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FOLLOW THE PLAN

While talking to a fellow believer this week I encouraged him to follow the plan. What plan might you ask? My answer, “The plan that God has provided in His Word for our continued success.” The Word provides us with knowledge or information that is needed to obtain that success but it requires us to seek after it. The consequence of not having or seeking after the knowledge that is found in the Word is expressed by God to Israel “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6a).

A believer that wants to be successful cannot be lazy. We have to do the work but this unfortunately is not the case in a large percentage of our lives. I have come to realize believers can fall into various categories and they are:
1. Those who do not read the Word on a consistent basis.
2. Those that do not know the Word because they are not reading it.
3. Those that read it but they are not applying it to their lives.
4. Those that read, know, and apply the Word.

For believers, it takes reading, knowing and applying the Word for complete and continued success. So, I reiterate we cannot be lazy.

Furthermore, many of us worry about issues that confront us which is a natural thing to do but we must follow the words of Peter, “Cast all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7) and the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:34a, “Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” Thus, knowing that the Creator of all things is with you and willing to take care of you is paramount, and practicing not to worry about tomorrow or your future gives you peace.

Finally, God’s Word is the COMPLETE PACKAGE, it holds the answers to life problems and all we need to do is FOLLOW THE PLAN that is found in the Word

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PROVISIONS FROM UNEXPECTED SOURCES

Often I have found that we limit God’s intervention in our lives because of our expectations. In our restricted minds we think of the ways God will resolve our issues and we don’t expect the unexpected. Therefore, I pray the following three accounts I am going to share of Divine intervention will encouraged and inspire you as it did me.

1 Kings 17 introduces us to the prophet, Elijah the Tishbite who told King Ahab Israel would not have dew or rain until he said so, and consequently it did not rain in Israel for 3 years. This word was given because of Israel’s idolatry and this word challenged the strength of the god Baal-Melkarth, the god of rain and crop production whom Israel was presently worshipping. However, during this time as seen in 1 Kings 17 God provided food for Elijah from unexpected sources and then He again provided food for Elijah in 1 Kings 19 when he was fearfully on the run from Jezebel.

1 Kings 17 reveals after his prophetic word to Ahab God instructed Elijah to hide himself by the brook Cherith, Elijah followed God’s instruction and he was able to drink water from the brook and eat bread and flesh in the morning and evening provided miraculously by ravens commissioned by God to bring him food.

When the brook dried up God sent Elijah to Zarephath, to a Gentile widow who was also commissioned by God to sustain Elijah. Upon arrival in Zarephath Elijah saw the woman and told her to get a little water for him to drink and to bring him some bread for him to eat. Her response to this request was, “As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” However, Elijah encouraged her to respond positively to his request by sayings, “For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.” The women did what Elijah said and for the remainder of the drought she, her son and Elijah who stayed with them had food to eat, their daily bread was supernaturally provided.

In 1 Kings 19, after his great victory over the prophets of Baal and Asherah Elijah becomes fearful when he heard Jezebel wanted him killed and in despair, weariness, and depression he heads south to Beersheba. While journeying, exhausted and wanting to die Elijah stops and falls asleep under a Juniper tree until an angel touched him and woke him up saying, “Arise and eat.” Elijah supped on a cake and a cruse of water after which he returned to sleep. A second time the angel woke him and told him to eat, because the journey ahead of him would be too great without nourishment. Elijah followed the instructions of the angel and was able to travel forty days and nights to Mount Horeb without any further substance.

In these two chapters despite scarcity, Elijah was provided for first by an unclean bird, then by a Gentile widow and finally by an angel. He was provided by a creature, a human and an angelic being.

God’s Word tell us not to worry for God promises to take care of our daily needs. God understands our frailty and he supplies the substance necessary for our survival. He can and will send us provisions as He sees fit. Our response is to expect it from many source and thank Him for His gracious care.

ESTHER SERIES – CHAPTER 9 & 10

As the day that Haman had scheduled for the demise of the Jews drew near the Jews throughout the Persian Empire came together in their cities to defend themselves against their enemies. Added military aide to defeat their enemies was given to the Jews by all the rulers, lieutenants, deputies, and officers of the king, because of the fame and notoriety of Mordecai. Thus, in the providences outside of Shushan seventy-five thousand men were slain on the thirteenth day of Adar.

