This Week...A Time to Speak
King Solomon observed in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a time for everything, "a season, a time for every activity under heaven." As we come to Esther 8, we find that the time has come for Esther to speak. For years, she has kept her identity secret in word and, as far as we know, in practice. She was born and raised Jewish. Yet, at her adopted father's instruction, she told no one. Once the genocidal edict was issued, she could no longer be quiet. Too much was at stake. Her position, her privileges and even her life were nothing compared to the need to step up and speak out. She, however, was no bull in a china shop. She was shrewd. She was humble. She was patient. And yes, she was bold. It's time to find the answer to the question that Mordecai had asked way back in chapter 4, "Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?"

This Week...It Just So Happened
C.S. Lewis made this quote-worthy comment many years ago, "Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous." It wasn't by chance that Mordecai and Esther were in the capital city of the Medo-Persian empire. It wasn't by accident that Esther was stunningly beautiful. It wasn't by chance that Mordecai overheard the plot to kill the king and saved his life. It wasn't by chance that Haman took offense at a Jew and plotted to annihilate all the Jews. It wasn't by chance that Esther refrained from telling the king her true desire for one more day. The "it just so happened" moments of life remind us to maintain our hope and confidence in Jesus even in the midst of the darkest of days. 

This Week...The Intersection of Life and Faith
Esther's bold words have been spoken -- "If I die, I die." She came to a decision. It was not necessary for her to live, but it was necessary for her to do what she must. It is true that she was only one person, but it was also true that she was one person. In God's economy, one person matters. She felt compelled to act. She said she would act and then prepared to act. But, would she? The revelation of one's core convictions are found not in their words but rather in their actions. What was revealed when her professed faith intersected with life? What is being revealed as our professed faith intersects with life? There is much to be seen as we continue through our study of Esther.

This Week...Such A Time As This
Esther was scared. Understandable, evil had crept in and was now threatening her very existence and that of her family. This week we look at just a few verses that hold three very important questions. First, “Can we be protected from evil?” Second, “If we do nothing, what will happen?” Third, “How do we know what to do?” We will dive into these questions as we continue to see God moving through the book of Esther. 

With the fate of the Jewish people on the line, Mordecai knows the clock has begun to tick. He attracts Esther's attention and then tells her that it's time to rise up and save her people. Not only does the news of Haman's plan come as a shock to Esther, but Mordecai's request puts her back on her heels as well. "Umm...Mordecai, I don't think you know just exactly what you're asking." So, here it is, Esther's crisis of faith. It wasn't her first one and undoubtedly wasn't her last. If we are following Jesus, we will experience them, too. What we do next will leave an indelible mark on the timeline of eternity or...not. 

Five years after Esther ascended to throne as queen, another foreigner ascended to power, the number two position as a matter of fact right behind Xerxes himself. He crosses paths with Mordecai who we have just met in chapter two and road rage ensues. Hatred of Mordecai and hatred for all of the Jews came very easily to Haman. He was proud and he carried grudges. Haman knows which buttons to push with Xerxes and before he's done, another bad idea becomes an irreversible law of the Medes and Persians. Pride, hatred, conspiracy, revenge, genocide...it feels as if we're reading today's headlines. Where is God? 

As we continue further into chapter 2 of Esther this Sunday, we nearly get whiplash at the pace of the story. We are barely introduced to our two protagonists, Esther and Mordecai, and the next thing we know she's queen of the entire Medo-Persian empire and Mordecai is risking his life to expose an assassination plot against the king! Whoa! Nothing less than the providential hand of God is at work. Look for it as you read this chapter in preparation for our conversation. Esther whose name is most commonly interpreted as "star" (her Jewish name Hadassah means "myrtle") is argued by some to be more appropriately interpreted as "hidden." An interesting foreshadowing to the complete absence of any overt reference to God. And yet, his presence is undeniable and his voice loud and clear.     

The author of Esther continues his conversation about this pagan king, his queen, and his advisors all the way through verse four of chapter 2. (You already know that because you've been reading the story...right? 😉) The author is simply letting us know what happened in order for Esther to ascend to the throne as queen of the Medo-Persian empire. However, it also exposes through this king the hard truth that we are not in control. We may acknowledge that we're not, but secretly we think we are and find ourselves doing life as if we are. Sooner or later, the delusion of control is exposed and we find ourselves in places we really don't want to be. There is a better way. We'll talk about that this weekend!  

How does a book where the name of God never appears, where there is no prayer, no worship, no mention of Jerusalem, no mention of the promised land and only one vague reference to the Jewish law make it into the Bible? The book not only is in the Bible, but it contains one of dearest stories to the Jewish people even today and is celebrated every year during the Feast of Purim. The name of the book is Esther. The answer to that initial question is found in the reading and study of her story as she, an orphaned, exiled Jewish girl, rises to become queen of an empire and saves her people from annihilation. This week we begin our journey with Esther. As we engage, our hearts will begin to rise in passion to take our place in our world for such a time as this.

This Week...A Debtor No More
"I'm debt free!!" the caller proclaims into the telephone. The host celebrates with them and they continue their conversation about living in the rare air of a debt-free life. I change the station. Some of us know that wonderful feeling and some of us didn't even know that was a thing. In our story this week, we find two people who are both debtors to God. They both encounter Jesus, but only one walks away debt free. Free, from that moment forward, to live her best life. Their story invites us to assess our own level of spiritual liberty.  

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