Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Are You God's Friend?

What is life all about?  Why was I born?  What was God really thinking when He made me? 

These are all questions we ask ourselves at one time or another.  The answer is:  God wants to be friends! 

Imagine that!!  Being the friend of God!

Sounds crazy - almost sacrilegious!  

But, it's not.  The whole reason God created Adam was for fellowship!

The Bible refers to Abraham as "the friend of God", in James 2:23.  And, what did he do to deserve this title?  The whole verse says, "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God." 

Plain and simply, Abraham believed God.  That's all!   (I can do that!)

More about Abraham's friendship with God - Hebrews 11:8-13 & 17-19

Developing a Friendship with God

I can tell you my name and my favorite color.  I can tell you the title of my favorite book, and the chores I dread.  I can tell you my favorite food, and my birth date.  I can tell you all kinds of things about myself, but until you spend time with me, you will never truly know me! 

You can even do things for me.  You can get my groceries, walk my dog, wash my dishes or clean my house, but you still won't KNOW me! 

It's the same with God!  We can DO (or not do!) things for Him all day long.  We can follow rules and obey laws.  We can know that He will save us and protect us.  We can know that He created the world in 7 days and that He will provide all our needs.  We can know that He is in control.  We can know that the Bible is His Love Letter to us.  We can know that He died on the cross to forgive sins.  But, until we truly KNOW Him, we will never have a relationship, or a FRIENDSHIP with Him!

Did you know it is possible to be a Christian and yet not have a "friendship" with God?

How do I get to KNOW God?  Here are a few ways:

  1. Read His word!  Schedule time out of every day to meet in your "secret place".  (It doesn't really have to be a secret place - just a special place!)  Forget about reading 7 chapters every day so you can say you read the whole Bible through in a year.  Just read the Bible until you "hear from Him".  Read until you have something to meditate on for that day.  Read until you run out of time.  Read until you love reading and can't wait till it's time to read again! 
  2. Find God's promises and claim them for yourself!! 
  3. Find a "life verse" and refer to it every time you need to be encouraged! 
  4. PRAY about everything!  It has been said that "every failure in life is a prayer failure."
  5. Keep a prayer journal - keep a running list of all the prayer requests that God answers for you.
  6. Keep a list of all the things God provides for you and your family, and refer back to it every time you need to be encouraged!  You'll be amazed at the things God has done for you and you'll be reminded that He "came through before" and He can do it again.
  7. Tell your children and your friends when He provides or blesses you.
  8. Sit quietly after you've finished your Bible reading and wait on God.  You'll be surprised what He has to say in those few moments of peace and solitude. 
  9. Give God all the honor and glory for anything good that happens in your life.  Don't forget to look for God's blessing in the dark times, too!  
  10. Put your faith into action!!  Act on what you know!  Don't just KNOW God's promises!  Claim them!  Obtain them!!  Live every moment of the day conscious of His presence with you.
What an awesome thought to think that the Creator of everything would want to be YOUR Friend!!  

Photo Credit

Friday, February 7, 2014

God's Gift of Water

Water is absolutely necessary to sustaining life.  It keeps us hydrated, helps maintain body temperature, transports nutrients throughout the body, and eliminates waste.

Is it any wonder that Jesus refers to Himself as the Water of Life?  John 4:14

My Christmas gift from my husband:  A Berkey Water Filter!
Water- Essential to life

We drink water to cleanse ourselves of toxins.  But, how can we cleanse ourselves of toxins with water that is itself contaminated?

Most people don't worry...

Water is treated  to remove impurities such as e coli, germs, viruses, parasites, and harmful bacteria.  Then, minerals are added.  Fluoride is also added in most cases.

Water companies have used Chlorine for decades to purify our water because it kills harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other unwanted impurities.  They say it's the lesser of two evils.  They say it's better to have small amounts of chlorine in our water than all those unwanted impurities.

But, do we really want to feed chlorine to our children?  Even if it is the lesser of two evils?  Is it not possible to have water that is truly pure?  I would love to have water that is free of impurities and chemicals and heavy metals.

Are you worried...???

