Esther 3 Part 2–Bewildered

So things were going fine. Israel was doing its thing, Xerxes was doing His thing…Then Hamaan decides to destroy and pillage the people of Israel.  There had been no uprisings. There had been no talk of escape or rebellion.  So when the edict for the Israelite’s complete destruction was posted–well, the whole nation was dumfounded, well everyone but Hamaan. Sometimes the circumstance of Life simply does not make sense.  But, God is faithful to  execute His plan no matter how little sense life seems to make.  It is obvious that the Israelite people were shocked and devestated–How could this be? But the great news was that even in those devastating moments God was working his plan.
 
When life seems completely dark and hope seems a distant dream; that is when God does His best work .  We have to trust that the Lord knows what is going on and will work His plan flawlessly to make our lives full and meaningful.  We must always seek  God and trust His plan for our lives.  If we will then at the end we can point to the countless times He intervened and completed His work in our lives.  Help me, Lord, to never give up in dire circumstances and always trust You to complete Your plan in my life.
 
God Bkess  You

 So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”

12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.

15 The couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.

Esther 2 Part 3–God’s Bigger Plan

It is no secret that God is large and in charge. As we continue to look at the life of Esther, it is critical that one remembers that it is also a look at the life of Israel, the Exile and Mordechi–Esther’s uncle and guardian. Just after Esther is crowned queen of the empire, her uncle overhears the plotting of the King’s assignation.  He reports the plot to Esther, she reports the plot to the King and the King executes the would be assassins.  Not a big deal…or was it? Had Esther not been made queen, Would her guardian be able to sit at a place of honor at the gate? If he was not Esther’s uncle would his report gotten to the King? Had the assassins been successful, what might have become of the people of Israel?
 
The point being, the things God does each day to execute His plans for our lives entertwine, interact and work together for the good. We can never try to figure God out, it is simply too far above our ability to comprehend. But suffice it to say, that God knows what is going on and cares deeply and personally for each of us–even a heathen King. We can never give up or think that God has abandoned us.  He may simply be orchestrating a plan for our salvation  or the salvation of many others.  Our contribution may seem small, but one never knows what impact our faith and obedience may have.  It is like the story of the retiring tent evangelist that was preaching his heart out, but noone was coming forward.  He felt so useless.  The only documented conversion in his last revival tour was a young man from North Carolina, the boy’s name–Billy Graham. We must trust that God has a plan and He chooses us to be a part if we are simply willing to trust and obey!
 
God Bless You

 When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. 20 But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.

21 During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana[b] and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

Nehemiah 7–God’s Word is Priceless

Once everything was completed on the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem,The attention was turned to the word of God.  All the remnant gaathered  at the temple and Ezra read the word of God.  They considered what they heard and took it to heart.  They had experienced trials, they experienced indignity they lost all national pride. So now as they were beginning to see things change, they refocused  on the Lord and  His word.  As the word sank in, the people’s hearts were restored.  
 
In our lives, we experience life in a big way. as we do that it is easy to lose focus on the Lord and His word. When we lose that focus, it grows desparate, hopeless and lonely.  God is faithful, in the midst of the difficulty, He shows us he is still in charge and loves us.  When we grasp that, ten we can focus back on God and His leading.  When we grasp that, then God can do the work in our lives . Like the people that returned to Israel We need to return to the word and allow it to pour over us.  When it does, it will return us to a place of pride in our walk with God that will affect all that we do and those that we know.  That is why it says in the word that God’s word is a two-edged sword. It is a weapon against our enemy and food for our soul.
 
God Bless You

And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel.

And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.

And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.

And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:

And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.

So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.

10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Nehemaih 5 Part 2–Hold on Loosely

Nehemiah was incensed when he learned that the people were taking advantage of each other.  He immediately set out to make things right.  He made sure that the nobles no longer cheated and extorted those less fortunate.  Then he took it a few steps farther.  He stopped eating like a noble.  He ate a normal diet and carried on like a normal citizen.  What’s more, he fed a large number of those less fortunate than him at his table for years.  He knew that sharing what he had was a critical part of his life.  God had given him the vision and the passion to lead Israel back to being a nation.  He needed to be a servant leader, and so he was.
 
In our lives, we have to remain aware that God is in charge of our lives.  He leads us to places where we need to give back and share what we have and what we have learned.  We can never hold on so tightly to stuff that really is not ours anyway.  God will never be outgiven, or outserved.  If we will trust the Lord, He will always protect and provide amply to meet our needs.  The trick is to trust Him–even when it seems like we are all alone in the effort! 
 
God Bless You

 Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”

12 “We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.”

Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. 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.

14 Moreover, from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, until his thirty-second year—twelve years—neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor. 15 But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels[a] of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. 16 Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we[b] did not acquire any land.

17 Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my table, as well as those who came to us from the surrounding nations. 18 Each day one ox, six choice sheep and some poultry were prepared for me, and every ten days an abundant supply of wine of all kinds. In spite of all this, I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people.

19 Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people.

Nehemiah 4 Part 2–Great Leadership and Strategy

It beagn to look pretty grim. The enemies of Israel, both within and without were not going to allow these losers to regain their city or their nation.  So they threatened and schemed and used all forms of intimidation to scare the returned Jews. Truth is, it almost worked.  Nehemiah had quitters and complainers on all sides.  But , as a great leader, Nehemaih took some amazing steps
1st he prayed.  He prayed for strength , wisdom and protection from the only true resource of each–God. 
2nd–He planned, Nehemiah set up teams to work and stand armed–ready for attack. So, each clan had a work crew and a war party at their disposal. Further, they worked with their weapons at their side so that thwy would not be left unarmed in a raid.
3rd they remained committed to the task. The families went back to work, the enemies were cursing because their plan was foiled and the people sought the lord and kept their weapons ready.
 
In our lives, like Nehemiah’s, we remain under attack. Our enemy, like Israel’s hates to see us on mission and ready for battle.  So when we move toward God, we are bombarded with trials, temptation and fear. If we are to be effective and have a purposeful and meaningful life–we need to pray, prepare and participate in the battle and the mission.  We may find ourselves with a hammer in one hand and a sword in the other–but, that is ok because just like Nehemiah, we realiize that God is our protector, provider and preparation to face the enemy.
 
God Bless You

And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

10 In Judah it was said,[d] “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” 11 And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” 12 At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.”[e] 13 So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

The Work Resumes

15 When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, 17 who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. 18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19 And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. 20 In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

21 So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. 22 I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” 23 So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.[f]

Nehemiah 4 Part 1–No Peace With The Enemy

The enemy of God hates to see God’s people gain momentum.  The irony is that the enemy will point fingers and  taunt God’s people for doing nothing.  He will call them worthless, stupid, and useless and seek to demoralize them when they just sit idly by and fail. 
 
Then, when the revival begins and the people begin to respond properly; the enemy becomes livid and starts to scream and yell all the more. Why what right do they have bettering their position.  This is treasonous; they are evil and ungrateful…
 
Truth be told, the enemy simply hates us. There is no answer that will appease them.  There is no act that will gain their approval. As Israel began the reconstruction the enemy taunted them and as momentum grew they threatened and even gathered arms to attack.   Fortunately, God’s people, and specifically Nehemiah took the matter back to God in prayer.  Prayer, after all is the acknowledgement that it is God doing the work.,
 
In our Lives, we experience the same level of attack. Our enemy, like Israel’s, will never be appeased.  Our destruction is the only goal, and anything that drives us toward God is an act of war.  We need to simply accept that we will never make peace with the world. We need to build our lives and act with our focus on pleasing God and loving others. When we are attacked, we simply need to take our cause to our Lord in prayer. Prayer is not the preparation for the greater work…it is the greater work!
 
God Bless You
,

Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves?[b] Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?” Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!” Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.

So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

[c] But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

Nehemiah 3 Part 2–Phoenix Rising

As one reads  the third chapter of Nehemiah, there is a sense of building more than walls, building momentum.  Nehemiah’s trip was born out of saddness and fear for the once great people that were God’s chosen.  It was also a sense of defeat to realize that nothing had really changed in the generation that passed. The people of Israel still lived as exiles.  they rebuilt their homes and started tending the land; but as it realted to the city of David–nothing happened.  
 
But then it did. Families and clans literally poured out of the woodwork and began building sections of the wall and then more and more parts of the walls appeared finally gates were constructed and decorations forming on the gates. Then the city that had been in shambles rose like a Phoenix from the ashes!  The job was not easy and clearly it was far from finished–BUT–the community was once again engaged and the national pride was on the rise.
 
Revival is like that. Once a committed group of faithful folks lock arms and begin the difficult talk of starting again; a flame begins to grow. As more join in and fan the flame then revival ignites. Once ignited, families are restored, hearts come back to life and a nation is committed to a selfless and humble path leading to greatness.  We have to begin the work of revival–PRAYER, STUDY and FELLOWSHIP. Then we will see momentum grow and like Israel our nation will rise out of the ashes. If we will do the work, we will see momentum like never before! Let’s lock arms and begin!!!
 
God Bless You

Hanun and the inhabitants of Zanoah repaired the Valley Gate. They rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and repaired a thousand cubits[e] of the wall, as far as the Dung Gate.

14 Malchijah the son of Rechab, ruler of the district of Beth-haccherem, repaired the Dung Gate. He rebuilt it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars.

15 And Shallum the son of Col-hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah, repaired the Fountain Gate. He rebuilt it and covered it and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. And he built the wall of the Pool of Shelah of the king’s garden, as far as the stairs that go down from the city of David.16 After him Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, ruler of half the district of Beth-zur, repaired to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool, and as far as the house of the mighty men. 17 After him the Levites repaired: Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, repaired for his district. 18 After him their brothers repaired: Bavvai the son of Henadad, ruler of half the district of Keilah. 19 Next to him Ezer the son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section opposite the ascent to the armory at the buttress.[f] 20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai repaired[g] another section from the buttress to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 After him Meremoth the son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz repaired another section from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib. 22 After him the priests, the men of the surrounding area, repaired. 23 After them Benjamin and Hasshub repaired opposite their house. After them Azariah the son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah repaired beside his own house. 24 After him Binnui the son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the buttress and to the corner. 25 Palal the son of Uzai repaired opposite the buttress and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king at the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh 26 and the temple servants living on Ophel repaired to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower. 27 After him the Tekoites repaired another section opposite the great projecting tower as far as the wall of Ophel.

28 Above the Horse Gate the priests repaired, each one opposite his own house. 29 After them Zadok the son of Immer repaired opposite his own house. After him Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, repaired. 30 After him Hananiah the son of Shelemiah and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section. After him Meshullam the son of Berechiah repaired opposite his chamber. 31 After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, opposite the Muster Gate,[h] and to the upper chamber of the corner. 32 And between the upper chamber of the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and the merchants