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Join the Resurrection Celebration!

I found a new way to celebrate the resurrection, and YOU are invited to participate. It’s called The Lazarus Experiment.  

The Lazarus Experiment found me after I was newly diagnosed with macular degeneration, and shocked by the opening sentence in The Essential Guide to Macular Degeneration: Whatever you want to see, or have wanted to see or do – do it now.

Whoa.

 

It’s natural to take much for granted in the daily routine of life, and the possibility of losing any of our senses is reeling. I realized I would be forever known as a fool if I did not follow the eye-doctors’ vitamin and diet recommendations known to slow AMD’s progression. I would also be a fool to pass on the Lazarus experiment.

Laxexp

 

What did we do? Rather than giving up something as many do during the pre-resurrection Lenten season, the 70 participants were encouraged to consider how Lazarus might have experienced his days after being brought back to life…to say and do what you might have regretted not doing had you been Lazarus and died unexpectedly. Wouldn’t we all love that second chance at life!

 

The amazing things to me were the continuity of an attitude of praise and confidence in God to turn even the bad things into something good for our benefit, and the freedom to reveal oneself so publicly.

 

Facing oneself and questioning if you are truly living to your full ability of praise, worship, thankfulness, and joy, it is easy to see the shadows and imagine that you are alone. 40 days of focused joy at being alive, sharing life’s intimacy with the Lazarus group and seeing God move in my life through their insights and inspirations, made me realize I was getting to know some of these across-the-world friends better than I know some neighbors!

 

The question and the answer remain the same: How I can live today fully immersed in the realization that I am experiencing the gift of life? Live like Lazarus!

 

Facebook Invitation closes Sunday Night – Experiment begins Monday after Easter!

 Search for The Lazarus Experiment and click on ” join group” and you will be in!

Information About The Lazarus Experiment: https://www.facebook.com/groups/315121691887035/

To all of you who have joined up for 2014 – thanks for being here. What a great group so far!

I want to give you a brief description of the group so you know what you’ve gotten into. This will also help you to invite friends to the group – they’ll see right away how it all works. (If you want, you can even copy and paste this onto your own page or personal message invite to friends).

The Lazarus Experiment simply asks, “How would Lazarus live differently once he’d been called out of the grave?” Lazarus gives us all a picture of our own new life in Jesus. We’ve been called out of death into life. But are we really living as if it happened? Do we live like Laz?

So, for forty days, the challenge is to do ONE THING EVERY DAY that is distinctively Lazarus-like. One thing that sets your life apart from the average Joe. One thing that says to whoever is looking, “I’m alive! Oh yes, I am!” And we’ll share our experiences with each other here, on Facebook, with the whole group.

Here is a way to start thinking about the forty things you will do. They need to be . . .

* Intentional. The more active and out of the normal they are, the better. Don’t be passive about it, and don’t simply come to the end of a day and say, “Well, I noticed a flower blooming today.” Instead, make a plan, or do something spontaneously outrageous, but go out of your way to do it.

* Generous. Really – would Lazarus scrimp? Would Lazarus hold back? Would Lazarus try to expend as little energy or time or resources as possible to just get by? I don’t think so. Let’s shoot for big stuff.

* Bold. When Lazarus gave Mary and Martha a hug (after a good long shower), do you think it was a gentle little squeeze? Whatever you do, do it as if Jesus had just pulled you up out of the pit.

Please plan on checking in to the group page everyday. Post what you’re doing. Post about how God may be working in your life. Ask for help, if you need it.

Another reason to check the group page: Every day I’ll be posting an encouragement, quote, song, and motivation as needed. This will give you ideas and thoughtful direction for your Lazarus Experiment.

PLEASE take a moment and share this post and The Lazarus Experiment with a friend. You can invite friends to join us at any time during the forty days, but getting started from day one is the best! Let everyone know what you’re doing!

Please also check with us tomorrow, as we’ll have some direction regarding how to get the most out of the Experiment. And we’ll also start our introductions.

We kick off in three days! I’m looking forward to what God will do through our mutual attempt to Come Awake!

Ron

Also, if you haven’t read this article yet, you may want to check it out: http://www.ptm.org/11PT/spring/whatWouldLazarusDo.pdf

 

 
 

The Most Important Question of Your Life

Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But who did He say He was? . . . Who Do You Say He Is?

