June 4, 2019

Today you should read: Esther 6:1-14

What do you think of the story of Esther?  Those people that say the Bible isn’t interesting are crazy!  In chapter six you see that God has such a great sense of humor.  Just to catch you up in case you aren’t following the plot:

  • Esther is made queen – even though she’s a Jew
  • The villain – Haman – is upset at Mordecai (Esther’s uncle) because he won’t bow to him
  • He’s knee deep in a plot to exterminate the Jews and Mordecai knows about it
  • Mordecai asked Esther to speak to the king about
  • Now God has allowed Haman to get caught in his own trap and he doesn’t even know it yet

God’s Running the Show…

It’s much easier to see how God orchestrates things for our good and His glory when reading a story like Esther.  It’s like watching a game from the top of a stadium – you can see it all. You can see how He worked it out for Mordecai to squeal on the assassinators and for it to be recorded in the records.  You can see how he gave the king a no-sleep restless night – so bored he would listen to the history books being read. You see how Haman just happened to be coming to see the king at the right time.

God works like this all the time in your life too!  Sometimes to bring you blessings – sometimes to bring discipline and correction into your life.  He directs our lives in order to cause us to grow and bring Him glory. So quit kicking and screaming and submit to His mighty plans.  It will be easier on you and allow you to be much happier and spiritually productive.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  Romans 8:28

Leave the Vengeance to God…

What would have happened if Mordecai had taken things into his own hands?  Why do we think we can fight better than God can? When somebody hurts us, the best thing we can do is turn it over to God.  Vengeance can be subtle, we can get caught up in it before we realize it.

Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.  Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.  Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge;  I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Romans 12:18-20

Questions to think about today…

  • I am watching God at work in my life and in those I love?
  • In what ways am I trying to run the show – rather than submitting to the plans of my Father?
  • Who am I trying to extract vengeance on?  
  • What would God have me do?

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

June 3, 2019

Today you should read: Esther 5:1-14

God is at work behind the scenes, even when it doesn’t feel like it. We’ve already talked about how this book doesn’t mention the name of God, but that God is present and working none the less.

Today we see that he is continuing to work through Esther to protect his people Israel. Esther is growing in her influence with the king, and she is scheming to expose the wicked plan of Haman, who is seeking to destroy Mordecai and the Jews. Esther is wisely trying to gain their trust and favor by throwing a feast for them.

Haman, on the other hand, only exposes more and more his wickedness and pride. He leaves the feast to brag about his rising influence to his wife and friends, and talks about all his advancements, but also how he cannot stand Mordecai. His wife says he should hang him and put him to death in order to put and end to it, and he agrees.

There are many different principles that we can draw from our passage today, but the one I can’t help but think about is the different paths that Esther and Haman are taking on the road to power and influence. Esther is growing in influence and using that growth for the good of God and his people. Paradoxically, Haman is using this growth for his own glory and kingdom. I doubt many of us are seeking to build our own kingdom through planning something so wicked as mass murder, but many of us have more subtle things that we pursue every day that feeds our pride and self-centeredness and does not increase our godliness.

Is there an area of your life that you have been seeking more of yourself than God recently?

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Associate

June 1, 2019

Today you should read: Esther 4:1-17

The problem in our story has been introduced. Haman has convinced the king to issue a decree that all the Jewish people be executed because of Mordecai’s refusal to bow down to him. Haman was a prideful man of power while Mordecai was a noble man. The king issues the decree and the Jewish people mourn.

In our reading today, the scene opens with Mordecai and his people tearing their clothes and mourning because of the decree that will eliminate them as a people. Mordecai knows Queen Esther, a Jew, is their only hope of survival, so he asks her to beg the king for mercy.

Mordecai’s request would be an easy one to fulfill, but Esther reveals that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without invitation will be put to death unless he holds out his gold scepter. There is much risk involved in going before the king, and Esther would be reasonably scared. Mordecai replies in a peculiar way:

“…Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14b

Esther is the only book in the Bible that does not mention God. There is no mention of Jesus, God, Holy Spirit, angels, Satan, cross or resurrection. But in this one statement, Mordecai gives us a clue into how God, though not mentioned, is at work. This book is a fantastic example of how God works providentially. God often works behind the scenes in order to accomplish his plans.

God orchestrated this entire story in order to reveal his goodness, kindness, and protection of his people. From the queen being removed in chapter one, to Esther being installed as queen, to Haman’s plot, to Mordecai’s mourning, to Esther’s bravery and boldness, God was at work even though he was not mentioned.

We serve an active God, who loves us and orchestrates our lives to bring himself glory and to grow us into the image of Christ. Often times, we search for God to work miraculously in our lives. God certainly works miracles! However, it is my fear that we might often neglect to think about how God is working providentially in our searching and longing for God to work miracles in our lives.

Do you notice the subtle ways in which God is providentially at work in your life? Take some time today to think about how God is working in your life for his glory and for your good.

By: Lucas Taylor — West Campus Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

May 31, 2019

Today you should read: Esther 3:1-15

It’s amazing how one man’s righteous convictions can produce such consequences as the potential genocide of an entire people group. That’s what Mordecai learned in chapter 3 of Esther. Because Mordecai obeyed the 1st Commandment and didn’t do what is the underfoot of most besetting sins, he upset Haman so much for not bowing down to him that he started planning out the mass killing of God’s people. Of course, as we continue to read Esther, in God’s sovereignty, this is what God uses for Esther to take such a stand to help save God’s people and point to Jesus as our Redeemer and Savior. But before getting there, it’d be good for us to read today’s Scripture and really reflect on the importance of doing what’s right in God’s eyes, even if we’re scared of the potential consequences it can bring. I know Mordecai probably didn’t know his refusal of idolatry would potentially wipe out his entire people. But he certainly knew it would put his own life and family in danger. However, he didn’t buckle to the power and temptation of safety and position. He kept his witness and didn’t turn a blind eye to the evil of idolatry or coming up with some lie later pretending like he thought it was God he was bowing down to.

The book and movie Silence reflects on similar themes and situations dealing with convictions and what may seem like picking between the lesser of two evils. Sometimes we feel like we’re in similar situations with decisions at work or school, in church or with politics. What’s right in God’s eyes may not seem the most logical of choices according to the world but we don’t live by the world’s standards or view of success. We’re each accountable to the Lord and the Lord alone. Sadly, this is why many churches have covered up abuse because they thought that the suffering of a few victims was better than the suffering of an entire church with the PR scandal it produces. But is that right in God’s eyes? Absolutely not! Like Mordecai stood before the Lord in judgment for how he handled the temptation to bow and worship Haman to the risk of other’s lives, he had to answer for such tough decisions. Sometimes these situations are more gray than my above example. But let today’s Scripture serve as a reminder that we will face such decisions and will need to live with all consequences.

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor