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THE GREAT REVERSAL
Esther 8-10

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Most people love a great plot twist. We love it when it is looking like the heroes are not going to win in the end and all will be lost, when out of nowhere their deliverance comes and they all live happily ever after. Life doesn’t always work out like that here in the real world, but we do it enjoy it when the circumstances change dramatically for the good and the bad guys are defeated. We are wired to appreciate such reversals of fortune. Remember the Rocky movies? I remember going and seeing Rocky IV (I believe) in the theater, the one where Rocky fights the Russian who had killed his best friend in the ring at the beginning of the movie. When the final fight begins, Rocky gets pummelled for the first few rounds. Yet, it seems like that is his plan. He is trying to wear the Russian down. And then, he finally decides to throw a real punch and it lands right on the jaw of his opponent. People in the theater stood up and cheered. The makers of the film really caught the power of the great reversal.

Last Updated ( Monday, 25 July 2016 )
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Esther 3-7: Of Plans and Providence Print E-mail

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The best laid plans of men are never guaranteed success. Generals lose battles because of rain. Teams lose games because of injury. Businesses go broke because of new technology. Perhaps it could be argued that in each of these situations there should have been a proper backup plan. But even those fail. There aren’t enough backup plans to account for everything that could possibly happen. Granted good plans can (and often do) produce good results, but there is no guarantee. Why? Because men are finite beings. We don’t know the future. We don’t know how things are going to play out. We don’t know what the next hour will bring, much less the next day or week or year. Our plans are always limited by our lack of knowledge and understanding.

Last Updated ( Monday, 25 July 2016 )
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Esther 1-2: A Plan for Favor Print E-mail

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Living in exile in a foreign land would be difficult. It would be hard to have no say in the government. It would be hard to adapt to a foreign culture. It would be hard to never really feel safe. Yet, many have faced such a life. In fact, we see several people facing such circumstances in the Bible. When Ruth left Moab to return to Bethlehem with Naomi, she was an exile living in a foreign land. Daniel and his friends were exiles in Babylon. John was exiled on the island of Patmos when he wrote the book of Revelation. The idea of being an exile in a foreign land is not foreign to the Bible. The characters in the book of Esther are living in exile. Many Jews had been living in exile for over a hundred years. In fact, many had been born in exile and so it was all that they knew. But that did not mean that life was easy. As we will see, these Jewish exiles faced difficult challenges living under foreign rule. So much so that they may have been tempted to question if God still had a plan for Israel. Maybe God had forsaken His people for good. Maybe exile was all that they would ever know.

Last Updated ( Friday, 15 July 2016 )
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Nehemiah 13: Always Reforming Print E-mail

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I am so glad that our church has finally arrived! Our deacons are serving us faithfully, getting things done, taking care of the building. Our Sunday School classes are teaching good curriculum and we have a great new class for the 3-6 year olds (thanks Mrs. Marilyn). The youth are going on a mission trip this week to sacrificially serve others and take the good news to those who need to hear. We had record attendance at our first Sunday Night Fellowship of the year. And we have even had two couples join us in the last few weeks! We have arrived. Time to put things on cruise and settle in for years of blessing and growth!

Last Updated ( Monday, 04 July 2016 )
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Nehemiah 11-12: Faithful Perseverance Print E-mail

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I have recently decided to start swimming in the mornings at the YMCA. Everybody says it is a great way to exercise and I actually enjoy going, I even look forward to it on most days. Granted, I have only been doing it for a couple of months. And even this past week, I began to notice a little grumbling in my spirit. A little voice that was whispering as I swam my laps and fought for air: ‘Do you really enjoy this? Do you really want to keep doing this in the mornings? Are you really going to stay faithful?’ Do you ever feel that way about exercise? Do you ever feel that way about spiritual exercise? Do you ever just find yourself reading the Bible in the morning or getting ready for Church on Sunday wondering: ‘Am I really going to keep doing this?’ Beginning an exercise regimen is not difficult. Even doing it for a season is not that hard. But continuing to do it day in and day out is challenging. And the same is true of our spiritual lives.

Last Updated ( Monday, 04 July 2016 )
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Nehemiah 9-10: True Repentance Print E-mail

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Now that I have multiple children in my home, I am expecting the day when I have to tell one of my boys to apologize to the other. And doesn’t that always work so well? ‘Say you’re sorry.’ ‘I’M SORRY.’ ‘Now, say it like you mean it.’ Mumbling: ‘I’m sorry.’ ‘Uhhh, say it like you really mean it!’ And on and on it goes. It never really works, but we do it anyway. The truth is, just saying that you are sorry does not really mean that you really are sorry. Forced apologies are no apologies at all. They may allow us to move on, but they never really resolve the problem. A true apology comes with a sense of recognition and brokenness over the hurt caused. And it usually leads (at least for a time) to changed behavior.

Last Updated ( Monday, 04 July 2016 )
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