January 23, 2018

If We Keep Quiet

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Hathach came back and related Mordecai’s words to Esther.  Then Esther spoke to Hathach and ordered him to reply to Mordecai:  “All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter. And the king has not called for me to come to him for thirty days.”  

So Hathach gave Esther’s message to Mordecai.  Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed.  If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die.  Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”  

Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”

So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.

Esther 4:9-17 NLT

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Esther is one of my favorite books of the bible.  I love the story line and how it reads like a romance novel.  In this chapter of the book, there has been an evil plan that will end in the Jews losing their lives.  Mordecai is Esther’s uncle and he has begged her to save them by going to the king and telling him of the plan.  However Esther knows that if she dares go before the king, without being summoned, she is likely to be killed.  Big risk!

Can you imagine not being able to go to your husband that you have grown to love dearly unless he calls you?  And, in this passage, the king hasn’t summoned her in about 30 days.  She is a little afraid, really.  (Wouldn’t you be?)  She sends a message back to Mordecai saying that it’s too dangerous.  After hearing his reply and thinking more about it, she comes to the conclusion that either way she could die…so why not choose the role of hero.  She also knows that her God is bigger than all of this and she would rather trust Him and obey what she feels He would ask of her.

We all have fears and anxiety.  If we let them, they can consume us and actually keep us from the calling that God has placed on our lives.  And what if we, like Esther, are called to do something big, too.  For this season, in this time, you could be changing lives for the kingdom.  Saving people simply by sharing the good news of Jesus!  And if there is any question in your mind about “if” you are called to tell all who will listen,  then, may you be reminded that Jesus calls everyone to go into the world and tell of Him.  This decision to follow Him is life.

And then He told them,
“Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”
Mark 16:15

So today, I pray that God will show us those who need to hear the hope of Him.  And that He will give us all the courage to step out and share all that He has done for us.  I celebrate with you today that we have Him as our Father!

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

Let us pray: Dear God, we thank You for giving us the opportunity to live in a free country where speaking Your name is not met with punishment but well received.  Thank You for continuing to bless us and for the free gift of grace that is free.  We don’t deserve it; yet You forgive our every sin.  Lord, today, I pray that You will reveal to each one of us those around us who need to hear Your name and the hope that we have in You.  Give us the wisdom and the courage to share this good news so that when You do come back to get us, Lord, we will all be ready!  We love You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

You Are God Alone

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

You are not a god created by human hands
You are not a god dependent on immortal man
You are not a god in need of anything we can give
By Your plan, that’s just the way it is

You are God alone
From before time began
You were on Your throne
You are God alone
And right now in the good times and bad
You are on Your throne
You are God alone
You are God alone

You’re unchangable
You’re unshakeable
You’re unstoppable
That’s what You are

You’re the only God whose power none can contend
You’re the only God whose name and praise will never end
You’re the only God who is worthy of everything we can give
You are God and that’s just the way it is

Billy and Cindy Foote

*  ~  ♥  ~  ✞  ~  ♥  ~  *

I was drawn to the Book of Esther the other day and, as I was reading, I was struck again by the fact that there is not even one single word throughout all ten chapters of the Book of Esther which is 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.   I was reminded again…truly,  humbled again…to recognize God’s providential hand of blessing that is so evident throughout the Book of Esther.

Providence is defined by Webster’s Dictionary 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 this about providence,  “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 oh-so-very-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 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 (us!) recognize His perfect care and love 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).

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.
Ecclesiastes 8:16 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!
Psalms 139:16 and 17

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 do 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.)