From Genesis to Revelation we are see prophetic I AM references about the Messiah (which are quoted about Christ in the new testament. :7 in Genesis, 21 in Exodus, 7 IMG_7257in Psalms, 35 in Isaiah and 70 in Ezekiel), and in the New Testament, we hear from Jesus, using that same word Ehyeh (Hebrew – I AM THAT I AM)
Some say He was a good teacher, a rabbi, but would a good teacher say He had the power to forgive sin? Would a good teacher say HE was the ONLY way to heaven? Read on and answer the most important question of your life.

Genesis (15:7 “I am the Lord.” (Jehovah /Yahweh)
Exodus 3:14- “I AM THAT I AM
Leviticus 11:44 I am the LORD your God
Num. 15:41 I am the LORD your God
Psalms 69: I am scorned, disgraced and shamed
Isaiah 60:16. I the Lord am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.”
Ezekiel 20:19) I am the LORD your God
Jeremiah:27 “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind
Joel 2:27 Then you will know that I am in Israel,
that I am the LORD your God,
and that there is no other;
Malachi 3:6, “I am the Lord, I change not.”
John 6: 35, 48 – I am the bread of life
John 8: 12, 9:5 – I am the light of the world
John 8: 58 – Before Abraham was, I am
John 10:9 – I am the door
John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd
John 11:25 -26 : “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”

John 14:16 – “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the father, but through me.”
Revelation 1:18 – “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death”

In Matthew 16:15 – Jesus pressed the question –
And how about you? Who do you say I am?”
Mark tells us in 8:29 when Jesus asked his followers Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah.”

Who do you say Jesus Christ is?

 

 
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Posted by on 04/19/2014 in Devotional

 

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Passover and the Reversal of Destiny

Celebrate the Victory

Because of sin, we all will face death, revealing our destiny-choices before God. We need to prepare for our remaining days as seriously as Esther, and celebrate our LambsB&Wfreedom and victories as heartily as all of Xerxes Jewish kingdom.

No witness is more effective than an undeniable observation that God is with us, and has worked wonders in our behalf. (Beth Moore). If you are Jewish and are reading this, know that YOU are a witness that God is, and that He is a covenant God, who keeps His promises. The story of Esther, and the fact that you are here, now, is a great evidence of God’s continued love for His chosen people.

 

The witness of God in the book of Esther, is that every negative in the beginning of Esther are reversed.   In Esther 4:3, after Haman’s edict the Jews are mourning, fasting, weeping, and wailing, but in Esther 8:16, it was a time of light, gladness, joy, and honor.

 

Four reversals of destiny of of the book of Esther:

Reversal of destiny 1. Haman’s prideful desire to be ‘above the Jews’ was fulfilled in an ironic reversal of his every dream and plan. Haman’s plan to hang Mordecai on a tall gallows reversed when Haman was displayed there 75 feet ‘above’ the people he intended to destroy.

 

Reversal of destiny 2. Mordecai, an unknown Jew with a place of honor at the king’s gate refused to bow to Haman and appeared to have an approaching destiny reversal when Haman convinced the drunken king to sign a law that would obliterate all Jews. Who would have thought that the roles would reverse and Mordecai would become the King’s second in command!

 

Reversal of destiny 3. King Xerxes, ruling with drunken tyranny and fear, appears very capable of disposing of another queen when Esther contradicts the law and approaches his scepter. After Esther reveals the plot and her true identity, however, he asks her what else she would like done!

Esther

Reversal of destiny 4. Esther – The orphaned Jewish girl who became Queen of Susa went from the Queen’s feast to fasting, where she found the wisdom and direction for her destiny reversal. From a Jew in hiding to Queen Esther, writing with ‘full authority.”

 

A famous Christian who hid and protected many Jews during the time of the Holocaust, Corrie Ten Boom, once said, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.”

 

That, my friend, is what Esther did. What Mordecai did. And what fasting and the resulting Purim – and Passover are all about. It was no accident that God allowed the intended slaughter to be scheduled near the Pass-over. I break up the word Passover that way because while Esther’s story is a call to Purim (celebrating, feasting and rejoicing) the destiny reversal theme of Esther is even more about the Passover, remembering our deliverance and preparing to commemorate it with purity. (The blood of the Lamb)

 

The symbolism of the Passover would us today that God is Elohim – The Almighty covenant keeper with His people. I can almost hear the whispers – if He saved Moses  and all our firstborn, will he not continue to keep His covenant and protect His people…if God is for us – who can be against us…

May we cast aside any foolish pride like Haman that would blind us to God’s truth. May we, unlike Xerxes, depend on God’s wisdom instead of our own and not allow our faculties to be dimmed from making the right decisions. May we all be like Mordecai, unafraid to identify the enemy at personal risk and to ring out the call to arms. May we all, like Esther, face that we can do nothing in our own strength, and bow before God in prayer and fasting, before we move ahead trusting Him for direction and resolution.

 

God is still in the business of destiny reversing. May we trust Him to provide the only protection

that will cause the enemy’s planned disaster to pass over us. May we trust our destiny to Jesus – Messiah – King of Kings. passoverclipart

 

Passover begins today – If you are not Jewish and wonder what that has to do with you, check out these websites

 

Why you should celebrate a Messianic Passover as part of your Christian experience

http://www.threemacs.org/themes/jewish/passover.htm

 

http://www.chosenpeople.com/main/holidays-and-festivals/190-the-meaning-of-passover

 
 

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The King’s Heart Revealed

When the first dinner was completed the King offered Esther ‘up to half the kingdom’ but she requests a repeat performance the following night. Whether God spoke to her Chroniclesor through her at that moment, we can certainly see God’s working during the later hours of that night when the sleep deprived king read of Mordecai’s act of valor and then gave Haman’s desired honor to Mordecai.

 

One commentator reveals Esther’s very delicate situation, for though Haman had constructed the evil law, the king had signed it. She now has to expose Haman without being accusatory and putting the king on the defensive while revealing her secret.   Going before the king in spite of the law was a risk, but admitting she kept something from the king seems infinitely more personal.

 

Her interactions with the king change from ‘if I have pleased the king,” to the more personal “if I have found favor in your sight.” scepter-8083438

She fell before the king in tears, this time specifically requesting his assistance, and revealing Mordecai’s relation to her.

Once again the king extended his scepter to her.

 

Haman was executed on the pole he planned for Mordecai, but Esther’s plea to revoke Haman’s law was not possible. Xerxes gave Mordecai the authority and complete latitude to write in the king’s name whatever would protect his queen and the Jewish nation. Scripture says, “so Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter about Purim.” Instead of war there was celebration:

 

Esther 8: 15-17 – in each and every province, and in each and every city, wherever the king’s commandment and his decree arrived, there was gladness and joy for the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them.

 

Haman’s edict was set to take place at the time of Passover. Esther 9:1 : Now in the twelfth month (that is, the month Adar), on the thirteenth day when the king’s command and edict were about to be executed, on the day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, it was turned to the contrary so that the Jews themselves gained the mastery over those who hated them.

 

I love how we also can be encouraged to celebrate with them: for Esther 9:27 tells us: “the Jews established and made a custom for themselves, and for their descendants, and for all those who allied themselves with them,

 

9. If we know Messiah, God’s destiny is within us

 

God is sovereign, no matter our circumstance. We can trust Him to provide the only protection that will cause the enemy’s planned disaster to pass over us.

 

Only trusting in God’s truth can we cast aside foolish pride like Haman’s, and depending on God’s wisdom, make the right decisions, unlike Xerxes.

 

We can like Mordecai, be unafraid, despite personal risk, to identify the enemy. Admitting we can do nothing in our own strength, we can bow before God in prayer and fasting like Esther, then confidently move ahead, trusting our destiny ‘s resolution to Yeshua Messiah – King of Kings.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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Look What God Has Done!

Esther made the only right choice, which was to attempt to save her people and not just save her own self.  Esther did approach the king—uninvited—a feat punishable by death if the king did not extend his scepter. The king’s response was beyond Esther’s wildest imagination – he did extend the scepter and seemingly tenderly offered her anything, up to half of his kingdom.

 

Esther deferred her response, inviting the King and Haman to a dinner where she would give her response. Such a dinner would show her respect for the guests and would certainly put them in an amenable mood to her request.

 

The tale goes on in Esther 6 that “During that night the king could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king.

Esth. 6:2 And it was found written what Mordecai had reported concerning Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs who were doorkeepers, that they had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.

Esth. 6:3 And the king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” Then the king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”

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Incredibly the King plans to reward the very person his second-in-command is plotting to kill. Another bit of irony surfaces as Haman “had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace in order to speak to the king about hanging Mordecai on the gallows which he had prepared for him.

Esth. 6:5 And the king’s servants said to him, “Behold, Haman is standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.”

 

The rest of chapter 6 reveals Haman’s ego as he assumes there is no one the king would want to honor more than himself and proceeds to tell the King what Haman hopes will be done to himself. Imagine Haman’s fallen pride, horror and rage when he hears the King ordering him to bestow the honor Haman chose on Mordecai!

 

The humiliation over, Haman slinks back home, head hanging and once again consults the same “wise men” and wife who had suggested he build the gallows. Their remark this time reveals their knowledge of God’s favor on the Jewish people, for as they are telling Haman in 6:13 “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish origin, you will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him.” With no time to decide, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hastily brought Haman to the banquet which Esther had prepared. (6:14)

 

Miraculously God has now prepared the King’s heart to be sympathetic toward the so recently honored Mordecai, and to Queen Esther’s coming request.

 

 

8. Remember what God has done

It had to be a miracle of God to the fasting Jews when Xerxes honored Mordecai. If the restless monarch hadn’t read the chronicles would his heart have been opened when Esther came before his scepter? Would the king have believed Haman then over Esther or Mordecai?  WatchGod

 

Passover was approaching for the Jewish people. Passover’s symbolism still proclaims that God is Elohim, reminding us: He who saved our firstborn continues to keep His covenant and His people

 

Esther’s trouble was not over, but she was taking one step at a time, and remembering what God had already done for her people. If He delivered them before (Passover), He could do so again.

 

May we also LOOK WHAT GOD HAS DONE – and remembering the Passovers of our lives,  trust the God who is the same – yesterday, today and forever. (Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on 04/01/2014 in Devotional

 

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Are You OF or IN?

Esther has finished the fast she called. Now the time has come for Esther to act upon her time of fasting and prayer. Queen Esther dons in her royal robes – dressing to make a statement. She IS the queen after all. And as she walks to the throne room the big question hovers in the air. Death is near. . .

2332Will God provide a way of escape?

Many Christians and Jews today are wondering that same question. Not only are believers still persecuted in many countries and daily face possible death, but there have been more martyrs for the faith in this century than any. Further, because of sin, all peoples face certain death with no potential to fulfill their destiny before God.

Should we not take our time of preparation for our remaining days as seriously as Esther did?
Esther’s moves may have been calculated, or carefully led moment by moment. Scholars speculate, but no one knows for sure why she did some of the things she did during the next few days.
Our last lesson from Esther’s actions is to do what she apparently did – do something but do it while listening for God’s direction – leaving plenty of room for God to work.

Now the king was sitting on his royal throne in the throne room, opposite the entrance to the palace. When the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight; and the king extended to Esther the golden scepter, which was in his hand. So Esther came near and touched the top of the scepter. Then the king said to her, “What is troubling you, Queen Esther? And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it will be given to you.”
Though the King had not seen or called for Esther in the past 30 days, with this appearance she ‘found favor in his sight” and he extended the golden scepter, saving her life. Was it her beauty, or her reminder that he had chosen this beautiful woman, that Xerxes thought she longed for the sight of him? He knew that Esther knew the law and she would not have taken such a step lightly. His acknowledgement that she was troubled by something and realization that she had come to him for resolution probably encouraged his ego.OS02038

Picturing the court at that moment had to have many heads of state gasping at the audacity of the Queen standing in the doorway, putting her life on the line. Would this be another Vashti-incident – how would the King react to the second queen challenging his laws? There must have been a great exhale when the scepter raised up and out toward Esther. But now, can’t you see them all leaning forward to see what she would dare to ask?

I tend to believe Esther was as surprised as we are to hear some of the words coming from her mouth.
Clever or careful, Queen Esther does not reveal her request yet, but invites the King (and his second in command Haman) to a private dinner. How disappointing for the servers and attendees not to know the rest of the story. Banquet fare in those days consisted of four courses – the last being the wine, and it was now the wine course.

The king and his VP are reclining and “filled with wine,” and the king curiously repeats this question asking Esther what she wants. Mysteriously Esther, the captive Jewish queen, invites the King and his Jew-hating second-in-command to another dinner the following day.

7. Assimilating to the enemy is never an option

Although Esther had somehow entered the palace without outward Jewish identification, God and His promises still lived within her heart. Mordecai “the Jew” was hated by Haman for his identity, and it had to be only a matter of time until Haman figured out Esther was also Jewish.

Esther’s situation was delicate, for though Haman had constructed the evil law, the king had signed it. Esther’s goal was threefold: expose Haman, without accusing the king, while publicly revealing truth about herself that she had not shared with the King. All three could humiliate the King – an offense leading to death.

But… although Esther was IN the King’s world, she was not OF it. She had retained her God-given identity as His chosen.    2151

What a tough place to be. Fully realizing her punishment could still be death.

I loved her inspirational response – once Esther saw the right thing she moved decisively.

Whatever your dilemma today, Esther’s God is your answer. Focus on Him as Esther did,

let him show you the right thing and give you the same light to act -

– decisively.

 
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Posted by on 03/26/2014 in Devotional

 

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Be Like Esther – Do Something!

Queen Esther called for a fast, but not just any fast. Esther’s choice of the type of fast she instructed Mordecai waterto start is very telling.

Biblical reasons for fasting:

1) To subject the physical to the spiritual – giving priority to spiritual goals;

2) To disentangle oneself from one’s environment, material things, daily responsibilities, and cares

3) To devote one’s whole spiritual attention to God and prayer.

4) To Strengthen Our Spiritual Appetites & Longings for Him and to Protect us from Becoming Satisfied with Natural and Temporary Things (John Piper, “When I Don’t Desire God”, p. 172)

5) To Bring Our Flesh Under Submission

6) To Humble Ourselves

7) To Combat Temptation and Spiritual Opposition

8) During Times of Repentance and Intercession

9) (Esther’s Need) When Facing a Great Challenge or Obstacle – an overwhelming need, a human impossibility, and your soul hungers to see God intervene by supernatural power

 

Biblical types of fasts:
IMG_0001The Daniel Fast – vegetables, fruit and water

3-Day Fast This fast can be a Full Fast, Daniel Fast or give up at least one item of food.

Partial Fast – from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm or from sun up to sundown

 

Full Fast No liquid or food – or Drink only liquids (you establish the number of days).

Typically the length and severity of the fast were in keeping with the serious nature of the spiritual intercession, challenge or opposition.

The Fast – Esther decreed as Queen through Mordecai saying “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.”

When the fast was over and Esther prepared three days later to go to the King I doubt she was lethargic, dizzy, or disoriented.  On the contrary, spiritual fasting my experience energizes, and brings a heightened awareness of God’s presence and teachings, a clearer understanding of how to personally apply God’s Word to situations and a willingness – even eagerness or anticipation – to do so.

So Esther dressed in her royal garments and went to make her petition before the king in court.

Picture the court at that moment:  many heads of state gasping at the audacity of the Queen standing in the doorway, putting her life on the line.  Would this be another Vashti-incident? How would the King react to the second queen challenging his laws?  I imagine a great exhale when the scepter raised up and out toward Esther.  And can’t you see them all leaning forward to see what she would dare to ask?

 

#6. our lesson in following Esther’s actions is to do what she apparently did – do something, but do it while praying-hands.joglistening for God’s directionleaving plenty of room for God to work.

We don’t know if God gave Esther the idea to plan dinners for the King and Haman before fasting, while fasting, or if the words came out as unexpected to her as to the king.  Whatever way, it had to be done in faith, believing God for the details.

- It is instructive that after the fast, in continuing personal instructions from Esther and The Whole Megilla we see a submitted Esther, stronger and more committed to following God’s instructions to the letter

˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜˜

 

My Experience:

Fasting is also a wonderful ‘escape route’ to take ourselves out of the focus and allow God to be involved in our lives and decisions in ways that otherwise would not occur.  It is a wonderfully freeing experience, lifting life’s burdens and responsibilities and focusing on Christ – the resolution bringer – instead of the problems.

Other types of submission and omission

  •  Fasting a meal
  •  Fasting a day or a number of days
  •  Fasting from something distracting in order to pursue the Lord:
    • · Media Fast – TV, Internet, Facebook, Texting, Movies, Reading other than scriptures
    • · Activities Fast – Shopping, Sports, Hobbies, etc.
    • · People Fast – Pursuing time with the Lord in place of social interactions
    • · “The Non -Essentials Fast – 3 weeks without luxury foods and practices-basic needs only.

The most helpful book for me on fasting was Fasting by Jantezen Franklin.

 
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Posted by on 03/17/2014 in Devotional

 

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