Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Let all bitterness and wrath, rage, and bad temper and resentment and quarreling and slander, evil-speaking be banished from you, with all malice, ill will of any kind. And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted, compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted, forgiving one another readily and freely, as God in Christ forgave you.”
My Daily Creed
“Let me be a little kinder,
Let me be a little blinder
To the faults of those about me;
Let me praise a little more,
Let me be, when I am weary,
Just a little bit more cheery;
Let me serve a little better
Those that I am striving for.
Let me be a little braver
When temptation bids me waver;
Let me strive a little harder
To be all that I should be;
Let me be a little meeker
With the sister that is weaker;
Let me think more of my neighbor
And a little less of me.”
Today’s Study Text:
1. “And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace; where were white, green, and blue hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble; the beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble. And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king. And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man’s pleasure.”
2. “As I live, saith the Lord God…Behold this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strength the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me, therefore, I took them away as I saw good.”
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“Gargantuan Gluttony” Part 5
“Because our world is permeated with sin, the strong prey on the weak. The wolf pulls down the old moose. The lustful seduce the innocent. Scoundrels rob the naïve. The powerful exploit the unprepared. An empire gobbles up a small nation.”
Esther: Courage in Crisis
What do I think it means to be gluttonous?
What do the lavish feasts thrown by King Ahasuerus tell me about the state of the spirituality in Medo-Persia?
“Oh listen, dear child – become wise;
point your life in the right direction.
Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk;
don’t eat too much food and get fat.
Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row,
in a stupor and dressed in rags.”
The Message Bible
“A glutton is one who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition.”
Listening to Your Life
Just close your eyes for a moment and allow yourself to drift off into a land where the lush foliage of a palace garden serves as the backdrop for lavish food-laden spreads encapsulated by colorful linen curtains hung from silver rings and pillars which were made of glistening marble which reflected the sun’s rays that more than likely bounced in brilliance off of the golden service ware – goblets filled with the finest wine money could buy and the most delectable delicacies which could stimulate the palette. Life in Shushan was good for the great and sometimes, even for the invited “lesser” guests.
After 180 days of partying with all his princes and servants – showing them “the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty,” King Ahasuerus decided to open up the palace court garden.
It is important to get the geography straight in our minds because the palace location will be connected directly to the events throughout the book of Esther. As author Margaret Hess notes:
“Persian kings spent only their winters in Susa. In summer Susa becomes unbearably hot. Strabo, a Greek geographer, said snakes and lizards trying to crawl across the streets were burned to death, and barley grains bounced like parched grains in the oven (Strabo 15.3:10-11)…
Thus, in the winter, at the pinnacle of his rulership, with bragging rights to being on the top of the world rulership, especially since his empire covered more than half of the known world, King Ahasuerus felt it imperative to show not only his riches but also his gargantuan gluttony. Margaret Hess tells us about the 7-day feast King Ahasuerus held: “the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small” (Esther 1:5, K.J.V.). In other words, everybody associated with the palace got to enjoy the feastly frolicking.
While we find that the fall of Medo-Persia wasn’t too many years later, at this event the wine flowed plentifully and there was food to spare within the palace walls. No one seemed to care what happened outside the cocoon of palace pleasure.
It seems we could learn something as Christians in a world where little children are living around garbage dumps so they can scavenger for mere morsels of food. Having worked for charities around the world whose specific goal is to connect children with the food they so desperately need, just to survive, the idea that we who have so much would choose to hoard our resources is repellant to me. Even here in the United States, called the land of plenty, in most cities at least 25% of the children end up going without food one meal a day. Probably this situation concerns me more in the summer because children living in poverty don’t get regular meals when school is out. And as I’ve shared with many of my friends, this isn’t somebody else’s problem. There, but for the grace of God, would I be found. By reason of birth, I may not be in a situation where I am the one facing hunger or dirty water or a food line.
It is with the background of the incredible expense wasted on pleasing himself, that I leave you with the festival thrown by King Ahasuerus and the words of instruction left for you and me by the prophet Isaiah:
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thy own flesh. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord, shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, ‘Here I am.’ If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity. And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday. And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”
“Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow human beings throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands this day their daily bread, and, by our understanding love, give peace and joy.”
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
(Adapted – The Book of 1,000 Prayers)
A Litany of Penitence
“In sorrow, Lord, we pray for our sisters and brothers whose lives
are crippled by the greed and injustice of the world:
We remember women in factories in
Brazil, working long hours
for little money, making shoes for us in the West.
Lord, have mercy.
We remember workers on tea-plantations in Sri Lanka, who
never know if the price of tea will enable them to survive.
Lord, have mercy.
We remember small children who work adult hours inhaling
dangerous fibers in rug-making factories in India.
Lord have mercy.
Lord, we offer our anger and frustration for all people in conditions like these, and we confess our apathy concerning their misery. Strengthen all who work to alleviate their hardship, and let loose Your spirit of fairness and generosity among us. For Your love’s sake.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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