Click on the link below to access Kim Walker, Jesus Culture. Wishing you all a blessed Valentine’s Day!
Click on the link below to access Kim Walker, Jesus Culture. Wishing you all a blessed Valentine’s Day!
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised ~ Proverbs 31:30 NASB.
How did a common Jewish girl end up in a palace, married to a king? During this month of romance and love, let’s see what it took for Esther to get that kind of promotion.
Hadassah, better known as Esther, didn’t have a privileged upbringing. After the death of her parents, her Uncle Mordecai took and raised her as his own. Her fairytale story began during King Ahasuerus’s banquet to celebrate his three-year reign.
And he [King Ahasuerus] displayed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor of his great majesty for many days, 180 days. When these days were completed, the king gave a banquet lasting seven days for all the people who were present at the citadel in Susa, from the greatest to the least, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace ~ Esther 1:4-5 NASB.
On the seventh day of the final banquet, King Ahasuerus commanded that Queen Vashti come before the king with her royal crown in order to display her beauty to the people and the princes, for she was beautiful ~ Esther 1:11 NASB.
But Vashti refused to heed the summons.
Not wanting to give the married women in the land an excuse to mimic Vashti’s impertinence, the king agreed it was wise to replace this disobedient queen. He invited all the virgins in his kingdom to a year-long beauty pageant. After a beautification regimen of twelve months using cosmetics, spices, and oil of myrrh, each girl would spend one night with the king. Whoever pleased him the most would wear the queen’s crown.
Although Scripture describes Esther as fair of form and face, her character played a strong part in sweeping her to the summit of royalty.
First, Esther was obedient to follow instructions. Uncle Mordecai told her to keep her ethnic background a secret and not reveal her Jewish heritage. We can infer that she was humble, with a heart to serve others, so not a surprise that she also found great favor with the king’s eunuch.
Esther was taken to the king’s palace into the custody of Hegai, who was in charge of the women. Now the young lady pleased him and found favor with him. So he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and food, gave her seven choice maids from the king’s palace and transferred her and her maids to the best place in the harem ~ Esther 2:8b-9 NASB.
Second, Esther heeded wise advice. Each virgin had the option of taking along anything she desired from the harem for her special night with King Ahasuerus. Esther, however, listened and heeded wise counsel instead of following her own desires.
Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai who had taken her as his daughter, came to go in to the king, she did not request anything except what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the women, advised. And Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her ~ Esther 2:15 NASB.
Third, Esther’s character yielded the fruit of great favor.
The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his princes and his servants; he also made a holiday for the provinces and gave gifts according to the king’s bounty ~ Esther 2:17-18 NASB.
The vanity and pride of Queen Vashti stole her title and position.
The obedience and humility of orphaned Hadassah promoted her to the king’s palace to become the new queen in Vashti’s place.
What does this story have in common with the Church? We, the Saints, will soon become the Bride of Christ. On that day when we are in heaven and He places crowns on our heads, we, along with the twenty-four elders, will fall down and worship, casting our crowns at His feet.
And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created’ ~ Revelation 4:9-11 NASB.
May we, like Queen Esther, be found faithful in heeding God’s wisdom, found in His Word. May we live our lives in obedience and humility. May we be granted favor with God and man as we beautify and anoint ourselves to meet Our Bridegroom—washing with the pure water of the Word and donning clean, white wedding clothes to meet Jesus, our Messiah, in the air.
As the month of January concludes, the winter season will soon usher us into February.
What a great month!
Not only is it short, but its centerpiece is Valentine’s Day, the day of expressing love to those who mean the world to us.
It’s a day to enjoy exquisite chocolates, fragrant flowers, and cards with verses that touch hearts and bring tears of joy.
It’s a day full of red and pink hearts, iced cupcakes, and tiny gifts tied up with bows.
It’s a day of white tablecloths, candlelight, and sharing dinner with that special someone.
So, in honor of our February celebration of love, I’d like to express my gratitude to you by gifting you with my novella. Click “Buy on Amazon” under the meme for your free ebook (available from January 27-30).
