites gathered together, praised and recognized the Greatness of our God.  He is a great God who can do anything.  He has the power to change anything, and that we should remember in our life.  God has the power and God keeps His promise to all those who remain faithful to Him.  These Israelites were the faithful people who returned, praised and confessed their sins because they knew, and acknowledged that only God can save them. 

Application

How do we respond to God’s word?  In these chapters, we saw that God had already secured the people, protected them behind gates, away from danger from the enemies, under the leadership of Nehemiah.  Now it was time to deepen their spiritual life.  When God has answered our prayers, do we continue to live by His Word?  Some of us tend to stray away just as soon as we have received what we asked for. 

After building the walls and registering all the people who have returned, Nehemiah gathered everyone and Ezra read God’s word.  Here, they all reflected on the Holy Words, wept because they were sincerely repentant for the sins they committed, praised God for His greatness in their lives, and rejoiced for the Lord is their strength. 

God is faithful to us.  He keeps His promises to all who are faithful to Him.  Being faithful followers of God, we must continue to nourish our spiritual life by reading and reflecting on His Words daily.  By doing this, we receive God’s constant guidance in our life, and we remain under God’s protection no matter what challenges we need to face in our life.  Through prayers, we communicate and reach out to God.  Let us persevere.  Let us never forget that God is all powerful, all giving, He alone can keep us safe, He alone can protect us.  Let us keep our Spiritual life well nourished for the joy of the Lord is our Strength!

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Facing Distress and Discouragement, Turn to God

Posted by Paulyn on Saturday , May   25 , 2013 at 7:37 am

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Nehemiah 4-6

Nehemiah

Message

Nehemiah 4

Sanballat heard that the wall was being rebuilt and he became angry. Tobiah the Ammonite ridiculed the people. They plotted to fight against Jerusalem. Nehemiah prayed to God, and prepared the workers with weapons while they continued building the wall.

Nehemiah 5

The people cried out against their fellow Jews for exacting usury against their fellow Jews. Nehemiah was very angry about this, confronted the nobles and the officals. He summoned the priests and made these noble take an oath to keep their promise not to demand anything more from their fellow Jews. Nehemiah cited the things he had done for the people, and asked God to remember all these with favor upon him.

Nehemiah 6

Nehemiah was summoned by Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem to meet in one of the village, scheming to harm him. Four times they sent him the message, and each time, Nehemiah told them that he cannot go down because he is busy with his project. So Sanballat sent Nehemiah a letter, accusing him of plotting to revolt against the king, and that they would inform the king about this. Nehemiah denied the accusation. Sanballat and Tobiah even hired one of his own people, Shemaiah to deceive Nehemiah into going inside the temple to "protect himself from the enemies". But Nehemiah realized that he was being deceived, so he prayed to God for the enemies that had been trying to intimidate him. The wall was completed in 52 days, and the enemies were afraid because they realized that this work had been done with the help of God. The nobles kept writing letters and communicating with Tobiah, and attempted to convince Nehemiah that Tobiah had good deeds, and reported to Tobiah about what Nehemiah said. Tobiah sent letters to intimidate him.

Promise

God had kept His promise to rebuild Jerusalem, and He has kept His promise to them. Inspite of all the opposition, all the problems that the people had to go through, inspite of all the opposition, the temptation the threats, the weaknesses of the builders, Nehemiah constantly prayed to God, stood strong against all the odds, and the wall was finally completed. Nehemiah 6:16 ‘When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.’

Command

When doing the work for God, we must be strong and firm against all opposing factors. because God commands us not to be afraid of anyone of them.

Nehemiah 4:14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.

Warning

Nehemiah was angry when he discovered that the Jews were exacting usury against their fellow Jews. He ordered them to give back what was taken from the poor, take an oath and warned them of the consequences of anyone who does not keep his promise. Nehemiah 5:13 "I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, "In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!" At this the whole assembly said, "Amen," and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised."

Application

As we follow the path of God, we encounter all kinds of opposition. We face ridicule. It is important to be ready, be prepared. Anyone who attempts to get involved in the work of God, will always face ridicule. It is expected, but it should not stop us from working for God.

On the other hand, we must also prepare ourselves physically. If we are tired, we cannot accomplish. Nehemiah 4:10 reads, "Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, ‘The strength of the laborers is giving out…" Tiredness can lead to discouragement. So it is necessary to make sure we have physical energy in order to accomplish God’s task for us.

Another factor that can cause discouragement is fear. There are people around us who can greatly influence our thoughts and feelings, and the people who are most affected by fear are those who live their lives around pessimistic people. Let us choose the friends we make, the people we hang out with. It is best to not hang around with negative people who can cause us to have fear.

When Nehemiah felt in distress, he turned to God. He did not give lectures, talk to the workers. He talked to God. When people talk against us, let’s not talk back. Let us turn to God, He is always there to hear our prayer.

Reorganize your priorities. When Nehemiah realized that some of his people were already tired and worn out, he reorganized the position of the workers. Half were working, and the other half were armed with spears, shields, bows and armor. He prepared the people, and assured them that God will fight for them. Nehemiah 4:19 "19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!"

Nehemiah was a good leader. He addressed the problems and issues that grew within his people and took the initiative correct the wrong that was being done by the nobles. He prayed to God for all the things he was doing.

In Nehemiah 6, we saw how Nehemiah dealt with distractions. He was summoned to go down 4 times, but he kept on working. Rumors, lies, Sanballat threw accusations to Nehemiah just to attract his attention, just to make him come down to their request. Let us be firm, resist temptation. One of the most helpful things that we can do to resist temptation is to remember that God has called each of us to a great task, that we are to continue till the finish line.

In response to these temptations, Nehemiah denied the rumor, he prayed to God for strength, and he went back to work. Having right priorities gave Nehemiah the courage to do what was right. Courage isn’t the absence of fear but instead it’s the tenacity to do what is right no matter how much we’re afraid. Let us make it a habit to say "yes" to God’s priorities, and to practice saying, "no" to the devil’s distractions. The enemy will do anything to distract us. Satan is subtle but God is sufficient. Let us remember that when God’s priorities become our priorities, God’s kingdom work will advance.

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A happy wife and mother of three,

David & Paulyn

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