August 19

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“Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor” (Proverbs 21:21 NLT).

From: August 19, 2019

THE PURSUIT THAT ONLY CHRIST CAN SATISFY

The wisdom God gave to Solomon revealed what one must pursue to find life, righteousness and honor. There appear to be two pursuits, yet they are really one. For righteousness and unfailing love are found only in Christ. Many have tried to pursue righteousness by human effort, but it can only be received by faith in Christ. And many have hoped after God’s unfailing love and mercy after failing at works righteousness. But such mercy is only found by receiving the gift of God, which is Christ the Lord.
 
Ironically, life and honor are not found in their pursuit, but in answering the call to follow Jesus. For the one who seeks to save his life will lost it, but the one denies his life to follow Jesus, will save it (Matt. 16:24-25). And the one who seeks to honor himself, the Lord will humble, but the one who humbles himself to follow, the Lord will honor (James 4:10).
 
PRAYER: Father, thank You for the gift of righteousness and unfailing love found in Jesus. Help us this day to walk by Your Spirit. Bless us this day with the grace of Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Spirit. We want to follow You in all that we do and say today. In Christ’s wonderful name, amen.

“So God has put the body together… This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other” (1 Corinthians 12:25 NLT).

From: August 19, 2018

EVERY SPIRITUAL GIFT NEEDED IS PRESENT IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
It is the Lord that gives out spiritual gifts to those who have believed and received Jesus. He gives them to each according to His will, so that the local church has every spiritual gift it needs to function and fulfill His commission. Yet, many churches seem to limp along as if missing some key part. As a result, little harmony is seen, disunity prevails, and members fail to care for one another.
 
Has the Lord, who has “put the body together,” failed to give the church a necessary gift? Certainly not. The problem is that many members of the body are not putting their spiritual gifting to use in the church. Some because of ignorance or immaturity. Others because of a lack of spiritual zeal or some distracting or disabling sin area.
 
Church members often come to the pastor suggesting the church needs this missing ministry or that unmet service. Could it be that the person who saw the need is the one that the Lord has gifted and called to fulfill it? After all, the church is us! It’s the people, not the steeple! If the church is missing something, isn’t it because someone in the church isn’t being the member of the body that God called them to be?
 
Do you know why the Lord has put you in the local body of Christ? Are you fulfilling His purpose for your life in a way that makes for harmony in the church and cares for others? If the church is missing some ministry, perhaps it’s because you are not answering His call.

“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 36:7 NKJV).

From: August 19, 2017

The word “lovingkindness” is the English translation of the Hebrew word “chesed.” It might be translated variously as “covenant love, steadfast love, loyal love, unfailing love,” etc. It is essentially the equivalent of the New Testament Greek word, “agape.” And as the psalmist wrote, God’s love is “precious.” It is this amazing character trait of God that moved Him to send His son, Jesus to die in our place. As Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…” (John 3:16). God “so loved.” It is this love of God that moves us to put our trust in Him. Like chicks under the wings of a mother hen, we hide in the shadow of His loving salvation. Listen to the heart cry of Jesus over the city of His people who would not respond to His love, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Luke 13:34).
 
Are you willing to put your trust in the lovingkindness of God?

“On that night the king could not sleep…” (Esther 6:1 ESV)

From: August 19, 2016

When the evil Haman convinced the king of Persia to issue a decree to annihilate the Jews, Queen Esther asked her fellow Jews to fast and pray for three days. One night during this time of prayer and fasting, the king couldn’t sleep. He asked his servants to bring his book of chronicles and memorable deeds and read them to him. Perhaps he hoped to fall asleep to their bedtime reading. However, the section they read reminded him of how Esther’s relative Mordecai had helped save him from an assassination conspiracy. This led to him honoring Mordecai and eventually, hanging Haman. What a coincidence that the king’s insomnia led to reading the exact report concerning Mordecai. This little book of Esther, which is notable in that it never mentions God, is filled with such “coincidences.” While God’s people fasted and prayed, He worked behind the scenes to move the king’s hand.

“…Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 NKJV)

From: August 19, 2015

The orphaned Esther won King Xerxes’ beauty contest and was crowned as his queen. She went from being a Jewish orphan to a Persian queen. Yet, her cousin, Mordecai, who had raised her as his own when her parents died, asked her not to forget her people and to consider God’s purpose for her new position. When God elevates us to a new job or position, we should always consider how we might use it as a platform for doing His will. “Who knows?” Perhaps God put you just where you are today, so that you might tell someone about the One who can rescue them from sin and death.

“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12 NLT)

From: August 19, 2014

There is diversity of spiritual gifting, but one Spirit. Many parts, one body. If the church is behaving in a crippled manner, isn’t it because certain parts of the body aren’t active? Not that they aren’t present, but that they aren’t obedient to the Head, which is Christ? When the members of the body of Christ fail to do their part, the body falls short of its calling. But when every member moves in unity according to gifting, the church fulfills its calling. What if the church isn’t being the church because you aren’t being the member of its body you were gifted to be?

“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” (1 Corinthians 12:7)

From: August 19, 2012

The Holy Spirit comes to abide in us when we receive Christ as Lord and Savior. Living in us, He gives us spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ. This gifting is not for our own edification. It is to be used to edify one another. As we exercise our spiritual gifting, we grow in their use, and the church is built up. Are you exercising your gifts in the church?

Considering questions on Esther…

From: August 19, 2009

1) What “earned” Esther favor? – My thought: Favor isn’t favor if it’s earned. Favor, like grace, is freely given by God to whom He wills. None of us deserve God’s favor.  Also, notice in Esther 2:7 what Esther’s condition was prior to her elevation to Queen. She was an orphan! Not only that, she was an orphan living in a foreign land! Ouch! Doesn’t sound favorable does it? I wonder how often God’s favor follows after a season of apparent “curse?” And I wonder if God’s favor toward Esther (Her Persian name. Her real Hebrew name: Hadassah, meaning “myrtle.”) was put into place so that His favor could be shown to all the “chosen” (or favored) people? As her uncle Mordecai reminded her for “such a time as this.” So, favor is given for “such a time as this.” Whatever “this” you’re facing.

2) Why not bow to Haman? – Possibly because bowing and worship are related in the Jewish mind. Jews had laws against this. The 3 Hebrews wouldn’t bow to Neb’s idol and he threw them in the furnace for it.

3) King Xerxes 1/2 kingdom offer? – It shows the extent of Esthers favor with the king. Perhaps he uses hyperbole here, but he is giving her permission to ask large. Reminds me of King Herod’s promise to his stepdaughter… who then requested John the Baptist’s head on a platter.

Esther is one of two books named for women in the Bible. She is the recipient of the first “Miss Universe” contest. Her name comes from “Aster,” meaning “star” (as in asteroid). She was God’s star!