Thank you, and our {FREE PRINTABLE} gift for you!

Oh girls,

Our hearts are just plain full tonight.

These last eight weeks spent with YOU in the book of {Esther} have been nothing short of incredible.  It’s safe to say that we’ve laughed and cried with you, and just like you, we got honest with the work God needed to do in our hearts.  We’ve hung on every word of your stories celebrating victories and breakthroughs, and we’ve praised God again and again for revealing Himself throughout each chapter and verse. As we come to the end of our Love God Greatly {Esther Study}, we can taste God’s providence fresh and anew, and we pray that you can too.

So, thank you.

Thanks for your commitment to reading God’s Word with us, and for being vulnerable in the process.

Thanks to the hundreds of LGG Facilitators who led with such commitment and loving care.

And thanks be to our great God, who has faithfully and tenderly led us all the way.

As our way of saying “thank you,” we’ve created this {FREE PRINTABLE} for YOU!!

Let these words from Esther 4:14 be a reminder that you are a woman deeply loved by God, made for a purpose.

FREE Printable Bible Verse - Esther 4:14. "And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? " #LoveGodGreatly #FreePrintable

*Thanks to Sunu from clothedinscarlet.org for creating our {FREE PRINTABLE}!!

Click here to download the free printable { PDF Version}

Click here to download the free printable { JPEG Version}

*LET’S TALK: How has God used the LGG {Esther} study in YOUR life? Did any specific chapter or lesson stand out to you? What will you take away from this study and apply to your daily life? Let’s celebrate what God has done in the comments below!!

At His feet,

Our NEW upcoming study!   Join us for 'The Source of Gratitude,' from November 10th to November 21st!  LoveGodGreatly.com

Our NEW upcoming study!

When we think of thankfulness, we typically look to temporary things: our health, our family, the food on our table… All wonderful things to give thanks for! But the heart of gratitude should stem from a much deeper place…

Join us for ‘The Source of Gratitude,’ from November 10th to November 21st! During the first week of this study, we’ll take a closer look at who God is and what he has done. This will inspire us for the second week of our study, when we examine what our response should be.
Gratitude should permeate our lives each day of the year! When we glimpse of the greatness of God, our response of gratitude will follow.
We are so excited, and we can’t wait for you to join us!

Please note that there will be no formal enrollment for this study. Groups are not available unless you are already in one, but we invite you to study along with us here on the blog…or grab some friends to form your own group and study together. Either way works… the most important thing is getting into God’s Word!

When your identity is your deliverance…

Week 7 quote

I tried to hide my tears in church that morning.

I’m not a crier usually. My husband’s eyes were bloodshot by the time our wedding ceremony was over from the abundance of tears he shed… but me?

Nothin’, baby.

Not because I wasn’t deeply moved. Plenty moves me to my core. I just have a habit of smiling and holding it together most of the time. Seventeen years later, both personalities have served our marriage well.

But that morning was different.

Truth? My eleven year old caught a glimpse of my profile as we continued in worship, and he was so concerned about me that he came home and cleaned my house and folded my laundry for the rest of the afternoon. That’s huge, you guys.

Completely, utterly undone.

I could say it a million ways. Paint beautiful work pictures or dance around the truth, proving myself positive and strong. But none of that does any good tonight. Simply put, my heart needed redirected back to its proper place, and my tears were a result of the Spirit’s work in me. It was ugly, messy and beautiful all wrapped up in one.

I once again ended up at the foot of the cross.

We sang.

“Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe…”

Oh, how my heart needed to sing.

We sang words that focused on everything opposite of this world. Words that offered up praise instead of destruction. Words that lifted high the name of Jesus instead of elevating man. Words that had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Him.

“Oh, praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead…”

A whole new identity. Life over death. Sweet deliverance once and for all.