What's in your tap water?  Do you know?

How is your tap water purified?  What is added back into your water?

Fluoride?  Arsenic?  Lead?  Mercury?  Pesticides?  Chlorine?  Heavy Metals?  Calcium?

(Some of these are added back in.  Other impurities are leched into our water.  Harmful pesticides get into our water through the soil and air.) 
I know some of what's in my tap water:  ALL of the above!!  Including more than our share of arsenic!  

For Christmas this year my husband gave me a Berkey Water Filter.  

Berkey water filters use carbon filters to clean impurities out of the water.  They make different types of filters.  Some are specifically made to remove certain types of metals and chemicals.  As I said, the water in our area has pretty high levels of arsenic, so I have filters that can filter all the arsenic out of the water.

I use my filtered water for everything from drinking (obviously!) to cooking/baking and making coffee to cleaning my house!  (We have very hard water here and the calcium can ruin things like my Rainbow Vacuum or my steam mop.) 

If you're still not sure about all this and want to know more about the water in your area, you can buy a professional lab test to test your water here.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Homemade Paper Towels

Before my children were all in school, I stayed home with them.  I didn't have a job - at least not one that brought in money.  (Believe me, I had a job!!)  Since I wasn't bringing in money, I felt it was only right that I do whatever I could to save whatever money I could.  (I now work part time at the school they attend, and my income is used to pay their school bill.)

I looked for ways to cut back on spending.  One of the BIGGEST MONEY SAVERS was learning to make my own laundry detergent!!  I made it out of necessity - we couldn't afford to buy it.  Then I realized it helped us with our eczema.  Double Bonus!! 

I also cut up old towels and made cleaning rags, or "re-useable paper towels" out of them.  That was nice for a while.  Until one of mine got the flu.  (Actually, several of mine got the flu - have I mentioned we have color coded sick buckets??  Truly we do!)  So, I used my "paper towels" to clean up some messes...the ones that didn't make into those color coded buckets!  Since I no longer wished to re-use those re-useable paper towels - for obvious reasons, I threw them away.  Far, far away!

So, now, I was in a predicament.  I started buying paper towels again.  Today, I was out...again.  ...sigh...  I do hate to spend money on things that are just going to get thrown away!  (trash bags, baby wipes, toilet paper, napkins, paper towels...the list goes on.)

Well, a short story long, (yes, that's what I said!) I went to the store, and decided NOT to buy more paper towels...at least not for cleaning the bathroom with!  Instead, I bought these....

Lovely little white wash cloths!!   And, to be sure they only get used in the bathroom, and NOT on my kitchen counters, I wrote "Bathroom" on them...(as you can plainly see)!  I'm very proud of myself.  Now, I will keep a roll or two of the cheapo paper towels on hand, but only for cleaning up...sick stuff.  No more spending money on paper towels!! 

***Do share us how you like to save money!  I love to get as many ideas as I can!  I think we can all use them!

Thank you for visiting my page and feel free to share it with your friends!  
The more the merrier!! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Request Made - A People Saved

At the second banquet, the King again asked Esther what her request was.  She could have anything she wanted up to half of the kingdom!  (Seems to me like maybe his kingdom was too much for him.  This was the third time in two days he'd tried to give her half of it!)

Esther's request: "If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request..."  (7:3)

King Ahasuerus seems to be confused at this point.  He asks Esther who would think up such a thing in his heart to do unto her?  Would someone really want to kill the queen?

Then Queen Esther answered, "The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman"!

Well, Haman's bad day just got worse!  He was probably more than a little shocked!  Remember, Esther has never told anyone that she's Jewish until now.  The king leaves the banquet in anger and takes a walk in the garden.  Haman decides this is as good a time as any to beg the queen for his life, so he jumps up, and runs over to Esther's side, throws himself down on the couch where she's eating her meal and begins to plead and beg...

While Haman is begging, the King returns from the garden and sees how he's thrown himself down on Esther.  Then said the king, "will he force the queen also before me in the house?"   I think we all understand what this means.

