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Daily Worship

Bible readings and resources for your time with God

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DAILY READING

Esther 4:1-17

 

REFLECTION


Fervency of Faith

by Mary Kate Hipp

Each year, the Jewish people celebrate a holiday per the story of Esther called Purim. On this holiday, Jews dress up in silly costumes, feast, drink, gather in the synagogues and read the story of Esther and celebrate their deliverance from extermination. A Rabbi I once studied under explained that all Jewish holidays go like this, "the Jews were about to be exterminated—let’s eat!” Pretty morbid, right? Well, perhaps not.


Gerald L. Sittser, author and theologian, fluent in the language of grief and tribulation once exclaimed that "...the fate of the martyrs may not be ours, but their faith and conviction must be!" Esther's proclamation in v. 16 "if I perish, I perish," is just that--a statement of commitment and faith. Even though the Jewish people were experiencing grave trials and severe pain under Persian rule, we see this at the beginning of the chapter in Mordecai ripping his clothes and wearing sackcloth, a traditional form of lamenting in the Old Testament. Yet, through this mournful time period, Esther understood and exemplified that serving her God was still worth everything, even her life. She knew that her God would deliver her if she had faith.


Perhaps Esther, the Jewish people in their celebration of Purim, and Sittser are all getting at the same concept. Our fervency for following the Lord should mimic that of the martyrs. The Jews celebrate in light of this fervency, Esther exemplified this fervency, and Sittser notes this fervency. Therefore, this celebration is not morbid! It is good to celebrate this faith and this God who frees His people who believe.


Now, our King has come and has delivered us, and will come again! He is worth our everything. If we perish, we perish. Let this be our attitude today and every day henceforth. In this season of Advent let us prepare our hearts with the fervency of martyrs for our coming King.


PRAYER PRACTICE

O Deliverer,

We praise You for promising to come again. Lord, You are worth our everything. Prepare our hearts in this season of Advent to have the faith and conviction of martyrs, to take on faith like Esther, proclaiming, "If I perish, I perish!" Reveal to us today our stagnancies in faith and ignite our hearts for You.

Amen.












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DAILY READING

Jonah 2:1-10

 

REFLECTION


Faithfulness when Distressed

by Pr. Dave Mann


I once met a Christian brother who had been through many difficulties in his life, but he still maintained a very cheerful and faithful relationship with the Lord. I was quite impressed with his disposition. At first, my response was simply to hope that I could be like him someday if I should encounter challenging times myself. However, later I learned that the enrollment into the classroom of faithfulness in times of distress begins not in the distress itself but in times of joy. When we are going through pain and sorrow, the heart is not open to new ideas. But when we have the time and the cup is full, we are ready to learn. It is during the practice reps, that the athlete can train for new techniques, not during the game.


We don’t know much about the prior life of Jonah, but we do see that he was ready for the difficulties that swallowed him. In the first verse of the book that bears his name, we read that the word of the Lord came to Jonah. It would seem that this experience was not new to him. Permit me to speculate a bit: he was not a novice in hearing the voice of God. So, when this flawed prophet disobeyed, he knew how to return to the Lord. He knew how to draw near to God even in his distress. Chapter 2 was Jonah’s prayer of repentance and leaning upon the Lord. A good study Bible will list numerous cross-references for the verses of Jonah’s prayer in this chapter. With a little thumbing back and forth, you will find that virtually every verse of Jonah 2 is an echo of the prayers found in the Psalms. Jonah had already practiced repentance and faithfulness to the Lord in times of distress.


Are you in a time of joy and confidence at present? This is the moment to get in some reps for praying through sorrow and pain. In the future, when you are swallowed up by angst and difficulties, you will know what to do. That day will come sooner or later, and your prayer will not feel strange.


PRAYER

Lord God, we look to you in the good times and in the bad. Thank you that you never forsake us. Though I may not be experiencing hardship at this moment, I pray the prayer of a man who was swallowed up in difficulties. Hear me as I pray: “I called out of my distress to the Lord…” I join my Amen to Jonah's.












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DAILY READING

Isaiah 42:1-9

 

REFLECTION


Servanthood

by Elaine Pierce


Do you ever wish you had servants? It's such an old-fashioned word, isn't it? I think of the Masterpiece Theater series, "Upstairs Downstairs," or the more recent "Downton Abbey" as classic portrayals of servants. They must obey their employers without question or they face certain dismissal. Their tasks are repetitive and often physically exhausting. They know the dark secrets of the rich, but if they reveal them they will be ruined. They have no voice, no authority, no opportunity for advancement. They will never trade places with the landed gentry. To be a servant is not on anyone's list of career goals.


Take a look at verse 42 in today's passage: "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations." Not the kind of servant I was picturing at all. In Isaiah's time, a king's servant stood in a position of great importance. As Christians, we read this passage and we say, of course, this servant is Jesus! Isaiah's listeners must have wondered who Isaiah was talking about, but they had to take comfort from the description of this servant. Take a look at his character and what he will accomplish:

  • He will bring forth justice (v. 3)

  • He will not be discouraged (v. 4)

  • He will establish justice on earth (v. 4)

And who is saying this about the servant? The God of the heavens! The One who created the heavens. The One who is a light to the gentiles - that's us! The One who will open the eyes of the blind and free captives from prison.


Isaiah was writing to a people in captivity. They were in bondage to the cruel Assyrians, and the world looked bleak and dreary. But Isaiah knew that the light was coming. And in verse 9, he gives the people hope for a future they may not see for many years, but one that we know is coming:


"See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you."


Thanks be to God that he sent his servant to deliver us.


PRAYER

Dear Lord, you came to earth as as baby, helpless and without power. Thank you for the gift of life and hope. As we wait for your birth, help us to ponder anew what it means to follow you. Amen.










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