Week 8: From Hopeless to Hope Filled…

Esther Week 8 Header

Oh friends, we are winding down our study and what an amazing 8 weeks it has been! The study of Esther has spoken to me in ways I wasn’t expecting! Encouraging me, inspiring me and strengthening me as I look to my future and what lies ahead. I pray the Esther study has done the same for you!

(If you’re unable to see this video, you can view it here.)

Have you ever been in a situation or relationship that seemed hopeless? Maybe you’ve had someone in your life devise an evil plan to hurt you or those you love, and not even a ray of hope can be found in it?

Reading through Esther these past eight weeks and studying her marriage to King Xerxes, I would say the king lived his life detached from his wife, at best. Esther may have been an orphan girl turned queen, but her marriage to King Xerxes was no fairy tale.

He was a man who seemed to possibly have a drinking problem. Think back on how many events from our story center around banquets and wine.

He was a man who was easily angered. Who reacted first and thought later.

We know he was not a good judge of character. He surrounded himself with unwise counsel, whether it was Haman or his board of advisors. Need an example? Think back at the advice his men gave him when dealing with Queen Vashti.

If that wasn’t enough, it appears Queen Esther’s marriage to King Xerxes had cooled, since the king had gone 30 days without requesting to see her. Think about that for just a moment. 30 days without having any sort of contact with your husband… a woman could begin to feel as though she was forgotten, not needed… unloved.

To top it all off, Esther then has to muster enough courage to be the one who approaches her husband…to the point of risking her own life for her people, and at the encouragement of the only man who has truly loved her, her cousin and adopted father figure Mordecai.

I say all this just because my heart hurts for her.

As a woman.

As a wife.

She must have wondered at times if King Xerxes really was who she was supposed to be married to. Though her life looked glamorous from the outside, inside the palace walls it was far from a fairytale.

You can almost sense the heartache Esther was feeling in chapter 8 as she falls to her husband’s feet, weeping and pleading with him to stop the evil plan – which, may I remind you, he and his buddy Haman, “devised against the Jews.”

In his defense, the king seems almost shocked at his wife’s response to him. From his perspective, he had given her everything she wanted. Haman was dead and his estate was given to her, which she, in turn, gave to Mordecai. What more did she want?

But that wasn’t enough.

Because he really didn’t understand what she was truly after.

This wasn’t really about her… but about THEM.

Her people.

The king didn’t seem to comprehend the threat of disaster that was looming over Esther and her people, even after Haman was dead. The evil edict was still in place, and something needed to be done about it. It’s as though the light bulb goes off and King Xerxes finally sees the severity of the plan he and Haman put into action.

And then something happens: a ray of hope shines on the situation.

King Xerxes begins to understand the seriousness of the situation, and his heart turns toward his wife and her people.

What was once hopeless is no longer.

God is at work and deliverance is on the horizon.

Now instead of being divided on this issue, they are united.

Though the previous law cannot be stopped, King Xerxes gives Esther and Mordecai the power to write another edict, allowing the Jews to defend themselves on the day planned for their annihilation!

Have you ever been in a situation that seemed hopeless? If so, be encouraged today that God, in His timing, can change the situation. He brought hope and deliverance to Esther, Mordecai and all Jews living under King Xerxes’s reign! He did it then, and He can do it again!

What was once a hopeless situation can be changed to a hope filled situation when God works through His people!

Let’s Talk: Have you ever went through a situation in your life where you felt hopeless? If so, how did God work in your life to move you from hopeless to hope filled?

Love God Greatly!

angela

 

 

 

Week 8: Reading Plan

WK 8 Reading Plan

Week 8: Memory Verse

Esther week 8 memory verse

Week 8: Challenge

Weekly Challenge w8

Pride, Honor and a Royal Mess…

Week 6 quote

It’s like he’d rehearsed this moment for years… His dreams are about to come true… He’d seen this scene play out in his mind before. He’s wanted it so badly he, at times, could almost feel the weight of the royal robe around his shoulders. He’s listened long enough, he could almost hear the cheers and applause of the people in the streets as his name is proclaimed through the city… “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”

Oh yes, this was a dream Haman had dreamt many of times. Now, finally it was about to come true! “Of course the king wants to honor me. I serve him the most, the best! Why would he want to honor anyone else, except me?”

