Devotional Week 40 Thursday
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.”
Psalms 27: 14
“I ask not that my course be calm and still;
No, here too, Lord, be done Thy holy will;
I ask but for a quiet childlike heart;
Though thronging cares and restless toil be mine,
Yet may my heart remain forever Thine;
Draw it from earth, and fix it where Thou art.”
C. J. P. Spitta
When We Have Waited Long
“When your promises seem empty
when faith has grown tired and old,
dazzle us with Your darkness and light,
illuminate the Way of Faith and Hope.
Restore us through Your love,
and when our work is done,
gather us to Yourself and grant us peace.”
“Today’s Study Text:
“So will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.”
Esther 4: 16 -17
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“If I Die, I Die” Part 31
“ No one is a martyr for a conclusion, no one is a martyr for an opinion; it is faith that makes martyrs.”
John Henry Newman
Do I think I would have been able to declare, as Esther did, “If I die, I die”?
“Love makes the whole difference between an execution and martyrdom.”
“God has called us to shine. Let no one say that he cannot shine because he has not so much influence as some others may have. What God wants you to do is to use the influence you have.”
Dwight L. Moody
I find the quote above especially poignant when you stop and consider what we learned several days ago about the conversion of Dwight L. Moody, one of America’s greatest evangelists and witnesses for Christ.
The part of the quote which I deeply appreciate are these words: “use the influence you have.” If ever there were two individuals who used their influence where God had placed them, it was Mordecai and Esther. Living in Medo-Persia, these Israelites never forgot that they were in the service of Jehovah. King Ahasuerus might be the ruler of Medo-Persia; he might even have plans to conquer Greece, however, Mordecai and Esther’s loyalty was, without a doubt, firmly staked in the Creator of heaven and earth – God Almighty. Even at a time when it may have seemed easier to hide their identity or renounce their faith, they encouraged each other to stand boldly for Jehovah.
Maybe it is just me, but I find the paraphrase of The Message Bible really adds impact to Esther’s response to her cousin when she said: “I’ll go to the king, even though it is forbidden” (Esther 4: 16) It’s as if Esther wanted to remind Mordecai that she would follow his instructions and thus that he might have some responsibility for what happened to her in the end. But as The Message Bible records, Esther’s words, “If I die, I die” take on a distinct reflection of the seriousness of her actions if they are found to be, in the eyes of King Ahasuerus, blatant disobedience to his strict commands. This foreign king had already shown his capricious nature, especially when his orders were crossed. So why wouldn’t Esther feel that there was a possibility that her actions might be misinterpreted. Any reasonable person could come to the conclusion that severe consequences were on the way. And so, with her decision made, Esther told Mordecai, “I’m going before the king. I will disobey the law. But don’t you forget the penalty my dear cousin. What’s more, if I die, I die.” In the King James Version of the Bible, the chosen word is “perish,” which to me verbally sounds softer than “kill.” But indeed the same result would be carried out if Esther did not find favor with the king.
However, Esther 4 doesn’t end with Esther’s distinctive words. Instead, the author of the book of Esther reports that Mordecai left and carried out Esther’s instruction. It’s as if the young woman Mordecai raised, now became the adult woman whose “core beliefs” would have made any parent proud. Even in the face of death, Esther proved her loyalty not only to Jehovah but also to the special place she held among the Jewish people who had been called by God as witnesses to Jehovah.
As I pondered the words of Esther, “If I die, I die,” my thoughts were carried down through time when many a martyrs red blood stained the brown dirt of earth beginning with the disciples of Jesus Christ. Renowned author and historian, Frank S. Mead writes that “James the brother of Jesus and James the son of Zebedee preach and were killed by mobs in Jerusalem; Matthew was slain with a sword in Ethiopia; Philip was hanged in Phrygia; Bartholomew was flayed alive in Armenia; Andrew was crucified in Achaia; Thomas was run through with a lance in East India; Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows; a cross went up in Persia for Simon the Zealot; and another in Rome for Peter; Matthias was beheaded. Only John escaped a martyr’s grave.”
However, even though the cost these followers of Christ paid with their lives was great – as Soren Kierkegaard touchingly points out, “The tyrant dies and his (her) rule ends, the martyr dies and his (her)rules begins.”
Thus it was with Queen Esther. Thousands of years later, her life is celebrated on the Day of Purim – a young woman’s bold action not only saved her people but also stands as a witness to those who have laid down their lives for the cause of God down to this very day and time.
Several months ago, in my personal prayer time, I asked God to please expand the prayer ministry of Transformation Garden by sending us Prayer Warriors who were involved with ministries serving nations around the globe. A couple of weeks later, a precious daughter of God, June T. wrote me from England, asking if she could be included as a Garden Prayer Warrior. I can’t begin to explain the influence June has already brought into our prayer requests. From her home in England, she is passing on to us the prayer needs from so many global points around the world. This past week she forwarded a request from a Christian man in Syria whose network of family and friends in that war-torn nation are constantly under attack. And as this warrior for Christ stated: “We are refusing to see death any more in Syria – we are declaring the resurrection of the Christ in our beloved country.”
“If we die, we die.” The battle cry of God’s devoted children down through time. For in the words of Thomas Fuller, “He (she) that will not live a saint cannot die a martyr.”
“The martyrs were bound, imprisoned, scourged, racked, burnt, rent, butchered and they multiplied.”
Augustine of Hippo
“Lord, give us grace to follow Your example,
in a spirit of joy and not of self-righteousness
may our lives be ruled,
not by fear of what anyone can do to us,
but by delight in Your will,
trust in Your presence
and freedom in Your service.”
Right Must Win
“O it is hard to work for God,
To rise and take His part
Upon this battlefield of earth,
And not sometimes lose heart!
He hides Himself so wondrously,
As though there were no God;
He is least seen when all the powers
Of ill are most abroad.
Or He deserts us at the hour
The fight is all but lost;
And seems to leave us to ourselves
Just when we need Him most.
Ill masters good, good seems to change
To ill with greatest ease;
And, worst of all, the good with good
Is at cross purposes.
It is not so, but so it looks,
And we lose courage then;
And doubts will come if God hath kept
His promises to men.
Workman of God! oh, lose not heart,
But learn what God is like,
And in the darkest battlefield,
Thou shalt know where to strike.
Thrice blest is he (she) to whom is given
The instinct that can tell
That God is on the field when He
Is most invisible.
Blest too is he (she) who can divine
Where real right doth lie,
And dares to take the side that seems
Wrong to man’s blindfold eye.
Must on His justice, downcast soul,
Muse, and take better heart;
Back with thine angel to the field,
And bravely do thy part.
For right is right, since God is God,
And right the day must win;
To doubt would be disloyalty,
To falter would be sin.”
Frederick William Faber
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus