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God Saves and Rescues

By Belina Sithole

Esther 9:1 On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned, and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.

God lifted Mordecai from a man that used to sit outside the palace gate to a powerful man that was in a position to write decrees in the name of the King and write orders to protect his people. Mordecai was loyal to his King by saving his life from the guards that was plotting against him, and in turn, the King saved Mordecai’s life from Haman’s plot.

God saves and rescues us from trouble and situations that we are not even aware of.

Esther 9:4 Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.

Esther 9:29 – 30 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. 30And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom—words of goodwill and assurance.

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Favour

By Belina Sithole

The King and Haman were at the second day of queen Esther’s banquet when the kings asked again what Esther’s request was, to which she finally answered:
 

Esther 7:3 “If I have found favour with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. 4For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.

Esther was the queen but even she had to be humble before the king and phrase her request in a way that didn’t come across entitled. The king loved her so much that he was willing to give her anything, but Esther was wise enough to not take this love for granted.

It’s easy to feel entitled and expect special treatment in some situations but we can see that humility goes a long way.

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Esther clearly had found favour before the King, in Chapter 5 we saw that she went before the king without being summoned which is punishable by death but he allowed her to see him, and here she phrases her request in a flattering and polite way.

The king was furious to hear Haman’s plans and he had Haman killed on the same pole he had set up for Mordecai.

Esther 7: 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.” The king said, “Impale him on it!” 10So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.

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Discern the time

By Hannah Ng’uni

‘Then Esther answered and said, “My petition and request is this: If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfil my request, then let the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.” Esther 5:7-8

On the third day of the fast, dressed in royal robes, Queen Esther went into the inner court and appeared before the king. Remember one was permitted to go there uninvited (Esther 4:11). This was a courageous. It is no coincidence that she summoned up the courage on the last day of the fast, I believe God directed her and gave her the assurance that she would be protected.

Queen Esther found favour in the sight of the king (Esther 5 vs 2), he did not hesitate to extend his welcome and offer, twice, to grant her request whatever it would be (vs.3 and 6). It seemed like Esther was hesitant to mention the request at the first banquet. You would think with the pressure she was under, as the only hope for her peoples’ deliverance, that she would have immediately said it. But I believe Esther was operating in wisdom and being attentive to God’s direction regarding the right time. God had a plan but it was Esther’s part to trust in His timing and be willing to obey.

The Bible says there is a time for every matter, and it takes wisdom to discern that right time (Ecclesiastes 8:5-6). Sometimes we may have our own agenda or life plan mapped out with times allocated for when we would like something to happen. No, there is nothing wrong with planning ahead and setting smart goals, that is great. The point is there may be certain decisions we need to make with the guidance from the Lord. Like Esther, sometimes it may take setting aside some time to fast and pray. Ephesians 5:15-17 says we should be wise, make the most of every opportunity and understand the will of God.

So, let us seek the Lord’s wisdom to discern the time because He knows the end from the beginning and accomplishes His purpose.

‘declaring the end from the beginning

    and from ancient times things not yet done,

saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,

    and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ Isaiah 46:10 (ESV)

For this weeks bible study guide

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A costly but bold decision

By Hannah Ng’uni

“But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command brought by his eunuchs; therefore the king was furious, and his anger burned within him”. Esther 1:12

This weeks’ bold Bible woman is Esther later known as Queen Esther. To fully appreciate her journey, we need to build some context. In chapter 1, we are introduced to a wealthy Persian King Ahasuerus who reigned over 127 provinces. There were still several Jews under Persian rule at the time.

In his third year, the king hosted feast lasting a total of 187 days at the palace, that is some feasting! On the last day, in a drunken state he commanded some of his princes to bring his wife Queen Vashti to show her beauty to the officials gathered but she declined. This displeased the king which lead him to consult men skilled in law about what he could do because the queen disobeyed the command.  Likely out of embarrassment and to maintain respect in his kingdom. As per his advisors, he decides to dethrone her and accepted to make a decree that men should rule their households so ‘all wives will honour their husbands, both great and small’ (vs. 20-22). According to the Persians, the law could not be altered even by the king.

Before Esther comes into the picture, I would like us to consider the woman in today’s chapter, Queen Vashti, from a different perspective to what she was portrayed here – a disobedient wife and bad example to the others.

When she received the request, she was placed in a difficult position; go out and parade herself in front of drunken men or refuse and face the consequences. We are not told in the Bible why she refused; some commentaries suggest due to the nature of the event, her display may have involved lewd behaviour as the king wanted to show off her beauty. It is unlikely he would have made such an unreasonable request had he not been in a drunken state. What I see is that Queen Vashti made a bold decision to maintain her modesty and dignity even at the cost of her royal position (Esther 1:19), she could not bring herself to dishonouring her body and comprise her values. Though I imagine it was not a decision made lightly.

As a woman in today’s society, you may find yourself faced with a decision that, if you say ‘yes’ may lead you to compromise your faith, dignity, morals, values, modesty etc or cost you something e.g. loss of a job, business opportunity, friendships, comfort, status etc if you say ‘no’. So how should you respond as a Christian?

We learn from Daniel that we must choose to obey God and purpose in our heart to do what is right and pleasing to Him. God will always honour His word and provide direction. Daniel was known for his excellent spirit, faithfulness to God and his custom of praying three times daily. He was steadfastly committed to God and did not compromise on this (Daniel 1:8-9). When he decided not to worship King Darius, it almost cost him his life, literally! He was thrown in the lions den but the Lord protected him, he was not consumed ‘because he believed his God’ (Daniel 6:23).

Last week, we explored the decisions Ruth made and how God turned things around for her. I encourage you to read the blog post and listen to the podcast.

So, remain steadfast and in close fellowship with the Lord. Purpose in your heart that you will not comprise His word. Put your trust in Him, He delights in directing your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Happy International Women’s Day!

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Oh yes!

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so, through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20

2021 has started out slightly different from what I had previously imagined. I know 2020 gave us a lesson in the uncertainty of life but surely one can hope.

In 2 Corinthians Paul share in my feeling of having plans changed at the cusp. He intended on travelling but his plans changed.

He encourages us by saying even though I can promise – mind you I did not make those promises lightly with the intention of quickly changing. The promises of God are Yes, our response to his promise is Amen for the glory of God.

The exciting thing about this verse is that God has made a lot of promises in his word and the bible encourages us that regardless of the number of promises that God has made they are Yes and Amen and its all for his glory.

Today I choose to remember that All the promises of God in Him are yes and amen so walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 1:20, 5:7)

Prayer

Father God I trust you and your promises because you never change and fail.

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Is Will power enough?

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.And so he condemned sin in the flesh – Romans 8:3

Most of us have the best intentions against sin. We write a nice list of what we wish we would not do. I remember making terrible choices in my relationships and thinking just say no write yourself a nice I do not want to do that list and it will go away.

But the verse we have read tells us our human nature has weaknesses – disclaimer this is not an excuse to keep messing around. Thank God for the gift of Jesus Christ who made it possible for us.

In Romans 7 the bible reveals our sinful nature and how our flesh is eager to take us back to our old habits even if we choose not to do them. How what we wish we did not want to do

The good news is the Holy spirit helps us to say no to sin.

The bible reminds us in our fight against sin – will power is not enough we need the spirit of God. It is by the Holy spirit that we put to death the works of the flesh. It is by the Holy spirit that we are empowered to walk away from situations that tempt us.

Today I choose to remember to be spiritually minded, not to live according to my five senses (the flesh) but to be led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-17)

Prayer:

Holy Spirit I need you in this journey.

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Faith Over Fear Worship Over Worry

By Tinika Rock

‘Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.” So, Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.’ Mark 11:20-24

To Have Faith in God and Not Doubt, to believe what he says and that when we pray to believe we will receive!

This scripture is saying that we must have faith in God and not doubt.  To believe what he says and when we pray to believe that we will receive.

In this passage, I am reminded of the story of Peter walking on water. Once Peter had stepped out of the boat and began to walk on the water, he turned his eyes away from Jesus and became afraid of the storm and began to sink.

The message of this story is that Peter had trusted and obeyed Jesus to take a step out of the boat. As his eyes remained on Jesus his faith was strong, it was only until he looked away his faith weakened, and doubt began to interfere.

So, we can take from this message that if we keep our eyes fixed on God and actively seek his wisdom our faith begins to grow, and when we ask for things and believe in our hearts, we shall have them.

The definition of faith focusses on the hope and conviction of our faith and not on the results. Even though we believe and do not doubt. God knows everything that we need in every situation and will supply according to his will at the appointed time. This can be the greatest lesson of faith, believing without doubting and trusting him whatever the outcome may be.

Hebrews 11:1 ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

If at this moment you are listening to this podcast and you are worried about something. Pray to God, ask him to help you and strengthen you. Psalms 145:18 says the Lord is righteous in all his ways, he is near to all who call on him and he will fulfil the desires of those who fear him and hears their cry and saves them.

Today I choose to remember to keep my eyes focussed on God and to have faith that even when obstacles stand in my way, God will help me through. Today I choose Faith over fear and Worship over worry.

Prayer

Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for being a God who is all-knowing, all-powerful and always present. I pray for wisdom in the areas where I lack knowledge. Help me to choose faith over fear and to keep my eyes on you even when doubt creeps in.

In Jesus name, I pray Amen

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Giving Back To God Is a Privilege

By Tinika Rock

‘“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, or you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the Lord of hosts; “And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” Says the Lord of hosts.’ – Malachi 3:8-12 KJV

Can a man rob God?

It is not possible to rob God because everything belongs to him. However, we can sometimes take from God and not give anything back for example when he gives us abundance and we don’t do the right things or act according to his will or withhold our tithes and offerings.  As it says in Malachi 3:8:8 NKJV ‘“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.’

What is Tithing – tithe is a Hebrew word which means tenth. The bible says in Leviticus 27:30 “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord. ‘

One way to give back to God is through tithing. Tithing is an expression of our faith and honouring and giving back to God. Proverbs 3:9 Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase:

What do we owe God?

We owe God our life, God has given us and blessed us with so much. Sometimes in life we can fall into a place where we forget about the blessings we have been given. So, in this time of reflecting on Gods promises and all that he has given us. May we have the heart of giving, Let’s open our hearts to God and all his sacrifices that we can be a cheerful giver and cheerfully give back to him.

Today I choose to remember that everything belongs to God and giving back to God is a privilege and opens doors for more blessings.

Prayer

Father, I thank you for your word, I thank you that I am renewed and transformed daily by your strength. Lord help me to be a cheerful giver that I may honour you with thy substance and with the first fruits of my increase.

In Jesus name, I pray amen

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Empowering of The Holy Spirit

By Tinika Rock

Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep. And he said to me, “What do you see?” So, I said, “I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.” So, I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, “What are these, my lord?” Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” And I said, “No, my lord.” So, he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts. ‘Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”- Zechariah 4:1-7

Zechariah – “Yahweh”

We cannot accomplish much in our own strength and might but by the empowering spirit of the Lord, not even a mighty mountain will stand in the way!

As we continue the story of Zerubbabel, we can see that God’s spirit is upon them. Now that their spirits are stirred up, they are walking in the spirit of God. Although they were responsible for rebuilding the Lord’s temple it was not by their might or by their power but by the spirit of the Lord which was given to them.  Now that they had the strength and guidance from God, not even a mountain or obstacle could stand in the way of what God had planned for them. Proverbs 3:5 NLT

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

In all that we do we can ask for Gods holy spirit to be upon us. For example, when reading the word of God call onto him, ask him to renew your heart and your mind so that you may have a desire and an attitude to read and to take in the word of God. Pray and ask for wisdom and for the holy spirit to be upon you so that you can understand what God is saying. James 1:5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

Proverbs 2:6 NKJV For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Whose strength are you relying on today?

Today I choose to remember not to rely on my own strength but to ask God for his Holy Spirit and guidance.

Prayer

Dear heavenly father I Thank you for always being with me and loving me. Lord help me to seek you and not rely on my own strength but by the holy spirit.

In Jesus name, I pray

Amen

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A Renewed Desire to Serve the Lord

By Tinika Rock

“So, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, “- Haggai 1:14

In this passage there was a call to rebuild God’s temple. The Lord gave a message through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel.

One of the challenges we may face in life is putting our own desires first. The prophet Haggai paints a picture of this challenge. The people became more concerned about their own desires and were working hard to rebuild their own houses whilst the temple of God was in ruins.

 In verse 5 – 8 we see that their ways were not beneficial, they were keeping a lot for themselves and even though they had sown much they didn’t realise that their bags had holes in them and whatever they had wasn’t enough. However, when they came to understand Gods command to get the wood and build the temple. God saw that they understood what he was saying and stirred their spirit up to start building the house.

We see that at the beginning our ways may be selfish but its only when we obey God, change our ways and seek him to renew our minds, he will stir up a new desire in us to serve him.

We must recognise that it is only by the holy spirit that gives us the ability and desire to do all what God asks of us. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 – ‘But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So, all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.’

As we read on to verse 13 – 14 God spoke to Haggai to encourage the people saying “I am with you” even though the people had turned away from God he was still there for them and encouraged them. God stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel and all the people that they would have the strength to be renewed and build Gods temple. Although we see that this message was for the people of Israel, we can relate this message to our lives.

What do we learn from this message?

  1. We learn that God requires our service and calls us to serve him
  2. God helps and encourages us to serve him
  3. The spirit of obedience and seeking God to stir up a renewed desire to serve him and build his temple

Today I choose to remember to put the Fathers desires first and not my own and to pray and ask the Lord to stir up a renewed desire to serve him

Prayer

Dear heavenly father I Thank you for always being with me and loving me even when I turn away from you. I thank you for forgiving me even when I turn away from you and put my own desires before yours.  Lord help me to be build your temple and not rely on my own power but by the strength of the holy spirit.

In Jesus name

Amen

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Seek God, Seek Righteousness, Seek Humility

By Tinika Rock

‘Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord ’s anger.’ – Zephaniah 2:3

In this verse we see a call to repentance. The result of repentance is forgiveness and true salvation. Romans 3:23 ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

A well-known scripture that many people hold close to their hearts is John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ‘

God is loving even when we don’t deserve his love, he still loves us and sent his only son to save us, so that we could have everlasting life. God wants his children to seek him and his righteousness. This means that we must walk in his ways and guard our hearts and minds.

Sometimes it’s hard to resist temptation or even realise how certain friendships or relationships can influences a decision we make. Would you be able to notice how a conversation or certain programmes affect your thoughts?

The truth is sometimes it can be hard, and we can get distracted or may not notice. Which can potentially lead us down the wrong path.  Proverbs 13:20 reminds us that we must watch the company that we keep and surround ourselves with wise counsel.

We can guard our hearts by reading Gods word and clothing ourselves with the full armour of God.

Ephesians 6:10-13 ‘Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole Armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole Armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.’

Today I choose to remember to seek God and his righteousness, I choose to surround myself with positive influences, guard my heart and seek Gods counsel when I feel tempted my flesh.

Prayer

God, I thank you for loving me and accepting me. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me so that I will be cleansed and forgiven for my sins. Lord help me to do what is right and guide me in your ways.  I pray for your forgiveness and your mercy
In Jesus name, I pray Amen

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God is our Strength

By Tinika Rock

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. (For the choir director: This prayer is to be accompanied by stringed instruments.)”
 – Habakkuk 3:17-19

In our journey of living, we can sometimes find ourselves worrying about current situations. As we look at this passage, we are reminded that even though the situation around us may be difficult it is still possible to be faithful and trust God. We sometimes go through things and worry about our situations or feel trapped in the darkness, but God is saying he is our strength, and he is confident that we will overcome. Even when we face trials and tribulations, even when we get a promotion at work, even when things don’t seem to be changing or seem too hard like this current pandemic. We can still see a faithful God and give thanks for the small and big victories we achieve.

In this time let’s dedicate our focus on a God who does not change and who will never leave us nor forsake us. He is our strength in everything we go through. He is always there for us whether good or bad.

He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all things we could ever think or imagine. 

Romans 5:5 tells us that hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the holy spirit who was given to us.

So, let’s count it all joy when we fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience. Let us also come boldly to the throne of grace and let our requests be known to God. Pray and ask him for strength and guidance in situations. Nothing is too much or too hard for God. He cares for us and wants us to cast all our anxieties onto him.

So today I choose to remember even though the situation around us may be difficult, let us focus our attention on God who does not change and is our strength

II Corinthians 1:4 NKJV – “who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Deuteronomy 31 NJKV – “And the LORD, he is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

 Prayer

God thank you for loving me and showing your grace and mercy in every area of my life. Thank you for accepting me for who I am and guiding me along the right path.

Lord, I pray that even when things are difficult, help me to focus my attention on you and rejoice always.

In Jesus name, I pray,  Amen.