Esther for This Time #8 – Reversals Begin

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Esther for This Time #8 – Reversals Begin

Painting: Esther reveals Haman’s plot to the King by Jan Lievens, 1623

God Loves Reversals

Do you need reversals in your life? Let Esther encourage you. God loves reversals, and He can make them happen for you.

Three Reversals

Today in our podcast, we encounter three reversals in Chapter Seven of the Book of Esther. This is God’s providence, bringing dramatic changes in circumstances in response to the prayers of His people. It can happen again, and it can happen in your life! Join us today as we cover these points:

God’s Intervention

  • When King Ahasuerus cannot sleep, he reads his chronicles and discovers Mordecai’s service needs a reward.
  • The King asks Haman what he can do for the man he delights to honor.
  • Haman replies the man should wear the King’s clothes, ride the King’s horse, and be proclaimed for service throughout the streets.

A Peripety

  • Haman hates Mordecai and is humiliated when the King tells him to proceed with these actions for Mordecai.
  • It is a peripety – a significant reversal of circumstances or turnaround of intentions written in heaven.
  • When Haman told his friends and wife Zeresh about the Mordecai incident, they warned him: “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him.”

God Reverses Evil (Esther 7: 1-8)

  • Esther dishes up sweet words to the King.
  • She knew when it was NOT time to speak and when it was time to say her request to the King.
  • She used the exact words from the edict so that the King knew he was hearing the truth.

Persian Culture

  • In Persian culture,
    • Diners eat at a table while reclining on a couch.
    • Men could not come within seven steps of a woman in the King’s charge or harem.
  • Haman approached Esther’s couch to beg for mercy – he had overstepped his bounds by 7 feet.
  • To the King, he was assaulting Esther. So, he orders a face cloth draped on Haman.
  • In the Persian culture, a facecloth covers an enemy of the King so the King would not have to look upon the one he condemned.

The Lord Loves Reversals  (Esther 7: 9 – 8: 2)

  • Harbona, one of the King’s chief consultants, appears to know of Haman’s hatred for the Jews and of the gallows he built in his backyard to execute Mordecai. He suggests Haman hang on these gallows.
  • Oh, how the Lord loves reversals! His divine providence reversed three evil events for today.
    • The gallows built in Haman’s backyard for Mordecai are used to hang Haman.
    • The King removes the signet ring, indicating “a second in charge” position, from Haman and gives it to Mordecai.
    • Haman’s decree is reversed.  Instead of plundering the property of the Jews, the King gives Haman’s property to Queen Esther.
  • What the study of literature calls peripety—an event that suddenly brings a reversal of fortune and dramatic change in circumstances, is what Christians call a miracle.

Personal Reflection

  • Romans 15: 4 reminds us: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” Let Esther give you hope. God can give you reversals too:
  • Which of the following principles do you find most helpful for you?
    1. God can reverse the evils around us.
    2. Gentle leadership with prayer and God’s discernment accomplishes much.
    3. Teachers of drama or literature call a reversal “peripety,” but Christians call it a miracle.
  • What miracle or turnaround do you need today?  Based on what you observed from Esther and Mordecai, how will you pray for one?
    1. Read Psalm 37: 1-5 and notice all the phrases “do not fret” and “trust in the Lord” instead. Which will you do? The Lord will act as you delight in Him and commit your way to Him.
    2. Ask Jesus to bring laughter and joy to your life as you pray for the reversal.

Links

Esther for This Time #7 – God-Designed Comedy

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Esther for This Time - Prayer, Reversals & JOY

Mordecai Led Through the City by Haman by Azor Masters, Painting, 1420 AD, The Hague

God-designed Comedy

God-designed comedy can reverse calamity! Don’t you wish every tragedy turned into a good laugh instead? Sometimes, we think God doesn’t have a sense of humor. Today in our podcast on Esther, we cannot help but see the comedy from the hand of God that reverses a tragedy.

In Between Dinner Parties

In our last study, Esther asked the king and Haman to a festive banquet dinner she prepared. At the end of the dinner, Esther invited the king and Haman to a second dinner the next day. She delayed the real request because her discernment through prayer and fasting told her the timing was not right.  Between the two dinner parties, Haman bursts with pride to family and friends at being asked to dine twice with the king and queen of Persia. However, his joy disappears at the sight of Mordecai, who refuses to stand up in his presence. Today, we join the king, whose sleeplessness, ordained by God, leads to a reversal of circumstances. We cover these points:

The Sleeplessness of the King Results in a Peripety (Esther 6: 1-12)

  • The King can’t sleep, so he entertains himself by reading his annals – large volumes that record the history and accomplishments of a king’s reign.
  • The King’s sleeplessness begins with peripety (pronounced “pe-rip-e-tē”). The term is used in dramatic arts to define a sudden reversal of fortune with a change in direction.
  • In a tragedy, the plot turns a lead character’s fortune into ruin.
  • In a comedy, the reversal changes tragedy into comedy.
  • In Esther Chapter Six, we see both kinds of peripety.

God’s Reversals (Esther 6: 12)

  • The king turns in his annals to an event that occurred five years earlier, only to discover that Mordecai’s service had NEVER been rewarded.
  • Just then, Haman arrives at the inner court after constructing a 75-foot-high gallows for hanging Mordecai.
  • Haman lusts for power and hopes to wear the King’s robe.
  • The ancients attached great significance to wearing a royal robe. It was considered a mark of great favor and honor.
  • Haman tells the king what could be done to the man whom the king wants to honor.

Haman Humbled (Esther 6: 13-14)

  • Haman hated Mordecai and was greatly humbled when he proclaimed his greatness while wearing the king’s robes and crown and riding the king’s horse.
  • God’s hand seems to create a peripety: Haman, once honored as second in power to the king, is humiliated, and Mordecai, in sackcloth and ashes, is exalted in the king’s robe and attire.
  • Haman’s friends and wife Zeresh realize that the Jews worshipped a God, who seemed to be intervening.
  • Haman did not know the warnings of Proverbs 16:18 and Matthew 23: 12.
  • Proverbs 16: 18. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. NRSV-CE or
  • Matthew 23: 12. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. NRSV-CE

 The Greatest Peripety of All (Ephesians 2: 4-6)

  • The greatest reversal of all God planned since creation was our redemption from sin and eternal death through Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection.
  • It was the greatest REAL peripety of all.

Personal Reflection

  • In Esther Chapter 6, we see God’s hand at work reversing many situations. Which of the following principles do you find most helpful?
  1.  Wait for God’s timing and guidance: He can intervene in your life with a miracle that changes everything.
  2.  God intervenes in history when His people call out to Him with prayer, repentance, and fasting.
  3.  Jesus Christ is your reversal of fortune—He died out of love for you to forgive your sins and offer you eternal life. Now is the time to accept His forgiveness as His plan for your life.
  4.  I will try to remember these verses to remind me of God’s ability to intervene in the worst of circumstances:
  • Isaiah 59:1. See, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
  • Jeremiah 32: 27. See, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for me? NRSV-CE

Links

Esther for This Time #6: Pray, Wait and Discern

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Esther for This Time, Wait, Pray, & Discern

Image: Esther before Ahasuerus (1547-48) Painting by Tintoretto

Pray, Wait & Discern

Are you praying, waiting, and discerning? Have you ever prayed in a daunting situation? Were you looking for a quick solution? Sometimes a quick solution is not the best solution. In our podcast today, Esther shows us the value of prayer, but also why it’s important to wait and discern God’s solution.

Esther Puts Her Life on the Line

Esther’s name comes from the Hebrew root “SIT-UR seter,” which means “concealed.” It suggests her identity would be concealed for a time, but the time had come for her to reveal her faith.  Mordecai asked her to go to the king to stop the edict against the Jews, but without an invitation, she could be executed.  Esther finally agreed to put her life on the line for such a time as this. She knew she needed God’s intervention, so she called for three days of fasting from food and water for all Jews, and even her maids. Then she would go to the king with the conclusion, “If I perish, I perish.”  In the podcast today, we will cover these points.

The Third Day (Esther 5: 1-8)

  •  The “third day” in the Jewish faith is significant. A Jewish commentary suggests believed God’s deliverance for Israel would come after prayer on “the third day” (Midrash Raba, Esther).
  • For example, in the Old Testament, Hosea 6: 2 says,  After two days, He will revive us; on the third day, God will raise us up, that we may live before him. NRSV-CE
  • The third day also connects to the Christian faith and Jesus’ resurrection.

Esther’s Gentle-Discerning Leadership (Esther 5: 5-7)

  • Esther “stood” before the king, radiating inner strength and outer beauty from God.
  • Esther 15 (Deuterocanonical): the King invited Esther to him, saying: “Come near. 11 Then he raised the golden scepter and touched her neck with it; 12 he embraced her, and said, “Speak to me.”
  • Gentle leadership characterizes a leader who is kind, compassionate, loyal, and willing to listen to the needs of those around her.
  • A discerning leader prays and waits for God’s direction.
  • Queen Esther was truly a gentle and discerning leader.  She leaned completely on God for strength and guidance.

