Category Archives: Esther

Nehemiah 13:23-31; Esther 1-4

I enter the story that introduces Esther to me with a king, King Ahasuerus, who was parading his magnificence for 180 days before everyone. His glory and honour were on full display and there must have been a lot of oohing and awing.

 For six months he put on exhibit the huge wealth of his empire and its stunningly beautiful royal splendors. At the conclusion of the exhibit, the king threw a weeklong party for everyone living in Susa, the capital—important and unimportant alike. – Esther 1:4 MSG

There was no end to his extravagant generosity towards those in attendance as he must have felt proud being the top person in the kingdom, a place of absolute honour.

The king did something next that he would not have done if he was not drunk. He dishonoured himself as a husband (called to protect the modesty of his wife). He diminished himself as a king when he asked her to do something that she would refuse because of her own virtuous honour. What he would ask her to do was against the custom of the Persians for women to appear in public.

 On the seventh day of the party, the king, high on the wine, ordered the seven eunuchs who were his personal servants (Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas) to bring him Queen Vashti resplendent in her royal crown. He wanted to show off her beauty to the guests and officials. She was extremely good-looking. – Esther 1:10-11 MSG

Bad news for the queen for there was a law, as opposed to a custom, for not honouring the king. I am amazed at the brazen advice the king received on how to deal with her.

Lot’s of words describing what honour and dishonour looks like. They did not get the idea of what real honour looked like. In fact, it was the wrong way to gain honour – laws do not promote honour, relationships do.

The king and the princes liked this. The king did what Memucan proposed. He sent bulletins to every part of the kingdom, to each province in its own script, to each people in their own language: “Every man is master of his own house; whatever he says, goes.” – Esther 1:21-22

While I learned a lot about how not to treat my wife and a lot of what it would look like to honour her – the story sets up the most dramatic events of honour that put this book in the Bible even though God’s name was not mentioned once. Honouring God was deemed the same as mentioning His name.

I love the reminder that when I honour God, am bold in the tasks that I have been called to do, in the positions I have been placed, then God is honoured and His deeds remembered for eternity.

Father, thank You for the kind reminders of what honour does not look like. Thank You for the kind reminders that You control the destiny of the world. Thank You for the kind reminders that Your plan is constantly unfolding. Thank You for the kind reminders that I need to seek to do Your will and follow Your plan.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Filed under 66 Books, 7-day reading pln, Cover to cover, Esther, Nehemiah, Old Testament, reading plan, Uncategorized

Esther 7-10; Revelation 3

. . . on the very day when the enemies of the Jews hoped to gain the mastery over them, the reverse occurred: the Jews gained mastery over those who hated them. The Jews gathered in their cities throughout all the provinces of King Ahasuerus to lay hands on those who sought their harm. And no one could stand against them, for the fear of them had fallen on all peoples. All the officials of the provinces and the satraps and the governors and the royal agents also helped the Jews, for the fear of Mordecai had fallen on them.

Esther 9:1b-3 ESV

Throughout the whole story of Esther, God whispers His presence to Esther, Mordecai, and His people Israel. Even without his name being directly mentioned in the entire book, it is quite clear that He dominates the plot of this much-celebrated historical story. When the Jews’ enemies thought victory was moments away, the Jews triumphed and even had the support of King Ahasuerus himself as they defended themselves and justly fought as fear paralyzed their opponents.

The feast of Purim was established and continues to be celebrated today, thousands of years later. As we read this chronicling of events and marvel at their boldness, we can take an introspective look at our own stance. Do I stand up boldly to those that oppose God? Do I step into those painful confrontations in defense of others? Do I have confidence in God’s protection and direction in my life and future?

‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.

Revelation 3:1b-2 ESV

Jumping to the very last book of the bible, John brings a harsh message to a church that should have been following hard after God’s way also. Instead, they floated on a previous reputation of vitality. God knew their hearts, just as He knows ours. Are we truly alive, or just enjoying an extended time of ease on a previously earned reputation? What do my works indicate to those around me? Revelation does not mince words and these churches that keep getting gut-punched always challenge me to honestly evaluate my own current heart condition.

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Revelation 3:17 ESV

Sometimes as I look at where I am at spiritually, I focus too heavily on the good moments without full dissection. What I might judge as wealth and ease, might really be masking my poor, blind, naked self. God knows my heart, and I need to continually be still before Him and let Him open my eyes to what I truly shelter there.

Dear God, thank you for your powerful presence in my life. Thank you for the stories throughout Scripture and history, and even my own life, when you showed up in a tangible way. Expose my sin, my hesitancy to surrender, and make me fully alive, not lukewarm, not distracted by false treasure, but following you with that perfect blend of humility and boldness. In Jesus name, amen.

Erin (6intow)

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Genesis 30; Mark 1; Esther 6; Romans 1

Then God remembered Rachel; he answered her prayer and made it possible for her to have children. – Genesis 30:22 GNT

I believe that God is faithful even when I am unfaithful. I believe He draws me close when I feel discouraged.

