Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Plots and Plans

O. . T. #1089  "Plots and Plans"
Oct. 31, 2017
Esther 3
...Hamon sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people o Mordecai.  Esther 3:6


Plans and plots to harm people, to make them slaves, to rob and injure, on whatever level, has evil behind it. Beware, believers, on this day when evil seeks to conquer good. They call evil good. It has been around since Eve met the serpent in the garden. It will continue until Jesus destroys Satan. Well, sadly, today he is working in our story.

Last time we talked about Mordecai warning the king, by way of Esther, that two of his men plotted an assassination attempt of King Xerxus. It was found to be true and those two were hung on a stake. This good dead by Mordecai was recorded in the king's records, b no reward came immediately.

After these things happened, the king promoted Haman? What about the guy who saved the king's life? Doesn't he get any honor or recognition? (It will come in due time, God's timing.) Besides, who was this Haman?
  • He was an Agagite.
  • He was promoted to prime minister.
  • He was honored by all officials; the king ordered them to bow before Haman as he passed by them.
To better understand where this villain was coming from, let's look back in 1 Samuel chapter 15.  King Saul defeated the Amalekites with his army, only he did not kill Agag the king. Remember the bleating of the sheep and lowing of the oxen that Samuel heard? They spared the animals, too. This was all disobedience against the instructions of God to Israel. Prophet Samuel had to kill King Agag. (As I recall, those Amalekites were descendants of those who would not allow Israel passage through their country on their way to the Promised Land. Also, they killed those in back of the Israeli caravan, those sickly, elderly, and young.

Can we understand the hostility for each other, between the Agagites and the Jews? The trouble came when Mordecai would not bow down when Haman passed by him. such a thing would be considered idolatry for a Jew, bowing down and paying homage to anyone. (You shall have no other god before Jehovah.)

Such an act, or lack of an act in this case, resulted in Haman filled with rage. He had been nursing a grudge all his childhood. But Haman did not decide to lay hands on only Mordecai, but on his people, the Jews. He plotted to destroy all the Jews throughout the whole kingdom of Persia. Sounds like the same intent of Hitler during WWIII.

When God tells us to do something, or not do something, we had better obey.


What was Hamon's plan of extermination  the Jews?
  • A day was chosen, by casting lots, to attack the Jews. (verse 7)
  • Haman charged the Jews falsely with rebellion, breaking the king's  laws. (verse 8) 
  • He persuaded the king to write an edict of the annihilation of Jews, promising to pay the king's treasury in silver plus the plunder. (verse 9)
  • King Xerxus gave Hamon his signet ring to carry out the plot. (verse 10)
  • Hamon dictated to the royal secretaries, in all he languages, that all the Jews would be killed on the 13th day the next year. He sealed it with the king's ring. It was law.
  • Copies were sent to every district.
  • Hamaon and the king sat down to drink, calloused, insensitive, uncaring to what would happen.(verse 15)
How did tis happen? Everything was going good. Esther was queen. Mordecai was an official at the king's gate. All seemed to be going well. Then the wheels turned a different direction for the Jews.
Evil can seek so deeply in a person's heart in a short time. Look what has happened in our world-Germans vs. Jews, Russians vs. Stalin, Kurds vs. Hussein, now ISSIS.

In Matthew 15, we read of the results of evil in the heart of men. Because of it, Jesus did an awful death on the cross.
Let us pray for repentance of hearts in our families, communities, nation.

Swindoll shows some lessons we can learn here:
  1. Never forget there will always be someone who will resent your devotion to the Lord Jesus.
  2. Never underestimate the diabolical nature of revenge.
  3. Never overestimate the value of your own importance.


Stay close to Jesus.
Put on the whole armor of God listed in Ephesians.
Stand against the evil trying to destroy good.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Baby Graceleigh

Unexpected Monday Mornings

Oct. 30, 2017

Sunday began a regular week, normal in all ways. The family was at worship services where they had always been on Sundays, worshiping Almighty God and their Savor, Jesus Christ.  Yet Monday morning for one couple brought on early labor for one sweet and young couple in our church. It would prove to be the hardest week they had ever faced so far in their lives.

Little Graceleigh Jane was only 22 weeks and 4 days in development. So mamma was taken to a local hospital, but they could not do anything for them. Finally, mamma and baby were flown by helicopter to another hospital 200 miles away, over the mountains. Family members jumped in cars and flew down there to be at their first grandbaby's birth, first on both sides. Brothers drove the expectant and worried Father. And so began the long, hard journey of the testing of their faith that would last all week long. (Keep in mind, mamma remained in labor for 5 full days before Saturday arrived.)

Little did these three families know what lie ahead for them in the days to come. The first doctor was blunt, saying their baby girl would probably die (only 1% survived); they would not resuscitate her if she were born before 23 weeks. (It is considered a miscarriage before 23 weeks.) However, the father and grandfather informed that doctor that they served a higher power than he was, Almighty God. So the family had a "go to Jesus meeting," praying for  baby Graceleigh right then and there, in front of the cold doctor. They would accept whatever God's will was, but please sustain her until she was 23 weeks along.

Folks, those prayers were not "Lay me down to sleep" prayers. They were desperate, gut-wrenching, sincere pleas that went straight to the throne of God through Jesus. (Both grandfathers are deacons of our church and spiritual leaders.) Now, as the word spread, hearts prayed, too. We prayed without ceasing, throughout the days and nights ahead.

Well, day 5 came and no baby born. Then day 6 came and no baby born. Mind you, the large delivery room became home for 9 watching people. Then day 7 came and went with nothing happening except mamma grew weaker while enduring labor. We believe God kept this baby in the womb, blocking her exit, until she was 23 weeks and 1 day in development.

Then it was time. Saturday was Graceleigh's birthday. My husband and I were able to be there by that time. Everyone was excited, and relieved at the same time.  Baby was whisped away to another room, put into an incubator, with life sustaining tubes connected to her 1 pound, 1 ounce body. All were hopeful that she would live. We rejoiced in our God that creates and sustains life. He helped them climb over the mountains.

Later, as the tiny baby was wheeled into the natal care unit, we all formed two lines of faith, through which she passed. The grandparents and the rest got to see her for a minute. Now, let me tell you, Graceleigh was a fighter. She was kicking, crying, and waving her tiny arms as she met this world. Hopes were high.

We left the folks of faith to return home.  My husband  prepared a message using this family's experience with faith as our example for the next day. They say that no news is good news and none was heard until 6:15 am Sunday morning. Graceleigh's body did not accept blood given her. They tried to resuscitate her after the heart stopped, to no avail. Life left her body as she left us to join Jesus in heaven.

Oh, my, what a heart breaking story. It doesn't end there, for the faith of those families' faith continues on. They are thanking God for the time they had with this sweet little baby. And we don't know how many hearts will be touched by this tiny life.

