Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
Leaning on My Lord
“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples whom Jesus loved.” (John 13: 23, K.J.V.).
“Whoso leaneth on the Lord, happy is she (he)” (Proverbs 16: 20, K.J.V.).
“Cause me to hear…for on Thee do I lean” (Psalm 143: 8, K.J.V.).
“What time I am afraid, I will lean on Thee” (Psalm 56: 3, K.J.V.).
“I will lean, and not be afraid” (Isaiah 12: 2, K.J.V.).
“Thou wilt keep him (her) in perfect peace…because he (she) leans on Thee…Lean on the Lord forever: for the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength “(Isaiah 26: 3, 4, K.J.V.).
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart leans on Him and I am helped. Therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song will I praise Him!” (Psalm 28: 7, K.J.V.).
“It is marvelous to me that God’s Spirit led the writers of these words to the same special verb, ‘to lean.’ By one simple word, He means to show us so clearly that it is never anything ‘in’ us that accounts for the Lord’s goodness ‘to’ us. Everything we are given is all from Him…May the Lord of love make this word of His to be ‘like a firm grasp of (His) hand’ to you today.”
“We should be low and lovelike
and lean each (one) to the other
And patient as pilgrims,
for pilgrims are we all.”
Today’s Study Text:
“After these things did King Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advance him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.”
Esther 3: 1
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“The Consequence of Disobedience” Part 20
“The fall is simply and solely disobedience – doing what you have been told not to do; and it results from pride – from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God!”
C. S. Lewis
What does the word “obedience” mean to me in a practical way?
How have I demonstrated that “obedience” is the best way to live my life?
“The best measure of a spiritual life is not its ecstasies but its obedience.”
“And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them, but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.”
1 Samuel 15: 8-9
In Esther 3: 1, the Bible reports to us that a man named Haman, has come into prominence in Medo-Persia through the power of King Ahasuerus. Frankly, there’s nothing mentioned in Esther 3: 1 that gives us a concrete idea as to the reason of Haman’s promotion. There was just something about the man Haman that appeared to please the very capricious King Ahasuerus.
Already we’ve watched Ahasuerus get rid of his queen, Vashti, and then history tells us that the king also decided he would try and overthrow the country of Greece. Add to this the fact that we are told that “after these things,” King Ahasuerus promoted Haman to a place of prominence – advancing him above all the other princes in the country. We find that the Jewish historian Josephus even expands our view of Haman by telling us he was someone who quickly rose to power under the rulership of Ahasuerus or (Artaxerxes) as the king was called.
In trying to expose further details about Haman, who played such a significant role in the government of Medo-Persia as well as the lives of God’s children, the Jewish nation, we uncover the fact that Haman was an Amalekite, a nation God had ordered to be completely destroyed. In fact, in 1 Samuel15, when the prophet Samuel discovered that King Saul, the first king of Israel, in direct defiance of God’s decree to completely destroy not only all the Amalekites but even all their cattle and sheep, that the prophet Samuel was told by God that, “it repenteth Me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following Me, and hath not performed My commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.” (I Samuel 15: 11, K.J.V.).
But this conversation didn’t end abruptly. After a night of restlessness, the prophet Samuel confronted the disobedient King Saul who acted as if nothing disobedient had happened. Then we are told, in very direct terms, that the prophet Samuel informed King Saul of God’s displeasure, “When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel? And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against thou until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord?” (1 Samuel 15: 17-19, K.J.V.).
The Bible commentator Matthew Henry really taps into God’s unhappiness when he pointed out that King Saul had “turned back from following Me.” If there’s one thing important for us to learn from our dealings with our Father in heaven it is this: He doesn’t appreciate lame excuses for our disobedient behavior. Rather than Saul admitting to the fact that he had disobeyed God’s directive, he justified himself and repeatedly insisted he had done what God had told him to do and destroyed everything associated with the Amalekites.
For those times in my life when I’ve felt that God appeared to be very tough on His children, almost to the point of ruthless, the situation with the Amalekites teaches us a vital lesson for God is watching from above everything that is going on down here on earth. King’s Saul’s disobedient behavior didn’t just affect his leadership of Israel but later we find out in the book of Esther, the consequences of disobedience which lingered until a man named Haman, a relative of King Agag of the Amalekites was promoted into a place of power which made it very easy for him to shove through legislation to have all the Jews under the entire rulership of Medo-Persia murdered. In the Antiquities of the Jews, a historical documentation recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus, we are informed “There was one Haman, the son of Amedatha, by birth an Amalekite, that used to go in to the king; and the foreigners and Persians worshipped him, as Artaxerxes had commanded that such honor should be paid to him.” And here’s where blatant disobedience to God causes untold problems in our lives.
Just as the prophet Samuel told King Saul, “When you were humble in your own eyes, when you weren’t haughty and puffed up but looked to God for your advice, God could lead you and guide you. But once you thought you knew how to survive on your own and you thought God’s advice was useless, you began to falter, for none of us knows everything.” As commentator Matthew Henry so eloquently writes: “Those that are advanced to honor and wealth ought often to remember their early beginnings, that they may never think highly of themselves, but always study to do great things for the God that advanced them.”
But there’s one more vital lesson we can also learn from King Saul and his disobedience to God’s command. By hanging on to Agag and potentially using his life as a ransom and by keeping the best species from the cattle and sheep, King Saul may well have been looking out for himself and Israel financially. As Matthew Henry reminds us, “God showed Saul how inexcusable he was in aiming to make a profit from this expedition, and to enrich himself by it…See what evil the love of money is the root of, but see what is the sinfulness of sin, and that in it which above anything else makes it evil in the sight of the Lord. It is disobedience for ‘thou didst not obey the voice of the Lord.’”
In his description of the man, Haman, Matthew Henry serves to highlight what many of us find in our own work-lives everyday and it is this sad fact as Henry points out; “I wonder what King Ahasuerus saw in Haman that was commendable or meritorious; it is plain that he was not a man of honor or justice, of any true courage or steady conduct, but proud and passionate and revengeful; yet he was promoted, and caressed, and there was none so great as he. Princes’ darlings are not always worthies.” What a lesson for our lives today as well.
Hard Times, and Sweet
“Let us so bind ourselves
that we will not only adhere to You
in times of consolation,
in times of sweetness and devotion
and when life goes smoothly,
but yet more securely
in the bleak and bitter
season of the soul –
in the iron hard winters
of the spirit."
“O Christ my Beloved,
each day You embrace me,
each hour You honor me,
each moment You cherish me.
I do not deserve it,
but through Your grace,
I accept that I am,
in Your eyes,
lovely and beloved:
So fill me with Your Holy Spirit,
that I may take each present
moment, hour and day to embrace,
honor and cherish others.”
Julie M. Hulme
“How shall I not give You
all that I have,
When you, in Your great goodness,
give me all that You are?”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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