Vineyard Life Journal

An online forum for our church family to connect around our 2012 daily Bible reading plan using the S.O.A.P. method.

Archive for the tag “2012”

Day 285

Friday, October 12, 2012

Welcome to Day 285 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Nehemiah 7; Nehemiah 8; Acts 1 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Nehemiah 7:2, “I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because

he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do.”

Nehemiah 8:1, “All the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate.”

Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

O bservation

I love how Nehemiah qualified the man he put in charge as being “a man of integrity and feared God more than most people do.”

A pplication

I guess that would be a pretty good endorsement and perhaps even a good legacy…

I wonder how that would look on my tombstone?

“Here lies Scott Sliver

A man of integrity and feared God more than most people do.”

For some reason, that statement “more than most people do” just struck me as well… funny.

Wouldn’t it be a stronger statement to just read, “A man of integrity and feared God.”

(More than most people do.)

idk…

I imagine that being mumbled under someone’s breath as they are walking away… Know what I mean?

Although it’s not unlike what was said about Noah in Genesis 6:9, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.”

I still like the statement concerning Noah much better.

How about this one in Acts 9:36, “In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha; she was always doing good and helping the poor.”

(More than most people do.) It’s not there, but it sure lessens the above statement.

Doesn’t really matter… not really important…

I just wonder from time to time what I will be remembered for.

I hope it’s for more than just my hair or my shoes… or my ability to pull Bible application out of just about any movie…

I hope to be remembered for my integrity… and fearing God…

(More than most people do.)

P rayer

Lord, help me to always look to you. To care more about what you think than the people around me.

Day 284

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Welcome to Day 284 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Nehemiah 5; Nehemiah 6; Psalms 146; Luke 24 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Nehemiah 5:19, “Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people.”

Nehemiah 6:8, “ I sent him this reply: ‘Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.’ They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.'”

But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.’

13 “He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.”

Psalm 146:3, “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.”

Luke 24:32, [On the road to Emmaus] “They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

45 “Then he [Jesus] opened their minds [the disciples] so they could understand the Scriptures.

Road to Emmaus by Sharon Welch.

O bservation

The two men on the road to Emmaus… Their hearts burned as he talked to them and “opened the scriptures to them…” And the disciples, Jesus “opened their minds” so they could understand the scriptures.

A pplication

I often hear people say they can’t understand the Bible.

I mean, sure, there is a lot in the Bible that is difficult to understand…

But I wonder how many of us just need to have our “minds opened” to the scriptures? The disciples were certainly open to the scriptures and to Jesus’ teaching before this time, right?

The same with the two guys on the road… they described Jesus (funny, to Jesus, without knowing it…) as a man “powerful in word and deed.” Then they invited him to stay with them for the night…

I believe we all need to be, well, enlightened, to the scriptures… I don’t love using that word, because it seems a little “new-agey” to me, but even the Apostle Paul said, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” (Ephesians 1:18).

And Hebrews 6 refers to those who have been… you guessed it, “enlightened.”

So what am I saying? Just wondering how this works? I’m sure God has opened the scriptures to me. Seems he has anyway…

But I’m wondering for those that may struggle to understand the scriptures, if they simply prayed to God that the eyes of their heart would be enlightened…

Wondering if it’s like lighting a pilot light on your furnace…

Having said that, both of those encounters, with the disciples and the two men, both were before the gift of the Holy Spirit being poured out. Wondering if once we receive Christ and the Holy Spirit dwells within us, if that’s when the enlightenment occurs? If that’s when Jesus “opens our minds” to understand the scriptures?

Or if it’s something else? Another separate event? A series of events, a maturing that occurs?

I mean, the disciples were with Jesus for three years, every day! Did he not open their minds to the scriptures before the resurrection?

Just wondering…

Seems to me that would have been beneficial to them. Might have saved them a lot of discussions?

Just how my mind works…

P rayer

Lord, open my mind to the scriptures… that my heart would burn within me, as did the two men’s hearts on the road to Emmaus!

