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Daily Devotionals

November 28, 2018: Be Ware of The Wiles of our Enemy.

November 28, 2018: Be Ware of The Wiles of our Enemy.

Esther 3:15 (NIV)
15 Spurred on by the king’s command, the couriers went out, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa.  The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.

 

Haman had just bartered for the right to exterminate the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews.  He offered the king over 170 million dollars to kill all the Jews in Persia.  They had just reached an agreement that the King would give Haman the authority to exterminate the Jewish people.  How did they finalize this agreement to exterminate God’s chosen people?  They sit down and have a drink.

Why does the scripture include this verse in the inspired text?  The Scripture seeks to warn us of the wiles of our chief enemy.  When we are about to enter into an act of rebellion against God, the enemy will always offer us a nice comforting drink or some other chemical to soothe our guilt-ridden conscience.

Be wary of whether an act is right or by how you feel after you have decided to rebel against God.  The enemy does his best work when you are in the midst of rebelling against God.  He will deceive you with good feelings, soothing drinks, accolades of the world to seal the deal and sear your conscience.

Notice that the city of Susa was bewildered when they heard of Haman and the King’s agreement.  They could see the evil of such actions and because their minds were uncluttered by any pleasure-producing chemicals they knew something was wrong.

Do not let your emotions decide what is right or wrong, let the Word of God be your guide and then look for the peace that passes understanding to be your guard.  The world does not give this peace.  It is not attained by some chemically induced high or some smooth tasting drink, it can only be reached by setting your heart and mind on what is most glorifying to God.

The peace offered in a drink or chemical or worldly pleasure will only be fleeting pleasure at best.  Choose to pursue the lasting peace that goes beyond this world.

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Daily Devotionals

November 30, 2018: The Day the Tables were Turned!

November 30, 2018: The Day the tables were turned.

Esther 9:1 (NIV)
1  On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them.

 

The law written by Haman to execute the Jews was published on the thirteenth day of Nissan.  (Esther 3:7, 12)  Esther fasted for three days immediately afterward.  Her fast would have ended on the seventeenth day of Nissan.  There is no coincidence in the Scripture.  Why are the specific dates given in the text?

The law of Haman was written one day before Passover, the fourteenth day of Nissan.  Esther’s fast began the next day and ended on the seventeenth day of Nissan.  What is so special about these dates?  The enemy does his best to rid the world of all who belong to God, yet he does not plan very well.  On the day when he sets in motion to kill God’s elect, he is ignorant of what God is doing.  The next day was Passover for the Jews, a day when they celebrated their deliverance bondage in Egypt.

Esther fasted and prayed for the deliverance of the Jews from the fourteenth of Nissan to the seventeenth of Nissan.  After her fast, she was granted access to the king by the extension of his scepter.  It was the eighteenth day of Nissan that Esther went before the king, not knowing if she would be executed.

Before she went to the king, she put on her royal robes and went to the king dressed as royalty.  (Esther 5:1-2)  It would be another 500 years when some women went to look for their king who had been crucified and discovered that he had risen from the dead.  In that garden graveyard, the tables were turned and these women found the scepter of our King was being extended to them commissioning them with news of greatest joy.

When the enemy of our soul thinks he is planning for our demise he is only used by God to bring about our deliverance.  Haman planned to exterminate the Jews on the 13th of Nissan.  He did not know he was putting into motion God’s ultimate plan of redemption.  It is interesting to note that the king executed Haman on the evening of the 17th of Nissan, just happened to be the day before Jesus would rise from the dead some five hundred years in the future.  The tables were turned.

The Cross and the empty grave, ultimate table turners.

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Daily Devotionals

November 29, 2018: The Law that brought great joy.

November 29, 2018: The Law that brought great joy.

Esther 8:15-17 (NIV)
15  Mordecai left the king’s presence wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. 16  For the Jews, it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. 17  In every province and in every city, wherever the edict of the king went, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because the fear of the Jews had seized them.

 

For the past several days in Persia, there was no celebration.  The edict that Haman issued meant certain death for the Jewish people.  There was no joy among the Jewish people in Persia when the edict went out.

God, never one to leave his people without hope, was working behind the scenes in the lives of Mordecai and Esther.  In this chapter, we read of God’s deliverance of the Jews.  He gave Esther permission to write any law she desired to protect the Jews.  She had the best legal minds at her disposal.  This law would serve to bring deliverance to the Jewish people.

This plan of Esther and Mordecai was not an afterthought.  In Chapter Three of Esther, we see God at work in controlling the casting of the lot.  The Jews would have almost a year to plan and prepare for their defense.

