Devotional on Esther

2019 – Stratford Hall, Montross, VA – Potomac River

God’s sense of humor
Esther 6: Haman fled to his house, thoroughly mortified.
If you like a good story with both drama and comedy, you have to enjoy the Book of Esther. Xerxes, upon reading the journal of his kingdom through a sleepless night discovers Mordecai’s heroic deed and realizes that Mordecai was never properly rewarded. The next morning as he’s still thinking about this Haman shows up so Xerxes asks for his advice concerning a proper reward for such a great man. Haman immediately assumes that this “national hero” he’s being asked about is himself, so he describes an honor that he would thoroughly enjoy: a chance to dress up like the king and be treated as the king. To his horror, Xerxes orders him to do it. However, instead of it being Haman who’s honored, it will be the man Haman hates the most: Mordecai. As I imagine this story being told by Jewish people to one another, I can almost hear the laughter at this unexpected turn of events. The picture of Haman leading the horse and the praise of Mordecai brings a smile to the face even when we’ve read the story many times. No big devotional thought here; just a reminder of God’s great sense of humor.
Take Away: The Lord delights in turning the tables on situations.

Devotional on Haggai

Sacred Space
Haggai 1: Do it just for me. Honor me.
I was out doing some errands this week and dropped by the church for a minute. No one was there but me but when I went into the sanctuary, almost without thinking, I removed my hat. At that point I smiled to myself that no one would know whether or not I removed my hat in reverence and I wondered if the Lord even cared. I’ve seen church guys working in the building who went in and out of the sanctuary without a thought about it and, frankly, I’m okay with that. Still, there’s something about being in that place where we worship the Lord that makes it special to me and I want my actions there, even on a Monday when no one else is around, to reflect that reality. Through his prophet the Lord calls for the people of that day to pick up the task of rebuilding the Temple. Practically speaking, they can worship the Lord anywhere. As Jesus put it in John 4:24: “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” Still, there’s value in setting aside sacred space. Haggai tells them that God feels honored when people make a special effort to provide a place of worship. While I understand that the Temple has a unique role in the life of the people of Israel I still think there’s a connection between it and the place where I worship. We should seriously think about the fact that the Lord didn’t say, through Haggai, “You can worship me anywhere, just do it with all your heart” but, instead said, “Rebuild the Temple; do it just for me. Honor me.”
Take Away: There’s value in setting aside sacred space.