Day 283

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Welcome to Day 283 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Nehemiah 3; Nehemiah 4; Luke 23 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Nehemiah 3:13 “The Valley Gate was repaired by Hanun and the residents of Zanoah.”

This chapter underscores an important theme of Ezra and Nehemiah: the people of God as a whole and not just the great leaders are vital for accomplishing God’s redemptive purpose. All of God’s people worked together to rebuild the wall: clergy and laity, craftsmen and tradesmen, by town and by family, each contributing to the completion of the whole. RSB

Nehemiah 4:3, “Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”

16 “From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor.”

Luke 23:39. “One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

O bservation

They were watchful while working…

A pplication

I love the story of the rebuilding of the wall. A great picture of cooperation around a shared vision.

But nothing can compare to the story of Jesus and the two thieves on the cross.

One hurled insults, the other, a contrite request. “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He took responsibility for his actions, knew that he was deserving of punishment. And that Jesus wasn’t.

This story moves me every time I read it…

I imagine myself standing there… watching… listening. It had to be quite the scene. Then, a brief exchange and one last offer of mercy to one not deserving of mercy… and Jesus breathed his last.

And one of the two thieves entered paradise. The other… didn’t.

Taking responsibility for our actions is huge.

And a little humility goes a long way…

P rayer

Lord, may I always be humble before you… Thank you that you are merciful!

Day 282

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Welcome to Day 282 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Nehemiah 1; Nehemiah 2; Psalms 133; Luke 22 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Just fyi, Ezra is considered to be the author of Nehemiah, not Nehemiah himself, although much of the content came from his personal journals. Nehemiah (and Malachi) the last of the OT canonical writings, both in terms of the time the events occurred and the time when they were recorded by Ezra. gty.org

Nehemiah 1:4 “For several days I [Nehemiah] mourned and did not eat. I prayed to God, 5 ‘Lord God of Heaven! You are great, and we stand in fear of you. You faithfully keep your covenant with those who love you and do what you command. 6 Look at me, Lord, and hear my prayer, as I pray day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess that we, the people of Israel, have sinned. My ancestors and I have sinned. 7 We have acted wickedly against you and have not done what you commanded. We have not kept the laws which you gave us through Moses, your servant. Remember now what you told Moses: ‘If you people of Israel are unfaithful to me, I will scatter you among the other nations. 9 But then if you turn back to me and do what I have commanded you, I will bring you back to the place where I have chosen to be worshiped, even though you are scattered to the ends of the earth.’

10 “Lord, these are your servants, your own people. You rescued them by your great power and strength. 11 Listen now to my prayer and to the prayers of all your other servants who want to honor you. Give me success today and make the emperor merciful to me.”

Nehemiah 2:3, “Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

4 “The emperor asked, “What is it that you want?” I prayed to the God of Heaven, 5 and then I said to the emperor…” (See Application.)

Psalms 133:1, “How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God’s people to live together in harmony!”

Luke 22:60, “Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.”

O bservation

When asked, “What is it you want?” Nehemiah prayed first, then gave his answer, even though he already knew what he wanted. (I’m certain he didn’t pray long, because the king would have demanded an answer.)

A pplication

“Then I asked him to grant me the favor of giving me letters to the governors of West-of-Euphrates Province, instructing them to let me travel to Judah. 8 I asked also for a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal forests, instructing him to supply me with timber for the gates of the fort that guards the Temple, for the city walls, and for the house I was to live in. The emperor gave me all I asked for, because God was with me.”

I love how Nehemiah was specific in the detail of what he wanted. He gave the “Why?” because it brought shame upon him and his people, and the “What?” to rebuild his city, what it would take to get the job done, including safe passage, supplies and time-off needed.

This is a great story of leadership and vision-casting. Also, how to deal with nay-sayers, inevitable to any project.

This is also another great story of promotion from obscurity to Governorship. Nehemiah was a cup bearer in the king’s presence, but was elevated to great position by the Emperor.

This story is very much like Joseph in Genesis who interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and was elevated to Vice Pharaoh immediately, because of his wisdom and insight.

You never know what God will do if you have a heart for your city. Nehemiah realized that his city laying in ruins brought shame upon him and his people. I’m guessing many, if not most, didn’t care. They just… moved on?

But not Nehemiah. He carried concern for his city and how it reflected on himself and his people, in his heart.

And it showed on his face…

The very last verse of Jonah, verse 11 says, “the Lord said… “Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

Is God concerned about our city? You bet he is. He is concerned for every city. Every town, every village, in every country on every continent.

And he knows the state of the people there (“Who cannot tell their right hand from their left…”) and exactly how many there are (120,000).

P rayer

I am so thankful for what we get to do in our city… to care for those in need… to feed the hungry and provide prayer and support and friendship to the disenfranchised, the lost, hurting, lonely and broken. Thank you Lord for providing all that we need to fulfill the mission we are on.

Day 281

Monday, October 8, 2012

Welcome to Day 281 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezra 9; Ezra 10; Psalms 131; Luke 21 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Ezra 9:15, “O Lord, God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it

not one of us can stand in your presence.”

Ezra 10:14, “Then let everyone in our towns who has married a foreign woman come at a set time, along with the elders and judges of each town, until the fierce anger of our God in this matter is turned away from us.”

44 “All these had married foreign women, and some of them had children by these wives.”

Psalms 131:3, “O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.”

Luke 21:34, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”

“For it will come upon all people everywhere on earth.”

O bservation

Interesting… don’t get caught up in too much feasting and drinking, yet, don’t worry too much. Be watchful…

A pplication

“For it will come upon all people everywhere on earth.”

That is a bold statement right there. It’s not maybe or might. “It will…” It’s gonna happen, at some point, eventually, without question.

Believers have been waiting for 2,000 years for this (that) day to come.

Unbelievers have been scoffing at the idea as well.

Either what Jesus said, is true and right, or not.

If it is true, then it IS going to happen. And it will happen fast, “like a trap!”

I don’t wish that upon anybody, not even my worst enemy…

People scoffed at Jesus even after he healed someone. The religious leaders said he cast out Satan by the power of Satan himself. That’s where we get the famous Abraham Lincoln quote, “A house divided against itself can not stand.” (Yes, that came from the Bible! : )

Anyhoo…

It’s always interesting to have a reminder like this… as one stumbles upon the scripture, out of nowhere, that’s exactly how the day will be. “As a thief in the night.”

A recurring theme in this blog has been, “Be ready.” All throughout the book of Revelation and previous trips through the Gospels, that theme has presented itself. Just as the virgins should have had their lamps trimmed and ready, we are to be ready. Otherwise, we may miss the wedding…

This little light of mine… I’m gonna let it shine…

P rayer

May I always be ready, Lord…

Day 280

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Welcome to Day 280 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezra 7; Ezra 8; Luke 20 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Ezra 7:25, “And you, Ezra, in accordance with the wisdom of your God, which you possess, appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates—all who know the laws of your God. And you are to teach any who do not know them. 26 Whoever does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king must surely be punished by death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment.”

Ezra 8:35, “Then the exiles who had returned from captivity sacrificed burnt offerings to the God of Israel…”

Luke 20:17, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone… 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

O bservation

Break or be broken?

A pplication

Seems those are my (our) two choices. Break… or be broken.

One is my choice: Be broken.

The other option: Be crushed…

I can choose to fall on the “stone the builders rejected” or it will fall on me… and crush me?

The Gospel is simple and clear. Accept Christ, or not. Your choice…

I often see things like this in a chart format…

Accept Christ (I choose to fall on the stone the builders rejected, I am broken.)

Reject Christ (the stone falls on me and I am… crushed.)

Being broken is very different from being crushed…

I watched a documentary on the construction of Stonehenge in England. The stones we brought from miles away, each weighing TONS. The terrain was rough and occasionally they would have to dig out from under the stones to keep them moving… One man was crushed under the weight of the stone.

Not a pretty sight.

Of course, the scripture is metaphorical… not literal. But still, the two options are clear.

Break or be broken.

I’ve never broken a bone before, but my son’s friend did, when they were skateboarding. Compound fracture of the humorous. Ouch!

