Devotional Week 43 Thursday
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. With my voice I cry to the Lord, and He hears and answers me out of His holy hill. I lay down and slept; I wakened again, for the Lord sustains me…Salvation belongs to the Lord: May Your blessing be upon Your people.”
Psalm 3: 3-5, 8
“During the terrible days of the Boxer uprising in China, as one report followed another of mission stations destroyed and missionaries massacred, Hudson Taylor sat quietly at his desk singing softly the hymn he loved so dearly:
“Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.”
Jean S. Pigott
Hudson Taylor had a little red organ he played as he sang the words to the hymn above encouraged his heart. As Robert J. Morgan shares in his book, Then Sings My Soul, “Hudson Taylor had envisioned a missionary task greater than any since the days of the Apostle Paul – the evangelization of China. He had established the China Inland Mission in 1865, but it almost proved his undoing. Overwhelmed by worry, work, and responsibility, he was near a breakdown when he received a letter from a fellow missionary, John McCarthy. In it, McCarthy spoke from John 15 about abiding in Christ. ‘Abiding, not striving or struggling,’ wrote McCarthy, ‘ looking off unto Him, trusting Him for present power…This is not new, and yet it’s new to me…Christ literally all seems to me now the power, the only power for service; the only ground for unchanging joy.’”
Today’s Study Text:
“On that night could not the king sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king. And it was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hold on the King Ahasuerus. And the king said, ‘What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this?’ Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, ‘There is nothing done for him.’”
Esther 6: 1 - 3
“Nurturing The Embers of Hope”
“God Knows! Let There Be No Doubt!” Part 43
“There is nothing in our lives that is accidental. Every day’s happenings are measured by the Lord.”
What can I learn by the intervention of God in the dark of night when King Ahasuerus couldn’t sleep?
When has God entered my life to fulfill His purpose for me?
“The providence of God means that God oversees me, and my life is not a bundle of accidents.”
R. Paul Stevens
“Remember that God is never surprised. He knows the future as thoroughly as He knows the past and has provided for us. He has everything in hand, and we should lean on Him. He will not fall over!”
It was a very unique way to try and fall asleep. But King Ahasuerus was desperate. So he commanded that the “records of the chronicles” be brought and read to him. Here’s where the story of Esther becomes extremely interesting for we are not given any information about the length of time the reading took or even if the end result was that King Ahasuerus actually fell asleep.
But there is certainly a very intriguing situation which burst forth from this nightly recitation of the history of Medo-Persia under Ahasuerus’ kingly rulership. I find the words of author Mel Lawrenz are relevant to this particular event for he points out the fact that, “taking delight in random encounters that come our way is a wonderful reminder that God is in control.” No truer words could be spoken, especially as we ponder the fact that when the reading of the chronicles transpired, the specific portion of the historical record, contained a story, which was by all appearances, long-forgotten in the minds of the king and his officials.
I have to believe, however, that Mordecai didn’t forget what had happened and neither had Queen Esther. If we return to Esther 2: 21-23, we are told that as Mordecai sat in the king’s gate, he got wind of an assassination plot cooked-up by two of the king’s chamberlains – Bigthan and Teresh. Evidently, as Scripture lays out, these two “door keepers” became “wroth” or as the Hebrew defines the word “wroth,” they were “cracked off and burst out in rage.” This definition almost makes it sound as if a sudden fury came over them because of some infuriating action by King Ahasuerus. As commentator Matthew Henry explains, “Probably (these servants) resented some affront which they thought Ahasuerus had given them. As Esther 2: 27 relates, the issue was large enough that the king heard about it and it was written in the chronicles of the king.”
At this moment in time, we need to remember that Haman had not yet been elevated to the second highest post in government. Nor was it a requirement that those in his presence should bow before him. What’s more, the Jews didn’t have a death-sentence hanging over their heads, either. Yet Mordecai’s protective care of the king, along with Esther’s help in certifying to the king the traitorous behavior of two of his chamberlains, ended up becoming the exact passage that was the “sleeping tonic” chosen by God’s providential care for His children in their time of immense need.
We find in Esther 6, when the portion of the chronicles were read which contained the narrative of the murder plot against the king, rather than putting him to sleep, the words got the wheels of his mind whirling as he began to ask, “What was done to honor Mordecai for saving my life.”
Way too often, in the bitter darkness of our lives, when we can’t see any heavenly action on our behalf, it becomes rather easy to believe that God simply doesn’t know what is going on in our world. We feel that somebody else’s problems are more urgent and that maybe God is so busy taking care of other emergencies that you and I simply don’t matter. If you happen to feel forgotten today, you aren’t alone. The prophet Jeremiah was plagued with discouragement during his ministry at a time of great rebellion by God’s children. As the author of the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations, this faithful child of God has been called “the weeping prophet” for it was difficult for him to see the evidence of God’s work. However, rather than leaving Jeremiah alone and distraught, God spoke these words of comfort which resonate with us today. “‘Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?’ says the Lord, ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the Lord.” It’s as if God looks at His children with reassuring love and tells us that He has every inch of the heavens and earth covered. There’s no place where He isn’t at work! As Augustine of Hippo penned, “God is an infinite circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference in nowhere.” Our Father in heaven cannot be limited by our earthly geometrics. As poet William Blake asserted, “he or she who sees the infinite in all things, sees God.”
This means that even before the evil Haman had reared his head, trying to take down God’s children scattered in exile throughout Medo-Persia, God already had a scribe making a notation in the king’s chronicles where it would be read to King Ahasuerus in the middle of the night when he couldn’t sleep.
But that was not the end. For the king’s thoughts turned toward Mordecai the Jew, who had performed a bold act on behalf of the king, literally saving his life. It was when the darkness was at its worst, when the deadline for a murderous plot by Haman crept closer day by day, that God showed, without a doubt, He’d been at work all along.
The Psalmist David, in words that lift our hearts in praise to our Father whose loving presence never leaves us, penned these words in Psalm 139: 7-12 “Where could I go to escape You? Where could I get away from Your presence? If I went up to heaven, You would be there; if I lay down in the world of the dead, You would be there. If I flew away beyond the east or lived in the farthest place in the west, You would be there to lead me, You would be there to help me.”
What a relief to know that when the situation for God’s children in Medo-Persia appeared to be the most desperate, God had already undertaken a rescue mission long before Mordecai or Esther even knew they were going to need God’s emergency assistance. God had been at work all the time. And at the right moment in time, everything fell into perfect place. That’s because our God knows what we need and when we need it. Let there be No doubt!
“No distant Lord have I,
Loving afar to be;
Made flesh for me, He cannot rest
Until He rests in me.
Brother in joy or pain,
Bone of my bone was He,
Now – intimacy closer still
He dwells Himself in me.
I need not journey far,
This dearest Friend to see;
Companionship is always mine,
He makes His home with me.”
I cannot fathom or hold You;
I can only ask You
to take hold of me.
I cannot grasp or contain You
in a formula or tradition;
I can only ask You to fill me with Yourself,
and make me part
of the mystery of Your presence
in the world.”
Psalm of David
“Lord, You have searched me out and known me;
You know when I sit down, and when I rise up,
You discern my thoughts long before.
You know my journeys and the places where I rest;
You are acquainted with all my ways.
You are behind me and before me;
You have laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
So great that I can hardly bear it.”
Psalm 139: 1, 2,5, 6
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus