February 22, 2018

Esther – Chapter 10:1-3

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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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* * * * *

This book closes with God reminding us to remember the secret of victory….

King Ahasuerus laid tribute on the land and on the coastlands of the sea. And all the acts of his power and might, and the full account of the high honor of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of Chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was next in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brethren, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people.

Esther 10:1-3

This book began with the king as the important, prominent figure and it told the story of the display of his might and power.  But as we kept reading, we learned of a hidden cancer in that kingdom, eating away at, ready to destroy this power.  But the story takes a turn and the book ends with the king being prominent again…his power and might is on display…and we now realize there is power behind the throne.  That power is Mordecai and he is always subject to the will of the king, and he never forces the king to do anything against his will.

In your life, is this true for you?  Your will is supreme in the final decision of what takes place in the kingdom, but there is power behind the throne, and through the Will of the King.  The Holy Spirit works to bring power and peace to the kingdom.  Isn’t this a picture of the Spirit- filled life?  Isn’t this the open secret of every joyful Christian?  Our will is still dominant and we can still do wrong if we choose to, but we have learned a lesson.  We have learned that it is only through the yielding of our will in a continual sense of dependence on the One Who dwells within us, that there can be a manifestation of power and peace in our kingdom.  And when we learn to walk in dependence, we become under the authority of God, under His power—Who brings peace and joy and all that we long for into our own lives and those around us.

This is what makes a Christian believer able to fall time and time again, and pick ourselves up and start over again fresh and clean, unblemished.  God uses everything and makes it good, under any and all circumstances.  Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good to those who love God” no matter how bad or evil or difficult they appear at first.  This is why, to us who follow Jesus, our disappointments make us better not bitter.  Our heartaches are turned to joy. The hard circumstance of your life produce in you the choicest virtues, the very things you long to add to your character.  The weaker you feel, the more impact your life has on others.  You become sweeter, mellower, filled with inner beauty, driven to this by the very unpleasantness you go through.

This is the secret…this is the spirit-filled life—a human instrument counting on an indwelling of the Holy Spirit to meet every need.  All our weaknesses are made strong in Him.  And as we come to the Lord’s table, all the glory of the Spirit-filled life flows from this experience of the victory of our Lord upon the cross.  As we celebrate this awesome mystery, we see that it was in this manner that His life became our life and that our old life came to an end and our new life starts when we become Him!  We are joined to Him!  As Paul says, “We are crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ, lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

Let’s Pray:

Dear God, we cannot begin to comprehend these amazing truths, but we believe them. We know that they are true. We know there is deliverance in this truth. There is power in them and glory to You. Lord, we pray that Your Spirit will enlighten our understanding so that we will not ever walk in defeat but walk in the peace and joy, knowing that in our weakness, You are strongest. When we are weary, You are a place of rest. You are our Stronghold, our Deliverer. You are everything.

Thank You for bringing us through this study and for revealing so many truths to us. May we continue to stay on top of anger and resentment and repent of it immediately. We want to live with joy, freedom, and love. You are all those. Keep us humble and remind us always where our help comes from. In Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Esther – Chapter 9:17-32

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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 8:16-17

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by Cherie Zack and Rebecca LeCompte.

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Hope. That’s what I feel when I put myself in Esther’s place. Even before the deliverance actually happens, even before lives are really changed, there is joy when you realize that victory is possible. When you see that God has made a way out and it works and we know the instant joy and peace. Don’t you know there was joy in Susa that day? Mordecai is being honored and the city is shouting with gladness. Mordecai is now in control and the people are relieved and at peace and actually full of joy throughout the whole kingdom. Esther’s mission is accomplished.

What a great relief she must have felt, as we do when the truth breaks upon our hearts that God has made a way out. Not a way out of our circumstances always, but a way out of defeat from our circumstances. Can you relate? Romans 6:14 says, “Sin shall not have dominion over you for you are not under law but under grace.” Read that again. Let it leap off the page and resonate in your heart. “Sin shall not have dominion over ________” (fill in your name)!

Have you been wrestling with problems in your life that you have no victory over? Are you at the point of despair? Can you not find a way out? You have everything you need to claim victory that is rightfully yours through Your Redeemer Jesus Christ who died for you. Mission accomplished.  Though we may not understand the whole process of how victory happens, we have faith in His word and the things that were made to defeat you will lie in pieces at your feet and you will be free. No matter how long you’ve been in bondage, the Lord has fulfilled His promises and joy is yours!

And many from the peoples of the country declared themselves Jews,
for the fear of the Jews had fallen upon them.
Esther 8:17

The Gentiles became Jews, adopting the principles and beliefs of God’s people, giving up paganism and turning to the only One True God.

Do people want what you have? Do they see a difference in how you are living your life and want the same? When your reactions to the trials and challenges you face are much different than they used to be, others are going to be struck by this change and become followers of Jesus—like you.

When your life can no longer be explained simply in terms of your human personality, when your reaction is contrary to what others have been led to expect, the questions are asked, * “What makes _______ do this?”  * “How can ________ do this?”  * “What makes _________ react this way?”

Once again, God gets the glory for the awesome change in His people and others are drawn into Him and become hungry for more of Him. Then you find yourself praising Him for the very trial that you thought would break you for good, and your mess is His message and Heaven will receive more angels.

God is always working with us and through us. He wants all of His children to follow Him and to be ready for that day when “Every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”  He rejoices over each new believer. Praise God that you get to be a part of this; and, like Esther and Mordecai, lead people to change their lives all throughout our kingdoms.

Step out and do the impossible thing that God wants you to do. Obey Him and let Him bless you!!

Let’s Pray:

Dear Father, thank You so much for this study, for letting us see in our own lives the light that You placed there for the world to see. Thank You for freedom from bondage, and for the good news You have given us through Your Word. Thank You for hope and victory through You. Thank You for loving us unconditionally and seeing the good in us when we cannot see it and for being patient with us when we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. Thank You for grace. May we always shine Your goodness and be a witness to a hurting world and may we turn eyes toward You with our actions. We love You and praise You. In Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Esther – Chapter 8:9-15

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1 Corinthians 13:4-8″

by Cherie Zack and Rebecca LeCompte.

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

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__________________

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 8:1-2

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 6:12-14

Wk6_Fox_Esther

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Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate.

Esther 6:12

How interesting that all that honor and fanfare didn’t seem to give Mordecai a big head.  He went back to his daily position and duties.  I believe he knew his true value came from his God, and not from men, and that’s all he needed.  What a difference humility and faith makes in a person’s life!

Then there was Haman.  Obviously, honor from the king fed his self-centered pride so it meant everything to him.  But the honor went to the “other guy!”  Esther 6:12b, “But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief,”  How frustrating, depressing, and embarrassing for Haman.  What could be more defeating than to have his plans for destruction completely reversed, and perhaps begin to fall on him!?

Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.

Proverbs 29:23

Esther 6:13 (NLT), “When Haman told his wife, Zeresh, and all his friends what had happened, his wise advisers and his wife said, ‘Since Mordecai–this man who has humiliated you—is of Jewish birth, you will never succeed in your plans against him. It will be fatal to continue opposing him.’”  In his arrogance, Haman expected some sympathy from his wife and his “wise” friends but instead they foretold of his demise.  They told him two things which turned out to be prophetic.

The first was based on a fact: “Mordecai is a Jew, and because of that fact your plan will fail.” They were implying that the Jews’ God was watching over them, and He was more powerful than any human plan.

I found this very intriguing.  Here was the Jewish Nation defeated in war, their cities destroyed, and the people taken captive to serve in foreign lands.  In spite of those facts, the citizens who lived around the Jews recognized that God was with them.  They saw the resilience, strength, and confidence of the Jews that could only be explained in reference to their worship of and their trust in their God.

This raised questions in my own mind: Do others see the evidence of resilience, strength, and confidence in my life that demonstrates my faith that God is taking care of me?  Do I live a life of humility so that my life points others to my God?

What “great“ friends these guys were, and they weren’t finished with Haman yet!  They barely took a breath when they hit him with the second prophetic statement: “You, personally, will be ruined!”

Without a chance to think that through, a knock came at the door and Haman was escorted, as was the custom, to the second of Queen Esther’s banquets.  I imagine in light of what his friends had just told him, he had many conflicting thoughts as he went.  Would this be his chance to make more “brownie points” with the king and queen and receive more honor, or was doom lurking in the very shadows of the queen’s banquet hall?

Our author, Darlene Schacht says, “This entire chapter has a strong focus on the dangers of pride and the blessings of humility. It is further exemplified here as Mordecai is exalted and Haman is cut down.”  We talked last week in chapter five about pride and humility, and Tonya talked about the dangers of pride on Tuesday.  Oh my, here we are again today.  Over the years I’ve heard Bible teachers say that if God’s Word repeats something more than once God must consider it important enough for us to stop and reflect on it.  (Okay, Lord, I’m listening!)

Humility:  Mordecai is our example of humility.  He was meek, having a quiet, gentle spirit. He was more concerned about others than he was for his own welfare.  True humility is more than an outward act of service.  It is also an attitude that comes from the heart. Colossians 3:12, “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

Pride: There are two kinds of pride.  We can take “pride” in a job well done; that is to be happy for the accomplishment.  We see the other kind of pride that the Bible refers to in Haman; pride in himself, giving himself all the credit.  Like humility, pride is an attitude of the heart.  We, too, can have this pride which convinces us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. This pride can be subtle. This pride is self-righteousness, not giving credit to God for the good in our lives and what we’ve accomplished, and that is sin.                 

