Esther

Years ago there lived a king of fabulous wealth.  When Alexander the great conquered Persia, he found 1200 tonnes of gold bullion and 270 tonnes of gold coins and that was only a fraction of what the wealth that belonged to King Xerxes.  He had incredible banquets lasting for weeks at which trained peacocks would walk up and down the tables carrying the best of wine which could be drunk from golden cups. One day after his wife had dishonoured him publicly he began to look for a new wife.  The search began throughout his kingdom and out of 1400 other young girls a woman named Esther was chosen to be the Queen of the whole world.

She was a Jewish peasant girl and only the scripture reveal why she was so delightful to the king and how we too can delight our Heavenly King.  Esther was lovely and beautiful.  Beautiful means she was stunning to look at but lovely means something quite different. It’s talking about who she was on the inside.   She was lovable; full of gentle kindness and grace.

But before she came to see the king she was prepared by the chamberlain to smell like the King.   The King was not used to dating girls off the farm and so for twelve months before she was ready to encounter the King she bathed in perfumed oil and milk. In India, in the old days, the bride to be of the Maharajahs would clothe themselves with a big tent-like dress. They then would light a smouldering perfumed candle under the dress and stand still until the incense filled every pore of her body with the fragrance.

It was fitting that Esther smell the same as her king and as we approach our King Jesus the fragrance he is used to and delights in, is the fragrance of the Holy anointing oil.

When we visited the Fragonard perfume factory in Grasse, France, we learned that perfume was first used by men to hide the smell that God on them from being tanners of leather. They would rub it on themselves before they went home.  In the Old Testament, the priests were to make a holy anointing oil to cover the smell of man’s flesh.   Exodus 37:29, Leviticus 1.19

Friends, as His royal priests and lovers today, it is the fragrant oil of the Holy Spirit filling “every pore” of our life that covers the fragrance of man’s flesh and makes us compatible and attractive to Jesus.

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First things first

As Jesus walked slowly through the town “A leper came and worshipped him saying if you are willing you can make me clean.”  To encounter Jesus in worship you have to come to Him.  He came to worship; he came focused and determined. It was premeditated; I will worship. He didn’t say now that the music is slow and they are playing the songs I like.  He worshipped him saying. “You can make me clean.”

When we worship we are always saying something out of our heart. The heart and the mouth speaks.  Sometimes we think that worship is not a vocal but is quiet. Of course, praise is never quiet; praise is always expressive, whereas worship could be a quiet, but still every worshipper is saying something. The leper worshipped Jesus by saying make me clean- not make the famous, rich or even employed but make me clean.  To encounter Jesus in worship our first need is not understand me or even please forgive me but please cleanse me.  That’s repentance!  We can ask for forgiveness and never want to give up our sin and be clean. But the voice from the heart of a worshipper says wash me clean.

Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Mat 8:3

Friends, If purity is the desire of our hearts it is likely that we will encounter Jesus consistently. And we never have to question whether Jesus is willing to make us clean. If we cry out to be clean – He will touch us immediately.

 

 

Because of His mercy

Noah believed Gods warning about the coming rain, built his ark and survived the flood. Afterwards, he built an altar and offered burnt offerings upon it.   Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar.  And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake” (Gen 8:20). 

Noah is a picture of a “saved” man; a man delivered from judgment.  All flesh upon the earth apart from Noah, his family, and some clean animals were destroyed. Because Noah was delivered from the judgment of God he makes an altar because he had experienced God’s mercy.

God revealed Himself to Abraham so he made an altar to God (Genesis 12.1). The Lord delivered Moses from the enemy so Moses built an altar in recognition of Gods help and mercy. (Exodus 17.1)

Able, Gideon, Joshua and David all experienced the mercy of God and then built altars to the Lord.  Worship is a recognition that God has manifested His mercy to us; that we have been partakers of His love and delivered from our enemies.  Their worship and their sacrifices were acceptable to God because they were offered because of their experience of the mercy of God.

Today the only acceptable altar on which we can offer our sacrifice is a revelation of the mercy of God.  I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom. 12:1). 

The “therefore” is the conclusion of what preceded in Romans three to ten.  In Romans three it tells us God saves us and we are justified from sin as Able was.  Romans five tells us we have peace from God as Gideon had.   Romans six tells us we are told we are now alive to God like Noah was alive after the flood. In Romans eight, we are told there is now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus and Romans nine says that the Gentiles have received mercy and been grafted into God’s purposes like Abraham.