 Esther’s Discernment and the First Banquet (Esther 5: 9-14)

  • The fasting and prayers of Esther and God’s people changed the heart of the King.
  • On the third day of fasting, Esther abandoned herself in total submission to God, put on royal robes to show her authority as Queen of Persia, and became the leader God designed her to be.
  • Esther asked the king and Haman to a festive dinner banquet she had prepared.
  • At the end of the meal, Esther delayed and again asked the king and Haman to come to a second dinner on the following day.
  • God’s guidance and discernment indicated Esther needed to wait one more day.

 Haman and His Prized Sons

  • Haman boasted to his family and friends (v. 10-12). He had 12 sons.
  • Historian Herodotus says the Persians prized a large number of sons, second only to great courage in war.
  • Haman’s pride burst with pride at being invited to dinner twice with the king and queen of Persia.
  • Only the sight of Mordecai, who would not bow to him, pricked his joy. His wife, Zeresh, suggested he build a 75-foot (50-cubit)- high gallows and hang Mordecai immediately.

Personal Reflection

  • Which principles on prayer, waiting and discernment will you apply?
  • I need to seek God with other pray-ers for support to stand firm in spiritual battles.
  • To become gentler and more discerning, I need to increase my time in prayer, repenting for myself and others, fasting, and waiting.
  • I want to rely more on God’s discernment. I must wait where God has placed me and invite his discernment and leadership.
  • I will try to remember this verse: Isaiah 40:31.“But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” NRSV-CE

Links

Esther for This Time # 5 – Your Mission For Such a Time as This

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Your Mission For Such a Time as This

Do you have a mission for such a time as this? You indeed do, and this podcast will help you!  Join us today as Queen Esther trusts the power of God in prayer, gains needed courage and discovers her mission.

A Passover Turned to Weeping

In Esther Chapter 3, Mordecai refuses to bow down and pay homage to Haman.  Enraged Haman hatred for Jews and cast Purim (somewhat similar to our dice) to determine the date for the killing of all Jews throughout all of Persia. The king agreed, and the announcement for the annihilation of all the Jewish people was distributed throughout the kingdom on Passover—the very day Jewish families annually commemorate the time God delivered them from slavery in Egypt and saved their firstborn.

Now, their joy-filled Passover celebration was turned into a time of wailing. Could you imagine this happening to you, your family, or your church family on a celebration like Easter?

For Such a Time as This is a phrase that comes directly from Chapter 4 of the Book of Esther.

Today, we cover these points:

Sackcloth and Ashes (Esther 4: 1-4)

  • Mordecai heard of the edict, and he sobbed greatly, tore his clothes, and put on sackcloth and ashes. He wailed and wept bitterly on the city square at the palace gate.
  • For all Jews, the happy celebration of Passover with family, friends, traditions, and food quickly turned into wailing, fasting, and prayer. According to Scripture, the Jewish people always linked prayer and repentance with fasting.
  • Sackcloth, made from grain bags, was scratchy and could cut the skin. It served as an act of penance and pleading with the Lord. Ashes, worn on the head or sat in, were a sign of self-humiliation and deep sorrow, often over a national disaster. See Joel 2:12 and 17 to summarize this Biblical purpose for fasting, weeping, and penance.

Persian Palace Life (Esther 4: 5-12)

  • Esther lived in the plush palace environment, but she may have become secluded from the world around her. She was not aware of Haman’s edict.
  • She tried to send clothes to Mordecai. Only when he refused the clothes did she ask what was wrong? Mordecai gave her the evidence of the edict, but she indicated she could not go to the king as he had not called for her in over 30 days. She could be put to death if he did not reach out.

National Fasting (Esther 4: 13-17)

  • Esther called a day of national fasting.
  • Throughout Old Testament history, fasting meant fervently calling out to God with a heart of repentance, sorrow, submission, and supplication to seek his help, protection, provision, and forgiveness. For example, refer to Judges 20, Deuteronomy 9, Joel 1-2, 1 Samuel, and Jonah 3.
  • Every year, according to Leviticus 23, all of Israel fasted on the Day of Atonement, and a scapegoat would be driven into the desert to represent the people’s sins (a foreshadowing of what Christ would do on the cross for us). As they prayed, repented, and humbled themselves, their sins would be taken from God’s sight on the scapegoat.
  • See Esther 13 and 14 for examples of how to intercede/pray for a nation from Esther and Mordecai’s prayers (e.g., praising God’s goodness, repenting for your sins and the sins of your nation, pouring out your heart to God, asking for God’s intervention).

Planning a Fast

  • Fasting is about aligning ourselves with God—drawing close to Him, worshiping Him, hearing from Him, repenting (turning), and changing our ways.
  • Fasting requires planning for most of us, but most importantly, it involves replacing our time spent focused on food and “busyness” with prayer and seeking the Lord.
  • A fast, drinking only water or juice, can last for a meal, a full day, or more. Fasting can also involve refraining from certain foods (see Daniel 10: 2-3). or refraining from distractions like media or television, internet usage, shopping for a certain amount of time, etc.).
  • For the plan, you may want to take five steps: (1) write down your objective, (2) decide how you will fast, (3) schedule time in adoration & personal prayer, (4) read God’s Word & ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you (e.g., John 14 and 15), and (5) believe that God will answer with discernment, direction, and/or a miracle.
  • In Esther’s case, an extreme response would be required for her to safely go to the King, so she called for an extreme fast— three days of abstaining from food and water for the entire nation!

Personal Reflection

Today, our story teaches us:

  • At first, Esther was unaware that God had a mission for her—God planned to use her powerfully. With Mordecai’s help and God’s providence, she discerned her mission but was initially afraid and denied it.
  • Esther needed fellow pray-ers. She asked her entire Jewish nation to pray, fast, repent, and seek God’s intervention. Only after three days of prayer and fasting did she find the grace and strength to proceed in her mission- to be used by God to save the Jewish People.

Application

  1. What is God’s mission for you at your place and time? The Lord Jesus has a mission for you. Ask Him in prayer. Often, it involves bringing God’s love and testimony to those around you. But sometimes, it may be more than you ever thought possible.
  2. Finally, you can pray with St.  John Henry Newman’s Prayer I Have a Place. Start with praying these few sentences:  “I have a place in God’s counsels, in God’s world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name. God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me, which He has not committed to another. I have my mission…” The rest is in a free bookmark on my website WrapyourselfinJOY.com.

Links

Esther for This Time #4 – Unwavering Resolve & the First Edict

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Unwavering Resolve & the First Edict

Esther for This Time #4

Esther 3: 8 Painting: “Haman Convinces Ahasuerus” by Masters, 1420 AD

Do you ever have unwavering resolve? In relationships, we use compromise for cooperation and keeping the peace. Nonetheless, we must stand firm, determined, and unshakable in some situations.  Join us today as Esther reveals the importance of unwavering resolve in difficult times.

Persia, 474 BC – Five Years After Esther’s Banquet

Welcome to Esther & Turnaround Joy Episode #4: Unwavering Resolve & the First Edict, where we encounter Esther and Mordecai five years after King Ahasuerus sponsored the beauty contest, crowned Esther as queen and celebrated with Esther’s banquet.

Next, we watch as the providential hand of God becomes more evident. We will see why God put Esther in a position of influence—even before the Jewish people faced the possibility of annihilation.  It’s 474 BC, and we join Mordecai as he stands near the palace gate and overhears a plot to kill the king. We cover these points:

Mordecai at the Palace Gate & Assassination Plot Foiled (Esther 2: 19-23)

  • Mordecai is “sitting at the gate” checking on Esther and likely working in a government position.
  • Mordecai told Esther not to reveal her nationality.
  • While at the gate, Mordecai overheard a plot to kill King Ahasuerus and reported it to Esther, who told the king. He hanged the would-be assassins Bigthan and Teresh.
  • Acts of loyalty like Mordecai’s were officially recorded so the king could reward the hero.

Mordecai is Resolute (Esther 3: 1-6)

  • Mordecai stood firm with unwavering resolve, which means firm, determined, not shakable, and displaying unwavering loyalty. (Vocabulary.com dictionary).
  • Therefore, he refused to bow down to Haman because God had commanded the Jewish people not to bow in adoration to anyone (e.g., Exodus 20: 3-6).
  • Haman was the king’s top advisor and “an enemy of the Jews” (Esther 3:10).
  • Haman was an Agagite, a descendent of King Agag of the Amalekites, who was of a fierce nomadic tribe that made their living by raiding settlements, killing the men, women, and children, and then taking their possessions. They had a “blood feud” with Israel, which demanded total extermination of the Israelites (see Exodus 17 and Deuteronomy 25).

