Esther 4:1-7:10 ~ 1 Corinthians 12:1-26 ~ Psalm 36:1-12 ~ Proverbs 21:21-22
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Old Testament - Today in Esther chapter 4 we read about Mordecai persuading Queen Esther to help save the Jews from Haman’s evil plot. In verse 14 we read these amazing words of Mordecai’s to Esther: “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” For such a time as this. Powerful words to consider. You’ll recall similar words were used in the narrative of Joseph in Genesis – Joseph was sent ahead to Egypt by God to save his family from famine “for such a time as this.” Esther was married to the Persian King for such a time as this. And I believe that you and I have been placed on this earth this very day for such a time as this. Do you believe it is true that you really have been placed on this earth by God for such a time as this? Do you believe that there is a definite purpose for your life that God has called you to? Do you realize that you have the choice – as Esther had the choice – to move forward with God’s vision and plan for your life or to say no to God? Our time on this life is short. We can live our lives in accordance with God’s will and purpose for us or we can waste away our life with useless distractions. Trust me - the devil wants nothing more than to distract you from what God has called you to for such a time as this. So, what say you? Will you live your life wholly and purposefully for God for such a time as this? Will you leave the distractions behind? Here’s a quote from modern day best selling business author Jim Collins (Good to Great) that reminds me of how distractions – even good ones – can keep us from truly living out God’s purpose for our lives for such a time as this – “The good is always the enemy of the best.”
Below is an amazing painting by Rembrandt from the year 1660 of Esther revealing the evil plans of Haman to King Xerxes at the banquet in chapter 7. Check out how Haman is off in the left in the shadows... apropos!
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Esther titled "Esther's Dilemma and Decision" is at this link and "Sleepless in Susa" is at this link.
New Testament - First Corinthians 12 is once again another amazing chapter in this book! Spiritual Gifts and the Body of Christ... it gets no better! I love verses 4 through 7: "Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving. There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church." If you are a believer in Jesus as your Lord, do you believe that a spiritual gift has been given to you? Do you know what your spiritual gift is? Are you using your spiritual gift as a means of helping the entire church? (I think my spiritual gift is a gift that Paul did not write about in this chapter - the gift of blogging! :)
I love Paul's discourse on the Body of Christ. Verse 26 stands out: "If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad." This makes me wonder about the Body of Christ in our world today. Do you think that there are Christians in our world today who are suffering? Who are starving? Who are being persecuted? Who are dying of AIDS? And... if there are Christians - part of the Body of Christ just as we are part of the Body of Christ - who are suffering, are we sharing in the suffering with them in any way, shape, or form? If we are not, are we ignoring part of our Body? As Casting Crowns put it in their big hit Christian song - "If we are the Body, why aren't His hands healing? Why is His love not showing them there is a Way?" Why?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in First Corinthians titled "Spirituality and Spiritual Gifts" is at this link.
Psalms - I love Psalm 36 today! There are some powerful verses in this Psalm... Starting off with verse 1 being a scary & true verse... "Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God to restrain them." Wow. I'll admit - I've been there. I know what it is like to have sin whispering deep within my heart. Thank God for the gift of Jesus - the savior of my world... Thank God for the gift of the fear of God. And thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit who directs us along the narrow path - the path of life and light. I pray that verse 1 does not ring too true for you today - but if it does, please pray to Jesus to instead fill your heart with Jesus' Spirit, which is the only power that can truly dispel the whisper of sin within.
Verses 5 & 6 reminded me immediately of the Third Day song "Your Love Oh Lord", which borrows nicely from these verses (and is our YouTube for the day, below): "Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths."
Verse 9 just has so much simplicity in it's truth... I love it... I hope you believe this too - "For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see." Are there really any other lights by which we may see? Are there really any other fountains of life?