The edict of the King written by Esther and the legal experts gave the Jews the right to defend themselves.  The edict led to great rejoicing among the Jews.  The joy of the Jews was so contagious that many came to believe in Yahweh also.

Whenever God’s people learn the discipline of rejoicing, others will see the glory of Yahweh and turn to him.  Do you desire to see the nations converted?  Do you long for one of your close friends to trust in Christ?  Do you desire to have your load lifted and your worries reduced?  God’s prescription is, “Rejoice and be glad!” Not in some flippant, surface way, but in the deep recesses of your soul.  God desires to bring you great joy that will spring up from within and overflow to all who.

How can you rejoice you might ask?  There was a law that was written ordering your destruction.  It read.  “The soul that sins, it must die!”  You rebelled against the high commands of God.  The penalty was death.  It was a law of the Most High God that could never be changed.  How could you be free from this certain execution?

O, there was another law written to protect you forever from the first law that is still in effect.  There was one who died in your place and your penalty he paid.  Because of this death, this second law is now in effect.  All who plead the death of the Lord Jesus are now free from the first law.  You are free to celebrate because your King has written a new law over you and you are now free.

May many who are close to you see the joy that Christ has won for you and may they too discover the fear of the Lord and come to him.  May His joy be real in you today.

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Daily Devotionals

November 27, 2018: It Just Happened!

November 27, 2018: It Just Happened!

Esther 2:5 (NIV)
5  Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish,

2 Samuel 16:5-14 (NIV)
5  As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out.
6  He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left.
7  As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel!
8  The LORD has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The LORD has handed the kingdom over to your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a man of blood!”
9  Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.”
10  But the king said, “What do you and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the LORD said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?'”
11  David then said to Abishai and all his officials, “My son, who is of my own flesh, is trying to take my life. How much more, then, this Benjamite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the LORD has told him to.
12  It may be that the LORD will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.”
13  So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt.
14  The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed himself.

 

Years after Saul refused to obey the Lord we find this account of King David leaving the city of Jerusalem due to his son’s usurping his throne.  As he walks along the way, a man named Shimei hurls rocks at him and calls down curses on him.  According to the law, this man should have been executed on the spot.  David’s guards even say so.  For some reason David refuses to carry out the law and order his execution.

This action by David must have been viewed as a sign of weakness on David’s part.  It might have been a sign of weakness but fat forward about five hundred years to Esther 2:5 and read the following words, 5 “Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish . . . ”

Had David executed Shimei there would be no Mordecai in Susa for God to use to serve as a means of delivering the Jews from the evil hand of Haman, a descendant of Agag and Amalekite.  We observe once again God using the feeble attempts of his children to walk in obedience to be the very means by which God’s people are rescued repeatedly.

Do you feel unable to fully obey the Lord?  Has the enemy convinced you that you will never be able to do what God requires and because of that your life is not going to be what God intends?  Put those thoughts to death for the last time because your God, whom you serve, is able, to not only deliver you from your sin, but also fully accomplish his perfect plan for you.

Hallelujah what a great God we serve.

Tune in tomorrow as we see even more of his grace in this marvelous book of Esther.

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Daily Devotionals

November 26, 2018: An Enemy of God Allowed to Live?

November 26, 2018: An Enemy of God allowed to live?

1 Samuel 15:1-33 (NIV)
1  Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD.
2  This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt.
3  Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'”
4  So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim–two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand men from Judah.
5  Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine.
6  Then he said to the Kenites, “Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites.
7  Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt.
8  He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword.
9  But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs–everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
10  Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel:
11  “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.
12  Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”
13  When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.”
14  But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
15  Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
16  “Stop!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.” “Tell me,” Saul replied.
17  Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel.
18  And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.’
19  Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?”
20  “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king.
21  The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”
22  But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23  For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
24  Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them.
25  Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD.”
26  But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!”
27  As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore.
28  Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors–to one better than you.
29  He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.”
30  Saul replied, “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD your God.”
31  So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the LORD.
32  Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.” Agag came to him confidently, thinking, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.”
33  But Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so will your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel put Agag to death before the LORD at Gilgal.

 

The command was to put to death all the Amalekites, but Saul did not fully obey the Lord.  History will record that because of his unwillingness to obey the Lord a remnant of the Amalekites continued to survive for the next five hundred years.

We will meet up with these Amalekites in the book of Esther where we will see the diabolical enemy of the Jewish nation surface again in his futile attempt to put to death all that remains of the Jewish nation.  Our story will continue to unveil the marvelous wisdom of God as he makes a way to accomplish his plan even with the sinful choices of man.

We will discover in our own lives that God is fully able to redeem us in spite of our inability to fully obey.  Come along with me as we watch the marvelous ability God has to use every event in our lives for our good and his glory.

See you tomorrow.

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1 Peter 3:15-16

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