Here it is, another Monday morning. Mama had to have surgery yesterday to mend her body, but it will take a long time to mend her broken heart. So please pray for Nacona and Tyler as they continue this journey of life, without their first baby of love. (Prior to this, Tyler had surrendered to the call to preach.)

All are hopeful that they will be returning home today, to climb the mountain of faith once again and find rest for their weary bodies and souls. Dear ones, we do not know where the path the Lord has us on will lead. We must always be ready for those unexpected Monday mornings.

Our God creates and sustains life. He does whatever He pleases, as Job realized and we realize.
Let us lay down our burdens at the feet of Jesus. He will take care of them. Just be held in His loving arms of compassion. Keep your focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. He is on the throne.

That is what is on my heart today. Tomorrow we will return to Esther.

Love ya'll,

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sustainer of Life

O. T. #1088  "Sustainer of Life" 
Oct. 27, 2017
Esther 2-Part 6
For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.  Luke 19:10


First, I want to give thanks and praise to our Almighty God. What has He been doing this week for you? I'll share what He has been doing in the lives of a precious young couple at our church.(Both sets of their parents are in our church, also.) The expectant mother went into labor Monday, but baby girl was only 22 weeks along in development. This is their first child. They were air vaced to a hospital miles away. Prayers continued for them all week, for a doctor there said if the baby came so early, they would not try to save it. So we have been praying day and night for God to sustain these two. And He has. Baby is 23 weeks along now, but mom is so tied from being in labor so long. Will you join us in praying for N. and baby? Thanks.

Our lives are in God's hands, from birth to death and in between. We are so blessed with 7 healthy grandchildren. I remember the excitement of the birth of the first one, yet the disappointment of the miscarriages of several.

God is Lord of all. What would we do without Jesus to strengthen, comfort, and help us through the trials? Lift your head, it ain't over yet, as the song says.


Let's pick up in verse 21.the story of Esther changes from a celebration of her becoming queen of Persia to Mordecai sitting at the king's gate. What is going on there?
  • Mordecai heard about the plot to murder King Xerxus, while he was on duty at the king's gate.
  • It was the two eunuchs, chamberlains, of the king's called Bigthan and Teresh that plotted to assassinate the king.
  • Mordecai informed queen Esther. If the plot was carried out, then Esther might be in danger, too. Certainly she would no longer hold such a position in all of Persia.
  • Esther rushed to tell the king of such a plot. 
  • She gave Mordecai the credit.
  • Mordecai's report was investigated and found to be true.
  • The two men found guilty were both hung on a tree.
  • This was recorded in the king's records. (Keep this on the back burner of your mind because it will come up later as a pivotal point in the story.)
The king's gate was the place where city officials conducted civil, legal, and business affairs. The two men were impaled and hung on a large, tall stake. It stood as a reminder that evil will not prevail. Notice that the king forgot to recognize or reward Mordecai for uncovering the plot.
Darius, the father of King Xerxus, was known to have once impaled 3,000 men.

How quickly life can turn from a celebration to the death of one or two, as is the case here. Rage, murder, greed, lust, abuse, all attempt to destroy our faith in God. Don't let it, friend.

As believers, are we warning people to prepare for death? Our enemy, Satan, is lying in wait to cut our life short. Preparation involves asking Jesus Christ to be our Savior. He is our sustainer, too.


Be the witness of Jesus' mighty deeds.
Prepare for the evil deeds in this world.
Proclaim God's goodness.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Being a Brave Believer

O. T. #1087  "Being a Brave Believer"
Oct. 26, 2017
Esther 2-Part 5
Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.  Proverbs 31:30


Esther found favor and grace in the sight of King Xersus of Persia. He set the royal crown upon her head, so she has a new title now. Esther is no longer a plain, orphan Esther, but Queen Esther. What happened next?
  • The king had a celebration, a banquet, feast, coronation to honor queen Esther.
  • A holiday was proclaimed.
  • Gifts were generously distributed.
  • The maidens from her group joined in the celebration.
Swindoll gives us modern-day Esthers some practical counsel:
Can we imagine having all the same qualities as Esther had? It seems so unattainable. It doesn't come
from the world, where results are frustration and defeat. You, as an individual, have your own pressures, your own difficulties, your own unique circumstances, but God offers ways to handle them and become His special person. The question is how?

First, ask God. Ask Him to cultivate character within you. Ask him to give you a deeper desire for the spiritual. Make yourself available to His strength, reproofs, counsel for the things you lack. Ask for help to place more emphasis on what's happening deep within your heart and less emphasis on the externals, the superficial, the temporary.

Second, trust God. Trust Him to control your circumstances around you. We are completely dependent on Him for external life, forgiveness, security, and character. It is His working in our lives that uses us even in the harems of life to make a difference and to model a charm and a beauty, a dignity, and an elegance, that cannot help but cause people's attention to be drawn to Him and His power.

Are we ready to be authentic in the midst of a whirlwind? Do we have determination to beat unbelievable odds? Do we have an openness, a warmth, a responsiveness to the things of God? Are we willing to ask for help? Can we be thankful for what God has given us and for the situation in which He has placed us? Will we continue to walk the road of faith?


The nationality of Esther, a Jew, was still pet a secret. Even after Mordecai sat at the king's gate, thus appointed a palace official. She was warned by her cousin, lest she be removed from her status like Vashti. Esther had been an obedient child all her life. Her secret was safe, so far.

Suffering, life's hardships, and afflictions are inescapable. Pain is inevitable. Misery is optional.Since we cannot get free of pain, the secret of successful living is finding ways to live above the level of misery.

Are we valuing our daughters and granddaughters? Are we telling them we value them as a person of strength and dignity? Are we going to be a brave believer in Jesus? His love makes us braver still. Can we take the challenge to live above misery?


Ask God to change my heart so I am gracious and kind to others.
Trust God in my life situations.
Honor Him.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Finding Favor

O. T. #1086  "Finding Favor"
Oct. 24, 2017
Esther 2-Part 4
And the king loved Esther above all women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.  Esther 2:17


Much obliged. I used to hear my grandfather use that phrase. He used it in place of thanks. Webster's Dictionary uses it in defining the word  favor. Someone must have found grandpa's favor or approval.

From among hundreds of beautiful young maidens, the king of Persia chose Esther to be his new queen. How could this be? (This gal was probably not older than 20.) After all, she dressed modestly, her year of cosmetic and perfume treatments were no big deal to Esther. She could have chosen whatever clothing and jewelry she wanted for her night with the king. But there was no extravagance with Esther, for she had no driving  ambition to be queen.

