Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Hear O, (your name); the Lord our God is one Lord, the only Lord. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your mind and heart and with your entire being and with all your might. And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be first in your own mind and hearts, then you shall sharpen them so as to make them penetrate and teach and impress them diligently upon the minds and hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
Deuteronomy 6: 4-7
“I think (this) is most needed counsel in the culture of the soul. We not only need the leisurely communion, but we also want the sharp times which express themselves in a single word. We need the long gaze at our Lord, and we need the frequent glance…We can carry a divine ‘signet ring’ about with us. We can carry with us through the day some great word of glorious revelation, and at odd moments we can bring it out and look into the depths of eternal beauty. What is to prevent the busiest among us having some rich promise of grace which we can bring out and look at as we walk by the way?”
J. H. Jowett
The Eagle Life
Today’s Study Text:
1.) “Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjaminite: who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter; for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.”
Esther 2: 5-7
2.) And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes, children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.”
Daniel 1: 3-4
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“The Ties the Bind – Family and Faith” Part 12
“Lord, I offer You my hurting heart and all the stories of the life and love that I have known. In Your hands I place the loneliness, the emptiness, the pain, the despair. And especially, I give You the incredible sadness…By Your power and grace, may I have the courage to mold this experience into my life story, that I may become an encourager and enabler of those who also walk this solitary way. Fill me, please, with the abundance of Your Presence, and grant me peace.”
Dr. Kay Collier-Slone
If I was in young Esther’s place, what questions would I have asked about my past?
How do my family ties shape who I have become?
“Ritual is an ancient tool to honor patterns in God’s creation. It is a way to celebrate our lives, to create and to keep family feeling.”
Keeper of the Springs
“You are loved by a God who will never forget about you even when you feel He is far away. Build upon these bedrock truths and be proud of the things you accomplish with your family.”
The Single Dad’s Survival Guide
As is frequently the case, our study texts today are like a powerful flashlight, which illuminates the words in the book of Esther in ways I had not perceived in the past. In Esther 2: 5, we meet Mordecai the Jew, who we are told, was from the tribe of Benjamin.
If the name “Kish” sounds familiar, it should for the first king of Israel, King Saul, was identified as the son of Kish. Most likely, commentators tell us, due to the timing, Mordecai’s relative “Kish” was further down the genealogical line. However, the important thing for us to note is that this lineage of “Kish” was a kingly one. This fact alone helps us understand why our studies in the book of Daniel were not just happenstance, but rather providential.
As our second study text for today highlights, the young men chosen by the army of Nebuchadnezzar to be brought from Jerusalem to the palace in Babylon were from elite families – royal families. Among the Jewish exiles, these young people were what we’d call the best and the brightest.
It is this Biblical knowledge which helps us understand why Mordecai ended up staying in Medo-Persia even though the exiled Jews had been given permission to return to their homeland. Quite possibly Mordecai’s family had served in the foreign king’s court for more than one generation and his choice to remain may well have been made by his belief that serving the God of Israel within the walls of the palace benefitted all his countrymen.
However, Esther 2: 7 lets us in on a piece of vital information. We are told that Mordecai, brought up young Esther, his uncle’s young daughter, or as she was called, Hadassah. This child was orphaned as the Bible states. She had no father or mother, for as the Biblical record states, “they were dead.” The fact is that as an older cousin, Mordecai took the young woman, who was described as “fair and beautiful” as “his own daughter.”
I’ve been blessed in my life to have the wonderful presence of four adopted cousins. Furthermore, my father’s mother, Dorothy, was also adopted and because she died at a young age, when my father was only 6 months old, he ended up living with foster parents who took him in when no one else offered to.
Having grown up in an environment where the word “family” means more than just being related by “blood,” I’ve found myself able to better understand the ties that can develop in our lives between those we love.
It happens that my four cousins who were adopted by my mother’s sister and her husband have actually been closer in many ways than family members, even cousins, that were individuals I never met. I have always felt a bond with my cousin Joel whose gentle-hearted kindness has been evidenced on more than one occasion. I’ll never forget after our car accident when he came to my hospital room and sat by my bed, holding my right hand, just letting me know, since nearly all the rest of my body was either casted or pinned, that he was there with me, not just in spirit but in his heart as well. That human touch – indeed, the family bond – was something that will stay with me forever.
I have no doubt that Mordecai’s bond with Esther, two cousins, separated by age but linked by an unbreakable bond of family love, only strengthened when the young Esther was “taken” without warning as one of what history tells us may have been 400 beauties, chosen to be potential “queens” for the king of Medo-Persia.
Just for a moment put yourself in the place of Mordecai and Esther. Both were Jews in a foreign land. Both had lost loved ones and now clung to one another as family members who were caring for each other. One can only ponder the concern Mordecai would have had for the young Esther – longing with all his might to protect this young girl, so fair and beautiful, from the harsh realities of life within the walls of a godless society where the demands of a worldly monarch would inevitably clash with the God of Israel, the Creator of heaven and earth.
I have wondered if the words to this prayer may well have expressed the thoughts which raced through Mordecai’s mind as he came face-to-face with the reality that the precious young maiden within his care was now away in the palace, out of his control. These words may well have been those expressed by Mordecai:
“God our Father, I pray for young Esther, growing up in an unstable and confusing world. Show her that Your ways give more meaning to life than the ways of the world, and that following You is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help her to take failure not as a measure of her worth but as a chance for a new start. Give her strength to hold to her faith in You, and to keep alive her joy in Your creation.”
For those children, like my father, who found themselves without a mother and father, alone in the world, how blessed it was to know, in the words of David the Psalmist that they could also claim: “I was cast upon You from my very birth, from my mother’s womb You have been my God” (Psalm 22: 10, Amplified Bible).
“Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up, adopt me as His child” (Psalm 27: 10, Amplified Bible).
As Pastor Chuck Swindoll points out so very effectively in his biography on Esther:
1. ) “God’s plans are not hindered when the events of this world are carnal or secular. His presence penetrates, regardless, even the godless banquet halls of ancient Persia…God is at work. He’s moving. He’s touching lives. He’s shaping kingdoms.”
2.) “God’s purposes are not frustrated by moral or marital failures…Because He is a God who applies grace to the long view of life – wrong grieves Him and serious consequences follow, but no amount of wrong frustrates His sovereign purposes!”
3.) “God’s people are not excluded from high places because of handicap or hardship…Esther was a Jew exiled in a foreign land. She was an orphan. She was light-years removed from Persian nobility. Yet none of that kept God from exalting her to the position where He wanted her.”
God of the Unexpected
guidance is my friend,
and will always be so,
but may my mind
never become closed by belief.
May it always be open
to the surprise of You,
to the newness of You,
to the rush of wonder that comes
with the discovery of You
in unexpected places.
Psalms for the Road
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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