Tuesday 20 November, 2018

1 John 1:5-10

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Verse 9 is one of those “everyone knows” kind of verses. A good Sunday School verse. I forgot that this verse starts with the word “But…”  It means I need to know verse 8 as well.

“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.”

How often have I done that. I think I’m ok. I justify my actions and decisions by saying they’re not that bad. Life sometimes get murky and grey.

I don’t want to be a dogmatic, black and white kind of Christian but when it comes to sin it’s either one or the other. I can’t be speeding and not speeding at the same time. I’m either lying or I’m telling the truth. I’m either stealing or not stealing. Sin can’t be wrong and right at the same time.

Lord help me not be a fool when it comes to sin. Help me see the right path and have the courage and conviction to take it. I can’t begin to thank you for the forgiveness and cleansing I receive through Jesus when I get it wrong.     Amen

Written by Boudy van Noppen

[comments closed]

Monday 19 November, 2018

1 John 1:1-4

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

All Christians waiver in their faith from time to time. Sometimes caused by a lack of attention to the disciplines of faith or sometimes it signals a prelude to significant spiritual growth. Which ever it is, it can be uncomfortable.

Add to that, the voices that deny the existence of God in our society are many and loud and it’s not surprising we need to hear strong faith declaration along the path of our own faith journey to keep us moving forward. This is the reason we fellowship together.

The Bible is also a voice that influences our faith but rarely are there places in the Bible like this passage where the apostle John, with firsthand knowledge of Jesus, testifies directly to you of the truth about Jesus and what he has seen.

This passage was written at the end of John’s life and demonstrates he held true to this testimony his entire life.

So, take another moment today to re-read this passage and allow John as a first-hand witness to testify to you ‘personally’ regarding the truth and allow his faith to add to your faith today.

Lord, I ask that you take this testimony from the apostle John and strengthen our faith in you.

Amen

Written by David Newton

[comments closed]

Sunday 18 November, 2018

Esther 9:29-10:3

29 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. 30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’ kingdom—words of goodwill and assurance— 31 to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation. 32 Esther’s decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records. 10 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. 2 And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? 3 Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, preeminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

It’s quite amazing that thousands of years later, the feast of Purim is still held annually by those of Jewish faith. The only feast recorded that was not appointed by God but one which He fully approved as we have it’s record preserved.

This story is really about two ordinary family members living their lives in the circumstances they find themselves in, being faithful to their belief in the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men. Stepping out and stepping up in courage, wisdom and perseverance, resulting in an extraordinary event which saved the  Jewish nation. Esther and Mordecai were nation changers.

We may never know how our actions, prayers or lives may play out in history but we can be certain that as we remain faithful to God, loving Him with all our heart, soul and mind (Matt 22:37), He will use our lives for His purposes, just as He used Esther and Mordecai.

Lord may we always keep our focus on you, use our lives to bring about your purposes for your people and Kingdom.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

[comments closed]

Saturday 17 November, 2018

Esther 9:20-28

20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor. 23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. 25 But when the plot came to the king’s attention,[a] he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be impaled on poles. 26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, 27 the Jews took it on themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. 28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.
[comments closed]

Friday 16 November, 2018

Esther 9:1-19

9 On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. 2 The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. 3 And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. 4 Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful. 5 The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. 6 In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. 7 They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, 8 Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, 9 Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder. 11 The number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. 12 The king said to Queen Esther, “The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.” 13 “If it pleases the king,” Esther answered, “give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on poles.” 14 So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they impaled the ten sons of Haman. 15 The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder. 16 Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder. 17 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy. 18 The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy. 19 That is why rural Jews—those living in villages—observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.

Two of King Xerxes decrees came into effect on the same day. One decree allowed the enemies of the Jews to go into battle against them while the other allowed the Jews to defend themselves. This battle was to take place across the 127 provinces of Persia. The expected wiping out of the Jewish people did not occur. The reverse happened – the Jews were overwhelmingly victorious! The enemies of the Jews were afraid of them largely because of the reputation and influence of Queen Esther and Mordecai. In fact, rather than standing against, the nobles, officials and governors came to the assistance of the Jewish people. The Festival of Purim commemorates this victory to this day.

On first glance this passage speaks of God’s sovereignty and his care of his people. This is true of our lives as well. We can never be reminded enough that God loves and cares for us. What also can’t be shied away from is the battle! Bringing God’s purposes to pass will bring opposition. For Queen Esther and Mordecai this purpose was life preservation for the Jewish people who lived in the provinces of Persia under King Xerxes rule. Whatever our purpose we can be encouraged by their stand and their ultimate victory.

Dear God, thank you for your sovereignty in our lives. Help us to bring about your purpose in our lives Amen.

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods

[comments closed]

Thursday 15 November, 2018

Esther 8:9-17

9 At once the royal secretaries were summoned—on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. They wrote out all Mordecai’s orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush.[a] These orders were written in the script of each province and the language of each people and also to the Jews in their own script and language. 10 Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes, sealed the dispatches with the king’s signet ring, and sent them by mounted couriers, who rode fast horses especially bred for the king. 11 The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children,[b] and to plunder the property of their enemies. 12 The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. 13 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. 14 The couriers, riding the royal horses, went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. 15 When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. 16 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. 17 In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.

What a terrific account of God’s faithfulness and faithful people seizing opportunity!

There have been events in my life when God’s hand was the powerful force of change. Change of circumstances and situations, where everything was beyond my control. These are exciting times, seeing God act, but also challenging, waiting for God’s timing. Just as I’m sure the waiting did for Esther and Mordechai, it builds my faith and patience.

As the king honours Mordechai, this opens the way for him to influence the plight of God’s people. Xerxes agreed and the edict travels out across the lands. What an incredible change of circumstances, that a Persian king would entrust a Jewish elder with this authority (this reminds me somewhat of Pharaoh and Joseph!) Our faithful God saved his people and remained true to his covenant promises.

I remember that God is the same in my life. He does not leave anything to chance when he acts. He transforms situations in response to my faith.

Esther and Mordechai show me something else – that I need to be open to opportunities to be used by God. God was at work through Esther and Mordechai, especially bringing them favour with the king. However they needed to act. Situations for me to do the same could mean confronting fear of the consequences, and uncertainty of what to say. However there is no uncertainty that God is with me through it all.

Lord Jesus, the incredible elevation of foreigners in King Xerxes court demonstrates your amazing power to transform situations beyond our wildest dreams. Position me Lord to be a change conductor as you give me opportunities.

Amen

Written by Claire Moore

[comments closed]

Wednesday 14 November, 2018

Esther 8:1-8

8 That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. 2 The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman’s estate. 3 Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews. 4 Then the king extended the gold scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him. 5 “If it pleases the king,” she said, “and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces. 6 For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?” 7 King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have impaled him on the pole he set up. 8 Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring—for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”

How does one approach a king?

Verses 3-6 show Esther falling at the king’s feet, weeping and begging him to help her. She then very humbly requests that the king prevent her people from being destroyed.

I don’t know that I’ve ever fallen on my knees weeping and begging (except maybe as a toddler chucking a tantrum!). However, the point is not the act itself, but the heart behind it. Esther was so passionate for her people, so committed to their wellbeing and survival, and yet unable to help them by her own strength. She needed the king to intervene and yet she recognised that he had no obligation to do so. She approached him passionately, yet humbly.

It’s uncommon for any of us to have mass genocides to prevent (phew!) But there are purposes and priorities God has put in our lives which demand our passion, our commitment, and our weeping and begging before our King. God is good and gracious, and thankfully He isn’t limited by our poor attitudes when we try and do it in our own strength. But these verses should encourage us to recognise our place in His kingdom, and to approach Him accordingly – with passionate humility.

God, thank You that You reign. You are King, You are Lord, You are sovereign. Help us as Your people to approach you with both passion and humility, as we seek Your intervention in our lives.

Written by Matt Samperi

1 (reply)
[comments closed]

Tuesday 13 November, 2018

Esther 7:1-10

7 So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, 2 and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.” 3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. 4 For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.” 5 King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?” 6 Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. 7 The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life. 8 Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining. The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?” As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.” The king said, “Impale him on it!” 10 So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.

How we weave our own traps!  Here we see Haman develop an elaborate trap to kill off the Jews, yet instead of snaring them he snares himself.  I wonder how often the traps I set for others are actually sprung on me.  I should remember the principle of life that God’s Word gives us, we reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7). How often do I allow my anger to burn brightly and cause me to dream up various plans and schemes that sound fool-proof except for the fool called me.  I need to remember to forgive often, freely and that vengeance is mine – SAYS the LORD – and that for all my schemes and plans it is not for me to take vengeance!!

Father help me to forgive freely and not hold grudges or let the sun go down on my anger.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

[comments closed]

Monday 12 November, 2018

Esther 6:1-14

6 That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. 2 It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. 3 “What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked. “Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered. 4 The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him. 5 His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.” “Bring him in,” the king ordered. 6 When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?” Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” 7 So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, 8 have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. 9 Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’” 10 “Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.” 11 So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!” 12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, 13 and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him. His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!” 14 While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.

This passage shows the king recognising where honour is due, and giving it generously. Mordecai warned the king about Bigthana and Teresh’s plans to kill him, so the king wanted Mordecai to be honoured well. I am particularly drawn to the word, “Quick!” (in vs 10), as this indicates that the king wanted to waste no time in recognising Mordecai’s deeds.

I am encouraged by this passage, to look at the people in my world and become more aware of where they deserve honour and acknowledgment for what they do. This king was prompt and generous in his honouring of Mordecai, and that is what I desire to be to those where it is due. This means being more outwardly focused.

God, I thank You for calling us to spur each other on in life. Please help me to see the people around me who I can bring honour to and show my appreciation towards. In Jesus’ name.

Written by Laura Samperi

[comments closed]

Sunday 11 November, 2018

Esther 5:1-14

5 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. 2 When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3 Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.” 4 “If it pleases the king,” replied Esther, “let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.” 5 “Bring Haman at once,” the king said, “so that we may do what Esther asks.” So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared. 6 As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.” 7 Esther replied, “My petition and my request is this: 8 If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.” 9 Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home. Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, 11 Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. 12 “And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. 13 But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.” 14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it. Then go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself.” This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the pole set up.

What a contrast!

Haman is obsessed with himself: boasting about his wealth and perceived honour; and consumed with hatred for any who don’t share his elevated view of himself. Esther comes humbly and respectfully to Xerxes.

Haman is so overwhelmed by his hatred that he rushes to set up the public destruction of his enemy before he has even mentioned his plan to the king. Esther is patient: though she’s been offered up to half the kingdom she patiently builds anticipation of her request to save her people.

Haman takes a big risk (building the spike before asking the king) to build his own self-esteem and destroy others. Esther takes a big risk (coming into the king’s presence uninvited) to rescue others.

I can’t help but be reminded of what Paul says about love. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Hatred is life transforming … to destruction. Love is life transforming … to life.

Father, I want to “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior” (Ephesians 4:31). Holy Spirit, transform my heart to love like you love.

Written by David Cornell

[comments closed]