I like how Charles Swindoll, n his book Esther, A Woman of Strength and Dignity,  put it:
Esther knew that the hand of God was on her life, and through circumstances and Mordecai's wisdom, she had been brought to this place for a reason. She had her stuff together. She knew where she was coming from. She knew who she was. She knew what she believed. If it was God's pleasure that she be here, if it was part of His plan then she would willingly accept it. If not, she would willingly relinquish it. (Swindoll)
In verse 15, we read that Esther obtained favor in the sight of them that looked upon her. In  the Hebrew language, favor used here means graciousness, kindness or objective beauty; pleasant, precious, well favored.

She had a sweet way about her that everyone liked, from the women in the harem to the king. She was clothed in grace and humility.
Do we have that same spirit?


Clearly, Esther's sweet, kind, and loving spirit struck the heart  of King Xerxus  as well as her by, poise, and behavior. What happened next? Look at verse 17:
  • The king loved her above all the women.
  • Esther obtained grace and favor in his sight more than the other women.
  • The king set the royal crown upon her head and made Esther queen instead of Vashti.
The word favor in this verse, checed ( kheh'-sed) means kindness.
Grace is the same Hebrew word, but a  different form, chen (Khane) and meaning.

Mary found favor with God in Luke 1:30.
Jesus increased in favor with God and man according to Luke 2:52.
Grace is used in John 1:17; Romans 3:24 and 5:15.

Do we desire to find God's  favor and grace above all else?


Show kindness today.
Seek God's favor and grace.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Chance of a Lifetime

O. T. #1085 "Chance of a Lifetime"
Oct. 23, 2017
Esther 2-Part 3
And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.  Esther 2:17


They say some opportunities only come around once. We call it a chance of a lifetime. Have you had any come your way? I can think of a few-some I let pass my by and others I took; some with regret and some with satisfaction. Esther had a chance in a lifetime. does she blow it or take it?

There must have been a lot of maidens brought to the palace for the queen's contest, after all, there was 127 provinces in Persia. Esther was one of those beauties chosen. In preparation, each girl was given beauty treatments for 12 months. Each girl was then assigned a night to spend with the king. When her time came, she was given whatever clothing and jewelry she wanted. Afterwards, she was transferred to live in the permanent harem of the king. Unless summoned by the king, she would not see him again. Every girl desired to be the queen, yet only one would win the position.
Here was a chance of a lifetime. Esther remained true to what she was taught and obedient to Mordecai's counsel, believing he knew what was best for her.

Esther was deeply loved by her cousin Mordecai, who adopted her as his daughter. He would daily walk by the courtyard of the harem to find out how she was. (Remember, he was some kind of Jewish official and could do that.) What a guy! He was the only close family she had, evidently.

Are we showing our children and grandchildren how much we love them by being involved in their lives? Sometimes a listening ear is all they need. Going to watch them play sports, enter contests, perform in programs at school, doesn't cost much, except our time. Our involvement is what makes lasting memories for them later in life. And they will in turn do the same for their children. How can we show love this week? Shall we extend it to the children in our church? They need to feel loved and important, also.


(Reading the key verse above, we know how this contest turns out.)
And then the night came for her to spend time with the king of Persia. From among the hundreds of beautiful young women Esther was chosen to be his queen. Undoubtedly, her qualities beyond beauty attracted the king. Her real beauty arose from within, from a gracious, lovely spirit, and a strong character. A star shown out among the hundreds. A Star named Esther.
What traits did Esther have that caused her to stand out and shine?

The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible suggests:
  1. First, she pleased Hegai and King Xerxus. This points to the traits of kindness, graciousness, humility, and love. Can we see God's providential control here?
  2. Second, Esther was a woman of wisdom. Keeping her nationality a secret demonstrated wisdom. Esther knew that if her neighbors were aware that she was a Jew, she would be persecuted and become the object of prejudice and discrimination.
  3. Third, the reference to Esther's being an obedient child (verse 20) demonstrates that she was trustworthy, dependable, faithful, and loyal.
  4. Fourth, being chosen by King Xerxus to become the queen points to her being an intelligent and industrious woman. Xerxus must have detected these traits, for he knew that she would be capable of handling the official duties of the queen, which were bound to be many.
Aren't these traits needed by all women today? Are we teaching our girls to develop inner beauty:
kind, gracious, humble, loving, wise, virtuous, obedient, trustworthy, dependable, loyal, faithful, intelligent, industrious?
So much money is spent on the beauty products industry. And think of the time spent using them. It is understandable since our society's emphasis in one the outward beauty of women.

So many Scriptures guide us in this task. Romans 12:9,10; Ephesians 4:32;  Matthew 18:4, 22:39; Proverbs 10:4, 11:16, 15:14, 29:23; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Titus 2:3-5.


Trust God with the events that come into my life to be for my best.
Focus on my inner beauty today.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Star's Character

O T. #1084  "A Star's Character"
Oct. 20, 2017
Esther 2-Part 2
A gentle and quiet spirit, ...of great worth in God's sight.  1 Peter 3:4


Growing up, I had was of a quiet nature. But, being a school teacher for 15 years, I developed  bossy and stern ways. Now I realize that I don't need those qualities and have been trying to work on having a gentle and quiet spirit. For some of us, it takes an effort to achieve. However, for Esther, it came naturally. This star's character shone out with the love of God in her heart. She was shining above the other maidens.

Last time we talked about Esther being brought to the palace, along with other maidens, in order to eventually be in a beauty contest for the position of queen of Persia. We mentioned that she was an orphan after both of her parents were dead. Her cousin Mordecai took her in and raised her. They were both Jews.

Who is this Mordecai?
He was a fourth generation of deported Jews. To explain that, we need to look into Israel's history.
It divided into two kingdoms after King Solomon's reign. The Northern Kingdom, called Israel, which included 10 tribes, eventually turned to idolatry, thus God allowed Assyria to conquer them. The Southern Kingdom, made up of  Judah and Benjamin, had a few more faithful kings, but they eventually turned from worshiping God to idols, also. Jehoiachin, the young king of Judah, only wore the crown three months when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered them. Jerusalem was destroyed, as well as the Temple, which had its holy contents made of gold, silver and bronze taken away to Babylon. Then Babylon fell to the Medo-Persians. Ahasuerus became king of the vast Persian empire, about a hundred years after the fall of Jerusalem.

Mordecai was a descendant of those exited Jews. His great grandfather actually experienced the deportation. Kish represents a Benjamite family name which can be traced all the way back to Saul's father. Since their exile, the Jews had increased in population, had great freedom, were allowed to run a business, and hold position in government. Mordecai was probably born in Susa and inherited an official position among the Jewish captives that kept him around the palace. However, he instructed Esther to remain quiet about her being a Jew.

If we have been born into a family of believers in Jesus Christ, we are blessed.

Life Application Study Bible advises us:
While boldness in stating our identity as God's people is our responsibility, at times a good strategy is to keep quiet until we have won the right to be heard. This is especially true when dealing with those in authority over us. But we can always let them see the difference God makes in our lives.


Esther impressed Hegai with her lovely, gracious character. He gave her special privileges and care by:
  • giving her additional attention beauty treatments, and choice food;
  • seven maids;
  • the best room in the harem. (verse 9)
It was more than Esther's beauty that attracted her to Hegai, the one in charge of the maidens. It was bound to be her sweet, gracious, lovely, and kind spirit. This star's character shone out from the other young women. (The Persian name Esther means Star.) Her humility and grace were rewarded with those things mentioned above.
Nowadays a movie star is often selfish and self centered, prideful, boisterous. It isn't her outward beauty that makes her a beautiful person. Her kindness, sweet attitudes, and giving spirit do in my books.

How is our character measurement? Can folks say the same about us as revealed Esther?


Keep showing a gentle and quiet spirit toward others and situations.
Graciously think of others before myself.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Combing the Hills and Hair

O.T. #1083  "Combing the Hills and Hair"
Oct. 19, 2017
Esther 2
...Esther was brought also unto the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women.
Esther 2:8


After these things... What things? Well, after Queen Vashti was divorced and dethroned by King Xerxes. You will recall that she refused to be a made a spectacle of his highness to the drunk male guests. Then, the king launched his disastrous campaign against the Greeks, returning home humiliated instead of honored. Oh, he was a dejected and despondent king, in despair and anguish.  He had no one in which to share his deepest emotions, find comfort, and receive encouragement. Did Xerxes miss Vashti? Was he longing for true love?

So 4 years passed between chapters 1 and 2. The king's personal attendants noticed this about the king. They came up with a plan to secure him a new wife:
  1. By appointment, agents in each province to search for beautiful virgins.
  2. These girls were brought into the king's harem at Susa.
  3. They were placed under Hegai's care and given beauty treatments (which lasted a year).
  4. The maiden that pleased the king the most would be made queen
The idea pleased the king so it was implemented.
Do we know people who are like King Xerxes? They are morally corrupt, engaging in one sexual exploit after another. This has been hitting the news lately.
God and His Word forbids adultery and illicit sex. Marriage between a man and a woman is His guideline for us. A home, companionship, love, meeting needs, and nurturing  aide us in leading a life of happiness and contentment. This is found when God's guidelines are followed. (In a sense, that is what those illicit relationships are seeking.)


The decree went out as headlines in all the newspapers-Miss Persia Beauty Contest to be Held in One Year. Well, maybe it wasn't like that. so behind the lines is a girl named Hadassah (Jewish name meaning myrtle, fragrance). Esther is her Persian name, meaning star in reference to the star like flowers of the myrtle, but like a star in the sky.

What are the two things we learn about Ester in verse 7?
  1. She was an orphan, raised by her Jewish cousin, Mordecai.
  2. She became a young woman of incredible beauty.
At this point, Esther has not the slightest inkling that one day she would be crowned the most beautiful woman in the kingdom and the new queen of Persia. She knows nothing of palace politics, a lonely king, nor what the future holds for her.

So the appointed men combed the hills for the beautiful maidens in the land. Esther found herself on her way to combing her hair to meet the king. She was brought into the king's palace along with other virgins and placed under the care of Hegai. (I couldn't resist such an analogy.)

I wonder if Mordecai was worried about his sweet cousin. Was he reluctant to let her go away into such an environment, although he didn't have a choice about the matter? All he could do was trust her life with God. She also.

Where are you on your own journey today? Are you thinking how insignificant your life is? What good can come from where you live and what you do?

Remember, God's hand is not so short that it cannot save, nor is His ear so heavy that He cannot hear. He is at work in your life this very moment. (Swindoll)

His ways are higher than ours. Trust Him, dear one.


Stand up for marriage being an institution by God.
Trust God when things are not foreseen.
Remain committed to the things of God, bringing hope to a world in need.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Mundane Days

O. T. #1082  "Mundane Days"
Oct. 18, 2017
Esther 1-Part 2
A gracious woman retaineth honor: and strong men retain riches.   Proverbs 11:16


Are you living in mundane days, where everything is ordinary, going the same day after day? Watch out, for in the snap of a finger, our life can change drastically. It did for one queen. Want to find out how? Follow along, friend.

It is the seventh day and King Xerxes' party is continuing. This Persian king's banquet actually lasted 6 months. Join me as we observe behind the curtains in the garden court. Can you hear the loud music, see the wild dancing, too much eating, and excessive drinking? This great king was so prideful that there were no limits, since he was one of the wealthiest people in the world at that time.
His guests consisted of political leaders, businessmen, military leaders, people from his 127 providences, as well as those in Susa. King Xexres' purpose for such an extravagant banquet was to launch a campaign  economically and militarily. He desperately desired to conquer Greece, although his kingdom was a world power.

As the guest became drunk, they probably filled with lust from watching the slave girls' seductive dancing.

Persian kings loved to flaunt their wealth, even wearing precious gemstones in their beards. Jewelry was a sign of rank for Persian men. Even soldiers wore great amounts of gold jewelry in battle. (Life Application Study Bible)

Then something happened. One of those unexpected but pivotal moments that change everything. The king, whose heart was merry with wine, in other words he was drunk, commanded his 7  eunuchs to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown in order to display her beauty to the people and the princes, for she was beautiful. She was another prize, physical beauty, which the king wanted to show off to his guests.


Shall we walk over to  another banquet going on at the same time the king's was since the other one had gone down hill? Queen Vashti, Xerxes' wife, held a separate banquet for the wives, sisters, and mothers of the nation's leaders. Her feast was held in the royal house.

Although we don't know a great deal about her, evidently the queen was a strong-minded, independent-thinking woman who was not afraid to go against the wishes of her husband the king.
When Vashti got the king's order, how did she react? The queen refused, just saying no. Her beauty was her own and her husband's, not for show to hundreds of drunk men.

Don't you admire this queen? She took a stand against the greatest power in her world in order to keep her respect and dignity. Would we do the same?

Submission to husbands does not mean that a wife is a sexual pawn in he carnal desire of her husband. What the king asked of his wife was not submission; it was sexual slavery. (Swindoll)

Anger burned in the king. King Xerxes' advisors told him to get rid of the queen and replace her with another more worthy than she. So let it be written, so let it be done. The Persian law could not be altered. The beautiful Queen exited. So he king divorced the queen because she wouldn't cooperate. Those men were afraid other women would follow her example.

Here is some encouragement as Swindoll, in his book, Esther, A Woman of Strength and Dignity, points out:
  • God not only moves in mysterious ways, He moves in mundane days. His hand is not removed from this (or any other) scene.
  • God's plans are not hindered when the events of this world are carnal or secular. Those involved may not be glorifying Him, but never doubt He's present. He's at work.
  • God's purposes are not frustrated by moral or marital failures. He is a God who applies grace to the long view of life.

Do we need that? Is there someone in our life that needs that?