Haman lived in a world of “I’s” and “Me’s”…he was his own best admirer.

He may have been a man of wealth, but his heart longed for something money couldn’t buy… honor.

Did you notice how many times he mentions the word “honor” when he describes what should be done for this special person? If not, let’s take a closer look:

Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!'”

Know anyone like this?

“This is the guy who talks about how much money he makes, how many kids he has, how necessary he is to the king, how important he is.” – Charles Swindoll

And no sooner do the words leave his mouth as he finishes sharing his dream of all dreams with the king, when we get to see God’s sense of humor in our story… “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse…”

This moment may have been five years in the making, but it was well worth the wait.

You see, Haman was full of himself and God was getting ready to shrink his head size down a little… if you know what I mean.

In Romans 12:3 we are urged not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought, but rather think of ourselves with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given us. In other words, don’t be prideful.

“Pride is a state of the heart that, sooner or later, is betrayed by the mouth.”- Beth Moore

Isn’t that true in Haman’s case today! The pride that has been bubbling up in his heart finally spills out like an overflowing bathtub with too much Mr. Bubbles in it. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who has experienced this!) The sight just isn’t pretty. It’s messy.

Pride flows from Haman’s heart through his mouth and he’s about to have a royal mess to clean up.

You see, sweet friend, it’s not that Haman thought well of himself – it’s that he thought a little too well of himself. His identity wasn’t grounded in Christ, but rather in who he (Haman) was and what he did. His identity was grounded in what the world valued rather than what God valued. He preferred to be honored in front of men, not in the eyes of God.

And we are about to see such an amazing contrast with Mordecai. So hang tight for tomorrow’s reading – it’s one of my favorite parts of this whole story!

For today, realize this truth. God doesn’t call us to poor self-esteem. Rather, He wants us to find our self worth not in what we do but rather in whose we are. Our self worth is found in our identity in Christ, and in Him alone.

Let’s stop living for the applause of many and instead live for the applause of the only one who truly matters anyway. May our dreams be different from those of the Haman’s of this world. May our lives not be about “us,” “me,” or “I,” but only about Him… Not for our honor, but for His.

Love God Greatly!

Angela- Good Morning Girls

The Power of the “Pause”

Esther was a queen who knew the power of when to speak and when to remain quiet  ~ Angela  #EstherStudy #LoveGodGreatly

I can almost imagine the scene…

A beautifully decorated table adorned with all the king’s favorites. From first course to last course, every detail of this important night was purposely planned and executed. Esther was a queen who knew her king, and her king liked banquets. He liked them a lot actually.

So what better way to speak to her king on her people’s behalf than to first invite him and his buddy to a special meal! Come on girls, we all know one of the best ways to our men’s hearts is through their stomachs! Esther was no fool.

But something happened that night at the banquet. Somewhere between appetizers and dessert, Esther sensed God guiding her to wait in sharing her request with the king. Imagine how hard that must have been! The pressure of thousands of men, women and children’s lives were at stake. Her words had to be perfect, the meal flawless. Everything needed to go exactly as planned…and then it didn’t. Personally in situations like this, I’d just as rather get it over with than extend the agony of waiting one more day and planning one more dinner party. But not Esther. She was a woman who was willing to wait on the Lord, even if it didn’t make sense to her at the time. Her trust was firmly planted in God, in His will, and in His timing. She was willing to wait if that was what her Lord was guiding her to do.

And so she waited.

“If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.” Esther 5:8

Esther was a queen who knew the power of when to speak and when to remain quiet.

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in setting of silver.” Proverbs 25:11

The right words said at the right time, in the right setting… that’s what Esther was aiming for. Sometimes we know what needs to be said, but the timing is off. Esther felt God press the delay button and so she postponed her request.

 

“God put it into Esther’s heart to delay her petition a day longer; she knew not, but God did, what was to happen in that very night.”- Matthew Henry

God was busy working in Esther’s period of waiting.

He does the same for us.

