Previous month:
August 2015
Next month:
October 2015

September 2015

Esther 9



Esther 9:20-22

20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration.

Observation – What does it say?

God had delivered his people from their enemies. Mordecai, now prominent in the palace and powerful (verse 4), establishes Purim, an annual celebration in memory of what God had done for them.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Test was turned into testimony. What initially appeared as a coming destruction by their enemies, turned out to be the destruction of their enemies.

All throughout this book, the theme that continues to emerge is God’s providence, his protective care, for his people. Regardless of what threatened them, God was always at work in the details, not only to deliver them but to exalt them.

What becomes obvious when you consider all these events together is that all these actions of God aren’t isolated events but are reveal something similar about who God is. The important thing to recognize is that God caring for his people isn’t just something he does, but rather who he is. When we are in distress and cry out to God for help, we aren’t looking to God’s past actions hoping he decides to perform a similar act in our difficult situation today. Rather, we cry out to God for help believing every past action of God was a revelation of his nature. Our hope is in a God whose nature is to care for his people and whose nature doesn’t change. This means that God acting on behalf of his people in the past is evidence that he is acting on behalf of his people today, and he will be tomorrow too. God turned a test into a testimony in Esther’s day, and that’s evidence that he will turn tests into testimonies today too. 

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

In America today, there are certain things we never want to forget. We establish holidays or, like the 11th of this month, a special day of remembrance. And, what could be more important than remembering what God has done for us? This was the very reason Mordecai implemented Purim. There is tremendous value in taking time to meditate on what God has done.

Life Application

Take time today to meditate on what God has done and what those actions reveal about his nature.

God, thank you for who you are! You don’t just heal but you are Healer. You don’t just provide but you are Provider. You don’t just save but you are Savior! You don’t just love but the essence of who you are is love. Open our eyes to see you for who you are, and may it fill us with hope when it comes to the challenging situations we face. Amen.

Esther 8



Esther 8:16

 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor.

Observation – What does it say?

Four chapters earlier, the Jews were in a completely different space. Esther 4:3 says, “In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.”

Because God was at work and brought about deliverance for his people, they went from mourning, fasting, weeping and wailing to happiness and joy, gladness and honor.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God replaces mourning with joy.

This morning as I read this, I just sensed the Spirit saying, “Be hopeful!” This story isn’t that unique. All throughout scripture and history we see that God transforms the circumstances of his people. When things look dark, he speaks light into the situation. When things are broken, he brings wholeness. When people are sick, he brings healing. When there is confusion, he brings truth and clarity. When we are facing what appears to be impending doom, he moves on behalf of those who love him, erasing anxiety and fear from our hearts and depositing peace and hope in their place.

Psalm 30:5

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Life Application

Be hopeful!

There are so many situations we face that bring anxiety, fear and mourning. We stress and are overcome with negative emotions over just about anything; over rocky relationships, over having enough money, over job security, over raising our children, over tests and GPAs... you name it. Even if the future looks bleak at the moment in any area, trust that God is not only able to change things but also loves us enough that he is willing to change things. Mourning? Anxious? Fearful? Turn to God and he will replace it with happiness and joy, gladness and honor, and peace that transcends all understanding.

God, thank you that my life is evidence that you replace mourning with joy. You took my broken life filled with addiction, brokenness, anger and depression and you filled me with love and joy overflowing! You brought me hope for the future and transformed every single area of my life. I worship you! I put my hope in you, knowing that no matter what fearful situation I face, you are able and willing to turn things around. Amen.

Although it may appear to linger... the time for reaping what we've sown will come.



Esther 7:8

Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.

The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?”

As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.

Observation – What does it say?

The crazy turn of events continues into this chapter! Haman had been filled with rage toward a Jew who had refused to bow and now he is bowing before a Jewish woman begging for his life!

Understanding – What does it mean?

Check out the timing. Just as the king returned… It is significant and once again shows that God was completely in control of this scene. When does the king just happen to return? It is when Haman is "falling on the couch where Esther was" and that was the final straw for the king. Haman's fate was sealed. Had Haman gone out with the king instead of staying to beg the queen, this scene wouldn’t have taken place. But Haman chose to fall on the couch, and he did it at the wrong time... just as the king entered the room! God was again at work, moving to avenge his people the Jews and His timing is always perfect!

Also, we reap what we sow. Haman sowed anger toward God’s people and then reaped anger from the king. He sowed a plot to execute a righteous man and reaped the very execution he plotted. It’s amazing how God brings about justice so quickly. In less than 2 days, Haman progresses from honored to humiliated to horrified to hanged.

Proverbs 11:8

The righteous person is rescued from trouble,
    and it falls on the wicked instead.

Life Application

Sow righteousness!

God, although those living in sin seem to be enjoying it now, give us wisdom to do what’s right instead. We know that although we don’t always reap when we sow, the time for reaping will come inevitably. Instead of joining in with those who give themselves to gossip, lying, drunkenness, anger and complacency, may we shine bright and give ourselves completely to loving you and loving others. Amen.


God Is Actively Involved & His Timing Perfect



Esther 6:3

“What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.

“Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.

Observation – What does it say?

The Bible is full of crazy twists and unexpected turns, but this has to be one of the craziest! The king cant sleep and rather than requesting Queen Esther to join him or a concubine from the harem he requests a book and someone to read it to him. It could have been any book, but he chose the book that recorded his reign. And, it could have been any page, but the reader happens to open to the page where 5 years ago Mordecai had uncovered a murder plot against him. The king discovers that somehow honoring Mordecai had been completely overlooked. And now the king happens to be looking to honor Mordecai the same day Haman is planning to hang Mordecai on the gallows he built.

Understanding – What does it mean?

If the book of Esther shows us anything, it shows us that God is actively involved in the affairs of men even without their knowledge. God knows what he is doing and with him there are no coincidences or surprises. Esther wasn’t lucky to be queen, Mordecai wasn’t lucky to have overheard the assassination plot, it wasn’t luck or chance that made Haman enter the royal courts at this time with this plan. All of these events were orchestrated by God and not by luck.

The king asked “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received…” not “Has Mordecai received honor and recognition.” It was custom to honor men for things like this. I’m sure everyone close to Mordecai was surprised to not see him honored when everything went down. Likewise, it can seem like things don’t go our way, that we’ve been overlooked, that we aren’t rewarded properly, etc. But God’s timing is perfect, and he is at work even when we’re unaware.

Life Application

Trust that God is actively working!

Often times I find myself frustrated because I’ve prayed and worked hard and the outcome isn’t what I pictured as the goal. But I’m encouraged today with the knowledge that God is working and hasn’t missed a thing. Every detail is in his hands and he WILL accomplish his plans in and through me. Thank you, Lord!

Don’t Move Without Praying or Pray Without Moving




Esther 5:3

Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”

Observation- What does it say?

Esther feared for her life leading up to this moment. The default consequence for approaching the king without being requested was death. So she and all those close to her fasted and prayed for 3 days in preparation for this necessary risk. The moment came, Esther put on her royal robes, and though not 100% certain of the outcome she walked to the kings court. Then the king not only extended his gold scepter, sparing her life, but he offered to do almost anything Esther could request!

Understanding – What does it mean?

Fasting and prayer must be followed by action. Remove one of those ingredients and you wouldn't have verse 3.

Esther fasted and prayed, then took the necessary steps of obedience, and only then was granted tremendous favor. Although the scripture isn’t explicit about it, I believe based on what the rest of scripture reveals about God, as Esther and her companions fasted and sought God, God went before her and prepared her way, prepared the king’s heart, and saw that she was received favorably.

She not only fasted and prayed but she stepped out of her comfort zone and did the right thing despite the great risk. And as a result of her righteousness (doing the right thing) she experienced God’s favor.

Psalm 5:12

For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Life Application

Don’t move without praying or pray without moving.

In other words, don’t be quick to act without praying first. And on the other hand, don’t fall into the opposite trap of spending all your time praying and never doing what God has shown you to do.

God, forgive me for the times I rush into things without seeking you first and still expecting great results. Also, forgive me for just praying and being too afraid to do my part and obeying your commands. Give me the strength to choose to seek you today and to act when you show me what to do. Amen.

We All Need A Mordecai

  4we all need


Esther 4:14

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Observation – What does it say?

After receiving news that the Jews would be destroyed, Mordecai not only mourns and fasts and cries out to God but he urges Esther to use her relationship with the king to plead for mercy for the Jews. Esther responds with a possibly deal-breaking concern: If I approach the king without being summoned I’ll be killed unless he extends the gold scepter and spares my life. But Mordecai warns her and urges her to go for it anyway! To allow God to bring relief and deliverance through her. He points out that it’s possible God brought her to this royal position for this very purpose.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Some of us are one Mordecai away from greatness.

If it wasn’t for Mordecai, it’s doubtful we would have Esther’s story. Esther needed the encouragement and challenge of Mordecai, who believed in her and was able to point out God at work bringing her to this position and her God-given purpose.

We all need people in our lives who will remind us who we are in Christ (Speaking of which, make it a point to be at DSC the next several Sundays for the “Who Are You?” sermon series addressing this very topic!). We need people who will hold us accountable to living out the purposes God has placed us on this earth for. Likewise, there are people around us who need us to be a Mordecai in their life. We could be the person who makes the difference in whether or not they live out their God-given destiny.

Life Application

Surround yourself with Mordecais.

God, thank you for the people you’ve placed in my life who believe in me, who will remind me of who I am when I’m tempted to drift, who will challenge me and hold me accountable to be the man you’ve created me to be. Help me to stay in relationship with them and give me a humble heart to receive from them. Amen.

Be a Mordecai.

God, please use me in the lives of those you’ve placed around me. Use me to encourage people into greatness! Use me to remind people of who you say they are, to point out where you are at work in their lives, and to challenge them to live out their destiny. Amen.

When Everyone Else Kneels… Stand.



Esther 3:2

All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor.

Observation – What does it say?

King Xerxes honored Haman and commanded that everyone at the king’s gate to bow down and honor him. Mordecai, the Jew, however refused to kneel. It would be difficult for him to not stand out. Imagine people crowded along both sides of the road near the king’s gate. Haman comes riding his horse down the road and everyone bows low to the ground. Everyone except for Mordecai who remained standing tall above everyone else. 

Understanding – What does it mean?

Mordecai, like Daniel’s three companions, refused to bow down to any man or image. That honor was reserved for God and him alone. In Mordecai’s case it wasn’t enough to bow before God. Equally as important was bowing before nothing else.

It can be our tendency to worship God and ______. So many things are competing for our honor, our affection, our heart’s desires. For example, more money, material possessions, impressing others and pursuing various achievements can all be things we devote ourselves to (although there are many more). Those things aren’t bad in and of themselves, but when they have the same weight as honoring God does in our decision-making we have a problem.

Although it may have seemed like Mordecai (and Israel!) could have avoided a big hassle if he would have just bowed down like everyone else, we see that God honored Mordecai’s obedience and it paid off in the end. God protected his people and Mordecai was exalted higher than Haman ever was!

Likewise, sometimes obedience to God feels like a hassle. It competes with the pursuit of wealth, it competes with our desire to impress people and not appear ‘weird’ in the eyes of others. Daily we are faced with choices similar to Moredcai’s. When everyone around seems to be bowing to something other that God, will we join them or stand?

Satan attempted to get Jesus to bow down to him and Jesus responded to him by quoting Deuteronomy 6:13, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'"

Life Application

Regardless of how difficult it may be, choose to bow before God alone!

God, forgive me for the times I bow before the desire to impress others and the desire for ‘stuff.’ I truly want to worship you and serve you only. Give me the strength to stand, even when everyone around me is bowing their knee to something besides you. Amen.

God Uses The Humble



Esther 2:10

Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known.

Observation – What does it say?

Both of Esther’s parents died. At that time, Mordecai, her older cousin took her in as his own daughter and raised her. Esther was beautiful and, in the hunt for Queen Vashti's replacement, was selected as a candidate along with many other women in the land. Both Esther and her cousin turned father, Mordecai, were foreigners in the land; Israelites living as exiles in Babylon. Esther follows the command of Mordecai to not reveal her nationality. We can speculate reasons why he would command this. But regardless of the reason, what's clear is that Esther humbly obeyed Mordecai. This theme of Esther honoring and submitting to the counsel of Mordecai runs throughout this amazing story. And it’s this submissiveness to Mordecai’s wise advice that leads Esther to eventually playing a key role in the deliverance of her people.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Humility leads to being used by God in great ways!

Esther didn’t let her beauty and all the attention she was getting to go to her head. She experienced tremendous favor when she was not only selected as a candidate for queen but was advanced and put in the best place in the harem, with seven young women to attend to her! Yet, she still remained humble and submissive to Mordecai. If she had allowed pride to creep in and disregard the advice of Mordecai its doubtful she would have been used by God in such significant ways.

In the same way, Jesus’ road to playing the most significant role in all of God’s story was a humble one. He demonstrated the greatest humility when he submitted himself to the Father and, as a result, became our Savior was exalted by his Father. Philippians 2 puts it this way:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Life Application

Follow the example of Esther and ultimately of Jesus!

God, thank you for convicting me of pride today. Make me teachable, humble and submissive to you and the counsel of wise Christians you've placed in my life. May I be more quick to learn than to teach, and may I seek and value wise counsel. Help me not to lean on my own understanding but to acknowledge and submit to you in everything. Amen.

Even In The Most Dysfunctional Situations... God Is Working.



Esther 1:19

 “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.”

Observation – What does it say?

King Xerxes throws a giant party to show off all his riches to the people of the land. As if flaunting his wealth wasn’t enough, he calls for his wife to come to the all-male party so he can parade her around in front of all them. But his trophy wife, Queen Vashti, refuses to come (I don’t blame her!). In his pride, mixed with a little alcohol, he becomes enraged at her. After consulting some of his advisors, he decides to banish Vashti from his presence f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Keep in mind this is his wife. Talk about a dysfunctional marriage. So Vashti is forbidden to enter the same room as King Xerxes ever again, and her position as queen is now open for applications.

Dysfunctional situation? Yes. But the stage is being set for God to deliver his people.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Whether it’s the darkest of times or the most dysfunctional of situations, God can and does work it for our good and his glory.

As we will discover as we read on, this situation paved the way for Esther to be made queen, which would eventually lead to God using her to save his people from destruction.

Life Application

Facing a difficult situation? A terrible situation? A heartbreaking situation? Trust that although not everything that happens is good, God is able to bring good from it.

God, I give you the situations that look bad on the surface. I give you the situations that beyond the surface are genuinely are bad. And I declare that you are our Healer, Provider and Redeemer. I trust that you are working in the midst of all of it for my good and for your glory. Amen.


Even In The Darkest Times... God Is Working.

  Darkest times


Ruth 4:17

The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Observation – What does it say?

According to Ruth 1:1, this story took place during the time of the Judges. Judges 21:25 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” In other words, if it felt good, people did it. You can imagine the chaos and the wickedness. No leadership, no government, just people doing whatever they wanted. So the people would sin, and in response God would send enemies against them, the people would cry for help, and then God would mercifully raise up a judge to deliver them. Then the cycle would repeat; rebellion after rebellion. It seemed as though God’s purposes to bring about righteousness in Israel would never come about. And, this was the setting for Ruth's story.

The book of Ruth, particularly 4:17, shows us that even when it seems like everything has gone dark and there is no reason for hope, God is still at work.

Understanding – What does it mean?

God is at work even in the worst of times!

In this wicked and rebellious season of Israel’s history, God blesses Ruth and Boaz to give birth to Obed. Obed becomes the father of Jesse and Jesse becomes the father of David, who becomes the greatest king that Israel would ever see (until Jesus). God sets the stage for David to be born, who would take Israel from one of their lowest seasons as a nation to one of their highest.

Even through the sins of his people God is at work, positioning things for their redemption and his glory.

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Life Application

Even when we can’t see it, trust that God is at work!

God, thank you that you are at work, even in the darkest seasons and situations. When things seem to be deteriorating in our nation, you are still working. When we pray for light but things appear to get dimmer, you are still present and at work. When things are falling apart in our personal lives, you are still with us and working all things for our good. Whether we can see it or not, we trust that you are working. Where we’ve been weighed down by dark circumstances, we receive renewed hope and faith today. You are present and you are working! We trust you and place it all in your hands! Amen.