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

{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."

 

The Guidance of God

 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;   I will counsel you with my eye upon you. ~ Psalm 32 : 8 #LoveGodGreatly

Chapter 4 of Esther shows us why Esther needed to be queen. God had orchestrated all things in such a way that when his people would be in trouble, through the evil of Haman, Esther would be there to extend her arm of help toward them.

Esther’s help would not be easy. The king had not seen her for a month, and no one, not even the queen, just walks up to the king. Not if you valued your life. And I am sure Esther must have been more than a little nervous about going before the King uninvited. Esther needed guidance and encouragement in the face of hard choices and God provided her with wisdom through Mordecai.

I’m the kind of girl who likes step by step instructions, the more detailed the better because I tend to second guess myself all the time. But life doesn’t come with detailed instructions like that.

How often do we wonder what our next steps should be? What is God’s will for my life in this circumstance?  Wouldn’t we all like for God to speak to us in a loud booming voice and tell us very clearly what we are to do? I sure do.

Discerning the will of God has been made much more complicated than it is. There really are only two ways in which God’s will is talked about in scripture. One is his will of purpose, and the other is his will of precept.

Through God’s will of purpose we end up where God wants us to be even though we may not consciously plan on being there. His will of purpose is his sovereign will–what he has determined will come to pass. We see this will of God throughout the book of Esther. God planned and orchestrated all the events within this book so that Esther would end up who she was and where she was in order to save his people. No one, and nothing can stop God’s will of purpose.

“But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.” (Psalm 115:3)

The other way God’s will is talked about in the Bible is his will of precept. This is what he has revealed to us and requires of us.

Chuck Swindol said that “the better you get to know the Word of God, the less confusing is the will of God.” Why is that? Because he has revealed his will for us in the Bible. What does God want from me? How does he want me to live? It is right there in the word of God.

Everything we need for life and godliness (1 Thess. 4:3; 1 Thess. 5:18; 1 Peter 2:15; Ps. 119:105)  is found within our Bibles. That is one of the reasons we are to study it so diligently. Is it easy? No, because our feelings get in the way and sometimes we just don’t like what we read. Other times the verses take some work to understand and quite frankly, we don’t always want to put work into it. But Spurgeon said that “Our responsibility is to seek out and walk in the good old paths (Jer 6:16), even if it goes against our own wills.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Our will sometimes hinders us in doing God’s will. We may not like what we read and we refuse to obey. This is not a godly response and it leads us to become stubborn and self-reliant. Our job is to work to align our will with God’s will–as revealed in Scripture.

We don’t have life all figured out, but God does. Esther has a hard task ahead of her, as she is guided by God’s will of precept (protect the innocent, honor the Lord) and prepared by God’s will of purpose. She must approach the king, and risk her life, if her people have any chance of being saved.

Are we willing to follow God’s leading even if it doesn’t feel good?

Feelings come and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God–
Naught else is worth believing.”

Martin Luther

One thing to remember is that while the Bible holds the will of God for us, it is also a book full of promises. The biggest promise being that where we have neglected and disobeyed the will of God Jesus has kept it and followed it perfectly for us.  God promises that everything is leading up to the return of Jesus and the salvation of his people. This is our hope and joy.

Looking To Jesus,
jen-sig

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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