February 19, 2018

Esther – Chapter 9:17-32

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Please join us for our next Online Bible Study!

“16-Day Love Challenge:

Matching our Words and Actions with

1 Corinthians 13:4-8″

by Cherie Zack and Rebecca LeCompte.

This study begins November 4th.  

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As we read this lengthy section of Scripture, we see the final explanation of this time of salvation and rejoicing for the Jews. The Jews in the provinces killed their enemies on the 13th of Adar and rested on the 14th (Esther 9:17).  But the Jews in Shushan were given permission to stand against their enemies two days, 13th and 14th, and then rested on the 15th (verse 18).  On those days of resting from their enemies, there was a great celebration—gladness, feasting, and exchanging of gifts (verses 22-23).  Esther and Mordecai confirmed that this celebration would become a new holiday for the Jews called Purim (verses 29-30), named after the Pur (lot) that was cast for their destruction was turned on their enemies (verses 24-26).  It is still celebrated every year by faithful Jews.

Darlene Schacht includes a commonly accepted fact that Moses was circumcised on the 13th of Adar. “Circumcision represents the cutting away of the flesh and the putting off of a former life.” The Jews “cut down” their enemies on Adar the 13th.  God provides the way for us to have our old life “cut away” to cleanse us from all sin (Haman), and celebrate new life and freedom (Purim) in Christ.  Darlene and I ask, “Have you exchanged your sinful life for a new life? If not, you can make that decision right now by…asking God to forgive you for your sins and inviting Jesus into your life.”  Now is the time to put your faith in Him.

After the Jews cut down their enemies, they rested (Esther 9:22).  God gives us rest from our enemy, sin, when we allow Jesus to cleanse us and give us His gifts. He gives us:

…a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

Isaiah 61:3

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

This doesn’t mean that we won’t have trials and temptations.  It’s not a “sunny day at the beach ever-after.”  But, James 1:2-5 and 12, encourages us that we will want to “…persevere under trial because, having stood the test, that person (we) will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Did you notice that it wasn’t Esther’s position as queen that set her people free from the sentence of death?  It was actually because of the king’s love for her and his generosity (grace) to her people that he provided a way to put them in “right-standing/righteousness” with him.  It was upon his word and his name (Esther 9:25) that Mordecai and Esther were given permission to write the new decree that made the way for the Jews to live and have rest.

The joyous truth of our salvation in Christ is that we are forgiven and are now in right-standing/righteousness with God.  It is not based on our own merit, our position, our own standard of right and wrong, or even on keeping every ‘jot or tittle’ of the old law.  There is no rest in those.  Isaiah 64:6 (KJV) tells us, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”  Instead, it is based on His love and His grace.  In His righteousness there is rest.  There is freedom from condemnation, and a blessed assurance that we belong to God.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1, 2

Esther knew that she would find her salvation only in her king, so she came to him in obedience and courageous submission.  When we realize that our salvation can only come from the power, love, and authority of the King of kings, Jesus, we too will want to live in obedience and courageous submission to Him.

This great story of love and salvation of Esther and the Jewish Nation was, and is, to be shared from generation to generation, and in every province (Esther 9:26-32).  The Great Love Story of our salvation given us through Christ Jesus is to be shared in every family from generation to generation and in every “province” until Christ returns for His Bride, the Church.  “…future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn—for He has done it” (Psalms 22:30-31). “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the Water of Life” (Revelation 22:17).

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His Holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits—

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.

Psalms 103:1-2, 17-18

* * * * *

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the rest we find in our salvation that comes only from You, not from our own merit.  Thank You for changing our mourning into joy and our despair into a garment of praise!  We praise You that the joyous truth of our salvation is evidenced in our right-standing before God, our Father.  Help us, O Lord, to live in the beauty of courageous submission to You, our King of kings.  Help us find creative ways to share Your Great Love Story with our families from generation to generation, and in every “province” until You return for Your Bride. In Jesus’ Name.

Amen.

Esther – Chapter 9:6-16

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Please join us for our next Online Bible Study!

“16-Day Love Challenge:

Matching our Words and Actions with

1 Corinthians 13:4-8″

by Cherie Zack and Rebecca LeCompte.

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The king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.  If it pleases the king,” Esther answered, “give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edit tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged on gallows.”
Esther 9:12-13 NIV

In my Bible, the introduction to Chapter 9 is entitled “Triumph of the Jews.”  The enemies of the Jews thought they could take out their enemies, but the Jews were able to turn the tables on them! We also see that Haman’s ten sons were killed in verse 9 – so why the strange request from Esther?  Why hang ten dead men on the gallows?  Seems a bit—literally—like overkill. We’ve seen that all of Esther’s actions have been intentional so far, so what is the point of this request?  Darlene mentions that a public execution would put fear in the people (page 103).  It would do that, to be sure!   My Study Bible gives additional insight.

In Deuteronomy 21:22-23, God gives these directions through Moses: “If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight.  Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.”  To the Jews, this is a reminder of God’s deliverance and fulfillment of a promise made to them long ago through Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse…” (Genesis 12:3 NIV).

If you go to your Bible, you will notice that I didn’t include the remainder of verse 3 in Genesis.  It concludes “… and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Wow, what an amazing promise!  Did you realize that the promise to Abraham became your blessing, too?  Through Abraham, God makes a mighty nation—the Jews—His chosen people.  Through Abraham, God sends Jesus to fulfill His plan and redeem us all.  Hallelujah!  One of the beautiful revelations of studying Esther is how Esther’s story is our story!  We are all Esther–beautiful, favored by the ultimate King (God), chosen, given a helper (the Holy Spirit), redeemed and saved from our enemy (Satan)!  But here is a key difference—and please give it the reverence it deserves—in our life story, the One hung on the gallows, the One hung on a tree – is Jesus…yes…Jesus.

In Galatians 3:13 -14 (NIV) Paul writes “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”   I read this and I am so humbled, so grateful, so joyful!  You see, Jesus became the sacrifice that saved me from death.  Jesus became the curse so that I can receive the blessing!  Because He triumphed over the cross, over curses, over death, He rendered Satan’s power ultimately useless over me!  Just like the Jews’ enemies in Persia, who thought they were going to destroy them, Satan has had the tables turned on him! WE ARE SAVED!!  WE ARE REDEEMED!!

Praise God today, sisters, because He has made the power of the Cross available to us who believe in Him!  Don’t live in fear of the enemy; live in the hope and confidence of those redeemed out of the hand of the devil.  Just like the Jews were overwhelmingly victorious – so will you be in your life.  Read the story of Esther again and apply this knowledge to your life – I am Esther and, just like God worked in her life, He works in mine! God bless you, sisters!  WE ARE REDEEMED!! Let the knowledge of that change your life!

Let’s Pray:

Holy God, thank You for the Book of Esther!  Thank You for Your words that give us wisdom, knowledge, hope and all of Your precious promises.  Help us to live today and every day with the knowledge that You love us very much and that You want us to live abundant lives of joy! Thank You that Your son became the curse, OUR curse, so that we can receive the blessing HE deserved. May we be eternally grateful and strive to live out our days in humble, grateful submission to You and fulfill the purposes You have for us!  Thank You for loving us!  Help us to love others the same way. In Your Son’s name we pray, Amen.

Esther – Chapter 9:4-5

Esther 9:4-5

For Mordecai was great in the king’s palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for this man Mordecai became increasingly prominent. Thus the Jews defeated all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, with slaughter and destruction, and did what they pleased with those who hated them.

Life can feel like a battle sometimes.  Well, honestly, life CAN be a battle most of the time. Some days the battles waged are more intense than others, but, they are battles none-the-less. Some days the battle is to get the kids up and out the door on time; some days the battle is the foreclosure notice in the mail.  Sometimes the battle is in the workplace, or in the doctor’s office. Life can be a battle. The story of Esther is a battle in itself—from start to finish.

The days when the battle is intense, it can feel like we don’t have anything to protect us.  We know Christ is there, and we know He is in our corner…but what do we have to defend us is tangible and that we can reach for when temptation, doubt, fear, anger, are staring us in the face and taunting us.

One of the most assuring feelings is knowing that we do have something to reach for…that we have a weapon at our disposal stronger than any battle we may face.  We have Christ and His written Word.

1 John 4:4

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because

He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

 The sword.

