Haman’s Pride and Prejudice – Part 2 (The Rest of the Story)

Esther 6-10

When we left you yesterday, evil Haman was going to go in the next day and ask King Ahasuerus to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had built in anticipation. Now we will find out the rest of the story. During that night the King was having trouble sleeping so he asked for his book of records to be brought to him and read out loud. In it they read the story of Mordecai saving his life. He asked how they had honored him, and they said that nothing had been done for him. And Mordecai had not ever tried to get any special recognition for this act of bravery.

When Haman shows up that morning to visit the king, he asks Haman, “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” Haman, thinking he must be talking about him, says, dress him in a royal robe, put him on a royal horse with a crest, and then have a prince lead him through town, proclaiming before him. The King said, Quick, do everything you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who saved my life. Not quite what he envisioned.

The King and Haman go later that evening to the special banquet with Queen Esther. Once again, the King tells her she will receive anything she asks for, up to half of the kingdom. Chapter 7:3 “Then Queen Esther answered and said, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request.” Our enemy will have us destroyed, killed, and annihilated. He asks, “Who is this enemy?” she replies, “The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman!” Haman pleaded for his life, but the king sent him to the gallows that he had built for Mordecai to be hanged. King Ahasuerus gave Queen Esther Haman’s estate, and gave the signet ring that he took from Haman to Mordecai because the Queen appointed him to manage things. Then she begged the king to stop the decree that Haman had already sent out to kill the Jews. He had another decree sent out that allowed the Jews to protect themselves against anyone who would assault them. The Jews overpowered those who hated and wished to destroy them.  After two days of fighting, they enjoyed a day of rest, celebrating their victory with a feast. Mordecai made a decree that the Jewish people would celebrate this holiday every year as a time when, God through Esther, saved the lives of the Jewish people and the evil plot which Haman had devised failed and returned upon his head. His ten sons were also killed on the gallows. The days of Purim are still celebrated by the Jewish people today. King Ahasuerus advanced Mordecai in his kingdom until he was second only to the king. Chapter 10:3 says: “For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.”

This story reminds me of how faithful God is to his children. I am reminded of Genesis 50:20 when Joseph told his brothers, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” The things Haman had devised were evil, but God was able to turn it around for the good of His people. God had orchestrated so many things to be in place to save them. We need to trust God, even when we are going through hard times. We need to realize that we are not going through them alone, because God has promised that he will be with us.  It also brought Ephesians 3:20 to mind, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Queen Esther asked for her life and the life of her people. She was given that and more. The King gave her the estate of Haman and Mordecai was able to advance to the number 2 man in the kingdom, even though they were Jews. He became very powerful and influential, and it says in the last verse that even with all his power, “he was seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all of his countrymen.” Mordecai was a wise man and he used his life to lead people to seek God and live a life according to his will. What purpose have we been made for, let’s be courageous and trust God and let him use us as He wills, let’s seek good for others as we work for God’s glory.

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to on BibleGateway here – Esther 6-10

Tomorrow we will finish up the book of Ezra (7-10) and then just 2 more books to read in the Old Testament before we get to start the New Testament next Wednesday.

Be the Good in the Crazy

ruth 2 12

Ruth 1:1 “In the days when the judges ruled…”

If you’re reading along with this Bible plan and read yesterday’s blog, you might expect to read more about people “doing as he/she saw fit” as you read the introduction to Ruth.
Thankfully, this book of the Bible is nothing like Judges. We read about individuals who are faithful, loyal, hardworking and honorable.
If you’re paying attention to the news lately you’ll hear a mixture of very sad statistics right alongside stories of people doing good. And that’s one of the things that I appreciate about the book of Ruth: while all sorts of people are ignoring God’s Law, there are still righteous people, like Boaz, doing the right thing.
So while you are quarantined to your homes, what good and right thing can you do? It starts with how you treat and speak to those with whom you share a living space with. Do you find yourself with spare time on your hands these days? Instead of increasing your screen time, what good and right thing can you do for your neighbors (while maintaining your social distance, of course)? Maybe because your social calendar is empty, you actually have some spare change in your pocket. What good and right thing could you do for your church and/or community with that extra cash?
So while we are living in extraordinary times, you have the prime opportunity to do something special. Be faithful. Be loyal. Be hardworking. Be honorable. Be Christlike.
Bethany Ligon
Today’s Bible reading is the Book of Ruth (just 4 short chapters worth the read).  You can read or listen to it at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ruth+1-4&version=NIV
Tomorrow we begin the book of 1st Samuel (chapters 1-3) as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan .  Or, there is no time like today to start!  

