Archive | July 2012

You’ve got a friend

Imagine having a friend that demonstrated love to you even when you were most unlovable. Someone that was ALWAYS available no matter what time it was, morning, noon or night, weekday or weekend.  Someone that knew you deserved to be punished for some of your actions yet took the punishment for you. Someone that was willing to be beaten, scourged and even killed so that you could have freedom! Imagine that this friend never refused to take your calls or ever responded with, “I’m too busy right now can you try me again later.” Someone that you could put your trust in 100 percent and they would never hurt you or abandon you. Someone that when you did put that trust in, would perform miracles when necessary on your behalf. That would not only help you whenever you needed it but when you would mention others needs to them they would resolve them too just for you and your trusting them to come through! A friend  that would hold you accountable to a higher standard of living and give you the power to accomplish that. A friend that would intervene gently when you were about to make a big mistake in life that could cost you greatly or intervene firmly when you needed a kick in the pants to get you back on the right track. Someone that would promise and follow through walking alongside you during every high and low period of your life and would even give you joy while you went through the low periods.

It’s hard to imagine why anyone would refuse to have a friend like this ..but sadly millions do.  They reject the one who offers all of the above and more. I will never regret accepting Christ and welcoming Him into my life. He has NEVER disappointed me. He has NEVER allowed me to go through anything I couldn’t bear going through with Him alongside me. He gives me joy that allows me to have full confidence in my future no matter what the circumstances. He’s replaced my anxiety with peace! That alone has been monumental in my life. He gives me guidance and direction whenever I ask Him. He provides wisdom when I need it. He has answered so many of my prayers over the years that it is impossible for me to even mention them all. He has brought amazing people into my life and has given me a love for others that in the natural would be impossible. I have no doubt He will continue  to provides direction for the coming days when prophetically things will become increasingly difficult.

So who is this friend that is like no other…

John 10:10,11 NIV 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:27-30 NIV 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me,is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Isaiah 9:6 NIV For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Phillipians 2:5-7 NIV In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Hebrews 4:15,16 NIV 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approachGod’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

If you don’t have Christ as your friend the solution is easy and can be found in the next few verses… Romans 5:8 NIV But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 10:9 NIV If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Amazingly simple and amazingly profound..He will be a friend like no other!

Jesus on Cross Wallpaper

Faith and action go hand in hand

If we really believe Christ is who He says He is and that He willingly suffered great agony and  laid down His life for us to have salvation and  intimate fellowship with God than we need to act like it!  When we think about all that He has done for each of us we can’t ignore the fact He did this for each and every man, woman and child born. Knowing this we need to live our lives demonstrating the great love He has shown us to others. We need to wake up every morning and ask God what we can do this day to show His love and mercy to others. There are so many walking wounded looking for help in a world that can only offer temporary relief. You may be the only way they see Christ on any given day  and therefore it’s so important we live our lives of faith demonstrating that wonderful love. There are several Bible verses telling us of the importance of not keeping our faith to ourselves but actually living it out.

James 2:14-26 NIV 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that —and shudder.20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Titus 3:8 NIV This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Hebrews 6:10 NIV 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

It’s pretty safe to say that both faith and works go hand in hand. By faith in Christ we are redeemed and joined in the family but we are not to be selfish and keep it to ourselves. God desires that we reach out to others and love them as He loves them. We are to be obedient to the things He tells us to do. Sometimes that can be something as simple as helping someone on the roadside change a tire. Other times we have an chance to pray with someone needing a touch from God or for salvation.  The opportunities are endless!

Our first responsibility is to stay in close communion with Christ through prayer and reading the word.  Then out of that sweet relationship we are to carry out anything and everything God asks us to do. If we try to do works without a  relationship to Christ we  are than simply being religious and God despises religious behavior. For example Jesus Himself said in Mark 12:38-40 NIV 38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

When we do stay in close communion with Christ we can’t help but want to do for others. It flows naturally out of the love He has shed abroad in our hearts!  If you find yourself unmotivated to serve others or share your faith it’s time to do a heart check and see just how far you may have wandered from that sweet intimacy God offers. Spend the time it takes in prayer asking for God to reveal whatever it is that you have allowed to come between the two of you and once you have confessed it before Him ask Him what it is that you can do today to demonstrate  His love to others.

