Devotional Thoughts for Today
Esther 1:1-5; 10-12; 16-22
[1:1] Now in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from India to Ethiopia over 127 provinces,  in those days when King Ahasuerus sat on his royal throne in Susa, the citadel,  in the third year of his reign he gave a feast for all his officials and servants. The army of Persia and Media and the nobles and governors of the provinces were before him,  while he showed the riches of his royal glory and the splendor and pomp of his greatness for many days, 180 days.  And when these days were completed, the king gave for all the people present in Susa the citadel, both great and small, a feast lasting for seven days in the court of the garden of the king’s palace.
 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha and Abagtha, Zethar and Carkas, the seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus,  to bring Queen Vashti before the king with her royal crown, in order to show the peoples and the princes her beauty, for she was lovely to look at.  But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command delivered by the eunuchs. At this the king became enraged, and his anger burned within him.
 Then Memucan said in the presence of the king and the officials, “Not only against the king has Queen Vashti done wrong, but also against all the officials and all the peoples who are in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus.  For the queen’s behavior will be made known to all women, causing them to look at their husbands with contempt, since they will say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, and she did not come.’  This very day the noble women of Persia and Media who have heard of the queen’s behavior will say the same to all the king’s officials, and there will be contempt and wrath in plenty.  If it please the king, let a royal order go out from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes so that it may not be repealed, that Vashti is never again to come before King Ahasuerus. And let the king give her royal position to another who is better than she.  So when the decree made by the king is proclaimed throughout all his kingdom, for it is vast, all women will give honor to their husbands, high and low alike.”  This advice pleased the king and the princes, and the king did as Memucan proposed.  He sent letters to all the royal provinces, to every province in its own script and to every people in its own language, that every man be master in his own household and speak according to the language of his people.
My mother is an avid gardener, and growing up, I observed her put many hours of labor and toil in growing fruits and vegetables of various kinds. As a young kid, I would often think that her labor was useless, because there would be no visible harvest for many weeks or months until the spring came, where I would see the fruit of her labor. It seemed that in those months of no fruit, nothing was seemingly happening.
As we look at the book of Esther for the next few days, the story is about an invisible God at work, despite not seeing the immediate results. The book of Esther is unique in the sense that the name of “God” is never mentioned and almost reads like a short, history novel. God never appears nor does He speak; no prophet speaks on God’s behalf. No angel shows up. The heavens don’t open and God does not deliver a word personally. There’s nothing supernatural. There’s no quoting of other books of the Bible and no giving of God’s laws. No one repents, no one prays. There is no action from God or to God that is revealed anywhere in the entirety of the book of Esther. It makes us ask the question: “Where is God in all of this?”
Chapter 1 starts with the story of a king who tried to degrade his own queen; and when he found that it was impossible to do so, by his own choice, he cut himself off from her fellowship forever. An edict was then written to not only banish Queen Vashti but to also start a search for another queen (v.19). Esther has not even come into the story but that is the wonder of God’s sovereignty. Working behind the scenes, he is moving; arranging events so that His perfect plan will carry forth. In spite of God not being mentioned, He is working sovereignly.
Do you feel like God is silent at different moments in your life? You feel like God is distant or not moving in a particular way. You’ve never gotten a dream, a vision, an audible word. You’re sick and you haven’t been healed. You’ve prayed and it’s not been answered.
Be encouraged that God is at work in your life, despite the silence. Be faithful in what God has called you to do as a student, parent, and son/daughter. Be fervent in prayer and in obeying His Word –loving those around you, because God always uses our faithfulness just like we will see in this great story.
Lord, thank you that You are at work in my life despite not seeing it clearly at times. Help me to be faithful and continue to trust Your plan for me. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 3 John
Lunch Break Study
 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.  Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Questions to Consider:
- How was Paul able to find contentment despite writing this letter from a Roman jail cell?
- How does Paul connect his contentment with his circumstances?
- What is the Lord’s promise according to v. 13?
- He was able to find contentment because Christ was his life and that was all he needed. Paul was able to learn the secret of contentment through is relationship with Christ Jesus.
- His contentment was not based on his circumstances. He had plenty and was in need, and yet he knew how to stay content despite what life my have thrown at him.
- The Lord gives us strength to find our contentment in Him. We have the power to overcome any circumstance we face.
Take some time to worship the Lord – meditate on His greatness and give Him praise and thanksgiving for the awesome God He is. Ask for greater joy and peace as you strive to live for Him.