Revelation and Double Fulfillment

Revelation 17

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Today is a bit longer. Please bear with me to the end.
Before we start this devotion, please go read Isaiah 7:14. 
Is that verse about Jesus? 
According to Matthew 1:23, the answer is a clear and resounding yes. Now, go back and read Isaiah 7:14, 16-17, 8:3-4, 10. It would seem that Immanuel is also a reference to Isaiah’s son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, who is the child of a/the young woman, and his title (Immanuel) shows the people that God is with them (Immanuell literally means “with us is God”). 
I know that may be some new information for you, but this is what I want you to see : When Isaiah gave the Immanuel prophecy, he wasn’t JUST talking about something that would happen hundreds (700+) of years in the future. He was talking about something that was going to happen SOON, that would impact King Ahaz’s life in just a few years time. Did he speak about the future as well? Matthew says yes, but that’s not all he speaks about.
This bit of insight is helpful to have in mind as we read Revelation 17 (or if you have already read it, as you go now and re-read it). Many who read the text of Revelation focus on the future aspects of the book. When will it happen? (Some people say : “Always just around the corner!”) Who are Gog and Magog? (“Always enemies of our country, like Germany, China or Russia!”) Am I prepared? (“Buy your food kit now!”) But, just as the prophecies of Isaiah meant something for the people of his day, we MUST recognize that the prophecy and revelation of John meant something to readers of John’s day.
And John’s readers knew what he meant. There are things that are hard to understand about the scene he saw, but he made it clear enough that they would have understood at least SOME of it. The picture is of a prostitute/harlot/whore sitting upon a beast. She commits sexual immorality with kings, she rides upon a beast, gets drunk on the blood of the saints. She has many names.
Woman who rides upon the beast, through hints we see in this text, is Rome (and by extension, the Roman Empire). Rome is a city sat upon seven hills (v.9). Rome is the great city that has an empire over the kings of the earth (v.18). Rome, like Babylon the Great before her, destroyed the Jewish Temple, and therefore Rome was acting in the “spirit of Babylon”. (v.5) The sexual immorality committed by the kings of the Earth is their worship of the Emperor as “the son of the gods” and “god-in-flesh”, which was discussed in an earlier devotion on Revelation, when the author spoke about the imperial cult. (v.2) Most importantly for the first readers, this woman was drinking the blood of the saints; that is a poetic description of what they were experiencing under the persecution of Rome.(v.6) 
When John uses all these images, we are given a powerful picture of the spirit of any empire that moves against Christ. And that is true in every age and in every place where there are empires drinking deeply the blood of saints and worshipping that which is not God. What we must always realize is that both in the day of John and our own, the truth is that Christ will conquer them all. Verse 14 says “These will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” 
Could there be another city that will sit upon 7 hills, with kings, and be Babylon the great? Maybe. All of Revelation 17 could happen again in the future, with other systems, empires, and rulers. But verse 14 will be always and forever clear : whoever makes war against the Lamb will be defeated. The Lamb will conquer them by his power.
 

Brothers and sisters, we stand with him. We are called. We are chosen. No matter the persecution of the Dragon, the Beast or the Harlot, let us remain faithful. (v 14)

 

Jake Ballard
(Jake Ballard is Pastor at Timberland Bible Church in South Bend, IN. He lives in the Michiana Area with his wife and daughter. If you’d like to say hi you can find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jacob.ballard.336  You can also hear more teachings at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs_awyI1LyPZ4QEZVN7HqKQ Otherwise, he is available on all hailing frequencies, by using the Palantir, and via carrier pigeon, though it’s getting colder in South Bend. God bless you all!)

God Hears

Revelation 8

Revelation 8 4 NIV (1)

 

The book of Revelation is a dramatic masterpiece that I would love to see in a comic book one day. The author, John, uses tremendous action, suspense, plot twists, and so much more! When we finally come to chapter eight, there is a great tension that is set up by the author. We have seen that the Lamb at God’s right side has finally broken all seven of the seals that bind this important Scroll from chapter five, and we are anxiously awaiting to see what it contains.

 

Unfortunately for the reader, we will have to wait a little while longer before we learn what this Scroll says, as John builds our anticipation even more with the introduction of the seven trumpets that bring about God’s judgment. John is looking to whet our appetite even more for the contents of the Scroll, as we see what God is going to do to those who have persecuted and killed His people.