Deliverance that – let’s face it – I have to daily revisit as the world’s stormy waves smack hard against me. Headlines scream of international tragedy and national chaos, and our hearts scream of injustices even closer to home. And dare we admit, while the waves are bruising our backsides day in and day out, much of the time it feels like deliverance is too far out of our reach.

But in case you haven’t heard, the world isn’t winning…

“Your name is higher than the rising sun…”

“Hallelujah, name above all…”

“We exalt You…”

And yet so often we spend more time exalting an earthy identity that will only fade away…

Chapter 7 begins with Esther walking the tightrope between two identities: the one the king had always known, and the one he was about to find out. Each had its battling pros and cons; moments of comfort, security and clarity depending on the day… but ultimately there was only one identity that would bring real, lasting freedom.

The time had come for Esther to come clean. It was time for her true identity to become her deliverance.

We teeter too, don’t we? Between the world and who we are in Christ, and sometimes it takes hard times and a revisit to the foot of the cross to remember where our true identity lies.

At the foot of the cross we meet unexpected, scandalous grace, and it’s only there where our true identity can be found.

I closed my eyes and sang some more.

No longer just words on a screen, but now life-giving words that sunk deep into my soul. Words that cleansed deep spaces; words that brought hope and healing to the war going on around me and deep down inside of me. And I let the tears fall freely. No longer tears of despair, but tears of great hope and freedom because I was reminded to Whom I belong. And listen right now, those waves don’t have anything on Him.

The battle rages on all around us, but sweet child of God…

“It is well…”

Has it been too long since you visited the foot of the cross? Drop to your knees in His grace today, and let your deliverance begin…

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,

for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

~ Joshua 1:9

At His feet,

*LET’S TALK: Would you be willing to share your stories of how you met Jesus in the comments section today? Because it’s always good to revisit – and rejoice – over our deliverance…

{Esther 5} ~ Entering the hard places with confidence…

Esther Bible Study Week 5

I wonder what Esther was feeling as she watched the sun rise on that third day.

“On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king’s palace…” ~ Esther 5:1

This was the day that Esther would either end up a hero or end up dead. Yeah. I’m pretty sure I would have been tempted to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and desperately pray that God would find some other woman – some other way – to save His people.

Why me?

Why here?

Why now?

These are questions we often ask God when He calls us to be brave in less-than-ideal situations. When we wake up on that third day and it’s time to take that step of faith and move from the preparation stage to actually doing the hard things for God. Oh we’re bold in the preparing, but when it’s time to take that next step? Isn’t there an easier way, Father? Surely there’s someone else who’s more qualified… more available… more – I don’t know – “built” to handle these kinds of things?

But Esther saved the doubt and the drama, and instead responded with:

“Then I will go.”

From preparation to service. From out from under the covers and into the hard places.

I want to crawl out from under the covers, don’t you? I don’t want to look back on my life and realize that in all of my hiding and avoiding and wishing hard things away, that I missed out on key opportunities to be used by God. At some point we actually have to get up, show up, and with much wisdom and trust in the One who holds the world in His hands, engage in the hard places He has called us to.

{If you’re unable to see this video, you can view it here.}

How can we confidently enter the hard places God has called us to, and become women that God can use? Together, let’s learn from Esther Chapter 5:

1. A woman God can use in the hard places is willing to take that brave first step…

It’s one thing to say you’ll do hard things, but it’s quite another to take that first step and stand in the “inner court,” risking it all. As we begin Chapter 5, we see Esther entering in to approach the king. A woman God can use does more than just talk. After proper preparation, she turns ideas into action, she follows through with her commitments, and she doesn’t let fear stand in the way of taking that first brave step, because she knows that the battle is the Lord’s (Prov 21:31).

2. A woman God can use in the hard places knows when to speak and when to remain silent…

The Bible is packed full of verses that talk about the tongue and its power. It has the potential to be used for good, but there is also great danger in speaking many words (Prov. 10:19). I find it beautiful, refreshing and convicting that as Esther enters the inner court of the king’s palace in Chapter 5, she wins the favor of the king without even speaking a word. A woman God can use knows when to speak and when to remain silent, because she knows it is God alone who has the power to move in the hearts of kings (Prov. 21:1).