Hebrews 13:16 NIV 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Flat tire

Flat tire (Photo credit: Alicia Nijdam)

Peace is available during the storms

Yesterday my hubby and I visited a Doctor for a current health issue we are dealing with.  When I looked around in the waiting room I couldn’t help but feel sad for others there that may not have God in their lives, having to deal with a crisis without Him. Too many people struggle through situations without the peace that He promises and offers to us when we rely on Him.  It’s a peace that is supernatural.  In our natural minds, everything cries out to worry when we come across a situation in life that we don’t understand, didn’t expect or can’t resolve on our own. As believers, however, we can turn to God and ask for His wisdom in our decision making, and His peace and assurance to carry us through the ordeal.  He doesn’t DISAPPOINT!

If we find ourselves in such a situation, we only need to look to His word for our source of help. The Psalms alone, have so many awesome verses to claim during times of need..

Psalm 46:1,2 NIV God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

Psalm 121:1,2,3 NIVI lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber. 

God cares not only for the sick in body but the sick in heart.. Psalm 34:18,19 NIV 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted 
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 107:13-15 NIV 113 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. 15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

and finally Psalm 71:1-3 NIV sums it all up.. In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;  let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me.Be my rock of refuge,to which I can ALWAYS GO; give the command to save me, for YOU ARE MY ROCK AND MY FORTRESS.

If you are a child of God through Christ,  it’s time to take Him at His word.  He will be there for you during your difficulty and see you through!  He promises and He cannot go back on His promises.  Numbers 23:19 NIV 19 God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

Hebrews 6:17,18 NIV 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.

Wenceslas Hollar - The Psalms

Wenceslas Hollar – The Psalms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who does God say we are?

When we look in the mirror in the morning we sometimes don’t like what we see. A little older, messier, crazy haired, or perhaps just plain tired. Too often we take that image of who we are and make it our identity. Nothing could be further from the truth. If we have accepted Christ as our Savior and become a child of God we have an identity that in our natural eyes we can’t see. It is our true identity however, as it is how our Heavenly Father sees us.  If we live out of our old identity we find ourselves never quite feeling like we measure up. We lack confidence and therefore often find it hard to love others due to our own lack of self love. It prevents us from accomplishing the amazing things God has planned for each of us to do.

It is time for the body of Christ to live  in our true identity. This identity can be found in the word of God. Thankfully God no longer sees us as we see ourselves and He wants us to live in our new identity. Christ died so that we could be made clean before our Father and walk in fellowship with Him daily. So how does God see those that have been born again into the Kingdom of God by accepting Christ?

If we don’t know, or haven’t really understood our new identity than it’s time we did. It will free us to become all that God wants us to be.  Here are some verses that show how the Father now sees us….

2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 3:16 NIV 16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

1 Peter 2:9 NIV But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Thessalonians 1:4 NIV For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you.

2 Corinthians 5:18,19 NIV 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

And here is a beautiful description of who we are and how we can now live!  Romans 8:14,15 NIV 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

John 15:15,16 NIV 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit —fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

God chose us. What an amazing realization! Not only are we His children but we are His friends!

Romans 8:37 NIV 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Ephesians 2:6 NIV And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Ephesians 2:19 NIV 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.

God no longer sees us as foreigners outside His family but has welcomed us as His children and His friends. We are seated in Heavenly places in Christ.  We have no excuse to go through life living out of our old nature when He has made us so much more in Christ.  It’s time to start identifying ourselves as God sees us and living a victorious life through Him.  The next time you look in the mirror and feel disappointment,  remind yourself by quoting any of the above verses of who you REALLY are in Christ. 2God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21    

Once we believe and live out of  our true identity in Christ, we are free to go out and help others without all the entanglements  of insecurity. We are free to accomplish great things!

I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!

Basking in His Love

There are so many blessings that come from being a child of God.  We have His protection, His provision, His anointing on our life and His guidance in our daily walk. The greatest thing we have, over all these things, is His love and what a love it is! In our busyness of life we often forget just how much He loves us. Let’s reacquaint ourselves with that love by His words to us….

The ultimate demonstration of God’s love for us came through the birth and death of His son on our behalf, John 3:16 NIV 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  

The King of the Universe loved us so much that even the price of His own precious Son was not too much to offer in order to restore fellowship with us. Let’s hope we NEVER take that for granted.

Here are some other verses to meditate on, illustrating an awesome love from an awesome God…

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Ephesians 2:4,5 NIV But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved.

A beautiful promise for anyone seeking God, Proverbs 8:17 NIV 17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.

 1John 4:9,10 NIV This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

 Job 34:19 NIV 19 who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?

And one of my favourite verses, Psalm 86:15 NIV 15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

 1Peter 5:6,7 NIV Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  

We don’t need to carry around our anxieties and worries but can lay them at His feet and He promises to take care of us.

 Zephaniah 3:17 NIV 17 The Lord your God is with you,the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

This verse sums up just how very precious we are to Him, Romans 8:37-39 NIV 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is literally  nothing or no one that can separate us from God’s love!!! No circumstances, no persecution, no individual, NOTHING can separate us from His love through Christ.

When we really grasp just how much He loves us and cares for us we can understand the importance of the following command,

John 13:34,35 NIV 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Bask in His words of love to you until you understand just how deep that love is and then  go out and love one another as Christ would love.

Spiritual Drought?

We are currently experiencing very dry conditions in our community. Lawns that usually are green and beautiful are currently looking very burnt and barren! Though we have had wonderful hot temperatures, which most of us Canadians are glad to experience in our short Summer season, there has been very little rain. It really doesn’t take long before that lack of rain shows itself in our gardens, lawns and our wells for those of us that live  in the country. It is rather amazing just  how short a time need pass before the lack of rain shows itself in our surroundings.

As believers, we too can experience dry barren times. The source of the trouble is often the same. We lack water. The water being the word of God. Without going to the Bible daily for refreshment and growth we begin to dry up. We too need daily watering to keep ourselves strong in body, mind and spirit. It is through reading our Bibles that we grow up spiritually. We begin to see things as God sees them. We are beautifully transformed by the word.

Ephesians 5:25-27 NIV “Just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

If you are finding yourself spiritually parched it’s time you drank from the well of the word. Get yourself into a daily habit of spending time reading your Bible without interruption. It’s vital for us Christians if we want to walk in the way God has called us to walk. We can’t make a difference in our homes, our towns or our world if we are dry and barren and have nothing to give.  In North America where  we still enjoy religious freedom we have NO excuse but laziness for not picking up our Bibles and being refreshed. Make it part of your daily routine and you will reap the awesome benefits and so will those around you!

Isaiah 40:8 NIV The grass withers and the flowers fall,  but the word of our God endures forever. ”

Feeling dry?                                                                                                                                                         It’s time to soak in God’s word.

English: Dry earth in the Sonora desert, Mexic...

English: Dry earth in the Sonora desert, Mexico. Español: Tierra seca en el Desierto de Sonora, México. Français : Terre asséchée du Désert de Sonora, au Mexique. Deutsch: Trockenrisse in der Sonora-Wüste, Mexico. 日本語: 乾いた大地、メキシコのソノラ砂漠にて。 Nederlands: Uitgedroogde bodem in de Mexicaanse Sonorawoestijn Polski: Wysuszona ziemia na pustyni Sonora w Meksyku. Português: Terra seca no deserto de Sonora, México. Русский: Высушенная земля в пустыне Сонора, Мексика. 中文: 墨西哥索诺兰沙漠干枯的土地。 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the Heart to the Mouth

How many times during the day do we speak without really thinking first? Sometimes the conversation is quite innocent. What do you think about this weather? How’s your family? etc. etc.  No harm is done. It is just polite conversation that we use to engage with others.