 

Back in chapter six, when the fifth seal of the Scroll was broken (6:9-11), we were introduced to these Christian martyrs who had been killed for their faithful preaching of the gospel. They cried out to God, begging Him to vindicate them and enact judgment on those who had killed them. It is these prayers for vindication that God is responding to with the seven trumpets that are introduced in this chapter. In 8:3-5, an angel is going to take these prayers that are rising up to God and throw them down on those who were responsible for these Christian martyrs’ deaths. What happens after, through these trumpets, are poetic images of God’s judgment raining down on those who have tormented and persecuted God’s people, similar to what happened in the Exodus story with Pharaoh.

 

While this letter wasn’t written directly to us in 21st century America, we can learn much from John’s address to the seven churches in Asia Minor. The key point that I have learned from this chapter is that no prayer goes unheard by God. He is going to respond to His people’s cries to Him, even if it may take some time. God is not unjust and will vindicate His people when they are being persecuted for being faithful to Him. So be encouraged today! God hears your prayers! He will vindicate you from the persecution that you face for being faithful.

 

Talon Paul

Servants with a Mission

1 Corinthians 4

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Let’s take a quick dive into 1 Corinthians 4.

Right off the bat we see several really good nuggets of truth in chapter 4.  “This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.  Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” 4:1-2.  Those of us who have accepted Christ into our lives have been entrusted with a knowledge of the transforming power of Christ, and we must be faithful.  Just like the servant in the parable of the talents who was required to earn a profit on the money entrusted to him by his master we need to be growing the kingdom.  Also those who are believers should not view themselves as being holier and better than other people, but as servants to all with a mission.

 

For those that have not yet accepted Christ into their life there is also a message here in verse 4, which says “ My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”  A lot of people can get in trouble because they only listen to their own internal moral compass.  The problem is that compass can be bent to your own desires, and when a compass is wrong you will never find your way.  This is why we need to check our actions against God’s teachings because in the end we will not be judging ourselves, but God will judge us.  Most people do not think that they are sinning in their life, but it is once we encounter Jesus that we realize the weight of our sin and the fact that we need his blood to cover all of our sins.

 

Thanks for stopping by,

Chris Mattison

Acts – His Witnesses at Work

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The book of Acts is one of the most exciting reads you will ever come across: action adventure, good guys, bad guys, left for dead, miracles, jail breaks, courtroom drama, angry mob, shipwreck, dramatic monologues, and some of the most fascinating characters of the early church.  The author, Luke, was the same Gentile doctor who wrote what is now the 3rd gospel – an account of Jesus’ life and ministry.  Here, in the book of Acts, his story continues with the Acts of the Apostles – the story of the early Christian church age.

 

Luke opens his account in Acts with the crucified and resurrected Jesus appearing to his disciples for 40 days, speaking about the kingdom of God (1:3) – obviously a topic near and dear to Jesus – so it should likewise be a topic we are passionate about.  Then, Jesus told his disciples, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (1:8). And as he ascends into the clouds, two men in white reassure the disciples that Jesus will return the same way that he rose.  And, throughout the rest of Acts, we see what happens when Jesus’ witnesses are faithful.

 

The promised Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and they were able to do many miracles and wonders, even speaking in languages that men from all parts of the world would understand the good news of Jesus and the Kingdom of God.  Most of the first half of Acts follows the disciples, particularly Peter, as they teach and preach and grow the early church.  Even amongst strong opposition the church grows, with many new believers being baptized and committing their lives, homes, finances, and families to following Jesus.  Some, like Stephen, even gave their life – as he was stoned to death for speaking the truth about Jesus, the Son of God.

 

Most of the second half of Acts tells the incredible – and true – stories of Paul.  It starts with the conversion of Saul who was persecuting Christians.  BUT – he changed and became the great apostle who went on 3 missionary journeys and wrote much of what would become the New Testament (but more on that tomorrow when we cover the 3rd Division of the NT – Paul’s Letters).

 

There are so many great passages in the book of Acts you just have to read it for yourself!  Not only are there amazing action stories, but you also get some wonderful sermon snippets and see what is most important to the early church.  You see their teachings, courage and priorities.

 

We are still waiting for that day when the clouds will part and our Lord and Savior will come down to greet his followers.  What a day that will be!  If you have read the gospels to see Jesus in action – then you are his witness.  If you have felt Jesus’ peace in the storm – then you are his witness.  May we be faithful witnesses ready for his return.