3. A woman that God can use in the hard places earns respect instead of demanding it…

In Chapter 5, we see a stark contrast between the way Esther appears before the king and the manner in which Haman handles Mordecai’s irreverence to him. Esther is humble, deliberate and wise in her approach, and Haman responds with pride, wrath and vengeance. A woman that God can use earns respect instead of demanding it, because she finds her identity and worth in Christ instead of from the things of this world (Col. 3:3).

4. A woman that God can use in the hard places knows that God’s purpose for her life isn’t just about her…

The favor that is on Esther’s life to this point is really extraordinary. This girl has gone from orphan to Queen, and in Chapter 5, Xerxes is willing to offer her “even to the half” of his kingdom. But Esther doesn’t settle for comfort, and she’s not easily swayed by fame and riches. Esther remembers the task to which she has been called, and she remembers the lives that are at stake. A woman that God can use knows that God’s purpose for her life isn’t just about her, because she remembers a world in need of a Savior (1 Cor. 15:57).

This week, won’t you enter in?

At His feet,

 

*LET’S TALK: What holds you back from entering into the hard places God has called you to? What truths from Esther 5 can help you combat your fears?

{Week 5} Challenge: Psalm 143:5 says, “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” Take a few moments this week to look back on your life and recall a time when God clearly went before you, preparing the way in a difficult situation. Then write out a prayer of thanksgiving to God, acknowledging his power, presence and provision in your life.

Esther Study {Week 5} Challenge: Psalm 143:5 says, "I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done." Take a few moments this week to look back on your life and recall a time when God clearly went before you, preparing the way in a difficult situation. Then write out a prayer of thanksgiving to God, acknowledging his power, presence and provision in your life.

 {Week 5} Reading Plan:
Esther Bible Study Week 5 Reading Plan

 

{Week 5} Memory Verse:

Esther week 5 memory verse ~ Proverbs  25: 11  "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver."

 

Saying “yes” in the here and now…

I stood in the kitchen with one crying baby on my hip and another at my feet, and I watched him walk out the door.

Without me. Again.

I waited until I heard his car drive away before I crumpled into a pile on the kitchen floor and let the tears trickle quietly down my cheeks. The tears that I didn’t want him to see. Not only had it been a long day, it had been a long few months with no end in sight. Needy babies sixteen months apart and no sleep for nights on end can take their toll on a girl.

My tears might have seemed a bit more appropriate if he was headed someplace a little more - I don’t know – questionable. But you guys, he was going to … wait for it… church. We had sweetly talked about this, and it just made sense in this season. Feedings, a colicky baby and early bedtimes meant that I would stay, and he would go. There was no other way, after all, to satisfy this babe who had so adamantly refused the bottle. So there I sat, covered in spit-up, thinking of all of the things I could no longer do for God.

“Lord, I’ll do anything for you,” I had said.

As a little girl, I sat captivated week in and week out as I watched our pastor’s wife play the piano at the beginning of each church service. Her gorgeous long brown hair hung in ringlets across her back as she elegantly swayed with the music, and I remember thinking that she was doing a really great thing for God. “If you want me to be a pastor’s wife, I’ll do it,” I had offered God through a heartfelt prayer. And after eight long years of piano lessons, I married an incredible, godly man…

Who just happened to be a pharmacist instead.

That pharmacist and I sat knee to knee in a pew, years later, and were deeply moved by the message. They were missionaries from all over, and their riveting stories spoke of a need to further the gospel in a way that burdened us to our cores. After we couldn’t stand the nudge in our hearts any longer, we walked an aisle, fell to our knees and with hands gripped tightly together whispered, “Lord, send us, if it’s Your will.” And we meant every word of it.

And then He didn’t.