In Shushan, on the thirteenth day of Adar, the Jews slew five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman. Next, upon Esther’s request an additional day was granted to the Jews by King Ahasuerus to deal with their enemies that lived in Shushan specifically. So, on the fourteenth day of Adar three hundred more men were killed and the ten sons of Haman were publicly hung upon the gallows for all to see. Furthermore, despite given the opportunity to seize the property and goods of their enemy the Jews in all of the provinces choose not to do so.

On the fourteenth day of Adar the Jews that were not in Shushan celebrated their victory with a day of rest and festivities; however, the Jews in Shushan after their two days of fighting celebrated a day of rest with festivities on day fifteen.

Finally, Mordecai wrote an order and sent it throughout the Persian Empire informing the Jews that they should annually commemorate this event which they called “Purim” with a two-day celebration which was to be held on the fourteenth and fiftieth of Adar and involved rehearsing the events pertaining to the annihilation of the Jews, giving of gifts, giving provisions to the poor, and feasting. Queen Esther sent a second letter confirming this event which was also to be remembered throughout every generation as a memorial of God’s protection for His people.

Chapter 10 which is the last chapter in the book contains only three verses which described the actions and riches of King Ahasuerus and the influence and fame of Mordecai who was concerned with the wealth and peace of the Jews.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
There is strength in unity. When the Jews came together, along with the assistance of the government officials and their military forces, the enemy was defeated.

As seen in Esther 9:2 when God causes men to fear you they will not harm you. Pray that God will cause your enemies to fear Him and you.

Though the Jews were given the opportunity and right to confiscate the spoil of their enemy, they did not, for they were concerned with life over gaining riches.

Lest men forget, the story of Esther was recorded in the Bible, celebrated annually by the Jews under the name Purim, rehearsed yearly, written in letters by Esther and Mordecai and kept in the royal documents. Let us not forget the notable events that happen in our lives. Record them and share them from one generation to another.

Don’t forget your roots. Mordecai was elevated to the second highest position in the Persian Empire but he continued to serve his people.

Both Esther and Mordecai who were foreigners in their land of residence were used of God to save a nation. You are outside your comfort zone for a reason. Don’t try to escape or retreat but rather expect God to use you right where you are. So, I close this series using the words of Mordecai, “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

ESTHER SERIES – CHAPTER 8

With the death of Haman his estate was forfeited to King Ahasuerus who bestowed the house, property, wealth and goods of Haman to Queen Esther. Equally important, the queen told the king about her relationship to Mordecai and the king gave him the ring that he had given to Haman making Mordecai the new prime minister which was the position that Haman had previously held. Additionally, Esther positioned Mordecai to oversee the house of Haman which was given to her by the king.

Not forgetting the plot of Haman to destroy her people Esther again approaches the king and tearfully prostrated herself at the king’s feet to intercede on behalf of the Jews. As he did before, the king extended the golden sceptre of grace toward Esther and allowed her to voice her request which was,” If it please the king, and if I have favour in his sight, and the thing seem right before the king, and I be pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to reverse the letters devised by Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews which are in all the king’s provinces: For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?”

Understanding once a decree is made, written and sealed by a king it cannot be reversed by anyone including the king, King Ahasuerus gave Mordecai the authority to write a decree in his name, seal it with his ring, and then dispatch it to the lieutenants, deputies, and rulers in the 127 provinces of Persia. On the twenty-third day of Sivan the edict was written in the respective languages of the 127 provinces giving the Jews permission to defend themselves, property and possessions from any attack scheduled on their proposed annihilation date and to confiscate the belongs of whoever they defeated.

The chapter ends stating that when the people of Shushan saw Mordecai dressed in royal attire they were exuberant and when the Jews throughout the Persian Empire received word of the new edict written by Mordecai they held a jubilant feast. Finally, because of what happened many people in the land were proselytized to Judaism.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Be careful, what you wish for others, can happen to you. Haman plans was to kill and then confiscate the property of the Jews but now he was killed and his property was confiscated.

Your bold intercession can save the lives of many. Esther boldly approached the king on behalf of the Jews.

With God the impossible becomes possible. Edicts in Persia was irreversible but God had a plan that overrode the first edict.

God will demote your enemy and elevate you to a place of power. Haman forfeited his position with his treacherous plan and Mordecai obtained it.

God will turn your sadness into gladness. The Jews were saddened when they heard the first edict but after they received the second edict they were made glad.

