August 20

Esther 8:1–10:3 

Even though the name of God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, the hand of God and work of God is seen everywhere. The Jews were facing genocide, but God intervened and turned the tables on the enemies of the Jews. Haman’s position as the second most powerful man in the world, was given to Mordecai.

The king’s decree of allowing the people of his kingdom to attack the Jews could not be undone (Esther 8:8), but another decree was sent swiftly out. The Jews could fight back. God gave them favor with the leaders of the land, for the fear of the Jews and Mordecai came upon them. The Jews went on to win the battles, reminding us of the many times in the Scriptures when God gave them military victories supernaturally. In the end, the Jews killed five-hundred men in Shushan the capital, and a total of seventy-five thousand in the other provinces. Keep in mind, they were not on the offensive, they were simply defending themselves…and they did not take the plunder from their attackers.

This amazing victory led to an edict for all the provinces that each year on the fourteenth and fifteenth day of the month of Adar, the Jews would celebrate the Feast of Purim.

Esther 9:22 (NKJV) “…as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor.”

Mordecai joins the likes of Joseph and Daniel as Jews promoted to prominent places in secular society. 

Esther 10:3 (NKJV) “For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus, and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.”

I like that…“seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.”

A couple of closing thoughts:

Some people wonder if Jesus celebrated the Feast of Purim. It is believed that the feast of Purim was the feast referred to in John 5. Although not an obligatory feast of the Jews, it was one that Jesus honored…He remembered the work of Esther and Mordecai, as instruments of God to preserve the Jewish people.

Something else I find to be interesting is what we read in:

Esther 8:17 (NKJV) “…then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them.”

There’s only one way a non-Jew can become a “Jew,” and that is by embracing their God and His ways. No one can change his or her ethnicity, so what we find woven into the fiber of the story is not only God’s providential hand upon His people, but His saving hand upon many, many others.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

1 Corinthians 12:27–13:13 

Paul gives an interesting list in 1 Corinthians 12:28 beginning with the Apostles (missionaries) who start the church, followed by the prophets and teachers who continue to teach us God’s word, and then miracles, healings, helps (supporters), administrations (government/leaders/organizers) and varieties of tongues.

Of course, no one has every gift, but Paul will go on to say that every gift must be exercised in love…God shows us a more excellent way.

1 Corinthians 13 is recognized in both sacred and secular literature, as some of the most beautiful words ever penned…and best of all, it was motivated by love.

For if I speak with earthly eloquence or miraculous marvel (tongues), but I lack love – in God’s ears, it’s just a bunch of irritating noise.

If I’m gifted in prophecy, in all understanding, in all knowledge and have the faith to move mountains (imagine that), but I lack love – I am nothing.

Can you imagine selling everything you have, giving the money to the poor, and giving your body to be burned? So much sacrifice and suffering, but what if it’s for the wrong reason? I want accolades, and I don’t really do it for the love of God and others. Then we read right here in 1 Corinthians 13:3 that it profits me nothing, in other words, God won’t reward such deeds because it’s not done with the right motive.

D. L. Moody said, “God hates the great things in which love is not the motive…but He delights in the little things that are prompted by…love.”

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Paul goes on to describe characteristics of love. As we read this list, we must honestly examine our lives – does this describe me?

Jesus said in:

John 13:35 (NKJV) “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

And John reveals how critical it is by saying if we don’t love others, we’re not saved (1 John 4:7-8, 20).

The Corinthian church was very gifted, but they were also very carnal. This chapter, which is purposely sandwiched between two sections on spiritual gifts, clearly teaches us that we are to lives our lives and exercise our gifts in love.

Sandy Adams, “Ironically, the demonstration of spiritual gifts fails to measure a person’s spirituality. The Corinthians prove you can be charismatic and carnal. The real mark of maturity for a Christian is to love as Jesus loves.”

The Corinthian church was sick, they lacked love, and yet love was the remedy.

Sadly, there are some who use 1 Corinthians 13:10 to try and teach us that certain gifts are no longer available in the Christian church today. They say that with the completion of the Cannon of Scripture, the sign-gifts are done away with. But I believe that “that which is perfect” is in reference to Jesus (see 1 John 1:1-3 where Jesus is called “that”) and until the Coming of Christ, all the gifts of the Spirit are available, for the church desperately needs all the help we can get from God.

It’s not until we’re in heaven, will we know as we are known (1 Corinthians 13:12), prophecy won’t be necessary, and tongues will cease, but love goes on forever, and ever – love never fails.

Psalm 37:1-11

It makes no sense to envy the wicked, even if it looks as if they’re doing well, wealthy, healthy, pretty, handsome, strong, famous and successful; doesn’t matter. Because they’ve defied God, soon they will be cut down and wither away (Psalm 37:1-2) evildoers will be cut off (Psalm 37:9).

If God’s people wait on the Lord, trust Him, commit our way to Him, our lives to Him, if we rest in Him and His ways, then in His timing, we will receive the desires of our hearts (desires that He places within us).

Psalm 37:3 (NKJV) “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.”

Trust Him in your heart. Keep doing good with those “hands.” Don’t go to other “lands” where you don’t belong. Feed on His faithfulness (the Bible and His many blessings in your life).

Psalm 37:4 (NKJV) “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

What’s the deepest desire of your heart? It’s Him, the LORD! He promises to give you Himself and all the blessings that come with Christ. Please don’t wander away, wait for that day.

Proverbs 21:23-24

Proverbs 21:23 (NKJV) “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.”

What a difference this little member makes (James 3). The way a spark causes a fire; the way a rudder guides the ship, the way that little bitty bit in a horses mouth is able to tame and turn the beast.

Proverbs 13:3 (NKJV) “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” 

This is serious stuff!

Psalms 141:3 (NKJV) “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Proverbs 21:24 (NKJV) “A proud and haughty man—“Scoffer” is his name; he acts with arrogant pride.”

Scoffer is his name and sin is his unrestrained nature. Man, that’s not good for a man, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5)

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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