Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 1 August 18:
Note: Check out this video summary on Esther: https://youtu.be/JydNSlufRIs
1. Esther 1:1 – “Now in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces….” God let a weak king rule most of the known world.
2. Esther 1:10-11 – “On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded… the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus, to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at.” After seven days of drinking, king Xerxes let alcohol and his ego entice him to treat his wife poorly and in a humiliating way. Some scholars believe the king’s command was actually for the queen to wear ‘only’ her crown.
3. Esther 1:12 – “But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.” The king ruled most of the known world but could not maintain peace within his own home. The king and queen were not united. The first place to lead and to love is within the home. The king demonstrated his weakness at this foundational level. How many people want to be leaders of big things but have already demonstrated poor leadership within their own homes?
4. Esther 1:13 – “Then the king said to the wise men who knew the times….” The king could not or would not handle his own family problems and deferred to others.
5. Esther 1:18 – “This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s behavior will say the same to all the king’s officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty.” Discipline is not just for the lawbreaker but for the whole community, incentivizing standards of behavior.
6. Esther 1:19-22 – “…all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.” The king’s plan was to empower the men of the kingdom at the expense of the women. God gives different responsibilities to men and women but demands that everyone be treated fairly and valued equally.
7. Esther 2:1-4 — After a failed relationship, king Xerxes pursued another relationship based upon physical attraction.
8. Esther 2:5 – “Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai….” God was working His plan, unbeknownst to anyone, by placing one of His faithful servants at the right place at the right time. What plans is God working with your life? Are you ready for the moment?
9. Esther 2:7 – “He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.” Family takes care of family.
10. Esther 2:22, 23 – “And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.”
– Mordecai remained loyal to his captor king and saved his life; however, he did not seek the credit Esther gave him. Mordecai was not motivated by careerism or prestige but rather by faithfulness to God’s ways.
– God also orchestrated circumstances to prepare His people for future influence. Mordecai’s faithfulness to the ungodly king as well as Esther’s continued obedience to Mordecai were also used by God for His purposes. God calls us to be obedient and to trust that He is in control.
11. Esther 2 — God intricately arranged circumstances for His purposes, though no one could see it. Keep your eyes open to see what God is doing, what others don’t notice.
12. Proverbs 1:3 – “…to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity….” Wisdom and discipline go hand-in-hand.
13. Proverbs 1:7 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Fools despise wisdom and discipline.
14. Proverbs 1:24-32 – “Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.” There is a point of no return, a point where consequences are inevitable, when it is too late to expect mercy rather than justice.
15. Luke 8:3 — “Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.”
– These women used their wealth and prominence to resource Jesus’ ministry. How are you using your wealth and position to support the Great Commission? Jesus’ ministry was funded by the wife of the manager of Herod’s household. Joanna quietly played a critical role in the spread of the gospel. Indirectly, Herod was resourcing Jesus, secular resources transferred to the Kingdom through godly people. (see more below) God calls some people to serve Him by providing resources and influence. How do you serve God’s kingdom people. How do you bring L. I. F. E. to the church – labor, influence, finances, or Expertise.
– This easily missed verse has always fascinated me – through a woman, Jesus’ ministry was partly (likely largely) funded by the estate of Herod Antipas, the king of Galilee, executor of John the Baptist and coconspirator against Jesus himself. Little is known about Joanna other than she was the wife of the man who managed Herod’s estate; that she had been healed by Jesus; that her name means “Yahweh has been gracious”; that she accompanied Jesus and the Twelve, and that she was also one of the women who discovered the empty tomb of Jesus on the first Easter morning. From my studies, I only see her directly mentioned twice in the Bible, once here, and once in Luke 24 at the Resurrection. So, why does the Bible take time the mention her in Luke 8 and to point out that she (along with the other women) provided for the needs of the disciples? I think that this statement would be shocking to a Jew in those days. “How could Jesus surround himself with these unacceptable women and accept their ‘blood money’ in order to take care of his personal needs?” To me, the takeaway is best explained in 1 Corinthians 1: “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” It is God that makes someone righteous, nothing about themselves; and inanimate objects, such as money, are neither good nor evil and have no power in themselves. Paul traveled to Rome in a pagan ship with the figurehead of two gods, Castor and Pollux. Did that matter to Paul? Of course not – these carvings, though feared and honored by some, were absolutely meaningless to Paul who knew personally the One, True God. (See Acts 28) This Alexandrian ship dedicated to foreign gods was nothing more than transportation to Paul to fulfill God’s purpose just as, to Paul, meat sacrificed to idols was nothing more than food. Paul was considered by most, particularly the religious, to be an outcast and a criminal; yet while in chains he relentlessly proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ “with all boldness and without hindrance” because his righteous, worth, purpose, power, and position was defined by God, not by men. Though ignoble, Jesus Christ has made you noble, a priest, his personal ambassador. Are you bold in that position?
16. Luke 8:8 — “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Only those who really want to know the truth will learn and accept the truth.
17. Luke 8:10 — “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’” Unbelievers can’t understand God’s word because of their rebellious hearts and lack of Holy Spirit counsel.
18. Luke 8:13 – “And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.” Satan opposes God’s word.
19. Luke 8:15 – “As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” True followers of Jesus heed His word, grow in Christ-likeness, and bring others closer to Jesus.
20. Luke 8:16 — “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.” What good is hidden faith?
21. Luke 8:18 – “Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”
– Healthy Christians grow in Christ-likeness and influence others.
– How a person hears God’s word is critical. A careless approach to God’s word yields no fruit.
– If you are not growing your dying.
22. Luke 8:21 – “But he answered them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’” The family of God obeys God. God’s family is based on spiritual unity, not blood relation.
23. Luke 8:25 – “He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’” Faith requires that you trust Jesus over your own perceptions, experience, and knowledge.
– Faith often requires you to do what doesn’t seem to make any sense simply because God commanded you to do it.
– Understanding who Jesus is changes your perspective on everything.
24. Luke 8:28 — “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” The demons acknowledged and feared Jesus, but they refused to follow Him. God is not interested in believers but rather disciples.
25. Luke 8:35 – “Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.” Salvation brought total change to a tortured man.
26. Luke 8:38-39 – “The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”
– Salvation is not simply so that we can enjoy Jesus in isolation. We are called to share the Gospel with others.
– The man freed from Legion probably became the first missionary to Gentiles. Jesus did not want him to just enjoy his relationship with Him but to share it with others.
27. Luke 8:41 – “And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house….” Jesus ministered to both demon-possessed Gentiles and leaders among the Jews.
28. Luke 8:43 – “And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone.” Money does not solve problems, God does.
29. Luke 8:48-50 – “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” Faith is required for you to fully realize the blessings of Jesus.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 August 18: Exercise your faith by obeying Jesus and sharing Jesus with others regardless of how much it goes against ‘common sense’ and ‘sound judgment’. (Luke 8)