Women of Integrity: Esther

We pick up the story where the King Ahaesurus (king of 127 provinces, from India to Ethiopia) had just promoted a man by the name of Haman.  Haman was the son of Hammedatha, and the King promoted Haman above all of the princes of his kingdom.  And the king commanded all of the servants of his palace and within his gate to bow down before Haman when in his presence.  And everyone indeed bowed before him, except one, Mordecai.  I figure, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, he was about to bow down before anyone or thing that was not the living God, Our Creator and King!  However, when Haman noticed Mordecai he was furious and from then on looked for avenues to kill Mordecai and his people- The Jews.

Then one day Haman wen and spake with King Ahasuerus and convinced the King that the laws of the Jews contradicted the laws of his kingdom; that they were the only people in all his provinces that did not serve Haman or his men, and that the Jews in essence, must be completely destroyed.  He was saying that since they were following his commands and decrees, it is better that they not live! If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed.” (Esther 3:9)

The decree was written and signed into law and every Jew, young and old, child and senior, man and woman will be killed on a proposed date to come.  On that day, throughout all the provinces of the land, mourning and wailing rise from the cities, as the Jews wept for their lives.

The moment Queen Esther heard the decree of Haman, she was immediately offended.  No one in the King’s court or palace including King Ahasuerus himself, had known this info: Queen Esther was a Jew too!  Esther sent out her servant to confirm the report executed against the Jews.

1.     A woman of integrity seeks out the truth, and do not engage in idle or vain conversations.

When Mordecai who was like a father to Esther, explained the story, giving her an actual copy of the law written against her people, he requested of Esther that she go and petition the King on behalf of her people.  Esther reminded Mordecai that anyone regardless of their title, whether male or female; whoever goes in the inner courts before the King without been given permission by the King, could very well lose their life!   But Mordecai advised Esther strongly: Do not think you will escape the wrath of the King (since you live in the King’s palace) you are just like the rest of us.  If you do not deliver us, God will raise up a deliverer elsewhere!   Was it just a coincidence that Esther, a Jew, was in the King’s court and the Queen at the time when the Jews need help?  Perhaps she was brought to this kingdom for such a time as this! (Esther 4:14)

So Esther called all of the Jews at Shushan to fast three days and three nights for her.  When this time was up, she will go before the King to petition for their deliverance. She continued and if I perish, I perish!”

2.       A woman of integrity understands her calling and rises to the occasion.

At the end of the third day, when their fasting was complete, Esther changed into her illustrious and royal apparel and went to the inner court of the King palace where King Ahasuerus was sitting on the throne.  And when the King saw Esther standing in his court, the passage says, she “obtained favor in his sight” (Esther 5:2).  So he held out his golden sceptre permitting her to come forward.  Esther certainly obtained favor for the King replied to Esther,

What is it that you want; up to half of my kingdom is yours!

So Esther requested that the King and Haman join her at a banquet that she and her maids had prepared for them.  At the banquet again King Ahasuerus asked her, what is it that you desire?  Yet Esther just requested that he and Haman join her tomorrow for a second banquet she and her maids will prepare for them.

3.     A woman of integrity “works willingly with her hands.”  Faithfully and gently serving others as best she can.

– Proverbs 31:13

Esther diligently served the King of the best that she had.

The second day, the King and Haman came to Esther’s banquet.  Again, the King asked Esther, What is your request?  What do you desire?  And that’s when replied,  “Spare my life and the life of my people and bring recompense to the man seeking to destroy them.” (7:3-7)  Then King Ahasuerus gave Esther his ring and seal, and told her write a new decree for the protection of your people. Once the decree, is signed by my name and sealed with my ring, it cannot be reversed! And this is exactly what Esther did.  Haman, who had devised the scheme against the Jews, was hanged at the gallows immediately.  And what was meant to be the utter destruction of a nation, became the promotion of a nation.

Women Of Integrity: Hannah

Though not often, there are cases in the Bible where men were married to more than one wife.  So in 1 Samuel one, we find a man named Elkanah that had two wives: Hannah and Peninnah. Already you can tell that something, some issue is about to arise.  The thing was that Peninnah had children for Elkanah, several children indeed; but Hannah, on the other hand, had none.  She was barren and childless; at least for now.

Every year Elkanah, his two wives and children went to a place called Shiloh to worship and give sacrifice offerings to God.  But because Peninnah had children and Hannah had none, Peninnah sadly would taunt and provoke Hannah continually.  The text says “year by year” she did this. (V. 7)  And the situation came to the point that Hannah would weep and in this instance, she wouldn’t eat.

Elkanah, her husband said to Hannah, “Why do you weep, why do you not eat?  Am I not better to you than 10 sons?”

He just didn’t get it!  A woman’s desire and heart for her own children is unlike anything her husband can give.  But Hannah goes into the temple of the Lord, pours out her heart and frustrations before God.  (Pause) The first thing we must take note:

    1.      A woman of integrity does not retaliate or allow bitterness toward others to overwhelm her.

Hannah turned to God and wept in anguish. And like Hannah, we too can come to our Lord any time we are in need of help! While at the temple Hannah prayed and said, “Oh Lord, if you will indeed look at the affliction of your servant, and will remember me….” (V. 11)  In that prayer, Hannah made a vow to God.  She vowed that if He gives her a son, she will in turn, give the son back to Him.

While Hannah prayed, the priest Eli stepped in and because he saw her lips moving but saw no one or heard anything from her- he assumed that she was drinking.  “How long will you be drunk?” Eli exclaimed. (V. 14) But it was far from Hannah to do such a thing.  She started to explain how she was praying, praying with a very “sorrowful spirit,” and petitioning the Lord out of much grief.

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Eli then responded to her, “Go in peace, and God… grant you your request.” (V. 17)

Key verses

*James 4:8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Also…

*Proverbs 15:29God hears the prayers of the righteous.    

So Hannah washed her face and went on with things as usual.  She believed God would do what he said.

    2.      A woman of integrity lives consistent with what she believes in.

Hannah trusted in God: and behold our gracious God did indeed grant her request.  When the child was born, it was a boy.

As soon as the boy (verse 24) was old enough to be weaned, Hannah brought him to the “House of the Lord” along with sacrifice offerings, and present him to the Lord.  So Hannah brought her young son to the temple, and in front of the priest Eli, explained how she spoke to him after praying for a son, and now that she is holding him in her arms, she will perform her word as she said.

     3.      A woman of integrity keeps her word and fulfils her vow.

Hannah gave the son over to the priest, she presented her son to the Lord.  “For his whole life (Samuel) was given over to the Lord,” and became a mighty man and prophet of God.

Prayer:

Father,

First of all cleanse my heart of all guilt and sin.  Teach me

to turn to and depend on you. When others mistreat me,

give me the strength not to retaliate or grow bitter, but give

the situation over to you.  May I live a consistent life of

righteousness wherever I go.  And as much as is within me, help

me to always keep my word, for your glory, honor and majesty!

Amen.

The Power of Mercy!

Imagine a lender that you owe ten-thousand dollars telling you, “Don’t worry about it.  Your debt is forgiven.”

Ever experienced mercy? I mean real, genuine, powerful mercy.

Mercy is defined as a kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could (or should) be treated harshly.1  which is in essence, not getting what you deserve or punishment that is withheld.

Here’s a story of mercy from John chapter 8….

There was a woman, who after her husband had left home (for work perhaps), received a knock on the door.  She knew who it was, and that it was wrong, but still tells this other man to “Come in.”

Next thing, a group of men looking through her window noticed what she was doing.  Ran to the front door, hitting and insisting, “Open up!  Open up!”  She and the man scramble for their clothes.  She goes to see who is outside, when they bust through the door, grabs her by her collar and begins to pull her outside into the street.  Immediately she thinks, “How did they know!” “How did they find out!”  In unison the men begin to repeat, “Guilty! Guilty!  Guilty!”  Then she starts to hear the whispers surround, “she is guilty of adultery,” “she is an adulterer!” The whispers increase, people start making faces and spitting on her.  Others push, laugh and talk some more.   But then it happened, and her heart sinks as a voice in the crowd shouts, “Stone her.”  The crowd shouts, then start picking up rocks and stones.  “She is guilty, she must be stoned,” echoes through the flog and the crowd enlarged more as more people pick up stones and sticks, chanting, “Stone her. Stone her.”  As she comes to grip with the stark reality that her life is about to end, the story takes an unexpected turn.  Listen to her:

“I thought they would take me to a cliff or some open field to begin stoning me, but instead they pushed me in front of a man.  A rather simple-dressed, average-looking man.  Then the leader shouted,

“Master, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery.  The law of Moses commanded us that she should be stoned! What do you say?”

This man did not respond.  He did not say a word.  He just stooped to the ground and began as it seems to write in the clay.  The leader of the group and a few people taunted him, and repeat my charges again to this man, “This woman was caught in adultery.  What do you say?”

Then the man stood up and said,

“He who is has not sinned, let him throw the first stone!”  I was amazed and in awe.  People began dropping their stones and walking away.  Then when the crowd was all gone, the man turned and looked at me and said, “I do not condemn you either. 

“Go and sin no more.” 

