pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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God at Work

Reading: Esther 9: 20-22

Verse 22: “Mordecai wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving of presents of food”.

Our passage today begins with Mordecai recording the recent events and sending this out in a letter to “all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerses, near and far”. Mordecai is writing to all the Jews for two purposes. In Esther 3 an edict had been sent out to all the provinces that on the 13th day of the month of Adar, all the Jews were to be killed. Imagine the horror and fear that must have swept through the Jewish communities spread “near and far”. The date would have felt like a ticking bomb. So the first purpose of Mordecai’s letter was to let the Jews know that they had been spared.

As important as this information was, the bigger purpose of the letter was to tell the story of how God had acted to save His people. Yes, being spared is super important, but the “how” is much more important. The letter must have detailed Mordecai’s faith and trust in God to act. It must have spoken of Esther’s course and trust in God. In both cases, it speaks of people willing to step up and stand up for God and for their faith. Thus, it encourages to do the same should necessity or opportunity arise. The letter also tells, more importantly, of how God was faithful too – guiding and orchestrating the events to rescue His chosen people from sure death. The letter ultimately reminds the Jews of God’s love and care.

In his letter, Mordecai declares the 14th and 15th days of Adar to be “days of feasting and joy and giving of presents of food” as the people celebrate God at work. These are the days immediately after the former date of their destruction. Mordecai directs the people to give gifts of food not only to each other but also to the poor. Just as God had cared for His people in a time of need, so too will they care for those in need among them. This act is also one more way to tell the story of God’s saving hand.

This story reminds us of times when God has been at work in our lives. These times are part of our story of faith. Like Mordecai, may we also share the story.

Lord, I recognize and give thanks for the many times that you have guided and cared for and even rescued me. May I use each opportunity today to tell the story of your love and care and faithfulness. Amen.


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Celebrate, Rejoice!

Reading: Esther 7: 1-6 & 9-10

Verse 3: “Grant me my life – that is my petition. And spare my people – this is my request”.

The Jews are living as a foreign people, living in exile, scattered throughout the land. In the midst of the foreign culture all around them, they are trying to hold onto their faith, their beliefs, their traditions. Over the years, the Jews have become a part of the fabric of society. One happens to win what is in essence a beauty contest and becomes the queen. Her Jewish faith is strong, but it is practiced privately. A man, her uncle in fact, also has kept his faith in God as an essential part of his life. In doing so, he refused to bow down to a high court official. This slight enrages the man, Haman, and he gets the king to sign an edict to wipe out the Jews. It wasn’t enough to just get revenge on the man.

As the date for the Jews’ destruction nears, Mordecai, the man who refused to bow down, enlists his niece, Esther, to help stop this evil plan. Esther also happens to be the queen. After fasting and praying for three days, Esther approaches the king and sets up a fancy dinner that includes Haman. It is in this setting that the king asks Esther what her petition and request are. Esther answers, “Grant me my life – that is my petition. And spare my people – this is my request”. King Xerses is outraged that anyone would dare to do such a thing to Esther and her people. Haman suffers the consequence, being hung on the gallows that he had made especially for Mordecai.

This is a great story of faith in God and of God saving His people. The story is remembered in a yearly festival called Purim. Corporately we also have great stories of faith that we remember each year – Christmas, Easter, Pentecost… We celebrate yearly to remember God’s love and care for us, His children. The story of Esther and many others in the Bible remind us of God’s presence and provision. This day may we rejoice in the stories of faith and in our own personal experiences of God’s hand at work in our lives. Thanks be to God.

God, thank you for the reminders of your steadfast love in stories like Esther’s. Thank you for your hand at work in our lives as well. Thank you for being my God and our God. Amen.


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For Such a Time

Esther became queen essentially by winning a beauty contest.  The old queen fell into disfavor with the king and was deposed.  The King of Persia was a powerful man – his words could make or break any and all.  While Queen Esther was obviously beautiful, she was also Jewish.  This was her little secret in the royal court.  The Jewish people had been living in captivity in Babylon for years and many lived in the capital city of Susa.

Esther and her uncle Mordecai were just two of thousands living there.  He had raised her and was like a father to her.  Haman was a higher-up in the court.  All were supposed to bow down and to honor Haman but Mordecai refused.  This greatly angered the proud Haman and he convinced the king to issue a decree to be rid of these disobedient Jews.  The decree went out and the date of execution was set.

Mordecai convinced Esther that she alone could save her people.  After praying and fasting for three days, Esther did go to the king.  It was risky – it was punishable by death to approach the king uninvited.  Mordecai’s words must have been echoing in Esther’s head as she approached the king: “And who knows but that you came to royal position for such a time as this?”

Esther stepped up and saved her people from an evil man’s plot.  Because of her faith in God she was willing to take a risk.  She stepped out in faith after praying and fasting, after entering into God’s presence.  Esther was just an ordinary person that God had placed there for “such a time as this.”  In each of our worlds there are things that are not right, things that are unjust and unfair. Maybe the wrong does not affect you or your kin, but you see it.  Perhaps, just perhaps, God has placed each and every one of us right where we are so that we too may step out like Esther to bring God’s justice and righteousness and love to those around us.

Scripture reference: Esther 7: 1-6 and 9-10