The first time I read the Bible all the way through, I was 8 years old. Needless to say, I didn’t understand everything I read back then, but as I grew in Christ and became more knowledgeable, I realized that consistent study of the Word equips you in ways you never imagine. The Bible is, after all, the sword of the Spirit. You don’t usually internalize something just from reading it or hearing it only once. So regular study is a discipline that I have resumed this year. Ideally, I’d like to set aside quiet time for it daily, but I give myself the grace to miss a day here or there.
In 2007 I attended a 9-week women’s bible study on the book of Esther, right around the time the movie One Night With the King, (somewhat based on Esther), was released. I still have those notes, but decided to study the book again for another 9 weeks using Beth Moore’s guide, entitled Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman. Moore approached the book in a totally different way, and I’ve just finished it. My initial hope was that I would gain a lot of insight into Esther’s redeeming character traits, plus anything new revelations God wanted to send my way for this season in my life. After all, a lot has happened in my life since ’07.
One of the things that strikes me, despite no mention of God in the whole book, is His presence in Esther’s life from beginning to end. She was a female, an orphan, and a Jew– three things that would normally give someone of her time unfavorable status. Although she was very beautiful, she was also wise and humble. God’s favor and His hand in her life were apparent from the very first mention of her in Chapter 2 (there are 10 dramatic chapters in all). It started with the position Esther took on (she was crowned Queen of Persia in 479 B.C.), wisdom in conflict “for such a time as this,” (Es 4:14) and the resulting establishment of the Jewish celebration of Purim (473 B.C.).
God’s presence and providence are shown throughout the book, as several ironies unfold and scripts are flipped. I specifically remember in these last few years how God turned my feelings of depression, entrapment, hopelessness, and discouragement to happiness, freedom, hope, and optimism. (Followers of this blog can see my progression.) How has God turned the tables in your life of late? If you’re coming up blank, what would you like to see change?
Below are some notes from Moore’s study that I think can stand alone without the context of the story of Esther. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, these snippets won’t give it all away. I encourage you to read it for yourself– you’ll be blessed.
Meanness always identifies a threat, whether it’s real or imagined. (Haman)
Because Satan has a limited leash where believers are concerned (God and Satan > Job 1), his most powerful tactics are psychological. He can profoundly and destructively influence our thoughts (if we let him).
God designed conviction to be uncomfortable so that we would hurry to repentance and find relief in restoration.
God told His people (the Israelites) from the time of Moses that He’d protect them and fight their battles for them as long as they worshipped Him only. If they forgot Him, He would still love them but not shield them; He used their enemies to turn His people back to Him. [God has blessed me tremendously, but He never lets me go too long without reminding me, through various circumstances, that I need Him every day of my life.]
We are significant. We may not have the title of “King/Queen,” but we are royalty and have been placed in our own sphere of influence no matter how great or small, “for such a time as this.” (See also Ephesians 1:1.) [Our lives matter more than we know, hope, or realize!]
You are not called to live an easy life, but a purposeful one. When you walk in your purpose, you will have to make some of the most difficult decisions of our lives. Just when we think we can’t do it, God steps in and does something miraculous, and we become something that we’re not, and “Who knows?” becomes “I know.”
Fasting with prayer allows you to wholeheartedly focus your petition before God. Refusing sustenance demonstrates desperation and sincerity to receive direction and deliverance.
In a crisis situation, there is no neutral position. Failure to decide brings personal loss and misses the opportunity to fulfill God’s purpose. [No decision is a decision.] Failure to decide is to decide on failure.
Our distrust of God tells our enemy exactly how to get to us.
Ironically, a person is never less aware of divine intervention than when s/he has been chosen to render it.
We don’t realize that our stronghold can be a person until it is one. A person becomes a snare to us anytime s/he consumes an excessive or unhealthy space in our thoughts (negative or positive). [Who is your obsession?] It’s not the person that emotionally masters us– it’s our thoughts about the person that emotionally master us.
Admitting you have an area of brokenness is a huge first step toward wholeness.
If the Jews had been annihilated, Jesus could not have come from their bloodline. Why do you think Satan tried so often to destroy the Jews? Jesus was a threat to him.
God cannot break His promises. His Word is not only His bond but His very breath.
There is shelter in the Most High (see also Ps 91), in whom we find our significance and the only satisfaction of our insatiable need to be noticed.
In the end, people don’t get away with murder or its premeditation.
Sometimes God wants to show us what we can do rather than let us find someone who can do it for us.
Getting the credit is the wrong reason to do the right thing.
Every time God shifts us/our circumstances around, He’s not just fulfilling His own pleasure (Phil 2:13) but He’s also working every detail, good and bad, for our good (Rom 8:28). No matter what evils schemes come against us, God will work it out, work it in, and work it well. (God specializes in reversals.)
I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining.
I believe in love, even when I do not feel it.
I believe in God, even when He is silent. ~ Author Unknown
How you ever been were you aware of being placed in a situation or position for a critical purpose (“for such a time as this”)? Did you expect God to use you? Have you ever seen Him turn the tables and ‘flip the script’ in your favor?