Saturday, August 19, 2017

August 19: Esther 4 – 7; Psalm 36; Proverbs 21:21-22; 1 Corinthians 12:1-26



Overview

            Esther: Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes. He approached the king’s gate and mourned there with other Jews, fasting and lamenting. Esther was told and she sent Hathach one of the king’s eunuchs to inquire about the problem since Mordecai would not change clothes and come in. He told Hathach about the decree to kill all the Jews and gave him a copy of the edict. He asked him to ask Esther to intercede with the king.
            Queen Esther replied that she hadn’t seen the king in 30 days and to approach him without being called could mean death. Mordecai replied that if she didn’t help she would not be spared and perhaps this was the very reason she became queen. She then asked Mordecai and the Jews of Susa to fast three days as would she.
            After three days, she went to the king. He welcomed her and asked what she wanted. She said she wanted him and Haman to come to a feast she prepared. Haman went home and bragged to his family about how important he was but was angry about Mordecai. They advised him to have Mordecai hung the next morning.
            During the night, the king couldn’t sleep so had the book of memorable deed read to him. It told of Mordecai alerting them to the plot to kill the king. He wanted to honor Mordecai so he asked Haman how to honor someone and then had Haman do all that for Mordecai. When Haman told his family, they said he would not be able to overcome Mordecai if he is Jewish.
            The eunuchs came and hustled him off to the second feast prepared by Esther. At this feast the king again asked her what she wanted and she asked him to save her people. He asked who wanted them destroyed and she said it was Haman. The king was angry and Haman was hung on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.
            Psalm: David starts with the fact that wicked people deceive themselves by thinking God doesn’t see or punish them. He then speaks of God’s unfailing love and righteousness. He expresses the benefits of living in the shadow of God’s wings delighting in him. He ends by asking for love to continue for the righteous and protection to keep evil people from turning him away from God. He looks back on evil people and sees them as being crushed.
            Proverbs: If you pursue righteousness and kindness, you will live a life with them and honor also. A wise man can find a way to defeat a mighty person by attacking what he trusts.
            1 Corinthians: Paul now takes up the question of spiritual gifts. While they were pagans, the Corinthians were led by idols. Now, only those led by the Holy Spirit can say Jesus is Lord and will never curse Jesus.
            There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but only one God works in them for the good of the church. The Spirt gives them as he decides and they are: word of wisdom, knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning spirits, tongues, and interpreting tongues.
            The body of Christ is like a human body with different members that do different things. We were all included in the body by the Spirit whatever our race or social status. One part can’t tell another part it is not a part of the body or is less important. God designed the body and we honor some parts and treat other parts with more or less modesty. But God is the one that gives honor to one member or another so that there should not be any division in the body. If one part suffers all suffer and if one part is honored the rest of the members rejoice with it.

What Stood Out

            Esther: “On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus” (Est 6:1-2).                                
            Psalm: “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings” (Ps 36:7).
            Proverbs: “A wise man scales the city of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust” (Prov 21:22).
            1 Corinthians: “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Cor 12:11).

Insight

            Esther: God’s sovereignty is seen over and over again in the book of Esther. Mordecai speaks of it when he tells her that the rescue of the Jews is probably why she was the one selected to be queen. It is shown earlier when Mordecai stopped the attempt on the king’s life and he was not rewarded at that time. It is shown again when the king can’t sleep and just happens to have the chronicles read and the portion that contains Mordecai’s help without reward is revealed. It is shown when Haman is the one in the outer court and has to show honor to Mordecai. Haman’s wife expresses it by telling Haman he will surely fall before Mordecai. It is shown in the fact that the king didn’t remember that he had authorized Haman to kill the Jews.
            The next time you can’t sleep at night, it might be a good time to pray and ask God how your sleeplessness fits into his sovereign plan. The next time you hear bad news about yourself, others, the nation, or anything else, you can be sure that God is still in control. When you hear good news, it is still because God is in control. We may not know the reason for what is happening to us and around us, but we can be sure that our good, good God is working out his sovereign will.
            Psalm: That bad news mentioned above may be very devastating for us. However, David tells us how to weather the storms of life. We need to take refuge under God’s wings. That means we really need to believe with all our hearts and souls that God is good and that he is sovereign. He has no evil in him and he cares for his people, those that have faith and trust in him. Without that kind of faith in the only one who does have control over the universe and everything in it, the only other options are luck and demons. We know we aren’t really in control of very much at all so how do we account for the good or bad that happens outside of our control? If we believe in luck, then there is no personal relationship with God or anyone that has power to control luck. All is meaningless and chaos just happens. That means there is no guarantee of life after death. That is pretty dismal. If we believe in demons, then we have to try to discover how to please them so that they will work in our favor. That is also pretty dismal because they are universally equated with evil. The only real answer is to find shelter in God.
            Proverbs: Everyone has his vulnerabilities. When a person is wise and his adversary has something that he trusts, the wise man will not attack the man but the object of his trust. What usually happens is that the adversary is then angry. An angry person is unstable and easier to manipulate or get to do something that will be his downfall. How’s that for philosophy?
            However, when we trust in the Lord. And I mean really trust, not just head knowledge but as I said above, with all our hearts and soul, we are trusting in someone that can’t be harmed. We won’t become angry and fall because our trust is in the one who is in control of all. There is nothing our adversaries can do against us, no matter how wise they are. Satan is wiser than any human being but he can’t make us fall when we trust in Jesus Christ.
            1 Corinthians: Paul makes an analogy between the body of Christ, the church, and the human body. Just as we did not design our own bodies, so the church is given gifts by the Holy Spirit and this is not our doing. He is looking out for the best interests of the church and knows how it should function. Therefore, one person who has a different gift than another can’t tell the other that his gift is inferior than the other’s. While there are members of the church that appear to be more important than others because they have more public exposure, they are no more important than others.
            When we look at ourselves in this light, we should not think that we are any more important than others. Rather, we will have servant attitudes as Jesus commanded, then the church works best. We shouldn’t think that our spiritual gifts make us any better than any other person. The gifts that we have should be used for the church and not to make us feel important. I’m beginning to see that humility is needed regardless of the gifts we’ve received.

Application

             I need to continue to develop trust in the Lord. Every day I need to ask the Lord what he has in store for me and to see his working in and around me.

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