See God's grace.
Trust His hand  is in control, even when sinful people do horrible things.
Stay committed to the things of God, even in the mundane days, no-big-deal days.
Beware of lust, power, pride, pleasures.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

An Extravagant Party

O. T. #1081  "An Extravagant Party"
Oct. 17, 2017
Esther 1


What kind of parties have you attended? Throughout the years, I have been to a few parties held in  extravagant homes. But the difference is the attitude the owners had. They were not flaunting their possessions, but were using them as a way to share with others and meet their needs. I felt welcome and valued, not out of place. And then the opposite has been experienced as the owners bragged about their extravagant possessions. I certainly felt out of place there. Today we will read about a king which held a party in an extravagant palace. Shall we which kind of host he was?

The first three years of Ahasuerus' reign was consisted of just another king living in ordinary days, year in and year out. Ahasuerus was not the name of the king, but the title of his position, which means high father or venerable king. Xerxes the Great of Persia was the name of the one who reigned over a great empire stretching from India to Ethiopia. This kingdom was divided into 20 regions and 127 provinces ruled by governors. (Modern Pakistan and Sudan were in this area.) Persia was the largest empire ever formed through military conquest. It included the Fertile Crescent, the heartland of the world. (The city of Susa housed the king's winter palace, that is modern Iran.) Cyrus had conquered the land of the Meedes and his grandson, Xerxes, had conquered the Persians. However, Xerxes's father failed to conquer Greece.
Notice that the name of this king is mentioned at least 175 times in this book, yet God's name is not. Although this is so, God's hand is not missing.

Wiersbe describes these events as God  "standing somewhere in the shadows" ruling and overruling. He notes the evidences of God's providential workings:
  1. Esther being chosen queen over all the other candidates. (2:15-18)
  2. Mordecai discovering the plot to kill the king. (2:21-23)
  3. The casting of lots for the day to destroy the Jews resulting in a date later in the year, giving time for Mordecai and Esther to act. (3:7-15)
  4. The king's welcome to Esther after ignoring her for a month. (5:2)
  5. The king's patience with Esther in permitting her to hold another banquet. (5:8)
  6. The king's insomnia that brought to light Mordecai's deed of kindness. (6:1)
  7. The king's apparent lapse of memory in 6:10-14, that led him to honor one of the Jews he had agreed to slay.
  8. The king's deep concern for Esther's welfare, when he had a harem to choose from. (7:5)
God's sovereignty prevailed so the Jews were saved. Since King David and King Jesus were to come through the tribe of Judah, this family had to be preserved.

Are we trusting our God to preserve His Word and children?
Can we see His hand working in our life?
Is He standing in the shadows as our family lives?
Are we thanking Him for all He does?


An ordinary day became an extraordinary day. King Xerxes had a lavishing banquet, displaying his wealth and power to his delegation brought from each province. This banquet lasted a total of 180 days, which was a smorgasbord for 6 months.

Come, let us go in and observe this extravaganza. It is being held in the enclosed garden at the palace. Scriptures tell us what we see whenever we look around:
  • White, green, and blue drapes hung on marble pillars by silver rings;
  • Couches were made of gold and silver;
  • Mosaic pavement was red, white, blue, and black costly stone lay in the courtyard;
  • Gold goblets, each uniquely designed, were used for wine;
  • An abundance of wine was served. (verses 6-8)
The officers attending the banquet were not compelled to drink the available wine, but did so according to every man's pleasure. (verse 8)
This king was a man of enormous wealth whose life was one of extravagance, pleasure, luxury, comfort, and ease. Seems he delighted in boasting and showing off his wealth.

We are warned of such ways in Mark 4:19, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the Word, and it becometh unfruitful.

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.
(1 Timothy 6:6-8)

Content, in the Greek language, gives the idea of raising a barrier, to ward off; be enough; be sufficient.

Are we content with what we have?
Are we thankful for all we have?
Do we use it for the glory of God?
If we are content, do we resist the extravagance of the world?


Learn to be content.
Don't flaunt what I have, but use it to serve others and meet needs.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Woman of Faith

O. T. #1080 "A Woman of Faith"
Oct. 16, 2017
Introduction to Esther


Where do I begin to tell the story of Esther? This is one of the two books in the Bible which are written about the life of a woman, with Ruth being the other. Surrounded by books and commentaries, I realize each has a little different perspective as they write about this female hero of the Jews.
So who was this Esther?
  • Her name in the Hebrew language was Hadassah, which means myrtle, but in the Persian language, Esther  means star.
  • She was an attractive orphan girl, since both of her parents were dead. We don't know the details of this.
  • Esther's uncle, Mordecai, a Persian governmental official, raised her as his daughter. (2:7, 15)
  • She is raised from the low status of an orphan to the highest position in the nation-Persian Queen. 
  • Growing up a Jew, Esther must have had a strong love for her family. Her faith was challenged as she was faced with the decision of a possibility of death in order to rescue her family from death.
  • Her strong faith took the chance, trusting God with her life.
Will we be known as a hero in our family?
How strong is our faith in God?
Are we a nobody who becomes a somebody?


Historical Background

While the author of Esther is unknown, it is suggested to have been either Mordecai, Ezra, or Nehemiah. This one must have been acquainted with Persian customs, etiquette, and history, as well as the palace at Sushan. Also, he had knowledge of the Hebrew calendar and customs, which are  evident.

The date of these events occurred  before Persian King Ahasuerus died by assassination in 465B.C. and somewhere during the time of the events of Ezra 4-10 happen. Prophets Haggai and Zechariah spoke during this time of the events to come concerning Israel and Judah.

MacAruthur dates this book as covering the years of83-473 B.C. during the portion of the king's ruling from 486 to 45 BC. H says the event occurred during the time of the first return of the Jews after the 70 year Babylonian captivity and the second return led by Ezra. Nehemiah's journey, the third return from Susa to Jerusalem occurred later in 445 B.C.

Although God is nowhere mentioned in Esther, His hand on the events is evident.

Swindoll, in his book Esther, A Woman of Strength and Dignity, said:
God's unsearchable mind was working in concert with His unfathomable will, carrying things out under His sovereign control. God's presence is His invisible providence. Providence means "seeing ahead of time" which is what Almighty God does. But our invisible God, in His providence, is continually, constantly, and confidently at work. His mind His will, His power, and His presence are working in concert on every page in the story of Esther.
Are we convinced that God is working in our circumstances?
Although we can't change some events, God can.
If we need rescuing, He can do it. But are we convinced?
Does our faith take a chance, as Esther did, trusting God?


