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READING: Esther 3-5 – Haman Elevated & Esther’s Banquet 

A prince of Ahasuerus named Haman was promoted to a high position. Haman was greatly disturbed by Mordecai, however, because Mordecai would not bow down to him. Haman obtained a decree from the king to destroy all Jews, including Mordecai. The day for this massacre was selected by casting lots (dice) called (in Assyrian) PUR (Hebrew, plural, purim). This decree was circulated throughout the vast empire of Ahasuerus from India to Ethiopia, including Judah. (Esther 3) 

If this decree had been carried out, all of God’s promises to Abraham, to Moses, to David – all the promises of the Messiah would have failed. But the word of the LORD shall stand forever (Isaiah 40:8). 

Mordecai, in great weeping over the decree, sent word to Esther in the palace, asking her to petition the king about the decree. In words of great eloquence, he declared that she may have come to the kingdom “for such a time as this” (4:14). Esther bravely accepted this duty, knowing that if she approached the king without an invitation, she would be put to death unless the king extended his scepter in acceptance of her visit. (Esther 4) 

Esther’s faith was rewarded. The king received her warmly and accepted an invitation to a banquet the next day. Haughty Haman was exultant at the supposed honor to himself, but upon seeing Mordecai as he went home he was again angered. At the suggestion of his wife, Zeresh, he prepared that day a high gallows, and that night went to the king to obtain permission to hang Mordecai upon them. (Esther 5) [From William Smith, LL.D, Old Testament History in Bible Study Textbook Series, Revised and Amended by Wilbur Fields. College Press, Joplin, Missouri, copyright, 1970, 7th printing, 9/1978.] 

After Haman’s promotion, all at the king’s gate bowed to him as the king ordered; Mordecai refused, which angered Haman. He would not lay hands on Mordecai alone. He told Ahasuerus the Jews were scattered all over his kingdom but had laws differing from his law. He paid 10,000 talents of silver to have an edict that would destroy all Jews. The king accepted and the edict was published. 

When Mordecai heard of this, he sent Esther a copy of the decree and told her she would not escape the edict in the palace, but if she kept silent, “relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your family will perish. Perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” (4:14) She said the king had not invited her into his presence for thirty days. She asked Mordecai to have the Jews in Susa fast and pray while she and her maidens did the same. Then she would go to the king. When she went, the king held out his scepter to her, and she invited him and Haman to her banquet the next day. 

Note Mordecai’s faith and Esther’s bravery.  

What would you have done? 


Father in Heaven, help me understand your providential working is my prayer in the name of Jesus, Your Son, and my precious Savior, AMEN!  

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for myself)  

Holy Father my prayer for all who read this and for myself, is that we, as we read Esther, see the things that “just happen” that will justify the name, “God in the Shadows.” I offer this prayer for myself, and for all who read this, in the precious name of Jesus, I pray, AMEN!

READING: John 12-13 – Jesus Christ, Super Star

From the time Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the foal of a donkey with shouting crowds around Him, He was a celebrity. After He had cleansed the Temple of its merchandisers, He was persona non grata with the Temple authorities who wanted to kill Him but feared riots. Hence, they welcomed Judas who offered to betray Him when all would be home during Passover. The main body of the Jewish people hung on every word He spoke. Even Greeks, who came to worship at the Temple, wanted to see Him. And He was the guest of honor at the dinner where Martha served, Lazarus was at the table with Him, and Mary anointed His head and feet for burial. 

In the middle of this celebration, Jesus spoke of His glorification in His death. He said,  ”Unless a seed of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” He was disturbed within Himself at His approaching death by crucifixion. The crowd around Him heard God’s voice. Some said it thundered; others said an angel spoke to Him. They did not understand His meaning, anymore than His disciples understood, when He told them, plainly, that He would be crucified. Though many believed, their faith was only skin deep as the next few days would show.

