DAILY DISCIPLINE #88
By Colleen Donahue
There is a short, obscure book in the Old Testament that is usually overlooked, even by faithful students of the Bible. Scholars for years have questioned that ESTHER should even be a part of the Bible, for the name of God is not mentioned once in the whole book!
Yet, the more I have read and reread this book, the more I see its relevance for our lives today. Shakespeare does not appear in his plays, yet there is no question that his voice appears in every line and his orchestration is behind every scene. No one would doubt that he didn't exist just because they didn't see him on stage.
So our God and Creator is the "almighty playwright" that stands behind the curtains and directs the "Play of Life" in which we are leading actors and actresses! The world cannot see Him and yet He is no less real as He stands in the shadows and orchestrates the events of our lives.
Most of us will not see and hear God speak to us in a burning bush. Few of us will see a hand appear and write us a message on a wall. And not too many will receive word from God via one of His angels. No-- most of us live in a routine world. While it is easy to see God in the miraculous, it is harder to see Him in the mundane. Yet that is where we live.
God knows every line and action of your life. Silently He stands in the wings and directs. He knows the big picture and how you can best do your part. As we cooperate with our Director, we'll find an amazing harmony and balance unfold in the drama of our lives. This is what our story is really about. The scene unfolds in a particular place, at a particular time, and with certain characters --- but it is only an example of a life story in which God stands behind every event despite the fact that His name is not mentioned.
Let's see what we can learn in this study from ......
ESTHER --God at Work in Ordinary Lives Like Ours
GOVERNMENT & OUR LIVES: Read Esther 1:1-22
Day 1- What is God's guidance to us regarding our government leaders?
Romans 13:1/ I Peter 2:13-14
Day 2- How are we to respond to their laws and commands?
Day 3- Although we are to respect our authorities (and in this case extends to a husband), we must recognize that God's law is higher and above the laws of men. What should be our response to a command or law that violates God's higher law?
Daniel 3:18/ Acts 5:27-29
NOTE: God has written His laws upon our hearts so that even a pagan queen who follows her conscience can obey His higher law. In Esther 1:10-11 a crown is the same as a turban. Some Jewish scholars suggest that the command was for Vashti to appear unveiled and others suggest that she was to appear with just her turban and nothing else.
Day 4- To act according to God's higher law at times will bring pain, suffering, and unwanted consequences to our lives. Yet, what does God promise?
Job 5:19/ Psalm 91:3 /I Corinthians 10:13/ 2 Timothy 4:18/ 2 Peter 2:9
GOD'S PROVIDENTIAL CARE FOR YOU: Read Esther 2:1-23
Day 5- God's plan and care for us extends back through our families and is under His watchful eyes. In fact, it extends back to the beginning of time.
Job 10:10-12 / Psalm 139: 13-16 / Isaiah 44:2,24
Day 6- To the world, Esther was just an ordinary Jewish girl being raised by her uncle. But to God, He had chosen her for a special purpose. Is that true for you and I as well?
John 15:16 / Ephesians 1:4,11 / Ephesians 2:10
Day 7- God's plan for Esther took her out of the safety of her Jewish life and into the high and strange world of the government. God's call for us may take us also to new and strange places where we wouldn't choose to go. How are we to operate within such a situation?
I Peter 2:13-17/ I John 2:15-17
Day 8- What is God's promise to us as we walk in His will for us?
Psalm 25:9/ Psalm 91:4 / Philippians 4:7
THE EVILS OF LIFE: Read Esther 3:1-15
For saving the king's life, Mordecai should have been promoted, but he was overlooked for an evil man named Haman. This is an example of life when someone deserving is overlooked and righteousness left unrewarded.( Esther 3:1)
NOTE: " The roots of Haman's bitterness toward the Jews can be traced back to his family tree. He was a descendant of Agag, the Amalekite king whom Samuel finally killed. The Amalekites had remained bitter enemies of the Jews and the feud was taken up by Haman. Prejudice is a vicious evil. And it's hereditary, passed down from generation to generation." (Esther; by Charles Swindoll, Insight for Living, Anaheim CA p.32)
Day 9- Mordecai in refusing to bow down to Haman was respecting God's higher law for it would have been idolatry. Our devotion to God will at times be in conflict to what men expect.
Esther 3:2-4/ I Peter 3:9-17
Day 10- Haman's bitterness toward Mordecai was so deep that his satisfaction would only rest with the destruction of the whole Jewish race. Centuries later Adolf Hitler would dream of the holocaust to do the same. These are very real examples of how desperately evil the human heart can be.
Jeremiah 17:9 / Romans 3:10-18
Do we blame God for these evils?
