READ: Esther 8-10
THINK: Have you ever been in a situation that seemed hopeless-until "the tables were turned" (9:1)? That's what God can do to accomplish His purposes in any situation. Consider these contrasts, showing how God turned things completely around to protect His people and preserve His plans: Mordecai goes from sackcloth and ashes (4:1,4) to royal clothes and a crown (8:15). Mordecai goes from sitting outside the king's gate (4:2) to a place of honor inside the palace (8:1). The Jewish people appear vulnerable and marked for destruction (3:13), yet become a formidable group, striking fear in other nations (8:17). The Jews go from severe mourning (4:3) to great rejoicing (8:16). God is more than able to take seemingly hopeless situations and work them out for the good of His people (Romans 8:28).
RESPOND: What happened to Haman's estate (8:1-2)? Who was put into Haman's prominent position? Even though Haman had been put to death, why did Esther still have to plead the case to save her people? (See 8:3 note.) Since the king couldn't reverse the original decree, what did he do to provide a way of salvation for the Jews (8:8-13)? (See 8:3 note.) Why did fear of the Jews spread among people of all other nationalities? (See 8:17 note.) How did Mordecai's reputation change since the beginning of the story (9:3-4)? Why was the Jews' destruction of their enemies a justified act? (See 9:5 note.) How did the Jews actually show restraint in how they defended themselves (9:10,15-16)? How did the Feast of Purim get it's name (9:14,26)? (See 9:26 note.) What are some ways you can remember and celebrate what Christ has done for you? Why is it important to acknowledge God's blessings in your life? How had Mordecai shown faithfulness to God and his people, and how did God reward him for this (10:3)? How was Israel's rescue the result of the combined activity of both God and His faithful followers?
PRAY: Ask God to help you give your best effort as you do your part in His plan and trust Him with the rest. Celebrate your salvation and give God thanks for a time when He turned your sorrow into joy.
ACT: Next time your pastor, youth leader, Sunday school teacher or small group leader asks for testimonies or "praise reports," take the opportunity to publicly proclaim what God has done for you. You don't need to have a dramatic story to tell. You can simply express thankfulness for your relationship with Jesus. Still, dare to do something for God that could become a powerful testimony.
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