Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Study of the Book of Esther: Week One, Day Four

Day 4: The Harem

     Yesterday we ended the day on regrets. Xerxes flipped out in a drunken rage and made decisions that he couldn't take back. At the time this was written, once the king made a decision and put it in writing with his seal attached, it could not be changed. So whether or not he wanted to forgive and forget with Vashti didn't matter.
     So Xerxes did what we all do. He covered up the bad feelings with something else. In this case, that something else is his harem.
     And Xerxes' harem is filled with women. He uses these women and then keeps them locked away for future use, "just in case." Each one has given him a moment- or two or three- of temporary, earthly pleasure. They've filled an empty place in his life, even if only for awhile.
     Read Esther 2:1-4. What did Xerxes do once his anger subsided (2:1)?

Reflection: What kinds of feelings do you suppose that Xerxes felt as he considered all that transpired?

Who was with Xerxes as he thought (2:2)?

What did they suggest he do (2:2-4)?

How did the king feel about this suggestion (2:4)?

Personal Reflection: Have you ever tried to cover over a sad or upsetting event in your life with something else? How?

     We all have harems in our lives, a place that we keep things that might make us happy or even have made us happy in the past. They're full of people and things that aren't inherently bad, but are used in the wrong way. King Xerxes collected women to fill the empty space in his life, the one that only God could fill. He also collected gold, silver, property, people, and stuff to fill it up and yet that pit in his heart remained unfulfilled.
     I'm not innocent in this. I know what I really need sometimes and try to fill it with food, TV, new activities, new recipes, and new stuff too often. We lost our rooster last week and what am I trying to fill that empty space with now? Baby chicks. They're so soft and fluffy and the epitomy of happiness. To be fair, we were planning to get new chicks anyway, but my urgency for chicks has only picked up now that the rooster is gone.
    People, there are baby chicks in my harem! And they aren't alone in there. They are all cuddled up comfortably in the new fabric I bought for my latest craze in sewing. And that's lying next to a stack of books I bought/borrowed/found for free somewhere that I was sure would make some sort of difference. And that stack of books? It's resting on top of a workout DVD or two right alongside the set of dumbbells. My harem is full. It's full of stuff that really isn't bad, it's just being asked to do more than it possibly can.

Personal Reflection: What's in the harem you've made for yourself?

     Read through the following verses and copy down what stands out to you about finding our satisfaction in God.

Psalm 16:2-

Psalm 16:11-

Psalm 22:26-

Psalm 104:28-

Psalm 107:9-

Personal Reflection: What one step can you take today to shift your satisfaction a little more from earthly "stuff" to God?

     For me, my next step is getting back into this blog by sharing what I'm learning through Bible Study. Maybe your next step needs to be committing ten minutes in the morning to reading your Bible instead of flipping through Facebook. Or maybe you need to start praying as you make dinner tonight instead of complaining to a friend on the phone about the kids who are all you and dying of starvation (I get it, I have those too). Or maybe it's getting into a Bible Study, going back to church, finding someone to hold you accountable like a mentor. Whatever your next step, find it and take it. You won't regret moving toward God and away from the stuff that doesn't leave you satisfied.
     Wherever you are, you are never too far gone for Jesus. He is always waiting for you to turn back. He is always searching for you.
     Read Luke 15:3-7. To what does Jesus compare people?

What does it say Jesus (as the shepherd) does for the lost sheep (the lost person, 15:4)?

How does Jesus (as the shepherd) feel about finding his lost sheep (15:5-6)?

Personal Reflection: If you are among the 99, who in your life might be the one that God wants to lead home?


Personal Reflection: If you are the 1, what's stopping you from turning back and following God back home?

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