Devotional Week 43 Monday
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
‘For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they‘ve watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.
So you’ll go out in joy, you’ll be led into a whole and complete life.”
Isaiah 55: 8-12
The Message Bible and
“God is teaching me a valuable lesson. I am beginning to grasp that one of the marks of total surrender is the quiet confidence that God is in control. We don’t come into maturity in a day, a month, or a year. When we discover that we really can trust God’s methods, He gives us the settled confidence that every process He takes us through is worth the wait.
Waiting! The most difficult of all God’s requirements! I have sometimes argued, ‘God, I’m not waiting for a streetcar, or for a light to change, or for the rain to stop. This is a life issue.’ In kindness He reminds me that His ways are unsearchable, unfathomable.
Slowly I am beginning to sense that in waiting I am becoming more teachable, more flexible, more discerning. As I surrender to His wise plan, as I obey His instructions, I begin to discover that what God is doing within me as I wait is far more significant than what I am waiting for.
So I leave it there, believing that God’s Sovereignty is laced with His compassion and love. He doesn’t need my personal analysis.”
Ruth Harms Calkin
“Oh! For a spirit that bows always before the sovereignty of God!”
C. H. Spurgeon
“Great is the Lord, and greatly do be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable.”
Psalm 145: 3
Today’s Study Text:
“And when he (Haman) came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife…Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, ‘ Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon; then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made.”
Esther 5: 10, 14
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“The Influence of Our Associates”Part 40
“Those around us impact us.”
R. Larry Moyer
How have the individuals I associate with affect my behavior?
In what ways have the choices in my life impacted the people I’m around?
“Everybody is influenced by somebody or something.”
“Jackson embezzled Laurel’s life. He pretended it was still in her account, but little by little, he transferred it to his own. And finally she was bankrupt.”
Sisters in Crime 3
Haman thought he had hit the pinnacle of success. Financially he was set – or so he thought. And now with a promotion to the second highest post in the government of Medo-Persia, it was time to let those closest to him revel in his achievements. In his thought-provoking commentary on the book of Esther, Samuel Wells offers this insight into what I’ll call “Haman-Thinking.” “Haman does things the Persian way. Like Ahasuerus, (Haman) enjoys counting out his material superiority...He is surrounded by his advisers. He accepts the advice – on this occasion, from his wife – that pleased him” As Wells pens regarding Haman: “He can recount the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king has honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the ministers of the king, but all that really matters to him is that he sees the Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate. And Haman makes the world smaller than it would otherwise be.”
You would think that Haman would be thrilled by all the accomplishments he was witness to in his career and his own family-life. But he wasn’t. He would rather gripe and complain about one problem which he chose to focus on. And so he went to those closest to him and whined about Mordecai.
Here’s where the word “influence” comes directly into our line of sight today. The meaning of “influence” in Webster’s Dictionary is: “A power indirectly or intangibly affecting a person or event. Power to sway or affect based on prestige, wealth, ability, or status.” We witness in Esther 5: 14 the severe affect the influence of ungodly associates had on Haman. As Matthew Henry writes: “Meditating revenge and assisted therein by his wife and his friends, they say how gladly Haman would dispense with his own resolution of deferring the slaughter till the time determined by the lot,and therefore advised him to take a foretaste of the satisfaction by speedy execution of Mordecai…For the pleasing of his fancy they advise him to get a gallows ready…This is very agreeable to Haman, who has the gallows made and fixed immediately.”
I find it hard to read these words for it seems incomprehensible that so-called friends, along with Haman’s own wife Zeresh, would become such an energizing force, egging on the revengeful Haman to commit murder because of his unbridled anger at one man who defied to bow before him.
However, before we sit back piously thinking that the influence of others around us couldn’t stoke mob-like behavior and revenge-filled actions toward others we disagree with, we need to recognize that repeatedly through Scripture, God’s very own children got caught-up being influenced by heathen nations and worse, falling into traps of rebellion within their own community.
King Solomon left us with this wise advice regarding influence: “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Expanding on these words found in Proverbs 27: 17, commentator Matthew Henry shares these enlightening words: “Good men and women’s graces are sharpened by converse with those that are good, and bad men’s lusts and passions are sharpened by converse with those that are bad, as iron is sharpened by its like, especially by the file. This is to recommend to us to sharpen ourselves with a caution to take heed whom we choose to converse with, because the influence upon us is so great, either for the better or the worse.”
May we choose to influence those around us with joy, encouragement, compassion, and light. As author Edith Wharton expresses so beautifully, “There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
“Blessed influence of one true loving human soul on another!”
Field of Destiny
“We shape ourselves the joy or fear
Of which the coming life is made,
And fill our future’s atmosphere
With sunshine or with shade.
The tissue of the life to be
We weave with colors all our own,
And in the field of destiny
We reap as we have sown.”
John Greenleaf Whittier
“Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest.”
Galatians 6: 7
As A Man Soweth
“We must not hope to be mowers,
And to gather the ripe gold ears,
Unless we have first been sowers
And watered the furrows with tears.
It is not just as we take it,
This mystical world of ours,
Life’s field will yield as we make it
A harvest of thorns or of flowers.”
Johann W. von Goethe
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus