Friday, November 17, 2017

Hung on His Own Gallows

O. T. #1099 "Hung on His Own Gallows"
Nov. 17, 2017
Esther 7-Part 2


LET IT GLOW

Haman had seen better days. Yeah, he thought he had the world by the tail on a down hill swing, so to speak. After all, he had built gallows for his enemy Mordecai to hang on that day, was going to get rid of the Jews soon, and was promoted  second in command in the mighty empire of Persia. And then, he had been special guest at the queen's banquet as only he and the king attended. It was the best day, ever, or so Haman must have thought. His best day became his worse day.

When the king asked his queen hat her request was, Esther replied that her life and the lives of her people would be spared. The king asked who would do such a thing, then Esther answered "Haman."
Then the king jumped to his feet in a rage and went out into the palace garden.
Haman had deceived the king, misled him to make a decree of extermination of the Jews, thus planned a conspiracy to kill his queen and her adoptive father, the king's hero. He betrayed the king's trust.

But the wheels changed directions for Haman that day. God's sovereignty would be surprising to all concerned. God is God and He will have His way for His glory and timing. Since God alone is God, and He does things well, good is His goal, then I can trust Him to work all things out.

Do we wait upon Him to do so? Do we stand when we are supposed to?


LET IT GROW

Here goes. Haman stayed behind in the room with Queen Esther, to plead for his life. He knew the king intended to kill him.

In despair he fell on the couch where Queen Esther was reclining, just as the king was returning from the palace garden. (verse 8 NLT)

The king saw Haman as assaulting the queen, in the palace, and right before his eyes. Immediately, the king's guards covered Haman's face, a signal of doom. The king's servant informed him that Haman had 75' gallows built for Mordecai. The king ordered Haman to be executed on those gallows.

Haman reaped what he had sown. Whatever a person sows, they will reap, as it happens to them. In the same way, whatever a person measures, it will be measured back to him. God's justice will be exact. Whatever we dish out and measure in life, the same portion will be doled out and measured to us.  (The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible)

LET IT GO

Let God take revenge for us.
Stand for God's principles.
Consider it a privilege to suffer for doing right.
Deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Who Would Do Such a Thing?

O. T. #1098  "Who Would Do Such a Thing?"
Nov. 14, 2017
Esther 7


LET IT GLOW

There are so many gross and detestable sins committed in our world. And we wonder who would so such a thing? Why would they do it? What caused them to do it? A three letter word called sin. Haman had allowed hatred for the Jews to cause him to get the king to make a law that would annihilate the Jews. but the tables are about to turn on him. Come with me to the Queen Esther's second banquet with the king and Haman only attending.

Haman had no idea what was to come. He had been warned by his wife and friends to let it go, let dead dogs lie, stop his plot to exterminate the Jews. But would he listen, no. Then it was time for Esther's banquet. The king's men came and took Haman to the palace.

What is thy petition, Queen Esther? And what shall I grant thee: and what is thy request? And it shall be performed,  even to the half of the kingdom. That is what the king said to his queen after the wonderful meal was eaten.

It's time, Esther. You were selected to be the deliverer of the Jews from death, God's chosen beloved Israel. You have become queen for such a time as this. Go girl. Spit it out. Stand up against that evil Haman. Yes, God had raised her up for this very purpose. ESTHER DID NOT FAIL HER GOD, HER UNCLE, NOR HER JEWISH FAMILY.

How will we act when it  time for us to stand for the right to prevail?

LET IT GROW

Esther laid it all out. No doubt the  king was expecting her to ask for some material thing, some journey, or more time with him. Her request would have been a shock to the king.

If I have found favor with the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my request, I ask that my life and the lives of my people will be spared. For my people and I have been sold to those who would kill, slaughter, and annihilate us. ( verse 3-4 NLT)

Who would do such a thing? Who would be so presumptuous as to touch you, the queen? Who is it? Where is he? The king demanded to know who it was.
(What do you mean "who?" Come on king, you signed the edict and sealed it into law. Did you have a senior moment, forgetting it was done by Haman? Can you admit you were tricked, deceived?)

This wicked Haman is our adversary and our enemy. (Yes, Esther did it!!!Whoo hoo!)

Just as Haman's evil was exposed, so all sin will be exposed by God. Sin may be done behind closed doors, or only to our self and not others, or out in the open, but sin is sin. God sees everything.

The culprit was present. Haman was afraid before the king and the queen. Reckon he shook in his boots, melted like butter, panicked? He was struck with terror. His evil plot was exposed.

Nothing is accidental. In His time and only in His time, God begins to move in subtle ways until, suddenly, as His surprising sovereignty unfolds, a change occurs. Don't fight it. It's God way of lifting the fog, which always happens when He pleases. The turning points of life, the significant events, are often subtle. A sensitive heart is required to detect those changes. (Swindoll)

We hear of shocking news-mass killings of innocent people, kidnappings and horrible treatment of victims, babies killed in the womb, trafficking of women and children, child abuse, mean coworkers, mean church members. The list goes on.
Folks, we aren't in heaven yet, where only loving people will dwell. Dogs won't eat dogs there, but will obey the Master.


LET IT GO

In the middle of the storm, hold onto Jesus. He is my anchor.
When hateful words break my heart into pieces, allow Jesus' love and grace to put it back together.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Plans Against Us

O. T. #1097 "Plans Against Us"
Nov. 13, 2017
Esther 6-Part 2


LET IT GLOW

When King Xerxes asked Haman how he could reward a person, he did not identify Mordecai as the person. As it ended up, Haman, who hated and was the enemy of Mordecai, had to parade Mordecai through the streets of Susa. A little ironic, isn't it. Now, everyone was required to bow down to Mordecai. Afterwards, Mordecai returned to the king's gate. (Haman had gallows built for Mordecai, but it would not happen. Keep this in mind for later.) God has a way of humbling the prideful. Haman was disgraced and ran home.

Look at verse 13. Haman's advisors and 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. 

Evil will not prevail, dear one. Trust God. He will make things right. No weapon formed against us shall stand. (Isaiah 54:17)

Do we head advice given us when we are in the wrong?
Are we willing to stand for the right, no matter if we suffer doing so?

LET IT GROW

While they were  still talking, the king's men came and quickly took Haman to Esther's second banquet.

Jesus taught in Luke 14:11, people who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who are humbled will be exalted.

Be patient, for God promises to reward our good deeds. He steps in when it will do the most good.

Let God handle those roaring lions. Remember, Daniel didn't get eaten by them. He was put in their den because he was faithful to pray to God.

LET IT GO

Stay humbled, faithful.
Pray for my enemies.

Friday, November 10, 2017

When All Seems Lost

O. T. #1096 "When All Seems Lost"
Nov. 10, 2017
Esther 6
The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.  Hebrews13:6

LET IT GLOW

I can't sleep. Bring me a history book. What? Are you kidding me? Well, that's how it went with King Xerxes. (Probably not our choice.) After Esther's first banquet for the king and Haman, the king could not sleep that night. Was he thinking about his queen? Did he overeat? Did he drink too much wine? Hmm. No, I tend to think God kept the king awake.  The Lord was working on his heart. A series of events were about to take place that would change the history of the Jews. God was continuing to fulfill His promises made to Abraham, Moses, and David.

In the historical records, the king discovered that Mordecai, who exposed an assassination plot to kill  the king. The king asked his attendant what reward of recognition had been given Mordecai. Nothing had been done, though. Shall we peek in on the situation?
  • Haman was in he outer court during that time, so the king had him brought inside.
  • Haman was there to ask the king to put Mordecai on the 75 foot pole as punishment for not honoring Haman.
  • Instead, the king asked Haman,, "What should I do to honor a man who truly pleases me?"
  • Haman suggested the honored man be paraded through the streets, riding upon the king's horse, dressed in the king's robe and crown. The official shouts, "This is what the king does for someone he wishes to honor!"
  • The king approved of Haman's idea. He instructed Haman to do so to Mordecai the Jew. Can you see Haman's jaw drop, struggling to breathe?
  • Haman did as the king ordered him to do.
  • But afterwards, Haman hurried home dejected and completely humiliated. (verses 1-13)
Although Mordecai refused to honor Haman, Haman had to honor Mordecai. What goes around comes around. Things are seldom what they seem. When things go wrong, it may seem like they cannot possible get any worse, but they often do. Probably that was the way Mordecai felt before he was rewarded.
Anyone feeling that way today? Continue reading.

