Devotional on Esther

2019 – near Colonial Beach, VA

The extended scepter
Esther 5: He was pleased to see her, the king extended the gold scepter in his hand.
The first great hurdle for Esther is getting an audience with King Xerxes. It sounds crazy to us, but in that kingdom Xerxes is treated like a god. Even his own queen can come into his presence only when summoned. If she or anyone else breaks that rule they can be put to death. However, the king, himself, can grant a sort of “instant reprieve” if he wants to simply by extending his scepter to the uninvited person. Xerxes is just a man, and, apparently, a rather insecure one at that, but that’s how it is in his kingdom. Esther tells Mordecai that she hasn’t been summoned by the king for more than a month, and, in light of what happened to the previous queen when she didn’t come when summoned, Esther is taking a real risk here. However, it’s a necessary one. If Xerxes is unworthy of such deference, there is a King who is King of kings who is worthy of all that and more. However, his relationship to me is so much better than that of Xerxes to his subjects. In fact, I have a standing invitation to come into his Presence any time. This King extended the scepter to me and everyone else long ago, declaring his throne room open for all who will come.
Take Away: We have a standing invitation to enter the throne room, let’s take advantage of it.

Devotional on Job

2019 – Watkins Glen, NY State Park

One of God’s friends
Job 1: Have you noticed my friend Job?
I’ll leave the discussion about how all this fits together theologically to others (although I will add that I have the deepest respect and appreciation for scholars who take on such issues) and stay in the devotional mode. The question asked by the Lord resonates with me. “My friend Job” is an awesome phrase to hear the Lord utter. This is the Almighty, the Creator of the Universe who’s talking. He’s speaking of a man; flesh and blood with human frailties and failings. But that man is a friend of God and God is a friend to him. When I consider the fact that this story is told long before Jesus, God Incarnate, walks this earth I’m blown away. We don’t know the identity of the writer of this book of the Bible, but he or she has an understanding of God and his relationship with us that ought to thrill us. It ought to challenge us too. Today, I have more reason than ever to aspire to and achieve friendship with God. I can not only be a servant of the Lord who worships him in his holiness, I can be his friend too. What a wonderful possibility!
Take Away: It’s an amazing privilege to be invited to be a friend with our Creator.

Devotional on Job

2019 – A cruise on the Erie Canal – Lockport, NY

Questions and the Answer
Job 41: I’m in charge of all this — I run the universe!
The response of the Almighty to Job centers on who God is, what God does, and what God knows. I’m reminded of the opening words of Genesis in which we’re not given a rationale for God’s existence but, instead, the story of God’s action in creating all things. Now, after Job has demanded an audience with God in which he could straighten things out, God speaks, not to explain things to Job but to declare himself to him. Surely the One who runs the universe is not subject to us! We see here that God isn’t especially interested in our having answers to all of life’s questions. He is interested though, in our knowing him. Job’s encounter with God is centered on all the mysteries of creation. Job needs to not only have a better understanding of God, but he needs a clearer understanding of himself and his relationship to the Lord. Of course, the same is true of us. As I better understand who God is and who I am, I realize that my questions aren’t as important as I first thought.
Take Away: I’ll never have all the answers anyway, but I can trust God to be the answer to the deepest needs of my life.

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