Not all conversation is so innocent. We have all, at one time or another, gossiped or criticized others or repeated something we knew we shouldn’t, often without even thinking about what we were going to say before it slipped out! Our mouths are  capable of bringing encouragement and blessings to others or harm and destruction.  Wars have been started over words and wars have been ended by words. Our mouths have a lot of power behind them!  It’s been my prayer that God would daily remind me to use my words more carefully. To stop and weigh my words before spitting them out.

There is so much negativity around us. I like to follow the news but seldom is there anything edifying or uplifting to be found. It is usually full of wars, disasters, abuse and crime. Good news is hard to come by! The world is full of individuals that focus on the negative in their lives.  We all know people like this. They are the walking wounded that seldom have anything positive to say about their own lives or anyone elses. I’m not referring to people that are going through a difficult period and need encouragement here. We all need this from time to time but there are those who through their own confession have NOTHING good to say about anything or anyone. They are trapped in a cycle of voicing their woes and then experiencing exactly what they voice.

The Bible tells us that, But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” Matthew 15:18 NIV   What we say out loud is just an example of what is going on in our hearts.  If you find yourself being critical or negative on a regular basis it’s time to do some self examining.  Our negative words can be an overflow of bitterness or unforgiveness from inside us. If so, it’s time to get on our knees and confess it before God and ask for God’s forgiveness and also by an act of our will we need to forgive others we may be holding a grudge against. If we don’t deal with whatever is causing our negativity we will go around causing unnecessary hurt and damage to others by our words.

Just as we have the potential to cause pain to others with our words, we also have the ability to bring love, blessings and encouragement into their lives.  I know when I have gone through really difficult days and someone has called with a word of encouragement it’s been so uplifting.  Believers need to take serious God’s word and the importance it places on the power of our spoken words.

Proverbs 18:21 NIV 21 The tongue has the power of life and death.

Proverbs 13:3 NIV Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, 
    but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

Ephesians 4:29 NIV 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Proverbs 16:24 NIV 24 Gracious words are a honeycomb,  sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Colossians 3:8 NIV But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Matthew 12:37 NIV 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Start fresh…ask God to help you guard your tongue and think before speaking. There are many people out there needing a kind word.

Words

Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

God is in the details

It is an exciting thing to live in God’s care.  To be a child of God and follower of Christ gives us so many blessings and provisions others that don’t know Him miss out on. I just finished reading the book of Esther again.  I have read it many times over the years but every time I read it I get so much more out of it. During this last year  God has been teaching me how important it is to trust Him when things in life can be so utterly chaotic. It goes without saying that this time when I read Esther I was amazed to see how God could be seen in the smallest of details!  We often look for Him to come to our rescue in a big grandiose manner but often He comes in ways that could easily be overlooked if we we don’t have our senses exercised by reason of use! (Hebrews 5:14)

I encourage everyone to read the book of Esther. It is an awesome book revealing how God is always looking out for His people and how He will always deliver His people when they turn to Him.

Esther is a young Jewish woman who was left orphaned when both of her parents die. After their death she is cared for by her relative-caretaker Mordecai. Mordecai hears of the King’s desire to replace his disrepectful current wife (Queen Vashti) with a new wife and works to get Esther presented as a potential bride to be.  Esther 2:15-17 NIV15 When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail ) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 

King Xerxes is not aware that Esther or Mordecai are Jewish.   Mordecai has told Esther she is not to mention their nationality to the King and she respects his wishes. Then one day Mordecai hears of a plot to overthrow King Xerxes by two of the men working for the  King. Esther 2:21-23 NIV  21 During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 22 But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. 23 And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

 By Mordecai’s intervention, the King is saved.  At that time Haman, a worker for the King, receives a hefty promotion because of the intervention. He does not give Mordecai any of the credit but instead resents Mordecai because of Mordecai’s refusal to bow down to Haman and his status. Esther 3:1-15 NIV  3 After these events, King Xerxes honored Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, elevating him and giving him a seat of honor higher than that of all the other nobles. All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew.When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. 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, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes.In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month, the month of Nisan, the pur (that is, the lot ) was cast in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month, the month of Adar.Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.”10 So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. 11 “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews —young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.15 The couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.

After hearing of the script, Mordecai informs Esther of it’s seriousness and the risk it brings to all their people. Esther 4:1-17 NIV 4 When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes,and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. But he went only as far as the king’s gate,because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them.Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law:that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.

During this time, it was forbidden for anyone to approach the King without him having summoned them. Esther knew she would run the risk of being killed if she were to approach the King without his asking but she also knew that death would be imminent for not only her but all the Jews if she didn’t try. Esther 5:1-8 NIV 5 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom,it will be given you.”“If it pleases the king,” replied Esther, “let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.”“Bring Haman at once,” the king said, “so that we may do what Esther asks.”So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared. As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”Esther replied, “My petition and my request is this: If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.”

Esther lays out a plan in which she will inform the King of the danger Haman has brought to her and her people.  Haman however, is excited that only he and the King have been invited to the banquet. He brags to his wife Zeresh, who than suggests he get the gallows ready for Mordecai to be hanged. He is basking in what he believes to be the unfolding of his plan to have Mordecai destroyed along with his people. Esther 5:9-14 NIV  Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home.Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, 11 Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. 12 “And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. 13 But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate. ”14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it. Then go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself.” This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the pole set up.

  Haman in all his arrogance and pride has no knowledge of what’s to come. That night King Xerxes could not sleep. He calls for one of his servants to bring him the book of chronicles of his reign to be read to him. A coincidence?  I don’t think so!  Esther 6:1-14 NIV6 That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.“What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.“Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him.His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.”“Bring him in,” the king ordered.When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor! ’”10 “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.”11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, 13 and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him.His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!” 14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.

What an awesome detail.  Because the King could not sleep he decided to review events that had happened in his Kingdom. By doing this it is brought to mind how Mordecai had actually saved his life and was never recognized or rewarded for it. That one little detail would not only soften the King’s heart towards Mordecai but would create in him a desire to reward Mordecai. Both of these things became important when the following day the King is made aware of Haman’s intentions towards not only his wife, but Mordecai and all his people.  Esther 7:1-10 NIV 7 So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted. ”Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.”King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?”Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!”Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate,stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?”As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.”The king said, “Impale him on it!” 10 

With Haman out of the way, Esther set about having the King write a new edict allowing the Jews to protect themselves when they were to be attacked. Esther 8:1-17 NIV 8 That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman’s estate.Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews. Then the king extended the gold scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him.“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. For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?”King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have impaled him on the pole he set up. Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring —for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”At once the royal secretaries were summoned—on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. They wrote out all Mordecai’s orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. These orders were written in the script of each province and the language of each people and also to the Jews in their own script and language.10 Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes, sealed the dispatches with the king’s signet ring, and sent them by mounted couriers, who rode fast horses especially bred for the king.11 The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies. 12 The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. 13 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.14 The couriers, riding the royal horses, went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa.15 When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. 16 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. 17 In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.

The book of Esther is filled with so many examples of God using people and circumstances to bring about his ultimate goal of blessing and protecting His people.  The vilest intentions against us can be turned around when we put our trust in God.

How do I know this?  Because His word says so..

Joshua 1:9 NIV Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Psalm 91:15,15 NIV 14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

Isaiah 41:10 NIV 10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Hebrews 13:5 NIV Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

Esther and Mordecai

The Bondage of Backbiting

So much damage can be done with our tongues. Benjamin Franklin had it right when he wrote, “Man‘s tongue is soft and bone doth lack: yet a stroke therewith may break a man’s back. “How often do we go around “breaking man’s backs,” thoughtlessly by gossip and backbiting. To some it comes so natural that they have forgotten what God really thinks about it. Some gossip in the guise of helping others, some do it out of a deep wound from the past, some just because they enjoy it.  There isn’t any of us that haven’t done it at one time or another.

Perhaps it’s time for us all to reacquaint ourselves with what God’s word says about it. The Bible doesn’t mince words with regards to this damaging behavior. In Proverbs 6 verses 16-19 (NIV) there are a few forms of backbiting and gossip listed among the seven things that are DETESTABLE to the Lord16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:17  haughty eyes, a lying tonguehands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness that pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

 Those are powerful words!  God not only doesn’t like these behaviors, He DETESTS them. This alone should cause us to really examine ourselves and how much we have allowed this behavior into our lives.  Often we develop a habit of gossip/backbiting because when we first do it there are no immediate ramifications. In fact, often other people really enjoy hearing it! For some people hearing negative words about another help them to feel more comfortable about their own lives. By bashing others they somehow feel superior. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a believer, it is a behavior that can block are relationship with God if we continue to participate in it. As with all deliberate sin, eventually the guilt begins to put a wedge between God and ourselves in our prayer life. We know we have participated in something we have no business doing and with that comes shame and when unconfessed, up goes the wall of guilt.  On top of this, if you are gossiping and backbiting about others you are not doing what God has called us to do and that is to intercede on their behalf!

There are many Bible verses in both the Old and New Testament outlining God’s view and direction on gossip and backbiting. We can all benefit by refreshing our minds and hearts with them.

Ephesians 4:29 NIV 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:31 NIV 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

Ephesians 23:1NIV23 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.

1Peter 2:1NIV Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

James 4:11NIV 11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister (fellow believers) or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.

Proverbs10:18NIV18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.

and finally wonderful advise to all of us…Ephesians 4:29NIV29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  

We need to not only read these verses but hide them in our hearts and NOT sin against them.  If we do, our personal witness will grow and the church body as a whole will become the place of healing people need it to be. There is enough tearing down in the world.  If it has been part of our lives we need to confess it as sin and ask God to forgive us and to change our hearts.

As the church, we are  called to edify and encourage one another.   Let’s start today!

1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

The Price of Entitlement

Sadly, we live in a world where a great many are growing up with an overblown sense of entitlement. Many adult children have rejected the idea that their parents raised them and that as adults they should now support themselves and stand on their own two feet. Instead they believe their parents should still be funding their lifestyle and bailing them out of any mess they should get themselves into. They spend little or no time with their parents just enjoying their company and when these parents get  a call from them they know that it comes with a request or demand! These kids shun responsibility and instead expect others to foot the bill for their needs and greeds. Though it would have been much easier to deal with this type of behavior when their children were young, it’s never too late to turn the tide and put their foot down. The longer a parent enables this type of behavior the longer the enabled will continue  to drain them of emotional and financial resources.

Though most of us parents really enjoy helping out our adult children out of love, we should never feel that continuing to do so, while the adult child is not contributing, is a loving thing to do. Our ultimate goal as parents is to raise children to become functioning, self supporting adults that will eventually contribute positively to society. Blessings and support we give to our adult children should be out of our free will and not out of a guilt ridden sense of duty. When we see them working hard and taking care of themselves and their loved ones we often want to do what we can to support that. If we ,as parents, are able to give of our time, our resources or financially and we see them actively working towards this on their own than it is a pleasure to offer our support! However, if we see them living a selfish, irresponsible lifestyle it would be foolhardy to enable that lifestyle to continue. There comes a time for everyone to finally grow up!

In our walk with God we too can become like that adult child who looks to our Heavenly Father  to intervene and bail us out of messes we have gotten ourselves into by our selfishness and irresponsibility. Some look to God like  Santa Claus. They spend little or no time in His word or in prayer with Him yet cry out to Him with a list of demands and expect Him to meet them without any of the responsibility of obedience to Him or His word.

As believers, we are able  to come before our Father and make our requests known.  Not on our own merit but thankfully by the price Christ paid for us on the cross. Through our belief in Him and what He has done for us, we are given a special entitlement to the throne of God. However, we are not to behave as though that price came cheap!  The Bible has much to say about our part in maintaining an unstrained relationship with our Father. That part involves our coming to Him through Jesus our Savior and walking in obedience to His word. If we are His children and understand the price He paid for our salvation and freedom we should want to walk in the way He has called us to walk. A way that keeps us in close fellowship with Him. A way that keeps our heart right before Him so that when we do come to God with our requests these requests are  not rooted in selfishness alone. He loves His kids and promises to hear our cries. He also requires that for our relationship with Him to be maintained we hold up our end of the relationship. He would not be the wonderful Heavenly Father He is  if He did all the giving and required nothing of us in return. It would  be no different than the parent who raised their children to believe the world revolved around them and that they could make demands of everyone and yet nothing would ever be required of them. In other words a bunch of brats!

The Bible offers wonderful verses for us to hide in our hearts! Verses that remind us of our responsibilities as a child of God.

James 2:17 NIV 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

1 John 2:3-6 NIVWe know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,”but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

James 2:26 NIV 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

John 15:14 NIV 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

Luke 11:28 NIV 28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

John 15: 9-17 NIV “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit —fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Acts 5: 29-32 NIV 29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead —whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

And finally Psalm 119: 1-8 NIV sums up the way to walk…  Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek Him with all their heart—they do no wrong  but follow his ways. 
You have laid down precepts  that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! 
Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.

Those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior are by grace entitled to come boldly before His throne. This is an awesome fact but let’s not neglect to spend time with the one who offered us this grace! Let’s keep our hearts right before Him by spending time in His word. Though God knows we will mess up from time to time and loves us anyway, let’s not take our entitlement for granted. Let’s walk as He’s called us to walk!

Romans 12:10 NIV 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

What are you feeding on?

We live in a culture where we are constantly being educated about how to take care of our bodies.  TV offers multiple shows with advise on what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, when not to eat etc. We probably have more information today on what foods are best to fight colds and cancer and what foods to avoid to prevent obesity. Having said all that, many continue to eat at the wrong times, eat the wrong foods and struggle with the consequences that follow. Diabetes is on the increase, obesity is a problem that plagues North Americans and children are being diagnosed much more frequently with things such as ADD, ADHD etc. Unless we live in a remote location without access to outside media we have all the information we need to change our eating habits yet many of us continue to choose to consume things that may eventually negatively affect our health.

In our walk with Christ we see the same thing. God has given us all the instructions we need to keep our hearts right with him.  The Bible is full of instructions on how we can avoid spiritual traps. The information is readily available to us but unless we are reading the Bible daily and actively applying it to our lives we remain stagnant in our faith. This spiritually cripples us as we are not living the life God has created us to live. We tend to fall into areas of sin that we know we should be avoiding such as gossip, selfishness etc.

Just as the information is readily available on how to care for our bodies by what we put into them, the information is readily available on how to care for our hearts by what we put into our minds. God will not supernaturally inject all this wisdom into our heads! We have to read it and by his grace, apply it in our lives.  Christ came to give us an abundant life. A life that He can use to reach out to others.  If we ourselves are stumbling along in laziness by neglecting to read His word we will never accomplish what He has planned for us. Some one out there needs our help and we need to shrug off idleness and get into His word and align our lives to live according to His word.

Here are but a few scriptures emphasizing the importance of  what we put into our minds that will affect our hearts.

2Timothy 2:15 NIV 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Phillipians 4:8 NIV Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Romans 12:2 NIV Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.

2 Corinthians 10:4,5 NIV The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

This verse is  one of my favourites. After spending years not reading the Bible as often as I should, this verse written by David means so much to me now, Psalm 119:11 NIV 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

All of these verses emphasize the importance of God’s word in our lives. Without delving into His word we are not able to renew our minds. It is by His word that the renewal comes.

The next time you feel like sitting in front of the tv and snacking on something you probably shouldn’t be eating anyway, pick up your Bible and feast on God’s word.  It alone will bring about permanent positive change and won’t even pack on a single pound! 🙂

Cover for a NIV Bible

Cover for a NIV Bible (Photo credit: Wikipedia)