July 27

Esther 1-5, Psalm 53

Our opportunities are endless, large and small, the question is are we prepared to meet them and are we opening our eyes and noticing them. Almost 30 years ago, as I sat crying alone by the bed of my mother in the hospital who had just died and was about to be brought down to the morgue, a hospital worker took notice of me. Without any of the typical platitudes of my mother being in a better place or her being sorry for my loss, she stepped forth and changed my life. She walked over, placed her hand on my shoulder and recited Psalm 23 from beginning to end and walked away saying nothing further.  It was this simple act of kindness and love from God's Word which I was completely unfamiliar with which forever changed my life.  Two weeks later, I asked the hospital chaplain for a Bible and began a 2 year journey investigating God's Word before giving my heart to Christ.  Ray Stedman was sitting home one evening and noticed that there was a meeting of homosexuals in a nearby town.  He decided to go and just sit on the floor with the rest of them at the meeting and listen to those gathered rail against the church and Christians in general for the better part of the meeting while remaining silent.  At the end of the meeting when the leader of the meeting asked if anyone had anything to say, Ray stood up.  After first apologizing for the treatment some of them described by many of his brothers and sisters, he proceeded to invite them to his church, Peninsula Bible Church, and then said, "I want all of you to know that there is one ray of hope, and it is the hope that will bring for you the relief and the life you need."

We read in the book of Esther about events occurring to the Jewish people who stayed in Persia approximately 30 years before the events we just read about in Nehemiah.  After the plot unfolds and the extinction of the Jewish people is revealed Mordecai approaches Queen Esther (who has never revealed to her husband that she was indeed Jewish).  Though initially she was afraid to speak out and approach the king without being summoned by the king as we read in Esther 4:11, "...and the people of the king's provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live."  We read the response of Mordecai in Esther 4:13-14, "... Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king's palace any more than all the other Jews.  For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish.  Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"  Esther then fasted and prayed in preparation for approaching the king and asked Mordecai and the other Jewish people to do the same for her.

Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."  Aleksander Solzhenitsyn said, "Must one point out that from ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?"  As we read through the Bible we read of story after story of those who were faced with decisions to risk their lives for God and who rose to that occasion in faith.  Mordecai from his knowledge of Scripture knew that the Jewish people would one day prevail, he simply asked Esther if she was willing to glorify God and step out in faith, or whether she would remain silent and let the situation unfold differently.  We too know that God's will, will indeed be done.  The question for us is what small or large role are we willing to play in this story.  Opportunities arise daily, if we are in His Word and focused on Him in prayer these opportunities will not be missed and He will provide us with the necessary courage to meet the challenge.  We must simply realize that this life is not about ourselves but about Him, and we are merely players in His story.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus likens believers to "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the world", then reminds them in Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster