Chronological Bible: September 16, Preventing the knot of doubt…

Read:

  • Esther 3:1-8:17

“If it pleases the king…”

Driven by whatever pleased him, King Ahasuerus tossed to and fro with his decisions and edicts. With Queen Vashti, he called her to the court to please the men around her. Then when the men decried her refusal, they convinced him to remove her from her place, as it pleased him. When he became sober again and considered what he had done, his men descended and proposed a collection of virgins for a harem from which to choose a new queen. And that pleased him.

Then Haman, as it pleased himself, got angry with Mordecai, and persuaded the king, based on what pleased the king, to set forth an edict demanding that the Jews bow down.

When Esther created her feast, “if it pleases the king” was used to invite King Ahasuerus and Haman to another feast. “If it pleases the king…” rang throughout the story of Esther. He is pleased by the decree against the Jews, then pleased by honoring Haman. But with Esther’s plea, he is pleased to issue another edict allowing the Jews to fight back.

Back and forth, at the mercy of his human knowledge and judging actions by his pleasure, King Ahasuerus certainly created quite a knot for himself. I cannot help but wonder what knots we have created for ourselves because we convinced ourselves, or allowed ourselves to be convinced by others, that fulfilling the desires of the human heart were the best decision we could make. How many wishy-washy or back-and-forth decision processes have twisted our life experience into a confusing mess of frustration? So how do we undo the knot? Or better yet, how do we prevent ourselves from getting in it in the first place?

Yesterday’s devotion highlighted how Esther surrounded herself with wise counsel and wisdom as being from the Lord. In seeking the Lord, there is peace. It may not be a straight line, but it is a peaceful line. The book of James provide insight on this very issue:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” –James 1:5-8, ESV

God will give wisdom to him who asks in faith. It is the lack of faith, the doubting of God’s wisdom, that starts to loop the cords around and around until a knot cannot help but be formed. The instability that comes with doubt simply does not pay off compared to the peace that comes from following God’s wisdom.

Chronological Bible: September 15, Surrounded with wisdom…

Read:

  • Esther 1:1-22
  • Esther 2:1-23

Esther’s life hadn’t gone exactly how she would have dreamed. Her parents died, so she was raised by her uncle. She was taken from that home to serve in a king’s harem. Likely a teenager, Esther kept the lessons she learned from Mordecai. She kept quiet her heritage as instructed by Mordecai.

She grew up, raised by a wise, God-fearing man. She could likely recognize wisdom when she saw it. And she recognized it in the eunuch Hegai. She knew that others could advise her better than she could imagine on her own. Her God-fearing uncle was an easy identification. But in her ten months in the harem, she isolated onto Hegai, recognizing him for the knowledge and wisdom he held regarding the king and the king’s preferences. She sought his advice, and told others she would bring nothing with her except that which he advised.

Esther didn’t seek to live life alone. She sought out wise counsel. And in the end, the counsel of Mordecai to keep her heritage quiet allowed her into a position to influence the king. The counsel of Hegai accomplished the same. Because she knew wisdom when she saw it, she gained counsel others did not have.

Identifying wisdom means being clear on the source of wisdom. If you believe God is the all-knowing, Almighty, Creator, and justifier of our faith, then He is the source of wisdom. Anything that aligns with His truth and His will is something to seek. Deliberate consideration of wisdom may not only preserve your life, like Esther, it could lead to the deliverance of an entire people.

Chronological Bible: August 31, Wisdom’s silence…

Read:

  • Job 12:1-14:22
  • Job 15:1-35
  • Job 16:1-17:16

“Oh that you would keep silent, and it would be your wisdom!” –Job 13:15, ESV

Wisdom comes not always with words and advice.

Sometimes wisdom is the quiet listener. The one who listens to his friend’s words, hears the whole message, and just listens.

Sometimes wisdom is the quiet ponderer. The one who knows his thoughts are so much lower than God’s. The one who understands that he has very little understanding. And in knowing this, he decides to keep his words silent.

Sometimes wisdom just lives life to the best of his understanding, not seeking affirmation from others, but only that from God alone.

Wisdom does not always roar. Wisdom sometimes quiets itself that it may understand more than words could offer.

Chronological Bible: August 27, Wisdom deep…

Read:

  • 2 Chronicles 36:22-23
  • Proverbs 22:17-24:34

“My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” –Proverbs 24:13-14, ESV

In a list of proverbs warning us to stay away from a man plotting folly, this reminder provides images for the benefit of wisdom. Wisdom does not always present itself like decorations on a cake. Sometimes it is the ingredient indistinguishably mixed that deepens flavor. Living a life of wisdom rarely comes with the flash and sparkle the world says is valuable. But taking it is deep, relishing its sweet refreshment will sustain you far longer than anything the world can offer.

Chronological Bible: August 20, Walking backwards forwards…

Read:

  • Daniel 5:1-31

The king praised the gods of many things, but not the God Almighty. He lavished his people and drank from the cisterns. And when the hand of God wrote incomprehensible words on the wall, he called the people of those gods who gave him nothing. They could not read the writing nor interpret what it might mean. It was only when a man of the one true God was called, when Daniel was brought before the king, that the words could be understood.

We are so much the same. We honor ourselves and trust in our own devices. When those devices become confusing and we cannot tell what it all means, we go back to the god we were worshiping when the confusion came. If you have problems believing this, here is an example from my own life.

In a job search, I relied on my education, experience, and writing to secure interviews and eventually a new position. Over and over the applications were sent, and calls did not come. I reviewed the positions for which I applied and found them to be in-line with what should be getting phone calls. I wasn’t aiming to high or to far afield of my experience or expertise. I continued to apply, and asked colleagues with career advising expertise to review my documents. They affirmed I should be on track. More and more applications, no phone calls. More tailoring of the application materials, more editing of the resume, ensuring my online presence wouldn’t stand in the way. And on, and on, and on…

Do you see something missing? I decided to look for a new job because “it was time.” Not because God was leading me elsewhere. At a certain point, I then prayed about it. I received the call to look elsewhere, but only after I had already tried. I was backwards. Even then, I didn’t ask Him where I should be applying or what His will for my future might be. I didn’t seek His understanding because I was so intent on my own, so trusting in my own, that I didn’t see it as necessary.

When the phone doesn’t ring, that’s some writing on the wall. When the knowledge of man couldn’t interpret, that’s a signal. It became time to stop. To trust that He would direct. And then to ask Him to direct. And wait however long necessary for Him to give direction. For only in His leading and interpretation will anything good come from that process anyway.

Where are you relying on man before receiving direction from God? Stop trusting your idols. Trust me, there is no good fruit from it.