At this point the guards are covering Haman's face and preparing to carry him away.  Harbonah, one of the King's servants mentions the gigantic gallows that Haman had built in his back yard and the fact that he had prepared it to hang Mordecai on it.

 "Take him away and hang him on it instead!"  The king commanded.

So, Haman was taken away that very same hour and hanged on the gallows that he had built for Mordecai.  The house and land and everything that had belonged to Haman were given to Queen Esther who turned it over to Mordiecai.  When the King found out that Mordiecai was the Esther's uncle, he took the ring that he had given to Haman, and gave it to Mordiecai in stead.

But there was still a problem. There was still a decree that all the Jews would be killed on the 13th day of the 12 month.  The decree could not be changed.  When beautiful Queen Esther fell down before the king begging and crying for the lives of her people, the King decided to allow Mordecai to make a new law.   The new law said that all the Jews were now allowed to defend themselves.  They could destroy anyone they felt might be a threat to themselves and their families.

And, so it happened that all the Jews in the kingdom were allowed to defend themselves.  The ten sons of Haman died in the battle - killed by the same Jews their father tried so hard to eliminate.

To celebrate this victory, the Jews set up a new feast that is still celebrated today.  The "Feast of Purim" is a celebration of how a brave, young Queen saved her people.

Fun Facts:  

Ancient peoples of the Middle East didn't sit on chairs to eat as we do.  They rested on "couch" type things similar to a chase-lounge.   When the King returned from the garden to discover Hamman had thrown himself on the Queen, it would have seemed as though he was "forcing the Queen".

When a law was made in ancient Babylon or Persia, it couldn't be changed - AT ALL.  Not even by the King.  Once it was signed into law, it was law!  That is why the King couldn't undo the law and save Esther's life or the lives of her people.  The only option left was to allow Mordecai  to write another law that would allow a different out come to the first.

Life Lessons:

Esther did was necessary to save her people.  She trusted that God would protect her, and she did what she had to do.  God worked through her and saved His people.   The one truly "special" thing about Esther was that she allowed God to use her.  She realized that she'd been allowed to become the Queen "for such a time as this".   Beside that, Esther was a simple Jewish girl who was chosen to be the Queen of Persia.  Perhaps it was because she was more beautiful?  I'm sure the King thought so.  But, more than that, she was chosen because God had a purpose for her.  God had a plan.

What is His purpose for you?  He does have a purpose for you!  It may not be His will that you become a Queen and save the lives of hundreds of people.  In fact, I could almost say for sure it's not!  :)  But what about that little baby He gave you? Or, that child on the bus route that needs to know he's loved?  What about your neighbor?  Your co-worker?  God has each of us right where He wants us - "For such a time as this"!

We serve the same God Esther served.  If He can do such wonderful things through Esther, He can do just as mighty things through us!!  Are you willing to accept the challenge and allow Him to use you?? 

I do hope you will join me as I study the life of "Esther - Queen of Persia"!  I hope to delve in and discover as much as I can about her life and put myself in her shoes...or sandals??  Feel free to leave your thoughts on her life and story in the comments section below! 

In case you missed a previous posts in this series:  

Introduction: Esther, Queen of Persia 
Ahasuerus - A Party Kind of Guy
A Queen is Chosen!
Haman, the Evil

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An Awkward Predicament

King Ahasuerus couldn't sleep. This was no accident! God was working behind the scenes!  It had been a great day.  The King and Haman had enjoyed the banquet that Ester had prepared....    (chapter 6)

The king thought on these things, and many others, but sleep didn't come to him that night.  Finally, a chamberlain was called to his room to read to him out of the books of the Chronicles of the King.  Just as it was not an accident that the King couldn't sleep; it wasn't an accident that the chamberlain read the story of Mordecai saving the King's life!

 Soon after Esther had been crowned Queen, Mordacai had over heard some of the King's guards planning to take his life.  He had quickly told the newly instated Queen Esther of the plot and she had, in turn, warned the King in Mordicai's name. Nothing had ever been done to reward Mordicai for his part in saving the King's life.

