Posted on: 22nd October 2018
“Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey.”
Remember. That was the word that Moses shared with the people of Israel after he came down from the mountain. He had been in God’s presence and was sharing with them the standard that God had set.
What do you think of when someone talks about rules? I love listening to my children playing games. Some games are easier to play than others, because they have less rules. Hide and seek is easy – everyone hides, somebody seeks. The only issue arises when you have to decide what you have to count to before you can begin to search. But it is the made up games that cause the trouble, because no one knows the rules and therefore anyone is free to suggest an improvement to the game. We started car journeys looking for yellow cars. We now count cheese on wheels, minis and soft tops! The rules continue to grow.
Re-reading the 10 commandments in Deuteronomy 5, I am reminded again at the sense and purpose of the law. I was brought up ‘having’ to rest on a Sunday. This felt like I was restricted from doing what I normally do. But the law was set to bring freedom. There was a period in the history of the children of Israel that ‘choosing’ to rest was never an option. Imagine the luxury for a slave to be able to have a day off every week! Maybe this week is a chance for you to take a rule that has been set and see the freedom it brings.
We have been considering respect this half term. My prayer is that, as you reflect on the devotions and scriptures we have looked at, that you challenge yourself to respond positively. Respect is not a list of rules that we expect everyone to keep. It is an attitude that we pray that all will choose. Respect can result in different responses to different people. Will you listen to something that has been said and obey?
Posted on: 17th March 2017
“And who knows but that you have come to the royal palace for such a time as this.”
Within Saint Wilfrid’s we have often spoken about patience as one of our pebbles or similarly perseverance in our own situations. The Old Testament person we are looking at this week demonstrates both patience and persevere in ways we could never imagine. Of course, it is the story of Esther.
Several noticeable things within the account of Esther stand out from the rest, for one the book of Esther, found after Nehemiah but before Job, does not even mention God once. Who would have thought, a story in the bible that does not mention God, or Jesus or the Holy Spirit, yet, this is more significant than we could think. For those that believe in God and are a Christian, how often do we walk around saying, “I am doing this because I believe in God,” or “I am doing this because God told me to?” It is more likely that we just do the act because God has placed it on our hearts to do so. In time, people may ask why Christians do what they do, but most of the time it’s the little acts and moments, like in Esther’s story, that we just get on with because of their faith.
However, what can we take away beyond our acts from the story of Esther?
Most important thing to note is God loved the Jewish people. Remember the Jewish people were the people who followed God before Jesus came in the New Testament to take away the sin of the world. Though the Jews were in a time of adversity, they still mattered to God and, He didn’t create Esther’s beauty and finesse for her and her alone. God placed Esther in a royal position to assist in the delivery of his divine plan, to take care of the Jewish people in the land. Mordecai, Esther’s Uncle who adopted her, said, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to the royal palace for such a time as this” (Esther 4 v 14).
Esther used both the time and position she had been given to follow God’s plan that was in her heart. So, her story also taught us that God gives us divine moment to alter our circumstances. What circumstances are you in now that you wish to change? Do you let the ‘coincidences’ pass you by or do you take the divine chances you have to make a difference to make a change? Remember altering the course of your life by one degree now will change its direction in a dramatic way one, five, or ten years down the line. Is there a slight correction you could seek God’s help for now in order to make your future better?
Finally, one more thing we can take away from Esther’s story is that Esther’s entire story, although only 10 chapters in the bible, is that it did not happen overnight. Esther’s story took years to unfold, yet she stuck with is and pursued God and her faith first before all else.
We have spoken about Moses who served God for 80 years before God used him to lead a nation. We have mentioned Noah who followed and sought God so fervently he built and ark for him which took ages. We have thought of Samuel who dedicate his entire life to following the call of God and seeing two kings to the throne. While this week we look at the story of Esther, a woman with a heart for God, let us not forget the impact that she also had on a whole nation because she did not deviate from her calling.