The Pur, the Plan, and the Drink (Esther 3: 7-15 & Esther 13)

The Pur

  • Mordecai stood firm in his faith and obedience to God’s law and would not bow to Haman.
  • Infuriated Haman in April 374 BC cast the purpurim is the plural form.
  • The Purim were similar to our dice and were thrown to help make decisions and choose dates.
  • Esther 3:7 indicates the pur fell on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Aadar, March 7, 374 BC, for destroying all Jews.

The Plan

  • Haman offered the king 10,000 talents or about 375 tons of silver, which of course he hoped to acquire by killing Jewish families and plundering their homes.
  • King Ahasuerus gave Haman his signet ring, his signature used to stamp the wax on an official letter from the king.
  • Haman summoned the scribes to draft the edict on the day before Passover- April 17th, 474 BC (Esther 3:12).
  • The announcement was sent out to the 127 provinces of the Persian Empire on Passover—the day Jewish families annually commemorated God delivering them from slavery (see Exodus 12). The date was chosen to dishearten and terrorize the Jewish people.
  • The Passover celebration with family and friends quickly became a day of confusion and weeping. How ironic! The day of the announcement would fall on a commemoration of God’s deliverance. Could God again deliver them from destruction? It would be only God who could!

The Drink

  • To Haman and the king, it was just another day to celebrate their power, so they had a drink.
  • Haman’s heart was hardened with generational hatred, so he rejoiced in the genocide of the Jews.
  • Hebrews 4: 13 reminds us: “before him [God] no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.”
  • Little did Haman know that the God of heaven was in control.

Personal Reflection: Unwavering Resolve

  • We witnessed a good example of unwavering resolve with Mordecai. He showed us there are times for unwavering resolve when we must follow God no matter the cost.  We cannot deny God’s commandments ever.
  • Mordecai refused to bow in worship to anyone other than the God of heaven and earth. He followed Exodus 20, “You shall have no other gods beside Me…You shall not bow down to them…”
  • Psalm 119: 2-4 reminds us: “Happy [blessed and joyful] are all who search for God and always do his will, rejecting compromise with evil and walking only in his paths. You [O God] have given us your laws to obey.
  • Unwavering resolve and devotion to God may be met with persecution. However, I can stay strong in the Lord and keep his commandments. 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14 says: Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
  • Ask God, ”Where do you want me to have unwavering resolve?” Henceforth, ask God for help to be resolute. He will give it to you.

Links

Esther for This Time #3 – The Spa & A New Queen

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Esther for This Time #3: The Spa & the New Queen

Esther Bedecked by Aert de Gerder, 1684; The Painting shows Esther about to be crowned & bedecked in an ermine-edged coat

The Spa & A New Queen

Are you seeking attractiveness and favor with others?  On the way to becoming queen, Esther offers us an example of attractiveness, God’s way. Join us today at the Spa, circa 479 BC, and hear how the attractiveness of heart wins friends and favor and witness the providence of God unfold.

Persia, 479 BC

  • Four years have passed between Chapters One and Two of Esther (see Esther 1:3 and 2: 16). According to Greek historian Herodotus, during that time, King Ahasuerus suffered a great military defeat by the Greeks and returned home to consume himself with overindulgence and sensuality.
  • He also missed the lasting relationship with his beautiful wife, Queen Vashti, whom he dethroned at his last party. The king’s advisors suggest a beauty contest with exotic spa treatments to help find a new queen. So today we are off to the spa to witness a new queen’s crowning.

Mordecai Brings Up Esther (Esther 2: 1-8)

  • Mordecai was introduced as a Jew in the family line of Kish (King Saul’s family) of the tribe of Benjamin. (Calling him a Jew repeatedly suggests that he was somehow still a foreigner and not completely accepted into secular Persia.) A person’s family line shows his status in Jewish lineage. When the Scriptures mention Nebuchadnezzar carried away Kish, the verses refer to the Babylonian captivity, with a second forced removal involving King Jeconiah of Judah in 597 BC. Likely, Mordecai’s grandfather and family members were among those taken captive in 597 BC.
  • Mordecai was born in Susa of Persia after the defeat of the Babylonian Empire. He and his family had chosen not to return to Jerusalem when Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return home beginning in 539 BC.
  • Esther was introduced as Mordecai’s younger cousin (Esther 2:7) whom he raised because she had been orphaned. Likely, her parents died when she was young. So it would have been Mordecai who taught her the Hebrew Scriptures and the Jewish faith

Esther & The Spa Treatments (Esther 2: 9-12)

  • The beauty contest was not the usual Persian way to select a queen. Normally, kings took their wives from the families of the Persian nobles, which is probably how King Ahasuerus crowned Vashti. However, a self-indulgent and powerful king could choose any woman he wanted for a wife.
  • In Susa, Esther was given seven servants plus food, probably laden with oils to fatten her up and help her display the Persian ideal of beauty. The women were given oil baths of delicious-smelling flowers and herbs to soften the skin and add a fragrant aroma.
  • At Susa, Divine Providence – God unfolding his purposes – becomes more visible to the spiritual eye, as we notice Esther found favor with Hegai.

Esther is Crowned Queen (Esther 2: 12 -18)

  • After twelve months of beauty treatments, it was Esther’s turn to come before the king.
  • Esther pleased the king, even though we do not know the details or how this happened in one evening. Obviously, the king saw her inner and outer beauty—the first woman that pleased him since Vashti. It was Divine Providence behind the scenes that surely turned the king’s heart toward Esther, even if she was only cooperating with circumstances that were beyond her control.

Esther’s Banquet

  • When King Ahasuerus crowned Esther as his Queen, he. gave another party, calling it Esther’s Banquet. This celebration included both men and women, generous gifts, and even tax relief.

Personal Reflection

Today, our story teaches us:

  • The Lord can turn the heart of a leader. We can trust and pray that He does in our times as well.
  • God is at work even though we don’t see him right away. We can pray to see God active in the scenes of our lives, for he is surely there at work.
  • Ultimately it is God who turns the heart of the king. He gave Esther favor, and her inner beauty seemed to capture the king’s favor and love.

Personal Application & God’s Attractiveness Plan

  • Read Proverbs 31: 30 and 1 Peter 3: 3 to summarize God’s beauty plan.
  • Proverbs 31: 30. Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting, but a woman who fears [worships, honors, and respects] the Lord is to be praised. (GNT)    Obviously, with age, beauty fades, but to worship, honor and respect God creates a lasting attractiveness that appeals to others too.  God blesses all of our attempts to honor Him. So how is your attractiveness quotient when you consider spending time daily to worship and honor God is an important part of any beauty plan?
  • 1 Peter 3:3-4. Don’t depend on things like fancy hairdos or gold jewelry or expensive clothes [outward adorning] to make you look beautiful. 4Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet [with a calm temper and contented mind]. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special [precious in His sight]. (GNT)  It’s not that God objects to putting our best foot forward, so to speak, or trying to look our best at any age, but His Word suggests an attractiveness plan.
  • Does your attractiveness plan include a gentle, quiet spirit with a calm temper and contented mind or demeanor? Ask the Holy  Spirit to help you. Ephesians 5:  22 says, the fruit of the Holy Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, and more in our lives. 

Links

Esther for This Time: Prayer, Reversals & JOY – The Backdrop & the Party

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Prayer, Reversals, and JOY

Have you studied the book of Esther? Do You Need Reversals in Your Life? Are you struggling to find faith and courage? Esther will show you how. Join our newest series based on the Book of Esther.  It’s a  wonderful study for Lent.  It is about trusting in God, intercessory prayer, and receiving strength to stand firm amid life’s challenges. It is about gentle leadership, discernment, and how God can give you reversals and joy in situations and relationships. Esther is a book of faith, hope, and joy!

[Don’t forget the Joy podcast series here.]

This is the Time

Welcome to Esther for This Time: Prayer, Reversals & JOY Episode #1, based on my book Esther For Such a Time As This: Prayer, Reversals, and JOY.  When we wonder, “Where is God in our lives or our families or communities,” Esther reminds us that God never abandons us. He is faithful. Now is a good time to start if you have never read or studied Esther. You cannot depend on movies depicting Esther because some are more fictional than historically accurate. You will gain so much more by reading it yourself, as the lessons from Esther are so encouraging. And, of course, there is a JOYFUL ending. Today, we will cover these points:

The Backdrop for Esther (Esther 1: 1-3)

  • The days of Ahasuerus (Esther 1:1) refer to the reign of King Ahasuerus, who historically ruled the world as King of the Persian Empire from 486 to 465 BC. In Greek, his name was Xerxes.
  • The Persians, led by Cyrus the Great, the grandfather of Ahasuerus, had defeated the Babylonian Empire of King Nebuchadnezzar, who had taken the Jewish people captive to Babylon beginning in 605 BC. Cyrus the Great had a relaxed attitude toward the Jewish people and allowed them to return to Jerusalem or move to other places. Some went back to Jerusalem. Some scattered throughout Europe. Some stayed in Persia and learned to fit into its culture. This is where we meet Esther.

The Lavish Party (Esther 1: 4-8)

  • King Ahasuerus resided in Susa, one of the three royal cities in the Persian Empire.
  • He threw the lavish party, mostly to inspire patriotism and show off his wealth and splendor to his military leaders so they would support him for going to war against Greece, as history tells us.
  • An old tradition stated that the rest of the party could drink only as the king drank, but at his party, all were instructed to drink freely. The golden goblets used for serving the wine may very well have been the sacred goblets seized from the Jewish temple in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC (see Daniel 1). Now, they were being used in a very unholy way by a very pagan king!

Personal Reflection.

  • King Ahasuerus was trying to make himself a god in power, prestige, and more.
  • He did not know or refused to acknowledge the truth that God loves us dearly but as Proverbs 15:3 points out: “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good,” or Hebrews 4:13, saying: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
  • Consider these questions for reflection today:
    • Do you wonder where God is when you see the world focused on self-image, power, and prestige?
    • Do you get discouraged when it appears God is silent about all the evil taking place in the world?
    • When God seems silent, do you turn your attention to the party—that is, to the worldly distractions that draw you away from God, faith, and family?

Prayer Response

  1. Read and pray with Psalm 103: 15-22. Try to memorize the verse that speaks most to you.
  2. Seek God. When you think he is silent as the world parties on, open yourself more to God. Remember that only God, our heavenly Father, Jesus, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit can offer you the true Joy, Peace, Love, and Fulfillment that the world is seeking, as epitomized by King Ahasuerus.
  3. Ask for your needs. When you are lonely, confused, or frustrated, talk to Jesus from your heart.  Ask Him for what you need. Remember Jesus’ words in John 15: 11: As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.   (You may want to listen to my podcast season #1 series, Finding JOY.)

Links

 

 

Embrace the JOY and Stand FIRM! JOYFUL & Battle Ready #1

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Do you find it difficult to embrace JOY and at the same time stand firm in life’s battles? You are not alone. Daily, we all face challenges and fears. Join us today as we discuss embracing true JOY, standing firm, and being strong in the Lord when facing fears and struggles.

Happiness and Joy are Not the Same

About 45% of 12,000 people surveyed say they have not felt true happiness since before the pandemic. Around 25% surveyed say they don’t know, or have forgotten, what it means to feel truly happy (Oracle).  The natural question is this: Are JOY and happiness the same thing? We will find that happiness depends on external circumstances, while true joy is “a gift that fills us from within” and “is to be searched for and shared continuously (Pope Francis. May 10, 2013).   Today, we cover these points:

You Are Made for JOY

  • If you allow God to give you His JOY, it will change your life.
  • It can even change the atmosphere around you!
  • Three Scriptures help you get started in your search for more JOY: John 15: 9-11, Psalm 16: 9-11, and Galatians 5: 22-23. JOY and LOVE are fruits of the HOLY Spirit, the result of the presence of the Holy Spirit living within YOU.
  • Jesus died for your sins and mine. When he arose from the dead, as promised (e.g., John 14: 15-26; John 16: 7), God sent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wants to produce deep, lasting JOY in your life.

JOY and Love From the Trinity Declarations

  • Jesus, my Savior. You love me like the Heavenly Father loves You, and You want to give me your JOY—complete JOY. Thank YOU, Jesus, I embrace it. (John 15: 9-11)
  • Heavenly Father. You LOVE me and offer me gladness and fullness of JOY in Your presence.  Thank YOU, Father, I receive it. (Psalm 16: 9-11)
  • Holy Spirit. You love me and produce the fruit of JOY in & through me. Thank YOU, Holy Spirit, fill me afresh today. (Galatians 5: 22-25)

It’s a Battle!

  • Now, we move to Ephesians 6: 10-14, where we are told by St. Paul we must be prepared for battle.
  • Therefore, when Paul wrote Ephesians 6, he was imprisoned “in chains” (v. 20) and knew hardships, challenges, and struggles.
  • Paul tells us to be strong in the Lord and stand firm.

Stand Firm, Stand Strong

  • To stand is a military term meaning “to hold a position” and “to resist an impending attack” (Collins).
  • To stand firm as Christians means we are prepared to resist an attack, and we look to our commander, Jesus Christ.
  • “To be strong in the Lord means to rely on God’s strength, God’s power, and God’s courage.

Wiles

  • Paul calls the attacks we face the devil’s wiles (cunning strategies and ensnarement).
  • In the book The Devil You Don’t Know, Fr. Louis Cameli says there are many common wiles of the devil with which you will struggle, including Deception, Division, Diversion, and Discouragement.
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church (409) clearly speaks: This dramatic situation of “the whole world is in the power of the evil one” [1 John 5: 19] makes man’s life a battle.

Recognizing Spiritual Warfare

  • Recognize if you are in spiritual warfare and facing some arrows or wiles.
  • You may be facing what the Bible calls the devil, tempter, murderer, accuser, liar, stumbling block, and adversary.

Personal Reflection – The Rs to Stand Firm and Stand Strong

  • You can “strengthen yourself in the Lord” and not depend on your own strength to fight against the wiles, using the “3 R’s” to combat the devil in any of your struggles:
  1. REMEMBER and Receive God’s Love and JOY. Daily, declare the JOY and Love from the Trinity declarations.
  2. RESIST the devil, his wiles, and temptations. Don’t let the accuser win. Participate in the sacrament of reconciliation and go forward.
  3. RENEW your mind with Scripture. God’s Word will give you strength to stand firm and resist the wiles and lies. See Romans 12:2.
  • Finally, be strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6: 10). Weakness is no excuse to lay down and be spiritually slaughtered. The Lord wants to be your strength in weakness. Call upon the Name of Jesus. Try to memorize and declare every day this week: Ephesians 6: 10-14. Put your name in the words so you pray with Scripture.

 Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study for seven weeks.  It accompanies this podcast, and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea.
  • For information, email me or go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE  #11 – Nehemiah Recaps, “The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength.”

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah Finale & Recap: “The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength.”

Nehemiah Finale & Recap, “The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength”

Consider Nehemiah. Do you need more HOPE and JOY in your life? Nehemiah recaps: The JOY of the Lord is Your Strength.” God is waiting for you to come to Him.  Join us today for the finale of Nehemiah where you will be reminded the Joy of the Lord is Your strength.

Moving Day, Dedication & Praises

In our last podcast, covering Nehemiah Chapters 10 – 12, we joined moving day as many Israelites moved back to Jerusalem. Then they signed a Curse and Oath agreement, promising to support the temple, honor the Sabbath Day, uphold a religious marriage, and serve God in everything. After the priests purified the people, the gates, and the walls, they implored God’s presence at the dedication ceremony. Nehemiah appointed two praise processions on the walls. They praised and worshipped with thanksgiving, singing, rejoicing, and trumpeting so loud that all in neighboring towns heard them!

Twelve Years Later

Things change.  After serving as Governor of Jerusalem for 12 years, from 444 to 432 BC, Nehemiah returned to Babylon to serve King Artaxerxes. Sometime later, he “returned to Jerusalem.”  What a shock!  Nehemiah found the people had fallen away from their commitment to God and covenant promises. Today, we cover these points in Nehemiah 13 and the finale of the Book of Nehemiah:

The Falling Away (Nehemiah 13: 6-9, 15, 22, 30)

  • What caused the people to fall away so quickly? They were not reminded daily of God and His ways.
  • When the high priest fell away from God, so did the people.
  • The Bible warns often about forgetting God (see Deuteronomy 8: 13-16)

Nehemiah Addressed Breaking God’s Commands (Nehemiah 13: 1-5, 22-30)

  • The Israelites gave their children in marriage to pagans who did not use the sacred Hebrew language.
  • They stopped obeying the commandments of keeping the Sabbath Day holy and paying tithe.
  • The high priest Eliashib allowed Tobiah to move into the temple storeroom, where the offerings were kept.

Remembrance

  • Remembrance was a theme throughout the book of Nehemiah: The people forgot God again and again, but Nehemiah kept calling them to remember God, his faithfulness, and his promises.
  • Nehemiah prayed: Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service (a common prayer, from Psalm 106: 4-5.)

The Finale

  • It is sorrowful to know that after all the building and recommitment, the people fell away from God.
  • It is good to remember Romans 15:4: For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. God is faithful and we all must return to him again and again. He offers us His strength, His JOY and His hope.

Nehemiah and Hope

  • The Book of Nehemiah has reassured us that prayer changes everything, that every obstacle can be overcome, and that every false accusation can lead to persistence, more prayer, and joyous victory.
  • Declare with Nehemiah: God is with us!  God is for us! God is at work! God has a plan that changes everything!
  • With confidence, we can exclaim: The JOY of the LORD is my strength! (Nehemiah 8: 14).

Personal Reflection on the Book of Nehemiah

Let’s close with some reflection on the principles you can apply from the book of Nehemiah.

(1) Call on your LOVING GOD in the MESSY SITUATIONS (Chapter 1).

(2) SUPPLICATE (Chapter 1).  You can use Nehemiah’s ACTS Model: 1) Adore God 2) Confess sins, 3) Thank God, and 4) Supplicate.

(3) Pray for FAVOR & depend on God to open doors. (Chapters 2-3).

(4) Become a Perfumer; All Vocations are Needed (Chapter 3).  Become a perfumer and help build. Bring the sweetness of God’s spirit and a sweet aroma of prayer to every stinky situation.

(5) Face Opposition & Stand FIRM Against Insults (Chapters 4,  7). Nehemiah showed a 3-pronged approach to defeating opposition: 1) pray, 2) declare the truth instead of believing lies and 3) work together with others.

(6) When angered, step back first (Chapter 5) & Face Slander (Chapter 6): Pray, Speak the Truth, and Persevere. eep the sword of the spirit- the Word of God in one hand and your work tool or skill in the other.

(7) Declare the Joy of the Lord is My Strength (Chapter 8).

(8) Create a personal Prayer BOOTH! in your home (Chapter 8). Your corner of a room is like a spiritual booth where the Israelites celebrated the Feast of Booths to offer praise, and thanksgiving and read His Word.

(9) Remember God Will Never Forsake You (Chapters 9 & 13). After experiencing God’s great faithfulness, the people fell away into sin into the rebellion-revival cycle.

(10) Become a “Praiser” and Read God’s Word (Chapters 10-12). Nehemiah called the people to worship, to praise and to offer thanksgiving to God.

Personal Prayer Response

So, what will you do NEXT? How can you start building now? Nehemiah models personal intercession with the ACTS model.

  • Adore God and praise His greatness and faithfulness.
  • Confess your sins and those of your nation and families with a contrite spirit.
  • Thank God for His blessings and promises.
  • Supplicate or pray with a passionate heart for what you need and for others. Incorporate Scripture, when possible.

Remember: The JOY of the LORD is YOUR Strength!

Cup of JOY Women

  • Why not invite a few friends for coffee or tea every week for just one hour to discuss a one-page study guide accompanying every podcast in each series?
  • It’s called a Cup of Joy Women’s group and is a fantastic way to gently evangelize and encourage others. I will provide all the free resources and even Zoom meetings for facilitators.
  • In September, I start my fifth series called JOYFUL and Battle-ready. It’s a perfect time to form a Cup of JOY women’s group for the 8-week series.
  • For more information, go to my website com, and click under Cup of Joy Women on the menu, or email me: Karen@WrapYourselfinJoy.com

Links

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE #10 – Do You Need an Uplift? Nehemiah Calls All Praisers!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Do You Need an Uplift? Nehemiah Calls All Praisers! Adding praise and thanksgiving to your prayer can increase your faith, lift your spirit, help you recall God’s goodness, encourage you in hard tasks, and add much more joy to your life.

Nehemiah Calls Praisers & JOY Fills Their Hearts

Do you need an uplift? Becoming a praiser could change your life. Adding praise and thanksgiving to your prayer can increase your faith, lift your spirit, help you recall God’s goodness, encourage you in hard tasks, and add much more joy to your life. Join us today as Nehemiah calls all praisers and demonstrates the impact of praise.

Rebellion-revival Cycle

In our last podcast, we joined the Israelites as Ezra read God’s Word aloud and they realized how disobedient they had been to God and his commandments, falling into a rebellion-revival cycle: (1) Rebellion against God and His law; (2) Warnings from the prophets and teachers, but to no avail, (3) Repentance from sinfulness and calling out to God; and (4) Intervention when God rescues them from the enemy oppressors. Today, in Nehemiah Chapters 10 -12, we follow the people as they sign a new covenant with God rededicating their lives and the walls and gates to Him. Today we cover these points:

An Oath to Follow God (Nehemiah 10: 29-35)

  • The curse and oath agreement meant “they could expect a blessing for obedience, or a correction from God if they did not follow through on obeying His Law.
  • They signed a public agreement promising to pay their tithes to support the temple, to honor the Sabbath by not buying or selling, and to uphold a religious marriage, not uniting with those who worship other gods or idols.

Moving into Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11: 3-35)

  • Nehemiah shares a long list of the people and the vocations of those who moved into Jerusalem, including leaders, warriors, Levites, temple gatekeepers, overseers, and singers.
  • Repopulating Jerusalem was essential because it would mean the more who lived there, the safer the city would be.
  • There was a special stipend for the singers who sang praises daily and led worship in the temple.

Dedication Joy (Nehemiah 12)

  • Chapter 12 opens with more names – but this time the names are those of priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel.
  • Nehemiah is recalling the history and heroes in public record who sacrificed much in returning to Jerusalem.
  • He wanted all to remember these good men as part of their heritage.
  • Nehemiah lists the Levites who were heads of households plus the singers who led praise and thanksgiving with cymbals, harps, and lyres.

Purification JOY (Nehemiah 12: 27-30)

  • It was time to dedicate the walls once they moved into Jerusalem and returned to worship and obey God’s laws.
  • They would seek God’s presence and blessings.
  • The Levites purified themselves, the people, and the walls. See Psalm 24: 3-6

Praising JOY (Nehemiah 12: 30-43)

  • Next, the praisers joined the dedication ceremony.
  • He sent one company of praisers in one direction singing and giving thanks (v. 35). They included the leaders and the young priests playing trumpets while others played and praised with all kinds of musical instruments.
  • Then the other company made up of Nehemiah and half of the people processed in the opposite direction on the walls singing, giving thanks, and playing trumpets too. Finally, they all met at the house of God and sang their hearts out to him. “They offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. The joy of Jerusalem was heard far away” (v. 43).

Offering JOY

  • The last activity of the dedication ceremony involved joyfully offering tithe to God – to support the temple, the priests, and those who led worship.
  • All of Israel gave the daily portions and tithe for the singers, the gatekeepers, and the Levites. The Levites even paid tithe to the priests.

Personal Reflection – Become a Praiser

  1. Have you considered becoming a praiser? So how can you add more praise and thanksgiving to God in your life?
    1. Become a singer of praises to God. Even if you can’t carry a tune, sing with online or CD worship music. Join others in singing praises. As you sing the words from your heart, they become your prayer.
    2. Read Psalms of Praise. You can start with Psalms 145, 146, or 150 traditionally known as praise psalms.
    3. Begin all prayer with thanksgiving and words of praise. Psalm 100:4 tells us to “Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.  Give thanks to him, bless his name.” So the way to come into God’s presence, the king of the Universe and the Savior of the World is to come with thanksgiving and praise. For example, you can say, I praise you, Jesus or  I love you, Lord. Bookmarks for praise are available on my website.

One final point to remember is this.

  1. Don’t forget the power of praise to defeat enemies and negative situations (e.g., see Nehemiah 2 and 3). Remember  2 Chronicles 20:21 when King Jehoshaphat followed the Lord’s counsel and appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy splendor. They lead the army into battle. As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the …enemies.., who had come against Judah, so they were routed. .. they all helped destroy one another. The Lord won a fabulous victory as the enemies were defeated and the army never even used their swords.  If you are discouraged, or fearful and have pressing needs, consider praising God often. God will fight battles for you and lift you up when you turn your attention to him.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Why not invite a few friends for coffee or tea every week for just one hour to discuss the one-page study guide accompanying this podcast or others in my last few series?
  • You would be forming a Cup of Joy Women’s group, and it’s a great way to gently evangelize and encourage others. I will provide you with all the free resources. In September, I will be starting my fifth series called JOYFUL and Battle-ready--It’s a perfect time to form a cup of JOY women’s group with that 8-week series.
  • For more information, go to my website WRAPYOURSELFINJOY.com, and click under Cup of Joy Women on the menu or email me: Karen@WrapYourselfinJoy.com

Links

 

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE #9 – Nehemiah Says, God Will Never Forsake You!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
National Confession & Nehemiah Says, God Will Never Forsake You!

National Confession & Nehemiah Says, God Will Never Forsake You!

Consider Nehemiah Chapter 9. Do you feel forsaken by God ever? Always remember this: God is ready to forgive. He is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abounds in steadfast love.  Join us today as Nehemiah says, God will never forsake you.

Celebrating God’s Goodness

In our last podcast, we joined the Israelites on Rosh Hashanah and the Feast of Trumpets. Many had stopped celebrating the feast days and gave up their faith because of the brokenness of their homeland, families, and lives. In Nehemiah 8, when Ezra read the Word of God aloud, the people wept loudly, mourning for their sins. Nehemiah and Ezra told them: “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Next, they celebrated the Feast of Booths when each family spent seven days in a   booth remembering God’s goodness, reading the Word of God, praying, praising, and thanking Him to commemorate how God had delivered them from Egypt by parting the Red Sea, and cared for them in the desert for 40 years where they lived in simple huts.  In Chapter 9, two days after the weeklong celebration of the Feast of Booths, the people are together again for a day of national confession. Today, we cover these points:

National Confession (Nehemiah 9: 1-3)

  • The people gather for 6 hours – three hours reading the words of the Torah and 3 hours confessing sin.
  • They were reminded of how far they had fallen from God and His commandments.
  • As Hebrews 4: 12 tells us, the Word of God had pierced their hearts and revealed their sins.

