Editor’s Note: The AMI Quiet Times for today are provided by Pastor David Kwon of JCC.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her.  Then the king’s young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king.  And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them.  And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so.  Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite,  who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away.  He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.  So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women.  And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem.  Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known.  And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.  Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women— when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace.  In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.  When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her.  And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign,  the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.  Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.
One movie series that I could watch over and over again is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. One of the reasons why the movie (and book) is so well made is because of the ability the movie has of depicting different subplots and stories within the bigger story. We know the main character Frodo and his quest for the ring, but within that story, there are smaller subplots: the friendship between Frodo and Sam, and the mysterious Gollum and crowning of Aragorn as the king of Gondor (sorry if you have not seen the movies). All of these subplots seem unimportant at first, but at the end we see how important they were in building the main story.
That’s what is happening in the story of Esther. King Ahasuerus (or also known as King Xerxes) is on a quest to find his next queen, after he had banished Queen Vashti in the previous chapter. The king is lonely and desires to find a new queen by holding a “Miss Persia” beauty pageant. The book of Esther does not flinch from narrating for us this simple and sad fact of life in ancient Persia—people were treated as commodities, especially when it came to kings and women.
In almost an unrelated and smaller subplot, the character of Mordecai comes on the scene. Mordecai begins at once to bring Esther and the king together in a most natural and unaffected manner. He maneuvers to place Esther in the line of the king’s search. Esther would eventually win the heart of the king and be made queen. So what do we learn from this?
- God’s plans are not hindered even when the events of the world seem secular. Even in a godless Persian banquet and at the hands of a self-centered King, God was at work. Just because actions or motives happen to be secular or unfair, it doesn’t mean He’s not present. God is working, moving and touching lives.
- God can use anyone for His kingdom. One of the encouraging themes of the book of Esther is how He used seemingly normal people like Mordecai and Esther. They did not come from royalty, and yet because they were available to the call of God, He used them powerfully.
Take some time to ask for greater faith—that we would recognize God’s work in our lives even when it does not look like it at times. Pray for greater surrender of your life as you continually trust him.
Lord, help me to continually surrender to Your will and purposes for my life. I want to trust You in times of uncertainty. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: John 1
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 6:25-34
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,  yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Questions to Consider:
- When it comes to the area of worry, what is the main issue Jesus is pointing to?
- What is the solution to anxiety over our future?
- How can we be comforted by this passage?
- The reason why we get anxious about our life and future is because we lack faith. We lack faith that God’s ways are best, and that He will provide for us in His time.
- The way that we overcome worry is by making His kingdom the highest priority (v. 33). We seek His kingdom and trust that He will add the things that we need.
- We can be assured that God knows and cares for our every need. He desires us to trust Him and to seek the things of His kingdom.
Spend time tonight interceding for the world, your city, and your local community (church). Pray that God would give you His heart as you lift up these various topics.