Also, our passage in Proverbs warns us about the slavery of debt and Paul, in our New Testament reading, hits us with the issue of sin and then shows us God’s cure.
Esther 3 & 4
Would You Raise Your Hand?
Esther 3 & 4:
If I Perish, I Perish
Paul warned the Galatians that those who belong to the enemy will persecute and mistreat God’s children.
“But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now” (Gal. 4.29).
The devil has always been out to destroy that which God loves. It’s true today and it was no different in Esther’s day. But the good news is that the sovereign Lord was, is and always will be in control of the ultimate outcome.
Because of God’s favor, Esther was now Ahasuerus’ Queen, but even as Queen, her right to come into the King’s presence was limited. But now her people were in great danger and her Cousin Mordecai sent her a message to let her know she needed to petition the King on their behalf. Such a bold move could cost her life.
But Mordecai’s words to Esther encouraged her to trust in God’s sovereignty, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (vs. 14) and she responded in faith, “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (vs. 16).
I, actually, think Mordecai’s question was more of a challenge than a question. Look at the rest of verse 14:
For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
What about you and me? This is the time and place that God has chosen for us to live and bring Him glory (Acts 17.26). This is the family. This is the spouse. This is the nation. This is the time.
How would you respond if standing up for God or His people could cost your life? Most of us won’t be faced with the risk of, literally, losing our lives, but we are, at times, faced with the risk of losing favor or reputation or some other temporal benefit. How would we respond?
23 …If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels (Lk. 9.23-26).
Are we willing to take a stand? Are we willing to be used by our sovereign God for this time in the kingdom? Could we say with Esther, “I will go and if I perish, I perish”? Would you raise your hand? Would I?
Today’s Other Readings:
Blessed be the Lord
Even after all his laments are poured out, the psalmist said, “Blessed be the LORD forevermore! Amen and Amen.”
The Slavery of Debt
Saved by Grace or Lost and Deluded?
If yesterday’s reading didn’t hit us between the eyes, God through Paul does it again in verse 10, “There is none righteous, no, not one.”
And in verses 23-26:
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
The word translated “justified” is a legal term that means to be declared “righteous.” When we come to the place where we recognize that verse 23 is true of us, and we humbly submit and receive His grace, God justifies us. When God justifies us, it is not just as if we had never sinned, it is as if we had always obeyed perfectly! What great love our Savior has for us!
But in order to be justified, we must come to understand that we are sinners in desperate need of a Savior, that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, and then look to Christ and His sacrifice. ’”
Most of us at least claim to understand that basic truth—that we were saved by grace alone through faith alone. But once we’re saved, our own self-righteousness often takes over. We must understand that, not only could we do nothing to save ourselves, we can do nothing to keep ourselves saved! Just as we were saved by grace, we are kept by grace!
Verse 27, “Where is boasting then? It is excluded …” We have no right to become puffed up or self-righteous, because even as believers, there is nothing good in us, in and of ourselves! Our righteousness is “in Christ and Christ alone”! That reality should keep us close to the cross and help us remember that it was our sin that put Him there.
In the next few days, we’ll look at what we mean when we talk about the fear of God, and what it means to be an uncommon friend. We’ll also look at the question, “Why bother living right if God forgives us for every sin?” Perhaps you’ve asked the same question. Be sure to sign up so you won’t miss any of these upcoming posts.
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The freedom in falling short of God’s standard relies on His gift of grace. Unfortunately, too many of us forget the free offer. We spend our lives basing our relationship with God on our performance rather than on Him. We see our identity as never being worthy of His love.
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