Remembering God’s Care and Praising Him (Nehemiah 9: 5-26)

  • Ezra called them to worship God and recall the ways that God cared for them since Abraham.
  • God gave them the Ten Commandments.
  • For 40 years in the wilderness, God cared for them so they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell.

Fasting, Dressed in Sackcloth, Dirt on their Heads (Nehemiah 9: 3, 26- 38)

  • The people stood in fasting – an act of penance to show remorse in skin-tearing sackcloth with dirt on their heads –all painful acts showing deep sorrow for their sins before God.
  • They cried out for ” stiffening their necks “and “not obeying the commandments.”

The Four-Stage Rebellion-Revival Cycle

  • After experiencing God’s great faithfulness of God, they fell away again and again.
  • The Rebellion, Warnings, Repentance, and Intervention cycle could be called the rebellion-revival cycle.
  • But before long the Cycle repeated, and the Israelites became “slaves to this day.”

God Did Not Forsake Them (Nehemiah 9: 17)

Verse 17 seems to be a turning point in the chapter: “But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and you did not forsake them. God will forgive us when we confess the sins of our generations and commit to changing directions.

Personal Reflection on Nehemiah 9

  • How will you respond to these verses of Scripture?
    • Confess your sins. Nehemiah shows us where to begin when you want to be renewed in your spiritual life: Remember what God has done, confess your sin and the areas where you have fallen away, and praise and worship our glorious God again.
    • Make a Change. True repentance and sorrow for your sins mean you want to change direction. Nehemiah 9:38 says the people made a firm agreement in writing to promise to change direction. What change in direction are you willing to make at this time?
    • Read Scripture. All the chapters in the Book of Nehemiah remind us how essential it is to hear, read, and take the Word of God to heart. How will you find more time to read and pray Scripture? If you do, it will revive your spiritual life and the lives of those around you. Start today with just 5 minutes of scripture and form a prayer from your heart to God that responds to what you read.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study. It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime.
  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. It’s free, and I will help you get started. Go to Cup of Joy Women or email me at Karen@WRAPYourselfinJOY.com for information.

Links

 

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE #8 – Need Joy in Your Life? Nehemiah Points to a Prayer Booth!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Nehemiah and Ezra tell the people: "The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength."Consider Nehemiah Chapter 8. Do you need more JOY in your life? Are you seeking a revival in your faith? Nehemiah will show you the way. Join us today as we cover creating a spiritual “prayer booth” for rejoicing, reading Scripture, recalling what God has done for us, and receiving new JOY.

Wall Completed

  • Nehemiah and the Israelites completed the walls and gates in 52 days (Nehemiah 6).
  • Now Nehemiah begins restoring his beloved people’s faith (Nehemiah 7 & 8).

Fortification and Worship (Nehemiah 7: 1-5)

  • Nehemiah assigned gatekeepers to keep the city free from enemies so the people could worship without threats.
  • He appointed singers to praise the Lord day and night and to lead worship. It nurtured a close relationship with God.
  • He appointed the Levites to watch over all things holy.

Historic Memory

  • God put it into Nehemiah’s heart to register every person.
  • Historic memory is crucial to the survival of any nation or culture.
  • Nehemiah had to remind the people of their heritage and that God was with them as the returning remnant.

The Gathering – New Year’s Day (Nehemiah 8: 1)

  • It’s October 444 B.C., New Year’s Day, called Rosh Hashanah on the Hebrew Civil calendar.
  • The Feast of Trumpets on the Hebrew religious calendar calls for the people to prepare for the holy days to come (Leviticus 23: 23-24).

Hunger for God’s Word and Joy (Nehemiah 8: 2-8)

  • The people gathered to hear Ezra read from the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).
  • The people stood up the entire time from morning to midday, starved and thirsty for the Word of God.
  • It takes only a few fallen-away generations to leave the next ones destitute and ignorant about God.
  • Ezra blessed the Lord. All the people responded, “Amen, Amen.” Thus, they (1) thanked God with their “Amen”, (2) praised God by lifting up their hands, and 3) bowed down in adoration and submission to God.

Weeping & JOY (Nehemiah 8: 9-12)

  • It took hearing and understanding God’s Word to begin the healing of broken hearts and dreams.
  • The Word of God revealed their sin, they were grieved, and they confessed their sins before God.
  • Nehemiah and Ezra told the people: “Don’t be grieved, for the JOY of the LORD is your strength”(v. 10).

The Feast of  Booths – 444 BC (Nehemiah 8: 13-18)

  • The Feast of Booths, also called the Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot) was celebrated for seven days.
  • God called the Israelites to recall how they wandered the desert and lived in booths or huts while God provided for them.
  • The Feast of Booths commemorates God’s provision and guidance, and the Israelites must live in booths to celebrate it.
  • They read the Word of God, rejoiced, offered thanksgiving, and worshipped God with their families in huts/booths.
  • God’s Word led them to repent; God’s Word changed everything, and they were filled with much joy.

Personal Reflection – The Feast of Booths Application

  • How will you respond to these verses of Scripture? You Could
    • Prayer Booth. Set up a Holy Place (call it a booth or secret place) in your home where you can pray, praise, read Scripture, and write in your prayer journal. Your booth is your secret place – it’s like a spiritual booth/or hut/where the people celebrate the Feast of Booths. It’s a place to put yourself in God’s presence in your home. You offer praise thanksgiving and worship.
    • Listen. Take time daily to read Scripture and allow God to speak to you. You can ask the Holy Spirit to set the Words afire in your heart and help you understand as you read. Try to record a few sentences in your journal of how the Lord speaks to you.
    • Receive the JOY of the Lord. “For the Joy of the Lord is your strength.” Ask Jesus for JOY as you read His word. (See John 15: 11 & Psalm 1.)

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study. It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime or choose another of my podcast series (e.g. Finding More JOY).
  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. It’s free and I will help you get started. For information, contact me, or go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

 

Nehemiah – Rebuilding Hope #7 – Facing Slander? Nehemiah Responds, Pray, Speak the Truth & Persevere

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah - Rebuilding Hope #7 - Facing Slander? Nehemiah Responds, Pray, Speak the Truth & Persevere!

Nehemiah reads slanderous letters from Sanballet

Pray, Speak the Truth & Persevere Always

Look to Nehemiah. Are you facing slander?  Have mistruths been spoken about you? You can overcome the discouragement and discern the lies, deception, and diversion around you! Nehemiah will show you how. Join the podcast today as he shows us to always pray, speak the truth, and persevere. Today we cover the following points:

The Outcry of the People

  • In Nehemiah 5, the immoral and unlawful practices of the Jewish nobles and officials brought many families to poverty.
  • After he stood back in anger, Nehemiah demanded that nobles and officials follow God’s laws, or as a consequence, they would lose their possessions in God’s justice. The Jewish officials made an oath to do this and responded, “Amen,” and “praised the Lord.”

Three Attacks from the Opposition

  • In Nehemiah 6, the enemies from surrounding countries become fearful about losing authority and moneymaking practices.
  • They conspired to stop the building with a 1) Fake Meeting, 2) Slander Campaign, and 3) False Prophecy.

Diversion – The Fake Meeting Scheme (Nehemiah 6: 1-4)

  • They invited Nehemiah to a “fake meeting” in the hills of Ono, a day’s journey away (near Tel Aviv today).
  • It sounded like a neutral place, but he discerned it was a scheme to do him harm.

Division- Lies & The Smear Campaign (Nehemiah 6: 5-9)

  • In an unsealed letter, Sanballat accused Nehemiah of a treasonous plot to revolt and overthrow the king.
  • Sanballat knew that others would read the lies and slander would be spread everywhere.
  • The scheme had worked twenty years prior when the King of Persia shut down the rebuilding (Ezra 4).
  • Nehemiah declared the truth to confront the lies and prayed: But now, O God, strengthen my hands.”

Deception –False Prophecy Trap (Nehemiah 6: 10-14)

  • Tobiah and Sanballat hired Shemaiah, likely a priest and prophet, to mislead Nehemiah.
  • He prophesied that he should seek refuge in the temple and make an offering.
  • Shemaiah tried to use tales of terror and “religious speak, saying the enemies planned to kill Nehemiah.
  • Nehemiah knew entering the temple would be a sin that the enemies would use to discredit him.

The  Completed Wall

  • God blessed Nehemiah, answered his prayers, and helped the Israelites complete the wall in only 52 days.
  • This was a great victory for the people because of opposition from the same enemies over twenty years.

Personal Reflection

  • Today, Nehemiah reminds us how to respond to life’s assaults: Pray, Declare the Truth, and Persevere.
  1. When you are facing discouragement, especially from diversion, division, or deception, pray like Nehemiah, Lord, strengthen my hands! and thus, ask God to help you discern the truth and persevere.
  2. Declare the truth. Don’t be distracted by rumors or slanderous accusations. This is the devil’s way of making you compromise with evil. Instead, speak the truth in love. Declare the Scriptures. For example:
    • Romans 8:15: For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”  Declare: I am a daughter of God!
    • Timothy 1:7: [F]or God did not give us a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of power and of love and a sound mind. Declare: I don’t have a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and a sound mind.
  3. Commit your work to the Lord and stay focused.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study on It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime or choose any podcast series (e.g. Finding More JOY).
  • Pray about accepting this fantastic opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. It’s free and I will help you get started. For information, contact me, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

 

Nehemiah – Rebuilding Hope #6 – Angry? Nehemiah Says Step Back First!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Angered While Rebuilding? Nehemiah Says Step Back First!

Consider Nehemiah. Do you get angry easily?  Do you get riled up? Nehemiah shows us to step back before acting. It never works to respond with emotions. In Chapter 5, during their rebuilding, the people face opposition from within their ranks. It seems that if the opposition doesn’t hit us from without, it comes from within. Join the podcast today as Nehemiah reminds us to step back, then stand up and keep focus when facing opposition. Today we cover the following points:

Fight for Your Families

  • In Nehemiah Chapter 4, the people were making progress when more persecution made them fearful.
  • Nehemiah prayed and encouraged the people saying: “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome and fight for your kin, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (Nehemiah 4: 14).

Outcry and Poverty (Nehemiah 5: 1-5)

  • Many were in poverty: inflation had become rampant and taxes were unbearable.
  • In order to pay the taxes, the families borrowed money from others using their own children as collateral.
  • If loans could not be repaid, their children, and even the wives and men, would be sold as slaves..

Step Back & Take Time to Think (Nehemiah 5: 6-7)

  • Nehemiah was very angry with the nobles and officials who took advantage of their kin.
  • Leviticus 25: 35-38 and Deuteronomy 23: 20 instruct them not to charge interest if they lend to the poor.
  • Nehemiah did not show his angst. He stepped back and collected his thoughts.
  • He gives us the first step in resolving conflict from within – step back.

The Symbolism of the Oath & Gesture (Nehemiah 5: 6-13)

  • Nehemiah confronted the nobles who were enslaving their own brethren and children.
  • He implored the officials to 1) repent of their sins and respect the Lord by following His Law, 2) stop charging interest, and 3) restore everything they took.
  • Using the Word of God (Torah at the time) and a conciliatory manner, he spoke the truth.
  • In one dramatic prophetic act symbolizing the solemnity of their oath, Nehemiah shook out the fold of his garment … In this, he emphasized that judgment would come to those who did not keep their oath before God. The assembly confirmed it with a passionate “Amen.” They “praised the Lord … and did as they had promised.

The Governor

  • Nehemiah kept his focus on building the wall.
  • He used his money earned as a cupbearer to support Jerusalem’s poor and suffering people. He worked more for God’s approval.
  • Nehemiah prayed: Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.
  • He was asking God for continued grace in the work and most importantly, for the Lord to remember him when it comes to eternal life and rewards. We can pray with the same words.
  • The Lord promises He will remember you. Hebrews 6: 10—11 says this: God is not unfair. He will not forget the work you did or the love you showed for him in the help you gave and are still giving to other Christians. (Good News).

Personal Reflection

  • Please reflect on the principles that Nehemiah models and we can apply:
  1. Step back. Do not be led by anger. Collect your thoughts. It never works to respond with emotions. Ephesians 4: 26. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.
  2. Stand up. In love, confront Christians with the Word of God when they are sinning against Him. Forgive always. 1 Timothy 5: 20 reminds us:  As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear.
  3. Focus. Keep your focus on what God has called you to do. Keep building, pray always, and never give up. (Luke 18: 1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to teach them that they should always pray and never become discouraged [give])
  4. Remember the poor. Do not take advantage of the less fortunate. Instead, help them. Psalm 15: 5, Do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent.
  5. Pray with Scripture. Remember me O my God, all that I have done for your people. In this prayer, we also remind ourselves that our rewards are eternal when we choose to follow Jesus and as His disciple, we build up others in Christ.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study on It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime or choose any podcast series (e.g. Finding More JOY).
  • Pray about accepting this fantastic opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. I will even join you via Zoom.
  • For information or to contact me, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

Nehemiah – Rebuilding Hope #4 – Perfumers Needed! Nehemiah Calls for Your Help!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah Rebuilding Hope ~ Perfume-makers needed- Nehemiah calls for your help! This is a podcast of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network and talks about Nehemiah Rebuilding Hope. podcast, christian podcast network, catholic podcast network, Nehemiah

Become a Perfume-maker

Nehemiah Calls Perfumers

Nehemiah calls the Perfumers. All teams need workers from all walks of life with a heartfelt desire to build—even beyond their known skills.  Most importantly, the “perfume makers” provide sweet-smelling assistance, even though their hands are soft and they are not seasoned builders.  Join us today as Nehemiah reveals team-making skills and appoints the perfumers.

Let Us Start Building

In our last podcast, we joined Nehemiah as he secretly inspected Jerusalem at night time. He saw the many ruins but was inspired that God was leading the rebuilding. Although the ruins had accumulated over many years, he inspired the people, and they replied, Let us start building! Today we cover the following points:

Nehemiah Rebuilding Hope ~ Broken Places

  • We all have broken places in the lives of our families, our communities, and our nation.
  • These areas of shame or ruin, physical or spiritual, need rebuilding so Nehemiah will encourage us.
  • In ancient cities, like Jerusalem, the gates were essential to the existence of a people. Gates were entrances to the city and provided military protection. The walls represented strength and defense.

The Gates

  • Outside the gates were stalls like farmer’s markets, where traders sold goods of all kinds.
  • Inside the gates, the leaders met and held court for those seeking justice.
  • If the walls or gates were broken, the loss of protection, commerce, justice, and meeting spaces would be devastating.

Meet the Workers (Nehemiah 3: 1 -8)

  • The high priest Elisheba with his fellow priests rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They started the example for repair plus they consecrated the doors and an entire area to God.
  • The men of Jericho came a long way to build and were included with everyone living nearby.
  • The Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles with status and pride refused. Keep building!!
  • The perfumers [perfume-makers] made repairs but had no building skill; they likely brought some sweet-smelling perfume. Making life smell good is an important skill too. Sweetness or perfume in attitude, speech, and effort is an essential contribution in itself.

More Workers (Nehemiah 3: 12-32)

  • Hallohesh, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs with his daughters offering an example of involving the family in rebuilding.
  • Anaiah and others made repairs beside their homes as they wanted their neighborhoods to be safe.
  • Merchants rebuilt the walls and gates, likely taking days off from their own work to build the community.
  • Nehemiah Chapter 3 lists those who answered the call to rebuild the brokenness. One by one they tackled all the gates in the city, repairing doors and adding bolts and bars.

Teamwork: Everyone’s Effort Needed  ~ Nehemiah Rebuilding Hope

  • Teamwork was essential.  The builders worked for the glory of God—for the place of worship, for the people of God and not for pay.
  • Hebrews 6: 10-11.  For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones- his people. We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, NABRE

Gates

  • Nehemiah mentions the names of each of the gates that were repaired.
  • There is symbolism for Christians in the Sheep Gate, Fish Gate, Dung Gate, Fountain Gate, and most other gates too. (See bookmark on my website for more meaning of the gates and symbolism.)

Personal Reflection

You can reflect on the principles that apply to your life. In prayer, using your prayer journal, consider these questions:

  1. Where do you have burned gates or broken walls in your life (or family or nation) that need restoration?
  2. For example, burned gates are open portals of darkness into our lives. They can include addictions, uncontrolled imaginations, extreme fears, emotional hurts, lack of forgiveness, unholy media, pornography, unrestrained tongue, or other sinful habits. God wants to heal you and help you rebuild gates or walls that need rebuilding. Ask Him.
  3. Where does God want to strengthen you and give you joy? Ask Jesus to help you change hopelessness, discouragement, or procrastination attitudes into hopefulness and joy.
  4. Become a perfume maker! If you feel you lack giftings, become a perfumer and set your mind to building anyway. Bring the sweetness of God’s spirit and a sweet attitude of prayer to every stinky situation. 2 Corinthians 2: 14-15: God uses us to make the knowledge about Christ spread everywhere like a sweet fragrance. For we are like a sweet-smelling incense offered by Christ to God, which spreads among those who are being saved and those who are being lost…

 Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study on Nehemiah.  It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea.
  • For information or to contact me, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

Nehemiah & Rebuilding Hope #3 – Need Favor? Let Nehemiah Encourage You!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah Inspects the Rubble in Jerusalem at night

At Night, Nehemiah Inspects the Rubble in Jerusalem, James J. Tissot (1896-1903)

Need Favor?