It just so happened...again...that Haman was in the outer court of the King's house at this time.  He had come to speak to the King about hanging Mordicai on the gallows that he'd built in his back yard.  When Haman was ushered into the inner court, the King asked him, "What shall be done to the man whom the King delighteth to honor"?  Haman immediately thought the King was referring to him.  Who else worked hard and served the King as well?  Who else deserved to be rewarded?  Of course the king was talking about him!  No one else was as important as Haman in Haman's mind!

So Haman thought up a plan.  It was perfect!  Exactly what he'd like to have happen to himself.  He gave the king his answer.  The king was thrilled with the plan.  "Go ahead and do everything you've just said to Mordicai, the Jew!"  The king commanded. 

Haman was shocked and not a little upset by this change in events!  Haman was forced to take Mordecai the Jew and dress him in the King's very own robe and royal crown, put him on the King's best horse, and personally march him through the streets of the city announcing loudly for all to hear,     "Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the King delighteth to honor." 

Haman was disgusted!  Now, he hated Mordecai more than ever!  He couldn't wait until the day he was finally dead.

Haman went home with his head covered, pouting that day.  He told his wife about all the things he'd had to endure that day.  While they were talking a knock came on the door.  The king's guards had come.  It was time for Esther's banquet.  At least that would go well for him that day....or so he thought....

Life Applications:

God is constantly working behind the scenes for our good!  A sleepless night, the reading of the account of Mordecai, the reward of Mordecai, and the humbling of Haman...none of these things could have been controlled or manipulated by anyone but God.  He worked them all out and together for the good of His people and in answer to their prayers!  These are proof that the things that happen to us have a purpose beyond what we can see. There is a God in Heaven who is in control!  

We should not jump to the conclusions that we are more important than someone else.  We should not expect to be treated better than others.  If someone should decide to honor us, we should allow them to do so, but we should not be looking for, or expecting it.

Proverbs 27:2 - Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;  A stranger, and not your own lips.

Proverbs 25: 7 -  For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen.

I do hope you will join me as I study the life of "Esther - Queen of Persia"!  I hope to delve in and discover as much as I can about her life and put myself in her shoes...or sandals??  Feel free to leave your thoughts on her life and story in the comments section below! 

In case you missed a previous posts in this series:  

Introduction: Esther, Queen of Persia 
Ahasuerus - The Party Kind of King
A Queen is Chosen!
Haman, the Evil

Monday, January 27, 2014

For Such a Time as This....

Esther had no idea about the edict that had been made.  She didn't know the lives of her people were at risk.  But the Jews in the city knew it, because it was posted for all to see:  On the 13th day of the 12 month all the Jews were to be killed! 

When Esther's maids told her that her Uncle Mordecai was sitting at the King's gate in sac cloth and ashes, she immediately sent him a clean set of clothes!  But, Mordecai would not take them.  Esther sent a servant to find out what was going on.  Why was her Uncle so upset, and why would he not be comforted? 

Esther was shocked at the news!  Mordecai sent Esther a copy of the decree that Haman had made, and he told her that she needed to go to the king and beg for their lives.  (4:8)

Esther again sent Hatach, the servant back to her uncle with another message.  She reminded him that she wasn't allowed to go to the King without being called. She could be killed for such an offense!  And, beside that the King had not called for her in a whole month!

In the end, it was decided that Esther, her maidens, Mordecai, and all the Jews that were in Shushan would fast and pray for 3 days and 3 nights.  At the end of that time, Esther would go before the king against the law and, in her own words, "if I perish, I perish".  (4:16)

 At the end of the 3 days, Esther cleaned herself up and put on her royal apparel and went to see the king.  When the King saw her, he held out his golden scepter.  God had answered the first part of their prayers!  Esther was able to see the King!!
King Ahasuerus asked Esther what she wanted and offered to give her anything - up to half of the kingdom.  Esther knew her husband well.  She understood how much he loved parties and feasts.  She had planned a banquet for him and Haman - if there was any way they could make it that night?  She knew he'd be hooked!  That was an easy request to fill, and it was something he loved to do!  Of course he'd go to her banquet! 

That night after the banquet, King Ahasuerus again asked Esther what her request was, and again he offered her up to half of his kingdom.  She responded by inviting him and Haman to another banquet that she was preparing for the following night.  She would make her request then. (5:1-8)
Haman was delighted!  He went home that night and gloated about how important he'd become.  He was very proud of himself for moving up in the world as he had.  Not only was he the King's right hand man, but now he was invited to a second banquet the Queen was throwing for just the three of them! 

Life Applications: 

Have faith in God.  Esther had faith that God would take care of her, and if He didn't, she was fine with that too.  She did what was right and trusted God to care for the rest.  (4:16)

I've always wondered if Esther had planned to have two banquets from the very beginning, or if she "chickened out" and decided to put off asking the request till the next night?  Maybe the only reason I wonder that, is because that's something I would do. <PANIC!!>  :) Whatever the case, God was in the details and He worked it all out perfectly for her!  That night, between banquets would be a sleepless one for the King.  God was definitely in the detail in Esther's life, just as He is in ours.  We may not always see what He's doing and how He's working in the back ground, but He is there and He is working everything out for our good!  I'm thinking that night was probably a long one for Esther, too.  I wonder if she knew God was keeping her husband awake that night, preparing his heart as well..!?!

Just as Esther was born to become Queen of Persia and help save her people, so you and I were born "for such a time as this..."  Perhaps, your job in life is to train up a preacher that will reach his generation?  Perhaps your job is to support your husband, or win a soul....  What is God asking YOU to do at "such a time as this...."?

I do hope you will join me as I study the life of "Esther - Queen of Persia"!  I hope to delve in and discover as much as I can about her life and put myself in her shoes...or sandals??  Feel free to leave your thoughts on her life and story in the comments section below! 

In case you missed a previous posts in this series:  

Introduction: Esther, Queen of Persia 
Ahasuerus - The Party Kind of King
A Queen is Chosen!
Haman, the Evil

Photo Credit

Haman, the Evil

Sometime during the first 5 years that Esther was queen, King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite to be his right hand man.

Haman was a decedent of King Agag, whom King Saul had been commanded to "utterly destroy".  (1 Samuel 15)  If King Saul had obeyed when he'd had a chance, Haman and his family would never have existed! The plot against the Jews would never have been hatched.  If only King Saul had done what was right....

The name Haman means: "Illustrious" or "Magnificent".  It is quite obvious that Haman considered himself both!  Haman was proud and arrogant.  He demanded respect and required everyone to bow down to him as he passed. And everyone did...except for Mordecai.  (3:2)

This made Haman very angry!  It soon became clear that Mordecai had no intention of changing his ways. So, Haman came up with a plan. If the reason Mordecai would not bow before Haman was because he was Jewish and worshiped only one God, then Haman would punish all the Jews for their belief! (3:6)

Haman told King Ahasuerus about the "diverse people scattered abroad and disbursed among the people of the kingdom."(3:8)  Something had to be done.  These people needed to be killed, and Haman was willing to pay out of his own pocket to have the deed done!

The king was more than willing to hand over his signet ring.  Haman came up with his wicked plan.  The king's scribes wrote out letters that would be translated in all the languages, stamped into law with the King's signet ring, and carried into all the provinces.  The edict: On the 13th day of the 12th month all the Jews were to be killed!  (3:13)

Haman was going to win this battle yet....!

And so it was that Haman became the Jew's enemy.  (3:10)  To this day, children and adults alike hiss and use instruments called "graggers" to "blot out" the name of Haman when the story of Esther is told every year during the Feast of Purim. They make so much noise that the name "Haman" is not even able to be heard during the story. It is no wonder that, even today, Haman is known to the Jews as "Haman the Evil".

 I do hope you will join me as I study the life of "Esther - Queen of Persia"!  I hope to delve in and discover as much as I can about her life and put myself in her shoes...or sandals??  Feel free to leave your thoughts on her life and story in the comments section below! 

In case you missed our previous posts in this series:  

Introduction: Esther, Queen of Persia 
Ahasuerus - The Party Kind of King
A Queen is Chosen!

Photo Credit