Ask God to make me a woman of faith.
Trust Him in my life situations.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Remain Faithful

O. T. #1079  "Remain Faithful"
Oct.12, 2017
Summary of Nehemiah


In review of the history of the Jews up to this point in time, they had been taken in captivity for 70 years in Babylon/Persia. Zerubbabel was allowed to take the first group, being 46,697 Jews, to Jerusalem to resettle and rebuild the Temple in 515 B.C. The journey took 4 months to travel 900 miles. King Cyrus gave them the captured Temple vessels, including those made of  silver and gold to be returned to their right place. Zerubbabel was appointed the first governor and Jeshua the first priest in the new community. Adversaries had cause the reconstruction of the Temple to stop for 14 years, but it was eventually completed.

During the next 57 years, the Jews slipped away from the Lord. Then Ezra took the second group of 1,754 Jews to Jerusalem. His mission was to teach God's Law, stir revival and reformation, and renew Temple worship, which was accomplished. King Darius supported this effort.

There was a gap of 12 before Nehemiah led the third group of Jews back to Jerusalem. King Artaxerxes supported them, making Nehemiah governor. His purpose was to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, which only took 52 days. Nehemiah remained there for 12 years before returning to Persia.

When Nehemiah heard about the terrible oppression and defeated spirits of the Jews, he was deeply grieved and spent days in prayer. Being a cupbearer to the king, Nehemiah was allowed to go on the journey. (An unknown number of Jews accompanied him.) His constant and wholehearted devotion to God is seen throughout this book. Also seen is God's faithfulness to His children as He guided, protected, and provided whatever was needed in each circumstance.

Have we experienced this same God working in our life?
Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me.


As Nehemiah encouraged the Jews in their repairing and rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, he faced external opposition. Enemy leaders of surrounding lands were afraid the Jews would conquer them. They used ridicule, insults, mockery, conspiracy, and lies in the effort to discourage the builders.

Internal struggles came as the poor Jews did not have enough food for families while building, so they mortgaged fields and homes to buy food, and borrowed money to pay Persian taxes. Nehemiah led the Jews to restore their love for their neighbor families.

Through it all, the wall was completed. Jerusalem was safe from their enemies. Revival came to the people and the nation of Israel. Fear, discouragement, and selfishness were overcome. Guards were placed on the wall at the gates. The wall was dedicated. sons were sung. The Word was read. People prayed, recommitted to serving God, gave tithes, loved their neighbor. Yep, I'd call it a revival.

Then it happened, gradually, while Nehemiah returned to Persia to give his report to the king, for about 3 years. Jerusalem became a mess spiritually. When he returned, Nehemiah found the Jews were violating God's Laws. They intermarried with unbelievers, desecrated the Temple, ignore the tithe and Sabbath. We read this week of Nehemiah's strong arm of discipline and the reform of Jerusalem.

But this book ends on a good note, not like the sour beginning. Nehemiah held a purification service for the priests, reestablished the offerings, and prayed for God to remember and favor him. Here his last words recorded, found in Nehemiah 13:31b are Remember me, O my God, for good.

The purpose God had for Nehemiah's life was accomplished. This man of prayer was also a man of action, responsibility, vision, and compassion. Through it all he remained faithful to God and God remained faith to him.


Remain faithful to God.
Serve Him with my life.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Guard the Gates

O. T. #1078  "Guard the Gates"
Oct. 11, 2017
Nehemiah 13-Part 2
Have compassion on me according to your great and unfailing love. Nehemiah 13:22 NLT
Spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy. KJV


If our gates here on the farm are not inspected every so often, they might allow the cattle to wander out of the pastures, even onto the road. Sometimes they don't get closed as we leave the field. Sometimes the cows push on them. We need to guard them.
Similarly, are we guarding the gates of our homes and churches from the evil trying to get inside and corrupt our lives? Trying to cause us to stray from God's Word?

Jerusalem's gates were down when Nehemiah came back to Jerusalem from his return to Persia. He found the Jews were violating the Mosaic Laws. They were associating with unbelievers, desecrating God's house, and neglecting to tithe. There were two other ways in which they violated the Law:

4. Working on the Sabbath-not honoring it and keeping it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)
  • Not only were the Jews working on the Sabbath, but they allowed foreigners to conduct business in Jerusalem on the Sabbath.
The correction:
  • Nehemiah rebuked the nobles, charging them with perverting the Sabbath and warning them this sin brought on their previous captivity.
  • He ordered the gates of city closed on the Sabbath, stationing his guards there so no merchandise could enter.
  • As the merchants camped outside the gates on the Sabbath, the governor warned them they would be arrested if continued.
  • He ordered the Levites to purify themselves ceremonially and guard the gates. Nehemiah prayed for God's help and mercy in this matter.
Keeping the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments. God knows that people need worship and rest. Working continuously causes the body to tear down. Our empty souls need refilled with God. He energizes and refreshes us.
As the gates closed, it stopped products from being transported in and out of Jerusalem. This cost the merchants living in Jerusalem, as well. They had to give up one day of income out of seven days.

Do we need to make a change in our life?


5. Marrying unbelievers-not building a godly family.
  • Mixed marriages resulted in the children not being able to speak the Hebrew language, in which God's Word was written.
The correction: Nehemiah rebuked the Israelites by
  • confronting those guilty, calling down curses on them;
  • beating some of them and pulling their hair out (a sign of disgrace);
  • causing them to renew their oath;
  • reminded them of Solomon's marrying foreign wives led him into sin;
  • exiled High Priest Eliashib for marrying Sanballat's daughter;
  • prayed God would judge the grandson and Sanballat, having defiled the priesthood.
Was that was quiet drastic? Think about it-Nehemiah and Ezra worked so hard teaching and guiding the Jews in God's Laws for their life, that it must have disappointed them for the failings and sins of their people. They knew all of this could lead them down a path of captivity again.

How did it end up? Nehemiah held a purification service, reassigning the priests, reestablishing the offerings, and prayed for God's favor. What a leader. How seriously he took God's Word. He ought to please and obey God first.


Change my ways.
Honor the Lord's Day as a day of worship and rest.
Ask daily for God's love, mercy, and compassion.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


O. T. #1077  "Violation"
Oct. 10, 2017
Nehemiah 13
Remember me, O my God, ...  Nehemiah 13:16a


Nehemiah was governor in Jerusalem for 12 years, then he returned to Persia. He stayed around 3 years. When he secured permission to return to Jerusalem, Nehemiah discovered the people were violating God's Law in 5 ways:

1. Through evil associations-no foreigner (unbeliever) was allowed in their worship, according to
     Deuteronomy 23:3-6.
  • Ammonite and Moabite had opposed Israel's march to the Promised Land. (Numbers 22:1-25:18) They were descendants of Lot and his 2 daughters.
  • The 2 nations had hired Balaam to curse God's people.
The correction: Israel separated from all the mixed multitude. (verse 3)

Are we spiritually separated from the wicked of this world?
Have we separated our self from those leading a wicked life?
Are we allowing the sinful behavior of others to influence us?