ESTHER SERIES – CHAPTER 7

The events that transpired during Esther’s second banquet is revealed in chapter seven.

Similar to the first banquet in attendance with Queen Esther was King Ahasuerus and Haman. For the third time the king asked Esther what her request was and she asked the king if she found favor in his sight to spare her life and the lives of her countrymen. She told the king of the wicked plan of annihilation and pointed out if the Jews were slaves then she would not be justifying in asking this request but in the Persian empire they were free.

Immediately the king wanted to know, “Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?” to which Esther revealed it was Haman. Haman became petrified and the king angrily left the Queen’s chamber and went into the palace garden.

Haman knowing, he was in trouble made the fatal mistake of falling on the couch where Esther was sitting to beg for mercy. When the king returned to the room and found him in that position he thought Haman was trying to violate Esther; thus, he had his guards seize Haman.

Harbonah, one of the king’s chamberlains told him about the fifty cubits high gallows which Haman had made on his property for Mordecai execution, and the king ordered Haman be hung there and thereafter the king was appeased.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
The gallows that Haman had prepared for Mordecai’s demise ended up being used for his demise. What you sow, you will reap.

Can you imagine the fear that his family felt when they saw Haman hanging on the gallows he had prepared for someone else?

When you realize you have been tricked because you misjudged someone character thinking they are honest and working on your behave; remove them from your life.

Follow the steps of Esther. She was presented with a critical problem, she fasted and prayed, she never addressed the instigator of the problem but she spoke to the person that could, and he resolved the problem for her. So, when you have a problem with an individual who is trying to harm you or those you love, fast and pray, speak to God and allow Him to handle the situation.

ESTHER SERIES – CHAPTER 6

Chapter 6 recorded that King Ahasuerus suffered from insomnia the night of the first banquet and he decided to have the royal chronicles read to him which revealed Mordecai’s foiling of an assassination plot against him which was planned by Bigthana and Teresh, two of his chamberlains.

Upon hearing the reading, the king questioned his people whether recognition was given to Mordecai for his act of loyalty and he found out nothing had been done for Mordecai, he had gone unrewarded. Wanting to rectify this matter the king asked, “Who is in the court?” and he found out Haman who had come early to the king to get permission to hang Mordecai was there. Thus, he had Haman brought to him, and before Haman could say anything the king asked him, “What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour?” Being egotistical and assuming the king wanted to bestow more honor on him, Haman said “ For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour.” Then to his horror the king revealed he was talking about Mordecai, the Jew and he assigned Haman the task of doing all the things that he had just said to the recipient of the honor, Mordecai.

After finding Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate and completing the task with him that the king had assigned, Haman went sadly home and told his wife and all his friends what happened and they voiced to him that the honor the king placed on Mordecai was a bad omen for him for it foretold of his doom.

The chapter ends with Haman leaving his wife and friends and going to Esther’s second banquet.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

When you are experiencing insomnia, reading may bring forth revelations.

It was God invisibly at work who allowed the king’s servant to choose the exact book in which the assignation plot information was written. How many times has God led you to pick up a book that had the answers to your questions? How many times have you purchased a book and not read it but at the appointed time you pick it up and it had the answer you were seeking?

The reward for your good deeds may be delayed, don’t fret in due time it will manifest.

God can cause your enemy’s words to bless you and God can cause your enemy to bestow honor on you even when they don’t want too. Remember Haman who hated Mordecai and craved respect from him had to give respect to Mordecai publicly.

ESTHER SERIES – CHAPTER 5

With the completion of the three days fast Esther adorned herself in her royal attire and went to the inner court of King Ahasuerus’s house. When the king who was sitting on his royal throne viewed Esther in the court she obtained his favor and he held out the golden scepter to which Esther drew near and touched the top of it.

The king inquired of Esther request and she told him that she was inviting him and Haman to a banquet that evening to which the king responded positively. At the banquet that evening King Ahasuerus once again asked Esther her petition and he again stated that he would give her half of the kingdom if she desired it, but Esther just requested them to come to another banquet on tomorrow.

After leaving the banquet Haman felt jubilant until he saw Mordecai who did not bow to him in the king’s gate. When he got home he gathered his friends, and Zeresh his wife and told them of his banquet experience, his invite to go again on the morrow evening, his riches and elevations in the empire, and what he felt was a defiant act by Mordecai which left him feeling angered and frustrated.