When He came to the Passover that Friday, which began at sundown Thursday, He loved His chosen Twelve to the utmost. During the supper, knowing God put Him in charge, He had come from God, and was returning to God, He rose from the table and took the position of a slave as he began to wash the disciples’ feet. 

When He returned to the table, He asked if they knew what He had done. He applied the lesson by saying, “If your Lord and Teacher has washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. Servants are not greater than their master. If you know this, you are blessed if you do it” (13: 3-21).  

Jesus sadly announced one of them would betray Him. They looked at each other wondering who it could be. John was leaning into Jesus’ breast, and asked who is it, and Jesus said it is he to whom He would hand the piece of bread He dipped in the broth. He handed it to Judas and said, “Do quickly what you are doing.” Judas arose and left the room. 

When Judas left, Jesus told the others he would be with them only a little longer. They would seek Him but could not follow Him now. He left them a new commandment, to love one another as He had loved them. This would be their mark as his disciples. Peter boasted he was ready to follow Jesus and die with Him; Jesus said to Peter, “Before the cock crows, you will have denied knowing me three times.” 

What a sad way to end the Passover celebration! 

What Jesus said in the next four chapters, though, set their course for the rest of their lives. 



Father, these chapters in the life of Jesus are so sad to me. I love Him with all my heart, but these chapters show His love for me. Keep me always close to Jesus, is my prayer, AMEN.  

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and for myself)  

Our Father in the Heavens, including the atmosphere of this earth and the air we breathe, I pray that each of us ponders the events of the two chapters we read. In the Precious Name of Jesus, I pray. AMEN.  

READING: Acts 21-22 – Paul in Jerusalem

Luke gives minute details of his journey with Paul to Jerusalem. At Tyre, they stayed seven days with the disciples. In Ptolemais, they met the brothers and stayed one day.  

At Caesarea, they left the ship and stayed with Philip the evangelist, one of the seven with four prophetic daughters. Agabus, the prophet who came down from Judea, took Paul’s belt, bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is how the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him to the Gentiles” (21:11).  

Now Paul enters Jerusalem. He brought alms collected from Gentile churches and is praying these funds will be acceptable to the saints. See Romans 15:30-32; note he asked for two prayers: deliverance from unbelieving Jews and for the saints to accept funds from Gentile churches. He had deep concerns on both counts. 

He saw James and the elders. He related his work to Gentiles. When they heard it, they glorified God. They mentioned a problem though. Thousands of believing Jews, zealous for the Law, believed Paul taught Hellenistic Jews not to circumcise their sons nor walk according to the Jewish customs. They offered a solution: Four men were under a vow. Paul would take these men, purify himself along with them, and pay their expenses to complete the vow. So, Christian Jews would see that Paul lives to observe the Law. Paul agreed to the plan. 

The plan might have worked, but Jews from Ephesus saw Paul in the city with Trophimus, a Greek, and seeing Paul in the Temple, they supposed he brought Gentiles into the Temple and defiled it.  

At once raising an outcry; the whole city was in an uproar trying to kill Paul. Roman soldiers arrested Paul, binding him with chains. The tribunal, learning no facts about Paul, ordered him taken to the barracks. Soldiers carried Paul up the steps, and he asked the tribune, “May I speak with you?” Paul explained he was a Jew from Tarsus and asked to be able to speak to the crowd. He gave permission. 

On the steps, Paul told of his conversion, having seen the resurrected Jesus as he was going to Damascus to arrest Christians. He told how Ananias came to him and told him to be baptized and wash away his sins. He also mentioned how he had seen a vision in the Temple in which the Lord told him to get out of Jerusalem quickly, for He was sending him to the Gentiles. Up to this word, they listened, but now they shouted, “Away with him, he is not fit to live!”  

The tribune ordered him examined by flogging. As they stretched him out, Paul asked the centurion, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen?” He spoke to the tribunal who asked if Paul really was a Roman citizen. Paul said yes; the tribunal said. “I bought citizenship with a great deal of money”. Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.” 



“Father, how would I have prayed had I been among those Christians who tried to keep Paul from going into Jerusalem because of what the Holy Spirit was saying in each city he stopped in? I would have been tempted to bind him myself to keep him from going. Had I been there, could I have stopped him? Would stopping him have interfered with Your plan? I have so much to learn about prayer. At times all I can do is groan in keeping with the Holy Spirit. Amen.” (See Acts 21:11 and Romans 8:26; 15:30-31.) 


“Father, may we be preserved from the hard hearts of the Jews of Jesus’ and Paul’s day in their certainty that they were Your people when they were far from You in their hearts. It is so easy for us to see their hardness of heart and do not see our own. Why are we so exclusive when there are other faith communities that put us to shame in the fruit of the Spirit or in their evangelistic zeal. We think we have things all figured out with all of the answers, when we do not even know the questions, we should be asking. Lord, have mercy on us and lead us to firmer ground in our faith and walk with You! Amen.” 

READING: Acts 10 – The Gentiles Are Included!

CORNELIUS, The Roman. Based at Roman Palestinian headquarters in Caesarea, he was a centurion of the Italian Cohort. He was a devout, God-fearing man. He gave alms generously to the people and prayed continually to God. At the ninth hour, he had a vision of an angel of God saying to him, ’Cornelius.’ He stared in terror and said, ‘What is it, Lord?’ The angel said, ‘God has heard your prayers. Send to Joppa and bring Simon called Peter. He lodges with Simon the tanner whose house is by “the sea.’ The angel left and Cornelius called two servants and a devout soldier and sent them to Joppa.” (10:1-7)

PETER’S VISION. As these men approached Joppa, Peter was on the housetop to pray at noon. He became hungry, and while they prepared food, he saw a vision. He saw heaven opened and a great sheet let down by its corners. In it were all kinds of animals, reptiles, and birds. A voice said to him, ‘Rise, kill, and eat.’ Peter said, ‘Lord, I have never eaten anything common or unclean.’ The voice said, ‘What God has cleansed, do not call common'” This happened hree times, and as Peter wondered what it meant, the men from Cornelius called at the door for Peter. The Holy Spirit said three men were looking for him, and he should go with them without doubting, for He had sent them.

Acts 10:9-20

PETER WITH CORNELIUS. With six brothers from Joppa, Peter went with the three from Caesarea to meet Cornelius, who was expecting him. He gathered his family and friends to be there when Peter arrived. Cornelius fell at Peter’s feet, but Peter said to stand up, for he was just a man. Peter saw the assembled group and said, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jew to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me I should not call any person common or unclean, so I came without objection.”

Acts 10:23-29

Cornelius explained to Peter about his vision of the angel who told him to send for Peter. We are all here to hear what God has commanded you to say. (10:30-33). 

Peter’s understanding of God’s will is now different, as Saul of Tarsus changed. He said, “I understand God shows no partiality, but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does right is acceptable to Him.”  Then he began to preach Jesus to all present, “that everyone who trusts Him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (10:43). 

As Peter spoke, “the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word and those who came with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to Gentiles.” Then Peter said, “’Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these who have received the Holy Spirit as we have?’ He commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (10:44-48). 

And the wall between Jew and Gentile fell! Let us agree not to build new walls of division. 



Father, help me accept that you are no respecter of persons. Skin color, nationality, nor social status count for anything with you. Male or female, all are judgedby you as people who are sinful or righteous. Those are your only categories of people. Help me to also look only at these categories, and even let you be the judge between them. As Jesus died for all, let me see everyone as someone you love. Amen. 


I pray that we may all see people as God sees them and love all people with the love God has for the entire world. We must learn to love the sinner but hate the sin. As C.S. Lewis once said, he had trouble doing that until it dawned on him that there was one sinner he could love while hating his sin, and that was himself. I pray that I may hate my own sin more than I hate yours, for if I do not, I fear I will come to hate you and judge you. Lord, let me leave the judging up to You. Amen.  


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