Sweet friend, don’t be discouraged if you are in a season of waiting. Don’t loose heart if you feel like God has had you press the “pause” button. Maybe it’s the desire to get married, but the right guy hasn’t come into your life yet. Or maybe it’s the desire to start a family, yet God hasn’t blessed you with a child. Maybe, just maybe, it’s in the silence, the unanswered prayers, the delay…in the pause of life that God is working behind the scenes, writing an amazing turn of events story that is yet to be revealed.

Sometimes I think God does some of His best work in the “pauses” of our lives.

Don’t lose heart, sweet sister, if you are in a “pause”…you never know what God’s tomorrow will bring.

A sleepless night was on the horizon and an amazing turn of events was in the works.

Let’s Talk:
What has God taught you in the “pauses” of your life? Let’s encourage each other today!

Love God Greatly!
Angela- Good Morning Girls

One Year…

 Just when your “enemy” seems to have the upper hand, place your trust in God and realize that the day set for your destruction may actually be the day of your deliverance. ~ Angela

“In the twelfth year of King Xerxes, in the first month…they cast the pur in the presence of Haman to select a day and month. And the lot fell on the twelfth month…” Esther 3:7

One year….did you catch that?

The Jews had one year to prepare for the day of their deaths. The month and day for the Jews extermination, set by Haman, was one year away. Can you imagine hearing that one year from now, all Christians in our country – from youngest to oldest, men, women and children – will all be killed? I shudder to think what it must have felt like to live with that threat looming over their heads for a full year? The stress, the anguish…the fear.

Once the date was set, Haman approached King Xerxes with his evil plan. Notice how cunning and sly Haman was when he told King Xerxes about these “certain people” in verses eight and nine.

First we see that Haman depersonalized the Jews by not mentioning their name; instead, he refers to them as a “certain people.” We have seen this same tactic in the Nazi death camps of World War II when Hitler had numbers tattooed on his Jewish prisoners arms and deliberately took away their names. Numbers are anonymous, vague and don’t initiate emotions…but names do, “Mordecai the Jew.” Names are personal, specific and recognizable.

Haman goes on to describe how the Jews are “dispersed and scattered in all provinces”, throughout all areas of King Xerxes’s kingdom…a kingdom that included Israel.

Their customs are “different from those of all other people”, in other words they don’t fit in. Nothing could be further from the truth. We learned from Joy’s post on Monday, that the Jews assimilated almost too well into the Persian culture. King Xerxes himself didn’t even realize his own queen was Jewish.

“They do not obey your laws”…if I’m not mistake, wasn’t it Mordecai, a Jew, who protected King Xerxes from an assassination attempt by his own personal guards?

It is not in the “best interest to tolerate them”. In other words, it was not in Haman’s best interest to tolerate them. Remember, Haman was an Agagite, a descendent of King Agag of the Amalekites who happened to be ancient enemies of the Jews (Exodus 17:16, 1 Samuel 15:20 & Deuteronomy 25:17-19). Hatred has a history and is passed down from generation to generation. No one is born prejudiced; we learn it and then pass it on to the next generation.

Finally, we see Haman even throws in the added bonus that he will help pay for this evil deed (verse 9). And where do you think Haman planned on getting the money to pay for the men who would carry out this decree? Why from the Jews themselves, of course! Haman planned on plundering the homes and businesses of all the Jews who would be killed, pocketing some for himself I’m sure, and then enticing the king with the rest.

Make note: even though Haman was a half-truth speaker, a deceiver and finally an all out liar, he was not dumb man. Through the cunning and crafty use of his words, Haman was able to convince King Xerxes to put this horrible plan into action.

But remember – what Satan plans for evil, God uses for good.

Though this decree was unthinkably evil, God used it to unite His children. Despite what Haman claimed, maybe the Jews had assimilated a little too well into the Persian culture. Maybe, just maybe, God was allowing this to happen so that His children would remember who they were, how He had delivered them from evil in the past through their dependence on Him, so they would once again turn back to Him.

I believe we all, at one time or another, have “Hamans” in our lives. People who speak lies about us, hate us for what we stand for, men or women who are prejudiced against us for one reason or another and even sometimes devise “decrees” to do us harm. But take heart my sweet friends! Though in this life we will have trouble, Jesus reminds us in John 16:33 that HE has overcome the world!