"When souls become wicked they will certainly use this possibility to hurt one another; and this, perhaps, accounts for four-fifths of the sufferings of men. It is men, not God, who have produced racks, whips, prisons, slavery, guns, bayonets, and bombs." (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain; reprint NY;NY, Macmillan Publishing Co., Collier Books, 1962, p.89.)
WE ARE BORN FOR THIS TIME: Read Esther 4:1-17
Day 11- No matter where we live - outside the palace or within - we will not be exempt from the evils of this world.
John 16:2-4, 33/ John 15:18,20
Day 12- God does not keep us from the pains and troubles of this life but He guides us safely through it all.
Day 13- Therefore our response to adversity must be to look to God first as these Jews did in calling a fast.
Esther 4:15-16/ Psalm 121: 1-8
Day 14- Compromising with evil to save ourselves at the expense of others can only bring destruction in the end.
Day 15- We are born for a purpose greater than ourselves. Only as we obey God in serving those He has placed us with will our own life be fulfilled.
John 15:16 / Acts 20:24/ Ephesians 2:10
GOD'S WORK BEHIND THE SCENES: Esther 5:1-14
Day 16- Fasting and prayer not only prepares our own heart but it prepares the hearts of others involved in our circumstance. Notice how soft the king was toward Esther.
Esther 5:1-3 / Philippians 4:6
Day 17- When we wait upon God for the problem or person we are facing, then we can leave His presence knowing that HE will open the closed doors - HE will move in a heart - HE will give us courage to be patient, and to stand with conviction. So we can see this confidence in Esther. She does not pour out her heart in fear and anguish before the king but rather takes her time in preparing him to grasp the evilness of Haman.
Day 18- The scene, in switching to Haman, gives us a good picture of a person concerned only with his own glory, honor, and riches --- yet still dissatisfied.
Esther 5:9-14 (especially vs. 13)
GOD'S TIMING: Esther 6 & 7
Day 19- Have you ever been overlooked for some accomplishment that deserved to be rewarded? Mordecai had saved the king's life and yet nothing had been done for him.
Esther 2:21-22/ I Peter 5:6
Often a miracle is not that something happens, but that it happens in just the nick of time! God who is never mentioned in this book is busy behind the scenes - creating a split second timing that could not be better....
Day 20- First, the king's insomnia leads him to see the need to recognize Mordecai over 5 years after the fact!
Day 21- Then, the entrance of Haman at that exact time. We can see the irony as Haman himself suggests the honors for Mordecai and carries them out!
Day 22- Finally there is the fatal prophecy by his wife and wise men as to his destruction.
Esther 6:12-13/ Proverbs 15:25A
Day 23- God's timing is never late even if it seems slow in coming. Had this event (i.e. Mordecai's reward) happened earlier it would not have had the impact that it did at Esther's second banquet. Once God begins to work, His way is swift and sure!
THE WALLS BEGIN TO CRUMBLE: Read Esther 8
Day 24- King Xerxes (or Ahasuerus in Hebrew) had supported and endorsed Haman's plot to destroy the Jews and yet now we see a changed heart!
No matter how high or how thick a wall is around someone's heart God can break through it.
Day 25- Then Esther had the "wall" of Haman's first irrevocable edict to break through. Esther 8:5-8
And that wall crumbled quickly with permission to write a counter edict.
Day 26- Even what seems permanent can be changed in the annals of God's books.
Luke 8:49-50/ John 11:1, 11-15, 21-27, 37-44 / Romans 8:31/ I John 4:4
RETALIATION OR SELF CONTROL: Esther 9:1-16
Day 27- The Jews now had permission to utterly destroy their enemies including women and children and to plunder their material goods --- yet notice their restraint. Women and children are not mentioned as part of the retaliation, and three times we are told "they did not lay hands on the plunder".
Esther 9:1-16 (Especially verses 10, 15, 16)
Day 28- All of us are enemies of God while we follow our own will and the ways of this world. Yet, clearly God has had mercy on us, and leaves us an example of how we are to deal with the enemies in life once the tables are turned.
CELEBRATION: Read- Esther 9:17-32/ 10:1-3
Day 29- With the trauma of these days over, the Jews had great cause to celebrate. God's name has not once been spoken, but He had worked salvation for the Jews. The Feast of Purim was instituted as a monument to all generations of this time.
Esther 9:17-32/ 10:1-3
Day 30- God works his miracles in your life as He breaks down the walls keeping you from something and as He moves in someone's heart on your behalf. Don't forget to thank Him. Set up your own days of remembrance, and most of all celebrate because "He has done great things!"
Esther 9:27-28/ Psalm 100:1-5 / I Corinthians 15:57/ 2 Corinthians 2:14
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