All these Old Testament men had received mercy and then worshipped God. Therefore in Romans twelve Paul says because you also have experienced God’s mercy like Able, Gideon, and Abraham, present a sacrifice!  Our body – a living sacrifice, which is your reasonable service or worship.

Friend, devoting ourselves entirely in worship that stems from a revelation of the mercy of God, will always be acceptable worship to our God and Saviour.

Saved by the Donkey

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the ass or donkey, just before the feast of Passover. I even had been prophesied “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Look, your king is coming to you! He is humble and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt of a donkey.'” Mat 21:5   Jesus rode on a donkey because the ass in the Bible is a symbol of the work of God or His Spirit in our lives.   Most of us are familiar with the horse representing man’s ability, or the work of the flesh. Man without God.  Psalm 20 tells us “Some trust in chariots some in horses but we will remember the name of the Lord God”.  The horse is an impressive beast that man can trust in as a source of strength, in the time of battle.   God’s commentary on this is “A horse is a vain thing for safety; neither shall he deliver by his great strength (Psalm 33:17).    When Israel was redeemed from Egypt they sang this song after the waters had closed in over Pharaoh and his horses. “I will sing to Jehovah, for He has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea” (Exodus 15:1).  The red sea symbolises water baptism in which God triumphs over the horse (flesh) and the rider (devil who rides or dominates the flesh).

Where the horse is symbolic of works of flesh, the donkey is symbolic of work of God, the work of Christ or the work of the Spirit.

In Numbers 22, the prophet Balaam got on his donkey to go on a disobedient mission. On his way, the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord who had come to kill Balaam and turned off the path. Balaam smote the donkey to get it back on track.  In the end the donkey had to collapse under Balaam, to save the disobedient man from being killed. Balaam was angry at the donkey who protested his innocence.  Finally the Angel of the Lord asked why he had been beating his donkey since the ass had been trying to save his life and assured Balaam that “if she had not gone to one side, I would certainly have put you to death and kept her safe.”

Balaam represents all of mankind; we have made mistakes and disobeyed God. The donkey is a picture of Jesus and all that he did for us.   Jesus saw the judgement coming and acted to save mankind from the judgement of the Lord. He never did mankind any harm but like the donkey, Christ was misunderstood and punished unjustly.  He was an innocent sufferer and the persons he was seeking to save wanted to kill him.   The Jesus like the donkey asked “If I have done no wrong why you strike me? “(John 18.23). Jesus was willing to be struck wrongly in order to save man from death.

Friend, thank God for his love for sinful men.  If His “humble donkey” Christ hadn’t saved us by taking the punishment that we deserved, we would have met with judgment instead.

Just like Jesus?

Sometimes we feel a little bit underpowered and think “shouldn’t I feel like a super hero. When I walk down the street shouldn’t people fall under conviction and telephone poles melt into the pavement or shouldn’t our day filled with miracles as the sheer power of our shadow falls upon broken people .

We forget that Jesus divinity was veiled by His humanity. When Jesus walked along the street people couldn’t see obviously that he was the Son of God. Some people still thought he was the son of Mary and Joseph. He wasn’t glowing apart from on the Mount of transliteration. The rest of the time he just looked like everybody else and still needed to eat and rest. As a child he knew nothing and had to memorise the Torah by the age of 12.

We can not know anybody after the flesh. Your humanity doesn’t matter;  it’s your divine nature inside that counts.  You don’t need to have a degree in order to pray for a doctor with a Ph.D.  You don’t need to have money to pray for a rich man; you have more resources than the U.N. you have the Holy Spirit.

 

Jesus became a man, to win back that which was lost by men. What was lost by the first son (Adam) was won back by a Son of God and that dominion is now given back to the sons of God.   Jesus and us are brothers for we are both sons. The difference is that  Jesus was sinless and Jesus was the firstborn of the new creation. Col 1:15.  We are touched by sin and we are the second born.   The firstborn son in a Jewish family got the double portion because they were responsible to care for and provide for the rest of the family. It was a heavy responsibility. It was their responsibility to bear the judgement for all the other siblings’ errors and provide judgements were needed. When Joseph was about to be killed by his brothers, Rueben the firstborn said don’t kill him.   His firstborn responsibilities were kicking in.  You could say that the firstborn were liable for Justice and judgement while the second borns receive mercy. Jesus was the firstborn of the new creation. He was the one that received judgement. He was the one that brought justice so the second born (that’s all the rest of us sons and daughters) could receive mercy.