You Are God Alone

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

You are not a god created by human hands
You are not a god dependent on immortal man
You are not a god in need of anything we can give
By Your plan, that’s just the way it is

You are God alone
From before time began
You were on Your throne
You are God alone
And right now in the good times and bad
You are on Your throne
You are God alone
You are God alone

You’re unchangable
You’re unshakeable
You’re unstoppable
That’s what You are

You’re the only God whose power none can contend
You’re the only God whose name and praise will never end
You’re the only God who is worthy of everything we can give
You are God and that’s just the way it is

Billy and Cindy Foote

*  ~  ♥  ~  ✞  ~  ♥  ~  *

I am reading along through a devotional study of the Book of Esther over at She Reads Truth.  (I know some of you are, too…it’s been great, yes?)  And I am reminded again…truly, I am humbled again…to recognize God’s providential hand of blessing that is so evident throughout the Book of Esther.  There is not even one single word throughout all ten chapters of the Book of Esther which is 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 by Webster’s Dictionary 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 this about providence,
“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 oh-so-very-many examples of His divine providence…here are 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 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 (us!) 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).

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.

Ecclesiastes 8:16 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!

Psalms 139:16 and 17

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 do 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.)

Born For This

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

Feels like I’ve been holding my breath, trying to still my restless heart
Everything hangs on my next step, finding my nerve, playing my part
I found shelter underneath His crown, found favor inside His eyes
Rock this boat, and I just might drown, honesty seems to come with a price
There’s a time to hold your tongue, time to keep your head down
There’s a time but it’s not now

Sometimes you gotta go, uninvited
Sometimes you gotta speak when you don’t have the floor
Sometimes you gotta move, when everybody else says you should stay
No way, no, not today
You gotta ask, if you want an answer
Sometimes you gotta stand apart from the crowd
Long before your heart could run the risk
You were born for this
You were born for this

I’m leaning on the ones before me, my father’s father’s dreams
I’m standing on the top of their shoulders calling the One delivering me
There’s a time to hold your tongue, time to keep your head down
There’s a time but it’s not now

One step, one move
Born to trust You
Made to lay my life before You

Songwriters: Nicole Nordeman, Bernie Herms
Performed by: Mandisa

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Ladies, we were born for such a time as this!!  We have been equipped for everything we need to live a life of victory.  We just need to tap into it!!!  We each have an important role in the Kingdom and it’s different for each of us.  God planned it that way, so that we all may function in unity together as sisters in Christ.  The question we need to be asking God is “What’s my role ?”  And, once you know, then do it well to honor and glorify your Daddy in Heaven.

We can learn SO MUCH from Queen Esther and her God-given boldness at just the right time.  It wasn’t the popular thing to do and she most certainly could have lost her life for her boldness.  She stood alone and yet she trusted God in it.  And because of it her people were saved.

  • Are we listening to what God is telling us to do?
  • Are we trusting Him in it?
  • Are we willing to step out in that holy boldness and be obedient?

Amazing things are awaiting when we choose to step out!
Obedience = Abundant Blessing

I love this excerpt from Dr. ChandraKumar Manickam:
“Some people watch history, while some people make history. A true hero recognizes a crisis and moves to meet it. What makes a hero? Someone would say, “Be just in the right place at the right time.” People become heroes, because they take quick action at the “right time,” while others stand watching in horror. This kind of courage made Esther a brave heroine in the history of Israel.
Though queen Esther did not have a specific title of ministry, she was instrumental in saving the entire Jewish nation. She was steadfastly committed to living according to godly principles. This allowed God to use her for His purpose and glory.”

click here for entire teaching

Ladies, let us not be just watchers but instead step out in faith and let God use us right now for His purposes—orchestrated by Him for His glory!!!

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

Heavenly Father, I thank You that we were born for such a time as this and that each of us women have a very IMPORTANT role in the Kingdom.  May we choose to operate in the different roles that you have appointed specifically for each one of us…so that we may live in unity with each other.  I pray that each woman would step out in holy boldness at just the right moment orchestrated by You for Your glory and Yours alone…in Jesus’ name!!!  Amen.

Esther – Chapter 9:17-32

16DayCover

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!!

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

16DayCover

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!!