The imagery of broken vs. crushed hit me pretty hard this morning… not sure why. And I am not given to presenting the scriptures in a heavy way, but Jesus is facing the end of his life and ministry. He is presenting his accusers with a clear choice…

Break or be broken.

P rayer

Lord, may I alway be broken for you… you were broken for me…

Day 279

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Welcome to Day 279 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Esther 9; Esther 10; Luke 19 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Esther 9:1, “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.” 12 “The king said to Queen Esther, ‘The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa.’ 14 … and they hanged the ten sons of Haman.”

20 “Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another

and gifts to the poor.”

Esther 10:2, “And all his [King Xerxes’] acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai to which the king had raised him, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia?”

Luke 19:37, “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ 40 ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.'”

44 (Because) “You did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

 

O bservation

How easy it is to miss what God is doing.

Or…

How easy is it to miss what God is doing?

A pplication

One a statement, the other a question…

The religious leaders missed it, blinded by their own jealousy, ambition and pride.

Not all, but most. There were those like Nicodemus who recognized Jesus for who he was.

But more often than not, it was the ordinary people who got it. Not all, for sure. He was rejected by many, including at time, entire cities or regions.

But the point is, I don’t want to miss what God is doing… His “coming” to me… to us… to our church… to our city.

When we read a while back in Revelation, it repeated over and over, “Let him who has ears to hear, hear what the Spirit is saying.”

Matthew 13 speaks to this, quoting from Isaiah 6…

“He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

P rayer

Lord, give me ears to hear and eyes to see… I don’t want to miss the day of your coming to me.

Day 278

Friday, October 5, 2012

Welcome to Day 278 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Esther 3; Esther 4; Esther 5; Esther 6; Esther 7; Esther 8; Luke 18 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Ester 3:5, “When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. 6 Yet having learned who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews…”

Ester 4:12, “When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer…”

14 [Mordecai to Esher] “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

Ester 5:3, “Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.” [She only asked initially for a banquet with her, the King and Haman only.]

13 [Haman] “But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.

Ester 6:6, “Now Haman thought to himself, ‘Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?'”

(Oops…)

Ester 7:3, “O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. 4 For I and my people have been sold for destruction and slaughter and annihilation.”

9 “A gallows seventy-five feet high stands by Haman’s house. He had it made for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.” The king said, “Hang him on it!” 10 So they hanged Haman on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.”

(Ouch…)

Ester 8:5, “If it pleases the king,” she said, ‘and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces.'”

11 “The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate any armed force of any nationality or province that might attack them and their women and children; and to plunder the property of their enemies.”

15 “Mordecai left the king’s presence wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen.”

Luke 18:40, “Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord, I want to see,’ he replied. 42 Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.’ 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God.”

O bservation

Esther didn’t ask the King to spare the lives of the Jews right up front. Her first request was for a banquet.

(Taking notes?) Seems she was warming him up a bit…

A pplication

What an amazing story of wisdom, faithfulness and (sovereign) redemption.

God used a woman, Esther, plucked from obscurity amongst a throng of women from the entire region, to save her people from annihilation.

Never underestimate what God may do through ordinary people.

Yes, there were those who were great throughout the Bible and history. Moses (raised in the home of Pharaoh), King David (a shepherd boy plucked from obscurity)…

The similarities between Esther and Mary are pretty stunning. Both were obscure, young girls who found favor… one with a King to save the Jews, the other with God and was chosen to give birth to the Messiah!

This is such a great story.

(Should be made into a Lifetime movie!)

How does this apply to my life? To our lives?

Again, never underestimate what God may do through ordinary people.

Through you…

Through me…

P rayer

Thank you Lord that you use ordinary people to do extraordinary things!

Day 277

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Welcome to Day 277 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Esther 1; Esther 2; Psalms 150; Luke 17 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Interesting fact about the book of Esther… in 167 verses, does not mention the name of God. This causes some to unnecessarily doubt its authenticity.

Simple outline for today’s readings from Esther:

A. [Queen] Vashti’s Insubordination (1:1–22)

B. Esther’s Coronation (2:1–18)

Esther 1:20, “Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm,

all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.”

