Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 3 March 2023:
Esther 2:1-4 – King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done…. Then the king’s young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king…. And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so.
After a failed relationship, king Xerxes pursued another relationship based upon physical attraction.
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 when God will orchestrate circumstances for the perfect opportunity to do His will?
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.
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.
Esther 2 – Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter…. the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity….
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.
Acts 17:1-3 – And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”
True preaching focuses on the person of Jesus Christ.
Acts 17:10-12 – Paul and Silas [went] to Berea…. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.
Acts 17 begins with Paul and Silas in Thessalonica. Paul preached there, and some believed, and some didn’t. Those who were opposed to Paul’s message just wanted to shut him up and many reacted violently. Paul and Silas were forced to leave, and they went to Berea. The Berean response to Paul’s preaching was much different.
The Bereans are described as “more noble” than those in Thessalonica because they didn’t just listen to good preaching and form an opinion based on what they heard, they ‘examin[ed] the Scriptures DAILY’ with ‘ALL EAGERNESS.’ My prayer, and the point of this Bible reading fellowship, is that more Christians would be like the Bereans. Too often Christian’s rely on preachers, commentaries, and books from well-known Christian authors as their staple diet, seasoned with the Bible, rather than using the Bible as their staple diet, seasoned by preaching and secondary sources. Overreliance on secondary sources has resulted in shallow Christianity and malnourished, weak Christians.
Daily, prayerful Bible study is a basic, essential, and critical discipline of a true disciple of Christ. Daily prayer and Bible study time must be sacred and non-negotiable on your daily schedule. A good way to keep yourself honest is vow to eat nothing (no food) and read/listen to nothing in the day until you have prayed and studied your Bible. Note that for the noble Bereans, daily Bible study was not a chore, they did it with all eagerness. Note also that it wasn’t just the Jewish men, who had grown up on God’s word and were comfortable with God’s word, who studied it eagerly; Greek women (who had not grown up with habits of Bible study) dug into God’s word too. Daily Bible study is a habit everyone can and must acquire, and the younger a person starts the better. Don’t underestimate a child’s ability to read and learn straight from the actual Bible rather than a kid’s book about the Bible.
Jesus said, “’Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4) Which words from God are required for life? EVERY word from God, not just those chosen by others. Good preaching is essential, and secondary sources for Bible study are extremely helpful, but none of these are a substitute for daily Bible study. We are very blessed today through technological advances to have more access to God’s word than any other time in human history. But we also have more access to countless opinions from others on what God’s word means. Increasingly today, harried people just want the ‘answers,’ rather than paying the price of consistent study, prayer, and meditation to acquire true understanding. So, Christian resources have become a big business in America, with small-group Bible studies increasingly turning to study guides rather than the Bible itself. Also, popular Bibles sold today now include embedded commentaries so you can get ‘the main point’ as you read, as if God’s word weren’t active and the Holy Spirit weren’t there to counsel. I have met many, many Christians who have been attending church and Bible studies for years but have never read (much less studied) the whole Bible, though they have shelves full of books about the Bible. Also, I find when Christians talk with others, they often refer to and quote preachers and books more than the Bible itself. I think it is time we get back to the pure water of God’s living word.
- Ezekiel 34:18, 19 — Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
- Proverbs 30:5-6 — Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
- Deuteronomy 4:2 — You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.
- Revelation 22:18 — I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
- 2 Timothy 3:14-17 — But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
- 1 John 4:1 — Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Acts 17:23 – For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
Most people are searching for God in some way.
Acts 17:27-28 – that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, or “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
God makes it easy to find Him if you are looking.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 March 2023: Re-commit today to daily, consistent prayer and Bible study, going straight to God’s word and seeking the counsel of the Holy Spirit before turning to someone else.