Curl up by a toasty fire with an afghan and a mug of hot chocolate on a snowy winter’s day. Lose yourself in Carlie’s senior year of college where she finally decides to put God to the test. Can a girl really find her perfect fit if she turns the matchmaking over to God?
Can Carlie’s faith also challenge today’s single women searching for a godly husband? Find out how 2 Corinthians 6:14 is still relevant in today’s culture.
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (ESV)
Have you ever been betrayed by someone close? I sure have. I call it my Judas Experience.
Deep hurt leads to a crossroads—forgiveness versus unforgiveness. It’s your choice to make.
If you’re like most people, your heart has a compartment where you can jail old soul wounds. You think that if those bad memories stay locked in the dark long enough, they’ll dissolve and blow away with the winds of time, gone forever.
Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Instead, those hurts fester, rot, and stink inside its little coffin. You may try your best to conceal it with a sweet-smelling cover-up. However, it’s no use because God sees through pretense.
O God, You know my foolishness; And my sins are not hidden from You ~ Psalms 69:5 NASB.
Unforgiveness is like swallowing poison, hoping the other person dies. But, isn’t it funny how that guilty one often continues with his or her life, while you’re stuck in the same spot, sucking the bottle dry? Just the thought of their “getting away with it” drives you mad, which is exactly why you cling to unforgiveness. You believe that if you let go, it would declare innocence for the guilty person. You become a lighthouse guardian of a wrong suffered, proudly carrying a blazing torch to memorialize it–to the grave if need be.
Can unforgiveness affect your physical health?
For some, unforgiveness may fester into a chronic illness hiding deep in cells, poisoning the rest of the body with puzzling physical symptoms. It could open a door for disease to gain painful access. Medicine often can’t diagnose its cause nor find its cure, so chains of suffering could last a lifetime.
That’s not any way to live. How can you cleanse your soul of this toxic waste, like dirty bathwater in a tub with a stopped-up drain?
Think about the life of Jesus. He lived a perfect, sinless life, but His enemies crucified Him to terminate His ministry. He never did or said anything to justify dying the most painful, shameful death imaginable. The Sanhedrin felt threatened by this new miracle-performing Rabbi who was proving to Jewish throngs that He was indeed Messiah, the Promised One.
At the crucifixion, those around Jesus hurled insults, saying, ‘Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!’ ~ Mark 15:29b-30 NKJV.
Jesus could have commanded legions of angels to come to His rescue and kill all His enemies in a split second. But that wouldn’t have accomplished God’s purpose. Jesus came willingly to lay down His life as the perfect Lamb, God’s perfect sacrifice, for all mankind to be saved.
Suffering and bloody from His crown of thorns, thirty-nine lashes, and spikes driven into His hands and feet, Jesus forgave His enemies with beautiful words, forever memorialized in Scripture.
‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’ And they divided His garments and cast lots ~ Luke 23:34 NASB.
Can you imagine patiently suffering unto death and still forgiving your enemies as they mocked you? Have any of us suffered to a point like Jesus? Our miseries may seem unbearable now, but they are nothing compared to the glory that awaits us.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us ~ Romans 8:16-18 NKJV.
How many times should you forgive? Not once, not twice, but 490 times!
Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’ ~ Matthew 18:21-22 NASB.
Will your tithe be accepted if you harbor unforgiveness toward another?
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift ~ Matthew 5:23-24, NKJV.
What happens if you refuse to forgive?
‘For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses’ ~ Matthew 6:14-15 NASB.
So, there are serious consequences attached to unforgiveness. Just as Christ has forgiven us, we are commanded to forgive others. It’s not a suggestion. We MUST forgive if we expect to be forgiven and enter heaven. Contrary to today’s culture, God doesn’t bend His Word—there’s no wiggle room.
No matter how our emotions may balk, we overcome through our free will. Pray to forgive your enemies, not because you FEEL like it, but because you WILL to do it in obedience to Christ. The Holy Spirit will certainly reward you with the victory.
Then, in prayer, release your hurts to Jesus. He will come through the Holy Spirit and pour oil and wine into your raw soul wounds, remove the stingers and cover you with a healing balm of Gilead, binding up and covering you with His grace and peace. Jesus promised to never leave nor forsake you.
I’ve found that as I forgive my enemies and bless them in prayer, the chains of inner suffering loosen and disintegrate. Jesus drains the filthy water away and scours my soul clean by the blood of the Lamb. Physically and spiritually, I’m freed from all that poison. My deepest cells heal, and my body can return to perfect health.
Releasing hurts and injustices to the Lord has wonderful benefits. Not only will it free and restore your joy, but it permits the Lord to work on your behalf. God’s Word testifies about how much He hates injustice, fights for His children, and punishes their enemies.
For the Lord loves justice And does not forsake His saints; They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land, And dwell in it forever ~Psalms 37:28-29 NKJV.
When I realized that God can fight my battles FAR better than I ever could, even on my best day, I now gladly release my enemies into God’s hands. As I pray for my enemies, my heart is restored through God’s grace, and I once again dwell in peace and joy.
Today, I am thankful to live in the freedom of forgiveness. I trust God—not myself—to be Judge.
How about you? Will you lay down unforgiveness and embrace joy?
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises ~ Psalm 98:4 NKJV.
Christmas has recently passed, and if you’re like me, all the decorations are neatly tucked away for another year. Although the house is back in apple-pie order, my emotions mourn.
A month before Christmas, I labored for a week to arrange twinkling lights, pine boughs, crèche figures, and ornaments. But now, after just a few short days, no trace of that joyful celebration remains.
I admit, I was rather sad to see such lovely beauty vanish. I also pondered why my JOY had disappeared along with the decorations.
True JOY isn’t a by-product of the physical realm–that kind is passing, not permanent. Instead, JOY is a lasting gift God plants deep down in our spirits.
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation ~ Habakkuk 3:18 NKJV.
Years ago, when I was still teaching, I used to always smile and bubble over with JOY. Students would often ask me why I was so happy all the time—especially early in the morning. Since it was a public school, I danced around the real reason, which was the JOY of Jesus living in my heart. But it thrilled me that my witness made a difference, even in a place where I wasn’t verbally allowed to share my spiritual beliefs.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven ~ Matthew 5:16 NKJV.
We realize Christmas isn’t just about outward glitter, presents, and holiday feasting. All that is a by-product of the JOY of the birth of Jesus Christ.
This first month of the New Year, let’s take that precious JOY, live it out in our daily lives, and let our lights shine from the housetops!
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart! ~ Psalm 32:11.
Although happiness can turn upside down and dissolve with life’s circumstances, let’s allow the JOY of the Lord to shine through every word and action. No matter what comes our way, we can choose our response–JOY.
So, let’s take off the lid of that pot of JOY bubbling in our hearts and allow the bliss of God’s love to overflow to the world in 2018. Let JOY be the witness of our salvation through the blood of the Lamb, having made us whole in Christ Jesus.
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation ~ Psalm 95:1 NKJV.
Will you choose JOY to shine from your life this year?
Wishing all my readers a blessed and prosperous New Year!
I want to take this opportunity to thank you so very much for following me, whether you’re new or have been here from the beginning. I appreciate each and every one of you for taking time to read my blog. My goal is to always bring you fresh insight from God’s Word that will bless and enrich your spirit as we travel along life’s path.
Look for some new changes I hope you’ll enjoy. Each month will have its own theme, and I plan to blog at least twice a month. January will begin with the theme of finding deeper JOY–won’t that be a great springboard for us as we launch into 2018? I’m anticipating a wonderful New Year and trust you are too.
A Deeper Path…
You will also receive an invitation to subscribe to a newsletter for more in-depth communication. I’m creating something you’ll be excited to receive in your inbox just three or four times a year. So, be on the lookout for it this winter. I earnestly hope you’ll come alongside as we travel a deeper path.
Warmest Blessings for the Happiest of New Years,
Dear Readers, I’m sharing this post from Heart”wings” blog where it was first posted on Christmas Day. Since it’s a personal story about the passing of my grandmother, I also wanted to share it with you here. If you’re missing a loved one at this time of year, I pray this story will be comforting. Wishing you all a blessed Christmas season!