Proverbs - Proverbs 21:21 is a great one to live by! "Whoever pursues godliness and unfailing love will find life, godliness, and honor." What is godliness? What is unfailing love? Are you pursuing both of these? Do you believe that in this pursuit you will find life? Godliness? Honor? Are these worth pursuing? If so... pursue!
Worship God: Here is Third Day's "Your Love Oh Lord"!
Comments from You & Questions of the Day: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
I think it best for me not to get caught up in the gifts of the Spirit and how to discern your gift. There will be other opportunities to discuss those points.
In chapter 11 early verses Paul's main concern was about the separation and distinction of the genders, and the authority structure in the church and families. At that time, Head coverings were a manifestation of those concerns.
Likewise, here in Chapter 12 I believe the main concerns regard once again "divisiveness" in the Church. This concern centers around the Corinthian Christians' attitude toward spiriutal gifts.
WHAT IS GOING ON?
Mentioned in earlier posts, the Corinthians, as did the ancient Greeks, devalued the body, and emphasized the Spirit (of man). Apparently becoming Christians, the Corinthians really became enamored with the Gifts of the Spirit. It fell right into their prior beliefs and attitudes of man's Spirit as to importance. Here they were getting gifts from God through the Holy Spirit of a spiritual nature.
COOL! What gifts did I get? Is my gift a great gift or little? I am better than him because I got this gift, and he got that gift.
Apparently the hierchy put "tongues" at the top of the list. If you spoke in "tongues" you were da' bomb! This was an outgrowth from the attitude of local pagan worship where the people were rather wild and boisterous during sacrificial rites at Venus' (Aphrodite's) temple. The wilder, more frenzied - the better.
Apparently this carried over into the Christian worship, and was not only a distraction, but a point of superiority among some Christians versus the others.
UNITY AGAIN :)
1COR12:4-6 "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men." NIV
[QUICK ASIDE: I would propose that once again we see the image of the "Trinity" presented. Spirit, Lord (Jesus), God (Father).]
Despite the differences of the gifts and the differences in how they are manifested and carried out - everything is centered around the same entity, the Holy Trinity.
The purpose of the gift's is of course for the progressing of the individual's Christian walk, but done through the interaction with other Christians.
For we are all "one in the body of Christ". Your gift(s) are yours, but they are meant for the edification and growth of "the body" (other Christians).
Looking at the Human body, Paul points out the obvious. Everything works togehter to perform the tasks decided upon. The feet may rest, while the hands work, but they are still part of the body. You may not see the stomach, but the feet will not run long, if we do not digest food.
Everything is important. Seen and unseen, active or inactive: the body is an amazing entity.
The same with the church. Just because your gift is being actively used does not make a "resting" member's gift less valuable. Just because your gift is seen out in the open, does not make a behind the scenes gift worthless. All gifts have value in the operating of the "body" of Christ, otherwise gifts would not have been issued in the first place. You don't think the Holy Spirit is stupid, do you?
So Paul is implying here - Take a "chill pill". Let's not have division within the Corinth church over gifts. Be thankful and humble for your gift, and use it for the growth of the "body", and to bring glory to God. Be appreciative of other Christians and their gifts.
Posted by: John | August 18, 2007 at 10:53 AM
1) Nowhere in Chapter 4 does it mention praying to God. Just fasting. Bob Deffingbaugh is pretty hard on Mordecai and Esther. But I wonder?...
Fasting to a Jew is tantamount to offering body as sacrifice to the Lord.
There are examples of fasting and prayer together in Jewish culture, but I wonder since this book of the Bible intentionally makes no overt reference to God - that the prayer is IMPLIED in chapter 4. This way the harmony of the "not mentioning God" is kept. Just a thought.
2) Mordecai did not follow Daniel or Jeremiah's examples or instructions on behavior while living in a foreign land. Mordecai should have given a representative of the king his due. It was not worship, but respect.
Yet Haman's reaction was over the top, and again half truths and omissions (naming the ethnic group) were used in condemning the Jews to Xerxes.