You know this reminds me of Revelation when it says Jesus will be riding a white horse, the King of kings, Faithful and True. All will pay Him homage and honor then.

LET IT GROW

Swindoll gives  us 4 principles from this:
  1. When all seems lost, it isn't.
  2. When no one seems to notice, they do.
  3. When everything seems great, it's not.
  4. When nothing seems just, it is.
Although Haman was having gallows built for Mordecai, the Jew wasn't licking his wounds, having a pity party. Mordecai was trusting in God.
Time had passed since Mordecai's great act. He received no reward, appreciation, notice, until one night. He never was a revengeful person. When no one else seems to notice, God does notice.
Haman's suggestion as to how the king should reward a person was what he wanted. However, the tables turned on Haman. He as forced to carry out the king's wishes, even with a tight lip and sour attitude. Who can keep from smiling here?

God was invisible, but not out of touch or passive, friends. He had not forgotten His people nor the promises made to them and to their enemies. He would bless those who bless the Jews and curse those who curse them. When God seems absent, He is present. He is in charge. Humbly on our knees, let's yield to His will.  God never turns His back on anyone who comes to Him by the way of the cross.

Will we strut around like peacock Haman or humbly sit at the gate like Mordecai?

LET IT GO
God is just and notices us. He knows our heart. Wait on God. Trust His timing and methods. Honor Him when He comes through for us.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Waiting Until Tomorrow

O. T. #1095  "Waiting Until Tomorrow"
Nov. 9, 2017
Esther 5-Part 3
...let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do tomorrow as the king hath said. Esther 5:8

LET IT GLOW

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya tomorrow. You're only a breath away. (Words sung by Annie)

Tomorrow. There is something I want to say, request, of you, my dear king, but it can wait until tomorrow. Sometimes God's timing requires one more day. For sure it was in this story. In the lives of the Jews, Mordecai, and Esther, and certainly Haman. Are we willing to shift our agenda for God to have His way?

King Xerxes and his Prime Minister, Haman, had Esther's undivided attention. Twice the king asked his queen what her request was, but she waited to ask. She wanted to serve them another meal, then she'd ask.

Can't you just see the smiles on these three people's faces? Perhaps there as laughter in the room. Her cheerful countenance would have been a welcomed change since the king was dealing with ole Haman.

Why did Esther delay her request? Whatever the reason, God used the delay to further His purpose for Mordecai, Haman, and the Jewish people. While we are waiting, God is working. (D. Jeremiah)

Do we wait on the Lord to tell us when and how to get involved in  situation? The bigger the decision, the longer the wait.
Will we count on the Lord to open doors and hearts when dealing with unpredictable people?
When your ways please the Lord Jesus, even your enemies will be at peace with you. (Prov.16:7)
Are we trusting the Lord for enduing patience when in unpleasant situations? Timing is as important  action.
Do we pray for invincible courage when standing against an unprincipled enemy? (Swindoll)


LET IT GROW

So everyone left the banqueting hall. Haman must have thought how clever he was as he left the palace. He just had dinner with the king and queen, a threesome. He had a personal invitation from the lovely queen, too. Wait til he tells his wife and friends. Haman walked out of the palace whistling Dixie. He was on top of the world; had a joyful and glad heart, he did. Boy, does he have a shock of his life waiting on him tomorrow.

Now Haman turns his eye on Mordecai sitting at the king's gate. Again, Mordecai did not stand when to show respect to the Prime Minister, as the law said for all to do. Immediately, Haman's anger returned. Huh! e walked on, but this time he controlled himself, and went to his house. Haman sent for his friends and wife.

Ya-da, ya-da, brag, brag, me, me. Can you imagine listening to this blow-hard? No one can offend this self-centered guy, for he has the king's seal. Haman boasted about his wealth, children, honor, and promotion. Also, recognition by the queen. (verses 11-12)

Haman's only disappointment in life was Mordecai's refusal to honor him. His hatred consumed him so much to the point that only the death of his enemy would satisfy him. Listen to this-his wife and friends gave counsel, saying to:
  • build gallows 75 feet high;
  • ask he king the next day to hang Mordecai upon the gallows;
  • go to the dinner and be happy.
Haman's high opinion of himself would soon lift him high all right. The plan pleased the Prime Minister and he implemented it.

Are we careful to leave revenge to the Lord and not take not take it in our own hands? Ephesians 4:31-32 tells us to forgive and love others.


LET IT GO

Wait faithfully on God's tomorrow.
Trust His timing.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Hand in a Glove

O. T. #1094  "A Hand in a Glove"
Nov. 8, 2017
Esther 5-Part 2
And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.  Esther 5:4

LET IT GLOW

While my husband was down, allowing his new knee to heal, I could not stand it any longer. The yard had to be mowed after 3 weeks of growth. So I put on my gardening gloves and worked on the project. Even though it is a riding lawn mower, it definitely does not have power steering, nor is it one of those big boys that turn on a dime. I pulled and twisted the steering wheel, careful not to run over anything other than grass. (Was I so glad that the glove was protecting me of blisters.) At times, I put my whole body into the turns. Boy, did my shoulders feel it later. Also, I had to plan ahead when to turn the corners. Yes, the hand inside was certainly moving the glove. Esther had such an experience, too. Continue reading to see what I mean.

Darling Esther put on her beautiful queenly robes and walked to the entrance of the king's hall. Her sudden appearance without invitation could have meant death for her, but Xerxes bid her to enter. No doubt her appearance grabbed him, so the king held out his scepter to her, which allowed her entrance. Her touching its tip showed that she was grateful to that privilege.

The king asked his queen what she wanted, what her request was. He would grant it up to half of his kingdom. That was a custom of kings in that day, showing the person's request would be granted if it was within reason. With wisdom, Esther did not immediately ask for the termination of the Degree of Extermination. Instead, she asked the king and his prime minister to attend a banquet, that she had prepared, that very day. As soon as he could free himself, Esther wanted to spend with Xerxes.

Time was needed for other events to take place before her request. It was definitely not God's timing yet. Xerxes's heart needed to be prepared, made tender, soft, and favorable before she could accuse Haman, the Prime Minister. The royal court was not the place to expose the evil plot of the king's right hand man. Standing alone with those two would have better results. Esther had the chance to bring the roof down on Haman, but she used wisdom and waited for a better time. She was not in any hurry. Esther had been waiting upon the Lord. When we don't wait upon the Lord, we jump ahead, even run our mouth. Instead, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to control us.

At such moments, we're like a glove, and His hand is moving us wherever He pleases. (Swindoll)

Yep, Esther was allowing the Hand of God to move her. He used the very thing that she was good at.

The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever he wishes.  Proverbs 21:1

No king ever intimidated God. He can handle anyone. That includes the person giving us grief. Any heart is like water in the Lord's hand. Are we waiting on Him to change hearts in our situation?

LET IT GROW

Did you realize that Esther had been preparing a meal while she had fasted? She had restraint there. Banquets were the king's thing. We recall the exquisite one he gave in the first chapter. Well, the three of them sat down to eat and get their tummies full.  Esther didn't point fingers, burst into tears, nor yell out accusations. When the king asked what his queen's request was, she simply invite the two men to another banquet tomorrow. Of course they accepted. After all, who could resist this beautiful lady and her meals?

God is full of surprises, so hang onto your hat. His timing required one more night and day.
Do we tend to forget that God is available to help us no matter our circumstances? He loves us and longs to help us.  Will we ask for it today?

LET IT GO

Be the glove in which God's hand moves me in His direction.
Depend upon God's timing.
Be still and listen.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Waiting and Waiting

O. T. #1093  "Waiting and Waiting"
Nov. 7, 2017
Esther 5

LET IT GLOW

Waiting-Standing in line to check out, expecting a phone call, an up coming appointment, counting down the days for a holiday. Waiting is hard for us. (I figure I'm not alone.) I tend to become anxious during the wait. My mind tends to wander into the "what ifs" and they usually aren't pretty.