I Corinthians 4:7, “For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?”

Darlene asks, “What are some of the ways you might protect your heart against pride?”  I’ll share a couple and then please add your thoughts as you share today:

  1. I remind myself regularly that any gifts and talents that I have, and the fruit of the Spirit, all come from God.
  2. I must recognize that whatever is good within me is only because of Jesus.
  3. Your turn!

I would like to use some of John Piper’s quote that Darlene shared with us as part of our prayer today.

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord, we are once again confronted with the sharp contrast between humility and pride, two very opposing forces in our own lives.  You want us to be clothed in humility, and to be alert to protect our heart against pride.  Holy Spirit, we can’t do this without You.  Please help us “to cultivate a joy in Christ, His wisdom, power, justice, and love that is more satisfying than the pleasures of human praise.  We pray that we will experience the miracle of self-forgetfulness in the admiration of Christ, and in love toward people.”  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Esther – Chapter 6:10-11

Be honest.   Don’t you just LOVE it when hateful people get what’s coming to them?  Of COURSE you do!  Me too.  This is the part of the Esther story that almost makes me laugh out loud.   We see in verses 10 and 11 that Haman is utterly humiliated –publicly!  Can you imagine what that must have been like for Haman to dress Mordecai in the King’s robe and crown, and then have to parade him around town proclaiming “This is what is done for the man the King delights to honor!” (verse 11).  Haman (the man who, no doubt, made sure to tell anyone who would listen how much he hated Mordecai ) not only had to do this in front of his peers and subjects, Haman obviously was not the man the King delighted to honor!   In the chapter to come we will see the full extent of his downfall.  Take that, you jerk!

But even as I read the scriptures this morning, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my attitude and asked me a couple questionsIs this how you really are supposed to think, Robin?  Did I delight in Haman’s punishment?   

Wk6_Caddell_EstherWhoa. I just got checked by the Holy Spirit.  Time to take that thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Let’s answer the second question first…just so we’re on the same page.  The answer is NO.  Evil will be punished, because God is a just and holy God, and therefore cannot (and will not) tolerate sin.  He does not, however, delight in it.  2 Peter 3:9 says “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.  He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  Do you see what the Scripture says –He wants EVERYONE to come to repentance. Even hateful Haman.  You know those people in your mind that are the worst scum of the Earth, ever?  He wants them, too.  Which brings me back to the first question the Holy Spirit is using to correct me (and perhaps you, too…).

Is this really how I am supposed to think?   Well, sisters, the answer is… no, not really. To know that evil will eventually be no more and that God will even out the score brings a great amount of comfort!  But let’s get back to the focus of this study, shall we?  Submission.  If I want to truly be more like Christ, if I want my will to decrease so that His will can increase in me (John 3:30), then I MUST submit my will, in all things. That includes wanting to get even or to get revenge.

Haven’t we all had a “Haman” in our lives, at some time or another?  Maybe not so drastic that they wanted us dead – but haven’t we all had someone who “got one over on us?”  Perhaps there is someone who makes your life miserable at work.  A “friend” who insists on outdoing everything you do, and rubbing your nose in it. Maybe you have a neighbor that HATES you.  Or maybe someone just cheated you out of something you worked hard for.  It could be something as simple as getting cut off in traffic!  But it could be more heinous – you or your family has been victim of harm or abuse.  The bottom line is, we all have at one time or another wanted to get revenge for an offense made against us.   We definitely haven’t prayed for God’s favor on that person!

But we should.

Romans 12:17-21 presents a challenging passage about love:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge, I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’   Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Wow – is that some heavy lifting, or what?  Give your enemy a drink if he’s thirsty?  I know sometimes I would rather hit someone upside the head with a full bucket of water than give that person a drink out of love.  But as I am called to be more like Christ, and as God keeps trying to skim out the garbage in my life to make me more pure, then I MUST  think of any offending person as someone that God desperately wants to reach for his Kingdom.  He doesn’t want ANYONE to perish, remember?  All people are created by God – in His image – and He wants all people to come to Him.  This is not going to be an easy one to master.  But forgiving someone an offense and PRAYING for those who persecute us brings us to such an incredible place of submission and humility that God can work miracles – in our hearts AND in our enemies!

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Let’s pray:

God, thank You for being a just AND loving God!  Thank You for Your forgiveness of my offenses and help me to forgive others as You have forgiven me.   Lord, help me when I want to seek revenge for wrongs done to me and when I would rather wish harm on someone than good.  Pour me out so that YOU can increase in me. Help me to rest assured that my life rests in the palm of Your hand and know that You will avenge any wrong done to me – the daughter of the King!  May my words, thoughts and actions reflect Your love in my life – help me to be more like Your beautiful Son every day.  In His name we pray.

Amen.