When the wicked prosper

Some of you may be going through a trial…one that’s been going on for a long time, several years maybe. Or maybe you have some unspoken prayer requests. Maybe you’ve been praying for something for many years and it seems like nothing is happening. You have a need, a problem, or a desire. And it seems like God is slow to respond to that prayer. You look around and see that life seems to go perfectly for other people. Sometimes you may have a tendency to look and wonder why everything looks like it’s prospering for those who live wicked lives. They don’t seem to have a care in the world, while your prayer is not answered even though you live a godly life.

The more time passes, the more it hurts. You start having a pity party, start asking questions like “why me?”  You want to give up. You want whatever it is to come to an end. You want God to answer you. Why isn’t anything happening?

My family and I also have been praying for many years for a specific request and still nothing happened. Yet.

I say yet, because I know God will answer our prayer. But I am reminded that many saints in the past have also gone along the same path we have. I am reminded that it is part of the Christian life to go through trials. It is part of the sanctification process to go through long periods of waiting before God brings a promised blessing. I realized this fact while I was with my daily devotion in the book of Job, and the pastor at church was preaching from 1 Samuel chapter 1. Two people in two different time periods. Hannah and Job. What is the connection between the two? Long periods of waiting while watching the wicked prosper.

Read how Job pours out the hurting sorrow of his heart:

Why do the wicked live,
    reach old age, and grow mighty in power?
Their offspring are established in their presence,
    and their descendants before their eyes…
They spend their days in prosperity,
    and in peace they go down to Sheol.
They say to God, ‘Depart from us!
    We do not desire the knowledge of your ways.
What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
    And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’
Behold, is not their prosperity in their hand?
                                                      (Job 21:7,8, 13-16a)

Job had indescribable trials that never seemed to end. But God brought him out to a prosperous end.

The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning (Job 42:12)

Hannah waited many difficult years under the persecution of Peninnah before she received Samuel.

It happened year after year, as often as she [Hannah] went up to the house of the Lord, she [Peninnah] would provoke her; so she wept and would not eat. (1 Samuel 1:7) 

She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. She made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” (1 Samuel 1:10-11).

The Bible is full of examples of saints who waited long years before God granted their request.

Abraham & Sarah

They waited 25 years for God to fulfill His promise of giving them a son.

Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.”  And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Genesis 21:5-7)

And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. (Hebrews 6:15)

Joseph in prison

Joseph was sold into slavery, and later put in prison. Based on the information given in the Bible, some commentators say that Joseph spent about 2 years in prison, others calculate it to be 11 years either in prison or serving in Potiphar’s house based on what age he was when he was sold into slavery and when Pharaoh brought him to power. No matter, we know that for nearly 11 years total, Joseph had to endure hardship before he became a ruler in Egypt and later got to reunite with his family. It was a long and difficult journey, but then God raised him to an important position in a crucial time and blessed him.

 Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined.
(Gen 39:2o)

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you.  You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”
(Gen 41:39-41)

And to Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On, bore to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house.And the name of the second he called Ephraim: For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Gen 41:50-52)

Moses in the desert

After the glory of Egypt, Moses spent 40 years in the desert in harsh conditions before being called to the position of the leader of the nation of Israel. Imagine how difficult it must have been for him to go from being a prince in Egypt, to an anonymous shepherd for 40 years.

Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons. “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai.(Acts 7:29-30)

King David

Samuel anointed him as king, but David had to wait about 15 years before being able to reign as king. During that time he was constantly on the run, and endured numerous persecutions from Saul.

To the Chief Musician. Set to “Do Not Destroy.”A Michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.
(Psalm 57:1)

Zechariah and Elizabeth

This couple was already advanced in years, and they had no child. They had to endure a lot of stigma, because in the Jewish culture, being barren was like being punished by God. Yet they were righteous people and they probably could not understand why this was happening to them.

“And they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years” (Luke 1:7)

“Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth” (Luke 1:13, 14).

Christ

The most important example in this lesson. We tend to overlook this, but even our Lord Jesus went through a period of waiting. At the age of 12, He went to the Temple with His parents and was there discussing with the religious leaders. His parents did not understand at the time that it was normal for Him to be in the Temple. Yet, He did not argue with them, and lived in submission to them. For 18 years, the Son of God in flesh, lived in obscurity in Nazareth, before He started His earthly ministry at the age of 30 as was the custom in the Jewish culture.

And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast…Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. (Luke 2:42)

Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph…
(Luke 3:23)

And Christ still displays that patience in waiting for His full rightful blessing at the end of the age, when all people will come to judgment.

The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” (Matthew 22:44)

Conclusion

So, when you are losing heart, and the trial seems long, remember Christ…remember the saints…and know that God will provide the blessing soon!