2. Desecrating the house of God-a need to purify, cleanse the church.
  • The High Priest Eliashib converted a large storage room in the Temple, making it available for Tobiah to use.
  • The 2 men were desecrating, defiling the Temple.
The correction: Nehemiah threw out all of Tobiah's belongings he ordered the rooms cleansed, purified; all the Temple items were replaced.

Is our church building set apart for praising and worshiping God and studying His Word?
Is business conducted there? Are drugs, alcohol, smoking, or dancing allowed there?
Is gossip, rumors, bitterness, or cursing allowed?
Does immodest, suggestive dress and behavior exist there?


3. Neglecting to tithe-a need to support God's House.
  • The people had stopped tithing.
  • The Levites had to return to secular work.
The correction: Nehemiah rebuked the officials; restored the Levites to their duties; challenged the people to renew tithing and offerings; replaced the custodians of the storeroom and appointed trustworthy men; prayed for God's help.

Are we providing for the needs of  others?
Are we giving to the mission work of our church?
Are we a faithful tither?

[Resource: The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible]


Be faithful in tithing to my church and the Lord Jesus.
Support the right activities of the church.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Walking on the Wall

O. T. #1076  "Walking on the Wall"
Oct. 9, 2017
Nehemiah 12-Part 2
God is the strength of my heart. My portion forever.  Psalm 73:26b


We read today about the Jews walking on the wall they rebuilt around Jerusalem as part of its dedication. Are we walking on the wall, spiritually speaking? On one side is the world pulling us down and on the other side is our faith, holding us up. Which way will we lean? Will our wall of faith remain strong until the end?

Jerusalem was  growing city with new people, commerce, homes sprouting everywhere within its walls. After the population and housing crisis was resolved, the dedication of the wall around Jerusalem took place. The Jews survived the setbacks, criticisms, and challenges they faced during the reconstruction of the wall. What a change for them. The Jews responded with joy.

What took place at the dedication?
  • Nehemiah sent out a special invitation to the religious leaders from the surrounding villages, the Levites, to come to Jerusalem for the preparation of the dedication celebration. They gathered and prepared. (verse 27) There would have been 284 men contacted, not by texting or phone. These men were descendants of Levi and specialists in Temple and Tabernacle activities.
  • The Levite singers were to keep the dedication with gladness, with thanksgiving, with singing, and musical instruments. (verse 27)
  • The priests and Levites purified themselves, the people, and he gates and the wall. (verse 30) Probably sin offerings were made.
As a worshiper and servant of Jesus Christ, do we make sacrifices?
Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2 to present our bodies as a living sacrifice and our minds for renewal and transformation so we can prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Paul tells us in Hebrews 13:15 to offer Him the sacrifice of praise to God continually with thanksgiving; to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.


What happened next?
  • The leaders and musicians were divided into two processional groups walking on top of the wall.
  • One group was led by Ezra, who walked in one direction, with music played and singing. Ty saw the results of their hard labor, the gates and the steps leading up to the city.
  • The second group, led by Nehemiah, walked in the opposite direction, seeing the towers and gates built.
  • The two groups met at the Temple to worship.
Walking on the top of the wall caused them to realize what a massive accomplishment they made in just 52 days. In addition, their enemy nations would have sent spies to observe the occasion. They might have thought twice before attacking as they observed the strength of the wall around Jerusalem.

Verse 40 says, So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and the half of the rulers with me.

Do we give thanks to God in the House of God? How is our attitude? Is it joyful?


Give thanks unto the Lord for He is good. His mercy endures forever.
Offer my sacrifice of praise unto the Lord Jesus.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Loaded with Benefits

O. T. #1075  "Loaded with Benefits"
Oct. 6, 2017
Nehemiah 12
Bless be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Psalm 68:19


Anyone have something to rejoice about that they want to share? Has God loaded you with benefits?Feel free to share your load here with us.
We have been loaded with benefits from God.
God has brought us through a rough 12 days with my husband's knee replacement. He had sleepless nights with pain. There were days of his not being able to walk far, even with a walker. I fixed him meals and brought them to him in his chair. Not to mention the trips and hours I spent going to and from the hospital. I am thankful for the church ladies who brought us meals. I didn't realize how exhausted I was. Thank God he is getting better. The doctor said his bones were grinding down as he walked before the replacement. It was necessary.
The Israelites were loaded with benefits. That is why they could rejoice.

The first 26 verses list 6 generations of high priests in Jerusalem, from Jeshua to Jonathan. Originally, there were 24 courses of priests, with each course serving in the Temple 2 weeks per year or 1 month biannually. (MacArthur) Those were returnees with  Zerubbabel.
Also, the Levite family leaders listed here were recorded during the reign of the Persian king, Darius. Musicians were organized as prescribed by David. Verse 24 says they praised and gave thanks (to God).
Can we praise and give thanks outside the church walls?


Skip down to verse 43 and we read that on the day of the wall dedication, the worshippers offered great sacrifices and rejoiced. What else does I say?
  • God had made them rejoice with great joy. (Many of those people had known slavery, or at least heard about it, in Babylon. They rebuilt the Temple, the  city of David, and their homes.)
  • Women and children rejoiced, also.
  • The joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.
Does God amaze us with His mighty works? How merciful He is to us! He alone is worthy of our Praises!


Trust in Jesus, my strong Deliverer.
Sing His praises.
Give thanks for all He has done.
Share my load of benefits.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Who Are You?

O. T. #1074  "Who Are You?"
Oct. 5, 2017
Nehemiah 11-Part 3


Willing unknowns, behind-the-scenes servants, low-profile people, unsung heroes, a bunch of people nobody ever heard of, these are phrases Swindoll used to describe the folks in chapter 11. Why study them, since we won't remember their names? Did they make a difference at all? Did they doubt their self-worth? Did they question the value of their gifts and talents? Can we relate?

Swindoll gives us 3 helpful principles hat can encourage us during these times of self-doubt:
  1. Your gift makes you valuable, if not necessarily popular. Being a leader can be a lonely, often thankless job. sometimes there is little room for failure or mistakes. and others may not notice or understand the extra time and energy you devote to your role. but God sees, and He knows your heart. The same is true of those who are gifted in an area that never reaches the spotlight.
  2. Every labor done in love is remembered by God, never forgotten. Even if your public duties and private actions nobody notices, God does, so be faithful.
  3. Our final reward in heaven will be determined on the basis of personal faithfulness, not public applause. God will reward you in heaven based on the pure-hearted service of your of your life, rather than according to the number of plaques, trophies, or thank-you notes you've received.
Hebrews 6:10 says, For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.

I don't know about you, but I needed that. Let us keep serving and loving in Jesus' name.


What if we offer our small gifts to be used by the Lord Jesus? What if we looked around our world and saw unknowns faithfully working hard, day after day. Can we encourage them with our gratitude? Appreciate them with thank-you notes, an email or text message.

But whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many. Mark 10:43b-44.

Are we giving our life serving others?

                          ...and let God.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Unnumbered, Unnamed, and Unknowns

O. T. #1073  "Unnumbered, Unnamed, and Unknown"
Oct. 4, 2017
Nehemiah 11-Part 2


Can we be counted as the unnumbered, unnamed, and unknowns with our life? Are we behind the scenes going good? Are we prayer warriors and singers that serve Jesus as the Jews did?

This chapter is filled with five groups of "willing unknowns," as Swindoll calls them in his study guide, Hand Me Another Brick, Timeless Lessons on Leadership:
  1. The people who volunteered to move.
  2. The people who worked within the Temple. (verses 10-12) The ministry staff was 822 in number, and unnamed. They served anonymous so God's people would be blessed as they came to worship. 
  3. Those who worked outside the place of worship. (verses 15-16) This type of work involved the task of maintaining the exterior of the Temple and its grounds, as well as serving people in areas as judges and counselors
  4. Those who supported the ministry through prayer. (verse 17) Unnoticed by men, but on their knees and noticed by God, their prayers kept the Temple ministry alive.
  5. Those who supported the Lord with singing. (verses 22-23) They developed their gifts on the behalf of the people and praise of God. It was an unnumbered and unnamed choir.
The Jews had no song during their years of exile, but now they had the joy of the Lord as their strength.
We see God's grace and favor upon His children as they accepted the difficult challenge of moving within the city walls. This milestone unfolded the fulfillment of God's promised blessings.


Many may not have wanted to live within Jerusalem for various reasons:
  • Non-Jews attached a sigma to Jerusalem residents, often excluding them from trade due to religious beliefs.
  • Moving into the city meant rebuilding their homes and business, which involved time and money.
  • Living in Jerusalem meant living by stricter obedience to God's Word since the Temple vicinity and social pressure.
That makes it easier to understand why only one tenth of the people moved into Jerusalem, by the casting of lots.
Are we willing to serve God outside the walls of the church? In our jobs and community we can find opportunities to share the love of Jesus. So many are hurting, brokenhearted, and abused.
Will we be the light that shines for God?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  (Matthew 5:16)


                                 ... and let the joy of the Lord Jesus be my strength.
                                  ... and let His light shine through me.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Settling In

O. T. #1072  "Settling In"
Oct. 3, 2017
Nehemiah 11


Sometimes we get settled in  a house, community, church, way of life and do not want to move when the Lord directs us to move. I have even cried when the ministry resulted in us leaving those we learned to love as family. However, as we got settled into  new place, we formed those strong relationships there, also. Evidently, the Jews did not have any problem in settling in another place, Jerusalem.

Jerusalem had a Temple for worship and a wall around the city. What was it lacking? It needed more settlers, increasing in population and housing. For 140 years this city had lain in utter ruin after the Babylonians destruction. Most of the returnees had settled outside of Jerusalem, on their family owned land. The leaders already lived in the holy city.

What was Nehemiah's solution?
  • They cast lots, noting 1 out of 10 citizens would choose to live in Jerusalem, while the rest remained in the villages and other cities. (verse 1) Lots were stones marked, so the outcome would be considered the will of God.
  • Volunteers to move to Jerusalem were sought. They willingly offered themselves in verse 2.
(This meant that 90% of the people lived outside of Jerusalem.) So the descendants of various family leaders who settled in Jerusalem are recorded in verses 3-9. The names of the family leaders of Judah are listed in verses 3-6. Their descendants totaled 468. It was a great sacrifice for them to move to Jerusalem. Also, their new life involved a massive cleanup project and rebuilding the city. This included rebuilding from the ground up, homes, shops, civic buildings, and other structures.
Within the list are the sons of Perez. That name rang a bell, so I looked at Matthew 1, where the descendants of David and Jesus are listed. Sure enough, Perez was one of them listed there. Don't you love it when God's plan comes together? How important was this family of Judah, that God kept them together.

All of this clean up and redoing in Jerusalem reminds me of  the many cities effected by hurricanes, floods, and fires in our own country down through the years. Our  people banded together and did what they had to do to rebuild. Love and support has been seen  and sent to those in need. Christians rise up to the needs of their brethren. Lives are changed.  Are we a part of this?


The tribe of Benjamin family leaders are listed in verse 7-9. These descendants totaled 928 men who were led by a chief officer named Joel and his assistant Judah.
Then we read of the priestly families who settled in Jerusalem (verses 10-14). Evidently, the priests were divided into 3 groups with various tasks in the Temple. The total number was 1,192. Priestly families were committed as the priest  was devoted to the Lord and His house. The family of pastors serving in each of our communities are need of prayer and encouragement. Are we praying for them daily? They meet the same challenges of life as others do.

Did you gather that the Jews were willing and determined to serve the Lord as He led? Through relocation they served. Did they leave it up to others? No, they took the risks of enemies attacking there. Will we be the 1 out of 10 willing to go where He leads? Are we walking by faith?

Luke quotes Jesus in 14:33, So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot  be My disciple.


Be careful not to get too settled in that I am not open to moving as the Lord leads in relocation.
Pray for our leaders.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

O. T. #1071 "Signed, Sealed, and Delivered"
Oct. 2, 2017
Nehemiah 10


How is our commitment thermometer? We should check it every so often, don't you think? The community of Jews signed, sealed, and delivered theirs, renewing a covenant.

Many Israelites signed and sealed written commitment to follow God and obey His Word totally. Listed in the first 28 verses are:
  • the 2 civil leaders, Nehemiah and Zedekiah;
  • 21 priestly leaders (Ezra belonged to the family of Seraiah);
  • 17 Levite leaders;
  • and 44 political leaders;
  • the res of the people who did not sign the document agreed verbally to follow it.
The returnees wanted a sworn oath from every citizen in their community to obey God's Law and Commandments. Also, if hey disobeyed, then God's curse would fall upon them.
God's Word instructs us how to live. This is how a society has peace and prosperity, being built upon God and His Word. As believers, we should desire such a society.

Paul told us in Romans13:4, For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

If we need hope, endurance, and comfort, we can find it within the Word of God.


This binding agreement or covenant had 6 provisions. They agreed:
  1. not to marry non-Jewish neighbors (verse 30),
  2. to observe the Sabbath each day (verse 31), 
  3. to observe every seventh year as a Sabbath year (verse 31),
  4. to pay a Temple tax (verse 32-33),
  5. to supply wood for the burnt offerings in the Temple (verse 34), and
  6. to give dues to the Temple (verses 35-38).
How is our faith, obedience, holiness, and devotion to God and His Word?


Advise the younger generation to on marry believers.
Observe Sunday as the Lord's Day and set it aside to worship Him.
Give my tithe to the church.
Aide in supplying the needs of the church.
Stay devoted to God's Word, studying and applying.