Friend,  we are the sons and daughters of God  in the world.  The Son and the other sons have the same purpose.  “I came down no to do my own  will but the will of him who sent me.” John 6.38 .  Jesus said “as Father sent me so I send you into the world” John 17.

We may feel not much different but we are completely different. We are 100% human but with a divine nature. He is resident within us and that changes everything, every moment, everywhere.

Breaking the vessel

Mary came to Jesus with the alabaster box filled with fragrant ointment.  Nobody knew she had it right by her, they didn’t know what that box contained.  They hadn’t even noticed until she broke the vessel and then everybody knew.  Everybody smelt the fragrance, everybody knew what was inside the box, it could not be hid.  She worshipped Jesus and anoints Him filling the whole house with the fragrance and touching everybody around about her.  That is the power of the broken vessel.   It is only when our vessel is broken, that the water of life or the anointing of the Spirit, is fully released.

Now to be a broken vessel might not sound too good. I’m not talking about a car crash or some physical breaking and smashing. The breaking of the vessel simply means that the vessel itself no longer hinders or impairs the expression of the life that is within it.   And that basically means dying to self. No surprise there.  Jesus  is called a broken vessel in his death.  Ps 31 .12.

Ever noticed what happens when somebody breaks their vessel.  Someone might stand to testify, they are polished their clear and people may be impressed by the speech. But what about the person that gets up admits to being nervous, they tell a story of pain and honestly share their struggles.  They might begin to cry, everyone feels for them and somehow seeming courage fills their life as well. It may not have been a great speech but somehow when the person breaks open their vessel there was a fragrance of Jesus that filled the room.   Maybe it was someone who steps out to prophesy; they take a risk or a singer who breaks their vessel to sing a song –  scary as it might be, the vessel is broken and fragrance fills the house.  Even just walking over to say hello to a new neighbor, or stopping to help someone in trouble when you’re busy, is breaking the vessel and letting the oil and fragrance of life flow out into the world.

When Gideon broke the vessels, the light shone out bringing victory over his enemies. It was only a clay pot but it contained something greater. You contain someone wiser, someone more powerful, someone more benevolent and purposeful; someone more loving.

Friends, let God break the vessel today. When you choose to break your vessel the life of God will be expressed through us unimpaired. Let Him pour through you.

Sons of God

Jesus is the fullness of Grace and when God wanted the world to see Grace, He sent Jesus to walk amongst us.  John 1.14.  When God wanted people to understand Grace He sent Jesus to die for us on the cross

When God wanted us to experience Grace he sent Jesus power to work in us by the Holy Spirit and now that God wants to demonstrate Grace to the world he sends Jesus through us – but it’s all Jesus. The powerful Grace of God can come on you today.

Sometimes we feel a little bit underpowered and think “shouldn’t I feel like a superhero. When I walk down the street, shouldn’t people fall under conviction and telephone poles melt into the pavement?  Shouldn’t our day be filled with miracles as the sheer power of our shadow falls upon broken people?

We forget that Jesus divinity was veiled by His humanity. When Jesus walked along the street people couldn’t see obviously that he was the Son of God. Some people still thought he was the son of Mary and Joseph. He wasn’t glowing apart from on the Mount of transliteration. The rest of the time he just looked like everybody else and still needed to eat and rest. As a child, he knew nothing and had to memorise the Torah by the age of 12.

Paul’s advice is not to know anybody after the flesh. Your humanity doesn’t matter; it’s your divine nature inside that counts.  You don’t need to have a degree in order to pray for a doctor with a Ph.D.  You don’t need to have money to pray for a rich man; you have more resource than the U.N. – you have the Holy Spirit.

The Son and the sons have the same purpose.  Jesus said “as father sent me so I send you into the world” John 17.  He became a man to win back that which was lost by men. What was lost by the son (Adam) was won back by a son of God and now given back to the sons of God.

Friend let’s be about our Fathers business.

Amazing grace

The Grace of God creates, empowers, equips and calls us for a purpose all by grace.  Paul said “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. (1Cor 3:10) 

The Grace given to Paul enabled him in his ministry. He built according to the Grace he was given.  The Grace of God is a gift to everybody but when we receive the Grace of God, He gives something to each of us in a unique way as well, so that the Grace you get, is specific to you in some way.  Grace equips you for a specific task and ministry.  Paul said it enabled him to labour abundantly.     “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1Cor  15:10). 

Paul said the Grace of God in him enabled him to be a church planter, a grace which not everybody has.   The Grace of God equipped Paul for his purpose. When you have received a Grace from God, you have received a gift to do something.   Everybody has received a Grace.   Gifts like our motivational gift are from Grace, so you can do that thing really easily.  A server will serve and enjoy it a lot.  An Administrator gift won’t get stressed out having to operate that gift because it is a Grace upon their life, yet somebody else who does not have that grace, could be stressed by it.   It is the difference between burning the oil in the lamp or burning the wick of the lamp. People burnout if they haven’t been using the oil or gift of the spirit so they have to do something they are not gifted to do and end up burning the wick.  So we need to find out what it is we are graced to do and do that.

Friend, Grace is not just a doctrine to be discussed; the Grace of God is something that can be experienced.  You have experienced the grace of God if you’ve experienced Jesus working in your life

Baptism of Grace

When we need something that we don’t have, it is time for Grace.  Grace is our Fathers gift to us, to make up the difference between our weaknesses and Christ’s completeness.  We notice every day the difference between having Grace and not having Grace in our lives.  I know when people start getting on my nerves it’s time to go back to the throne of Grace. When I’m getting uptight and stressed I’ve know I’m running on my own resources.

Samson went into a deep sleep and Delilah gave Samson the most expensive haircut in history.  When we are in the “presence of Delilah” more than in His presence, the strength will drain out and it will need to be renewed.  The Holy Spirit doesn’t leave us but His influence can drain from our life because we are not drawing from Him.  Paul knew from his own experience that the only way to overcome abounding sin is abounding Grace. “Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,” Rom 5:20 

He also knows that the only way to overcome abounding troubles was also abounding grace.  “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 

You don’t have to be a strong vessel so long as you have a strong treasure. Paul was seeking to convince the people in Corinth that he was a true apostle. He had a difficult life.  He was persecuted, stoned and shipwrecked; he was hated by both Jews and false Christians.  The Greeks at the time believed that if you went through difficult times God’s favor was not upon you, so Paul corrected their thinking by revelation rather than logic.  I am going through troubles in seeming weakness that in my weakness God’s power might be revealed. (Note: This doesn’t mean that our situations cannot be changed. Many times people sought Jesus and He delivered them or changed their situation. Your current situation is not an indication that God will not change it, however, while it is unchanged His Grace is sufficient for you)

The Greek word sufficient was used to describe a man who had unlimited financial resources.  Imagine having a credit card with no limit which somebody else would pay off. That’s the idea of being sufficient so with Grace you can master the moment. You can’t exhaust Gods supply of strength to you; It’s just going to keep on coming.  Often we don’t come to the throne of Grace but we struggle on through the day by ourselves.  So whether we need to overcome sin or troubles, we are designed for Grace to empower us.   The Power of the Spirit of grace was so important to believers that Jesus said wait in Jerusalem till you get it.

Friend, don’t leave home without the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Enter the kingdom

God is righteous and heaven is for the righteousness; therefore everybody in heaven must be righteous. Under the law people had to be righteous to enter paradise. Under Grace, people still have to be righteous to enter heaven.  There is no change.  In fact Jesus said except your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees you could never enter the kingdom of heaven.

The only thing that has changed is how we become righteous; how it is obtained.    We can now be righteous before God by faith.  It is not a lesser righteousness, but a different means to being right before God.

Jesus is the righteousness of God and if you have Jesus you have righteousness.   God demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Rom 3:26 

 God is not indifferent to sin in fact He is holy and must condemn sin. This is the reason Jesus was punished for our unrighteousness. Now our faith in the Savior is accounted for righteousness.  Our faith justifies us – or declares us to be as if we had never sinned.

Friend, it doesn’t mean we are righteous in our self nor is it legal fiction where God says we are righteousness when we are not. But we are actually righteous in Christ or because Christ is within us, we truly are righteous.