Over time, the deep urge to be a part of something “big” for God would continue to come and go, but our restless hearts became content as we settled into serving more in our local church. We loved accepting roles and filling in and being parts of teams. Our contributions weren’t fancy, but we were willing, and it felt good to be useful for God.

And then those two babies came in a whirlwind.

And there I sat in that kitchen, with two crying babies wallering in my lap, longing for those days when I actually felt useful for God. Oh, I loved those babies with all that I had. I had prayed for them. Longed for them. Thanked God for them over and over. But if I couldn’t even go to the bathroom by myself, how would I ever begin to make a difference for the Kingdom?

And in the process of waiting to be great for God, I had missed a million little opportunities to honor His great name right there in my own home.

You see, “for such a time as this” doesn’t just include the big stuff. Oh, there may be some big, bold, exciting, risky God-opportunities that He calls you to along the way. Don’t miss them.

But daily, God is calling us to the here and now. 

esther4

{6 years ago: one day into becoming a mom of four, and one day after finding out that this journey would include a spunky little girl after all…}

Where you are? That’s no mistake. And whatever your here and now consists of, I promise that if you stop and take a moment to look around, you’ll find whole lot of Kingdom work to do. That precious generation of little people right in front of your face? They’re tomorrow’s church. Your neighbor across the street and opposite your cubicle? You might be the only Jesus they ever see. That meal you made, that note you sent, that check you wrote, that prayer you prayed? You may have just inspired someone to love God greatly with their lives.

All because you decided to say “yes” to the here and now.

Lots of people want to do the “big” stuff for God, but there’s nobility in living in the quiet, humble, consistent, invisible places where no one but God sees. He delights in those who are faithful in the little, because He knows that they are also the ones who can be trusted with much when the time is right. In the here and now, God is purposefully working and preparing and refining in ways that you and I can’t see. He did it for Esther, and He’s still doing it today.

“For such a time as this.”

“Even this, Lord?”

“Yes, my child, even this.”

So I never became a missionary overseas and I can’t play piano today for the life of me, but there’s this spunky little girl in my house who’s falling in love with Jesus more and more each day…

And the little turns out to be not so little after all.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…” ~ Luke 16:10

“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” ~ Esther 4:14

At His feet,

Esther {Week 4} ~ Preparing to be used by God, for such a time as this…

Esther Bible Study Week 4
This is it… the week with the famous chapter with that famous verse.

“For such a time as this…”

It would seem a romantic story to get to this well-known portion of the book, but the truth is, the glamorous, movie-like scenes of banquets and beauty treatments and wealth and honor are long gone once we hit Esther, Chapter 4.

No glam. No glory. No easy road from here. Even Esther’s position as Queen no longer guarantees her future.

And this unpredictable, winding, drama-filled road reminds me much of the Christian life. Oh, make no mistake, we know full well how that story ends. But final victory doesn’t guarantee a life filled with ease.

I remember well the beauty, excitement and overwhelming joy I had early on in my walk with my Savior. I had experienced Jesus’ sacrifice for me fresh and anew, and grace had rocked me to my core. I was young, hopeful, and willing to risk the things of this world in order to elevate the name of the One who gave His life for me.

And then somewhere – somehow – in the midst of all of the effort of living, life got complicated and a little too comfortable, and those risks – those sacrifices that once were worth it all – suddenly seemed too much to bear.

“For such a time as this?” God, I think I’ll sit this one out. Surely it’s someone else’s turn by now…

It wasn’t God who had changed.

No, God hadn’t become less sovereign or less trustworthy or less worthy of my all. I had just failed to see Him as I once did.

And even now in my humanness, my default is often to limit God before He has a chance to act. I want to know how it’s all going to turn out before deeming the risk worthy of the sacrifice. But when we limit God from working through us, we’re the ones who are missing out. You see, saying, “Not me, not now…” doesn’t limit God’s fulfillment of His plan, it just limits our participation in the greater story He’s writing that we can’t yet see.

So how do we prepare ourselves to be used by God? Consider these lessons from Esther, Chapter 4:

1.  Invest wisely now, because it will matter later.

Esther’s influence didn’t begin with one risky decision in the palace that day. A series of right choices (powered by Sovereignty) led her to a position of royalty and respect, which was crucial to her effectiveness when the time came to stand up for her people. What you do now matters. Whether you’re sixteen or sixty, investing intentionally today can lead to open doors for you to be used by God tomorrow.

2. There is a time to mourn, but don’t stay there.

Chapter 4 begins with an intense scene where Mordecai deeply mourns for his people, and understandably so: they have just been condemned to death. Think of how different, though, the outcome of this chapter might have been had Mordecai continued in that defeated role. At some point, Mordecai made the choice to transition from someone in bitter despair to that of key initiator in the action plan that would save the Jewish nation. Mourn for the appropriate time, but don’t let your mourning take away your hope in God and linger to the point where God can’t use you. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” ~ Psalm 30:5

3. Prepare for battle by first being still.

Though prayer is not specifically mentioned in this chapter, it is paired with fasting in the Old Testament. Before rushing into a risky decision hastily, Esther and others spent three days fasting and in prayer. How many times have I acted quickly, making rushed decisions before even consulting the Lord, only to look back and regret my haste? When we humbly submit to God’s authority, wisdom and strength in our weakness, bowing before Him in reverence and submission, only then are we properly prepared for battle.

4. Recognize the potential of your position.

God placed Esther in a specific place for a specific time. Her answer wasn’t, “Maybe later,” or “I’m not equipped as some,” or, “My life is in a pretty great place right now, and I really don’t feel like messing it up.” Instead, she took ownership of her influential role and didn’t back down when it meant that the road wouldn’t be easy. God places us in relationships at the workplace, the home, the church, the soccer field, the courtroom, the hospital room and thousands of places in between, and gives us each unique spheres of influence where we can live boldly for Him. Do you recognize the potential of your position, or are you spending your time just desperately wishing God would pick someone else?

5. Be ready to take the right risks.

Risk is a tricky thing, because there is a profound difference between foolish risk and God-exalting risk. That said, there are plenty of stories in the Bible where ordinary people took God-exalting risks, which led to God using them in extraordinary ways for His Kingdom. In the words of John Piper, “It is right to risk for the cause of God,” and in the words of Esther, sometimes – as risky as it sounds – it is right to say, “If I perish, I perish.”

6. Remember to Whom you belong.

When risk decisions arise, the story endings – more often than not – won’t always be clear. Outcomes aren’t promised in this world… only the final victory that we have through Jesus over sin and death. But with God on our side, we can obediently say “yes” to where He leads us, because His sovereignty always leads to our good and His glory. When we spend time in God’s Word, remembering who Jesus is and what He has done for us, we are once again reminded that we are safe in His arms, that He is more than capable to accomplish His will, and that He is more than worthy of our lives…


{If you’re unable to see this video, you can view it here.}

“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves,

but our competence comes from God.

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.”

~ 2 Corinthians 3:5, 12

At His feet,

*LET’S TALK: Which of these six points do you struggle with the most? Share in the comments section below, and I’d be honored to pray for you this week.

{Week 4} Challenge: Spend time recognizing the potential of your position this week. Identify your unique sphere of influence where God has placed you, spend time committing this opportunity to prayer, and then purpose to take one small step this week to prepare yourself to be used by God in this arena. 

{Esther Study Week 4} Challenge: Spend time recognizing the potential of your position this week. Identify your unique sphere of influence where God has placed you, spend time committing this opportunity to prayer, and then purpose to take one small step this week to prepare yourself to be used by God in this arena.

{Week 4} Reading Plan:

Esther Bible Study Week 4 Reading Plan

 

{Week 4} Memory Verse:

{Esther Study Week 4 Memory Verse} Psalm 32: 8 - I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.

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