Swindoll has some descriptions for the white space in his Bible between chapters 4 and 5 in Esther as: a silent yet eloquent interlude, a space of suspense, a grand pause, a waiting period, a silent yet powerful parenthesis in Esther's life.

Those 3 days of prayer and fasting would have been the longest days in her life, don't you think? Esther sent word to Mordecai that she and her maidens would do so and asked him to join her, plus the Jews in Susa. This queen needed direction from the God she worshiped. Before she entered the presence of the king of Persia, she entered the presence of the king of her heart-Jesus.

We aren't born with a sensitive conscience and a courageous heart. She learned it from her cousin, adoptive father, and mentor, Mordecai. Don't you think he knew how far he could stretch her with this challenge? Se was stretched out a far as she could go, like a rubber band before it sails across the room or snaps.And she did rise to the occasion.

Esther determined to wait on the Lord and allow Him to guide her thoughts and help her frame her words. Pray for me. Fast for me. We will see what God will do. The life of all the Jews, including Esther, was at stake here. What a responsibility put on this young gal.

God may be invisible, but He is at work. He can be moving in a thousand places at the same time, working in circumstances that are beyond our control. During the waiting period, God is not only working in our hearts, He's working in others' hearts. And all the while He is giving added strength.

Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. 
 Isaiah 40:31


According to Swindoll, four things happen when we wait:
  1. We gain new strength.
  2. We get a better perspective.
  3. We store up extra energy.
  4. We will deepen our determination to persevere.
Okay, sounds like waiting is not a bad thing, but it sure is a difficult thing to practice.
Other verses to read are Is. 41:10,13; Ps. 32:6-8.
God will instruct us and teach us in the way we should go, guiding us with His eye. If we are watching for His movement and direction, listening to His Word along the way, then we will know what to do next.

[Resource: Esther, a Woman of Strength and Dignity by Charles Swindoll]

LET IT GROW

Those 3 intense days were worth it. God gave Esther a plan, His plan. After she fasted, Esther was to give a couple of banquets for the king and Haman. We will get to that later, though.
Read verses 1 and 2.
What occurred as Esther's moment of truth came, for she was there for such a time as this?
  • She put on her royal robes, after all, she was the queen.
  • She stood calmly, wisely, and confidently in the inner court of the king's palace in front of the king's rooms.
  • The king was sitting on his royal throne in the throne room, which was opposite the entrance to the palace. (Gulp, clear throat)
  • And it happened....the king saw his beautiful queen standing in the court.
  • She found favor in his sight, as the king extended the golden scepter in his right hand to her.
  • So Esther came near and touched the top of the scepter.
Can you imagine how quiet it was at that moment? The jaws of the guards dropped. Esther stood all and confident in the Lord before the most powerful man in the empire. Without that gesture of the scepter, she would have died. Esther made the connection with the king. How he must have loved this gal.

You and I are loved by the King of kings. He extends a hand of mercy to us when we enter His throne room. We sinners can come into the presence of a perfect Savior, the Son of the Living God that sits upon the throne. How astounding it is. We can't explain it. We don't deserve such a privilege. He is a good, good Father, perfect in all of His ways, and we are loved by Him. All the while, He knows our heart beat, what is breaking it, and wants to fix it for us, a child of the King-Jesus.

Will we meet with Him? Or will we continue on our way, carrying a baggage of  burdens?

LET IT GO and Let God...

Continue to ask, seek, knock.
Wait for the answers and directions of God.

*Friends, let's continue to pray for our hurting brothers and sisters in Texas. The nation is watching to see if their faith fails or is strengthened through this horrible time. To see what good comes from an evil act. Shall we enter the throne room asking God to be honored and the lost saved?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Facing a Hard Thing

O. T. #1091  "Facing a Hard Thing"
Nov. 6, 2017
Esther 4-Part 2
...if I perish, I perish. Esther 4:16

LET IT GLOW

What has been the hardest thing you have done lately? About three years ago, the opportunity came for me to tell my testimony and life story to a room full of teenage girls. I had everything planned and written out, as the Lord led. What I lacked was courage to tell it. You see, many church members and gals would hear some not so good experiences I went through in my early life. I had kept them secret. but if God could use me to reach others, I knew I had to do it. He gave me that courage as I knelt in a prayer closet, alone. It turned out fine. Esther faced a similar situation, yet hers could require her life.

Don't kid yourself, Esther knew what she had to do. She was a bright gal, but it would be the hardest thing she ever did, risking her life. She needed courage and details from God.

As Queen Esther faced a desperate situation of facing the king of Persia without an invitation, which could mean her death, she first faced her God, desperate for His instructions. Her cousin Mordecai told Esther to go plead with the king for the lives of the Jews to be spared. (Haman had convinced the king to set a date for the killing of all the Jews because they were in rebellion against him.)

Esther would be risking everything-her life since Persian law prohibited one from talking to the king without being invited; the lives of her Jewish family if she did not do so; God's chosen nation of people would not continue to provide the lineage for the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Esther and her maidens prayed and fasted for 3 days about the matter. Mordecai and the Jews of Susa prayed and fasted for the matter and Esther, too.

Only God could give victory in changing the law of destruction with His power. Only God can give us peace and a plan, and courage carry them out.

Many times God's Word tells us to be strong and courageous, as He did those in the story:
Deut. 31:6; Joshua 1:6, 10:25, 23:6-8; 2 Samuel 10:12; 1 Chron. 19:13, 23:13, 28:20

LET IT GROW

We may not know how our circumstances will change, how our situation will turn out, but God will hear us, answer us, deliver us, and honor us if we will call upon Him.

(Psalm 91:15 states,  He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.

If we seek the Lord with all of our heart and soul, we will find Him as Deuteronomy 4:29 says.

What happens if we ask, seek, and knock? Matthew 7:7 tells us: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Esther needed the door to the courtyard of the great king of Persia opened unto her when she knocked, then entrance granted her so she could speak to the king. I wonder if the king told the guard to let her inside. Next lesson we will see how God granted this for her.

Certainly, Esther was queen of Persia for such a time as this. We can be assured, precious friends, that we are alive, living in our family and community, for such a time as this. Are we ready to do what  life's purpose is?

Life Application Study Bible says:
Will we, like Esther:
  • calculate the cost (Her life was at stake.);
  • set priorities (Safety of the Jews was more important than her life.;
  • prepare (She gathered support and fasting and prayers.)
  • determined a course of action and move ahead as God leads. (Taking too long would lessen her commitment.)
Are you facing a hostile audience, confronting a friend, talking to family about changes? Let's follow Esther's example and pray and fast, asking God what to do before doing anything.

LET IT GO

Determine to obey whatever God leads me to do.
Then pray and fast over the matter.

Your will,
Your way,
Today, I pray.

Friday, November 3, 2017

For Such a Time as This

O. T. #1091 "For such a Time as This"
Nov. 3, 2017
Esther 4-Part 2

LET IT GLOW

The young couple lost their first baby. Her funeral was Thursday. Yet they accepted it as God's will and honor Him through it. These families chose to have strong faith in God, even when His path for them is devastating, giving heir God glory and thanks. Esther came to the point where she had to trust God or not.

It was Mordecai's fault that a new law was made that on a certain day, all the Jews would be killed. All because he would not bow down to Haman. A message from Mordecai came to Esther charging her to go to the king to make a request for the lives of her people, the Jews, to be saved. He knew what stuff she was made of and her character.

The Queen sent a returning message saying this:
  • The Persian aw prohibited anyone from approaching he king without first being summoned. It prevented the potential assassination of the king, as well as interrupting his important business.
  • Esther had not been summoned by him for 30 days. Perhaps she was no longer favored by the king.
  • Entering the king's inner court without being invited meant death for Esther.
Do we see the seriousness of Queen Esther's dilemma? Her problem was very serious-she would be risking her life to meet her cousin's request. What is Sovereign God chose Esther to be used for this purpose?

Mordecai sent word warning Esther in verse 13: Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. If Esther kept silent, God would raise up another deliverer, yet she and he family would perish. Who knowth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Wow, what a heavy responsibility laid on her. No excuses, no hiding. It was up to Esther to try to persuade the king to change this horrible law. Did Esther suddenly find the purpose for her life? Was she really placed on the throne as queen to save the Jews? Keeping silent during this crisis would require another deliverer. Also, Mordecai knew it was because of his stand for the Lord that got them in this mess. (This happened before Ezra's return to Jerusalem with Jews.)

