Category Archives: Daily Devotional

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 190/260: Mordecai

Read Esther 10

The Proper Use of Power

King Ahasuerus honored Mordecai because he had warned the king about a plot against him. The last verse of the book of Esther reads, “For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus, and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen” (Esther 10:3). Esther’s cousin did not abuse the power that was given to him but used it to promote and protect his people.

It is difficult to do something for someone else if they do not trust you, isn’t it? Part of the reason Mordecai was able to succeed is that he was “well received by the multitude of his brethren.” Certainly, there would be some who did not like him, but in general, Mordecai was respected and well-liked.

God issued a qualification along these lines for the elders of the church. The spiritual qualifications that relate to a man’s character would garner some respect within the church – he must be “blameless” when it comes to his character (1 Timothy 3:2). But God went beyond that. “Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside” (1 Timothy 3:7). An elder must have the same reputation as an ethical, upstanding person both inside and outside the church!

Notice what Mordecai did for the Jews in his position of power: “seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.” Does an elder in the church not have the same duties?

Paul urged the elders in Ephesus to “shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). The members of the church are charged with treating the elders well because of this grave responsibility. “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).

Those who serve as elders must serve with honor, “nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3). Those who serve under the elders, serve in peace, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 189/260: Mordecai and Esther

Read Esther 3-4

The Providence of God

Haman brought false charges against the Jews, and Ahasuerus accepted his testimony without investigation. The decree was signed for the Jews to be exterminated. The reaction of the Jewish people was understandable. “When Mordecai learned all that had happened, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city. He cried out with a loud and bitter cry” (Esther 4:1). How could they escape this evil edict?

Mordecai had faith that the Jews would be delivered, and he believed he knew through whom it would happen – his cousin Esther who had become queen. His reasoning was simple: for what other reason would God have elevated her to such status if not to save her people? He tells her as much: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).

Esther, as queen, was in a position to do something about Haman’s evil plot. If she looked the other way and ignored the gravity of the situation her people faced, how would God look upon her? She agreed with her cousin and set her mind to do what is right, regardless of the outcome, saying, “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16).

Perhaps we will never be in a situation quite so serious for so many people, but do we not still make decisions the impact the lives of others today? If we ignore the problems around us, how does God view our inactivity?

My mind turns to the parable of the talents and the response of the lord to the man who was entrusted with one talent. That man hid the talent in the ground, not risking anything. He did nothing, and the lord called him “wicked,” “lazy,” and “unprofitable” (Matthew 25:26, 30). When we see something that must be done, and we are in a position to do it, we must do it!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 188/260: Vashti

Read Esther 1

The Virtue of Vashti

King Ahasuerus liked to show off. He hosted a seven-day feast which deteriorated into a drunken display of debauchery. As the king and his cohorts imbibed “according to each man’s pleasure” (Esther 1:8), Queen Vashti hosted a feast for the women in the royal palace. On the seventh day, the king decided he wanted to show off one of his greatest treasures: his queen.

Ahasuerus commanded his eunuchs to bring the queen “wearing her royal crown, in order to show her beauty to the people and the officials, for she was beautiful to behold” (Esther 1:11). There is some controversy over exactly what was intended here; some believe the king wanted his wife to appear wearing nothing but the crown, while others argue that she was to appear unveiled but clothed. In either case, it was against the customs of the day for the queen to appear in such a manner, and she refused.

Vashti was unseated as queen, banished from the presence of the king, and Ahasuerus issued a decree that “all wives will honor their husbands, both great and small” (Esther 1:20). On the surface, the decree is a good one, but the motivation behind it showed the king’s derision toward acting responsibly.

The New Testament is clear that the husband is the head of the wife, and that wives should submit to their husbands. Paul compared the marriage relationship to the relationship between Christ and the church. But here is the difference between what Paul taught and what Ahasuerus decreed: the marriage relationship must be built upon trust and love. The wife does not serve every whim of her husband just because he says so, nor does the husband demand things of his wife that are immoral or unethical. If the relationship is not built upon the foundation of faith as revealed in Scripture, then situations similar to what occurred between Ahasuerus and Vashti will be repeated.

Vashti was a woman of virtue who refused to compromise her convictions even at the behest of her husband. Christian women today should likewise stand upon the faith revealed in the New Testament and live in such a way that honors their husbands within the boundaries of that revelation.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 187/260: Zechariah

Read Zechariah 7-8

Where Is The Authority?

Zechariah can be considered as a sort of sequel to Haggai’s prophecy. While Haggai encouraged the completion of the work started on the temple, Zechariah looked past the physical to the spiritual temple of God and the coming Messiah. As part of this, Zechariah urged the people to look inwardly and discover the motivations for their service and the attitude with which their service was rendered.

“Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me?’” (Zechariah 7:4-5).

The Jews who had once been known for their thanksgiving were now characterized by weeping and mourning. They began practicing fasts that were nowhere commanded by God and requiring others to keep those fasts that were not divinely sanctioned. The reason for their fasts was not spiritual; they were mourning the loss of their status as a nation and the liberty they enjoyed with no thought of God.

There is certainly nothing wrong with an individual deciding to fast to help himself focus on spiritual things. The problem comes in binding that practice on others. There is no appointed time for the church to fast collectively. It is a voluntary matter for the individual Christian, to be practiced in times of need. If fasting is done as a mere formality, where is the meaning?

Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites for binding things on the people that are not commanded by God and refers to Isaiah’s prophecy in so doing. “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9).

Let us be sure to have authority from the Lord for the things that we teach others to observe, and that we have the proper attitude when we obey! “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 186/260: Haggai

Read Ezra 4; Haggai 1-2

Finish What You Started

The people who returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity began rebuilding the temple, but they were met with opposition. The Lord sent word to the people through the prophecy of Haggai: “‘Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the Lord; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest,; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:4).

Brother Roy Deaver astutely commented on this incident, “Obligations do not disappear merely because opposition appears.” This statement remains true today. Christians are faced with opposition on all sides—false denominations posing as truth, false religions that deny the Deity of God, atheism that denies any sort of higher power at all. What is our responsibility in light of all the error we face? “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Our responsibility is not diminished one bit by error! There is work to be done, and we are the soldiers to do it! Just as God told the men of Israel to “be strong,” He tells His church today the same: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).

Our focus must be on the things of God despite all the evil that surrounds us. Let us not become so distracted by the temporal that we lose sight of what is truly important. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).

Don’t give up when there is work left to be done. Don’t leave undone what you have the ability to do. Even when opposition comes, be strong, knowing that God will give His faithful children the strength to endure and overcome. Finish what you started!

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 185/260: Jeshua and Zerubbabel

Read Ezra 1-3

When God Works, His People Get Emotional

How incredible is the foreknowledge of the Almighty? He inspired His prophets to speak of the events that are recorded in the book of Ezra. Through Jeremiah, the Lord said, “After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10). He uses Isaiah to identify the Persian king Cyrus through whom He would accomplish His will (Isaiah 44:28). Isaiah prophesied more than 150 years before the birth of Cyrus! How could he possibly have known his name, except by the divine foreknowledge of God?

It was in Cyrus’ first year as king of Persia that “the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus” (Ezra 1:1) to proclaim that the Israelites should return to their homeland and “build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:3).

The second chapter lists “the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his own city” (Ezra 2:1). Among them were Jeshua and Zerubbabel, who worked together to restore the worship of the Lord in Jerusalem.

The third chapter of Ezra details what these two men accomplished: they built the altar of God to offer burnt offerings upon it, as commanded in the Law of Moses. They kept the Feast of the Tabernacles, offering daily burnt offerings in accordance with what was revealed. They offered regular burnt offerings during the New Moons and all consecrated feasts, and several offered freewill offerings to the Lord. All of this was accomplished “though fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries” (Ezra 3:3).

The third chapter ends with the laying of the foundation of the temple. The occasion was marked with the priests and Levites with their trumpets and cymbals, and much weeping and shouting for joy by the people. They were overwhelmed with emotion at the work of the Lord.

When is the last time you were overwhelmed with emotion because of what God is doing through His church today?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 184/260: Daniel

Read Daniel 6

Communicating With God

In the first chapter of Daniel that he had many good qualities as one of the “young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand” (Daniel 1:4). He conducted himself in such a way as a faithful child of God that “God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs” (Daniel 1:9).

Several years later, when Darius the Mede rose to power, Daniel had been promoted. “It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them, so that the king would suffer no loss” (Daniel 6:1-2). Daniel performed his duties in such a way that he “distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm” (Daniel 6:3).

With great responsibility and authority, however, comes the jealousy of those over whom you serve. They sought some fault in him, but could find none, and settled for creating a new law that they knew Daniel would not obey. They convinced Darius to sign a law that forbade prayers or petitions of any god or man other than the king.

Of course, Daniel would not obey such a law. As a faithful child of God, he needed to communicate with God daily. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, Daniel knew that God would deliver him from any punishment, even if he were “cast into the den of lions” (Daniel 6:7).

Exactly how committed are we to God? Are we so dependent upon Him that we feel the great need to communicate with Him every day? Jesus taught His disciples to pray for “daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Paul encouraged the church in Thessalonica, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This is not an activity that is occasional for the Christian. The faithful child of God will pray to God every day, and many times every day!

Have you prayed to your Father in heaven today? If not, take a moment now to do so, and make a concerted effort each day from now on to spend time in prayer communicating with Him.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 183/260: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego

Read Daniel 3

Submit to the Government, Unless…

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1). When Paul wrote these words to the church at Rome, he referred to matters that do not conflict with the faith. Today, this verse may be summed up in six words: “Obey the laws of the land.”

There is an exception to that rule, however. When a government decrees that you disobey God, do not submit to that decree. This is the situation in which Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego found themselves in Daniel 3. King Nebuchadnezzar made a great golden image and ordered that all should worship that image. Those who disobeyed the king’s order would be thrown into the fiery furnace.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, as faithful servants of God, had no choice but to disobey the king. Word of their rebellion reached the king, and he reacted with “rage and fury” (Daniel 3:13). He brought the three men before him, recounted the accusation against them, and gave them a second chance to bow down or be burned alive.

These men responded, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).

Those who have read this account are well aware of the outcome: God’s servants were thrown into the fire but not burned. In fact, when the king looked into the furnace, he saw not only these three, but a fourth man whose “form…is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25). The king acknowledged the power of the God of Israel, saying “there is no other God who can deliver like this” (Daniel 3:29).

When the government tells you to do something, do it—unless doing it is a violation of God’s higher law.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 182/260: Ezekiel

Read Ezekiel 18

Stop Blaming Adam

We love to shift the blame of our shortcomings to other people, don’t we? In our own minds, we can do no wrong…it’s always someone else’s fault! We see examples of this going all the way back to Eden. God asked Adam why he ate the forbidden fruit, and Adam said, “It’s the woman’s fault!” God turned His attention to Eve, and she said, “It’s the serpent’s fault!” It’s never our own fault; it’s always someone else’s fault.

This way of thinking has even crept into religion with the false doctrine of “Total Hereditary Depravity.” This doctrine, popular among those who adhere to the teachings of John Calvin, purports that all men have inherited the guilt of Adam’s sin. In other words, “It’s not my fault!” But is this what is revealed by God in His Word?

The prophet Ezekiel relayed this message from God: “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).

You are only guilty of your own sin, and your sin is a result of your own decision. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, ti gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). Do not try to shift the blame to someone else, whether friend or foe, and certainly don’t try to blame Adam and Eve who sinned because of their poor decision thousands of years ago.

The main points of Calvinism are false doctrine. In addition to “Total Hereditary Depravity,” other aspects of John Calvin’s teaching are “Unconditional Election,” “Limited Atonement,” “Irresistible Grace,” and “Perseverance of the Saints.” If you currently worship with a group of people that teach these things, please study the doctrines in light of the Scriptures and learn the truth that God reveals.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 181/260: Ezekiel

Read Ezekiel 2-3

“I Sat Where They Sat”

Ezekiel was called by God to deliver warnings against the people of Israel. He was, in God’s view, “a watchman” (Ezekiel 3:17). The responsibility was great: if God issued a warning, and Ezekiel failed to relay that warning to the people, not only would the wicked die but Ezekiel would be guilty as well. As long as Ezekiel was faithful in his duty to deliver the warning, his soul would be delivered, regardless of the wicked man’s response to the message.

While God was commissioning Ezekiel, the prophet says, “Then I came to the captives at Tel Abib, who dwelt by the River Chebar; and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days” (Ezekiel 3:15). Consider how much more powerful would his ministry prove to be since he “sat where they sat”! He was able to empathize, to put himself in their place, to understand their experiences and environment so much better. Christians would do well to learn this lesson from this great prophet.

There are several axioms that describe what Ezekiel did here. “Do not judge another man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.” “Do not judge a book by its cover.” What you observe in another person does not always tell the whole story. Be very cautious before you jump to conclusions about another’s situation.

Did you notice anyone sleeping in the worship services on Sunday? Do you know why they were sleeping, or did you assume the worst? Perhaps they worked a late shift Saturday night, perhaps even into Sunday morning, and got very little sleep. But they still showed up to worship God. Perhaps they are taking medication that causes drowsiness. But they still showed up to worship God. Maybe they were young parents who had dealt with infants crying through the night. But they still showed up to worship God.

Rather than passing judgment, ask how you might be able to help. At the very least, commend them for their faithfulness and their example of being present—even when they may not feel like being there. In your mind, do your best to “sit where they sit” and understand their situation.