God is WITH Us in the Silence: Day 5

04 God is With Us in the Silence

     Day 5: God is WITH Us in the Silence

READING:

     ESTHER 9 & 10

Who is the hero of the story of Esther? What passages in this story lead you to this conclusion? 

In just one sentence, write out the one thing you learned from the story of Esther. 

Then write out how you will respond to God as a result. 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Joshua 3 & 4

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today I simply want to thank You for the reminder that even in those moments in which You appear to be silent, still You are with me. You have been with me in my trials. You have been with me in my doubts. You have been with me in my humility. You have been with me in the silence.

This week, as the Christmas season is officially upon us, may I remember that Jesus – Emmanuel – is first and foremost a celebration of You being with us. I thank You in Jesus’ name.

Click here if you would like to provide feedback to help us make the daily devotional and scripture reading guide even better.

God is WITH Us in the Silence: Day 4

04 God is With Us in the Silence

     Day 4: Esther’s Plea

Think about a time when God worked something out in your life in a way that was completely unexpected. Perhaps you had a specific need you hadn’t talked about with anybody else, and you suddenly discovered that somebody had fulfilled that need. Or maybe a really difficult situation was unfolding in your personal life, and somebody who didn’t know anything about it texted you to say, “I just wanted you to know I’ve been praying for you throughout the day.” 

As the story of Esther comes to a remarkable climax, we see God’s providence (that is, His care and concern for His people) through the acts of a king that didn’t worship Him. Even though the name of God isn’t specifically mentioned in the text, we discover in Esther 7 & 8 that God’s people are rescued, and many who were not Jewish decide to convert and become followers of God (8:17). So not only were God’s people not condemned to death by the Persian Empire, but their numbers grew. At this time in the history of God’s people, He showed that He was still with them.

As you read today, consider this: Think back through all of the readings from this week: How did Esther respond to the challenges she experienced?

READING:

     ESTHER 7 & 8

Think back through all of the readings from this week: How did Esther respond to the challenges she experienced?

Would you have responded any differently a year ago? 5 years ago? 10 years ago?

Would you respond any differently today? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Joshua 1 & 2

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today I simply want to thank You for the reminder that even in those moments in which You appear to be silent, still You are with me. You have been with me in my trials. You have been with me in my doubts. You have been with me in my humility. You have been with me in the silence.

This week, as the Christmas season is officially upon us, may I remember that Jesus – Emmanuel – is first and foremost a celebration of You being with us. I thank You in Jesus’ name.

Click here if you would like to provide feedback to help us make the daily devotional and scripture reading guide even better.

God is WITH Us in the Silence: Day 3

04 God is With Us in the Silence

     Day 3: Esther’s Honor

Take a brief moment to recall yesterday’s reading. Were you able to think about a time when you knew you needed to have a hard conversation with somebody, but you dreaded the thought of actually having it? What happened when you finally sat down with that individual and openly talked about what was troubling you? 

If we’re all being honest, sometimes conversations like these play out worse than we initially imagined. But oftentimes the opposite is true and we are rewarded for having the courage to follow through. In these moments, the conversation goes much better than expected. In these moments, our concerns are validated. In these moments, the relational bond strengthens. In these moments, God is honored.

In the story of Esther, her courage to approach the king is rewarded and she is given honor by Xerxes and Haman. Similarly, Mordecai’s courage to reveal an assassination plot against the king is rewarded and he is given honor by Xerxes as well.

As you read today, consider this: What problems were Esther or Mordecai facing. How do you think they felt throughout these experiences? 

READING:

     ESTHER 5 & 6

What problems were Esther and Mordecai facing? 

How do you think they felt throughout these experiences? 

Who is somebody you personally know who has done something courageous? How may you honor them this week? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Deuteronomy 32:48-52 & 34

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, while the thought of honoring others who have done something courageous may still be common today, I confess that I don’t regularly share appreciations or honor towards those who have done something courageous. May I begin to see people and situations differently, so that I may honor those who have been courageous, even if their small acts of courage have gone unnoticed by others. Similarly, I pray for opportunities to be more courageous, and I acknowledge that even in these situations, it will be You who is ultimately honored as a result. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Click here if you would like to provide feedback to help us make the daily devotional and scripture reading guide even better.

God is WITH Us in the Silence: Day 2

04 God is With Us in the Silence

     Day 2: Esther’s Courage

Think about a time when you knew you needed to have a hard conversation with somebody. Whether it was a college roommate, someone you were dating, your spouse, your children, your boss, or another friend, you probably dreaded the thought of sitting down and sharing something important with them. 

This is the situation in which Esther finds herself, only her experience is even worse. Esther knows that the former queen has been harshly punished for not following through on the customs of their culture. And now she’s in a position in which, as the queen, she needs to go against the customs of the culture. She’s fully aware that by approaching the king, she may very well be put to death. How will she respond? 

Initially, Esther responds to the situation by deciding to fast (not eat or drink) for three days, and encourages her uncle to do the same. Until now, her uncle has made many of the decisions in Esther’s life. Now, she’s taking the initiative to be the spokesperson for her people, even at the cost of her own life. 