Merry Christmas! May I wish you a joyous day, as all around the world we celebrate the birth of Christ. I would love to share a special Christmas memory with you on today’s Monday Memories.
Let’s turn back the clocks to Christmas Eve afternoon, 1977. My parents and I were busy making traditional preparations for our family’s celebration. Glittering presents tied with shiny bows tumbled in piles beneath a sparkling tree. Fireplaces crackled out warmth from blazing logs. Mantles displayed holy crèche scenes inside nests of pine boughs and twinkle lights. The kitchen bulged with Christmas stöllens and cakes, smoked turkeys, hams, and all the trimmings for tomorrow’s big dinner.
Our routine included attending a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, followed by dinner at a restaurant. After returning home, we would open presents—a tradition passed down from my father’s family.
But this season unveiled an alarming surprise. Two days earlier, my mother and I drove to a hospital in Morehead, Kentucky, where my maternal grandmother had been admitted to ICU. My grandparents had just moved to our family’s farm, and this happened to be the closest hospital emergency room.
We parked, walked to a red-brick building on a street corner, and climbed the cement steps to the front entrance. Once inside, we located an elevator and rode to the second floor. Tiptoeing down an antiseptic hallway, we spied a door with a sign that read ICU, and beyond, a hospital bed where Grandmother lay.
Her face shone, despite having survived a major heart attack. Rosy-cheeked, her lips tipped up to smile as she shared her good news. The doctor claimed she was doing well and, at her current rate of improvement, announced she should be able to go home shortly after Christmas.
Relief flooded through all of us. She was going to survive. At seventy-five, she was still young compared to family members who lived well into their nineties. Up to that point, all ten of her siblings were still living.
After a short visit, we left the hospital the same way we had entered and drove home. On that cold, golden evening, we admired the forested hills, almost bare of their autumn leaves. Peace enveloped our hearts in the flickering sunset—God’s whisper that the situation was under His control. We could trust Him. Grandmother would live.
On Christmas Eve Day, we kept a close eye on the clock. One last job before leaving for church involved arranging luminaries around the driveway. As we lighted them, my dad appeared at the front door and called my mother to the telephone. The message that came through the wire would permanently change our lives.
Through the receiver echoed the words, “Mom’s gone … Mom’s gone!” My grandfather’s sorrow announced his wife’s unexpected departure for her heavenly home.
We were stunned … shocked. Our upcoming celebration halted. Rather than enjoying that night’s traditions, my mother made phone calls. Instead of opening presents, we prepared for a funeral. The Lord carried our family on His wings of grace through those hard days.
But that’s not the end of the story.
After the doctor’s report had sparked hope that the crisis was over, my grandfather and two of my great-aunts left the ICU for a much-needed shower and a good night’s sleep. So, for about twenty-four hours, Grandmother was alone.
That no one had been present at her hour of death shrouded everyone’s heart with deep regret, especially my mother’s. But how could anyone have known? Still, she wrestled with her conscience and found it difficult to forgive herself.
In her sorrow, God answered one day when she was in prayer, The Lord reminded her of a vivid dream He had given her in 1969. In it, she remembered she had seen that same red brick building, elevator, and visiting her sick mother on the second floor. But the dream added one extra element. After she left, crystal-clear water, symbolizing death, poured out the front door and washed down the steps.
Neither in the dream, nor in reality had she been present with her mother at the time of death,
God had drawn back the curtains of the future eight years ahead of time, allowing her to take a peek. No arguing against God’s perfect plan. After she understood the dream’s deeper meaning, her guilt lifted.
Although every Christmas Eve is bittersweet, God is amazing. His lovingkindness to us is boundless, and our sweet memories comfort us as we carry on our holiday traditions to celebrate Jesus’s birth.
Is someone special to you missing this Christmas Day?
Today let’s draw on God’s infinite comfort, realizing our loved ones are in heaven, waiting for us. As we gather our families and friends close this Christmas Day, let’s bask in the hope of God’s perfect gift, His Son. Sent to be our Savior, this Babe in the manger brings us joy and peace in the midst of our circumstances. Let’s make room in our hearts to receive Jesus and His eternal gift of salvation.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’ ~ Luke 2:8-14, NKJV