I think it’s time for His children to once again unite, stand firm on His Word, and pray our hearts out for a world that doesn’t know Him. In faith we can trust Him in the hard days knowing that He is at work.

Our lives are a lot like Esther’s. We may not see Him, yet we know He is with us, working in and through all the different events of our lives. Nothing is random.

Sweet friend, I don’t know what “Hamans” are in your life right now but I do know this: God can bring growth out of your pain. Though you may feel unseen, He sees you right where you are. Just when your “enemy” seems to have the upper hand, place your trust in God and realize that the day set for your destruction may actually be the day of your deliverance. Press on, persevere and look for His fingerprints in your life!

 

Let’s Talk! Share with us what God is teaching you through this week’s verses!

 

Love God Greatly!

Angela- Good Morning Girls

Esther Week 1: Fear or Faith…We all have a choice

Esther Week 1 Header

Sweet friends,

I am so glad to have you join us for our Fall study in the amazing book of Esther. It is not a coincidence that we will be going through this powerful book the next eight weeks for “such a time as this.” Before we begin, I want you to personally know that you have been prayed over. Whether you have been a Christian since you can remember and your Bible is well worn, or you are new to the Christian faith and this is your first time to read God’s Word…..you are welcome here. We have had an amazing turnout to our Esther study and I can’t wait to see all that God has planned for us as we journey together verse by verse in the coming weeks.

For those of you who are new and are unfamiliar with our SOAP method, here is a post that better explains it.

Okay, let’s get started… I simply can’t wait any longer!!!

God’s Word truly is amazing! Esther is a book that was written around 470 B.C. and is about an orphan girl in ancient Persia and her incredible journey to become queen of the powerful Persian empire. Through God’s sovereignty and Esther’s willful obedience, He used Esther to save her people from annihilation. Like Jen mentioned last week, even though God’s name is never written in the book of Esther, His divine fingerprints are all over it. We learn from Esther that there is no such thing as “coincidence,” and though God may seem distant or even absent at times in our lives, He is not. Don’t be fooled… happenings in our world are not coincidence, nor are they random. Though fear may creep in at times we must remember that no one: not a king, president or terrorist can destroy God’s plans for His people. This amazing story of a “nobody” who becomes a “somebody” is for all of us….especially in light of our world around us.

We live in a day of uncertainty. But every day as we open our eyes to welcome the blessing of another sunrise….we have a choice. We can choose to live our lives in fear or we can choose to live our lives in faith. Esther models this choice for us. Be encouraged as we read this powerful true story together that God is in the details of Esther’s life as well as your own. God’s will is accomplished through the good, bad, happy and painful days of our lives.

No matter who is in charge in our countries, God is still on the throne in heaven.

We live in challenging days. Like Esther thousands of years ago in ancient Persia, our world at times can feel like it is spinning out of control…and that evil is winning. But take heart my sweet friends, and cling to the assurance we find in Deuteronomy 31:6…

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

God is always with us.

He will never leave us nor forsake us.

We are called to be strong and courageous, which tells me that there will be times in our lives when we have to choose either a life of faith or of fear.

But take heart, God will accomplish what He has started. Philippians 1:6 reminds us of this truth:

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

And though this life can be hard, disappointing and at times heartbreaking, we cling to the truth that we find in Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

As we begin this study together, I pray you will be encouraged by Esther’s example and choose to intentionally live a life of courage, self-sacrifice and full of faith. We may not have all the answers. Situations in our lives may be out of our control…but we can choose to focus our lives on Him, the One who has all the answers and has the whole world “in His hands.”

Our confidence and faith are anchored in Him.

Let’s Talk:
Since today is the first day in our study, we’d love to know where you’re joining us from and what one thing you are looking forward to learning more about in the book of Esther!

Week 1: Video

(Can’t see this week’s video? Click here!)

Week 1: Reading Plan
wk 1 reading plan- Love God Greatly

Week 1: Memory Verse
Love God Greatly-Esther week 1 memory verse

Week 1 Challenge:

Week 1 Challenge image

 

Love God Greatly!
Angela- Love God Greatly

 

 

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