For years I have often wondered why Jesus selected the twelve men who became His Disciples. What was special about those twelve? Jesus could have chosen anyone on the face of the Earth. He could have put together a team of the most intelligent, most successful, most confident, and most charismatic people ever assembled. What made those twelve men unique to the point that He would select them for His core group of followers?
Esther, properly called Hadassah, was an exemplary woman in the Bible. Her selfless courage and willingness to obey God saved her people from annihilation. If you have studied her story, you know that Haman deviously plotted a scheme to destroy the Jews in Persia, and Esther, at her own peril, acted on behalf of the Jews. At length, Esther's intervention was a success. Haman's evil plot was exposed, and as a result, Haman was put to death, while Esther's relative Mordecai was promoted. After the death of Haman, something significant took place which reaffirmed Esther's position and authority as the Queen, and this is where we begin our story - at the end of the Book of Esther.
Have you ever heard the name 'Bezalel'? Perhaps you are among the few who recognize the name, but for the most part, the name 'Bezalel' is relatively unknown. Regardless of whether you recognize the name 'Bezalel,' more than likely you know of the Ark of the Covenant. Even many people who do not profess to believe the Scriptures have heard of the Ark of the Covenant, an essential and central part of Israel's history. In the Old Testament, the Ark represented the Presence of Almighty God. For many generations, the Ark caused kings to rejoice and nations to tremble. While many people today could easily identify the Ark of the Covenant, very few people would be able to name the man that made the Ark – Bezalel (see Exodus 37:1).
You pray in faith, disregarding what others around you are saying. You just know that your prayers will bring results. Unwavering, you await a response that never seems to come. Still your confidence remains unshaken, at least on the surface. After all, faith will bring it to pass! Right? Of course, God will come through in this situation! Won’t He? As you wait for a response, you find yourself in a time crunch, facing the prospect of having to make difficult decisions, in case the prayers remain unanswered. If the answer to your prayer does not come soon, practicality reminds you that you will have to make a move that you have hoped to prolong. Lord, what is happening here? Where are You?
As a follower of Jesus Christ, do you live a life of absolute surrender? Is there any area of your life in which you have tried to maintain some degree of control? Before you answer these questions too hastily, here is a simple litmus test. Do you often find yourself anxious, unsettled, or restless? If so, you have likely failed to cast all of your cares upon the Lord, as 1 Peter 5:7 teaches. Anxiety and restlessness are indicators of unsurrendered areas in your life. Instead of letting go and handing your cares and worries over to Jesus, you have taken matters into your own hands.
Am I in the right place? Am I going towards the right direction? Am I following God’s voice? How long is it going to take for me to see God’s perfect plan fulfilled in my life? Those were some of the questions I had at my young age. I accepted Jesus in my heart when I was a child. I knew that I was saved, and I knew that I was going to spend eternity in His Presence, but there was a desire inside of me to experience that abundant life John 10:10 talks about. I knew it was by His Grace, but how can I experience it now?
Perhaps you have thought, or at least hoped, that you would never have to encounter persecution. But the Bible clearly tells us in II Timothy 3:12 that “all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” [NKJV]. This passage does not say that “all who desire to live Godly in the 10/40 window will suffer persecution.” No such qualifier is given. Persecution does not simply target people who inhabit countries where the Gospel is restricted. Whoever you are, wherever you live, and whatever era you live, if you desire to live Godly in Christ, persecution is coming.
Of all the topics from the Word of GOD that believers enjoy studying or discussing, the topic of persecution is rarely found at the top of the list. Of course, we know that the Scripture tells us that persecutions will come, and we have compassion for those who are suffering for their faith in Christ. Yet deep in our hearts, we harbor the hope that we, ourselves will never encounter intense persecution, and as a general rule, we tend to avoid the topic. In my previous blog post, I endeavored to address the topic of persecution full on, but I portrayed persecution as something positive rather than something negative. For most believers, to think of persecution in a positive light is an absolute paradigm shift.
According to II Timothy 3:12, “all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” [NKJV]. Based on this Scripture, persecution is inevitable for any believer who is genuinely serving the Lord. It should come as no surprise that the devil would try to challenge people who know the Word and proclaim the truth of the Gospel. After all, true believers who walk in the Power of God and know their Kingdom authority present a grave threat to the powers of darkness. If the devil, through persecution, can intimidate a passionate believer into silence, he will gladly do so. Since the Scriptures tell us plainly that persecution will come, why would we feel blindsided when we encounter it?
If you are a follower of Christ, then according to 1st Peter 2:9, you have become a Royal Priesthood. What is a 'Royal Priesthood'? In order to understand this terminology, and its implications concerning your position in Christ, consider the meaning of each word. 'Royal' implies kingship, or royalty. 'Priesthood,' of course, speaks of being a priest before God. When you came into Christ, He conferred upon you the role of both king and priest. Some ministers have taught that you are either a king or a priest in Christ, but Revelation 5:9-10 clearly states that He has “made us kings and priests to our God” [NKJV]. If you were merely king alone, then you would be called ‘royal’ but not ‘priesthood’. Conversely, if you were priest alone, you would not be called ‘royal’. Given that the Scripture calls you a ‘Royal Priesthood,’ it follows that you are not merely one or the other, but rather you are both king and priest in Christ.