“Thus the Jews defeated all their enemies with the stroke of the sword…” (Esther 9:5)

What is this sword?  No, we’re not expected to carry around a huge piece of metal on our waist, but we are expected to carry around a different sword in our heart, the Sword of the Spirit—the Bible—our instruction book.  This is our defense and our protection.

 Ephesians 6:14-17

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

This is a wonderful gift, a wonderful tool, and a wonderful source of protection.  Like Darlene encourages us to do, we should look at the many ways in which the Word of God can protect us.  It protects us not only from the outside world but from ourselves.  For example, when I’m tempted to complain, I know where to go (Philippians 2:14), when I’m tempted to worry, I know where to go (Matthew 6:25-27), and there are so many more verses I know I can go to when I need a sword.  But it takes effort on my part.   It takes study. and it takes me immersing myself in the Scripture so it is on my heart and mind when I need it.

The last question Darlene asks of us is to look inside and examine our study habits: do we read the Bible often?  Do we study it as we’re called to do?  This is not a condemning question but an opportunity for growth.  I know that this is an area than I need to work on, (and am so thankful for how technology can help with this goal).  When you get a chance, think about how you can grow in this area, how you can strengthen the Word inside of you.

*****

Let’s Pray:

Lord, we breathe a sigh of relief when we can reach inside and pull from Your Word, when You bring a Scripture to mind that will help us in the situation we’re in.  Lord, time isn’t something that we have a lot of, but please touch our hearts and remind us how important it is to strengthen our Sword.  And thank You for giving us this tool, for giving us the Sword.  In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen.

Esther – Chapter 8:9-15

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Please join us for our next Online Bible Study!

“16-Day Love Challenge:

Matching our Words and Actions with

1 Corinthians 13:4-8″

by Cherie Zack and Rebecca LeCompte.

This study begins November 4th.  

Be sure to go to our Registration page for more details, and to sign up today!!

The Registration page can be found by clicking on this LINK.

We hope you will join us!!

__________________

Esther 8:9-14 sounds very familiar!  The phraseology parallels the verses of Esther 3:12-14, but this time the decree written by Mordecai gave the Jews life instead of death.  It was written so that “every people after their language” (Esther 8:9, KJV) in the whole kingdom, could understand the good news of the salvation of the Jews from the previous death sentence.

Notice this parallel:  In Acts 2:5-12, on the day of Pentecost there were Jews from every nation staying in Jerusalem.  They heard these simple Galilean disciples declaring in their own languages “the wonders of God,” the good news of salvation (Life) for all through Jesus Christ. Today, God still wants the same Good News to reach everyone, everywhere; and it’s our responsibility as believers to share it (Matthew 28:18-20).

I stated in our study of Esther 3:12-15 that King Xerxes just went “along for the ride” and didn’t really care about the details of the first decree or the end results. This time is very different as the king realizes that he has a vested interest in this whole event and especially the results.  This new decree would save the life of his queen, his “bride,” the woman he loved.   The king’s name was essential for the authenticity of this decree and his seal made it irrevocable.

When Adam and Eve sinned, God had to pronounce a death sentence on all mankind (Genesis 3) because He is Holy and cannot stand sin.  This “decree” was irrevocable by any human standards. However, God doesn’t live by human standards.  He had, and still has, a vested interest in His creation, His children, His Bride.  God loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to use His Name to “sign” a new decree for Life, our salvation, and He sealed it with His “signet ring,” the Holy Spirit, making it irrevocable.

It is by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,… Salvation is found in no one else,
for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
Acts 4:10-12

Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…
Ephesians 1:13

The king gave the Jews permission to gather together
and stand against all those who would assault them.
Esther 8:11

Our King instructs us, through Paul and the author of Hebrews, to gather together to strengthen and encourage one another (I Corinthians 14:26 and Hebrews 10:24-25).  Our King also tells us to stand and fight our spiritual enemy, and He even equips us with God’s armor to ensure that we will win!

Stand firm then with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  And pray in the Spirit….
Ephesians 6:13-18

Are we ready for that day when the enemy comes against us?  Actually, it’s a daily battle.  We must meet together to encourage and strengthen one another.  We must not take off our armor. We must not let down our guard.  We must pray.