What would Esther choose to do-keep silent or risk her life? Although her husband was the king, she couldn't just stroll into his office and casually unload what was on her mind.
We may never be put in such a dilemma, yet we might. There have been people who in a split second decision gave their life for another's being spared.
Will we step out in courage and take a stand for our beliefs?

LET IT GROW

What was Esther's decision?
  • She sent word to Mordecai for all the Jews in Shushan to fast for 3 days and nights about the matter.
  • She and her maidens would fast also.
  • Courageous Esther said she would go to the king, breaking the law, and risking her life. If she perished, she perished trying to save her people.
We read of so many heroes of faith in the Bible-Gideon, David, Moses, Joshua. They depended upon God to use them and bring them through the rough spots in their life and the Jews' lives. Paul, the disciples, Peter, and Jesus' life made a difference.

When we are facing desperate situations, do we pray and fast for God's directions?
Are we determined to make a difference, no matter what the consequences?

LET IT GO

Be a prayer warrior, interceding for folks.
Stand up for Jesus.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

When Bad News Comes


O. T. #1090  "When Bad News Comes"
Nov. 1, 2017
Esther 4
And I search for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.  Ezekiel 22:30

LET IT GLOW

I'm sure we have all had our share of bad news. It comes in various forms with different news that we dread to hear. It can be an accident, illness, terminal disease, loss of a job, divorce, even death. Will we allow it to dissolve our faith in God? Or will we allow it to make our faith stronger? Queen Esther gets the bad news in today's lesson. How does she react?

Will God allow His people to be destroyed? The city of Susa was perplexed, in confusion.
Wicked Haman influenced King Xerxus with his promises to pour money into his treasuries if he could rid the land of the Jews who do not bow down and worship you as the king. This was the makings of the worse holocaust. Mordecai and the Jews went into mourning in one city, Susa. They wailed loudly and bitterly, as well as fasting. Sorrow was widespread. Mordecai was not allowed beyond the king's gate because he was clothed in sackcloth.

Esther probably knew nothing of the new edict. Mordecai made himself visible at the king's gate hoping to get the Queen's attention and inform her of the situation. After all, she was a Jew, too, and would b killed along with her people. Of curse, they were the only two people who knew that.

But Esther no longer had outside contacts now that she was Queen of Persia. That included no direct speaking to Mordecai; no comforting him either.

This year our brothers and sisters in our nation have experienced hurricanes, floods, fires, riots. We have banded together to help them in their time of need.  When others are in sorrow from loosing a loved one or things, do we respond with love?


LET IT GROW

In verse 4, Esther is told what has happened. She was exceedingly grieved. She even sent clothing to Mordecai to take away his sackcloth, but he did not accept it. Was she embarrassed? Did Esther send him a new suit? Was she thinking that Mordecai would try to speak to the king and get the law changed?
Mordecai gave the guy who brought the clothing a copy of the decree, old him to show Esther, and charged her to go to the king, interceding for her people. Hatach did as Mordecai requested. Would she go plead for mercy for her people? If it did not change, Esther would die with the Jews.
Wait, what about God's promise to David that one of his descendants would always be on the throne?
Nest time we will find out.

LET IT GO

Go to those who are hurting with the promises of God.
Keep our faith strong.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Plots and Plans

O. . T. #1089  "Plots and Plans"
Oct. 31, 2017
Esther 3
...Hamon sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people o Mordecai.  Esther 3:6

LET IT GLOW

Plans and plots to harm people, to make them slaves, to rob and injure, on whatever level, has evil behind it. Beware, believers, on this day when evil seeks to conquer good. They call evil good. It has been around since Eve met the serpent in the garden. It will continue until Jesus destroys Satan. Well, sadly, today he is working in our story.

Last time we talked about Mordecai warning the king, by way of Esther, that two of his men plotted an assassination attempt of King Xerxus. It was found to be true and those two were hung on a stake. This good dead by Mordecai was recorded in the king's records, b no reward came immediately.

After these things happened, the king promoted Haman? What about the guy who saved the king's life? Doesn't he get any honor or recognition? (It will come in due time, God's timing.) Besides, who was this Haman?
  • He was an Agagite.
  • He was promoted to prime minister.
  • He was honored by all officials; the king ordered them to bow before Haman as he passed by them.
To better understand where this villain was coming from, let's look back in 1 Samuel chapter 15.  King Saul defeated the Amalekites with his army, only he did not kill Agag the king. Remember the bleating of the sheep and lowing of the oxen that Samuel heard? They spared the animals, too. This was all disobedience against the instructions of God to Israel. Prophet Samuel had to kill King Agag. (As I recall, those Amalekites were descendants of those who would not allow Israel passage through their country on their way to the Promised Land. Also, they killed those in back of the Israeli caravan, those sickly, elderly, and young.

Can we understand the hostility for each other, between the Agagites and the Jews? The trouble came when Mordecai would not bow down when Haman passed by him. such a thing would be considered idolatry for a Jew, bowing down and paying homage to anyone. (You shall have no other god before Jehovah.)

Such an act, or lack of an act in this case, resulted in Haman filled with rage. He had been nursing a grudge all his childhood. But Haman did not decide to lay hands on only Mordecai, but on his people, the Jews. He plotted to destroy all the Jews throughout the whole kingdom of Persia. Sounds like the same intent of Hitler during WWIII.

When God tells us to do something, or not do something, we had better obey.


LET IT GROW

What was Hamon's plan of extermination  the Jews?
  • A day was chosen, by casting lots, to attack the Jews. (verse 7)
  • Haman charged the Jews falsely with rebellion, breaking the king's  laws. (verse 8) 
  • He persuaded the king to write an edict of the annihilation of Jews, promising to pay the king's treasury in silver plus the plunder. (verse 9)
  • King Xerxus gave Hamon his signet ring to carry out the plot. (verse 10)
  • Hamon dictated to the royal secretaries, in all he languages, that all the Jews would be killed on the 13th day the next year. He sealed it with the king's ring. It was law.
  • Copies were sent to every district.
  • Hamaon and the king sat down to drink, calloused, insensitive, uncaring to what would happen.(verse 15)
How did tis happen? Everything was going good. Esther was queen. Mordecai was an official at the king's gate. All seemed to be going well. Then the wheels turned a different direction for the Jews.
Evil can seek so deeply in a person's heart in a short time. Look what has happened in our world-Germans vs. Jews, Russians vs. Stalin, Kurds vs. Hussein, now ISSIS.

In Matthew 15, we read of the results of evil in the heart of men. Because of it, Jesus did an awful death on the cross.
Let us pray for repentance of hearts in our families, communities, nation.

Swindoll shows some lessons we can learn here:
  1. Never forget there will always be someone who will resent your devotion to the Lord Jesus.
  2. Never underestimate the diabolical nature of revenge.
  3. Never overestimate the value of your own importance.

LET IT GO

Stay close to Jesus.
Put on the whole armor of God listed in Ephesians.
Stand against the evil trying to destroy good.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Baby Graceleigh


Unexpected Monday Mornings

Oct. 30, 2017

Sunday began a regular week, normal in all ways. The family was at worship services where they had always been on Sundays, worshiping Almighty God and their Savor, Jesus Christ.  Yet Monday morning for one couple brought on early labor for one sweet and young couple in our church. It would prove to be the hardest week they had ever faced so far in their lives.

Little Graceleigh Jane was only 22 weeks and 4 days in development. So mamma was taken to a local hospital, but they could not do anything for them. Finally, mamma and baby were flown by helicopter to another hospital 200 miles away, over the mountains. Family members jumped in cars and flew down there to be at their first grandbaby's birth, first on both sides. Brothers drove the expectant and worried Father. And so began the long, hard journey of the testing of their faith that would last all week long. (Keep in mind, mamma remained in labor for 5 full days before Saturday arrived.)

Little did these three families know what lie ahead for them in the days to come. The first doctor was blunt, saying their baby girl would probably die (only 1% survived); they would not resuscitate her if she were born before 23 weeks. (It is considered a miscarriage before 23 weeks.) However, the father and grandfather informed that doctor that they served a higher power than he was, Almighty God. So the family had a "go to Jesus meeting," praying for  baby Graceleigh right then and there, in front of the cold doctor. They would accept whatever God's will was, but please sustain her until she was 23 weeks along.

Folks, those prayers were not "Lay me down to sleep" prayers. They were desperate, gut-wrenching, sincere pleas that went straight to the throne of God through Jesus. (Both grandfathers are deacons of our church and spiritual leaders.) Now, as the word spread, hearts prayed, too. We prayed without ceasing, throughout the days and nights ahead.

Well, day 5 came and no baby born. Then day 6 came and no baby born. Mind you, the large delivery room became home for 9 watching people. Then day 7 came and went with nothing happening except mamma grew weaker while enduring labor. We believe God kept this baby in the womb, blocking her exit, until she was 23 weeks and 1 day in development.

Then it was time. Saturday was Graceleigh's birthday. My husband and I were able to be there by that time. Everyone was excited, and relieved at the same time.  Baby was whisped away to another room, put into an incubator, with life sustaining tubes connected to her 1 pound, 1 ounce body. All were hopeful that she would live. We rejoiced in our God that creates and sustains life. He helped them climb over the mountains.

Later, as the tiny baby was wheeled into the natal care unit, we all formed two lines of faith, through which she passed. The grandparents and the rest got to see her for a minute. Now, let me tell you, Graceleigh was a fighter. She was kicking, crying, and waving her tiny arms as she met this world. Hopes were high.

We left the folks of faith to return home.  My husband  prepared a message using this family's experience with faith as our example for the next day. They say that no news is good news and none was heard until 6:15 am Sunday morning. Graceleigh's body did not accept blood given her. They tried to resuscitate her after the heart stopped, to no avail. Life left her body as she left us to join Jesus in heaven.

Oh, my, what a heart breaking story. It doesn't end there, for the faith of those families' faith continues on. They are thanking God for the time they had with this sweet little baby. And we don't know how many hearts will be touched by this tiny life.

Here it is, another Monday morning. Mama had to have surgery yesterday to mend her body, but it will take a long time to mend her broken heart. So please pray for Nacona and Tyler as they continue this journey of life, without their first baby of love. (Prior to this, Tyler had surrendered to the call to preach.)

All are hopeful that they will be returning home today, to climb the mountain of faith once again and find rest for their weary bodies and souls. Dear ones, we do not know where the path the Lord has us on will lead. We must always be ready for those unexpected Monday mornings.

Our God creates and sustains life. He does whatever He pleases, as Job realized and we realize.
Let us lay down our burdens at the feet of Jesus. He will take care of them. Just be held in His loving arms of compassion. Keep your focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. He is on the throne.

That is what is on my heart today. Tomorrow we will return to Esther.

Love ya'll,
Linda


Friday, October 27, 2017

Sustainer of Life

O. T. #1088  "Sustainer of Life" 
Oct. 27, 2017
Esther 2-Part 6
For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.  Luke 19:10

LET IT GLOW

First, I want to give thanks and praise to our Almighty God. What has He been doing this week for you? I'll share what He has been doing in the lives of a precious young couple at our church.(Both sets of their parents are in our church, also.) The expectant mother went into labor Monday, but baby girl was only 22 weeks along in development. This is their first child. They were air vaced to a hospital miles away. Prayers continued for them all week, for a doctor there said if the baby came so early, they would not try to save it. So we have been praying day and night for God to sustain these two. And He has. Baby is 23 weeks along now, but mom is so tied from being in labor so long. Will you join us in praying for N. and baby? Thanks.

Our lives are in God's hands, from birth to death and in between. We are so blessed with 7 healthy grandchildren. I remember the excitement of the birth of the first one, yet the disappointment of the miscarriages of several.

God is Lord of all. What would we do without Jesus to strengthen, comfort, and help us through the trials? Lift your head, it ain't over yet, as the song says.

LET IT GROW

Let's pick up in verse 21.the story of Esther changes from a celebration of her becoming queen of Persia to Mordecai sitting at the king's gate. What is going on there?
  • Mordecai heard about the plot to murder King Xerxus, while he was on duty at the king's gate.
  • It was the two eunuchs, chamberlains, of the king's called Bigthan and Teresh that plotted to assassinate the king.
  • Mordecai informed queen Esther. If the plot was carried out, then Esther might be in danger, too. Certainly she would no longer hold such a position in all of Persia.
  • Esther rushed to tell the king of such a plot. 
  • She gave Mordecai the credit.
  • Mordecai's report was investigated and found to be true.
  • The two men found guilty were both hung on a tree.
  • This was recorded in the king's records. (Keep this on the back burner of your mind because it will come up later as a pivotal point in the story.)
The king's gate was the place where city officials conducted civil, legal, and business affairs. The two men were impaled and hung on a large, tall stake. It stood as a reminder that evil will not prevail. Notice that the king forgot to recognize or reward Mordecai for uncovering the plot.
Darius, the father of King Xerxus, was known to have once impaled 3,000 men.

How quickly life can turn from a celebration to the death of one or two, as is the case here. Rage, murder, greed, lust, abuse, all attempt to destroy our faith in God. Don't let it, friend.

As believers, are we warning people to prepare for death? Our enemy, Satan, is lying in wait to cut our life short. Preparation involves asking Jesus Christ to be our Savior. He is our sustainer, too.

LET IT GO

Be the witness of Jesus' mighty deeds.
Prepare for the evil deeds in this world.
Proclaim God's goodness.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Being a Brave Believer

O. T. #1087  "Being a Brave Believer"
Oct. 26, 2017
Esther 2-Part 5
Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.  Proverbs 31:30

LET IT GLOW

Esther found favor and grace in the sight of King Xersus of Persia. He set the royal crown upon her head, so she has a new title now. Esther is no longer a plain, orphan Esther, but Queen Esther. What happened next?
  • The king had a celebration, a banquet, feast, coronation to honor queen Esther.
  • A holiday was proclaimed.
  • Gifts were generously distributed.
  • The maidens from her group joined in the celebration.
Swindoll gives us modern-day Esthers some practical counsel:
Can we imagine having all the same qualities as Esther had? It seems so unattainable. It doesn't come
from the world, where results are frustration and defeat. You, as an individual, have your own pressures, your own difficulties, your own unique circumstances, but God offers ways to handle them and become His special person. The question is how?

First, ask God. Ask Him to cultivate character within you. Ask him to give you a deeper desire for the spiritual. Make yourself available to His strength, reproofs, counsel for the things you lack. Ask for help to place more emphasis on what's happening deep within your heart and less emphasis on the externals, the superficial, the temporary.

Second, trust God. Trust Him to control your circumstances around you. We are completely dependent on Him for external life, forgiveness, security, and character. It is His working in our lives that uses us even in the harems of life to make a difference and to model a charm and a beauty, a dignity, and an elegance, that cannot help but cause people's attention to be drawn to Him and His power.

Are we ready to be authentic in the midst of a whirlwind? Do we have determination to beat unbelievable odds? Do we have an openness, a warmth, a responsiveness to the things of God? Are we willing to ask for help? Can we be thankful for what God has given us and for the situation in which He has placed us? Will we continue to walk the road of faith?


LET IT GROW

The nationality of Esther, a Jew, was still pet a secret. Even after Mordecai sat at the king's gate, thus appointed a palace official. She was warned by her cousin, lest she be removed from her status like Vashti. Esther had been an obedient child all her life. Her secret was safe, so far.

Suffering, life's hardships, and afflictions are inescapable. Pain is inevitable. Misery is optional.Since we cannot get free of pain, the secret of successful living is finding ways to live above the level of misery.

Are we valuing our daughters and granddaughters? Are we telling them we value them as a person of strength and dignity? Are we going to be a brave believer in Jesus? His love makes us braver still. Can we take the challenge to live above misery?


LET IT GO

Ask God to change my heart so I am gracious and kind to others.
Trust God in my life situations.
Honor Him.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Finding Favor

O. T. #1086  "Finding Favor"
Oct. 24, 2017
Esther 2-Part 4
And the king loved Esther above all women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.  Esther 2:17

LET IT GLOW

Much obliged. I used to hear my grandfather use that phrase. He used it in place of thanks. Webster's Dictionary uses it in defining the word  favor. Someone must have found grandpa's favor or approval.