 

-Marcia Railton

Final Instructions

2nd Thessalonians 3

2 thess 3 13

This letter starts out asking for prayer that the word of the Lord spread rapidly and be honored. My favorite verse of this chapter is verse 3: “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” You may go through trials, but God is always with you. In the end He will prevail; we will be with him and other believers for eternity.

The 2nd part of this chapter tells us that we need to be busy…Not busybodies.  It tells us not to be idle and to stay away from those who are. We are to never tire of doing what is right. I know that is difficult at times.  Sometimes we don’t want to wait the 20 seconds to hold the door open; we are in a hurry to do something else or we just don’t want to help.  This set of verses tell us to live according to the teachings and continue our hard work.

It has been a pleasure writing the devotionals this week. Thank you Marcia for all the work you put into this every day! I would like to close the same way Paul does in verse 16 and 18: “16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”

-Jeani Ransom

Steadfast and Faithful

Acts 25

acts 25 7

The trial continues in Acts Chapter 25. Festus, a new governor, has come to power and Paul is under trial again. What a political sham! Everyone knows that Paul hasn’t really done anything to deserve punishment, but the influential Jews will not give up. Paul knows that if his fate is to be determined in Jerusalem he will not survive. He has to appeal to Caesar at this point.

Surprisingly, Festus has a real handle on the situation. He sees that Paul hasn’t done anything wrong. He just disagrees with the Jews on the resurrection and about Jesus. So he hands the case off to King Agrippa. It’s a total mess of a case. Some important people will be miffed if Paul gets let go. A leader’s popularity may be at stake here. Is Paul’s life really worth that? Finally, Paul must think the trial will end soon. There has to be a decision made at some point!

I picture a pitiful-looking fella appealing to the powers that be with kind words and loving eyes. He has just spent years in prison and the accusers really have no evidence against him. There is no case. Paul remains steadfast and faithful even though things don’t look so good for him. Could we do the same?

-Melissa New

Well Done

Matthew 25

well done

The Parable of the Bag of Gold:

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:23).

The Parable of the Bag of Gold, in Matthew 25, tells the story of a master who left on a journey and entrusted his wealth to three servants. The first servant received five bags of gold, the second servant received two bags of gold, and the third servant received one bag of gold. The first two men went off and put their money to work, making the most of it. The third servant, however, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

The master returned later on and was pleased to find out that the first servant had accumulated five times the amount of money that was entrusted to them! Additionally, the second servant accumulated two times the amount of money that was entrusted to them!

When the third servant revealed to their master that they had nothing but the original bag of gold, the master was outraged. He called the servant wicked and lazy for burying the gold in the ground, for they practically wasted it.

 

“For whoever has will be given more, and they will have abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Matthew 25:29).

 

This parable reflects the way that God has entrusted us with different gifts, talents, abilities, and responsibilities. As my friend Mackenzie once told me “if you prove you are faithful and diligent with what God has given you, He’s going to entrust you with more and more.” How are you using that which God has entrusted you?

 

-Kayla Tullis

 

GOOD!

Psalm 100

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I chose to write about Psalm 100 because of how much we can learn from it despite its shortness. This is a great chapter to read, and it only takes a minute of your whole day. The first thing I would like to point out is that in verse four it says, “Bless his name.” This verse is talking about God and how we should give thanks to him and bless his name. Now if you’re like me you might be thinking, why should we bless God’s name? Well, God blessing us and us blessing God are not the same thing at all. God does not profit from us blessing him. It’s not like he gets stronger or better anytime someone blesses him. On the other hand, when God blesses us, we benefit from it. In this verse, it is talking more about how we should praise him.

 

Throughout the whole Psalm, it talks about how we should praise God. As a church, I believe we should be more joyful, and excited. This Psalm is a great example of how we should praise God. It tells us we should serve God with gladness, shout joyfully, enter his gates with thanksgiving, and give thanks to God.

 

Usually when we think of ‘good’ we use it to mean something between ok and great. But in this passage, it is saying that he is righteous and about how great God is. This reminds me of the popular song below:

 

God is good, all the time

And all the time, God is good.

 

This Psalm is a great one to meditate on. Here are some points from Psalm 100 that you can meditate on.

God made us

We are the sheep in his pasture

The Lord himself is God

His lovingkindness is everlasting

The Lord is good

His faithfulness continues to all generations

Throughout the whole book of Psalms, it says, “His lovingkindness is everlasting”. In fact, it says it 34 times. Of those 34 times, 26 of them are all in Psalm 136. It even says it in every single verse.

Even in this short Psalm we can take so much from it.

-Makayla Railton