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
The book of Esther is often noted as a book where God’s name is not mentioned, but His “fingerprints” are all over the book. I would suggest that this could also be said about Satan. Satan is not specifically mentioned in the book. Yet, there is no denying that he is in this book.
What do I mean by this? Consider the fact that Haman worked hard to kill all of the Jews. Satan tempted Haman through the pride (vainglory) of life to be offended that Mordecai would not bow to him (Est. 2:5; I Jn. 2:15-17). He allowed this to foment and it resulted in envy and anger toward Mordecai and all of the Jews. “Mordecai must be taught a lesson, and all others must understand that this is what happens to those who do not bow down to me!” Mordecai believed that not only will the offender be killed, but his family and nation will fall as a consequence.
This law played into Satan’s hands. It was not merely because of the death and mayhem that would result. It played into Satan’s hands because if one can kill the Jews, then this person has effectively stopped Christ from coming into the world! We must remember that Jesus was promised to come through the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10; Isa. 11:1-5; Jer. 23:5-6; Heb. 7:14; Rev. 5:5). Therefore, if one can kill the tribe of Judah, then Jesus can be prevented from being born! If He is not born, then He cannot die as a sacrifice for man’s sin (Gen. 3:15; Matt. 16:21, 26:26-28; Jn. 18:37). If He doesn’t die, be buried and resurrect, then no man can be saved (I Cor. 15:1-4; I Pet. 3:21)!
Satan had a master plan, and it might have worked if God’s providence was not in place to stop him (Est. 4:14)! Thankfully, he failed, and he continues to fail. Yet, Satan does not sleep! He couldn’t stop Christ from coming into the world, but he will do his best to keep you from going to Heaven! Are you paying attention? Are you asleep (Rom. 13:11-14)? I pray not!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
After Haman got his law passed that called for the extinction of the Jews, the Bible tells us that he and Ahasuerus “sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed” (Est. 3:15). The word “perplexed” in that verse means to be confused (Brown, Driver, Briggs). In simple terms, those in Shushan stood in confusion at this law that was now in effect.
Though his name isn’t mentioned in this book, this is the work of Satan. He tempted Haman, and now, because of his anger and jealousy, Haman bribed the king to write a law that would destroy a nation of people (3:9-12). Indeed, Satan tried his best to stir confusion and mayhem throughout the kingdom of Persia. He succeeded! In contrast, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (I Cor. 14:33). God doesn’t stir up strife and hardship. He wants us to be at peace, love one another, and be united. Satan wants confusion. He’s our adversary and looks for souls to devour (I Pet. 5:8). He certainly had a great opportunity in Shushan!
Understanding, peace, impartiality, mercy, and wisdom are the attributes of God and the “wisdom from above” (Jas. 3:17-18). Conversely, “where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (Jas. 3:16). Haman’s actions reflect the wisdom from below, not from above. As a result, Shushan’s population was confused.
Which do you prefer, confusion, or a peaceful life? Do we need to ask? Man’s confusion comes from sin. Clarity comes from God’s word (Jn. 8:31-32). For this reason, let’s follow the example of the Lord, not Haman (I Pet. 2:21-22).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“What Prevents Me From Being Baptized?”
The above question was asked by an Ethiopian many years ago. As Philip preached Christ to him (Acts 8:35), they came to a certain water and “the eunuch said, See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized? … and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him” (Acts 8:36-39). The question the eunuch asked is still valid. What is preventing you from being baptized?
Is false teaching preventing you? Many people today are taught that baptism is not necessary for salvation. They are told to simply believe or to say a sinner’s prayer for salvation. Isn’t it telling to see that when the preachers of the New Testament taught folks, those listening wanted to be baptized! Yet, when many preach today, people do NOT want to be baptized!
Please read Acts 8 and notice that when Philip preached Christ to the people in Samaria (Acts 8:5), he taught them about “the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ” and baptism (Acts 8:12). “Simon the sorcerer believed, and after being baptized, he continued with Philip” (Acts 8:13). When Philip spoke to the eunuch and “preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:35); the first time he saw plenty of water, he wanted to be baptized. Are we seeing a pattern? The teaching concerning baptism began with Christ (Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:16). The apostles and disciples of the Lord then carried this message to the world (Acts 2:38, 10:48, 18:8, 22:16; I Pet. 3:21; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:26-27). When the people heard the New Testament heroes preach, they wanted to be baptized. What is hindering you from being baptized?
Are friends and family preventing us? Depending upon our friends and family, they can pressure us to do the right things or the wrong things. Have they pressured us into not obeying the Lord? The Bible says: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Jesus said: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37). In order to please our Lord, we must obey His command to be baptized for the remission of sins regardless of what others might say about us (Phil. 3:8). What is hindering you from being baptized?
Does the urge for popularity prevent us? It is not popular to be a Christian. In fact, Jesus promised His apostles that men would hate them for no other reason than they served the Lord (Jn. 15:18-20). Peter said that some men would be “surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery” (I Pet. 4:4). We need to decide whether we wish for popularity with this world or to be the friend of God. We cannot have it both ways (Jas. 4:4)!
Could selfishness be preventing us? Some people refuse to do anything unless it is their idea. Could that be my attitude? Have I not been baptized simply because I didn’t want to? The Bible says that I need to put away such attitudes and place Christ’s kingdom first (Matt. 6:33). I need to love God even more than my own life (Lk. 14:26-27).
Whatever is hindering you from being baptized, realize that this hindrance is keeping you from enjoying spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3); from being in a covenant relationship with Christ (Gal. 3:27); from having your sins forgiven (Acts 2:38, 22:16); from being a child of God (Rom. 8:16-17); and from a home in Heaven (Col. 3:1-4; Rev. 2:10). Is this really worth it?
Lies The Devil Tells
Satan has many lies that he tells people (Jn. 8:44). “It does not bother my conscience” is a lie used to justify sins. Put another way, “Let your conscience be your guide” is the advice given to many when faced with a questionable situation. While this can be good advice, remember our conscience can be trained not to bother us when we sin. The Bible tells us that our conscience can be “seared” (I Tim. 4:1-2) or “defiled” (Titus 1:15-16). Would a “defiled” conscience be a very good guide?
Before he became a Christian, Paul was with those who stoned Stephen and consented to his death (Acts 7:58, 8:1). Paul found Christians and put them in prison for being Christians (Acts 8:3). Acts 9:1-2 reveals that his trip to Damascus was to obtain more authority to persecute the Christians. He declared that he wasted the church and was more zealous than his fathers in doing so (Gal. 1:13-14). Then, as Paul looked back on his life, he said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1). Did Paul’s conscience bother him as he consented to the death of Stephen, or as he took Christians and tried to get them to blaspheme the Savior (Acts 26:11)? No! Friends, our conscience cannot be the standard for judging right from wrong in every situation.
Friend, when we sin, we will be held accountable for sin regardless of whether or not it bothered our conscience! Let us follow God’s word as our only standard of authority. When we justify sin by our conscience, we are falling for one of the Devil’s lies!