From among hundreds of beautiful young maidens, the king of Persia chose Esther to be his new queen. How could this be? (This gal was probably not older than 20.) After all, she dressed modestly, her year of cosmetic and perfume treatments were no big deal to Esther. She could have chosen whatever clothing and jewelry she wanted for her night with the king. But there was no extravagance with Esther, for she had no driving  ambition to be queen.

I like how Charles Swindoll, n his book Esther, A Woman of Strength and Dignity,  put it:
Esther knew that the hand of God was on her life, and through circumstances and Mordecai's wisdom, she had been brought to this place for a reason. She had her stuff together. She knew where she was coming from. She knew who she was. She knew what she believed. If it was God's pleasure that she be here, if it was part of His plan then she would willingly accept it. If not, she would willingly relinquish it. (Swindoll)
In verse 15, we read that Esther obtained favor in the sight of them that looked upon her. In  the Hebrew language, favor used here means graciousness, kindness or objective beauty; pleasant, precious, well favored.

She had a sweet way about her that everyone liked, from the women in the harem to the king. She was clothed in grace and humility.
Do we have that same spirit?

LET IT GROW

Clearly, Esther's sweet, kind, and loving spirit struck the heart  of King Xerxus  as well as her by, poise, and behavior. What happened next? Look at verse 17:
  • The king loved her above all the women.
  • Esther obtained grace and favor in his sight more than the other women.
  • The king set the royal crown upon her head and made Esther queen instead of Vashti.
The word favor in this verse, checed ( kheh'-sed) means kindness.
Grace is the same Hebrew word, but a  different form, chen (Khane) and meaning.

Mary found favor with God in Luke 1:30.
Jesus increased in favor with God and man according to Luke 2:52.
Grace is used in John 1:17; Romans 3:24 and 5:15.

Do we desire to find God's  favor and grace above all else?

LET IT GO

Show kindness today.
Seek God's favor and grace.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Chance of a Lifetime

O. T. #1085 "Chance of a Lifetime"
Oct. 23, 2017
Esther 2-Part 3
And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.  Esther 2:17

LET IT GLOW

They say some opportunities only come around once. We call it a chance of a lifetime. Have you had any come your way? I can think of a few-some I let pass my by and others I took; some with regret and some with satisfaction. Esther had a chance in a lifetime. does she blow it or take it?

There must have been a lot of maidens brought to the palace for the queen's contest, after all, there was 127 provinces in Persia. Esther was one of those beauties chosen. In preparation, each girl was given beauty treatments for 12 months. Each girl was then assigned a night to spend with the king. When her time came, she was given whatever clothing and jewelry she wanted. Afterwards, she was transferred to live in the permanent harem of the king. Unless summoned by the king, she would not see him again. Every girl desired to be the queen, yet only one would win the position.
Here was a chance of a lifetime. Esther remained true to what she was taught and obedient to Mordecai's counsel, believing he knew what was best for her.

Esther was deeply loved by her cousin Mordecai, who adopted her as his daughter. He would daily walk by the courtyard of the harem to find out how she was. (Remember, he was some kind of Jewish official and could do that.) What a guy! He was the only close family she had, evidently.

Are we showing our children and grandchildren how much we love them by being involved in their lives? Sometimes a listening ear is all they need. Going to watch them play sports, enter contests, perform in programs at school, doesn't cost much, except our time. Our involvement is what makes lasting memories for them later in life. And they will in turn do the same for their children. How can we show love this week? Shall we extend it to the children in our church? They need to feel loved and important, also.


LET IT GROW

(Reading the key verse above, we know how this contest turns out.)
And then the night came for her to spend time with the king of Persia. From among the hundreds of beautiful young women Esther was chosen to be his queen. Undoubtedly, her qualities beyond beauty attracted the king. Her real beauty arose from within, from a gracious, lovely spirit, and a strong character. A star shown out among the hundreds. A Star named Esther.
What traits did Esther have that caused her to stand out and shine?

The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible suggests:
  1. First, she pleased Hegai and King Xerxus. This points to the traits of kindness, graciousness, humility, and love. Can we see God's providential control here?
  2. Second, Esther was a woman of wisdom. Keeping her nationality a secret demonstrated wisdom. Esther knew that if her neighbors were aware that she was a Jew, she would be persecuted and become the object of prejudice and discrimination.
  3. Third, the reference to Esther's being an obedient child (verse 20) demonstrates that she was trustworthy, dependable, faithful, and loyal.
  4. Fourth, being chosen by King Xerxus to become the queen points to her being an intelligent and industrious woman. Xerxus must have detected these traits, for he knew that she would be capable of handling the official duties of the queen, which were bound to be many.
Aren't these traits needed by all women today? Are we teaching our girls to develop inner beauty:
kind, gracious, humble, loving, wise, virtuous, obedient, trustworthy, dependable, loyal, faithful, intelligent, industrious?
So much money is spent on the beauty products industry. And think of the time spent using them. It is understandable since our society's emphasis in one the outward beauty of women.

So many Scriptures guide us in this task. Romans 12:9,10; Ephesians 4:32;  Matthew 18:4, 22:39; Proverbs 10:4, 11:16, 15:14, 29:23; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Titus 2:3-5.


LET IT GO

Trust God with the events that come into my life to be for my best.
Focus on my inner beauty today.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Star's Character

O T. #1084  "A Star's Character"
Oct. 20, 2017
Esther 2-Part 2
A gentle and quiet spirit, ...of great worth in God's sight.  1 Peter 3:4

LET IT GLOW

Growing up, I had was of a quiet nature. But, being a school teacher for 15 years, I developed  bossy and stern ways. Now I realize that I don't need those qualities and have been trying to work on having a gentle and quiet spirit. For some of us, it takes an effort to achieve. However, for Esther, it came naturally. This star's character shone out with the love of God in her heart. She was shining above the other maidens.

Last time we talked about Esther being brought to the palace, along with other maidens, in order to eventually be in a beauty contest for the position of queen of Persia. We mentioned that she was an orphan after both of her parents were dead. Her cousin Mordecai took her in and raised her. They were both Jews.

Who is this Mordecai?
He was a fourth generation of deported Jews. To explain that, we need to look into Israel's history.
It divided into two kingdoms after King Solomon's reign. The Northern Kingdom, called Israel, which included 10 tribes, eventually turned to idolatry, thus God allowed Assyria to conquer them. The Southern Kingdom, made up of  Judah and Benjamin, had a few more faithful kings, but they eventually turned from worshiping God to idols, also. Jehoiachin, the young king of Judah, only wore the crown three months when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered them. Jerusalem was destroyed, as well as the Temple, which had its holy contents made of gold, silver and bronze taken away to Babylon. Then Babylon fell to the Medo-Persians. Ahasuerus became king of the vast Persian empire, about a hundred years after the fall of Jerusalem.

Mordecai was a descendant of those exited Jews. His great grandfather actually experienced the deportation. Kish represents a Benjamite family name which can be traced all the way back to Saul's father. Since their exile, the Jews had increased in population, had great freedom, were allowed to run a business, and hold position in government. Mordecai was probably born in Susa and inherited an official position among the Jewish captives that kept him around the palace. However, he instructed Esther to remain quiet about her being a Jew.

If we have been born into a family of believers in Jesus Christ, we are blessed.

Life Application Study Bible advises us:
While boldness in stating our identity as God's people is our responsibility, at times a good strategy is to keep quiet until we have won the right to be heard. This is especially true when dealing with those in authority over us. But we can always let them see the difference God makes in our lives.


LET IT GROW

Esther impressed Hegai with her lovely, gracious character. He gave her special privileges and care by:
  • giving her additional attention beauty treatments, and choice food;
  • seven maids;
  • the best room in the harem. (verse 9)
It was more than Esther's beauty that attracted her to Hegai, the one in charge of the maidens. It was bound to be her sweet, gracious, lovely, and kind spirit. This star's character shone out from the other young women. (The Persian name Esther means Star.) Her humility and grace were rewarded with those things mentioned above.
Nowadays a movie star is often selfish and self centered, prideful, boisterous. It isn't her outward beauty that makes her a beautiful person. Her kindness, sweet attitudes, and giving spirit do in my books.