Haman’s friends, and his wife suggested a seventy-five-foot gallows be made on which to hang Mordecai the next day after securing the king’s permission to do so. This suggestion was accepted by Haman and he ordered the gallows built.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Use the actions of Esther as an example. After fasting and praying proceed with confidence knowing God is directing your path.

God is able to cause you to receive favor when you need it.

Learn when to speak and when to be quiet.

We are often in a hurry for justice to be meted out; however, we can rest in the knowledge that the wheels of justice may move slowly but it grinds exceedingly fine. God has a plan for your enemies and it will eventually come to pass.

Haman was obsessed with the fact that Mordecai did not respect his position and it fueled his wrath toward Mordecai. There are people in all our lives that have different religious beliefs and cultural difference than ours and though we may disagree with them we must respect their decision and right to practice their beliefs.

ESTHER SERIES – CHAPTER 4

At the time of the publishing of the irrevocable decree for the destruction of the 15 million Jews believed to resided throughout the Persian provinces Esther had been queen for 5 years and yet no one in the palace knew that she was a member of the Jewish race for she had followed the instruction which Mordecai gave her when she first entered the palace to tell no one her nationality.

When Mordecai and fellow Jews throughout the Persia empire heard the decree of the scheduled massacre they rented their clothes, put on sackcloth with ashes, fasted, mourned and cried bitterly. Also Mordecai took his display of irrepressible emotions before the king’s gate for according to the law people could not go into the king’s courtyard while mourning. Esther’s maids and chamberlains heard about Mordecai’s actions and told Esther causing her to become very upset.

Esther attempted to send Mordecai clothes to cover himself; however, he rejected them. Thus, Esther sent Hatach to Mordecai to find out what was the problem. Mordecai told Hatach about the decree, about the monies Haman promised to give to the king’s treasuries to assist in destroying the Jews, and he sent Esther a copy of the decree which was published in Shushan. Plus, Mordecai asked Esther to intervene on behalf of her countrymen to King Ahasuerus.

Upon hearing the problem from Hatach Esther sent word to Mordecai reminding him of the protocol of the court which prevented anyone coming before the king unless they had been summons to do so and anyone who disobeyed this rule was put to death unless they gained the kings favor whereby he would extend his golden scepter toward them. Esther also informed him that the king had not requested her presence in the last thirty days.

Mordecai responded to Ruth by telling her, her life was also in danger, if she did nothing her extended family would possibly be killed, and help might come to the Jews from an unexpected source. Furthermore, Mordecai suggested that her queenly position was divinely orchestrated for this particular time in Persian history.

The chapter ends with Esther sending this word to Mordecai, “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish” and to which Mordecai complied.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
This chapter reveals a few key battle strategies that will help all believers if they are utilized during times of spiritual warfare. After receiving word of the future plight of her countrymen Queen Esther probably was fearful; however, she did not repeat or continuously rehearse the plot of the enemy nor disclose her fears to people. Esther did not rush to a meeting with the king but she first sought divine direction. Esther and her ladies-in-waiting fasted, and she requested her countrymen to join her in the fast.

Reality has proven that sometimes in battle you are wounded. Like Esther, there may come a time in with your life where you are uncertain about the outcome of your actions and you will have to take a risk and trust God.

Finally, as I’ve stated in previous blogs in this series, your birth has a purpose, and the future will reveal exactly what it is, consequently whether you fulfill that purpose is up to you.

ESTHER SERIES – CHAPTER 3

Esther chapter 3 introduces Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, who many believe was a descendant of King Agag the Amalekites whom King Saul spared in 1 Samuel 15. Before the twelfth year of his reign King Ahasuerus elevated Haman to the position of prime minister which garnered him honor and reverence from all the citizens and subordinate officers of the empire. This reverence required the people to bow down in his presence; however, Mordecai refused to bow and reverence Hamon and for this Mordecai drew attention to himself.

When questioned by the citizens about his actions Mordecai told them, “He was a Jew.” Eventually, his actions and response were told to Haman who consequently sought revenge on Mordecai and all the Jews for what he thought was Mordecai’s blatant disrespect of his position. Thus, Hamon masterminded a scheme to eliminate the disrespectful Mordecai.

Haman told the king there were disloyal individuals that lived in their empire that did not keep the king’s laws because of their religious laws and he suggested that they be destroyed. Also, he offered to give money to the treasury to assist with this dastardly deed. Listening and agreeing with Haman King Ahasuerus gave Haman the power to carry out his suggestion, his signet ring to seal the decree and monies to fund this effort.

On the thirteenth day of the first month, after consulting and obtaining a date for the slaughtering of the Jews from soothsayers Haman had the king’s scribes write letters to be distributed throughout the ten provinces that on the thirteenth day of Adar a universal massacre of all Jews, both young and old, men, women and children could be done by the populace and their property confiscated.

With the plan in place for the annihilation of the Jews, the command sealed and published, the king and Haman continued their daily routine but the citizens of Shushan was perplexed by the order.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Believing the reverence that Haman wanted to receive as idolatry Mordecai refused to bow and for this his life was threatened. Refusal to bow and commit idolatry can cost you your life.

When you refuse to conform to the ways of the world, the world views you as a threat.

When you place your confidence in wicked people they may cause you to make harmful decisions. It is vitally important to know those that labor among you. The King thought Hamon was a trusty valuable servant; however, Hamon had his own hidden agenda and he used his position and falsehoods to influence the king into committing genocide.

If rulers in-charge of a nation are not prayerful and accept good consult they are capable of making decisions that can destroy the lives of its’ citizens.

ESTHER SERIES – CHAPTER 2

Now, in chapter 2 Queen Vashti had been previously deposed and King Ahasuerus is seeking a wife for history notes that between chapter 1 and 2 four years have passed. King Ahasuerus had been in a war with the Greeks who defeated him at Salamis and Plataea; so, he had returned home and was able to focus on securing himself a wife.

One of the king’s servants suggested he appoint officers in all of his provinces to gather all the young virgins and bring them to the house of women in the palace where they would be placed under the custody of Hegai who was the king’s chamberlain and palace keeper of the women. For one year these women were given things for purification, and after completing the year they appeared before the king who then had the opportunity to choose the next queen.

One of the young virgins chosen to appear before the king was the fair and beautiful Hadassah whose name was changed to Esther when she came to the Persian court and who was the cousin of a Jew named Mordecai, the son of Jair. As recorded in the scripture, upon entry into the women’s house Esther found favor with Hegai who gave her seven maidens to assist with her care, the oil of myrrh, sweet odors, and other things needed for purification and he assigned her the choicest place in the house of the women.

Mordecai who raised Esther as his own daughter when her parents died and kept her under his protective eyes even after she went into the palace directed Esther not to inform anyone of her ethnic origin. Thus, daily Mordecai went to the court of the women’s house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.

In the seventh year and Tebeth the tenth month of King Ahasuerus reign when it was her turn to go before the king Esther for her first meeting with him had the opportunity to choose her apparel; however, she submitted herself to Hegai and followed his suggestions. As was the custom, in the evening the young lady would go to the king’s chamber and in the morning she returned into the second house of the women under the care of Shaashgaz, another one of the king’s chamberlain. Additionally, unless the king desired the young lady again she remained confined in the king’s harem.

This was not Esther’s fate for the king was enamored with Esther and the privilege of becoming the queen was given to her. In honor of his new queen King Ahasuerus proclaimed a holiday, held a great feast, and gave gifts to his citizens.

The chapter concludes with the revelation of a plot to assassinate the king by two of his chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, Mordecai found out about this plot and gave this information to Esther who shared it with the king. An investigation ensued and the guilt of these men was confirmed which resulted in their execution and this event was written in the book of the chronicles with recognition given to Mordecai for revealing the plot.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: As seen in the life of Esther who experienced the death of both of her parents in her childhood, God was with her and he allowed a relative to love and raise her. This relative not only took care of her during her childhood but he was involved in her young adult life. God will place people in our lives who will show concern for us and stick with us throughout our life.

According to the laws given to Moses by God for the Israelites mixed marriages and sexual relations outside of marriage was prohibited. Unfortunately, Esther was placed in a position where both of these would be broken. However, God allowed the intimate encounter between Esther and King Ahasuerus to end in marriage and God used Esther’s position in gaining the deliverance of His people. Similarly, there are times in the life of a believer when their behavior does not line up with God’s Word; however, God can turn a situation around and bring about something good.

Just like God allowed Esther to find favor among strangers, He does the same for us. These strangers are divinely connected to us and they are placed in our lives to assist us in moving to another level.