August 19

Esther 4:1–7:10

We pick it up in the middle of this horrible edict; the world was given the green light to annihilate the Jews on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.

Mordecai and Jews from every province are therefore fasting and wailing in sackcloth and ashes. Esther finds out about her uncle’s choice of clothes and sends changes of attire, but Mordecai doesn’t flinch. She inquires further about the anguish of her uncle, she goes beyond the superficial and is informed of the evil plan of Mordecai, to eradicate the Jews. She’s given a copy of the decree.

Mordecai’s wheels have already been turning. He suggests to Esther that she be an advocate for her people; that she go in to the presence of the king and intervene. Esther hesitates, the laws are clear…anyone going in to the presence of the king without an invitation is risking their lives. Mordecai responds:

Esther 4:13–14 (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. 14 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?’”

Mordecai’s response is interesting. I believe he’s convinced that God will rescue the Jews somehow, someway, because Mordecai knows the promises of God. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t pray with desperation. And it doesn’t mean he doesn’t plan – and use wisdom. In life’s situations we need to pray as if it all depends on God, but in one sense we need to work as if it all depends on us. Mordecai sees the providence of God – it’s as if Mordecai says, “Esther, I’m pretty sure God has put you in this place of prominence, for this reason…for such a time as this.”

Esther begins to see it too. But she asks her countrymen to join her in three days of absolute fasting before she takes that step of faith. She’s willing to die in her attempt, “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)

By God’s grace Esther found favor in the king’s sight, he held out the golden scepter to her. He asked her what her request was. “Up to half the kingdom,” was an expression of generosity in the heart of the king, but Esther waited for the right time. She invited the king and Haman to a banquet. Again he asked; again she delayed.

In the meantime Haman is glorying in his perception of success. Money, position, power, favor – not only with the king, but also with the queen. But the lack of respect from one man, Mordecai, is gnawing away at his pillar of pride. At the counsel of his wife he decides to build a gallows, seventy-five feet high, upon which he would hang Mordecai. The next day he would suggest to the king to rid themselves of this pest and go merrily on his way to the banquet.

But God intervenes. That night the king couldn’t sleep. So, of all things, he calls for random records of the chronicles to be read before him (he probably figured it would help him sleep). But he discovers that this man Mordecai had saved his life, and yet no reward had been given to him. Determined to honor him, the king finds out that Haman has entered the precincts (keep in mind Haman is there to suggest Mordecai’s execution) and King Ahasuerus asks Haman, “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” (Esther 6:6)

Haman is so vain, he believes it’s for himself, but it turns out to be for Mordecai!

Now…what are the odds of that? The king unable to sleep? The records opening up to that event? The perfect timing…the turn of events. The exaltation of Mordecai and humiliation of Haman. Can you see God’s providence? 

Sure enough at the banquet that night, Esther revealed to the king that she was Jewish and that she and her people were all set to die at the hands of this wicked Haman. The king’s wrath was aroused.

Haman’s humiliation was complete and he was hung on his own gallows.

There’s more to the story but it’s comforting to know that God rules in the affairs of men. It’s also imperative to know that God will preserve His people the Jews – He has a plan for ALL of His people, and he puts us in certain places, determining the where and when…for such a time as this.

I also pray this is an encouragement to the ladies. You are instrumental, powerful, and surely useable in the hands of a providential God!

1 Corinthians 12:1-26

Prior to conversion, the Corinthians served dead idols that couldn’t talk, but once they became Christians they served the living God who actually spoke to them! It went from a dead religion to a living relationship. Before Jesus came into their lives, they did whatever they wanted to do, they went wherever “they were led” and it was a divisive disaster. But now that they’re Christians they needed to be united.

First Paul deals with salvation – there is the confession of Christ. If a person has truly accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they’re baptized into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Secondly Paul deals with service – confession should lead to union because the bottom line is, there is only one body of Christ, and we’re all members of that one body. The Spirit gives us gifts (diversities of gifts), the Son tells us where to use those gifts (differences of ministries), and the Father gives the life and energy to use those gifts (diversities of activities – the Greek words translated “activities” and “works” in 1 Corinthians 12:6 are “energema” and “energeo” hence energy).

Paul goes on to list some of the gifts of the Spirit making mention of the fact that these gifts are for the benefit of all (1 Corinthians 12:7). The Holy Spirit is the distributor of the gifts and He chooses what to give to whom (if you’re a Christian you have at least one gift, but probably more – see 1 Peter 4:10).

The body is a perfect illustration (Jesus is the Head – see Colossians 1:18; 2:19). Every person can see that we have only one body, but we also see all the different parts, or members of our body. We need every member, don’t we? All my fingers, toes, nails, knee caps, bones, muscles, organs, I can’t imagine life without any of it. A while back I had to have a tooth extracted, even that has been life-changing, a bit depressing, I miss that tooth!

When it comes to the church in relationship to the body, we might think that the most important parts of the body and church are the parts that everyone sees (on stage, in the limelight) when in all reality, the more important parts are the ones that we will probably never see – like my heart and vital organs – hidden in the background!

Paul reminds us of this so we don’t divide our body in any way. That when the body is honored, ALL members are honored with it; that none would be considered insignificant or disposable. We need to love and appreciate everyone who is a member of the body of Christ. This is true in the church locally, congregationally, as well as the church universally.

The church at Corinth was dividing by following certain “men” (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). They were also dividing by thinking certain gifts made certain people more important…but that’s not the case. We are one body with many equally important body parts – and we need to be united.

1 Corinthians 12:25–26 (NIV) “…so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

Psalm 36:1-12

There is no awe or fear of God in the eyes of the wicked (Psalm 36:1).

And yet, God is so good! His mercy, His faithfulness, His righteousness, His judgments, and His lovingkindness are mentioned.

Psalm 36:7–8 (NKJV) “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. 8 They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.”

Imagine that…drinking from the rivers of God’s pleasures! May we never forget – no, not for a day, we were created to exalt God and enjoy God.

Am I doing that?

May we take in His bountiful blessings, and trust Him to deal with those who come against us.

David prays:

Psalm 36:10–11 (NKJV) “Oh, continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heart. 11 Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.”

Let’s let God deal with our enemies and let’s stay upright in heart and enjoy God’s lovingkindness on our behalf.

Proverbs 21:21-22

Proverbs 21:21, “He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor.”

Let’s pursue righteousness and mercy. If we do, we’ll be blessed beyond measure. Let’s make it’s our constant goal to be in right relationship with God; to be merciful toward others, all the while embracing His mercy towards us.

Matthew 5:6 (NKJV) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Matthew 5:7 (NKJV) “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Proverbs 21:22, “A wise man scales the city of the mighty, and brings down the trusted stronghold.”

David and general Joab, did this physically in 2 Samuel 5:6-9, but wouldn’t it be cool if we could do this spiritually? I always think of the city of El Monte…spreading out into the surrounding areas.

2 Corinthians 10:4 (NKJV) “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.”

Strongholds are those strategic places of control; our prayer is to pull down the strongholds, the footholds, the strangleholds of Satan, with Spiritual weapons of wisdom.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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