“What Were You Thinking, Lord?” (Part 2) Manage It (Victorious in Christ) Monday

Reading the book of Esther in the Old Testament, I see that she was an excellent example of a person who had to deal with the principle of accepting your design and she was used greatly by God in doing so. We may think, “Oh, sure, she was gorgeous, lived in a palace–what did she have to worry about!” But, every person–Every Person–has something that they have to accept about their circumstances or looks. In Esther’s case, it wasn’t her looks, but her circumstances, that she had to accept.  She was from a despised people-group, she was “invisible” and “powerless” because she was a woman; and she had a tyrant husband whose anger was legendary.

There were certain characteristics that God had prescribed for Esther, just as He does for each one of us–characteristics that were unique, and that couldn’t be changed.  There are at least 10 of these which every person needs to accept as coming from God. In Esther’s life, here were the 10 “unchangeables” she had to deal with:
  1. Parents: She had none.  Her parents were both dead and she was raised by an older cousin
  2. Time in History: She lived at a time when her country was besieged and her people were taken into captivity and they had to live under a ruthless king
  3. People Group: born in Israel (a despised people who were taken into captivity), born into the lesser tribe of Benjamin
  4. Nationality: Jewish (Jews were not highly thought of, often despised, and even persecuted)
  5. Gender: She was a female, which, at that time in history, and in that place, was very low, and insignificant, and powerless
  6. Birth Order: There is no report that she had any siblings
  7. Brothers and Sisters: none mentioned
  8. Physical Features: She was “fair of form and good of countenance” (In other words, she was a “knockout”/gorgeous)
  9. Mental Abilities: The Bible doesn’t make a big statement of her mental abilities. Her strength came in obeying the counsel of her authority,  Mordecai, and in her wisdom, not her knowledge or reasoning ability.
  10. Aging and Death: She was young, but her life was very much in danger, so she had to accept God’s timing on how long she would live and when and how she would die.
Being beautiful doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll be happy or that life will be a “piece of cake.” It wasn’t so in Esther’s life. God used her gender, nationality, time in history and physical features to place her in the position of being used by Him to save her people. But she had to accept her circumstances and trust God in the midst of them. She didn’t know how it would turn out!

We don’t know how things will turn out either. Esther is a wonderful example of sweet, humble acceptance of the place and circumstances God places you in. And she shows us one of the important things we can do when God allows us to be in difficult circumstances. She prayed and fasted. Moreover, she asked others to join her and pray for her! That’s a great lesson!

We can’t always see the big picture of why God made us the way He did, or for what purpose He allows us to be in the circumstances we’re in.  When Esther’s people faced probable annihilation, and she was in the position of risking her life by going before her husband-king without being called for, her guardian/cousin Mordecai gave her counsel which may apply to us, as well.
 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.
 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14

God will accomplish His purposes, one way or another.  If you are not willing to be used by Him–to accept your design, and/or circumstances and be the vessel He has perfectly suited for His purposes–letting Him decide what kind of pot you will be and what you will be used for–then He will accomplish His purposes, but He may choose to use someone else who will  yield to Him to accomplish them.

There is another promise which should give us comfort.  God promises (if we’re a Christian) to work all things out for our good and to use them to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:28-29 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

How did Christ respond to His “unchangeables”? and to His unpleasant circumstances? With meekness and trust, and with love for His enemies.

What does the Bible say about His looks?  Isaiah 53:2 “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” The family that God’s given to us, the features we would like to change, the hard places we find ourselves in which we can’t change are all the means of His character being formed in us, if we receive His grace to respond to them in a Christlike way, with patience, perseverance, gratefulness and contentment, seeing them as from the Lord. But if we fight against His plan, or take ourselves “off the easel” before He’s done with us, we may miss out on the amazing things He wants to do in and through us; we may miss out on God’s best.

Regarding trying circumstances, there’s something that happens in us when we thank God for them.

James 1:2-4 says,
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Trials and trying circumstances and trying people (these may include relatives and family members) are God’s tools to form His character in us, so when we respond rightly to them, the character of meekness, patience, gentleness, and other qualities of Christ are formed in us. Sometimes we look at what God is doing in us, or how He has made us so far, and we jump off the easel thinking He’s not doing a very good job and we could do it better. We must get back up on the easel and let God keep working–we don’t see the picture the Master Artist is painting, and we must trust Him.

In Esther’s life, when she faced very unpleasant (life and death) circumstances, the Bible records these words that her guardian, Mordecai, said to her: “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” And who knows what God will do in and through us when we respond in thanks and trust to His design of our lives.

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*Definitions taken from Institute in Basic Life Principles, www.iblp.org

“What Were You Thinking, Lord?” (Part 1) Manage It (Victorious in Christ) Monday

Read “What Were You Thinking, Lord?” (Part 2).
What if a pot could say to the one forming it, “You’re making a mess of things!”  What if a painting could jump off of the easel when it disagreed with the artist’s choice of colors?  Preposterous, you say?  Do you ever feel tempted to say to God, your Maker, “What are You doing?!” Do questions arise in your heart, such as, “Why did You put me here in this family?” or “Why couldn’t I have her abilities?”  (or her kids? or her looks?) Do you question the way God made you, the color of your hair, skin or eyes that He gave you, the country or region of the world that He placed you in, the ancestry He chose for you, the parents He gave you, or the time in history you’ve been born into? Do you question His decisions on these or any other “unchangeables” and complain, “Look what You’ve done!”  All through the Bible we see examples of God sovereignly communicating to His children, “I am God.  Trust Me.  I know what I am doing. When I made you the way I did and put you where you are, I had a plan.”  Isaiah 64:8  8 But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”

We see the Principle of Design illustrated over and over again.  “The basis of self-acceptance is knowing who I am in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17) We should be grateful in our God-given circumstances.”* 

14What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
 15For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
 16So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
 17For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
 18Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
 19Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
 20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

 21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? Romans 9:14-21

 9Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
 10Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?
 11Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.  Isaiah 45:9-11

  5Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:  6I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee…
Isaiah 42:5-6

7Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.  Isaiah 43:7
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