When everyone else wanted to condemn me, he saved me.  When everyone else spoke against, spit and laughed.  When everyone else wanted to stone me.  He is different from everyone else.  Afterwards, I asked Mary and John, who this man was, and told me, Jesus.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

–          John 15:13

Do you know him?

It is simple

Confess your sins to him, and

Believe that he died in your place.  And you will be SAVED!  – Romans 10:9

And turn in for more words of encouragement and the word of God here!

I’M AN OVERCOMER!

Unhappy thoughts. 

Thoughts of defeat.

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 Thoughts of constant disdain, dissatisfaction and hopelessness.

When you look at your picture, you feel is dissatisfied….

You look at your home, you feel dissatisfied….

You look at your stance with God, dissatisfied….

You look at your weight, very dissatisfied!

And so on, and so on.

But don’t think this way!

You turn and look at your neighbor’s house, children and stuff, and of course they are all perfect.

Then you turn and look back at “me” and all you see a worthless heart, who has failed over and over again.

This is a pattern of unhappiness: where negative thoughts have consumed your thinking.

The thing is

Our thoughts become our words, our words become our actions

and our actions encapsulate our lives.

Let’s trade in these thought patterns of unhappiness and defeat for thoughts of Hope and Victory!

Meditate on truths like:

God loves and cares for me so much, he has counted every strand of hair on my head.  -Matthew 10:30. He knows and calls me by name. – Isaiah 45:3.  I am the apple of His eye.  – Zechariah 2:8  For God soo loved [Me] the world…. – John 3:16  That’s why He died for us!  You are special in His sight and worth so much.  More than you can imagine.

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Instead living a life of dissatisfaction, and life of unhappiness and defeat.  Rest in Jesus:

This is precisely why a satisfied woman is such a surprising woman.  She is shockingly noticeable to a world that lives on a watered-down version of the secret- a secret that she obviously got the truth about.  You can tell it by her peace and serenity, by her solace and restfulness, by the mysterious sense of ease that accompanies her.  Her presence alone delivers an air of refreshment….

               -Excerpt, The Resolution for Women,

Priscilla Shirer

A satisfied, uplifting and peaceful woman does not only live a happier personal life, but also lightens the load of those around her.  You see, Joy is contagious! And so is positive, uplifting speech.

You are an overcomer!  Regardless of the situation, regardless of the circumstance.  In rain, in snow, in difficulties AND in victories.  You’re an overcomer in everything.

Begin to think this!

And watch your situation turn around.

God speaking: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

–          2 Corinthians 12:9

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Who Do You See In The Mirror

When you look in the mirror, who is looking back?

Image A woman whose heart is vulnerable to the thoughts and opinions of others?  A woman who must be told by others, “you are beautiful” in order for her to believe it.  A woman who sees a hideous figure, like an alien, looking back because for so long she has believed the demeaning and belittling words others say to you- that you don’t even recognize yourself.  (Side thoughts: “What has happened to me?”)

That vulnerable heart bound with insecurity and constant negativity.  Perhaps you have been rejected by others, and repeatedly.  Perhaps you’ve never truly sought out your true worth.  Who You Are?  That is, your self-worth and value.  Rather your already fragile heart have been expose to further pain.  Others saying, “Who does she think she is?” 

“She can never be good enough.”

“She is ugly.”

“ She isn’t worth anything.”

And the sad part is that you believe this!   But, you have believed lies!

A woman from Samaria went to a well, Jacob’s well, to fetch some water. Unbenounced to her Jesus was at that well at the same time.  Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”

She replied, “How is it that a Jew asks for a drink of water from a Samaritan?”  She did not realize that Jesus does not see nationality, race, selecting people of a certain social -class or -standing.

After giving Jesus more reasons why she could not get this ‘living water’ that he spoke about, she finally gave in and asked for this living & lasting water; that’s when Jesus said something personal to her.  Something that reflected a small view into her heart and how she viewed herself.

Jesus told her, “Go, call your husband and return!”

She replied, “I have no husband.”

Jesus said that indeed she has had five husbands and the man she is currently living with is not her husband!  You see in that day and time women could not divorce from men, so five men, one after the other, rejected her, devalued her, then discarded her.  How do you think she viewed herself? Her self-image?  How do think others who knew her short-comings treated her?

I imagine at one time Sam [the Samaritan woman] had walked to the well with the other women from her small town.  They would talk about their day, their husbands and their kids –but then they started talking about her.  Whispers and condescending glances must have come after her first divorce, judgment and shame after her second.  At what point had Sam distanced herself? Had she made excuses to stay back while the other women went ahead, insisting she was “fine”…                                                                          — Excerpt, A Confident Heart by Renee Swope

Until Jesus stepped in and revealed her broken heart.  Bringing darkness into the light and quenching the lies of the Darkness with the truth of the Light.

If thoughts of rejection and doubt have filled your heart and consumed your mind, give your heart over to Jesus, the only answer to you trouble.  Let him remove the dirt, cleanse your heart, restore your mind.

Father,

I have indeed listened to the LIES of this world. 

Lies that I am unworthy of love, that I’m a failure: worthless.

Please take these thoughts and cast them into the sea of forgetfulness. 

I receive your word which says I am accepted.  I receive your word

which says I am worthy of so much love that you died in my place.

I receive your word which says I am a beautiful creation.  It is In you and nowhere

else that I find meaning and worth!  Thank you.

In Jesus name.

Extension: John 15:13, John 3:15-16, Jeremiah 31:3, Psalms 139:14, Jeremiah 1:5-6, Acts 10:34-35

Speaking LIFE…

I resolve this year to speak life over my life.

Proverbs 18:21 reads,

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

These are powerful words, with real consequences.

Our health, job, finances, every area of our life…

Our home, children, grandchildren, even friends – We declare LIFE for them all!

Success will follow me everywhere I go.   And VICTORY is my banner.

The truth is life has many up’s and down’s, twist and turns, many of whom we did not anticipate.  But…

* Obstacles are made to overcome, barriers are made to be broken, ceilings are made to be conquered!

When others say, “You are a failure!” I will respond, “I am a success.”

When they say, “You will never, ever get pass this point.”  I will say, “Thank you, but I will achieve my the goals!”

When they even say to my face, “You are ugly.”  I will say, “I am fearfully made, I am God’s beautiful creation.”  (Psalms 139:14)

When the murmurers and whisperers  get to gossip, I will avoid such company and will meditate on  God Word.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” -Phil 4:13

David had reach a point in his career when all of his folks were angry at him for a lost they endured, and passage says that David “had to Encouraged Himself!” -1 Samuel 30:6   Wow!

And “The name of the Lord is a Strong Tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.”  – Proverbs 18:10

The reason I will speak life, the reason I will cling to hope and not defeat, is because there is a purpose for our lives.

L – Leaving a Godly legacy and witness.

I – Igniting/ with Passion I’ll live out my calling

F – Finding fulfillment and joy!

E – Experiencing the fullness of Christ

When friends and family leave us, and we come head-to-head with life’s difficulties, this principal becomes more clear and effective. Let’s stop tearing down each other – and ourselves – with our words.  Let’s actually support, build and help each other.

One of my favorites:

Phillippians 4:8, which describes, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are virtuous, things that are true, things that are of good report …  we must think on these things.

Let’s meditate on life-giving, uplifting things and see its transformative effect in our homes

and community!

Additional Verses:

Romans 8:37, Deuteronomy 28:13, Psalm 1, Psalm 91.

Abundance of Favor

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Favor will follow the children of God wherever they go!

In the store, you receive unexpected discounts.  At work, promotion follows right after promotion.  Your kids receive a full-scholarship to college.  Your health is blessed, your children are blessed and that joy that Psalmist David proclaimed many times, becomes alive in your spirit.

Nehemiah 8:10,  “Neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

 

When everyone is treated one way, and somehow you are treated differently.

When like stagnant water others remain still while you, like an unending stream keep moving, growing and branching.

While others trust in their own knowledge and skills, you trust in God.

Like a cloud following you everywhere you go, God’s favor and love abounds.

Father,

like a showers from the sky, may abundance of favor be with me always.

 

God had instructed Abraham to leave his home and go to a “land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)

In direct obedience to God, Abraham leaves his town, his wife joining him, and also multitudes of servants, camels, sheep and cattle.  But also following him and his household was Lot, his nephew.

 While on their journey they reached a place between Bethel (the house of God) and Ai (ruins).  Abraham parked for a while and here, Abraham built and altar to God and prayed. But the men and household of Abraham and the household of Lot were too large to work side-by-side each other.  They had to separate. Lot saw a plain of the Jordan because it was “well watered” and left to obtain it.  (Genesis 13:10) After Lot left Abraham and all of his household, servants and cattle behind,

God spoke to Abraham saying,

Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring[a] forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.

1Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.

We as children of Abraham, as seed of the Faith and Inheritance of God, have a right to this blessing too!

An inheritance that we only need to reach out and grab: for it was already given to us!!

Favor is for the getting.  Blessings, joy and hope if we just would receive it by faith.

 Father, thank you for the many favor you have

put in my life.  I recognize that it was given by you

and you alone.  May other see this favor and come

to love you more.

 

Reference:

http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/search/?q2=bethel