Mordecai on the other hand told his side to the Queen's servant and gave him a hard copy of the edict of Haman.
3)Haman was full of "pride", and his bragging to wife and friends showed he had a "lot of material things". When asked what the king should do to honor someone he delights in - not only is he conceited to think it is himself, but his suggestion is over the top. When in the clutches of a particular vice, one always wants more, different and grander versions.
4) As Bob Deffingbaugh points out it would be ironic if the king could not sleep because of the noise coming from the building of the oversized gallows.
5)More irony - Haman who was furious that Mordecai would not humble himself before Haman, in turn humbled himself before Esther a Jew.
Haman had no concept of mercy to the people of Israel (kill them all for the act of one man), nor to Mordecai (wanting him hanged). But seeing the handwriting on the wall through the displeasure of the king, Haman seems to now think "mercy" is a pretty good idea!
Note: The gallows mentioned here was not for hanging a victim, but for violently killing and displaying the victim. “A pointed stake is set upright in the ground, and the culprit is taken, placed on the sharp point, and then pulled down by his legs till the stake that went in at the fundament passes up through the body and comes out through the neck. A most dreadful species of punishment, in which revenge and cruelty may glut the utmost of their malice. The culprit lives a considerable time in excruciating agonies.” (Clarke)
I think an important point of this book is: God will keep His Word. It may not be through spectacular miracles (like the plagues), but through natural means and course of events.
God not being mentioned is not a sleight on God in this book of the Bible. Perhaps it shows that God will keep his Word and fulfill His purpose and plan - whether anyone asks Him to intervene or not.
God's fulfilling His purpose and plan are not dependant on any one person or group of people. It is right and good to consult God, pray to God, and ask for intercession and we see that often in Old Testament. Yet - here in Esther God's Will is that the Jewish nation will not be destroyed (implied in 4:14) despite no overt calls for His help.
Even Haman's wife and friends recognize this:
"Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!" NIV
What is implicit here is not that Haman cannot stand against Mordecai, but that Haman cannot stand against the God of Israel.
Posted by: John | August 18, 2007 at 10:54 AM
The book Hadassah by Tommy Tenney is a great book about the story of Esther. :-)
Posted by: Molly | August 18, 2007 at 10:55 AM
Mike, I think the gift of blogging (in your case) will be the gift of teaching for sure - not sure anyone prophesied "blogging" back then?!?!?! :)
But then again, when you think about how the laws were written on the tablets of stone - it sort of looks like the format of blogging...God was blogging from the start - after all it was & is about the "written Word" of God!!!
Maybe someone will name a new version of the Bible - God's Blog!!! Think I should have that "trade marked???"
Posted by: Jan | August 18, 2007 at 10:55 AM
How do I know what my spiritual gifts are?
Posted by: | August 18, 2007 at 10:56 AM
"How do I know what my spiritual gifts are?"
Posted by: John | August 18, 2007 at 10:56 AM
The best way to discover your spiritual gifts is to try them out. Serve, teach, give, work for God and see which one feels like the right fit--which one makes you feel like you love to do it (even if it's hard.)
Also here is a link to a spiritual gifts inventory that can help you to discern an area. Then try it out!
Remember also that there aren't greater or lesser gifts and that the lists in the New Testament don't include every spiritual gift. Pray, search and serve and you will find your way.
Posted by: MG | August 18, 2007 at 10:56 AM
Esther 4 (NKJV)
And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews.
For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai:
“Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!”
I admire Esther's courage. May we have the same tenacity to obey God as we obey the Spirit of God through love no matter the results.
I would like to share a testimony about how God changed one person’s opinion of the Jews. Source: “Blessing or Curse – Your Can Choose” by Derek Prince (pgs 83 – 87).
“My name is Nabid Haddad. I am a Palestinian Arab born in Haifa in 1938 to Christian Arab parents.”