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise (Hebrews 10:35,36).

***

References

https://bible.org/seriespage/waiting-lord-2-samuel-21-55

https://bible.org/seriespage/penthouse-prison-genesis-391-23

Creativity

Here’s a quick overview of all the creative work that has been going on in my house in clusters of creativity throughout the summer. Sprinkled among the more recent works of art are a few projects that were done months earlier but never quite made it onto the blog until now.

 

I love any excuse to try new lettering ideas. And it’s even more fun to send a card through snail mail. So I made a friend this card pictured above, by copying a pretty ‘A’ letter design from Pinterest. I am pleased with how it turned out, and it was exciting to hear she loved it too.

 

 

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At the end of July, a lady from church ordered some cupcakes with little owls for her daughter’s 1st birthday. My sister took on the task of making fondant art. This was her work station.

 

I maintain, for the sake of reminding you of my food beliefs, that food coloring and cake mix are considered “food heresies” (if you could call it that) in my worldview :). But this is what our customer ordered, so we made it exactly to her wishes. Yet, the designs turned out so cute that I couldn’t resist sharing how great they look.

 

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In addition to the little owls, my sister also made a larger owl to put on the birthday cake. It looks quite charming. Though it was tedious work, I look forward to our experimenting more with fondant, using natural food coloring. The possibilities are endless. It’s just like play dough.

 

This is my little Irish/nautical knot headband inspired from pinterest. I decided to use red, white and blue faux leather strips to do my headband. I made it early in the summer or spring but never got to put it up on the blog.

 

The headband is not quite finished yet, but I love the way the knot turned out. I still have to add some rubber band or connector at the ends to make it wearable. I like the patriotic/Tommy Hilfiger/vintage-y look it has, don’t you think?

 

 

Bows, bows, bows. My new love. All you need is fabric and a glue gun. No sewing required. My mom had a bagful of scraps from a friend, so what better way to use those leftovers than to make bows? Oversized bows, medium bows, tiny bows, they’re adorable. What I like about these bows is they take less than 30 minutes to get done, and they’re so practical. It adds a touch of classy to any outfit, you can wear them in your hair with a rubber band or bobby pin, or make them into bow ties for little guys. I must admit I’m totally subscribed to the new bow trend I’ve been noticing around.

 

This next art exhibit (the skirts) is credited to my mom. She’s the seamstress. I have yet to learn more. She made these two little skirts out of leftover material she had for a skirt she made for herself. I love the red trimming on the bottom.

 

And bare little feet are the perfect way to wear this skirt. It completes the “country”  look of the outfit.

 

Remember this little wooden plaque? In an older post on pyrography I was wondering what design to woodburn on it. At first I was thinking of doing something like a sailboat or drawing. But then I thought it would look better if it had a little verse or poem or such. Woodburning is such fun! And again, the possibilities are endless.

There you have it! A little overview of our artsy pursuits this summer. I might put up another post with other projects we got done later.

Question for you: If you could choose only one art project to complete out of the options below, which would it be? 

1. Cake with fondant

2. Pyrography/wood burning

3. Sewing

4. Drawing

5. Paper crafts

The Song of Creation

I just read this verse last Saturday in my daily Bible reading and I remembered this neat devotional from ICR based on the same verse in the book of Job. I thought it would be good to share it today.

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“Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding . . . When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7)

It is significant that there was singing at the very time of creation. The “morning stars” of this verse are, by Hebrew poetic parallelism, the same as the “sons of God” who were present when God “laid the foundations of the earth.” Similarly, “sang together” is parallel with “shouted for joy.” These should surely be the three major themes of Christian music, for these are… (Click here to continue).

Attribution: © 1994-2013 Institute for Creation Research. All Rights Reserved. http://www.icr.org

Excellent Majesty

In my daily Bible reading, my habit is to read one chapter from the Old and one from the New Testament. Right now I’m currently in Job and I just finished 2 Peter. I was struck to come across very similar themes and words in reference to God in the two chapters I read. One was from the Old Testament in Job, and the other from the New Testament in 2 Peter. Those verses were both specifically referring to God’s “excellent glory and majesty”.

The word combinations used in the verses are so powerful and descriptive:

Awesome Majesty

Excellent in power

Excellent glory

Read and see how similar the wording is in both places:

(Job 37:22-24)
…With God is awesome majesty.
As for the Almighty, we cannot find Him;
He is excellent in power,
In judgment and abundant justice;
He does not oppress.
Therefore men fear Him;
He shows no partiality to any who are wise of heart.”

(2 Peter 1:17)
For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

It nearly gives me goosebumps to think of how majestic, awesome, powerful, and excellent is Christ our Savior!

How has God’s Word blessed you recently?

 

Come before the King

 

But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letter that the wicked plot which Haman had devised against the Jews should return on his own heard, and that he and his sons should be hanged in the gallows.” (Esther 9:25)

The most quoted phrase/verse in the book of Esther is “…for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). It speaks of a central issue in the story of Esther when the people of Israel were delivered from wicked Haman. Yet I think many times we tend to get stuck on that verse and just gloss over everything else in the story of Esther.

In my daily reading from the Bible, the Lord brought to my attention another important verse near the end of the book. It ties in to the beginning of the story to demonstrate how the verse “for such a time as this” was applied, or put into action in a practical sense.

What could they do?

The story of Esther is a perfect example of how God is involved in all the details of life. He worked behind the scenes to bring about His will. It may have seemed like the wicked Haman and the powerful king of Persia had control of the political decisions and the course of history. It may have seemed like the people of Israel could do nothing against the royal decree of death to the Jews. They were so small against such a mighty empire. Esther was only one young lady, though a queen. Mordecai was only one man. What could they do against the officials and king of Persia? How could they stop a genocide? How could they overturn a law and make it be in their favor?

Blessings for a Purpose

Indeed, in his foreknowledge, God arranged everything in place to fulfill His will before Haman devised his evil scheme. Focusing on Esther, we see how God prepared her to be chosen as the new queen for King Ahasuerus. We can only imagine that it was a time of blessing in her life. She had a new royal status, and experienced many new privileges. But it was all for a purpose. God had given her all that so she could use it on behalf of her people. She was sent there on a mission.

Similarly in our own lives, when we have seasons of blessings, remember it is for a reason. God gives us a blessing because later down the road He may want us to do something important with it.  And we have a choice. We can take the blessing and use it for our own fulfillment and ignore God’s call to action, or we can utilize the blessing and take a stand like Esther. The Word of God says:

“For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:48)

Even Mordecai reminded Esther that God expected her to take a stand, but it had its risks. Yet she was willing to risk it all and do the right thing rather than sit in complacency thinking that all would go well with her while her own countrymen suffered.

Coming before the King

The situation for the Jews under King Ahasuerus was grim. They were destined to die because of evil Haman. There was nothing they could do unless God intervened. It seemed like a hopeless case, and humanly speaking Esther and Mordecai could not do much either.

Today, we can look at the course of history, at all the political events, all the leaders, and different troubling things that take place, and have the impression that there is not much we can do. But just like God used Esther to influence the course of history, He can use you for mighty things too. In the end, Esther had more power (because God used her), than even the king himself! She was able to turn the tables in her favor.  But all of that was accomplished by one simple action: “…when Esther came before the king…

This verse reminded me that we, as children of God, have access to the King of Kings. His scepter is evermore extended to us. We can always come before Him with our requests. Can you imagine the magnitude of this fact? Can you imagine that you can be an Esther in your own time, and come before your Heavenly Father with any request?

Prayer is such a powerful asset! Through prayer, God can use you to influence the outcome of history, just like Esther. Remember:

“The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16)

All you have to do is pray! Come before the King.

Psalm 9- A Psalm of God’s vengeance on the wicked

There is much turmoil in the world today, especially if you’ve been following the news for the past month and seen all that has happened to Israel and the trouble they have. In light of all this, I came across this psalm and saw that it was a perfect reminder of God’s justice against His enemies.

Read it slowly and carefully. I bolded the verses which can be specifically applied to what we see in the news.

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Psalm 9

I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

When my enemies turn back,
They shall fall and perish at Your presence.
For You have maintained my right and my cause;
You sat on the throne judging in righteousness.
You have rebuked the nations,
You have destroyed the wicked;
You have blotted out their name forever and ever.

O enemy, destructions are finished forever!
And you have destroyed cities;
Even their memory has perished.
But the Lord shall endure forever;
He has prepared His throne for judgment.
He shall judge the world in righteousness,
And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.

The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble.
And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion!
Declare His deeds among the people.
When He avenges blood, He remembers them;
He does not forget the cry of the humble.

Have mercy on me, O Lord!
Consider my trouble from those who hate me,
You who lift me up from the gates of death,
That I may tell of all Your praise
In the gates of the daughter of Zion.
I will rejoice in Your salvation.

The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made;
In the net which they hid, their own foot is caught.
The Lord is known by the judgment He executes;
The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.

Selah

The wicked shall be turned into hell,
And all the nations that forget God.
For the needy shall not always be forgotten;
The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.

Arise, O Lord,
Do not let man prevail;
Let the nations be judged in Your sight.
Put them in fear, O Lord,
That the nations may know themselves to be but men.

Selah