How is our character measurement? Can folks say the same about us as revealed Esther?

LET IT GO

Keep showing a gentle and quiet spirit toward others and situations.
Graciously think of others before myself.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Combing the Hills and Hair

O.T. #1083  "Combing the Hills and Hair"
Oct. 19, 2017
Esther 2
...Esther was brought also unto the king's house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women.
Esther 2:8

LET IT GLOW

After these things... What things? Well, after Queen Vashti was divorced and dethroned by King Xerxes. You will recall that she refused to be a made a spectacle of his highness to the drunk male guests. Then, the king launched his disastrous campaign against the Greeks, returning home humiliated instead of honored. Oh, he was a dejected and despondent king, in despair and anguish.  He had no one in which to share his deepest emotions, find comfort, and receive encouragement. Did Xerxes miss Vashti? Was he longing for true love?

So 4 years passed between chapters 1 and 2. The king's personal attendants noticed this about the king. They came up with a plan to secure him a new wife:
  1. By appointment, agents in each province to search for beautiful virgins.
  2. These girls were brought into the king's harem at Susa.
  3. They were placed under Hegai's care and given beauty treatments (which lasted a year).
  4. The maiden that pleased the king the most would be made queen
The idea pleased the king so it was implemented.
Do we know people who are like King Xerxes? They are morally corrupt, engaging in one sexual exploit after another. This has been hitting the news lately.
God and His Word forbids adultery and illicit sex. Marriage between a man and a woman is His guideline for us. A home, companionship, love, meeting needs, and nurturing  aide us in leading a life of happiness and contentment. This is found when God's guidelines are followed. (In a sense, that is what those illicit relationships are seeking.)



LET IT GROW

The decree went out as headlines in all the newspapers-Miss Persia Beauty Contest to be Held in One Year. Well, maybe it wasn't like that. so behind the lines is a girl named Hadassah (Jewish name meaning myrtle, fragrance). Esther is her Persian name, meaning star in reference to the star like flowers of the myrtle, but like a star in the sky.

What are the two things we learn about Ester in verse 7?
  1. She was an orphan, raised by her Jewish cousin, Mordecai.
  2. She became a young woman of incredible beauty.
At this point, Esther has not the slightest inkling that one day she would be crowned the most beautiful woman in the kingdom and the new queen of Persia. She knows nothing of palace politics, a lonely king, nor what the future holds for her.

So the appointed men combed the hills for the beautiful maidens in the land. Esther found herself on her way to combing her hair to meet the king. She was brought into the king's palace along with other virgins and placed under the care of Hegai. (I couldn't resist such an analogy.)

I wonder if Mordecai was worried about his sweet cousin. Was he reluctant to let her go away into such an environment, although he didn't have a choice about the matter? All he could do was trust her life with God. She also.

Where are you on your own journey today? Are you thinking how insignificant your life is? What good can come from where you live and what you do?

Remember, God's hand is not so short that it cannot save, nor is His ear so heavy that He cannot hear. He is at work in your life this very moment. (Swindoll)

His ways are higher than ours. Trust Him, dear one.

LET IT GO

Stand up for marriage being an institution by God.
Trust God when things are not foreseen.
Remain committed to the things of God, bringing hope to a world in need.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Mundane Days

O. T. #1082  "Mundane Days"
Oct. 18, 2017
Esther 1-Part 2
A gracious woman retaineth honor: and strong men retain riches.   Proverbs 11:16

LET IT GLOW

Are you living in mundane days, where everything is ordinary, going the same day after day? Watch out, for in the snap of a finger, our life can change drastically. It did for one queen. Want to find out how? Follow along, friend.

It is the seventh day and King Xerxes' party is continuing. This Persian king's banquet actually lasted 6 months. Join me as we observe behind the curtains in the garden court. Can you hear the loud music, see the wild dancing, too much eating, and excessive drinking? This great king was so prideful that there were no limits, since he was one of the wealthiest people in the world at that time.
His guests consisted of political leaders, businessmen, military leaders, people from his 127 providences, as well as those in Susa. King Xexres' purpose for such an extravagant banquet was to launch a campaign  economically and militarily. He desperately desired to conquer Greece, although his kingdom was a world power.

As the guest became drunk, they probably filled with lust from watching the slave girls' seductive dancing.

Persian kings loved to flaunt their wealth, even wearing precious gemstones in their beards. Jewelry was a sign of rank for Persian men. Even soldiers wore great amounts of gold jewelry in battle. (Life Application Study Bible)

Then something happened. One of those unexpected but pivotal moments that change everything. The king, whose heart was merry with wine, in other words he was drunk, commanded his 7  eunuchs to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown in order to display her beauty to the people and the princes, for she was beautiful. She was another prize, physical beauty, which the king wanted to show off to his guests.


LET IT GROW

Shall we walk over to  another banquet going on at the same time the king's was since the other one had gone down hill? Queen Vashti, Xerxes' wife, held a separate banquet for the wives, sisters, and mothers of the nation's leaders. Her feast was held in the royal house.

Although we don't know a great deal about her, evidently the queen was a strong-minded, independent-thinking woman who was not afraid to go against the wishes of her husband the king.
When Vashti got the king's order, how did she react? The queen refused, just saying no. Her beauty was her own and her husband's, not for show to hundreds of drunk men.

Don't you admire this queen? She took a stand against the greatest power in her world in order to keep her respect and dignity. Would we do the same?

Submission to husbands does not mean that a wife is a sexual pawn in he carnal desire of her husband. What the king asked of his wife was not submission; it was sexual slavery. (Swindoll)

Anger burned in the king. King Xerxes' advisors told him to get rid of the queen and replace her with another more worthy than she. So let it be written, so let it be done. The Persian law could not be altered. The beautiful Queen exited. So he king divorced the queen because she wouldn't cooperate. Those men were afraid other women would follow her example.

Here is some encouragement as Swindoll, in his book, Esther, A Woman of Strength and Dignity, points out:
  • God not only moves in mysterious ways, He moves in mundane days. His hand is not removed from this (or any other) scene.
  • God's plans are not hindered when the events of this world are carnal or secular. Those involved may not be glorifying Him, but never doubt He's present. He's at work.
  • God's purposes are not frustrated by moral or marital failures. He is a God who applies grace to the long view of life.

Do we need that? Is there someone in our life that needs that?

LET IT GO

See God's grace.
Trust His hand  is in control, even when sinful people do horrible things.
Stay committed to the things of God, even in the mundane days, no-big-deal days.
Beware of lust, power, pride, pleasures.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

An Extravagant Party

O. T. #1081  "An Extravagant Party"
Oct. 17, 2017
Esther 1

LET IT GLOW

What kind of parties have you attended? Throughout the years, I have been to a few parties held in  extravagant homes. But the difference is the attitude the owners had. They were not flaunting their possessions, but were using them as a way to share with others and meet their needs. I felt welcome and valued, not out of place. And then the opposite has been experienced as the owners bragged about their extravagant possessions. I certainly felt out of place there. Today we will read about a king which held a party in an extravagant palace. Shall we which kind of host he was?

The first three years of Ahasuerus' reign was consisted of just another king living in ordinary days, year in and year out. Ahasuerus was not the name of the king, but the title of his position, which means high father or venerable king. Xerxes the Great of Persia was the name of the one who reigned over a great empire stretching from India to Ethiopia. This kingdom was divided into 20 regions and 127 provinces ruled by governors. (Modern Pakistan and Sudan were in this area.) Persia was the largest empire ever formed through military conquest. It included the Fertile Crescent, the heartland of the world. (The city of Susa housed the king's winter palace, that is modern Iran.) Cyrus had conquered the land of the Meedes and his grandson, Xerxes, had conquered the Persians. However, Xerxes's father failed to conquer Greece.
Notice that the name of this king is mentioned at least 175 times in this book, yet God's name is not. Although this is so, God's hand is not missing.

Wiersbe describes these events as God  "standing somewhere in the shadows" ruling and overruling. He notes the evidences of God's providential workings:
  1. Esther being chosen queen over all the other candidates. (2:15-18)
  2. Mordecai discovering the plot to kill the king. (2:21-23)
  3. The casting of lots for the day to destroy the Jews resulting in a date later in the year, giving time for Mordecai and Esther to act. (3:7-15)
  4. The king's welcome to Esther after ignoring her for a month. (5:2)
  5. The king's patience with Esther in permitting her to hold another banquet. (5:8)
  6. The king's insomnia that brought to light Mordecai's deed of kindness. (6:1)
  7. The king's apparent lapse of memory in 6:10-14, that led him to honor one of the Jews he had agreed to slay.
  8. The king's deep concern for Esther's welfare, when he had a harem to choose from. (7:5)
God's sovereignty prevailed so the Jews were saved. Since King David and King Jesus were to come through the tribe of Judah, this family had to be preserved.

Are we trusting our God to preserve His Word and children?
Can we see His hand working in our life?
Is He standing in the shadows as our family lives?
Are we thanking Him for all He does?


LET IT GROW

An ordinary day became an extraordinary day. King Xerxes had a lavishing banquet, displaying his wealth and power to his delegation brought from each province. This banquet lasted a total of 180 days, which was a smorgasbord for 6 months.

Come, let us go in and observe this extravaganza. It is being held in the enclosed garden at the palace. Scriptures tell us what we see whenever we look around:
  • White, green, and blue drapes hung on marble pillars by silver rings;
  • Couches were made of gold and silver;
  • Mosaic pavement was red, white, blue, and black costly stone lay in the courtyard;
  • Gold goblets, each uniquely designed, were used for wine;
  • An abundance of wine was served. (verses 6-8)
The officers attending the banquet were not compelled to drink the available wine, but did so according to every man's pleasure. (verse 8)
This king was a man of enormous wealth whose life was one of extravagance, pleasure, luxury, comfort, and ease. Seems he delighted in boasting and showing off his wealth.

We are warned of such ways in Mark 4:19, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the Word, and it becometh unfruitful.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. and having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
(1 Timothy 6:6-8)

Content, in the Greek language, gives the idea of raising a barrier, to ward off; be enough; be sufficient.

Are we content with what we have?
Are we thankful for all we have?
Do we use it for the glory of God?
If we are content, do we resist the extravagance of the world?

LET IT GO

Learn to be content.
Don't flaunt what I have, but use it to serve others and meet needs.









Monday, October 16, 2017

A Woman of Faith

O. T. #1080 "A Woman of Faith"
Oct. 16, 2017
Introduction to Esther

LET IT GLOW

Where do I begin to tell the story of Esther? This is one of the two books in the Bible which are written about the life of a woman, with Ruth being the other. Surrounded by books and commentaries, I realize each has a little different perspective as they write about this female hero of the Jews.
So who was this Esther?
  • Her name in the Hebrew language was Hadassah, which means myrtle, but in the Persian language, Esther  means star.
  • She was an attractive orphan girl, since both of her parents were dead. We don't know the details of this.
  • Esther's uncle, Mordecai, a Persian governmental official, raised her as his daughter. (2:7, 15)
  • She is raised from the low status of an orphan to the highest position in the nation-Persian Queen. 
  • Growing up a Jew, Esther must have had a strong love for her family. Her faith was challenged as she was faced with the decision of a possibility of death in order to rescue her family from death.
  • Her strong faith took the chance, trusting God with her life.
Will we be known as a hero in our family?
How strong is our faith in God?
Are we a nobody who becomes a somebody?

LET IT GROW

Historical Background

While the author of Esther is unknown, it is suggested to have been either Mordecai, Ezra, or Nehemiah. This one must have been acquainted with Persian customs, etiquette, and history, as well as the palace at Sushan. Also, he had knowledge of the Hebrew calendar and customs, which are  evident.

The date of these events occurred  before Persian King Ahasuerus died by assassination in 465B.C. and somewhere during the time of the events of Ezra 4-10 happen. Prophets Haggai and Zechariah spoke during this time of the events to come concerning Israel and Judah.

MacAruthur dates this book as covering the years of83-473 B.C. during the portion of the king's ruling from 486 to 45 BC. H says the event occurred during the time of the first return of the Jews after the 70 year Babylonian captivity and the second return led by Ezra. Nehemiah's journey, the third return from Susa to Jerusalem occurred later in 445 B.C.

Although God is nowhere mentioned in Esther, His hand on the events is evident.

Swindoll, in his book Esther, A Woman of Strength and Dignity, said:
God's unsearchable mind was working in concert with His unfathomable will, carrying things out under His sovereign control. God's presence is His invisible providence. Providence means "seeing ahead of time" which is what Almighty God does. But our invisible God, in His providence, is continually, constantly, and confidently at work. His mind His will, His power, and His presence are working in concert on every page in the story of Esther.
Are we convinced that God is working in our circumstances?
Although we can't change some events, God can.
If we need rescuing, He can do it. But are we convinced?
Does our faith take a chance, as Esther did, trusting God?


LET IT GO

Ask God to make me a woman of faith.
Trust Him in my life situations.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Remain Faithful

O. T. #1079  "Remain Faithful"
Oct.12, 2017
Summary of Nehemiah

LET IT GLOW

In review of the history of the Jews up to this point in time, they had been taken in captivity for 70 years in Babylon/Persia. Zerubbabel was allowed to take the first group, being 46,697 Jews, to Jerusalem to resettle and rebuild the Temple in 515 B.C. The journey took 4 months to travel 900 miles. King Cyrus gave them the captured Temple vessels, including those made of  silver and gold to be returned to their right place. Zerubbabel was appointed the first governor and Jeshua the first priest in the new community. Adversaries had cause the reconstruction of the Temple to stop for 14 years, but it was eventually completed.

During the next 57 years, the Jews slipped away from the Lord. Then Ezra took the second group of 1,754 Jews to Jerusalem. His mission was to teach God's Law, stir revival and reformation, and renew Temple worship, which was accomplished. King Darius supported this effort.

There was a gap of 12 before Nehemiah led the third group of Jews back to Jerusalem. King Artaxerxes supported them, making Nehemiah governor. His purpose was to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, which only took 52 days. Nehemiah remained there for 12 years before returning to Persia.

When Nehemiah heard about the terrible oppression and defeated spirits of the Jews, he was deeply grieved and spent days in prayer. Being a cupbearer to the king, Nehemiah was allowed to go on the journey. (An unknown number of Jews accompanied him.) His constant and wholehearted devotion to God is seen throughout this book. Also seen is God's faithfulness to His children as He guided, protected, and provided whatever was needed in each circumstance.

Have we experienced this same God working in our life?
Great is Thy faithfulness Lord unto me.


LET IT GROW

As Nehemiah encouraged the Jews in their repairing and rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, he faced external opposition. Enemy leaders of surrounding lands were afraid the Jews would conquer them. They used ridicule, insults, mockery, conspiracy, and lies in the effort to discourage the builders.

Internal struggles came as the poor Jews did not have enough food for families while building, so they mortgaged fields and homes to buy food, and borrowed money to pay Persian taxes. Nehemiah led the Jews to restore their love for their neighbor families.

Through it all, the wall was completed. Jerusalem was safe from their enemies. Revival came to the people and the nation of Israel. Fear, discouragement, and selfishness were overcome. Guards were placed on the wall at the gates. The wall was dedicated. sons were sung. The Word was read. People prayed, recommitted to serving God, gave tithes, loved their neighbor. Yep, I'd call it a revival.

Then it happened, gradually, while Nehemiah returned to Persia to give his report to the king, for about 3 years. Jerusalem became a mess spiritually. When he returned, Nehemiah found the Jews were violating God's Laws. They intermarried with unbelievers, desecrated the Temple, ignore the tithe and Sabbath. We read this week of Nehemiah's strong arm of discipline and the reform of Jerusalem.

But this book ends on a good note, not like the sour beginning. Nehemiah held a purification service for the priests, reestablished the offerings, and prayed for God to remember and favor him. Here his last words recorded, found in Nehemiah 13:31b are Remember me, O my God, for good.

The purpose God had for Nehemiah's life was accomplished. This man of prayer was also a man of action, responsibility, vision, and compassion. Through it all he remained faithful to God and God remained faith to him.

LET IT GO

Remain faithful to God.
Serve Him with my life.