“I remember that from my earliest childhood, I would always go to bed depressed. I became determined to find a way to be happy…I became convinced that if I could become rich and successful, then I would be happy. That became my goal.”
“By the age of thirty I was a millionaire. However, the depression had not left me. I started seeking material things…to make me happy. Nothing worked.”
“Finally, I began to ask questions: Who is this Man Jesus? Who is the One that people still talk about 2,000 years after His death? Who is this One that some people even worship?”
“I opened the Bible, wanting to see what this Jesus had said about Himself, and a Presence filled the room. Somehow I knew that Jesus is the Son of God. I spent most of the next year reading the Bible and talking to my friends about Jesus. But I was still depressed.”
“Things started to go sour. I became more depressed. I began to question God again. ‘Why, Lord? Before I knew that Jesus is Your Son, I was doing fine. Now everything is going wrong!’ ”
“God replied, ‘What have you done with the revelation that Jesus is My Son? Nothing in your life has changed. Even Satan knows that Jesus is My Son.’ ”
“What do you want me to do, Lord?”
“Repent, and receive Him into your life.”
“I found someone who could show me how to pray. I repented and asked Jesus into my heart. A few months later, I was [filled] with the Holy Spirit. Now I had the answer. I no longer went to bed depressed.”
“But my life was still not right. My business continued to go downhill. Again I confronted the Lord.”
“Lord!” I said. “You tricked me. Before I knew anything about Your Son Jesus, I was doing all right. Then You showed me that He is Your Son, and things started going wrong. Then I received Him into my life, and now I’m losing everything!”
“I am jealous God,” He replied. “Your business is your god. Your Rolls Royce…your position…” “I’m going to take all these false gods away from you to show you who the true living God is. But—I will restore you.”
“Within ten months, I was bankrupt.”
“One day as I was worshiping, I said, ‘How great You are! You created the universe and everything in it!’ The Lord asked me if I really believed that. I said, ‘Yes, Lord.’ ”
“He said, ‘What about the Jewish people? You still hold resentment in your heart against them.”
“I remembered how my whole life had always cursed the Jews. I was trained to hate them from my earliest years. Now, in the presence of the Lord, I said, ‘I renounce my resentment in my heart toward the Jewish people. I forgive them!’ Immediately something changed inside of me.”
“Shortly after this I saw that God in His Word had told Abraham, the father of the Jews, ‘I’ll bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.’ (Genesis 12:3). Then I realized that my finances had not been under a blessing, but under a curse—a curse of insufficiency. I had never been able to make enough money to meet my needs.”
“Since 1982, when I was released from the curse of anti-Semitism and the curse of insufficiency that went with it, my income has always exceeded my expenses and my needs. And I am able to give liberally to the work of the Kingdom of God.”
“The lesson of Nabil’s life is clear: No one can afford to hate or curse the Jewish people.”
“[T]he Church owes every spiritual blessing she claims to…the Jewish people. Without the Jews, the Church would have no apostles, no Bible and no Savior.”
NOTE: God will always provide for us if we walk with the Lord with a pure heart.
Each one of us has specific callings: We may be called to be like Mother Teresa living as poor and raising money for the poor. We may be called to be a missionary living in Africa. We may be called to be a person making money in an affluent society to support God's work around the world as we worship God.
No matter what level of society or where God has placed us in the world to serve Him—-
we are all called to live with a pure heart and to pray for peace of Jerusalem.
Then, God will meet our needs according to His Riches and Wisdom. All of us are called so that our lives, money, and time can be used freely for the Kingdom of God.
Esther 5 (NKJV)
Nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh.
Then Haman told them of his great riches, the multitude of his children, everything in which the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and servants of the king.
An excellent comment on the heart and life of Haman at this point can be found in these verse in Psalm 36 (NKJV):
An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes.
For he flatters himself in his own eyes, when he finds out his iniquity and when he hates.
The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit; he has ceased to be wise and to do good.
He devises wickedness on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not abhor evil.
Esther 6 (NKJV)
That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.
And it was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, the doorkeepers who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.
Then the king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?”
And the king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”
So the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him.
Pride and anger are terrible sins. May we never allow these sins to get rooted in our hearts.
Haman was controlled by pride and anger, and because of that he was deceived. He thought he was to be exalted, but was instead publicly humiliated.
We can follow Satan and his demons, of whom Jesus through the Cross made a "public spectacle" in the heavenly realms -- open for all to see.
If there is no true repentance, we will be shamed publicly. God knows every secret of my heart. May I seek Him daily for His cleansing and strength.
We can go into our private rooms and ask Jesus to walk through every area and thoroughly cleanse our lives. Then, we can be used for the Master's work as we walk in the Joy and Life of Jesus!
I Corinthians 12 (NKJV)
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:
You know that [when] you were Gentiles, [you] carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
When I read verses 1 and 2 above, for some reason I get a picture think of people being led around and in bondage to emotions and some kind of “ecstatic” experience.
Yet, we are not called to “feel good” or “have ecstatic experiences” all the time. Also, we are not called by God just to have a “personal” relationship with Christ where we only think about ourselves and how “we” are doing.
When we received Christ as Savior and Lord, we were literally baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ. We were made to drink of the Spirit of God. We are all called to ministry to serve others.
We are called to have a purpose—“for such a time as this”—today. God is still using Esther to speak clearly to us today.
Psalm 36 (NKJV)
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.
Oh, continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heart.
Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.
Being called to ministry to serve others must come out of, and can never replace, the intimacy we are called through the Holy Spirit to know and love Jesus.
We are never to get caught up in the subtle trap of “doing things for God” at the expense of “having a truly pure heart in the intimacy of the Lord.”
Out of that personal relationship with the Lord, we can ask and receive, and we can be instruments and channels of the Lord Jesus to minister to others through us.
May these verses regularly and daily be the description of our real relationship with Jesus:
For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.
Oh, continue Your lovingkindness to [us] who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heart.
Posted by: Vance | August 18, 2007 at 10:57 AM
I thank God for all the 'mordecais' who have inspired me up close and personal to invest my life in the purposes of God.
Only one life it will soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last.
Posted by: luciano Del Monte | August 19, 2007 at 03:58 AM
"Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God to restrain them." ~ When we go out evangelising, I'm always so surprised to hear that people just have no clue about sinning. "I only tell little lies, once in a while ... I didn't murder anyone! If there's a God and He is the God of love like they always say He is, He'll forgive me everything when I die and accept me in heaven ... if there's a heaven and a hell". People have a hard time to admit that they are sinners. And it's easier to think there's no God, no heaven and no hell. Because if they DO admit then they have to change their life! "I hardly ever lie and if I do, it's just a harmless one, that doesn't mean I'm a liar", "I lied and stole when I was younger, I changed my ways, I'm living a good life now, I'm not a sinner!" ... those are responses I get when I go out evangelising. I feel so sorry for those people and I really want them to be saved (well ... I want everybody to be saved!!!). I try to explain them that they are sinners, so they feel the need to accept Jesus. But a lot of them just won't listen! It's sad ... I prayed with 2 people yesterday, they made their choice right on a crowded street. Those things made me happy! One of them was a 14 year old girl, she was really searching for something in her life. God really made us crossing paths, because as soon as I started to talk about the 10 commandments she almost started to cry! She was ready to admit she was a sinner, she was ready to ask Jesus in her heart and to live like how He wants it, she was ready to make the biggest change in her life!!! It's 8.00am right now, Sundaymorning, and I really hope to see her in church this morning! I know God will direct her, I know God will form her heart and I hope she will keep the door open for Him! Open her heart for Him and His word!
Posted by: Mae | August 19, 2007 at 07:00 PM