As I read Esther 8:15, my first thought was, “Wow!”  Besides Mordecai’s new authority, he was honored by being clothed in royal clothing of blue and white, a robe of linen and purple, and given a great crown of gold and presented publicly!  There was great rejoicing as Mordecai appeared before the citizens of Shushan.  I believe not only was Mordecai well-liked by all, but he also represented justice, honor, life, and freedom (a far cry from what Haman had represented). We will rejoice at our Lord’s appearing because He represents justice, honor, life, and freedom for us!

Darlene Schacht points out that linen, blue, and purple were used in the making of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1a KJV).  The tabernacle was the dwelling place for God (Exodus 40:34).  So Mordecai’s attire signified that he was the temple of the Holy Spirit.  As Christians, we are God’s temple (I Corinthians 3:16).  As King Xerxes’ representative, Mordecai wore purple, which signifies royalty.  We wear the robe of righteousness.  We too are royalty. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God…” (1 Peter 2:9).

Mordecai persevered through the trials caused by Haman’s decree.  The final result was that he came out the victor and was given a golden crown—a symbol of power and position.  As Christians we will receive the crown of life when we stand strong, in our God-given authority, through the trials that the enemy throws at us.

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory
that will never fade away.
1 Peter 5:4

Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Revelation 2:10b

Everything that Mordecai, Queen Esther, and the Jewish Nation received from the king was given to them because of his favor, his grace.  When we submit our lives to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we receive His grace and everything we need to be victorious in this life and with Him for all eternity. Praise the Lord!

Let’s Pray:

Lord, thank You for reminding us that the “decree” for Life has already been “signed” by Jesus’ Name and “sealed” by Your Holy Spirit.  Help us share this Good News with others.  Please remind us to regularly fellowship together to strengthen one another.  Thank You for equipping each of us to stand against the enemy of our souls.  We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood belonging to You by Your grace, and Your grace alone.  We bow in worship to honor You, our King of kings.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Esther – Chapter 8:7-8

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness,

faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

Oh, how I love this scripture, sisters!  We looked at it when discussing our “beauty regimen” in chapter 2 and now, as we revisit it, we see those “fruits” are also the proof of the Holy Spirit living and working in you! (But first, let’s get back to Esther….)

Things are FINALLY looking up for her, Mordecai, and the Jews!  Haman is gone, Mordecai and Esther have been redeemed and in verses 7-8 we see that the estate of Haman has been given to Esther.  Moreover, another decree is now being written in the King’s name on behalf of the Jews which not only allowed the Jews to protect themselves, but also to destroy anyone that attacked them AND plunder the property of their enemies.  This decree we see is sealed with the King’s signet ring and signifies the irrevocable nature of the new decree.  Hooray!

Darlene then compares this seal to the seal, or mark, of the Holy Spirit, which is given to us when we become a child of God.  Let’s look at the Scripture she provides: 2 Corinthians 1:21-22.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (NIV)

My Study Bible gives this further explanation regarding the seal of ownership: “It was both the first installment on a loan and a guarantee of its complete payment” (Quest Study Bible).  So if the Holy Spirit is a deposit and a guarantee of future payment – how amazing will the payoff be??  How exciting!!

The Holy Spirit is vital to your life as a believer!  Darlene provides a sampler of Scriptures to discuss the role He plays in our lives.  We see:

  • that He is a counselor (John 14:16)
  • that He will convict the world in regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11)
  • that He is a guide into all truth (John 16:13)
  • that He glorifies Jesus (John 16:14)
  • and He testifies about Jesus (John15:26)

Think of the Holy Spirit as the ultimate Guide to help you navigate your way in this life and help you enter Heaven with as many rewards as possible!  In fact, different versions of the Bible will translate “Counselor” in John 16:7 as “Advocate” or “Helper.”  (For an incredible, in-depth study of the Holy Spirit and His role in your life, may I recommend “The Helper” by Catherine Marshall.)  But just like Jesus, the Holy Spirit will not work in your life against your will. We must choose to cooperate with the Holy Spirit.  Example: My GPS will give me the correct directions to reach my destination, but if I don’t turn it on, or if I ignore its instructions, it can’t help me!

How do we know if the Holy Spirit is guiding us down the right path?  How do we know that He’s working?  Well, that brings us back to Galatians 5:22-23, the first Scripture mentioned today.  When you see a tree, you know what kind of tree it is because of the fruit that is hanging from it.  Likewise the “fruits of the Spirit” are evidences that can be seen in our lives that we are allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us.  The more we allow the Spirit to shape our lives, change our thinking, and mold our behavior, the greater the evidence – the greater the harvest of fruit!

So…. How are YOU doing??  I’d love to know!  Is there a fruit that is your favorite?  And which one do you need to cultivate more often in order for it to grow in your life?

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father – You are a kind and gracious God!  Thank You for redeeming us from our enemies.  Thank You for sealing us as Your children and giving us the Holy Spirit, not only as a promise for the future, but to help us in the present!  I ask You to help me listen to the guidance that Your Spirit longs to give me and help me to blossom into a beautiful, fruit-filled tree for all to see!  Thank You for Your blessings, Your goodness, Your grace and Your love.  May I be able to show those qualities to someone who needs them today.  In Your Son’s name we pray.

Amen.

 

Esther – Chapter 8:3-6

Esther 8:3-6

Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping.  She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews. Then the king extended the gold scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him. “If it pleases the king,” she said, “and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces. For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?

You’re saved; you’re sanctified, and you’re filled with the Holy Ghost. Your friends and family are sitting next to you in church. You’re redeemed and you’re free. Everything seems to be going well for you and yours, and your circle is doing just fine. This may be your story, it may not.  It may look somewhat like your situation, and it may not. Christians in general seem to be more concerned with the going ons of their inner circle; we seem to be more concerned with those closest to us and with their salvation.  This isn’t a bad thing; of course we want to see the ones we love spend eternity with us in heaven, but…

What about the other guys? What about those people? Where does our responsibility lie when it comes to others outside of our group?

Below are some scriptures that refer to praying for others:

 Job 42:10 

If you do a search on BibleGateway.com, you will find several scriptures.  From the amount of scriptures that are available, it looks like this is a subject close to God’s heart. We have a responsibility to God and to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Even after receiving the outcome she was seeking for herself and her cousin, Esther knew her work wasn’t done.  She knew she still had a responsibility to her people to petition on their behalf. What a great example of how to live!

How can Esther’s example impact your life?

How can we model ourselves after her?

 _____

This section reminds me of the song by Casting Crowns, Jesus Friend of Sinners.

 

____________

 

Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord

Please open our eyes to see people and situations in need of prayer. Your command to pray without ceasing applies to not only our lives and the lives of those we love, but also to the lives of those we don’t know; to the lives of those we see in the street, those we pass in the workplace. Place on our hearts the desire You placed on the heart of Esther, the desire to see the salvation of our fellow person.

In Jesus’ Name We Pray.

Amen

 

Esther – Chapter 8:1-2

As I read Esther chapter eight, one phrase continually comes into my thoughts: “There is none like You…You alone are God!”  And I praise and exalt Him for His sovereignty, His all-knowing and His ALWAYS knowing!  Would you praise Him along with me?

We have watched this incredible story of redemption, blessing,  provision, protection, and submission unfold day by day over the past seven weeks throughout our study of Esther: The Beauty of Courageous Submission.  At times, my heart has been so caught up in the moment-by-moment real life drama of Esther’s life.

There are no words throughout all ten chapters of the Book of Esther which are attributed to God, or His dealings with Esther, the King, or Uncle Mordecai.  No directive, no command, no blessing…no actual interaction with the Almighty God that is recorded.  However, we clearly can see His hand of blessing, His hand of direction, His guidance and His provision—His providence.

PROVIDENCE is defined as “foresight; timely care; particularly, active foresight, or foresight accompanied with the procurement of what is necessary for future use, or with suitable preparation.  In theology, the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures.”

The Bible Dictionary says,

“When applied to God the idea takes on a vastly larger dimension because God not only looks ahead and attempts to make provision for His goals, but infallibly accomplishes what He sets out to do. And because it is God’s governance that is in view, it encompasses everything in the universe, from the creation of the world to its consummation, inclusive of every aspect of human existence and destiny. This divine, sovereign, and benevolent control of all things by God is the underlying premise of everything that is taught in the Scriptures.”

And the Scriptures contain so many examples of His divine providence; here are just a few.

  • Baby Moses, being hidden in a basket in the river; found by Pharoah’s daughter and adopted into Pharoah’s family.
  • Daniel a Jewish slave in Babylon, and becoming Nebuchadnezzar’s advisor.
  • Joseph, envied by his brothers, sold by them into slavery in Egypt and becoming second in power after Pharoah.
  • Jonah’s refusal to obey, his consequences, and through them, the Ninevites choosing to repent.

Throughout the Scriptures, we are reminded of God’s desire to have His people (you and me!) recognize His perfect care for and love for us as evidenced by His providence.

Earnestly remember the former things, which I did of old; for I am God, and there is no one else; I am God, and there is none like Me,  Declaring the end and the result from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure and purpose,
Isaiah 46:9 and 10

The world calls this coincidence…happenstance…serendipity…fate.  We call it the providence of God—His AWEsome watching over, His perfect care, His provision (both immediate and in the future).

Ecclesiastes 8:16 and 17

When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to see the business activity and the painful effort that take place upon the earth—how neither day nor night some men’s eyes sleep — Then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun—because however much a man may toil in seeking, yet he will not find it out; yes, more than that, though a wise man thinks and claims he knows, yet will he not be able to find it out.

Psalms 139:16 and 17

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!

Ultimately, our great God, has all of eternity in mind and planned for us.  His sovereign plan which includes all the faithful who have come before us will come to pass for one reason alone—He is God, and that’s just the way it is!

And all of these, though they won divine approval by [means of] their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was promised, Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater in view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not come to perfection apart from us [before we could join them].
Hebrews 11:39 and 40

…making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.  In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.  In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit….
Ephesians 1:9-13

What other examples of God’s providence can you remember from the Scriptures?  How about His providential hand of blessing in your own life?  (Perhaps you might share your answer in the comments below.)

* * * * *

Let’s Pray:

Almighty God, the Great I AM, throughout time You have always taken such AWEsome care of Your people providing in ways that are beyond our ability to fathom or understand.  We thank You, as we continue to read about Esther’s (and the Jewish peoples) life, for Your providence— Your perfect provision and guidance. You have ‘declared the end from the beginning’ and Your plans always come to pass.  Please help us, Father, when we cannot see even the next step to be comforted in trusting that You see far into the future…truly to eternity!  We love You and trust You!  And pray in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Esther – Chapter 7:5-8

Haman’s story is coming full circle here, in verses 5-8 of chapter 7 in Esther.  We’ve talked about Haman quite a bit, haven’t we?  In chapter 6, we discussed that, while we rejoice in knowing that God will avenge any evil done to us, we should try to look at all people (even Haman) as God sees them.  But in chapter 3 we see that just like Haman was a deadly adversary to Mordecai, the Jews, and Esther, so the devil is our adversary.  We saw that Haman was the accuser, just like Satan.  And in verses 5-8 of chapter 7, I am again reminded of the similarities between the two (Haman and Satan), and how, like Haman, Satan is going down! Let’s revisit a scripture I introduced from chapter 3’s discussion:

Wk7_Caddell_Esther

Darlene reminds us of an excellent point – one we should not forget – “Because of redemption through Jesus Christ, we are overcomers in this life” (page80).   OVERCOMERS!!  Hallelujah!  Did you see a similar word mentioned in the verses above?  Look again.  “They (the brothers, but sisters are included!) overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony….”

Did you know that through Jesus you have the power to overcome Satan in your life?   You do!  When you belong to Christ, the Holy Spirit resides in you (Acts 2:38).  In other words, you are covered by the blood of the Lamb. But what else was used to overcome Satan?  The word of their testimony.  That’s your part.  Share your testimony.   This is where some of us get a little discouraged or confused, like we don’t have a powerful testimony to share.  WRONG!  I don’t even know you, but I know your testimony is powerful.  Your testimony is your story…your life.  How God has changed you/shaped you/intervened on your behalf.  This is how you “defeat” Satan:  You know those reminders that he throws in your face of your past failures? You look him right in the eye and say, “That’s right, I did those things. But that’s who I WAS. Jesus washed all that garbage away and has forgiven me!  I am clean!  And now I’m going to tell others how God can turn their lives around, too.”  I’ve seen this quote many times and I love it – ‘your mess becomes your message; your test becomes your testimony’!  Can I say “Hallelujah!” again??  Hallelujah!

Let’s get real.  Will we experience trials?  Yes.  Difficulties and obstacles?   Absolutely.  Will that burden look too heavy to bear?  Quite possibly.  But you are not alone…Almighty God is on your side.  He is greater!  John is addressing a church about spiritual warfare, false prophets, and the spirit of the antichrist when he reminds them in 1 John 4:4, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  Do you see that, sisters?  The one who is in YOU is greater than the one who is in the world.  Through the blood of Jesus, Satan has no claim on you, no hold on you, and no power over you!   You are NOT hopeless!  You are NOT powerless!  You ARE a daughter of the King!  YOU ARE AN OVERCOMER!!

Today, what “Haman” in your life is threatening you?  What trial are you going through?  What in your life has set itself against you—the daughter of the King?  TODAY, resolve to throw those things at the foot of the Cross and ask God to fight for you!  TODAY, change your mindset and claim the victory!  God will deliver you – say it out loud – I AM AN OVERCOMER!!!

 
Let’s Pray:

Holy God, THANK YOU for the POWER of the blood of Your Son, Jesus, that was shed on my behalf!  Thank You for my salvation.  Thank You that I don’t have to be threatened by my past mistakes, but that You can use my life as an example of Your abundant love and saving grace! Today, Lord, I throw at Your feet everything that is burdening me and ask You to intervene on my behalf.  Help me, Lord, to see Your deliverance in my life.  Give me a revelation of You that gives me the confidence, boldness and joy to claim victory in my life and overcome all obstacles! Give me the courage to share my story with others who need to know the unrelenting, merciful love and grace that is ours in Christ Jesus!  In the power of Your Son’s name we pray.

Amen.

Esther – Chapter 7:3-4

Wk7_Ellison_Esther

Esther 7:3-4

Then Queen Esther answered and said, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request. For we have been sold, my people and I, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. Had we been sold as male and female slaves, I would have held my tongue, although the enemy could never compensate for the king’s loss.”

Redemption. What is redemption? Well, technically, the following is the definition of the word:

 re·demp·tion

1. an act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake, or the state of being redeemed.

2. deliverance; rescue.

3. Theologydeliverance from sin; salvation.

4. atonement for guilt.

5. repurchase, as of something sold.

What does redemption mean to you? To me, it means being saved or being rescued from something.  We all have times in our lives when we need to be redeemed. Some days I feel like I need to be constantly redeemed, constantly saved—sometimes from big things and sometimes from small things, sometimes from things that are my own doing and sometimes from things out of my control.  Thankfully, not often do we find ourselves in Esther’s shoes, with our lives needing saving from the hand of a tyrant or the lives of our people on the line.

Imagine our lives being sold into the hands of someone who hated us simply for existing.  This man planned to kill us for the price of gold and riches, for power and for bragging rights. Imagine us having to play Esther’s role, having to plead for our safety, having to share a secret that could harm us or help us; imagine how vulnerable she felt at that moment.

Imagine how vulnerable we feel when we have to ask for redemption for whatever reason, when we have to open our heart and mind to Christ when we need saving, when we need redemption. Remember in these times what that vulnerability brings, what this admittance of weakness brings. Remember how close we feel to God, how He wraps His loving arms around us. Remember the price He paid for us.

Yes it was Haman who purchased Esther and her people, but we have to remember who purchased us.  Who paid the ultimate price for our lives?  No matter what or who aims to destroy us, the price that Christ paid can never be matched. The redemption that He offers us can never be replaced or taken away.

 *****

Let’s Pray:

Our Lord and Redeemer,  thank You for the price that You paid for us.  Thank You for the redemption offered and available to us.  Whether it was our doing, or the doing of another, You paid the price with Your life.  Your love reaches further than our pain could ever reach.  Your ultimate price could never be matched by the price paid by the Haman’s in our lives.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.

Amen