Lessons from Esther: Living Victoriously part 1

Our studies in Esther have brought us to the point where Esther is going to expose Haman and ask the King to spare her people. She has had to work hard and make some difficult decisions. We have to do the same if we are to win a spiritual victory.

The goal of our spiritual victory is life

Esther_Chapter_7-1_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request.” (Esther 7:3)

Esther knew only the King had the power over life and death. We have to realise where to find life and turn our attention there. Learn to identify the thieves and turn away from them. 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

We need a spiritual victory because our enemy is sin

And Esther said, “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. (Esther 7:6)

The king was unaware who was his enemy – he thought Haman was his most trusted advisor. We need to know who our enemy is and how to fight it. The truth will set you free – but are you prepared to face the truth?

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned– (Romans 5:12)

We also need to lay aside the pleasures of sin and acknowledge the harm they are doing us. 

We find a spiritual victory when God’s wrath is dealt with

Esther_Chapter_7-5_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Moreover, the gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, is standing at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the wrath of the king abated. (Esther 7:9-10)

We find a spiritual victory when we realise how serious our sin is and know that nothing less than a death will pay the price. The necessity for a death is hard to accept. 

The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:30-31)

That death could only be the death of God’s own Son, Jesus the King. Next week we will see what that death achieved, foreshadowed by what the King did for Esther.

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Find out more at www.annmariethomas.me.uk

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Lessons From Esther: Godincidences

A Godincidence is an event that could have been a coincidence, but all the evidence points to God being in control of circumstances. How often do we miss the move of God in our lives because we’re not paying attention?

In the book of Esther, the Jews were under threat of genocide, instigated by Haman, the King’s chief advisor. Queen Esther was trying to save her people, but instead of rushing to plead for their lives, she took her time. She gave God time to work.

Esther_Chapter_5-4_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

She invited the King and Haman to a private banquet, and at the banquet asked them to come again tomorrow. What difference could a day make? That night the King couldn’t sleep. He lived in his own world and seemed unaware of what was going on. He ought to sleep well. But on that night he couldn’t sleep.

Godincidence: The King didn’t realise the Jews were to be exterminated because Mordecai the Jew was still working at the palace. 

The King called for the chronicles of his reign to be read to him. He was reminded that he owed Mordecai his life.

Esther_Chapter_2-5_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. 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. (Esther 2:21-23)

Godincidence: The King’s sleeplessness enabled him to find out Mordecai saved his life. 

Suddenly the King had a high opinion of Mordecai, and when he heard that Mordecai had not been rewarded, he decided to honour him. The next morning he called for one of his advisors.

Godincidence: Haman is in court when the King wants to honour Mordecai. 

Haman is commanded to put one of the King’s own robes on Mordecai and parade him through the city on one of the King’s own horses. It must have seemed to Mordecai that his end had come, when Haman turned up at his house. Like in the Nazi era if SS officers turned up at a Jew’s house. 

Esther_Chapter_6-5_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

We looked last week at Haman’s pride, and his hatred of Mordecai. Imagine how he felt when the King commanded him to honour Mordecai. There was a massive shift overnight in the King’s attitude to Mordecai and the Jews, ready for the next banquet.

Do we look to see the invisible hand of God in our lives?  God is at work in our lives. Miracles happen every day, in small ways we might not even notice. Watch out for the Godincidences.

[Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media]

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Find out more at www.annmariethomas.me.uk

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Lessons From Esther: Pride Goes Before a Fall

Esther_Chapter_3-10_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

Because of his hatred for Mordecai the Jew, who refused to bow down to him, Haman tricked the King into signing a decree to kill every Jew in the kingdom. When Mordecai found out, he asked Queen Esther to plead with the King. But Esther didn’t rush things. She invited the King and Haman to a private banquet. This made Haman even more puffed up. 

Esther_Chapter_5-4_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. “And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow.” (Esther 5:10-12)

A lot can happen overnight. The King couldn’t sleep that night so he called for the chronicles of his reign to be read to him (maybe they were so boring they would make him sleepy!). He found something in there about Mordecai. Next morning, Haman was at court early. 

When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?” Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” (Esther 6:6)

But the King wasn’t thinking of Haman, he was thinking of Mordecai. All the wonderful things Haman suggested, thinking they would come to him, went to Mordecai. Not only did Haman have to see Mordecai honoured, but as the King’s chief advisor, he had to perform the honouring!

Esther_Chapter_6-5_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

Jesus taught humility, to think of yourself less than others and allow others to raise you up if they want to. Don’t seek honour, then you won’t be disappointed. 

When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’

Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’

Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:8-11)

[Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media]

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Find out more on www.annmariethomas.me.uk

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Lessons from Esther: God’s Timing

Our time, Chronos time, is measured in days, weeks and years. God’s time, Kairos time, is set in eternity. Kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning the right, or opportune time. The moment is right when God says it is.

