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Is God In Vegas (or Shushan)?

Sunday, January 26, 2020

My wife recently reminded me of an old television commercial where the tagline was: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” The point of the ad was that if people came to Las Vegas, they could be free to do what they wanted without any guilt. It is as if the people were saying that God isn’t in Las Vegas (Ps. 139:7-12), or He cannot see what we are doing there (Prov. 15:3)! Las Vegas was giving people a “license to sin!”

It concerns me when I hear about Christians who think that taking a vacation means taking a vacation from being a Christian as well. Some Christians have been known to go to another county or another state to engage in sin. They think they are “safe” from “prying eyes” if they go somewhere that no one knows them. Of course, they are just fooling themselves because, as we noted above, there is nowhere they can go that God is not there and sees them!

It is for this reason that people like Joseph and Daniel, as well as women like Vashti and Esther, stand out to me. They stand out because Vashti and Esther lived in the King’s palace. They could justify any behavior they wanted by referring to where they lived, or by saying, “The King made me do it. I had no choice!” Yet, these two ladies, just as the others named, did not use their location as an occasion for sin!

When Vashti was called into the King’s presence, she did not yield to her husband’s drunken demands (Est. 1:10-12). She could have easily justified sin by saying, “The King has called me,” but she didn’t. We do not know Vashti’s origin, but we know she had morals and was not going to compromise them for anyone. Where she lived made no difference to her! Right was right, and wrong was wrong.

Esther did not allow fear to overcome her (Est. 4:16-7:10). We know she was raised well under the guidance of her cousin, Mordecai (Est. 2:5-7). Yet, when she was brought into the King’s palace, she did not allow her location to hold her back from speaking when she needed to speak up for her people! She had the opposite issue from Vashti, in that the King had not called for her for a month (4:11). She might have justified her silence by saying, “I can’t go until he calls me, and so there is no point in trying. No one will know if I spoke to the King or not, anyway.” These ladies knew they had responsibilities. The God of Heaven is in Shushan, just like He is in Jerusalem, and He must be respected!

What excuses do we make to justify our sins? Do we justify our sins based upon where we are and who saw or didn’t see us? Remember, God sees all of humanity and knows our hearts (Heb. 4:12-13). We are not going to get away with sin just because we did it out of town! Don’t fool yourself into thinking that godliness only applies at home! Take a lesson from Vashti, Esther, Daniel, Joseph, and so many others who served God faithfully even when they were away from home.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

A Changed Life

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Esther 10:3 reveals that Mordecai, in his new role, was “great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed.” What impresses me is that there is nothing said about Mordecai taking vengeance on the Persians. Nor do we read that he stole money or somehow made himself rich in his position. He used his power for the betterment of his people.

The change of fortune recorded in the book of Esther is quite astonishing. Mordecai went from being a servant living with a death threat on him to second-in-command over Persia (Est. 3:5-6, 9:4, 10:3). He was like Joseph, Daniel, and many others who rose to prominence after suffering much for the Lord. Thankfully, he remembered who he was, and remained faithful to God even as his social status changed.

Those who become Christians (Mk. 16:16) witness a change in their lives. The difference is so radical that Christ compares it to a birth (Jn. 3:3). Then, “as newborn babes,” we need to feed upon the word (I Pet. 2:2). We must continue to mature in the Lord (Heb. 5:12-14) and be faithful to Him (I Cor. 15:58).

Have we ever considered, though, that this change brings with it many spiritual blessings that lost people do not enjoy (Eph. 1:3)? In one sense, Christians are like Mordecai. He rose from slavery to being second-in-command. Have we not done the same thing in Christ? When we obeyed the Lord’s plan of salvation (Acts 2:38), we went from being slaves to sin (Rom. 6:16, 7:14b), to being free from sin (Rom. 6:18)! Christ made us “kings and priests” (Rev. 1:5-6; I Pet. 2:9)! We are now “joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16-17)! As good as Mordecai’s change was, ours is better!

Have you made that change for the better? If not, become a Christian today (Acts 22:16; Col. 2:11-13). If I can help you, please contact me.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"The City Rejoiced And Was Glad"

Friday, January 24, 2020

In an earlier study, we saw that the city of Shushan was “perplexed” when Haman’s law was passed (Est. 3:15). Later in this book, we read about how Shushan “rejoiced and was glad” when Mordecai’s decree was given (Est. 8:15). Why this difference? How could the city go from being “perplexed” to being “glad”?

Put simply; it had to do with who was in charge! Solomon said, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Prov. 29:2). This was the experience of the people of Shushan, and all Persians in those days. When Haman, “the Jews’ enemy” ruled, the people were the ones who suffered for it. Yet, when a change in leadership occurred, it resulted in a change in the people (Est. 8:15)!

The same is true today. No doubt, this is at least part of the reason why God tells us through the apostle Paul to pray for our civil leaders. Specifically, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (I Tim. 2:1-2). Why do we care about who our leaders are? Why do we pray for these people? It is because as the leader goes, so goes the nation! When God-fearing people rule, the country can rejoice and be at peace. When the wicked rule, it is the opposite! Solomon knew it, and these people lived it! They knew the truth about living under a dictator like Haman versus living under a ruler who loved them, like Mordecai.