Sidenote: Positional authority never works well… He is reacting to his wife, Queen Vashti’s refusal to come when he summoned her. (Esther 1:10-12.)

So the King is presented with a plan to replace her…

Esther 2:2, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. 3 Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful girls into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. 4 Then let the girl who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.”

This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.”

Psalm 150:6, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

Luke 17:1, “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come… but woe to that person through whom they come.” (I am not going to focus my O or A on this verse, but I love the practicality of this verse.)

O bservation

Are you kidding me? “This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.” The most beautiful girls from the entire region… to be brought to him… after a year of beauty treatments? Paraded in front of him? Seriously?

Makes me think of the line from the Mel Brooks movie, “History of the World Part 1.” “It’s good to be the king.”

Great “advice” he was following. (Didn’t they have more important matters to attend to?)

This would have made a great reality TV show… Oh, wait, it already has been done. (“The Bachelor.”)

A pplication

Yet, after Esther’s coronation, she saved his life, and, ultimately prevented the extermination of the Jews at the hand of Haman the Agigate…

(SPOILER ALERT: He gets his in the end, as we will soon read… By being hung on the gallows which he had constructed… Also, Esther was not allowed to simply “show up” and have an audience with the King. She was only allowed if she were… you guessed it… “summoned.” In chapter 5, however, the King granted her an unannounced visit… at which time he granted her a request, up to half his kingdom… BEFORE he knew what her request was… Not very wise… but it worked out well for Esther, Mordecai and all the Jews…)

And keep in mind, she is a Jew (which that little fact was kept from the King… So much for six months of pre-marital counseling. He didn’t do a very good job of vetting the next queen. Justsayin’.)

Did Esther deceive the King? By not revealing her heritage… that she was a Jew?

Was that OK?

Just pondering…

Makes me think of “All things work together for good…” Romans 8:28.

It’s amazing to me, this journey through the Bible, what jumps out at me. I think given my commitment to daily blogging my SOAP (in such a public way,) causes me to pay closer attention and to dig deeper than ever before. I am catching nuances about stories and putting pieces of the puzzle together much more… deliberately?

P rayer

Thank you Lord for what you are doing as we read your Word!

Day 276

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Welcome to Day 276 of our Life Journal!

Click here for today’s reading: Ezra 5; Ezra 6; Psalms 138; Luke 16 (2012 Daily Bible Reading Plan)

Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?

S.O.A.P =  Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer

S cripture

Ezra 5

The people rebuilt the altar, resumed the sacrifices (3:1–6), and then rebuilt the temple itself (3:7–6:22). Spurred on by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (5:1–2) and blessed by God (5:5), they succeed in spite of opposition from the peoples around them (chapter 4) and the governor of “the province Beyond the River,” (5:3–6:12). RSB

Ezra 6

Darius affirms Cyrus’ decree…

12 “May God, who has caused his Name to dwell there, overthrow any king or people who lifts a hand to change this decree or to destroy this temple in Jerusalem.”

19 “On the fourteenth day of the first month, the exiles celebrated the Passover.”

Psalms 138:2, “I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name.”

Luke 16:14, “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.”

O bservation

They sure kept good records!

A pplication

Ezra 3:3 states that “Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices.” Then, in Ezra 4, King Artaxerxes issued a stop-work order until the matter could be sorted out. King Darius discovered that former King Cyrus had actually issued a decree that the temple could be rebuilt, so the work continued.

I love that they didn’t wait to offer sacrifices until the temple was finished. They built an altar right on the foundation, offered sacrifices, then built the temple around it.

That’s keeping first things first…

Worship should take priority over a building. A building is not necessary to worship, but in the proper time, a building is a good thing. But a building is just a building. But they are way down the list of what’s really important.

And God was pretty specific as to the dimensions and details of the temple. Same with the Tabernacle of Moses. But David got it and instituted worship 24/7 for years and years.

This is a great reminder as our church is headed into a worship conference.

First things first.

P rayer

Oh that I would worship the Lord my God, and serve Him only…

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