Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 9 March 2023:
Esther 8:9 — And an edict was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded concerning the Jews….
Esther worked within the system to save her people. There is no point complaining about what you cannot change. Work within the current situation on the things you can change.
Esther 8:11 — The king allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them, children and women included, and to plunder their goods.
God’s people were protected by a law that established their right to self-defense. How much do Christians in America care about the 1st and 2nd Amendments of the Constitution?
Esther 8:16 – The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honor.
Overnight, God can turn the greatest tragedy into the greatest joy.
Acts 21:4 – And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days.
God intends for His people to seek out and prefer one another. Arriving to a new town, Paul found other Christians, and they took him in and cared for him. This is the way God intended Christians to be. On travel, do you seek out local Christian fellowship? Do you welcome and support Christian travelers?
Acts 21:4, 14 — And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem…. And since he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, “Let the will of the Lord be done.”
Through the Spirit, the disciples told Paul not to go to Jerusalem, two separate groups, two separate times. Yet, Paul would not be swayed, eventually resulting in his death. Both Paul and the disciples had access to the Holy Spirit. Why wouldn’t Paul listen to the community of believers? Why would God warn Paul had He not wanted Paul to change course? The Bible doesn’t state whether Paul was right or wrong in going to Jerusalem, and much debate continues in the church today on the matter. While avoiding speculation, we can take away a few clear points: God uses a community of believers to reveal more truth than an individual can obtain on his own. God often uses more than one believer to confirm a word. God calls us to “test the spirits.” God may warn you in order to prepare you rather than to hinder you. God’s plan for your life is ultimately between you and God. Others might provide sound council, but you must decide. Finally, if you are wholeheartedly committed to serving God with your life, He will honor your decisions and use you to glorify Himself.
Acts 21:8, 9 – Philip the evangelist… had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied.
Young girls were prophets in a time when young girls were not expected to speak in public. The Holy Spirit breaks down common social barriers. What impact can an evangelistic father have on his daughters?
Acts 21:39 – Paul replied… “I beg you, permit me to speak to the people.”
As mentioned in previous comments, Paul was single-mindedly intent on spreading the Gospel to as many as possible, which guided his response to every situation –
- Romans 15:20 — I make it my ambition to preach the gospel….
- Romans 1:14, 15 — I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So, I am eager to preach the gospel….”
Paul risked his life to preach the truth of the Gospel in the Temple — “They [the angry mob] were seeking to kill him” and beat him ruthlessly. (Acts 21:31, 32) Paul’s life was saved by soldiers who arrested him and decided to take him to the barracks. However, Paul appealed with the tribune to let him speak to the mob even more before departing. “Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language….” (Acts 21:40) Wow! Now, that is focus and commitment to the Gospel!
Put yourself in Paul’s shoes: You tried to share the Gospel with some people, and you were beaten nearly to death and arrested. Would you then, rather than simply leaving quietly under protection, turn right around and share the Gospel with those same enraged people again? Hopefully, you don’t have too many people in your life who would rather see you dead than hear you share your faith, but do you have this sort of heart for those who persecute you? When persecuted, do you defend yourself, remain passive, or proclaim Christ? Unfortunately, it takes far less than a bloodthirsty mob for me to regularly lose sight of my calling from God to be His ambassador, making the most of every opportunity (good or bad) to share to Good News. How about you?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 9 March 2023: Today, pray for wholehearted Gospel commitment and boldness in sharing the Truth, both for you and for all believers.