As you read today, consider this: What aspects of Esther’s story resonate with your own life experience? (Consider her family upbringing, those she interacted with, etc.)

READING:

     ESTHER 2:21-4:17

What aspects of Esther’s story resonate with your own life experience? (Consider her family upbringing, those she worked for or served, those she interacted with, etc.)

What kinds of ambitions or hopes could Esther have had through her life experiences? In what ways does this help you to identify with the story of Esther?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Deuteronomy 30 & 31

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today I want to thank You for those who have regularly recognized the courage You have placed within me to fulfill the life You have called me to live. Specifically, I thank You for (_______), (_______), and (_______). These individuals have regularly encouraged me to live for You, and I’m so very grateful for them. Today, I simply pray for the wisdom to know Your will, and for the courage to follow through on Your will, even when it’s hard. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Click here if you would like to provide feedback to help us make the daily devotional and scripture reading guide even better.

God is WITH Us in the Silence: Day 1

04 God is With Us in the Silence

     Day 1: Esther’s Rise

The book of Esther is a challenging book for many historians. In fact, it’s likely that the book of Esther has received more historical criticism than any other book in the Bible. For example, the name of Xerxes’ wife, Vashti, doesn’t align with other historical records. But the Hebrew word translated as “Vashti” is similar to the Old Persian term for “beautiful woman,” indicating it may not have been written as a name, but as a description. For some Christian scholars, another challenge with the book of Esther is that the name of God is never mentioned. 

Even though the name of God isn’t mentioned in the book, it is clear that God is at work in the lives of Esther, her uncle Mordecai, and the Jewish population in this time period. 

Four main characters are highlighted throughout the story. King Xerxes (mentioned 29 times), Haman (mentioned 48 times), Mordecai (mentioned 54 times), and Esther (mentioned 48 times).

As you begin reading through this wonderfully written story, pay careful attention to each character, their decisions, and the outcome of their decisions. In what ways may their decisions and the outcome mirror some of your own? 

READING:

     ESTHER 1:1-2:20

What does this passage about Esther tell you about reality? About humanity? 

In what ways does this help you to identify with the story of Esther?  

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Deuteronomy 8 & 9

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, there have been times in my life when I have wondered about Your presence. There have been times in which I felt as if You were completely silent. As I begin reading through the book of Esther, may it be a wonderful reminder that even through the seasons in my life when Your name isn’t mentioned, still You are there. May it be a reminder that You have always been with me, are with me right now, and will continue to be with me. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Click here if you would like to provide feedback to help us make the daily devotional and scripture reading guide even better.

God is WITH Us in our Humility: Day 5

03 God is With Us in our Humility

     Day 5: God is WITH Us in our Humility

READING:

     DANIEL 4:28-37

Who is the hero of the story of Nebuchadnezzar? What passages in this story lead you to this conclusion? 

In just one sentence, write out the one thing you learned from the story of Nebuchadnezzar. Then write out how You will respond to God as a result. 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Deuteronomy 6 & 7

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

Click here if you would like to provide feedback to help us make the daily devotional and scripture reading guide even better.

God is WITH Us in our Humility: Day 4

03 God is With Us in our Humility

     Day 4: Nebuchadnezzar’s Folly

As was mentioned on Day 1, Nebuchadnezzar was a pretty smart king. Even though the Babylonian military had overthrown many different nations and people, as the king, Nebuchadnezzar employed the most learned and educated individuals from these other nations. The diversity of many different nations coming together turned out to be a great strength for his empire. 

Additionally, Nebuchadnezzar learned that the people were able to adapt to the changing political climate if they were permitted to continue practicing their own religion. For the most part, this freedom of religion provided a great deal of stability for the Babylonian Empire.

But something occurred that Nebuchadnezzar didn’t expect – the God of the people of Israel required exclusive worship. In one sense, Nebuchadnezzar himself had been able to rule over all of the gods people worshiped. But this new God was different. Israel’s God declared that He was responsible for Nebuchadnezzar’s success, and that He and He alone was worthy of being worshiped. Nebuchadnezzar struggled to accept God’s sovereignty, and did so to his own folly. As you read today, consider this: How did Nebuchadnezzar respond to the challenges he experienced?

READING:

     DANIEL 4:1-27

Think back through all of the readings from this week: How did Nebuchadnezzar respond to the challenges he experienced?

Would you have responded any differently a year ago? 5 years ago? 10 years ago?

Would you respond any differently today? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Deuteronomy 3 & 4

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, like Nebuchadnezzar, there have been times in my life when I have wanted to take credit for everything I’ve accomplished in life. But today I am reminded that You and You alone are responsible for everything I am, everything I have, and everything that is good and pure in this life. Today, I worship You for the many blessings You have provided. Specifically, I thank You for (_______), (________), and (________). But mostly, I thank You for the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf. I worship You today! Amen. 

Click here if you would like to provide feedback to help us make the daily devotional and scripture reading guide even better.

God is WITH Us in our Humility: Day 3

03 God is With Us in our Humility

     Day 3: Nebuchadnezzar’s Pride

We all see things from various perspectives. Our family of origin, childhood experiences, friends, acquaintances, the entertainment industry, and more, have all educated us to think and observe in certain patterns. 

For many who have attended a Christian church for years, the story of Nebuchadnezzar is often taught from the perspective of Daniel, or from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When it comes to the latter three, they’re often seen as the godly heroes of Daniel Chapter 3. Nebuchadnezzar commands them to worship him over their own God. You likely already know how the story ends: they refuse, are sentenced to death, but miraculously survive. 

But try to read through the story from the perspective of Nebuchadnezzar himself. What was it that drove him to such a self-centered pride? Has something similar driven you to prideful thoughts or actions? What experiences led him to praise and worship God? Have you had similar experiences that have led you to praise and worship God?

As you read today, consider this: What situations or problems was Nebuchadnezzar facing? How do you think Nebuchadnezzar felt throughout these experiences? 

READING:

     DANIEL 3

What situations or problems was Nebuchadnezzar facing? 

How do you think Nebuchadnezzar felt throughout these experiences? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Deuteronomy 1 & 2

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, as I have read through the story of Nebuchadnezzar I confess that there have been times when I have been much like him. Full of pride. Full of rage. But also, times when I have been full of worship. 

Today, one act of worship I desire to offer is to remove all pride, impurity, jealousy, envy, hostility, and instead be Your representative. Reveal to me the opportunities to spread love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control to all I interact with today. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Click here if you would like to provide feedback to help us make the daily devotional and scripture reading guide even better.

God is WITH Us in our Humility: Day 2

03 God is With Us in our Humility

     Day 2: Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

Have you ever had somebody place a ridiculously unrealistic expectation on you? Perhaps a coach or music instructor demanded absolute perfection, even though perfection itself is completely unattainable. Or perhaps a teacher or professor tested you on material in which they didn’t lecture, nor was it in your required reading. Unrealistic expectations can prove harmful for everybody involved.

As a ruler of a huge empire, Nebuchadnezzar placed an expectation on others that was completely and totally ridiculous. He had a dream and desired an interpretation of the dream, which was very common in his culture. But he took it a step further. He wanted the scholars of his day to not just provide an interpretation of his dream; instead, he wanted them to know his dream and its interpretation. When they couldn’t provide details of what he dreamed, he ordered them all to be killed.

Fortunately, a godly man named Daniel stepped forward and noted that even though he couldn’t interpret the dream, his God could reveal all mysteries.

As you read today, consider this: What aspects of Nebuchadnezzar’s story resonate with your own life experience?

READING:

     DANIEL 2

What aspects of Nebuchadnezzar’s story resonate with your own life experience? (Consider the unrealistic expectations he placed on others, those he supervised, those he interacted with, etc.)

What kinds of ambitions or hopes could Nebuchadnezzar have had through his life experiences? In what ways does this help you to identify with the story of Nebuchadnezzar?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Numbers 34 & 35

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that there are times when I have placed unrealistic expectations on others. Not only that, but I have demeaned or criticized others unfairly for not living up to those expectations. Today I ask for wisdom and clarity as to how I may be able to make amends for these mistakes. Reveal to me steps that may be taken to rebuild trust, reconcile broken relationships, and regain influence in the lives of those I have hurt by my selfish actions. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.   

Click here if you would like to provide feedback to help us make the daily devotional and scripture reading guide even better.

God is WITH Us in our Humility: Day 1

03 God is With Us in our Humility

     Day 1: Nebuchadnezzar’s Wisdom

Imagine you’re responsible to plan for a massive gathering. Attending the gathering will be people from several different nations, many of whom may speak English, but dozens, perhaps hundreds of others in attendance, may not. The security for the event is your responsibility. Communication during the event is your responsibility. Planning the event is—you guessed it—your responsibility. What do you do? 

The above is a simplified case study of a very real situation in which the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar found himself. The Babylonian Empire was huge, and oversaw people from many different nations. King Nebuchadnezzar was responsible for national security, education, communication, and everything else. Would he be up for the task? Would he be a different kind of leader than those who had ruled before him?

The answer to these questions is a resounding yes. Nebuchadnezzar employed educated and learned people from other nations the Babylonians had overthrown, not just his own. In time, people from many nations really came to like him as a leader. As you read today, consider this: What does this passage about Nebuchadnezzar tell you about reality? About humanity? 

READING:

     DANIEL 1

What does this passage about Nebuchadnezzar tell you about reality? About humanity? 

In what ways does this help you to identify with the story of Nebuchadnezzar? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Numbers 20 & 27:12-23

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, as I begin reading and learning about the life of Nebuchadnezzar, I pray that You would open my eyes and heart to see any similarities between his life and my own. If there were times when he resisted You, may I use that as an opportunity to confess the times I have resisted You. If there were times he was overtly proud, may I use that as an opportunity to confess the times I have been overtly proud. If there were times he worshiped You for who You are, may I use that as an opportunity to worship You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Click here if you would like to provide feedback to help us make the daily devotional and scripture reading guide even better.