If you need favor, let Nehemiah encourage you.  When you pray for favor, you are asking God to give a powerful person sympathy or judgment supportive of your needs or for help to turn a bad situation around. After Nehemiah prayed, God gave him favor with the king, and the king gave him everything he asked for.  Join us today to discover how to trust God more and ask for favor when approaching challenges.

From Susa to Jerusalem

It’s about two to five months after Nehemiah left the king’s presence, due to the time it took him to make the 500-mile journey from Susa to Jerusalem. King Artaxerxes of Persia granted his request to return to Judah and rebuild his city. Nehemiah said, [T]he king granted me what I asked, for the gracious hand of my God was upon me [also translated as “the favor of my God was upon me.” Today we cover these points:

Governors Displeased (Nehemiah 2: 8-16)

  • The land surrounding Judah was controlled by enemies of the Jewish people.
  • Sanballat the Horonite was governor of the province of Samaria and a native of Horonaim, a city of Moab.
  • Tobiah the Ammonite was the governor of the province of Ammon in Transjordan. Both were positions under Persian rule.

God Gave Him Favor (Nehemiah 1: 11, 2: 12)

  • God put the desire in Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2: 12).
  • God gave him wisdom and discernment as he went into the midst of opposition.
  • He prayed: Give success to your servant today and grant him mercy in the sight of this man! (Nehemiah 1:11). This man was the KING, and God gave him mercy and favor with the king.
  • Psalm 84: 11-12 encourages us to pray for favor: For the Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly. 

Encouragement (Nehemiah 2: 17-20)

  • Nehemiah first had to encourage his discouraged people and inspire them to rebuild.
  • The joy was infectious, and the people said, “Let us start building!” So they committed themselves to the common good.
  • Sharing what God had done in his own life motivates others to trust Him too. Calling others to come alongside you in partnership inspires them to work together and do God’s work.
  • The people had lost their identity as a people of God. We must remember our identity as children of God.

Obstacles & Opposition (Nehemiah 2: 17-20)

  • Sanballat, Tobiah, and later Geshem opposed a restored Jewish province, for it threatened their trade and authority.
  • The enemies confronted the people with lies, but Nehemiah refused to answer the lies. He stood his ground.
  • We too must stand our ground. We must seek the Lord first, pray, and do his work. God is with us. Romans 8: 31 says: If God is for us, who is against us?

Personal Reflection

Be inspired to ask God for these requests that Nehemiah has demonstrated. Write the answers in your prayer journal.

  1. Ask God to put His desires into your heart as he did for Nehemiah.
  2. Ask God for favor this week for a needed solution to your needs. God gave Nehemiah favor with the king and the king gave him more than he could imagine.
  3. Ask God whom you can inspire with hope and joy this week. Nehemiah shared his testimony of how God was with Him, helped Him, and called him and his people to this work.
  4. Use the ACTS acronym to aid in the elements for personal intercessions as Nehemiah displays.

Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study on Nehemiah.  It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime.

  • Pray about accepting this wonderful opportunity to engage others and evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea.You can choose from among my four podcasts (The Joy Series, Advent JOY, Esther & Turn-around JOY or Nehemiah: Rebuilding Hope and JOY).
  • For information or to contact me, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE #2 – Procrastinate or Supplicate? Nehemiah Teaches Intercession!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah - Rebuilding Hope & JOY: Procrastinate or Supplicate? Nehemiah Demonstrates Intercession!

Nehemiah Demonstrates Intercession (St. Takla.Org)

Procrastinate or Supplicate?

Do you procrastinate or supplicate when you face a broken situation or difficult task? To procrastinate means you put off doing something often because you don’t know where to begin. Do you feel stymied because something beloved to you seems shattered and you don’t know what to do or where to begin? Join us today as Nehemiah shows us how to supplicate to our God for restoration and new hope.

Intercessory Prayer

Nehemiah teaches about interceding for a people and a nation. Nehemiah demonstrates powerful intercession. The prayer of Nehemiah starts the process of bringing great solutions to great difficulties and a broken nation. Today, we cover the following points.

Five Forms of Prayer

  • There are at least FIVE forms of prayer. “The Holy Spirit is the one who teaches the Church and recalls to her all that Jesus instructs in the life of prayer, inspiring new expressions of the same basic 5 forms of prayer:” 1) blessing, 2) petition, 3) intercession, 4) thanksgiving, and 5) praise” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2644).
  • Intercession is simply “asking on behalf of another—it knows no boundaries and even extends to our enemies” (CCC #2647).
  • Nehemiah’s prayer in Chapter 1 is foremost intercession, but it also brings in the other 4 forms of prayer.

The Themes of Intercessory Prayer

  • The four themes of Nehemiah’s prayer teach supplication.
  • The themes model personal intercessory and fit the ACTS acronym.

The ACTS Guide for Intercession (Nehemiah 1: 5-11)

  • A = Adoration. Nehemiah praises and adores God first (v. 5). Praise God’s greatness. Begin prayer with adoration. (Psalm 100: 4: Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!)
  •  C = Confession. Nehemiah deeply loves and is devoted to God, yet he confesses his sins. He confesses his nation’s and his family’s sins as if they were his own (v. 7).
  • T = Thanksgiving. Nehemiah prays with gratitude for God’s mercy and promises (v. 8-9). (Philippians 4: 6: Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.)
  •  S = Supplication. Nehemiah asks God for his needs and for the needs of his nation and family (v. 11). In the process, he is changed.

Nehemiah’s Supplication to God is Answered (Nehemiah 2: 1-8)

  • Nehemiah’s four months of prayer, fasting, and waiting on God paved the way for God to make a way.
  • No procrastination. By grace via intercession, Nehemiah courageously made requests to the king.
  • The king was sympathetic because the King of Kings had opened his heart. King Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah favor, granted his request to rebuild the brokenness, and even gave him supplies and assistance.

Personal Reflection

Consider the following aids for increasing personal intercession.

  1. Keep a prayer journal (e.g., a small, inexpensive notebook with lined paper).
  2. Prepare to intercede: WRITE concerns, LISTEN to God’s desires, and include SCRIPTURE.
  3. Use the ACTS guide with your prayer journal to record your personal intercession and answers.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women small group study. It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime. Contact me for free materials and help to get started.
  • Pray about accepting this wonderful opportunity to engage others and share your faith by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. For information, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

Wrap Yourself in Joy Podcast

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

SUBSCRIBE HERE:

Wrap Yourself in Joy with Karen Dwyer podcastAre you looking for more joy? Join award-winning speaker, teacher, and author Karen Dwyer as we search for joy together.

We will explore how to find true JOY, awaken JOY, defeat JOY Busters, and create a JOY-filled prayer life – from a Christian perspective and a Biblical perspective. We will focus on God‘s love, truth, and what we can do to be filled with more JOY.

Join our journey and discover how to:

*Receive a greater capacity to accept the JOY and the love of God.
*Awaken to joy from our JOY-filled God, who wants to share His joy with you.
*Develop a plan to resist the JOY Busters of fear, worry, anxiety, discouragement, anger, busyness, and more.
*Stand strong in adversity.

In your quest for true joy, you will not be disappointed!

NEW!  Karen offers Cup of JOY Women™ or  Cup of JOY Gathering (for men and women) to accompany each WRAP Yourself in JOY podcast. Karen will send you the FREE small group materials when you sign up.  STARTING in FEBRUARY: The Cup of JOY study accompanies Esther for This Time: Prayer, Reversals & JOY. 

Karen’s Website: https://wrapyourselfinjoy.com/

Get a copy of Karen’s Books here.

About Karen:

Karen Dwyer is an inspirational speaker and an award-winning college teacher specializing in helping students and adults of all ages conquer their public speaking anxiety.

Karen is the author of 10 books, including WRAP Yourself in JOY: Find the JOY & Fight the Fear, WRAP Yourself in Scripture,  Esther for Such a Time as This: Prayer, Reversals & Joy, Nehemiah—Rebuilding Hope & Joy in Your Life, The Joy of Advent—Journey with the People, Events &, Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ, and iConquer Speech Anxiety.

She has been a guest on EWTN’s The Choices We Face and several Catholic radio programs, including programs on Spirit Catholic Radio. She is the founding Coordinator for Magnificat-Omaha, founder of the Heart of Jesus Prayer Groups, a Council Member of Pentecost Today USA, and has served on the Board of Directors for KVSS Spirit Catholic Radio and the national Mission Advisory Council for the Institute of Priestly Formation (IPF).

Karen says, “The Lord Jesus Christ wants to share His joy with you (John 15: 11).  He is the One who sustained me through great tragedy and gave me His JOY.  Our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit want to give YOU more JOY. “

Karen and her husband Larry are active members of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish.