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Friday, September 5, 2014

Lessons From Esther

I am brushing off the dust and cobwebs here...I haven't been to this place in a long time. More reasons exist than I could tell, but primarily my walk with God was stumbling and I was in no position to write. Honestly, I was in a spiritual desert...I had nothing to give. Then, something amazing happened!

God used a situation that was painful in someone else's life to bring new life to mine. Like a moth to the flame I was drawn back home and here I am..jumping in with both feet..not sure I can swim these waters, but God said come and like Peter I jump...hopefully not like Peter,  I will swim!

I welcome you to the  Good Morning Girls 'Blogging Through The Bible' series!

This week, so far we have covered the Book of Esther, Chapters 1 to 6 and it has been an incredible experience. For starters, I am co-leading (for the first time) an International Group  of about 32 and I can't tell you what an awesome experience it has been to see how the group has grown. Not just that, the entire forum for this study was buzzing with activity...still is! So many women around the world wanting to get into God's word and develop a closer relationship with him. Praise the Lord!

Esther has taught me so much about standing up for my faith, about courage, overcoming fear and waiting on the Lord. From Mordecai came the lessons on humility and standing up for my faith.

Wait on the Lord  

Psalm 37:7"Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for him to act"

 For a good portion of the book, Esther, like Judith, waited and was silent until the time came for her to take action. Perhaps in the silence she was listening to God. We do know that when the time came for her to take action, she went before him in prayer and fasting with the support of those close to her.  What a great example of living out faith in our everyday lives!

We always need to be listening for God's small still voice in our hearts. We can't do that when we are rushing around, crazy busy and noise all around us. We have to find quiet time with Him. Then, we have to listen and be obedient to what He is telling us to do. Esther's directive came from God through Mordecai. Sometimes God will use other ways to communicate with us, another person, a book, a song.

 Proverbs 14:8 "The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way"

 Ah, but Esther didn't just go out and do what Mordecai said, she sought the Lord first. Another example for us.. This is what we are called to do as well. When we think that God is directing us we seek to confirm that before we go out immediately and act upon it. While she fasted and prayed, I believe that God gave her a plan. This is why she didn't immediately tell the king about Naman's treachery but invited them both to a banquet instead.

Obedience in Action/Overcoming Fear

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them , fo it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you."

So Esther went before the King...did she tremble with fear? We are told she leaned upon her maid. She must have been weak from all the fasting and even those of us with faith would tremble before a lion (except maybe Daniel!) Some translations/commentaries hold that the king was not pleased at first to see her and when she beheld his countenance she fainted with fear. It took a lot of courage for her to risk death to obey God.

I had this same experience myself when I became pregnant with my fifth child and was told it would be a high risk pregnancy due to my other 4 c-sections. Was I scared? You bet...I had made that choice to obey God and not control my womb and what if this meant I would die because of it! Yes, all that crossed my mind and I bet that thought must have crossed Esther's mind as well... BUT, our God was still in charge and upon Esther's faint the king's  heart was changed and he rushed to her side, pledging her anything she wanted. Thus, was God's plan put into motion by Esther overcoming her fear. God even used that fear to change the heart of the king. Isn't that amazing?!

Standing up for God/Trusting in Him

Psalm 18:27 "You save the humble but bring down those whose eyes are haughty"

Let's look at Mordecai, He knew that Naman held great power and influence with the king. He must have known that his continued refusal to pay him honour could have cost him his life. Yet, he held fast to his convictions. His allegiance to God would not allow him to give honour to one of God's sworn enemies. Haman was an Amalekite.. a race God had sworn to always hold as enemies after they attacked the Israelites in the book of Exodus. God came first, man and man's laws next. So it should be for us as well. We should not compromise our values to fit in with the world. These days people are attacked for standing up for God. We see it everywhere..I don't even need to give you specifics! Mordecai's courage here is to be emulated. Let us pray that if we are called upon to take a stand for God we will be brave enough.

Mordecai also trusted that God would not allow Naman to destroy the Jews because of His promises to their race. He entrusted his life and that of Esther's to God in the fulfilment of His plan even though he did not know what that may have been. Yet he expressed to Esther that her elevation to the status of queen may have been orchestrated by God for this purpose.

Life Lessons to take with us

God has a plan for you and for me...we may not know what it is yet, but we can keep on listening, try to discern His will and be faithful and courageous to act if we are called to do so. Whatever life is throwing at us, TRUST that God has a purpose and plan for this as well.  When he calls you...be ready to act because God blesses our obedience.  Remain humble and don't seek recognition...God will reward our good deeds in his own time and we all know that His timing is perfect!

Next week we'll be finishing the book of Esther and I'll be finishing this article..there is still more to come.

 Note: The gorgeous pic above was taken by my sister in law Francine at the beach house we stayed in last weekend.