Sometimes when in our Chronos time God seems to be silent, we must watch and pray for God to break in with Kairos time.

Esther_Chapter_4-5_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

I wrote last week about Haman plotting genocide on the Jews. Mordecai found out and sent a message to his niece Esther, who was queen, asking her to plead with the King.

[Esther’s message to Mordecai said,] “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law – to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.”

And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:11-14)

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Why doesn’t Esther tell Mordecai to wait and see if the King will call her in over the next few months?  There are eleven months until the edict is to be carried out. She realised that this was the moment, in God’s time, ‘for such a time as this’.

Sometimes God calls on us when it’s not a good time for us, but we need to trust in him. For Esther, Kairos and Chronos come together. In response to Mordecai she calls the people to fast, and fasting always goes with prayer.

It was the same when Mordecai was put aside. Why didn’t Mordecai go off in a huff because of being overlooked? He trusted that it would come in God’s time. God has been faithful in the past, we can trust him for the future.

Don’t put it off, whatever you’ve been called to do.

Use this verse during the week ‘for such a time as this ‘ and look for Kairos moments.

[Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media]

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Find out more on www.annmariethomas.me.uk

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Lessons from Esther: Take a Stand

Book_of_Esther_Chapter_3-7_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)Then Haman said to King Ahasuerus, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king’s laws, so that it is not to the king’s profit to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed, (Esther 3:8-9)

In the story of Esther, the Jews were in exile and she had been chosen from among the wives of King Ahasuerus to be his queen. But she and her uncle Mordecai had hidden their Jewish nationality.Esther_Chapter_3-2_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

The King had made Haman his chief officer, but Mordecai refused to bow down to him, because he worshipped only God. This was to be Haman’s revenge. The King gave him full authority to destroy the Jews.

In the first month, which is the month of Nisan, in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, they cast Pur (that is, they cast lots) before Haman day after day; and they cast it month after month till the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar. (Esther 3:7)

It is from the word Pur that the Jewish Festival of Purim takes it’s name. This is celebrated every year in honour of God delivering the Jews from Haman.

Esther_Chapter_3-9_(Bible_Illustrations_by_Sweet_Media)

So Haman had eleven months in which to arrange this slaughter. Proclamations were sent out to every province and every official in their own language, commanding them to slaughter every Jew at the appointed time.

All this because Mordecai would not bow down to Haman. Have you ever taken a stand against something you knew to be wrong? Whatever the consequences, they can’t be as bad as in this story. It’s important that you stand up for what you believe. Who knows what God will do?Refuse

Even if the consequences are dire, that is not a reason to betray your faith. There have been many people over the centuries who have not let circumstances or threats stop them from taking a stand. Even today, so-called ISIS are beheading Christians. Nigerian churches are being burned with the congregation locked inside.

Next to that, what is likely to happen in our western civilisation if you take a stand? Mocking? Losing friends (fine friends!)? Losing promotion or even your job? Think instead of how you will feel if you chicken out. Think of those who will be encouraged by your stand, to be more firm in their convictions. Think of the good you may do.

And who knows what God will do?

[Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media]

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Find out more at www.annmariethomas.me.uk

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Living Faith

This is my living faith, an active faith, a faith of verbs: to question, explore, experiment, experience, walk, run, dance, play, eat, love, learn, dare, taste, touch, smell, listen, argue, speak, write, read, draw, provoke, emote, scream, sin, repent, cry, kneel, pray, bow, rise, stand, look, laugh, cajole, create, confront, confound, walk back, walk forward, circle, hide, and seek. To seek: to embrace the questions, be wary of answers.

Terry Tempest Williams

Ann-Marie-Thomas-head-shot-80x90-300dpi-Web-Gravatar_thumb.jpgAnn Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Find out more on www.annmariethomas.me.uk
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Godliness

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness… (Titus 1:1)

Godliness

The gospel shapes our lives – it’s about understanding, which transforms hearts, and that leads to transformed lives.

The Bible is not about me, it’s about God, his character and purpose. In the story of Moses and the burning bush, when Moses protested that he was inadequate for the task, God answered his protestations with ‘I am’.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach. (Titus 2:11-15)

The gospel teaches us to live godly lives. The gospel is to be preached to believers so we can learn. What does gospel-shaped living look like?

HumilityWe forget who we were. There is too much talk, especially on Facebook, about ourselves. Gospel humility is thinking of myself less and others more.

 

JoyThe gospel is the best news anyone can hear. God is generous with his grace. When you have Jesus, you have everything. Therefore we have joy.

 

HopeAbove all, hope of eternal life. We are joint heirs with Christ. There are towns and villages teaming with people who think they have everything but are still unsatisfied. Whatever our circumstances, we have hope.

Take careful thought, treasure the gospel. Only the gospel can change our lives.

[adapted from a talk at Libanus Ladies Conference, June 2016]

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Find out more on www.annmariethomas.me.uk

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