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 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 8:1-2

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 (Recap)

It begins with an intimate dinner.  In a private banquet room where Esther the Queen, King Xerxes, and Haman are gathered…and it ends with a man nailed to the tree until He is dead. Centuries after this supper, another supper was held in a room upstairs in a building in Jerusalem.  The disciples were there, Jesus was there, and Judas the traitor.   Like Haman, he was intent only on fulfilling his own desires.  He was willing and ready to destroy everything and everyone to get his way; and that’s exactly what he did.  That supper ended also with a man nailed to a tree.  Jesus is who you are thinking of, right?  But no, it was Judas.  Scripture tells us that after he betrayed Jesus, Judas went and hanged himself, just as Haman practically hanged himself.

Let’s start this week’s recap with Esther 7:1-6 first.  

I don’t know about you, but I’m proud of Esther.  She is finally breaking the silence and telling her man what is on her mind.  Remember earlier in this study, Esther had asked the Jews to join her in a fast for three days.  I believe it was in preparation for coming before the king and exposing Haman.  Now was her time to speak up.  The stage was set as the king, queen and the wicked Haman sit down together and wham! Esther courageously announces her nationality and exposes Haman.  Can’t you hear his jaw dropping?   And I imagine his heart stopped beating for a moment, he broke into a sweat and lost color in his face!  He learns for the first time that the Queen herself is a Jew—the same race he wants to annihilate!  Remember what Haman’s wife had said to him that day? “Since Mordechai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him~you will surely come to ruin.”  Now he finds out the Queen herself is also Jewish!

I imagine the King was speechless as well.  He didn’t know Esther was a Jew either.  He just thought he was sitting down to hear his wife’s petitions.  Now he realizes that his own wife’s life is at stake and she, herself, could die.  His own wife is not safe in his own kingdom.

Esther 7:5-6 – Recap

King Xerxes asks, “Who is he? Where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?”  Esther replied, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.”  Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen.

The king demands to know who is out to get his wife.  What a turn of events, what a fall from grace!  Wasn’t it just yesterday that Haman thought the king would always honor him?  Now the king wants revenge.  Yesterday Haman had the world in his hands…today his death is imminent. Now Haman is about to beg for his life….

Esther 7:7-10 – Recap

The king got up in a rage, left his wine, and went out into the palace garden.  But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.  Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.  The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the Queen while she is with me in the house?”  As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.  Then one of them, who was named Harbonah, said “Haman even went so far as to build a gallows at his house so that he could hang Mordecai, who saved Your Majesty’s life, and it’s 75 feet tall.” “Hang Haman on it!” the king commanded. So Haman was hanged on the gallows that he had built for Mordecai.  Then the king’s anger cooled down.”

Haman is a type of what the Bible calls ‘flesh.’  Meaning that he is, and has, the self-centered type of nature that we all have naturally.  We are born this way and it can dominate us just the way it dominated Haman.  Instead of us all coming together as the Body of Christ, we sometimes end up fighting the very ones we should be teaming up with and fighting the real enemy—Satan. Sometimes we say, “Well that’s just who I am, or it won’t ever change;” that’s a lie also. Sometimes, as Christians, we don’t even realize or recognize the “Haman” in us.  Yet the Bible promises us that we no longer have to be ruled by that principle anymore.  Haman doesn’t have to stay on the throne!  Stand on the promise that “in Christ” that old nature has no hold on you and you are sending it to the gallows. The Bible says “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

Revelation concerning the true nature of Haman had come to the king and he sent Haman to his own gallows and hung him.

Wk7_Spring_Esther

Have you had any revelations as to who is calling the shots in your life?  Jesus promises us an abundant life and that life comes from the joy we have in being saved by Him.  When we live and try to walk the path of righteousness and stay connected to our Lord, we are free and joyful and we walk a little lighter.  Hand over all your problems and things that are holding you captive today. Jesus took the Cross for us so that we don’t have to bear our crosses alone.

 

 

 

 

Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, We love You and praise You today.  Lord, keep us humble and bring to light anything that would hinder us from receiving Your full blessing.  Help us to realize who the real enemy is and join together and celebrate each others victories and love each other like Jesus loves us.  Lord, we nail our flesh to a tree, and we walk in Your Spirit always.  Life is so amazing every day with Your fingerprints all over our lives.  In Jesus’ name.

Amen.