Are you praying for the leaders of our city, county, state, and country? If not, why not? Do we pray for God’s guidance and God’s providence over this great land? We better get busy! Pushing God out of our lives will bring nothing but sorrow and hardship.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

Don't Be Afraid To Stand Alone

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Have you ever felt like you were the only one serving God? Perhaps you are the only one in your family that is a Christian? Are you the only person at work who is a Christian? When we feel alone, it can be challenging to remain faithful to God, but we still need to do it (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10b).

You might find it ironic for me to say that if you are the only one who is serving God in your immediate family, or at your job, etc., you are not alone! Yet, this is true. God catalogs several who served Him and had to do it alone.

Joseph was one who served God alone. After being sold to Potiphar (Gen. 39), he prospered in the house. However, there came a day when Potiphar’s wife lusted after him and tried seducing him “day by day.” However, Joseph would not yield to the temptation (Gen. 39:7-13; I Jn. 2:15-17; I Cor. 6:18). No doubt, he felt alone, but thankfully, he did not give in to her and refused to sin with her.

Mordecai was another who had to stand alone. When he refused to bow to Haman, the king’s servants and others “spake daily” to him about this action (Est. 3:2-4). Yet, Mordecai refused to give in as he was approached daily about bowing to Haman.

As we continue to read about Joseph, we see that things got worse for him after refusing Potiphar’s wife. He ended up in prison for the next two years (Gen. 39:20-41:9). Yet, after this, he was promoted to Pharaoh’s second-in-command (Gen. 41:39-40). After it was over, Joseph gave God credit for putting him in this position (Gen. 45:5, 7-8, 50:20). He recognized God’s providence. Think about what might have happened had Joseph yielded to temptation in Potiphar’s house! Perhaps he would not have ended up in the same place!

Similarly, Mordecai suffered for his decision early on. He suffered as he learned about a law going into effect that would see his death and the death of his nation (Est. 3:12-4:1). Yet, God meant to turn this into a blessing. By the end of the book, we see Haman dead and Mordecai serving as second-in-command in Persia (Est. 8:2, 10:3). Just as in Joseph’s day, God was able to reverse the fortune of Mordecai.

God still knows how to bless us. When we stand alone for God, we know that there will be people who will not be happy with that decision (Jn. 15:18-20). Yet, it is the best decision! Have you given in to the crowd? Repent of this and turn back to God! Are you worried that being a Christian means standing alone at times? Worry no more about it because it does! Even though one might stand alone among men, know God is faithful and will not leave you (Jas. 4:7-8). He will not let you down (Heb. 13:5-6). Learn a lesson from Joseph, Mordecai, and many others in Scripture who knew that following the Lord, even when others do not, is the best decision we can make.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"It Is Hard For Thee To Kick Against The Goads."

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

When Saul saw Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), among other things, Jesus told Saul that it was hard for him to kick against the goads (pricks, KJV). We might not be familiar with this term since we drive “horseless carriages.” A goad was a pointed instrument strategically placed so that if a horse, ox, or another beast of burden rebelled and kicked, the goad would hurt his hoof or leg and hopefully cause the animal to stop kicking. I have heard the term “goad” or “goading” meaning to urge someone to do something. In this case, it is by one’s remarks that one acts, or is “goaded” into an action. This word is based on the actual instrument called a “goad” that men used on animals long ago.

In the case of Saul, we see that as hard as he tried to fight against God (Acts 26:9), he would discover that it was a losing battle! The “goads” he kicked against only caused him to be injured. God wins every time!

When we read the book of Esther, we find that Haman was fighting a similar battle. He was kicking against “goads” while he served the king. In this case, the “goad” had a name -- Mordecai! It seems that the more Haman kicked against God’s servant, the more he ended up getting hurt! Take, for example, the anger and frustration he felt at Mordecai when he refused to bow (Est. 2:5). Haman thought killing Mordecai and also killing the Jews would make him feel better (Est. 2:6, 12-13). Yet, it wasn’t too many days until Ahasuerus asked Haman to honor someone, and it ended up being Mordecai (Est. 6:1-12)! Ouch! That had to hurt! Then, upon returning home after that parade, his family told him that if he did this for Mordecai, then it must mean that he will fail (v. 13-14). More emotional pain -- this time from his family! Yet, none of this caused Haman to pause, to reflect, or to repent. He was unlike Saul in this way (Acts 9:6, 9-10, 22:16)!

Finally, Haman’s plan was discovered, and in the cruelest twist, he was taken and killed on the very gallows he had made for Mordecai (Est. 7:10, 5:14)! Later, we learn that his ten sons were slain in similar fashion (Est. 9:10, 13-14). Haman finally saw that God wins every time! But it was too late for him.

Against what “goads” are you kicking? Be honest! What are you doing that is opposed to God’s word? Why are you still refusing to repent (Lk. 13:3; Acts 2:38)? The only way to get relief is to stop kicking against God and do what He says! Be like Saul/Paul and change your life while you can. Get forgiveness and live for the Lord (Acts 22:16; II Tim. 4:6-8)! Don’t end up like Haman!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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