I know this to be true for even Jesus needed to pray.

Very early the next morning, long before daylight, Jesus got up and left the house. He went out of town to a lonely place, where he prayed. – Mark 1:35 GNT

It dawned on me that Jesus prayed – He was God. It dawned on me that Jesus valued the relationship with God the Father more than anything else. He delighted on spending time with Him. They enjoyed spending time together – talking. It is what makes for a good healthy relationship.

I believe that my pride deceives me on this very issue. I read of a man who had no need to pray – Haman. He is such a man that illustrates the deceitfulness of my own heart which appears as conceit I have of myself and my own performances. These things would jump out at me if I was watching and praying. Imagine thinking that I was loved and valued and then finding that love and value was given to another?

It is with a thankful heart that God’s grace is towards me, even though I was dead in my sins. I was brought near to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As to his divine holiness, he was shown with great power to be the Son of God by being raised from death. – Romans 1:4 GNT

Father, I come to You believing that You are prepared and willing to answer my prayer, even if that prayer is only a sigh. Jesus, thank you for modelling prayer and for encouraging me to have a relationship with You just as You had one with Your Father. Father, when I look at how black my heart is with pride and conceit in who I think I am, I am sickened to realise how much I am not like You. Thank You Jesus for coming, dying, were buried and yet through the power of the Holy Spirit You were raised from the dead so that I can be set free from those very chains that kept me from You. It is with a light heart and a glad and full cup, that my joy in You is seen in my life. I bless You for walking with me and allowing me to walk with You. May I never find myself taking You for granted. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

 

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Esther, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Mark, New Testament, Old Testament, Romans, Uncategorized

Genesis 29; Matthew 28; Esther 5; Acts 28

“Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.  His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow.  The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.  Then the angel spoke to the women.  “Don’t be afraid!” he said.  “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.  Come, see where his body was lying.  And now, go quickly and tell the disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee.  You will see him there.  Remember what I have told you.”  The women ran quickly from the tomb.  They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message.  And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them.  And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.  Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him-but some of them doubted!  Matthew 28 1-10, 16 NLT

My word for the year is Presence…intentionally seeking God’s presence, so that it overflows into the rest of my life.  The presence of the Angel at the tomb was enough for the women to believe. But, some of the disciples doubted, even after seeing Jesus.  I’m reading a book with my bible study called  Twelve Ordinary Men, by John McArthur.  He writes about how human the disciples were.  He says, “That’s because they were perfectly ordinary men in every way.  Not one of them was renowned for scholarship or great erudtion.  They had no track record of as orators or theologians.  In fact, they were outsiders as far as the religious establishment of Jesus’ day was concerned.  They were not outstanding because of any natural talents or intellectual abilities.  On the contrary, they were all prone to mistakes, misstatements, wrong attitudes, lapses of faith, and bitter failure.” They were just like me.  How often have I worshipped and had God reveal something to me and than doubt enters my mind?

“They left with this final word from Paul: “The Holy Spirit was right when he said to your ancestors through Isaish the prophet, ‘Go and say to this people: When you hear what I say, you will not understand.  When you see what I do, you will not comprehend.  For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannoth hear, and their hearts cannoth understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.” Acts 28:25-27 NLT

Am I listening to the Holy Spirit?  Or is my heart hardened?

Dear Father, I want to be like both Marys and run to you, lay at your feet, and worship you.  Forgive me when I run to lesser things.  I want to be filled with renewed joy of your resurrection power.  Thank you that you are always with me.  Amen.

“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Esther 4-7; John 12

When I go through the gospel message in my mind and review the journey that Jesus took to lay down His life, my life seems so small. I cannot say that this is my mantra for how I live.

Reading the story of Esther helps me. In fact, it is the story that we gave to our daughter on her sixteenth birthday with the promise that her life was to live the fullest for she was a young lady, needed by God, for such a time as this.

And they told Mordecai what Esther had said.  Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews.  For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”  Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai,  “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”[c]  Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him. – Esther 4:12-17  ESV

It passed me by in my readings until today that Jesus used similar words too.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. – John 12:25-27  ESV

I am challenged as a disciple of Jesus to follow Him. I need to be able to come to a place in that walk to lay down my own life and work. Even as I write these words, inside of me I hear other words that expect me to shrink from sacrifice and death. I love that the Holy Spirit is coming alongside me and encouraging me to understand that the true principle of life is of the Spirit, and only in the sacrifice of my desires regarding my physical and emotional life is my spiritual life realised.

Father, thank you for the power of Your Word to guide me to what real life is all about. I am called to lay down my life for You. I see it in the disciples, I see it in the Old Testament, I see it in Hebrews chapter eleven. I see it in Jesus. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit that I may walk each day doing just that. Amen

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Esther, John, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized