God’s Mighty Hand

Here we are at the end of our Esther study and I truly hope that you have been able to see this story in a new light. I pray that is has been a blessing to you and a means by which you have grown in the knowledge of your God. The story of Esther is a beautiful story of God’s perfect hand working through people and events. From a young Jewish girl being made queen and risking her life to help save the Jewish nation, to the steadfast faithfulness of Mordecai, and the downfall of evil Haman, Esther has a happily-ever-after kind of ending. Esther remains queen, the Jews are safe, and Mordecai is lifted up to a high place of prominence, second only to the king himself. What a beautiful ending. Before we close the door on this study I would like us to dig a little deeper and take a quick look at the doctrine of the providence of God. I love this doctrine, it allows me to catch a glimpse of the greatness and power of God which I find awe-inspiring, peace-filling, and worship-inducing. “For I know that the Lord is great; our Lord is greater than all gods. The Lord does whatever He pleases in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all the depths!” Psalm 135:5-6 We need to begin with a really good definition of what the providence of God is and the Heidelberg Catechism provides just that. The almighty and everywhere present power of God; whereby, as it were by his hand, he upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures;...

The Tables Were Turned…

After months of waiting, the sun finally broke free from the night and the dreaded day arrived, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. Yet God, in His amazing involvement in the story of Esther, had “turned the tables”. Though Haman’s evil plan could not be stopped, the Jews were able to defend themselves from their enemy’s attacks. The Jews went from possibly over-powered to having the upper hand. Now they stood assembled…united. Think for a second what the Jews must have went through as they waited months for this day to finally arrive. Each sunset drew them closer to their approaching doom. As days turned into months, the anti-Semitic mistreatment, which began first with Haman, had continued to grow day-by-day. Sleepless nights became a norm and fear increased with each approaching sunrise. But God turned the table on Haman’s evil plan and the Jews stood ready to defend themselves. Armed with the new edict written by Mordecai, the Jews had a choice to make.Would they simply defend themselves, or would they retaliate? The world tells us to fight back; “an eye for an eye” is the battle cry. Yet the Jews choose to restrain themselves and use self-control instead. “But they did not lay hands on the plunder.” It was a right they could have taken. The Jews had been given the same freedom to kill and plunder that their enemies had been given by Haman, yet they choose not to. They defended themselves and their families from their enemies, but they stopped and did not venture into the land of revenge. Though they...

Week 8: From Hopeless to Hope Filled…

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...

It Ain’t Over Yet

It ain’t over yet. All the events in our story have led us here to the moment when Haman is hanged on the very gallows he had meant for Mordecai. “So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.” {Esther 7:10}  Although I’m a bit squeamish about the severity of Haman’s demise, in my heart I am breathing a sigh of relief that justice has finally come. And I’m tempted to stay there. Rest in the small victory. Good overcame evil. I’ll stop there, thankyouverymuch. But this story of redemption is far from over. It Ain’t Over Yet. How many times have I done this in my own life, settled for the small win, instead of pushing through to final victory? Answer? A lot. Rather than pushing through, trusting God to see the mighty happen, I settle for the little win, and convince myself it is enough. I can think of many areas in which this is true….healthy eating, prayer, intercession for others, marriage, kids, I could go on. But as the dawn begins to break for Esther, as she sees the possibility of her people saved, she isn’t rejoicing yet. It Ain’t Over Yet. She still has work to do. God still has work to do. They aren’t finished. They are pushing on. And in the midst of this, let us never forget that our Almighty God is the real hero in this story of ultimate redemption, turning every story from tragedy to triumph. How can I make such a bold statement? Isn’t that a little over the top to say that every story is turned to triumph? Because He has...

When your identity is your deliverance…

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...

Week 7: Overcoming Worry

Welcome to week 7 of our Esther study. The King and Haman go to have dinner with Esther. Remember that at this point neither one of those men know that she is Jewish. I assume Haman felt that he could relax a little despite the events of the previous chapter. He knew that Mordecai was a Jew and that his death sentence had been signed and it was just a matter of time before the Jews would be annihilated, including Mordecai. While at the banquet, the King asks Esther what her request is. At this point Esther’s heart must have been beating out of her chest. It was time to reveal who her people were and ask for their salvation. I am sure that she must have laid in bed the night before nervous and possibly anxious. I would have been. If what she was going to reveal to the King angered him, it could cost her her life. I am sure she spent a fair amount of time battling anxiety and fear. This brings us to today’s verse. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phil 4:6 We are not to worry about anything! Why is that? Because worry is a sin. Yikes, that is a hard word for us. It is one of the sins Christ died for. Why is worry a sin? Let me mention just a few reasons. 1. WORRY IS DISOBEDIENCE TOWARDS GOD Twice in Matthew 6 Jesus tells us directly not to worry and yet it seems like no matter...
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